- Audio Cassette
- Publisher: Macmillan Audio; Unabridged edition (August 15, 1994)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1559273062
- ISBN-13: 978-1559273060
- Product Dimensions: 4.6 x 0.7 x 6.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 3.8 ounces
- Average Customer Review: 836 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,021,769 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Jonathan Livingston Seagull Unabridged Edition
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"Most gulls don't bother to learn more than the simplest facts of flight--how to get from shore to food and back again," writes author Richard Bach in this allegory about a unique bird named Jonathan Livingston Seagull. "For most gulls it is not flying that matters, but eating. For this gull, though, it was not eating that mattered, but flight." Flight is indeed the metaphor that makes the story soar. Ultimately this is a fable about the importance of seeking a higher purpose in life, even if your flock, tribe, or neighborhood finds your ambition threatening. (At one point our beloved gull is even banished from his flock.) By not compromising his higher vision, Jonathan gets the ultimate payoff: transcendence. Ultimately, he learns the meaning of love and kindness. The dreamy seagull photographs by Russell Munson provide just the right illustrations--although the overall packaging does seem a bit dated (keep in mind that it was first published in 1970). Nonetheless, this is a spirituality classic, and an especially engaging parable for adolescents. --Gail Hudson --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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This book certainly could be viewed as Eastern Religion / New Age, and considering Bach's other books perhaps that is his main meaning.
However, JLS also contains important non-religious truths which apply to everyday life. For example, based on one of the most quoted parts of the book, "Jonathan" might answer everyday questions like this:
Are you saying I can lose weight and be thin, even though I've been fat my whole life?
I say you are free.
Are you saying that even though I finished near the bottom this year, with hard work I could finish near the top 3 or 4 years from now?
I say you are free.
Are you saying that even though the aptitude test showed I'm bad in math, that I could be successful in my dream job, engineering, if I try hard enough?
I say you are free.
Those answers are very, very different from the prevailing paradigm / meme within our society, which says that nearly everything is determined at birth, so that we are born either "fat" or "thin" people, born "smart" or "bad at math", born as "great athletes" or "losers". Society then tells us that we shouldn't try to change anything about ourselves (since it supposedly won't work), but should spend our lives happy or bitter because of the gifts that were handed out at the birth lottery. A key turning point is when Jonathan rejects the "strange hollow voice" in his mind which tells him:
"There's no way around it. I am a seagull. I am limited by nature. If I were meant to learn so much about flying, I'd have charts for brains. If I were meant to fly at speed, I'd have a falcon's short wings... I must... be content as I am, as a poor limited seagull."
Jonathan rejects this when he realizes that by tucking his wings close to his body he can simulate the falcon's short wings and fly fast even though he wasn't born with short wings. After he tries this and is able to fly faster than any gull could with extended wings, Jonathan realizes: "We can be free! We can learn to fly!"
JLS says that mental restrictions are the biggest factor keeping us from reaching our potential. Some of those restrictions come from society, and some are self-created mental straitjackets. All of those mental limits are false and unnecessary. The truth according to Jonathan is:
"Your whole body... is nothing more than your thought itself, in a form you can see. Break the chains of your mind, and you break the chains of your body, too..."
(That can be seen as a totally non-religious statement. Our bodies today are the result of how hard we worked in the past and the mental limitations we didn't shed, and "our thought" = our mind is what determined that.)
This leads Jonathan to answer these questions very differently from society: Who am I? What is my purpose in life? Should I be egotistical?
Society tells us that we should conform, and we specifically are what the birth lottery gave us, like someone might be "heavy set, average intelligence but good in math". Society says that we should be immensely proud of everything we (supposedly) were born with, and of every victory, and should be intensely ashamed of anything we were born without, and of every defeat.
Jonathan however, believing we are not limited by birth, sees each of us as being unique and of unlimited potential. Our goal and purpose in life is simply to be ourselves. This is not the limited self we are at the start of adult life, but everything which hard work could make us:
"you have the freedom to be yourself, your true self, here and now, and nothing can stand in your way.
Are you saying I can fly?
I say you are free."
"Each of us in truth is an idea... , an unlimited idea of freedom, and precision flying is a step towards expressing our real nature. Everything that limits us we have to put aside."
This means that ego is meaningless, because what we are today is simply the result of yesterday's hard work, and whatever races we lose today could be won in the future if we work hard enough. Today's ranking and abilities are just the starting point for the rest of our lives, not something to get egotistical about. As one of Jonathan's students thought with a smile once he began teaching his own students, "No limits, Jonathan? Well, then, the time's not too distant when I'm going to appear out of thin air on YOUR beach, and show you a thing or two about flying!..."
The reason why I discussed this in length is to disagree with reviews which say that JLS must be seen as a religious book, and that it teaches only "common sense" truths. It is rare, not common, to meet anyone who believes what JLS teaches.
This is another one that planted a seed in my mind over the years it has been fed and nurtured by life experiences. Its time to read it again. In the meantime it was one of the books that I have loaned out sooo it needed to be reordered. It was no longer on my shelves.This one will fill the empty slot left by the loaned one.