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Illusions Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah
Richard Bach

Evolution of Consciousness
Published by G. K. Hall in 1977

A Book Review by Bobby Matherne ©1999


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I first read this book shortly after it came out in 1977. We bought more than twelves copies of the book and gave them away to friends. I found this hardback in large type by G. K. Hall at a library sale and re-read it in preparation for this review. I was a little disappointed to see that the handwritten first chapter in my hardback did not have the smudgy fingerprints of an airplane mechanic that the paperbacks had I missed that nice touch of authenticity. That scribbled chapter in Verses 11-22 contained the story of the creatures who clung tightly to the bottom of a crystal river. One of them decides to let go of the bottom and is proclaimed a Messiah as he flies overhead of the others. He tells the clingers, "I am no more Messiah than you. The river delights to lift us free, if only we dare to go. Our true work is this voyage, this adventure." Thus does Bach lay down the theme of this amazing book.

Richard Bach, the barnstorming aviator, meets Don Shimoda, another barnstormer, and they strike up a friendship. Shimoda seems to be able to do things that are impossible and Bach discovers that Shimoda has stopped clinging to the bottom of the river, and Bach wants to join him. He discovers a Messiah Manual which has no page numbers. You simply flop it down and it opens to the right page for you at the moment. As a result Illusions is peppered throughout with quotes from the manual, a fact that makes this novel into a Messiah Manual of its own. Shimoda, if he were writing this, would caution you that the same is true for every book you open or that falls off a shelf in front of you, you are destined to read from that page or that entire book. There are no accidents, only intended events that we don't understand at the time that they occur. Here's an example: I was writing this and suddenly the bottom half of my computer monitor filled with horizontal stripes which extended up to the top, but stayed clear enough in the middle of the screen for me to close up my jobs. I'm back with a new 20" monitor to replace the broken 17" one. Looking at all the new space this bigger screen provides for me to get my work done, I'm beginning to understand why the old one gave up when it did, just at the right time.

Here's a glimpse of Messiah Manual quotes in italics and my comments about them:

You teach best what you most need to learn. Thus a Teacher, so Also a Learner. I discovered long ago that in any situation the person assigned the role of teacher is learning as much or more than the learners.

You're always free to change your mind and choose a different future, or a different past. I read somewhere that Richard Back wrote Illusions after meeting with Jane Roberts and Seth. The idea of probable futures and probable pasts that Seth discusses in several books of Jane Roberts is reflected in this quote.

Argue for your limitations, and sure enough they're yours. Ever listen carefully when people make a statement of limitation? There is a tone of assurance in their utterance that reinforces their limitation every time they say it, up until now. For this reason, I created the "limitation eraser" which I applied to the end of the previous sentence. One uses it in the following way: when you find yourself in the middle of stating a limitation, you pause at the place where you would normally end the sentence, take a deep breath, and add the words "up until now." The deep breath hiatus is indicated in writing by the comma in front of the phrase, so it is an integral part of the limitation eraser. In shorthand form, the limitation eraser can be described as <, up until now> or in a more abbreviated form, <,uun>. Before you begin using the eraser, I suggest you tune your ears to actually listen to people asserting their limitations with complete confidence for three weeks or so, and "people" includes yourself.

The world is your exercise-book, the pages on which you do your sums. It is not reality, although you can express reality there if you wish. You are also free to write nonsense, or lies, or to tear some pages. This was written on page 116 so I tore the edge of the page of the book. DIRAK! Do It Right Away, Kid! is one of my basic rules, so if someone offers me a suggestion, I try it out right away, kid. If I think of something I want to do tomorrow, I do something right away that helps ensure that it happens tomorrow.

Don't be dismayed at good-byes. A farewell is necessary before you can meet again. And meeting again, after moments or lifetimes, is certain for those who are friends. In 1970 I incorporated this quote from Emerson about friends in a piece I wrote for my management club's newsletter, "We will meet as though we met not, and part as though we parted not." Only if you restrict your view of life to this one period between birth and death, can you be sad at the loss of a loved one. Try this instead, "Fare well, until we meet again."

There is no such thing as a problem without a gift for you in its hands. You seek problems because you need their gifts. This is also true for problems that seem to seek you, such as accidents or illness, they bring you gifts in the only way that you were able to receive them, up until now. Have you had an accident or illness recently? After about three weeks, ask yourself two questions, and ponder the answers. Chances you will be able to find one good thing from Question 1 or one bad thing from Question 2. Think of the first question as a "permission" question and the second one as a "protection" question.

1. What happened as a result of the episode that would NOT have otherwise happened?

2. What did NOT happen as a result of the episode that would otherwise have happened?

Rarely do members of one family grow up under the same roof. Ah! I love ambiguities and this sentence is loaded with them. Can you see them? Are all members of your family still living under one roof? Now that you're grown, don't you have friends living in various parts of the city, the country, the world, that are like family to you?

Here's a test to find whether your mission on earth is finished: If you're alive, it isn't. And if you're alive, then every statement you make about what is true for you in your life is a statement of limitation because your mission is not finished. Statements of limitation are simply expressions of the way your life has been, up until now.

Read this book. If you read it twenty years ago as so many people did, read it again, as you are a new you. If you find yourself thinking, "I'm not a new me." may the limitation eraser come to your aid from now on. You life is like a cloud it says so in the Messiah's Manual:

A cloud does not know why it moves in just such a direction and at such a speed. It feels an impulsion . . . this is the place to go now. But the sky knows the reasons and the patterns behind all clouds, and you will know, too, when you lift yourself high enough to see beyond the horizons.


Any questions about this review, Contact: Bobby Matherne


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