“Your time is
limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by
dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking.” – Steve
Steve Jobs said
that at a speech to students graduating from Stanford University in 2005. Steve
died on October 5th this year. He was a very successful entrepreneur
in the business world, helping to start up Apple Inc, the company that makes
Mac computers, the iPod and iPhone. Steve made a lot of money, being worth 7
billion US dollars (that is a 7 with nine zeroes). It is worth listening to
that commencement speech. You can find it on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D1R-jKKp3NA
At the end of
last year, I gave a speech to students graduating from Pelkhil School. I have
not made much money. But part of my speech touched on what Steve said
So here is a
summary of some of the things I had to say to the first batch of class 12
students leaving Pelkhil. They were a great bunch of people and I enjoyed
working with them.
“Do what is
of the Six Perfections (paramitas) taught by Buddha is ‘morality’ or proper
conduct. When you are with other people you may feel inclined to join in with
what they are doing. It seems natural. They are all throwing their gum on the
floor, so why shouldn’t you? All of them copy in tests, so what is the harm in
you doing the same? Because it is not right, and you know it. Others doing
something will not make it right. It takes some courage to go against the flow
of others, but I urge you to stand up for what you think is correct.
has some good points. Books are better though. When you watch a movie, you see
the story interpreted by the director. Reading a book lets you be the creator.
Using your imagination is going to help stop you leading another’s life. Books
will lead to a much better understanding of language and build up your
vocabulary as well. Read slowly. Digest each sentence carefully. Take your time.
Let some peace into your life. Think about what you read. Or just relax into
the world that the writer is opening up for you. The only problem with reading
good books is that they end. But then your imagination can take your further.
cycle. If you are making a longer journey, use a car, boat or plane, but when
the trip is shorter, make your own way. When you get older, strong legs will
stop you falling over and you may live a few more years. Walking saves the
world. Walking gives you time to meditate over your life. Time to enjoy the
sites of the journey, a chance to observe the smaller things in life, to stop
and smell the flowers, and get some exercise. What is all the hurry about?
These legs were made for walking.
Nhat Hanh is a wise Vietnamese master of Zen Buddhism. When I first read his
books, I thought they were too simple. It was me that was being simple. His
writing is beautiful and touches on the heart of what life is about.
‘Interbeing’ was his term for how we are all connected together. Every little
thing that you do will have some effect on others, and the whole universe. The
paper that this magazine is printed on started from the sun which provided
energy to the tree which provided pulp for the paper. Then there were all the
people that worked on making the paper, and the machines, and the people who
dreamed up paper in the first place. All of them connected to you. It is easy
to forget other people, but impossible to remove yourself from them. Do your best to remember. (I leant the book I quoted from to someone else, and they
have not returned it to me. As a result of their actions, I cannot add a quote.
This just goes to show how others do affect us.)
to my Advice!”
all advice, you do not have to accept it. Test it out if you wish, or ignore it
if you find it does not help. No matter who is talking, or how important they
seem, always question what is being said. Does it make sense? Blind faith is
not a good thing. For example, “Nothing is impossible” is a nice attitude to
have, but I have never found two even numbers that add up to and odd number.
your own life means taking responsibility. When you do something wrong, admit
it and take steps to correct any harm you have caused. If something is out of
place, you be the one to start putting things right. Don’t expect to get praise
for your actions. It is enough to have helped.