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Illusions by Richard Bach

Illusions (original 1977; edition 1981)

by Richard Bach

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3,318461,638 (3.95)35
Authors:Richard Bach
Info:Laurel (1981), Mass Market Paperback, 192 pages
Collections:Your library

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Illusions: The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah by Richard Bach (1977)


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Illusions by Richard Bach

Having unfortunately been duped by propaganda to believe the deranged and twisted mythologies of Abrahamic deathcults (fraught with crucifixions and bloody sacrifices to vengeful gods) were actually real, I didn't find any path to spiritual enlightenment until I reached the age of 14 and finally began to think for myself, breaking free from the brainwashing dogmas of those hideous institutions. Thankfully, I never became a catamite to a clergyman in order to discover their sacred texts were pretty much evil incarnate, but I do lament that it took the better part of a decade to renounce their deceitful fictions. Would that I were only raised to accept J.R. "Bob" Dobbs as a beacon of salvation, at least I could have had a moneyback guarantee!

Consequently, I can sincerely say, Illusions: The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah by Richard Bach is the type of book I wish I had discovered at the age of 8 instead of 20. Had I found it sooner in my life, I may have been able to abandon the egomaniacal lies expounded by Messianic theology that much more quickly. Perhaps I would have become a bit wiser a bit sooner, and I would have ceased being so clueless when I was much younger than 14 years old.

But, as the old saying goes, "You can't second-guess fate."

For those who are wondering, yes, I am quite deliberately speaking of these topics using such a convoluted mire of haughty terminology because I know that intelligent people will follow what I'm talking about and a majority of the zealous zombies indoctrinated by theistic idiocy will have no clue what the hell I'm saying. I grew up with a number of people, bless their souls, who couldn't follow the vocabulary of Johnny Carson, let alone Dennis Miller.

While I may bemoan that the age of 20 was a far older age than I would have preferred to discover this book, things happen in their due time and perhaps Illusions came into my life at exactly the right moment. To quote from the introduction of Illusions:

"Perhaps it is no coincidence that you're holding this book; perhaps there's something about these adventures that you came here to remember. I choose to think so. And I choose to think my messiah is perched out there on some other dimension, not fiction at all, watching us both, and laughing for the fun of it happening just the way we planned it to be."

Illusions: The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah by Richard Bach tells the story of a mechanic who befriends a barnstormer. The mechanic, named Donald Shimoda, is the eponymous messiah. The book follows their meeting and developing friendship over the course of a few days where the barnstormer gains a lot of wisdom about life and learns that Donald Shimoda isn't the crackpot that most people would presume him to be. The story is wonderful. Full of deep insights and a kind of taoist existential view of the universe that can change your life. This is why you must find this book at the proper age for you. Too young and you won't understand it. Too old and you may too set in your ways to consider the possibilities. But, when you're old enough to be questioning and young enough to still be searching, Illusions will find you.

Never will I forget when and where Illusions found me for the first time.

I was already a fan of Richard Bach and I had read a number of his books. One afternoon in circa 1991, I found myself in a bookstore in downtown Cleveland and I already had a number of books in hand that I wanted to buy. However, being dirt poor, I couldn't afford all of them. I had to be careful which ones I picked to purchase. So, I decided I would open Illusions to a random page and read what was there. If the text on that page really spoke to me, I would buy the book.

I shut my eyes and flipped it open and read the words:

"Perspective - Use It or Lose It. If you turned to this page, you're forgetting that what is going on around you is not reality. Think about that. Remember where you came from, where you're going, and why you created the mess you got yourself into in the first place. You're going to die a horrible death, remember. It's all good training, and you'll enjoy it more if you keep the facts in mind. Take your dying with some seriousness, however. Laughing on the way to your execution is not generally understood by less advanced lifeforms, and they'll call you crazy."

Gasping, I slammed the book shut. Needless to say, I nearly had a heart attack. And shit myself. Seizure. Incontinence. Simultaneously.

What the fuck!?

A horrible death!? Whoa. Whoa. Whoa. Hold on a second. That's metaphorical, right? Metaphorical death? Metaphorical execution? We're not talking literal, here. Right? I want to die peacefully in my sleep at the age of 105 after a night of having sex with my 20 year old lingerie model girlfriend. That's how I plan to go out. Not a horrible execution. Shit, man, I was just asking if I should buy a book. I wasn't asking for metaphysical premonitions of being executed! What the fuck is that about!?

When I said I wanted the book to speak to me, I was not expecting the thing to answer me so literally.

Needless to say, there was no way that book was going back on the shelf. This thing was coming home with me.

