My recent reading-stalemate (referred to a couple of posts ago) was interrupted last week when I decided to delve deeper into the backlog of Richard Bach and I don’t know why I didn’t think of it sooner. With my old favourite Jonathan Livingston Seagull (also topic of a recent post) so recently re-kindled, it was a no-brainer to seek out more like that, so I did.
Starting off with ‘Illusions: The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah‘ (first published 1977), this quickly became one of my very favourite reads of all time – yes really – and whilst its tempting to give a synopsis, I feel far more inclined to say just try it out as a Kindle sample from Amazon or pick it up from the bookshop or library shelf and take a look through the first handful of pages, you’ll quickly know if its for you. It was for totally me! I went into it like a duck to water and gobbled it up remarkably quickly. It felt like one of those ‘profound truths’ that are rarely captured in such exquisite and economical word-form;, it left me suspended in perfect void at its end and reminded me why I read.
Naturally, I then moved onto ‘Illusions II: Adventures of a reluctant student’ (published just last year) and this was the very background I sought to the story that… I had read somewhere…it was a near death experience, the crash of his plane, that prompted Bach to write a fourth section to JLS almost thirty five years after it was first published. ‘Illusions II’ is a fictionalised autobiography of how he crashed his seaplane ‘Puff’ after flying into some power-lines and then embarked upon a journey of recovery, not only of his own fragile health but his mission to rebuild his beloved plane from the crumpled wreckage that is left of her and return to the skies.
If ‘Illusions’ is one of those books I encourage you to read ‘just’ because it has gifts for everybody, ‘Illusions II’ is one that I urge you to read if you are on any kind of recovery journey…or indeed any journey at all where you routinely ‘hope’ for a particular outcome (hope for that different job, for an entirely different way of life, for a time when you have the time/funds/circumstances to pursue your passion or even if you just hope to get over current circumstances that feel miserable and leaden) yet secretly believe that you will never get there and that its just not realistically attainable. How many of us does this sweeping statement cover? Belief – the key to everything, this book reminds us amply. Our health is a reflection of our beliefs. Our life circumstances are a reflection of our beliefs. We create what we deem to be possible…all determined by our beliefs. Something different happens when we consciously choose our beliefs or, actually, once it goes a step beyond that to where we simply know (or, you could say, remember). This takes us on a journey that starts with what feels like “having some impossible hopes, not possible when we hope them, yet believing, step by step, they come true”. A favourite quote from ‘Illusions II’:
“The instant we believe we’re separated from Love, we’re in the world of Seems-to-Be, for an instant or a billion years. Every world, every after-world; every possibility of hells or heavens, dance to the music of our beliefs. Far as I know, beliefs play only one language; illusions. Let illusions go, beliefs vanish. Love is with you instantly, the way it’s ever been.”
In response to what I share about my own health recovery, I get asked a lot (especially by people in a similar boat) “but, do you really believe you will ever get better, properly, fully, completely…?” (there’s this whole iron-clad belief system that’s been built up around chronic illnesses and the viewpoint that they are, supposedly, a life sentence, a state of perpetual deterioration, a downhill ride…). Being asked this more and more has only served to reaffirm to myself that I really do and have never doubted that from the start, whatever doctors, therapists and dubious statistics say. If you are wanting to be in that place in your own recovery process, you could do no better than to read ‘Illusions II’ (though I strongly recommend reading ‘Illusions’ first) as it takes you on that journey through unlikely odds, for both Bach and his plane, as they rebuild themselves from the foundation of not believing but knowing they are already there, perfect, whole, fully functioning, “a perfect expression of perfect Love, here and now“. When we are already there (and realise we never left), “our spirit changes the belief of our bodies”, sooner or later; its inevitable. ‘Illusions II’ reminds us of that. Its like going home to something we knew already, just forgot.
“You’re a perfect expression of perfect Love, here and now…Believe it first, understand it next, your material body is healed.”
If you are somebody recovering from something, you could do far worse than to stick this quote to your fridge!
When you go this route, it can feel like setting out all alone, trekking across deep deep snow, forging your own path of newly pressed footprints on the virgin landscape of the great unexplored. You will, most likely, hit up against an ice-wind of professional opinions telling you your odds are slim, that your expectations should be trimmed down to size, your hopes mitigated. To quote Bach “The doctors were required to talk about what could happen, how my life would never be the same again. I’d be required to smother every one of their beliefs with my own, beliefs I called true”. Even family members, friends, co-‘sufferers’ are very likely to toe this party line, even if from the most well-meaning of intentions, urging you not to expect too much to avoid disappointment, such is the deep-rooted cultural belief in the inevitability of succumbing to certain ‘dire’ circumstances (cancer being amongst them). It is our job, if we choose different, to hold our own unwaveringly, persistently, determinedly arrow-straight path towards wholeness, however foolish and lonely such a stance can sometimes seem.
