Books and Cinema

Jonathan Livingston Seagull

Jonathan Seagull

“The only true law is that which leads to freedom,” Jonathan said. “There is no other.”

It is the simplest book I’ve ever read; Simple in its layout, in its language, in its message and its existence. A seagull, Jonathan Livingston Seagull, cannot bear the limits of existing like one of his kind. He wants to understand speed, the intricacies of flying, thus be free and go beyond any seagull has ever gone before.

His parents don’t understand him and neither does his community. They banish him from the brotherhood, an outcast- destined to live a solitary life far away. Jonathan faces failure and initially blames it on his seagull body. And then finds a way around it. That is all it takes, he learns, a will to make everything possible.

He lives in solitude and learns greater arts. He travels far and wide on the highest winds. Grief remains only due to the fact that his community did not understand the scope of his achievements. Grief remains because he can’t share the glory which he now knows. His sorrow comes from the fact that none of the gulls open their eyes and see.

Story takes him to another world where he meets other gulls who have achieved similar glory. They find him, and teach him greater things. Jonathan understands what it really means to live. He understands what it means to look beyond the illusion we created.

“Jonathan Seagull discovered that boredom, freedom and anger are the reasons why a seagull’s life is so short.”

How is that, you wonder? Because we take thousands of our lives only to realize what our higher goals are. We pass through the same situations, same struggles without knowing that it is the same old thing we have been living through since years. We are not born to squabble over food, reproduce and die. Life goes way too deeper than that. Life is about being perfect. And perfection is not a level to be achieved. Perfection is to know.

As in Jonathan’s case, he was a fast flier. But perfection for him was neither flying at the speed of light nor flying by the right technique. It was about knowing that he has achieved it. Jonathan Seagull achieved perfection when he realized that he is not trapped inside the seagull-body and seagull-wings. He achieved perfection as soon as he knew that he is one unlimited seagull- existing everywhere, across the universe, at the given time. Thus, he rendered the concepts of Time and Place as irrelevant, because they signify the limitations of our minds. And so do speeds… they involve a number and a number has a limit. Knowing that you have no limit is achieving perfection.

Our universe is simply a reflection of our thoughts. Once we understand the oneness, we realize it is but us. Thus being everywhere equals being here, at this present moment in Time.

“Jonathan understood and believed that his body was but his thought he could see. Once he broke free of the limitations of his thoughts, he was free of everything.”

That is not all. Understanding ‘love’ in its purest form is equally important. Emotions can be broadly categorized into two- Fear and Love. With ‘Fear’, come all limitations and doubts. With ‘Love’, come trust, warmth and belief. Knowing love, we can share and create a better community. Giving back what we learn is essential because all experiences contribute to our growth as an individual.

When you love, you give hope and belief to the receiver; Thus creating a better world around you. Each and every one of us is a loving being. Ignorance and Fear result in all the negativity around us. Those emotions need to be convinced out, again, with all the love we have. As Jonathan told the younger gull, Fletch-

“Oh Fletch, you don’t love hatred and evil, of course. You have to practise 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.”

Jonathan Livingston Seagull creates a subtle revolution in his old community. He returns after learning the greatest of arts and initiates a change by love and sharing. And if a gull can do it, so can we. The book is wonderful. Worth a read.

Richard Bach has dedicated this book to the real Jonathan Seagull who lives within us all.

[from The Red Issue: Epigram Magazine]

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