Of a search within

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 15 May 2018 08:56:44


By Vijay Phanshikar,

To the real Jonathan Seagull,
who lives within us all.
- Dedication of the book
‘Jonathan Livingston Seagull - a story’,
The Complete Edition,
including the rediscovered Part Four
by Richard Bach,
(Thorsons Classics,
an imprint of Harper Collins Publishers)

THIS is no ordinary dedication. This is a recognition of every person’s spiritual reality that we hardly sense. In actuality, this is a dedication that can come only from somebody who has understood the importance of Divine Spirit. Richard Bach’s book -- Jonathan Livingston Seagull, a story -- is often described as ‘The most celebrated inspirational fable of our time’. That is so because Bach has risen to the sublime height at which he seated a seagull named Jonathan Livingston, who lives in a colony of seagulls whose members -- the seagulls -- treat flying as just a means to finding food. In sharp contrast, for Jonathan Livingston seagull, flying is life itself.

It is flying in which he finds fulfilment and higher purpose of life. That the book became an all-time classic, is a tribute to the human kind’s comprehension of its own spiritual reality. Each one of us knows that there is an immense potential within. Yet, for reasons which we never ponder over, we keep seeking excuses for not working hard enough to realise the potential within, instead of working the hardest to find ways and means to circumvent those stupid excuses and get into the higher and more sublime zone of excellence. Though Richard Bach expresses his deep grief that the humans often tend not to emerge from their comfort zones, he writes the book in a very strong belief that they -- all humans -- have the capacity to rise above and beyond themselves. That is the reason why Bach says right in the beginning of the small book:
To the real Jonathan Seagull,
who lives within us all ...!

Yes, in that small pond, among the beautifully white ducklings, there is an ugly one, with muddy, grey feathers that are yet to blossom fully. So, no one plays with him. Everyone insults him. But then, even as that ugly duckling cries and grieves, he realises that he is not a duckling at all; and that he is a swan.

In the colony of the seagulls, too, Jonathan Livingston Seagull realises that he can fly like an eagle. He starts making attempts. Others hate him for his chase of excellence. They excommunicate him, and send him in exile to Far Cliffs. And from that moment, Jonathan’s efforts become more focused, more pronounced, more intense. He achieves his goal, becomes an icon for other seagulls in due course of time, rises to higher regions of the Divine, returns to train other seagulls -- and thus gets created a tradition of excellence. The story moves on, of course, with Bach admitting that the process of creation has a magical dimension, a mystery. The details apart, Jonathan Livingston Seagull has become a symbolism of excellence through impossible conditions -- like natural limitations of a species.

Richard Back, a writer of many books that made a great difference to the reading population, demonstrated an unshakable belief in human ability to excel, human urge to reach higher zones, and a continued human effort to sublimate self. Jonathan Livingston Seagull, a story is an expression of that faith, that divine design which Gods put into human entity.

One read this book first time decades ago, and kept reading it time and again, in sheer belief that no such tale has ever come out in modern literature. This book has an appeal for all of us: Come on. Live up to the real Jonathan Livingston Seagull within you, no matter your limitations.
Yes, each one of us does have a Jonathan Livingston Seagull within. Each one of us also has a swan within. A saint within. A god within.
And that is our solace, our real destination -- to look for and get that!