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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding read... with a punch!
I've read Illusions easily 30 or more times. It's a book that should be on everyone's list. And, unless you are a religious zealot, you will surely find the book entertaining and stimulating.
First of all, regardless of the message, the book is very well written and enjoyable. Moreover, it was written long before the "new age" trend and...
Published on June 14 2004 by Patrick Cooper

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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars All the catch phrases with no actual enlightenment
I want to post a review contrary to every one I read here: I don't think this book is really going to help most people on their journey, one, and two, the holly rollers calling this stuff heretical is so ironic I wish I could sit down and chat with each one for an hour, just for entertainment.
Here's my gripe: Yes, the world is fully an illusion. We are all One, and...
Published on Nov. 6 2002 by Greg Connell


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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding read... with a punch!, June 14 2004
By 
Patrick Cooper "Patrick" (Atlanta, GA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Illusions: The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah (Mass Market Paperback)
I've read Illusions easily 30 or more times. It's a book that should be on everyone's list. And, unless you are a religious zealot, you will surely find the book entertaining and stimulating.
First of all, regardless of the message, the book is very well written and enjoyable. Moreover, it was written long before the "new age" trend and "dime-a-dozen" inspirational stories, so it's not written with the intent to sell you on a new self-help plan.
In this story (as in most of his stories), Bach tries to enlighten readers that maybe life is not as complicated as is often thought. Everyday, from religion to politics, we are constantly presented with the message that life is difficult and you had better follow the highly complex set of rules that governs what you are, where you will go and how you had better get there. In Bach's story, however, the reluctant messiah learns a new perspective. Maybe, he comes to find, he already has the answers to his life, or at least the answers to how to pursue a good life... if he would just stop listening to his pre-conceived ideas of limit and complication.
I highly suggest reading the book. I also highly suggest remembering the book is fiction! Think about the message and concepts. Instead of trying to "vaporize clouds," try maybe to vaporize some of your problems. And, instead of walking the world professing a new faith or perspective on "God" after being inspired by Bach's ideas, try instead to overcome one of your own, preconceived limits, or re-examine what you've been taught about the
Having met Mr. Bach, hearing him speak and reading every one of his books multiple times, I can assure you he is a real person with real ideas. Moreover, I feel sure that he would agree, that he writes "stories" to help people expand their minds. Too often, his work is misinterpreted to be a "gospel." Instead, in my impression, he simply wants to share new ideas, or as he said, "when he get's an idea, it bothers him until he writes it an let's it go..."
We as humans evolve not from one or two ideas, but from a lifetime of learning. Mr. Bach, in my opinion, is one of those highly insightful individuals who has inspired millions to look at life through a slightly different lens. Mr. Bach's Illusions is a fantastic journey - one of many - on the lifelong road of growing as a person.
I hope you enjoy it!
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars All the catch phrases with no actual enlightenment, Nov. 6 2002
By 
Greg Connell (Los Angeles, CA United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Illusions: The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah (Mass Market Paperback)
I want to post a review contrary to every one I read here: I don't think this book is really going to help most people on their journey, one, and two, the holly rollers calling this stuff heretical is so ironic I wish I could sit down and chat with each one for an hour, just for entertainment.
Here's my gripe: Yes, the world is fully an illusion. We are all One, and all of this duality is just a big fat movie to occupy each node of existence with conflict/balance issues for eternity. Great, Rich has written a Hinduism for dummies. But he dumbed it down so much as to make it seem that, hey, all you need to do is REALIZE you're staring at yourself everytime you look at a fellow creature, rock, or phenomenon, and WHA-bam, you'll be able to manipulate the whole mess like Sim City 3000. Miracles, bug-free airplanes, impossible feats of yahda, yahda, yahda. I'm not saying that's impossible--I've witnessed a miracle or two in my time; I'm saying that WE, human beings, mere mortals, though we may perform the very miracles ourselves, cannot, do not, will not, can never do so at the demand of our conflicted minds. When we do something phenomenal, like an athelete, like a musician, like a messiah, it is simply through the QUIETING of the ever-chattering voices in our heads to such a point that the devine will, the will of the universe flows through us. When we flutter like a flag in the wind, rather than the rigid pole, we execute the impossible. We move with rhythms beyond our mortal selves. And without fail, the most unrestricted of these movements never fail to be biblical in their effect on our lives and of those around us.
