The reason I read Jonathan Livingston Seagull is NOT because of the following:

  • The book contained fewer than 10,000 words, and despite the great difficulty in getting it published in the beginning, it sold over 1,000,000 copies in 1972 alone, 2 years after its publication.
  • The book is seen as a timeless and classic book; it’s part of the US self-help and positive thinking culture by the New Thought movement.
  • It was turned into a film of the same name 3 years after its publication.

In short, the surprise success of this book is widely reported in the 70s, and it continues to be liked and many people claims to be inspired by this book.

It is a fable in novella form written by Richard Bach in 1970. The story was about a seagull named Jonathan who was not satisfied with everyday struggles of flying just to catch food like other seagulls, he was passionate about life and flight, a homily about self-perfection. He flew for the love and passion of flying, while other birds scorned him for being an outcast.

I’ve heard of the book a few years back, but because the story seemed too simple, to the point I thought that it was boring and matter-of-factually. The trigger for me to open the book was because I got to know the unusual story behind Jonathan Livingston Seagull and how Richard “wrote” it.

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The way that the message of the book came to Richard is clearly a demonstration that there is more in life than what meets the eyes, that beyond everyday struggles there is something more profound, the same type of message conveyed in the book Jonathan Livingston Seagull. Therefore, I opened the book.

Then, I noticed that so many people are busy catching “food”. Jealousy over others getting something you desire, angry that the package you bought online was one day late in delivery, competing with others to get resources as if there is a set amount to go around for mankind, sabotaging others to get what you want, etc.

Often times you see people on the run, always on the rush. It seems like that they are so busy and anxious to get to the future. They are busy with daily squabbles over food, and the food is so limited so they have to hurry up. They can’t stop, they have to force themselves do what they do so they have “food”. They don’t enjoy the flight itself, they fly because they need food. They don’t even know why they fly other than for the purpose of getting food. They don’t think beyond the obvious, what meets the eyes, ears or any other physical apparatus. They are like running in a treadmill, busy but staying at the same spot. Every time I see such things happening I am reminded of Jonathan Livingston Seagull.

Do you enjoy your life? Can you look beyond the everyday struggles and experience the love and compassion in doing what you do? What is the purpose of your life, other than trying to survive until physical death? Are you confined by the chains of everyday struggles or can you lift yourself up high from ignorance?

Some of the inspirations you may learn from Jonathan:

Look beyond everyday struggles & ignite passion for life.
“How much more there is now to living! Instead of our drab slogging forth and back to the fishing boats, there’s a reason to life! We can lift ourselves out of ignorance, we can find ourselves as creatures of excellence and intelligence and skill. We can be free! We can learn to fly!”

This tells us to look beyond everyday struggles and ignite the passion for life. After Johnathan had a breakthrough in flying, he realized that there is a reason to life, other than drab slogging back and forth for food. One of the most important message of the book is that you are free. It means that you are not bound to limitations, even if all what you see is others being bound. You can be free, and you can learn to do anything.

You can achieve what you hold in mind.
“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…”

You can achieve what you hold in mind. Because you are free, you are not bound by limitations, other than the one you set up yourself in your own mind. It tells the importance of braking the chains of your mind. Don’t be confined by what you currently see or have. With a change of mind, you can achieve amazing things you desire.

Can you lose weight and be slim, even if you’ve been fat all your life? Yes, you can!

With hard work can you rise to the top in math, even if you are bad at math right now? Yes, you can!

Can you become a top leader in your company, if you work hard and smart enough? Yes, you can!

But first you have to break the chains of your thinking that it’s not possible, break your self-imposed limitations. Any seemingly far-reaching goals by your current perspective become possible when you break the chain of your mind.

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Can you look beyond everyday struggles and put aside everything that limits you?

Tune in to the outcome before taking action.
“Chiang (Jonathan’s teacher) spoke slowly and watched the younger gull ever so carefully. ‘To fly as fast as thought, to anywhere that is,’ he said, ‘you must begin by knowing that you have already arrived.’”

Tune in the outcome before taking action. Here Jonathan was trying to learn how Chiang flew to suddenly vanish and reappear at a different spot some distance away, in an instant. This obviously is a new high of flying. “To fly as fast as thought, to anywhere that is,” he said, “you must begin by knowing that you have already arrived.” It reminds me of the Law of Attraction. If you want to achieve something, you must begin by knowing that you have already achieved it. This is the key to fast manifestation, to achieve your goal in miraculous ways.

  • See beyond everyday struggles & ignite passion for life.

  • You can achieve what you hold in mind.

  • Tune in to the outcome before taking action.

There are more profound meanings about beyond physical life in Jonathan Livingston Seagull that I will not mention here in this article. Many people feel being touched by this book but cannot even pinpoint what it is. I think it touches the soul on certain level, and reminds us of something we have long known but forgotten in this physical life.

We must lift ourselves out of the ignorance of the beyond, away from everyday struggles. I encourage you to step outside of your everyday struggles whenever your mind is open enough for it and look at the big picture and chart your own life. Open up your mind more and more and raise yourself out of everyday consciousness, and get in touch with your real being. Fly for the love of life, rather than merely catch food. Fly high, wide, and fast, with excitement.