ADAM OSBORNE: PERSONAL REMEMBRANCES
CHILDHOOD, ADULTHOOD AND THE MAHARSHI
Sometime in the spring of 1982 and a year or so after being gone two years in the Peace Corps, a very good friend of mine, a onetime philosophy major that I had known in college, but somehow now having morphed into a big time computer geek, contacted me.
She told me the man she loved was on the waiting list for a heart transplant at Stanford University and that she had moved to a small studio apartment in Campbell, California to work in Silicon Valley and be within driving distance to see him. She wanted to know if there was some way I might be able to console him as he was wrought with anxiety almost to the point of a total breakdown --- inturn adversely impacting his health and preparedness for the transplant. Before a new heart with his match was available he died.
The several days of my intended stay turned into several weeks, then several months. By then I had to leave. One night just before I left, at some function or the other, I looked across the room and made a strangely unusual eye contact with a man I was sure I knew somehow. Asking my friend if she knew who the man might be she told me he was some Silicon Valley computer geek multi-quadzillionaire. With the unexpected death of my one time millionaire friend Lance Reventlow some ten years prior, who at the time I knew him owned one of only two fully aluminum bodied Mercedes Benz 300SL gullwing coupes in the US, and having no reason to think I might know any kind of a millionaire now, let alone a multi-quadzillionaire, computer geek or otherwise, I let it pass.(see)
Some nights later my friend was hanging out in a place down the street from her studio apartment called the Garrett, adjecent to the Pruneyard in Campbell, eating a pizza and quaffing down a few beers with friends when the same man stepped up to her. He told her he had tracked her down through mutual acquaintances and was sure that her friend, me, and he knew each other as kids. He wanted to know, implying that it was important, if she thought it possible if such could be the case. She told him since I had moved around and lived with so many families so often as a child --- and her not knowing any of the specifics --- she could not say one way or the other with any amount of certainty.
When she caught up with me I told her it might have been possible. I also told her that even though I could not place when or how, I still had this strange feeling that night I first saw him that I knew him from someplace. Then she dropped the bombshell. He said he thought he knew me from India! I had never told my friend I had ever been to India and for the man to claim such a thing out of the blue was most startling. I gathered up what few photographs of myself that I had as a child and flew back up to Silicon Valley see him.
Because he had met my friend at the Garrett and I knew where it was located, we set it as a meeting place. As soon as he saw the pictures of me in my youth he knew I was the one he knew as a kid in India. Then he told me his story. His name was Adam Osborne and as things stood then and now he was sort of a precursor to the eventually much more financially successful Steve Jobs. Osborne and I were basically the exact same age. When he was very young his father, a British subject, worked in Thailand. He and his family just happened to be on vacation in India when the war broke out. His father returned to his job in Thailand, but, because of how unsettled everything was, he had Adam and his mother and two sisters go to the south of India to stay with friends. Shortly after returning to Thailand his father was placed into an internment camp by the Japanese and not released until the war ended. In the meantime Adam grew up in Tiruvannamalai and the ashram of the Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi.
Although I was truly not able to recall anything he told me about the two of us being in India together as kids, he said he remembered me quite well because I was the only anglo boy his age he ever really met in his early years. He said he could not remember if our time together was long or short, if it lasted just days or stretched into weeks, but he did remember, even though he was not doing meditation specifically like I was, the two of us still found time to run all over the place getting in trouble --- even to the point of being admonished by the Maharshi. He also told me we had participated in Giri Valam, circumambulation of the holy hill Arunachala, although he did not recall if we completed the walk or who we went with. Neither too, did he remember if the two of us ever climbed to the top or visited the caves.(see)
In SRI RAMANA MAHARSHI: The Last American Darshan, refering to the works of Sri C.R. Rajamani titled Awakens the Child of Theosophists, Rajamani, alluding to me as a child in India, I write:
"At the ashram Ramana turned and said, "Go with your parents. I will always be with you." Ramana knew, as I did, the couple I was with were not my parents."