This is my gripe with the book. It really doesn't address this issue of Self, and the chatter of our minds. In fact, I felt that it glorified, like a Hollywood movie, the X-man quality of enlightenment--just point your palm at the sky, and pow, you COMMAND a miracle! If you walk away from this book thinking, wow! enlightenment, what a thing to shoot for, I wanna be enlightened, I just have to remember: it's all just an illusion! then you're already turning away from what is ALREADY the entire power of the cosmos inside and surrounding yourself. To think of life as an illusion is to denounce just how REAL it all is as well. Sorry, ya'll, there's no 'easy out' for facing both sides of the equation in every respect. It isn't God, it isn't Illusions, and it isn't this book.
If you want a very powerful yet realistically inspirational story about miracles and how they come about, try the Alchemist by Paulo Coelho, or for a philosophical breakdown that pretty much tackles every angle of human thought: try Cloud Hidden, by Alan Watts.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Shallow Towards Deep - A good step!, June 7 2004
This review is from: Illusions: The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah (Mass Market Paperback)
I was given the book when in high school by an older male friend. He had purchased the book three times because each copy he lent out, never found it's way back to him. I did the same thing and at this moment, I think my daughter, now 18, has my latest copy. I continue to buy new copies as I lend them out too, not because I cannot live without it, (one can read it once and then perhaps in ten years if you are forgetful), but to 'pass on' - it feels almost as if it were, to me anyway, meant to pass along. I noticed also that my friend and I are not the only ones here to pass along and repurchased the book. There is at least one other review that mentions the give out/buy another cycle with her experience. I wonder, hmmm. It's also nice to just "have around" and in the library here, to me, it feels good to have it around!
If you or someone you know is not too terribly deep, or perhaps still a teen or young adult living an active but hardly reflective life, it's a great book to give them Not to change them into deep by any means, but to help them see that in life, there are options, perspectives and various ways to think about your own life and your own journey and place in it.
I read it at age 17, or so, and after I finished, I felt strongly moved. I did not care much about reading, and this book was gripping in a way, (very creative), and at that time, it was short enough to not feel defeated or negative from the start. I felt reading was for school, living was not books. But then again, we all our on our own journey... and as long as one is growing and not stopped in one place of not growth and just "waiting" for life to move on, one is successful.
The book changed me, no matter how corny or flowery I see it now or how important I felt it was then. It was the first book I felt I read for pure pleasure. I read it in one sitting, not too difficult to do as it is not that long. I used the quotes in the book almost like a study guide. I was moved enough to re-read them, (easy to find) and try to apply meaning as compared to who and what I was then. This was a first look at 'me' ... a first look into a world of possibilities and one in which e there may be some wild stuff in life we may never ever see, as we speed though living our lives, we may miss our own adventures with a
Messiah some place out there when we least expect it.
Teens are often looking for books to read for school and book reports. I think this one will tickle them as far as the length and dirty pages, but more importantly, it will not be a quickie report that they scribble out and rush though. It will be fast to read, but slower to explain or report. and although it may sound a bit sneaky on my part (or your part as a parent), it's good to have opportunities to slip in "little extra" thinking games when your children) don't know it! (hey, my daughter was an A student and a high B in college now... slip that stuff it!)
It's just beyond basics in self thinking, and a bonus for the hurried, it's short too! All and all I would recommend that you read it. It's not a huge investment, especially the used sales ops you get here.... it's an investment that is small for a book that may have you finding a new personal perspective to "think on" for months to come after you have finished. If you are not impressed with it as a whole, maybe you are reading too critically or are too advance a soul and scholar to read this, but I doubt it, it's rare. (and I don't think such an advanced soul & scholar would be here on this page in this place.... prob. more so out there saving the world from democrats or other such evils.. And since the investment can be a dollar or two used,
you are not in for a huge loss if you do not like it!
And hey, it is a very pass-able pass on book, that's for certain!!
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4.0 out of 5 stars Insightful, but a bit dated..., March 29 2004
By 
Robert Anderson (Pacific Northwest) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Illusions: The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah (Mass Market Paperback)
The Plot
In this story, "Richard" a biplane pilot, encounters a fellow barnstormer, "Donald", who happens to be a spiritual master and retired "Messiah". As they strike up a friendship Donald teaches Richard the lessons a Messiah must learn.