Ultimately, that's what Illusions became in my life - a book that truly speaks to me. In the decades since I first discovered the book, there are still quotes and lines that have stuck with me and resonated and remain just as true and profound and relevant today as they were when I first read them. The book became the sort of story you give to girls you are dating, to test them; to see if they "get it" or not. Girl doesn't like Illusions, she's not going to be the right kind of girl for me. That was how important the book became. When you use a book to test people you're sleeping with, you know it's a damn good book. Some girls passed. Some girls failed. And sure enough, the ones who passed ended up being some of the best girls I ever dated.

Those lemmings who are still blindly following devious men preaching imaginary edicts of insane and hateful gods, will most likely not comprehend or enjoy a book like Illusions. However, those of you who know how to communicate directly with the wonderment of the universe, circumventing the antiquated mendacities of ecclesiastical catechisms, will find the story to be a profound revelation. Knowing there has been at least one other soul in the universe to see things the way you do will be enough to restore some of your dissipated faith in humanity. Something like Illusions may not help you wizened souls view any aspect of life in a new way, but rather, help you to see you are not the only savior yearning to leave your post.

Perhaps it is no coincidence that you came across this review; perhaps there's something about this book that you came here to remember. I choose to think so. And I choose to think all the joy of the universe is watching us both, and laughing for the fun of it happening just the way we planned it to be. ( )
  EricMuss-Barnes | Mar 22, 2015 |
This book states many beliefs I have held for years, so it wasn't "life-changing" or anything... it was more like another confirmation of the ideals I already hold, and the fact that I am not alone in my beliefs. Very well-written easy read. I read this book in two hours. It's a thinker, and I always enjoy books that make me think. ( )
  KRaySaulis | Aug 13, 2014 |
Boy: “Do not try and bend the spoon. That’s impossible. Instead…only try to realize the truth.”
Neo: “What truth?”
Boy: “There is no spoon.”

Reading Richard Bach’s 1977 personal treatise on all things humanist, [Illusions], felt like reading Neo’s training manual. But Neo didn’t really have to read anything, did he? All in all, I’d rather have just uploaded this one and not wasted the evening it took to read. The material amounted to essentially the same thing – nothing is real; all things are possible if you just believe they are, etc. But Neo’s journey was more palatable, less preachy.

After writing [Jonathon Livingston Seagull], Bach literally checked out, vowing not to write any further. While spending summers flying the country in an antique biplane, he became enamored with the idea of a messiah figure who had decided to quit and turn his back on the calling. The idea became this book, featuring two barnstormers who meet in a Midwest field and strike up a friendship. One of the two men is the reluctant messiah, and he begins teaching the other how to see the truth of the world. The bulk of the narrative is told in the conversations between the two. Throughout, there are excerpts from “The Messiah’s Handbook,” which magically tells you exactly what you need to know at any time. Here’s a sampling:
“Your only obligation in any lifetime is to be true to yourself. Being true to anyone else or anything else is not only impossible, but the mark of a fake messiah.”
“Learning is finding out what you already know. Doing is demonstrating that you know it.”
“You are never given a wish without also being given the power to make it true. You may have to work for it, however.”

As with any philosophy or religion, there are some valuable lessons if you look for them. Humanistic philosophy is important in demonstrating the inherent value in human life. But taken to its extreme here – everything is secondary to self-pleasing – it dissembles. Like most humanist platforms, [Illusions] takes several shots at any religion or thought that might send people on a journey outside of themselves. Odd that so many broadly accepting philosophies are rabid to exclude opposing thoughts. At several spots in the book, the messiah makes clear that the only important thing in the world is to do what feels good. But when challenged, the messiah also says that you can’t be fully self-realized if you find pleasure in pleasing or serving others. There’s the faulty logic. The difficulty of [Illusions]’ premise is that following it would create a self-obsessed world – Bach would be okay with that, apparently.
Bottom Line: Mainly a humanist philosophy platform.

3 bones!!!!! ( )
3 vote blackdogbooks | Mar 9, 2014 |
I remember only that it was a great, great disappointment. ( )
  Lucy_Skywalker | Apr 24, 2013 |
this is one of my all time favorite books - i probably read at least once a year.

It's a thinking book that makes you realize you are your own messiah. ( )
  suefitz1 | Apr 3, 2013 |
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Here is a test to find whether your mission on earth is finished: If your alive, it isn't.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0099427869, Paperback)

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.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:41:14 -0400)

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When two barnstorming adventurers meet in the fields of the Midwest, one of them begins to learn about the realities of his world and what caused a real Messiah to abandon his mission.

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