Illusions: The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah Review
Illusions: The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah is the story of Richard and his experiences after he meets Donald Shimoda, the reluctant messiah, who teaches him about the illusions of reality.
Richard is a pilot travelling across middle America in an old biplane selling rides town to town. Richard is drawn to Donald in the beginning, seeing Donald is also a travelling pilot, and they begin to travel together.
As Richard learns about Donald’s messiah abilities he becomes afraid and leaves. Donald rejoins Richard soon after and Richard begins to learn to perform miracles and accepts Donald’s teachings.
“How about I allow the world to live as it chooses, and I allow me to live as I choose.”
Illusions teaches many great ideas but the most prominent was Donald’s lessons of our true freedom of choice.
Freedom of Choice:
Donald quits being a messiah after people stopped listening to his messages and simply wanted his miracles. Donald’s choice to quit as a messiah is a choice Richard cannot understand Donald had.
“Are you allowed… I didn’t think…you get a job like that, the Messiah, you’re supposed to save the world, aren’t you? I didn’t know the Messiah could just turn in his keys like that and quit.”
“Of course you can quit! Quit anything you want, if you change your mind about doing it. You can quit breathing, if you want to.”
This is one of the first lessons Illusions taught me. There is never a time and never a situation where you don’t have a choice whether to stay or go.
Now some choices may be terrible decisions with terrible consequences. Leaving you spiritually or financially in ruin. I’m not saying to make those choices. But don’t deny you have that choice, even if you don’t believe it, you do. That is the freedom Donald is teaching.
“There is no problem so big that it cannot be run away from.”
Limitations are illusions especially the limitations of choice, they don’t exist. Donald reiterates this to Richard throughout the book who continues to assume limits.
During one discussion Richard agrees we are free to do anything, but limits, as long as it doesn’t hurt others. Donald strongly objects, “Listen,’ he said. ‘It’s important. We are all. Free. To do. Whatever. We want. To do.”. You may disagree with Donald but his point isn’t about hurting others. It is that we have total unlimited freedom of choice, even the freedom to hurt others if we choose to.
Donald talks about choices that we don’t realize are choices we make.
We have the choice to be happy.
“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! Richard, what is so damned hard about that?”
And we make the choice to be hurt and unhappy.
“We choose, ourselves, to be hurt or not to be hurt, no matter what. Us who decides. Nobody else.”
“They are unhappy because they have chosen to be unhappy, and, Richard, that is all right!”
Illusions is Richard Bach’s follow up novel after writing Jonathan Livingston Seagull and truly is “An inspirational classic of profound and enduring wisdom.”
Like Jonathan Livingston Seagull Illusions is filled with inspiring ideas of our freedom and our power. Ideas that break the illusions of our reality.
Donald Shimoda’s teachings can seem blunt and insulting at times and may anger you. Being told unquestionably that you have a choice even when you can’t see it is frustrating. You could argue against Donald / Bach and say we do have limitations and don’t always have free choice. But…
“Argue for your limitations and you get to keep them”.
Have a look at the book yourself. There are many more lessons to be learned from it with many more illusions to break.