In so saying, in the text of the Last American Darshan I lay it out, mostly by inference, that Ramana knew the couple were not my real parents through a certain level or spiritual aspect of his "abilities." And I still feel such may well be the case. However, not to play down any abilities Ramana may or may not have had, spiritual or otherwise, when Osborne and I met at the Garrett many years later as grown-ups he told me that as kids I had informed him that the couple I was with were NOT actually my parents. Truth be told, in Ramana's court in the ashram nothing escaped him. Whatever happened was brought to his attention either through attrition, a genuine confidant, or told him by someone hoping to gain something. Osborne's mother was a well respected member of Ramana's inner circle and it could be in general conversation the fact that the couple were not my parents may have filtered up from son to mother to Ramana.
Osborne also said I told him at first I did not want to go to India with the couple and fought hard not to do so. After arrival, however, he said I had a much different view. When it was time to go, I did not want to leave.
On December 21, 1937, long before I went to or was taken to India OR either Osborne or I was born, the Disney movie Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs was released. There was a song in the movie called "Whistle While You Work," a song I remember quite well in that my mother sang (and whistled) it well into the time of her being sick. The year after Snow White was released The Wizard of Oz came out. Sometime after their release but before my trip to India, I saw both movies. Even though Osborne and I were both little kids and I may or may not have given him the title of either movie at the time as a kids, he remembered them as a grown man and the connections I made to them.
I only say so because I want you, the reader, to know that even though I do not remember at what time in my before going to India life I saw either movie specifically, that is, at what age or when --- mostly because seeing either of them must not have been tied to a memorable date like a birthday or something --- I did remember the song from Snow White and my mother singing it. So too, I remembered "The Wizard of Oz" well enough to tell Osborne something that stuck with him the rest of his life. Years later, as a young adult, it dawned on him out of nowhere one day when it popped into his head that his name Osborne and what happened to me turned out for me, to be a new life. I was Oz born. According to what he remembered, I had told him about "this movie" I had seen that in the beginning started out black and white, but when the little girl in it ended up in a magical land the world had turned into color. That was why I told him I did not want to leave --- because while there, in the ashram, for me, the world had TURNED INTO COLOR.
(please click either graphic)
In the opening sentence at the top of the page you may recall I write that sometime in the spring of 1982 a friend contacted me which in turn led to me visiting her in northern California. I then go on to say the several days of my intended stay turned into several weeks, then several months. During that period, after Osborne saw me at some function or the other and thought he recognized me, he contacted my friend who put the two of us together. The next year, in 1983 Inc. Magazine, in a personal interview with Osborne, the author writes Osborne as relating the followng:
"The moment of truth -- or, at least, one of them -- came in July of 1982, a heady time for his company, which was already running in excess of $100 million in annual revenues. Osborne looked in the mirror and saw a natty, middle-aged, mustachioed, somewhat gaunt but still thick-haired visage. On the surface, it was-the face of a man genuinely pleased with the trappings of entrepreneurial success. (He drives the standard Silicon Valley Mercedes-Benz and lives in a house on two acres in nearby Berkeley.) Underneath that visage, however, was someone who was not as comfortable in business as fast-growth groupies assumed."(source)
Osborne's July of 1982 'moment of truth' as so mentioned in the above quote transpired less than a day or two of our meeting at the Garrett.
Ten years later, in 1992, following a decade of a continuing series of unexplainable minor but escalating life threatening and life interfering strokes, Osborne returned to be with his sister in his former stomping grounds in India. He died there on March 18, 2003 at age 64.
STEVE JOBS: INDIA, BUDDHISM, AND ZEN ENLIGHTENMENT
THE BRITISH MOTOR MERCHANT TULAGI
PEACE CORPS ZEN
Fundamentally, our experience as experienced is not different from the Zen master's. Where
we differ is that we place a fog, a particular kind of conceptual overlay onto that experience
and then make an emotional investment in that overlay, taking it to be "real" in and of itself.
AWAKENED TEACHERS FORUM
ZEN ENLIGHTENMENT IN A NUTSHELL
ON THE RAZOR'S
I had known Lance Reventlow, the heir to the Woolworth fortune, since we were both kids. He was probably around 14 years old and I was around 12 when we first met. My dad and Stepmother had gone off to Mexico and on to South America for a couple of years and parsed out my brothers and I to others to look after us. My older brother went to live with my grandmother and my younger brother went to live with a couple of which the woman of the couple was somehow known to my stepmother. My Uncle, who had basically had charge of me since I was eight years old was going back to Santa Fe and after some negotiating was able to convince the couple that took my younger brother to take me as well. It didn't work out with me running away on more than one occasion. My uncle contacted my stepmother who told my uncle to put me into some kind of boys home until she got back, but not a disciplinary one like they had put my older brother in at one time, but an educational one. In the process my uncle checked out the Southern Arizona School for Boys in Tucson and took me with him. The school for boys idea didn't take hold and I ended up back with the couple after promising my uncle I would behave until other solutions were found or my stepmother returned.
