Every once in awhile, someone asks me to name a book that changed my life. My response always surprises them.
What’s the book?
Illusions: The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah by Richard Bach.
I’ve meant to write a post about why this book changed my life, but I wanted to reread it first. And I kept putting that task off.
However, during the first session of the Inspired Creator Community, our conversation turned to books that set us on the metaphysical or spiritual path. Two of us immediately mentioned books by Richard Bach: Jonathan Livingston Seagull and Illusions.
This discussion sent me to my bookshelf to find my copy of both books and begin rereading them. In three days, I’d finished both. And I remembered exactly how I felt when I first read Illusions and why this book changed my life.
What the Book is About
I first purchased Illusions simply because it was written by Richard Bach. I had fond memories of reading Jonathan Livingston Seagull and the impact its lessons had on me when I read it around the age of 16. I saw the book on a table in a bookstore and purchased it.
While Jonathan Livingston Seagull presents some amazingly essential and powerful metaphysical concepts, it does so in a very subtle manner. This book tells the story of a gull obsessed with learning to fly high, fast, and precisely. For that, he is outcast but continues practicing flight. He goes on to meet a guide who teaches him lessons beyond flying—lessons about reality and potential.
Illusions, on the other hand, is much more direct in its teachings. This book tells the story of two barnstorming pilots who meet in a field in the Midwestern United States. One of them, Donald, is a messiah who has quit his job as a spiritual teacher to the masses. He teaches Richard that the world is an illusion and how to operate beyond that illusions while still human.
Why This Book Impacted Me
So why did this book about two guys flying around in small airplanes change my life?
While reading it, for the first time in my life, I felt a deep resonance within…a knowing that this book really was not just a story but a lesson in the truth of how the physical and spiritual worlds work. More than that, I wanted to understand and put this knowledge to use.
Before that, I had some broad beliefs about how the world worked, but my spirituality was steeped in Judaism. This was long before my foray into the New Age Movement or Kabbalah or other mystical and esoteric spiritual beliefs.
This book caused me to ask and seek answers to the big questions in life—How does the Universe work? What is God? Why does life feel hard? It opened the door to an entirely new realm of possibilities—ones I could control my experience by learning to control my thoughts. I felt certain—and still do—that this is the key to achieving human potential and accessing our spiritual nature.
After reading Illusions, I read other books by Bach. I began to frequent spiritual and metaphysical bookstores searching for more information that would move me along the path of self and spiritual realization. This was long before The Secret was published or the Law of Attraction became popularized, but there were books…plenty of them…and teachers.
I have spent much of my adult life studying the concepts put forth in Illusions and trying—to use them…sometimes with (often without) success. No matter my results, my belief in their validity has not wavered. Nor have other teachers or authors taught me anything that varies widely from the concepts I first learned in this book.
I know the only reason I can’t perform the so-called miracles described in Illusions is user error—or, as Bach would probably say, pilot error. So I continue to believe and to practice—just like Jonathan Livingston Seagull and Bach.
Key Lessons from Illusions
It would take too long to explore deeply the lessons presented in Illusions in this blog post. (I am exploring them in the Inspired Creator Community, though. Click on the link to join the discussion!) But I’d like to at least share the ones that spoke to me most on this read-through. So, here are a few:
“The whole motion of our time is from the material toward the spiritual…slow as it is, it’s still a pretty huge motion.”
“I wanted to say, for the love of God, if you want freedom and joy so much, can’t you see it’s not anywhere outside of you? Say you have it, and you have it! Act as if it’s yours, and it is!”
“Like attracts like. Just be who you are, calm and clear and bright. Automatically, as we shine who we are, asking ourselves every minute is this what I really want to do, doing it only when we answer yes, automatically that turns away those who have nothing to learn from who we are and attracts those who do, and from who we have to learn, as well.”
“To bring anything into your life, imagine it’s already there.”
“…you see it perfect, already done.”
“Only a few people are interested in what you have to say, but that’s all right. You don’t tell the quality of a master by the size of his crowds, remember.”
Key Lessons From the Messiah’s Handbook
In Illusions, Donald gives Richard his copy of the Messiah’s Handbook. I’ve always loved the lessons he found there. Here are a few of my favorites:
“Learning is finding out what you already know. Doing is demonstrating that you know it. Teaching is reminding others that they know just as well as you.”
“Your obligation in any lifetime is to be true to yourself.”
“You teach best what you most need to learn.”
“There is no such thing as a problem without a gift for you in its hands. You seek problems because you need their gifts.”
“Argue for your limitations, and sure enough, they’re yours.”
“You are never given a wish without also being given the power to make it true. You may have to work for it, however.”
Lessons for a Lifetime
Here’s one final lesson from Illusions that strongly spoke to me during my most recent reading of the book:
“In the path to our happiness shall we find the learning for which we have chosen this lifetime.”
I realized not long ago that I was not on a path that made me happy. That’s why I decided to make changes in my life and work. You can read more about that here.
The path of my happiness is, indeed, where I learn what I believe I am meant to learn—and share—in this lifetime…the same lessons Richard learned in Illusions. I know that now.
Discussing the metaphysical subjects presented in Illusions makes me enormously happy and raises my levels of passion, excitement, and inspiration. That’s why I’m so committed to the Inspired Creator Community. This program allows me to discuss these topics consistently with others—to learn and practice together.
I’m so glad I went back and reread Illusions. My copy will sit on my desk from now on. I’ve also discovered and ordered a copy of The Messiah’s Handbook, so like Richard, I can open it whenever I have a question and get an answer. Plus, it will remind me of the lessons I need to learn and keep me on the path.
Have you ever read a book that changed your life? What book was it and why? Tell me in a comment below. And please share this post with a friend.
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