Thai Buddhists Say Steve Jobs Has Been Reincarnated, Probably as Windows 8


Karma’s a bitch.

So when Steve Jobs died from pancreatic cancer last year, one of his software engineers, Tony Tseung, e-mailed a Thai Buddhist group to find out what his former boss could expect on the other side. Now we know:

Mr. Jobs has been reincarnated as a celestial warrior-philosopher, the Dhammakaya group said in a special television broadcast, and he’s living in a mystical glass palace hovering above his old office at Apple’s Cupertino, California headquarters.

Mr. Jobs’s death unleashed a wave of grief across the world when he died last October. From Shanghai to Sydney to New York, admirers of his iconic devices laid flowers and lit candles to mourn his passing. Some commentators described the outpouring as an homage to a kind of secular prophet whose innovations changed the ways millions of people live their lives, strengthening the appeal of a brand which already was approaching cult-like status.

Some of Mr. Jobs’s admirers in Malaysia later gathered on a tropical island and in a religious ceremony each took a bite from an apple before flinging the fruit into the sea in a bid to speed up his reincarnation.

Now, Phra Chaibul Dhammajayo, abbot at the Dhammakaya Temple here just north of Bangkok, claims Mr. Jobs has already been reborn.

“After Steve Jobs passed away, he was reincarnated as a divine being with a special knowledge and appreciation for science and the arts,” the Dhammakaya leader said in the first of a series of sermons beamed to hundreds of thousands of the group’s followers around the world.

Phra Chaibul’s claims are impossible to corroborate, and his sermons have unleashed significant criticism, including from some skeptics who suspect he is just trying to get attention to help with fundraising. Among other things, he has said the reincarnated Mr. Jobs spends much of his time lounging in a glass palace resembling an Apple store. Phra Chaibul also has said the being formerly known as Steve Jobs is attended by 20 servants, who seem to resemble the Apple store ‘Geniuses’ who help customers set up their iPhones and other devices here on earth.

I don’t know if that’s the Christian equivalent of heaven or hell, but I know I do not want to find out. While “celestial warrior-philosopher” probably ain’t a bad gig for all eternity, and undoubtedly comes with a 403(b) and dental, if I had to literally hang with “Chet” and “Larry” from an Apple Genius bar forever and ever, I’d kill myself.

I’m not trying to make fun of anybody else’s religion here. A lotta lotta people around the globe believe in reincarnation. (A lotta lotta people around the globe also believe crickets make nice snacks, but that’s another story.) Nevertheless, I think the criticism of this “pronouncement” is apt:

But by adopting Mr. Jobs to help spread its theology, the Dhammakaya group has certainly raised eyebrows, including upsetting some Buddhists.

Other Buddhist leaders disapprove of Phra Chaibul’s sermons, which are titled “Where Is Steve Jobs?” They say they are a stunt designed to lure more followers to Dhammakaya’s vast sanctuary. “Even if it is true, it is just showing off and has nothing to do with Lord Buddha’s teachings,” said one prominent religious authority, Phra Payom Kallayano.

Another revered scholar and temple abbot, Phra Paisal Visalo, told local media here that he is worried that many more people will follow Mr. Tseung, the software engineer at Apple in California, by seeking Dhammakaya’s help in contacting deceased friends and relatives.

After all, there’s an app for that.

Let the dead bury the dead. Or not. I just wish someone would please tell me why I can’t get a different theme for Safari. That aluminum motif is beginning to make me sad …


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