The thing is, during my visit to the school, while my uncle was in discussion and being shown around I saw a boy sitting by himself at a table and, although later he claimed to be no kind of an artist, he was making the most fabulous pencil drawing of an open wheeled race car I had ever seen. I was always drawing pictures, mostly of planes and rocket ships, but never of race cars. I sat down next to the boy and began drawing the only race car I knew anything about, the Boyle Special that had won the 1939 and 1940 Indianapolis 500. The next thing I knew the two of us were talking on and on with the boy telling me of seeing race cars in Europe, not like the ones in the U.S. that drove around only in circles, but that raced on real roads. The boy turned out to be Lance Reventlow, the Boyle Special turned out to be a Maserati.
OF COBRAS, SCARABS, MASERATIS, AND ZEN
BOYLE MASERATI 8CTF
There is one slight caveat, one could argue, relative to my 'having no reason to think I might know any kind of a millionaire now' statement. In an oddball sort of way I knew the multi-millionaire David J. Halliburton Sr in having met him for the first time when I was a young boy around age ten. I came in contact with him a second time years later when I crewed one summer on his cabin cruiser yacht, come marlin boat, albeit not knowing he was the owner when hired by the skipper. See:
DAVID J. HALLIBURTON
ADAM OSBORNE AND STEVE JOBS
In March of 1975 a number of San Francisco Bay Area computer aficionados came together and formed a loose-knit group they eventually called the Homebrew Computer Club. In the early years the club became so popular that sometimes the meetings drew upwards of 750 participants, becoming THE major source of the latest information on computers and the movement and trading of computer parts during the infancy of the Silicon Valley high tech industry. Steve Jobs attended meetings as did Adam Osborne who hawked his book An Introduction to Microcomputers.
In the world of computer lore and history there is a story about a major clash that erupted between Osborne and Jobs just as both of their companies were beginning to make a mark. In an article on the net titled A Message For Adam by Andy Hertzfeld, Hertzfeld writes:
"In April 1981, a few members of the Mac team took off the afternoon and drove up to San Francisco to visit the seventh West Coast Computer Faire at Brooks Hall. The biggest splash at the show was the unveiling of the Osborne I, from a brand new company named Osborne Computer, which was touted as the world's first portable computer.
"The Osborne I was the brain-child of Adam Osborne, who was a well known figure in the world of early microcomputers. Adam was a technical writer who founded a publishing company to publish crucial information about microprocessors and software that was sorely lacking at the time, which was eventually sold to McGraw-Hill. He became a controversial columnist, opining on the industry from his pulpit in InfoWorld and other publications. He had a populist vision of computing, touting a no-frills, low cost, high volume approach to the business.
"In 1980, he decided to put his theories into practice, and founded the Osborne Computer Company to design, manufacture and market the Osborne 1, which was a low cost, one-piece, portable computer complete with a suite of bundled applications. He recruited Lee Felsenstein, already a microcomputing legend as the master of ceremonies of the Home Brew Computer Club, to design the hardware. Now, they were introducing the fruits of their labor at the West Coast Computer Faire, as Apple had done four years earlier."
Hertzfeld goes on to say the Mac team worked their way up to get a good look at the Osborne 1 and, after asking a few questions to one of the presenters, was approached by Osborne himself. Hertzfeld offers his view of what then transpired:
"'Oh, some Apple folks,' he addressed us in a condescending tone, 'What do you think? The Osborne 1 is going to outsell the Apple II by a factor of 10, don't you think so? What part of Apple do you work in?' "When we told him that we were on the Mac team, he started to chuckle. 'The Macintosh, I heard about that. When are we going to get to see it? Well, go back and tell Steve Jobs that the Osborne 1 is going to outsell the Apple II and the Macintosh combined!'
After the Mac team returned to Cupertino they told Jobs about their encounter with Osborne. According to Hertzfeld Jobs immediately picked up the phone and called the Osborne Computer Corporation. He told the secretary:
"Hi, this is Steve Jobs. I'd like to speak with Adam Osborne."
