Posted by: Tracy Barsamian | January 21, 2014

Book Review: Ilusions: The Adventures of a Relcutant Messiah

illusions by bach

I recently read Illusions: The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah by Richard Bach.  Bach is also the author of Jonathan Livingston Seagull (which I’ll review later in the week!).  I REALLY enjoyed both books.

Here’s what has to say about  Illusions: The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah:

“In the cloud-washed airspace between the cornfields of Illinois and blue infinity, a man puts his faith in the propeller of his biplane. For disillusioned writer and itinerant barnstormer Richard Bach, belief is as real as a full tank of gas and sparks firing in the cylinders …until he meets Donald Shimoda – former mechanic and self-described messiah who can make wrenches fly and Richard’s imagination soar…In Illusions, the unforgettable follow-up to his phenomenal New York Times bestseller Jonathan Livingston Seagull, Richard Bach takes to the air to discover the ageless truths that give our souls wings: that people don’t need airplanes to soar …that even the darkest clouds have meaning once we lift ourselves above them …and that messiahs can be found in the unlikeliest places – like hay fields, one-traffic-light midwestern towns, and most of all, deep within ourselves.”


Like many other New Age books, the author suggests the key to understanding the universe and thereby enjoying true freedom, true joy, a full life.  The following (strangely numbered/outlined) excerpt from the book beautifully summarizes the author’s basic philosophy:

9.  “And he (the reluctant messiah) said unto them, “within each of us lies the power to our consent to health and to sickness, to riches and to poverty, to freedom and to slavery.  It is we who control these, and not another.”

10.  A mill-man spoke and said, “Easy words for you, Master, for you are guided as we are not, and need not toil as we toil.  A man has to work for his living in this world.”

11.  The master answered and said, “Once there lived a village of creatures along the bottom of a great crystal river.

12.  “The current of the river swept silently over them all – young and old, rich and poor, good and evil, the current going its own way, knowing only its own crystal self.

13.  “Each creature in its own manner clung tightly to the twigs and rocks of the river bottom, for clinging was their way of life, and resisting the current what each had learned from birth.

14.  “But one creature said at last, ‘I am tired of clinging.  though I cannot see it with my eyes, I trust that the current knows where it is going.  I shall let go, and let it take me where it will.  Clinging, I shall die of boredom.

15.  “The other creatures laughed and said, ‘Fool!  Let go, and that current you worship will throw you tumbled and smashed across the rocks, and you will die quicker than boredom!’

16.  “But the one heeded them not, and taking a breath did let go, and at once was tumbled and smashed by the current across the rocks.

17.  “Yet in time, as the creature refused to cling again, the current lifted him free from the bottom, and he was bruised and hurt and more.

18.  “And the creatures downstream, to whom he was a stranger cried, ‘See a miracle!  A creature like ourselves, yet he flies!  See the Messiah, come to save us all!’

19.  “And the one carried in the current said, ‘I am no more Messiah than you.  The river delights to lift us free, if only we dare let go.  Our true work is this voyage, this adventure.’

The book struck a chord with me.  What if I let go?  What if I just trusted, instead of trying to control every little thing?  Well…it would sure be scary at first!  But after you trust the river a few times, perhaps it gets easier?  It must!  Or else there would be no messiahs; they’d all just start clinging again further down the river!!  Trust is a hard thing for me – thereby making it all the more important that I learn trust.  And not just in myself – but in the river, too.

I had this wild session with Joy! last week where we cleared a mistaken conclusion of mine.  Here’s the scenario:  I was about six, riding my bike in Timberlee park with little Jamie Geier (it was 1980, so we were alone and helmetless) and we were riding down the big hill on Maplewood Drive – with our eyes closed and our hands off the handlebars.  It was pure freedom.  Remembering it now, I can still taste it.  I can still feel it.  Wide open heart.  Pure joy.

And then, towards the bottom of the hill, I crashed into a parked car!  I flew off my bike.  The mom that lived in that house came out to check if I was alright.  I jumped back on the bike and yelled, “I’m fine.  Sorry about your car!”  MY MOM knew that mom and I was sooo worried that she was going to tell her about my recklessness.  So I sped away hoping that she wouldn’t recognize me!

And that moment – of impact/flying off my bike/crashing to the ground – was my first cranioelectrical.  WILD!  I was so happy – so carefree – and then CRASH it all ended and badly.  And so I made the decision right then and there, to never let that happen again.  That little six year old, in trying to protect herself from harm again, vowed not to be “reckless”.  But that feeling…that feeling of closing your eyes, taking your hands off the handlebars and soaring is what Mr. Bach is talking about.  If we can just let go.  We may be “tumbled and smashed by the current across the rocks” every once in a while, but if we “refused to cling again, the current…(may just lift us)…free from the bottom, and…(we’d be) bruised and hurt and more”.

Clinging is OUR way of life, and resisting the current is what EACH OF US has learned from birthClinging, WE shall die of boredomThe river delights to lift us free, if only we dare let go.  Our true work is this voyage, this adventure.

Read the book!  It’s really good!!  xo, Tracy

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