Was the revolutionary circular scroll wheel on the Apple iPod inspired by kinhin, the Zen practice of walking in circles while meditating? There’s no hard evidence, but a new book, The Zen of Steve Jobs, suggests a connection. The illustrated and partly fictionalized book, which focuses on the real-life relationship between the late Apple co-founder and a Zen Buddhist priest, juxtaposes the lessons Jobs learned from his Zen master with design breakthroughs in his products. In so doing, the book picks up and expands on a theme also discussed in Walter Isaacson’s recent biography of Jobs: that the great innovator was, himself, greatly influenced by Zen principles and practices.
Which raises a question that may seem crude, aggressively Western, and not at all Zen: Can the rest of us boost our innovation mojo by applying some of these centuries-old principles to modern-day challenges?
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