The Background
This book came out in the 70s when the hippie generation had figured out that drugs and free love hadn't filled the spiritual void that was created when they deep-sixed their parents' religious values. Against that backdrop, this book is sort of a first stab at creating a "New-Age" doctrine.
The Message
By mixing spiritual blurbs ("You seek problems because you need their gifts") with events in the story meant to convey a particular lesson, Bach attempts to explain our own nature and the nature of what we call "God".
The picture of "God" here, is essentially that which mystics of all spiritual paths (including Christian mystics) seem to arrive at, ie.an all-encompassing consciousness that is beyond description and can't be anthropomorphized in the way that we love to do. Donald refers to this God as the "Is". This particular idea is addressed in passing several times but not harped on (what purpose is there in trying to describe something that can't be described).
The picture of humanity is the main focus and Donald tells us that we are all our own Messiahs, that we are all gods but have just forgotten that fact. Thus, our spiritual challenge is to transcend the illusion of our current physical situation and reclaim our true spiritual identities.
Analysis
(Note: I'm a Christian, but believe that when you move beyond a literal interpretation of Christ's words and see the symbolic message in them, it's not too different from what's in this book. But that's a big leap for most Christians and this book will probably make their blood boil).
Two points of philosophical contention for me were:
1) Bach suggests that we are unconnected with others and have absolutely zero moral obligation toward them. More recent philosophical teachings incorporated ideas concerning the interconnectedness of all things which lends a note of compassion that this story simply doesn't have.
2) In the story Donald can defy the laws of nature - i.e. walk on water, levitate, etc. The idea here is that our physical reality is an illusion, nothing more than a lucid dream that we can manipulate to our liking if we will just wake up to the illusory nature of our situation. Unfortunately, this concept is presented in a way that unwittingly replaces the "guilt" of our parents' religion with a feeling of ineptitude. Before, I was a moral reprobate because I lusted over women, but now I'm spiritual moron because I can't levitate a wrench. What's missing here is the fact that we're all on a spiritual journey - some farther along than others and that it's okay to be where we're at - ie. we're not idiots just because we haven't solved the puzzle yet.
Summary
Overall, the story is average and the philosophy warm and fuzzy. More recent books convey similar concepts more completely. Nevertheless, this book was a stepping stone in the ever-evolving American spiritual psyche, and is worth reading for that reason.
Recommendations
"The Alchemist" by Paulo Coelho - a simple story rich in symbolic meaning for all spiritual seekers.
"A New Kind of Christian" by Brian McLaren - A wonderful, open-minded view of how Christian thought is evolving - for Christians who sense that standard Christian doctrine just doesn't quite add up.
"The Ragamuffin Gospel" by Brennan Manning - A wonderful discussion of the magnatude of God's love - for Christians who have problems or addictions, or feel like spiritual failures, or have been beat up by life.
"Putting on the Mind of Christ" by Jim Marion - for Christians particularly impervious to heresy and willing to read a more involved, serious, and thought-provoking treatment of the symbolic, mystical message of Christ. You won't agree with all of it but it will definitely change the way you think about your own spiritual journey.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Jumpstart your perspective., July 15 2003
By 
Tom Knapp "Rambles.NET editor" (Lancaster, PA USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Illusions: The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah (Mass Market Paperback)
Sub-titled The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah, the book is written as if it were autobiographical. The protagonist, Richard, is a former writer who hates writing, and so he now makes his living flying around the Midwest in an old biplane, giving 10-minute rides from farmers' fields for $... each. It's a lonely, but satisfying life ... and then Donald Shimoda, a former mechanic and retired messiah, comes into his life. Donald also makes his living as a flier, and the two men fly together for a while. Along the way, Donald imparts wisdom to Richard as a messiah-in-training.
The idea is that everyone can be enlightened and, thereby, can define one's world accordingly. It's a difficult concept to comprehend, much less put into practice, so Richard relies on The Messiah's Handbook: Reminders for the Advanced Soul, a gift from Donald, to help him along the way. The book is magical: open it to any page and find a pithy maxim which will, in some way, shed light on your day. Those maxims are scattered throughout the book and, collected together, could probably fill one of those teeny giftshop inspirational books. But they're much less meaningful out of context; within the framework of Richard's story, they're rife with meaning.
The easy companionship of the two pilots is a comfortable setting in which Bach sets his sometimes uncomfortable ideas. But it's impossible to read Illusions without getting a touch of inspiration, a new sense of purpose for improving one's own life, or at least one's attitude.
