The Making of American Yogi

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steven-closeupWhat I’m going to tell you might be hard for you to believe. I had never met Maharaj-ji and I had always wanted to talk with him. In 1981, I was staying at Maharaj-ji’s Kainchi temple. It was early afternoon and I was sitting and daydreaming. My back was against the wall with Maharaj-ji’s tucket to my right. All of a sudden, I heard a voice saying, “You wanted to talk to me?” I turned toward the tucket and I saw Maharajji laying there. Suddenly he disappeared. Then I heard his voice talking to me in my heart and we continued talking for about an hour.

One of the most important things he said was that he wanted me to make a movie about Hanuman. I took that to mean to also make a movie about Him. I asked, “Should I get someone to help me?” He replied, “Yes, Zoe.” Zoe had been my girlfriend many years ago and we weren’t in touch any more because she was about to get married. I’d always thought of her as my soul mate.

I went to LA to try to make this movie but nobody was interested in investing money in a movie about a dead Guru. So the project went on the backburner, but never far from my heart. Then, 23 years later, Zoe called me out of the blue. Eight months later we were on our way to India to make “American Yogi!”

– Steven Newmark


zoe-pinkI was walking at the seashore with Steven, my old/new love. We were both feeling the wonder of finding each other again. We had been walking in silence for several miles of beautiful woodland. Suddenly he said, ”I want to make the Maharaj-ji movie – now.” “Wow. Well, why not? But can you make a movie?” He stood there looking like a gangly kid. He wanted to do it, he felt like he could do it, he dreaded not doing it – but could he actually do it?

This was one of the times in the beginning that I came in direct contact with the demands of love. Steven and I had loosely based our relationship and our commitment on Satya – truth. We had learned how to steel ourselves for the thing we least wanted to hear. We had learned how to bring up the things we most feared. But I saw in a flash that this was not a matter of truth. It was a matter of the irrational, the great leap, a leap into loving.

And why not? It was getting late in our lives. Now or never. I didn’t actually think it over. For me the word “no” written on something read “try it.” I had many lessons still to learn about relationship.

– Zoe Durga Harber

A Film About Steve Jobs’ Guru

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American Yogi is a movie about Steve Jobs’ Guru, an Indian saint who transformed tens of thousands of young people in the seventies and who shaped Steve’s approach to life and his work.

steve-jobs-In 1974, Steve Jobs quit his job at Atari and said to his boss. “I’m going to find my Guru.” Jobs had been impressed by reading about this guru, called Maharaj-ji, in the book “Be Here Now.” He later described the book as “profound” and said it had “transformed him.” He then met Robert Friendland, who had seen Maharaj-ji, and he was very impressed with him. That encounter inspired Jobs to make a spiritual journey to India.

Jobs later said, “For me it was a serious search. I’d been turned on to the idea of enlightenment and trying to figure out who I was and how I fit into things.”

A few months later Jobs arrived at Maharaj-ji’s temple in the foothills of the Himalayas. However when Jobs arrived, Maharaj-ji had passed away a few month earlier. Larry Brilliant, a devotee of Maharaj-ji, who had remained at the temple after this guru had left his body, was the first person there to meet him. He said “Steve was barefoot, wearing robes and head-shaven. He rented a small “Kumoan” hillside cabin and he would come and get tea and food at the ashram.”

Jobs later said “The people in the Indian countryside don’t use their intellect like we do, they use their intuition instead. Intuition is a very powerful thing, more powerful than intellect, in my opinion. That’s had a big impact on my work.”

Evidently Jobs maintained his connection with Maharaj-ji throughout his life. When he died two pictures of Maharajji were found in his room.

So who is this Maharaj-ji? Who is this man who made such an impact on a young Steve Jobs that he traveled all the way to India to see him? The new documentary “American Yogi” answers these questions.