10 lessons we can learn from Jonathan Livingston Seagull
Photo: KS Kyung/Unsplash
American author Richard Bach's illustrated Jonathan Livingston Seagull (1970) is one of the most inspiring books in the self-help and personal empowerment category.
Jonathan is a seagull like any other except with one difference – while the other gulls fly for food, he loves to fly so that he can explore and discover new worlds, overcome his limitations, learn new skills and see what more he can do in the air. Above all, he wants to have the freedom to be himself – his true self.
The pocket-size allegorical book with black-and-white photographs of “Jonathan” and a flock of seagulls is a metaphor for living one’s life to the fullest and having the courage to do so.
Here are ten self-realisation lessons we can learn from Jonathan Livingston Seagull's enthralling flight of freedom.
"Don’t believe what your eyes are telling you. All they show is limitation. Look with your understanding. Find out what you already know and you will see the way to fly."
"Most gulls don’t bother to learn more than the simplest facts of flights – how to get from shore to food and back again. For most gulls, it is not flying that matters, but eating. For this gull, though, it was not eating that mattered, but flight. More than anything else, Jonathan Livingston Seagull loved to fly."
"We can lift ourselves out of ignorance, we can find ourselves as creatures of excellence and intelligence and skill."
"Do you have any idea how many lives we must have gone through before we even got the first idea that there is more to life than eating, or fighting, or power in the Flock? A thousand lives, Jon, ten thousand!"
"We choose our next world through what we learn in this one. Learn nothing, and the next world is the same as this one, all the same limitations and lead weights to overcome."
"To begin with," he said heavily, "you’ve got to understand that a seagull is an unlimited idea of freedom, an image of the Great Gull, and your whole body, from wingtip to wingtip, is nothing more than your thought itself."
"You have the freedom to be yourself, your true self, here and now, and nothing can stand in your way. It is the Law of the Great Gull, the Law that Is."
"You don't love hatred and evil, of course. You have to practice and see the real gull, the good in every one of them, and to help them see it in themselves. That's what I mean by love. It’s fun, when you get the knack of it."
"His one sorrow was not solitude, it was that other gulls refused to believe the glory of flight that awaited them; they refused to open their eyes and see."
"Jonathan Seagull discovered that boredom and fear and anger are the reasons that a gull's life is so short, and with those gone from his thought, he lived a long fine life indeed."