Review: Illusions: The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah


Illusions: The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah
Illusions: The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah by Richard Bach
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Richard Bach’s Jonathan Livingston Seagull, read when I was in 8th grade, was a real eye-opener to me at the time, and I re-read it every few years now as a reminder that we can be better than we are. The only other Bach book I’d read previous to Illusions was The Bridge Across Forever, which I also enjoyed, but not in that life-changing way of JLS. Many people said Illusions was as transformative for them as JLS, so I was looking forward to reading it, especially since I’ve been in kind of a mental funk.

Well … I really liked the book, but so far it hasn’t really had the impact of JLS. The story is built around the narrator, Richard, a barnstormer giving airplane rides for $3 for 10 minutes (it was the early 1970s) and how me meets Donald Shimoda, a messiah who gave up that job and is now also giving airplane rides. Don gives Richard a Messiah’s Handbook and proceeds to teach him that, basically, he controls his fate, his reality, and that everything he sees in the material world is an illusion.

The conversations, and especially the bits from the handbook, are insightful and interesting. But some of the concepts, like swimming in the earth, seem far fetched. Have I lost the imagination I had in 8th grade? Or are these things like earth-swimming and vaporizing clouds symbolic for how we can control other things in our lives? If I go around vaporizing clouds, won’t that just create drought and crop failure? I’m probably overthinking it.

This is a book I’ll re-read. Probably fairly soon. In fact, I may just carry it with me for a while and re-read it a little at a time. I do recommend it. The wisdom is important, reminding us to slow down, to think differently than the world would have us do.

Among the many sayings include is this one, maybe my favorite: “Argue for your limitations, and sure enough, they’re yours.” Accept no limitations. Be you.

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