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1.0 out of 5 stars du Grandeur le Master de Turkey-dum, April 12 2003
This review is from: Illusions: The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah (Mass Market Paperback)
Printed in a format of a notebook journal with handwritten letters, as if written by the main charachter jotting down his encounters with the 'reluctant' messiah... this rubbish is a whole lot of hogwash if you'd ask me. The author holds no ground for any realistic value incredibly about whatever is written going down in the book so sadly, that it makes the LooneyTune charachters more tangibly believable than the no-directional blabber that this book has- it would make you feel at loss for words to describe its degree of far-fetched Cooper-in-Wonderland(?) sort of "story". It has the equivalent of a person who picks up a bucket of paint and then splashes it on a blank wall and then afterwards would find the nerve to call himself an artist.
The bottomline is: Anyone could've written this book or anything like this. If you think that this is quite fancy enough for a good read of some healthy doze of intellectualism to stimulate your brains, well you might as well talk to a person in the psycho ward and broaden your horizons.
This time waster is totally shallow, and perhaps its seemingly inventive format only signifies its pretension. Most (I said MOST ok?) people whom i find to appreciate this book are trendsetters, and are either both not serious readers and are only into (making) fashionable appearances about themselves.
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5.0 out of 5 stars It's a must read!, April 3 2003
This review is from: Illusions: The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah (Mass Market Paperback)
Richard Bach has been flying his biplane throughout the midwest for many years,but he will never meet another pilot or friend like Donald Shimoda who pulls off excellent flying stunts that equal his great miracle-working talents.
Richard Bach's novel,Illusions,starts off when Richard is flying his Fleet biplane across the U.S. when he lands next to a stranger pilot,Don Shimoda,whom he immediately becomes best friends with.If this is'nt strange enough,Don claims to be a modern day Messiah and proves his conclusions by manipulating the illusions of the world by knowing the truths behind them.He performs astonishing feats,from floating a wrench in mid-air to healing the sick and the crippled right before Richard's very eyes.They travel together until Richard must make a choice between staying friends with Don and facing impending danger,or getting as far as possible from his best friend.
I believe that Illusions is by far Richard's best book.It not only pleases younger readers with its informal writing style,it also satisfies all who are interested in spirituality,metaphysics,and all who may be from some other planet or dimension if Illusions is sold there.
Another interesting aspect of this book is that it is so believable.The first time I read it I thought that the author really did meet Don,as if this was a true story.It seemed as though the book was his own journal,depicting the actual events and life of Don,including anecdotes,(a great biography!).
Also,I agree with the spiritual principles that lie within this book.The Messiah points out interesting truths and facts about life.
Illusions is the greatest marriage of spirituality,writing and friendship,delivering powerful yet simple language,a realization of the power and freedom we have,and a story that meets the needs of all readers.Richard Bach has given me the impression he was spiritually enlightened while writing this book!
"Powerful...a must read for all..."-Jack's Journal.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Mystical Richard, April 1 2003
By 
John Joss (Los Altos, CA USA) - See all my reviews
The nature of personal reality has baffled Man since he first crawled from the ooze and started his journey to the stars. Attempts to explain with printed word and cold logic the limitless geography of the mind, heart and spirit have always fallen short, apparently because every revealed truth is interpreted as half truth and no blueprint has emerged that can bring all answers to the questioning mind.
Into this arena comes Richard Bach, with "Illusions." When first published it was his first entirely new book since pop-philosopher "Jonathan" made him famous and rich (his "Gift of Wings," published almost simultaneously, was an anthology of earlier work).
"Illusions" is an intriguing work that challenges Bach-watchers and reviewers who want to do justice to the man and his work. In a historical and classical cheap shot, Gail Sheehy in "Passanges' referred to her book as 'a Rorschach test for the reader,' inferring that if one didn't like or approve of it one's wits or taste were suspect. "Illusions," on the other hand, makes its point effortlessly and will certainly be interpreted differently by every reader. It traces the adventures of one Don Shimoda, retired from his Messiah role because it broke his heart, who now flies a mystically perfect biplane in the Midwest, giving $3 rides alongside Bach (the 'I' of the story) in classic barnstorming mode. His tale is told tongue in cheek: we must forgive Bach and his publisher the rather precious device of placing the reproduced pages of a grubby notebook in front, complete with handwriting and smudged fingerprints from the engine-adjustment hand.