The other key thing that Bach touches upon is the importance of understanding that, at some level, you chose this situation (whatever it is) and that it is the very circumstance that represents your current ‘best interests’. What can appear to be a out-and-out disaster on the ground level is – from the bigger picture, pulled back – the very thing ‘you prayed for, your wish come true’. If recovery is you aim (and its not everybody’s…only you can know that for sure but its a question that you need to earnestly ask yourself if there’s no sign of it happening) then you volunteered for this opportunity to recover, you wanted the journey of it; you wanted to see if your newly evolving beliefs would be enough to overcome all of these very challenges, wanting to experience such a transformation in action; in short, this is mightily bold stuff you took on when you made your choice of a life. In my experience, the biggest flip-switch for setting in motion the kind of recovery that gains momentum and really sticks only shows up once you see this for yourself, with clear, accepting and grateful eyes, and without any judgement of the condition, circumstances or hardships that you have just overcome, knowing that there was a beautiful perfection to them all, regretting nothing. Then, and only then, can you stop yoyo-ing back and forth into circumstances (illness, financial hardship, unhappy relationships…you name it) that you thought you had, finally, put behind you and move on.
Next time anyone asks is it really possible to recover…from anything…’Illusions II’ is my very best answer.
An article that I read this week had me feeling really excited and, in a way that may initially sound tenuous, felt strongly connected to the subject of this post. Its entitled ‘There’s a new mainstream out there–and you’re probably part of it‘ (Dianne Collins for Huffington Post). I have talked, here and many times, about the impenetrable fortress that our beliefs can become and yet, more and more, individual by individual, it feels to me that we are making a steady breakthrough as an increasing number of people – through the adventure of their own life challenges – come to realise the part each of us plays in perpetuating the beliefs that create ‘the reality’ of our world (so concluding that changing our beliefs holds the key to changing that reality). As the layers of this get scraped back, what replaces belief is more akin to knowing and, at its core, the fundamental knowing that we are all one (and that our once hard-set beliefs only kept us from recognising that). This one fundamental affects every single aspect of the world we live in, from our health and personal circumstances to, equally, our planetary politics, ecology and economics, the very way we all choose to cohabit on this planet plus the abundance, and distribution, of resources we share between us. Our beliefs are, literally, everything…and with this one thing tweaked, we get to change it all and to collectively ‘recover’.
Its a great and encouraging article; one that optimistically flags-up that such people are becoming the ‘new mainstream’. Reading it through was the nearest thing to finding myself pigeon-holed that I have experienced for a very long time and yet its like pigeonholing the un-pigeonholable (which is why we have given the statisticians the slip for such a long time). No more, it seems, as we are really starting to show up on the radar…which is great. This article provides real hope of a world steadily transforming, reinventing itself, healing.
The funny thing is, excited as I was about it, I shared this article right across my social media outlets and received not a ‘like’ or a comment from anyone (though its gone viral on Twitter)…including all those people I personally know this article is about…which puzzled me. Then it occurred to me that some of the people this article is about are, very likely, in reaction to the word ‘mainstream’ in the title, before they even read it, preferring as they do to regard themselves as the oddballs, the mavericks, the non-conformers, the independent-thinkers and lonely pioneers rather than anything so, well, normal (how ironic). Yet, if we don’t start to capitalise on the advantages of becoming more mainstream, even majority (the new normal!), and persist in clinging to being the somewhat marginalised folk who talk about weird stuff (angels one minute, quantum physics the next) on the very fringes of society, how can we ever hope to make a tipping-point difference? This is where another, very old, extremely defunct belief (that being mainstream equates with something entirely undesirable) can shoot us in the foot once again. Only once we start to claim for ourselves the very future of this planet that we have so long envisioned from the solitude of our own evolution can we actually step over the threshold into making this (consciously chosen, heart-preferred, love-aligned and entirely achievable) belief turn ‘step by step’ into our global reality – so its time to grow up and own up, folks, and become the trend leaders of a transforming world. I strongly recommend reading this great article and letting its encouragement be fuel to the engine that gets this plane off the runway!