Vanity thought #1047. An Apple a day

doesn’t keep māyā away. I’m talking about Apple Computer, not a fruit. Late Apple founder and CEO Steve Jobs has probably moved onto the better pastures but that doesn’t do anything for us.

I don’t want to repeat the story about Jobs being a regular at a Portland temple, dancing his socks off and then stuffing himself with prasādam. We hope that it was the most significant thing he even did in his life, we have no reason to doubt that Kṛṣṇa has never forgotten his service there. We can also interpret the moment of his death, which he himself described as “wow”, as a confirmation that Kṛṣṇa’s devotees will never perish.

Apart from that, Steve was a genuine asshole, parking his car in a handicapped spot just because he could, jumping queues in the cafeteria, and generally treating people as rubbish. I don’t want to talk about that either. In materialistic terms it had both positive and negative effects but it doesn’t matter for Kṛṣṇa so it shouldn’t matter for us.

What I want to talk about is Apple’s impact on us as devotees as well as ideas and ideology behind the company. Once again, Steve Jobs might have been responsible for them and they shaped his future karma but we shouldn’t care about that. Karma is karma, it’s there for everybody, Kṛṣṇa has no interest in it and neither should we.

Apple is a fascinating phenomenon, it’s so much more than just computers and other gadgets, it’s an attitude, it’s a cultural phenomenon, it’s a life choice that defines millions of people for years and years of their lives. It also affects lives of people who somehow oppose Apple’s philosophy, they just can’t be themselves in Apple’s presence anymore. It affects us as well, with so many of our devotees buying into this Apple idea and treating their MacBooks and iPhones as Steve’s prasāda. Apple is like an official sponsor of Hare Kṛṣṇa movement. When Kṛṣṇa wants His devotees to be connected and up to speed, He sends them Apple. So it affects us.

First, the name itself. I didn’t read Steve Job’s biography but I scanned the chapters about the beginnings of his company. It was around time when he spent several months on a friend’s farm where they tried to live an alternative lifestyle. Somehow I think that when he was looking for a simple, catchy word to name his company he chose apple for that reason – they tried to grow them there.

The word “apple” doesn’t carry any negative connotations, it convey vitality and values – traditional staple food no one had ever had an problems with. Milk is associated with animal cruelty now but apples are still unblemished. Apples are refreshing, energizing, cleansing, healthy – perfect to inspire positive thoughts and hopes about the company.

Then came the logo. The original was uninspiring, maybe paying tributes to medieval typography than to anything else, but then came the death of Alan Turing and that’s where we should start paying attention.

Alan Turing was a pioneering computer scientist, a father of the computer, some say, an iconic name for computer enthusiasts in those days. He was also gay, which made his life very very difficult. Eventually the pressure had got to him and he killed himself by eating an apple injected with poison.

That’s how we got the Apple logo – an apple with a bite taken out, and painted with rainbow colors, the symbol of homosexual freedom.

Do we really want a symbol of homosexuality to be our designated Hare Kṛṣṇa computer company? Their current CEO, Tim Cook, was just outed as gay on TV, some runaway mouth unwittingly confirming rumors that have been circulating for years now.

Of course if we say anything about it it would be a very bad PR for our movement but internally we should remember that homosexuality is clearly a demoniac inclination incompatible with pure devotion. Any sex life is incompatible with pure devotion in this age but straight people at least have a chance of doing it right, according to regulative principles, and that would quickly elevate them and cleanse their hearts of lust. Gay people do not have such a chance, unless they go against their nature and enter into straight relationships.

Of course we should not ban gays from devotional activities but we should also remember that lust contaminates everything and so we should stay away from any expressions of gayness just as we should stay away from straight men and women obsessed with sex.

But was that Apple logo really a tribute to freedom of homosexuality? Or was it a protest against unjust persecution of gay people? I think it’s the second reason, and in this we can lend Jobs our support.

A hundred years ago our society has been through the similar stage – traditional religionists claimed that one’s opportunities in devotional service are determined solely by one’s birth while Śrila Bhaktisiddhānta Saraswatī argued that in devotion it’s not the birth, it’s actual qualities that matter.

We should at least understand what gays were going through and even if we disagree and do not approve of their agenda, we can find a common enemy in stifling traditionalists. Even now we should pay heed to this attitude when we contemplate what to do with our gay devotees. Do we give them a chance? What kind of chance? Do we ban gayness altogether in all its expressions?

It’s the same story playing over and over again, and I’m afraid I’m siding with Jobs’ reaction to it – it’s simply unfair to people who just happen to be differently conditioned. We are all afflicted one way or another, we should have a heart and see beyond the externalities. It’s what in people’s hearts that matters to Kṛṣṇa, not a particularly wired set of sexual organs.

If homosexuality is a contentious topic, there’s another explanation behind Apple’s choice of their logo – it’s an apple from the Garden of Eden that was given to Eve by a serpent and which spelled the doom of mankind.

“Try something different,” the serpent said. “Dare to be different. It’s an apple from a tree of knowledge,” he said. We know how it turned out for everybody.

It’s our quest of knowledge that binds us to the illusion. Once again, one of the direct meanings of māyā is “to measure” – it means desire to know and judge everything. Quest for knowledge, thirst for science – that’s what drives materialists and other assorted demons. They want to figure out this world without relying on God. They want to discover things without God’s help and they want to see things being great and valuable solely on their own merits.

As devotees, OTOH, we should learn to see God’s spark in every extraordinary phenomenon in this world and realize that nothing good exists here without drawing its attractive qualities from Kṛṣṇa. We could even argue that things look good and attractive precisely because they are invested with Kṛṣṇa’s potencies. He is “all-attractive”, after all.

We won’t find this attitude at Apple computer. On the contrary, they look like they channel some higher powers from demoniac planets. That would explain why their gadgets look so good, so perfect, so flawless. That would also explain why their new HQ looks like an alien spaceship, and not the goofy one they draw in the cartoons but a cool one you might actually agree to be taken in if aliens would ever come for you.

Am I being ridiculous? How is it possible for demons from higher demoniac planets (where life is even better than on the planets of demigods) to channel their sophistication and their demoniac attitudes down to our Earth? The same way any other planet affects our lives. Maybe it’s colors, maybe it’s certain electromagnetic waves, but somehow Mars projects raw, military style power while Sun projects pride or Jupiter channels wisdom. It happens, there’s no reason demons can’t channel their attitudes, too.

One way or another, but shouldn’t we be worried about embracing things inspired by demons? There’s one crucial thing they don’t project – devotion to God, so why should we continue buying into Apple’s ideas expressed through design but also through the way their computers work, they way the expect people to work with their computers, they way they expect people to think when they work with their computers – it’s all contaminating, it’s taking on unwanted association.

Our only excuse is that such association is unavoidable but that doesn’t mean we should be oblivious to the limits.

The worst part is using Steve Jobs connection to Kṛṣṇa as an excuse for us to indulge in all things Apple, as if him being a devotee somehow justifies our own sense gratification. It doesn’t. Nothing does. We should always be on the lookout for seeking sense enjoyment and immediately remember Kṛṣṇa and hope He shields us from temptations.

If we do not consciously do it we can never hope to become real devotees, it’s that simple

One comment on “Vanity thought #1047. An Apple a day

  1. Pingback: Vanity thought #1050. Software choices | back2krishna

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