Meet Brother Spirit, the Buddhist monk who doesn't believe in competition and is behind one of the great partnerships in Silicon Valley

  • Brother Spirit is a monk in the French monastic community of Plum Village.

  • Brother Spirit played a role in connecting Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff with Humane's founders.

  • Brother Spirit said competition is not the best way to drive innovation.

Behind Humane's new "Ai Pin" — the AI-powered screenless wearable designed to wean you off your smartphone — are a roster of alums from Apple, Google, Tesla, high-profile investors, and a monk named Brother Spirit.

Brother Spirit, a Zen Buddhist monk practicing at Plum Village monastery near Bordeaux, France, reportedly connected Humane's founders, Imran Chaudhri and Bethany Bongiorno, with Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff, according to The New York Times.

Chaudhri and Bongiorno, a couple of married former Apple employees, reportedly met Brother Spirit through their acupuncturist sometime between 2016 and 2018, according to the Times. At the time, they had two concepts for an AI-powered product — a woman's health device and a pin — and Brother Spirit suggested they share their ideas with "his friend" Marc Benioff.

Benioff, who is also an investor in Humane, told them the pin would become "a massive company," according to the Times.

Brother Spirit did not respond to Insider's request for a comment, so it's unclear exactly when he befriended Benioff. However, Plum Village itself, which has more than 200 resident monks and nuns and refers to itself as Europe's largest Buddhist monastery on its website, has ties with Salesforce.

Benioff previously hosted monks from Plum Village at one of his homes in San Francisco and got the idea from them to build meditation rooms into Salesforce Towers. He's even invited monks from Plum Village to Dreamforce — Salesforce's massive annual tech conference that's drawn figures like Barack Obama, Tim Cook, and Fleetwood Mac in prior years — to give meditation tips to conference guests.

Brother Spirit, who also goes by Brother Pháp Linh, appears to be active on social media. He has almost 3,000 followers on X, where he goes by the handle @brspirituality and describes himself as a "composer-monk" who values "questions over answers" and believes that "tea usually helps."

And he seems to be a staunch climate activist. He last posted on X on November 10, writing, "We all need to do what we can to prepare — and that includes our hearts" in light of global warming. He also posted his thoughts on The Deluge, a fictional novel about the climate crisis, calling it "a terrifying and brilliant foretelling of the next few years" that "somehow keeps our faith in humanity's potential for resilience, resistance, and rebellion alive."

Before Brother Spirit entered monastic training at Plum Village, he worked as a composer and studied mathematics at Cambridge University, according to an interview he gave to executive coach CK Lin in October 2022. He's composed many of his monastery's chants. His Soundcloud profile features a few of his compositions and arrangements, though his last post is from three years ago.

And while the tech industry thrives on intense rivalries among tech giants and fosters a culture of competitive, rapid innovation, Brother Spirit (who seems to have his own methods of facilitating innovation) argues that competition may not be the best way to access our deeper creative instincts and capacity for innovation.

"Our way of understanding the world has produced this kind of, um, you know, extractive, consumerist, capitalist society that we are enmeshed in, and which is eating the planet," he told Lin. And it's underscored by a very individualistic culture in which companies "compete with each other because the idea is that that will drive innovation that will make them better," he explained.

He suggested instead that we merge technological innovation with ancient wisdom, like Buddhism, to figure out how we can rethink our fixation on individualism and competition. "We are each other," he told Lin, "we're not as separate as we think."

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