The secretary told Jobs that Osborne was not available, and would not be back until the next day, asking if he would like to leave a message.
"Yes", Steve replied. He paused for a second. "Here's my message. Tell Adam he's an asshole."
FOR MORE SEE:
STEVE JOBS: INDIA, BUDDHISM, AND ZEN ENLIGHTENMENT
ABOUT OSBORNE, GIRI VALAM, CIRCUMAMBULATION OF ARUNACHALA AND ME:
The following quote, although from the main text above, has basically been paraphrased and extrapolated from two sources, Sri Ramana's Western Disciples and Enlightened Individuals I've Met:
"He also told me we had participated in Giri Valam, circumambulation of the holy hill Arunachala, although he did not recall if we completed the walk or who we went with. Neither too, did he remember if the two of us ever climbed to the top or visited the caves."
Osborne and I kept in contact with each other on and off a little bit for a few years following our meeting. Interestingly enough during one of those short lived contacts, out of the blue, he brought up Giri Valam, circumambulation of the holy hill Arunachala and how it related to the two of us. Osborne's father had died in 1970 and Osborne told me that sometime prior to his father's death a man by the name of William Samuel had contacted him in the U.S. and expressed an interest in meeting his father. In their conversation Samuel told him that he and Osborne (the younger) had met at Ramana's ashram in India in 1944 and that during his stay, on the full moon of which he thought was April of that year, he, Osborne and another young boy and a few other people including his mother, circumabulated Arunachala. Osborne empasized the younger boy aspect with me specifically because Samuel thought, Osborne guessed, that the other boy (me) was his brother --- a twin brother --- because of our age, size, body build and look-alike curly haired mop tops.
The month before, 1500 miles east across the sub-continent edging up along the Burmese border the Japanese launched a three divison invasion into India. Quickly outstretching their supply lines and hoping to replenish their local needs by overtaking British, American and Indian garrisons, etc. while their lifelines caught up, didn't happen. For the most part, three months later, met by stronger than expected Allied response and caught in the monsoons, the Japanese were forced into retreat dying of malaria and starving to death --- in the end losing over 80,000 men.
In the early stages of that invasion William Samuel, a 21 year old captain in the U.S. Army and a veteran of three years fighting with the Chinese Nationalist army against the Japanese in China was apparently called over to the India side of things and somehow must have finagled some much needed R and R, ending up at the Ramana ashram for a week or so in April. By the end of the war he was back and well entrenched in China fighting along side the Chinese troops retaking Ishan, Liuchow and Kweilin. Interestingly enough, ten years later, after being called back into the army for the Korean war Samuel had what was nothing less than an Enlightenment experience. See also:
WILLIAM SAMUEL: A SECRET REVEALED
A SOLDIER'S STORY
The references of Oz and the childhood association with the Awakening or Enlightenment experience we are talking about here, happened many, many years ago, as did the conversations between myself and Osborne later as adults. So too, my writing of the association and presenting it online came about quite sometime back as well.
Interestingly enough other authors have seen fit to draw similar conclusions. John Wren-Lewis, the author of DAZZLING DARK: A Near-Death Experience Opens the Door to a Permanent Transformation writes that following a near death experience he was suddenly thrust into a permanent altered state of consciousness similar to that typically attributed to the ancient classical masters. His perspective is considered unique not only because his awakening was thrust upon him basically out of nowhere without seeking it, but also because of that fact, he questions many commonly held beliefs about spiritual awakening. However, thrust upon or sought out, the end result, when put into words by the experiencer, are hauntingly the same.
"(W)hereas mystical awakening for me has been like Dorothy's in The Wizard of Oz: the realization that I never really left home and never could."
Evan I. Schwartz, author of the just published book Finding Oz wherein he discusses the Wizard of Oz author L. Frank Baum and where and how he created the Oz books writes:
"The Wonderful Wizard of Oz is less than a coming-of-age story, as some have suggested, and more a transformation-of-consciousness story. Like the Buddha, Dorothy attains Enlightenment."
How I as a young boy would ever concieve of such a thing on my own is beyond me. Another interesting sidelight from Schwartz's book --- as it applies here --- is that the mother-in-law of Oz author Baum was a Theosophist. Through her, Baum and his wife were drawn into that belief system. If you recall from the above, the couple that began visiting my mother and eventually took me to India were Theosophists.