These are the reported last words of Steve Jobs. His sister said that he repeated this phrase three times while staring into space just before he closed his eyes and stopped breathing. Oh wow, oh wow, oh wow. I repeat this phrase not out of sarcasm or irony, though I was no fan of Jobs as my oblique reference to him in the last posting shows–but now quite the opposite, I am not sure any mystic could have done any better, except for an improved vocabulary maybe! To be frank, we of course cannot know for sure what his meaning was, but the moment seems to lean in this direction: he was beginning to recognize the infinite and absolute Love that was surrounding and filling his life and him and all those who had gathered in his room. The pop vocabulary of this pop icon is almost touching. But the gist of this is definitely not “pop”.
Oh wow, some people said, when they first saw the now-classic MacIntosh computer almost 2 decades ago. Oh wow, others said, when they saw Apple outsource its production force to China and all that implied. Oh wow, still others said about the man’s 9-figure fortune by the time he was 30 years old. He could have gotten a much greater “oh wow” if he had given away most of that money and alleviated the misery of at least some people. It seems the Gospel calls for that. I mean, really, I don’t see how you can ever justify a great fortune with the Gospel—and those of you from other traditions can use your own yardsticks—it simply calls for a divesting, no excuses, compromises, “ifs,” “buts,” “ands,” “ors,” etc., etc. But where Steve Jobs was at in that moment it was too late for all that, and the infinite absolute Love, which is a totally unimaginable and incomprehensible mystery to us in our samsaric existence, took Steve by the hand and took him “through the eye of the needle”. We sometimes call it “death”! And Steve had to let go of Apple, of the 9-figure fortune, of even his identity as Steve Jobs, genius. As he realized that, there was only one response, “oh, wow.” Not bad.