The core of the book's message seems to consist of quasi-mystical sayings from a guru's handbook, written in aphorisms and epithets to instruct at any convenient space-time moment ("the book always falls open at s saying appropriate to the problem you must solve," declares Shimoda between parlor tricks in levitating wrenches or airplanes). These sayings read in a manner ranging from Confucian Profound to Fortune Cookie Cute. Shimoda eventually meets his end, which he undoubtedly brings on himself. His 'sin' is the sin of candor, since humans don't like their truths unvarnished. Bach flies off in his Fleet biplane, convinced that he must write about the reluctant Messiah.
Neat? Not really. Like everyone's typically unresolved life, the book really has no beginning or end. Bach admits that everything in the book may not be true, washing his hands of responsibility for the reader's interpretations and perpetuating his much vaunted "Jonathan" enigma. No book, especially not a slim, 144-page one, can conceivably package salvation.
Where does this leave us? Everywhere . . . and nowhere. Instant salvation from a charismatic figure is rather like heavily amplified rock music or the uniquitous Chinese food--tremendous impact at the time, but one soon returns hungry for real sustenance. With "Illusions" one ends up chasing one's own mental tail. Bach's final gesture is a shrug--he turns away quickly to hide the winner's smile at the edge of his mouth.
One senses that "Illusions" reflects forces at work in Bach's life after "Jonathan:" the implied need to explain himself to the millions who made his fictional seagull (and himself) into reluctant messiahs; the value of maintaining momentum for a worldwide audience built in for bestselling authors; and the realities of earning a living to support expensive airplane tastes ("everyone should have at least five," says Bach).
In the end, though, it is futile to attempt an evaluation of Bach's needs, desires or motivations, or, indeed, anyone's. Each of us must live alone with our thoughts, ideas and perceptions of reality and must die alone. Why are some lives touches with magic and others doomed? How can we explain the shattering differences in destiny that confront Man in his journey from blind monocell to explorer (or, as Bach puts it, otter) of the Universe? The subject is worth a million books and plenty have been attempted. "Illusions" is Bach's contribution, with a slice of earthy existence thrown in as spear carrier. The intriguing thing about the book is that it works, on several different levels, without one quite knowing why.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Review For Illusions - The Adventures of A Reluctant Messiah, March 10 2003
This review is from: Illusions: The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah (Mass Market Paperback)
I found Richard's Bach book interesting overall. Illusions mixes both spirituality as well as a little humour as the story goes along. The story is set around the author as the main character and his aquaintance, a pilot who holds the title of messiah as well, Donald Shimoda. Donald removes himself from his messanic duties and introduces Richard to the "Messiah's Handbook" as a way of helping Richard find his spirituality.
While I found this book very interesting to read, I suppose I overall did not like the book because I have pretty mainstream thoughts on religion and spirtuality. This book brings many different views into light when thinking about religion and ones faith, and I suppose these views did not exactly work as well with me as for others. I'm certainly not saying that this is not an enjoyable book, because I know that my way of thinking is not the only way of perseiving religous thought. The book deserves a 5 for those who find the book both interesting and can relate to the message that Bach is trying to send. From my point of view, his just didn't work as well with me as I had hoped when I set out to read it.
I recommened this book because it will probably broaden your horizons on religious thought.
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5.0 out of 5 stars I convinced myself I could be happy for the rest of my life, March 4 2003
By 
Grey Marcoux (Nantucket, MA USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Illusions: The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah (Mass Market Paperback)
Illusions by Richard Bach is spectacular. It brings the truly simple, yet profoundly complex theory of life, into perspective making one feel that they may be able to conquer all of their infesting insecurities by simply always being happy. But happiness seems to be one of the hardest feelings to conjure up and keep for all of us, so where do we begin? With thoughtful, and deep quotes, a beautiful story line and many images that don't really matter Bach explains the secrets of the world and then undermines them all.
The day I picked up the book I was feeling extremely depressed and insecure. I was sitting by myself in the corner of the school library wishing that I could turn off all my feelings and just make my mind still. After just 2 pages I was sucked in the book and began running foolishly around the library grabbing random books-here and there-(you'll understand later), asking some teachers of my choice if they knew the book and almost preaching to other students in the library that we could all be happy for the rest of our lives if we so chose too.
This book is a treasure, a small bible to me that I will consult for the rest of my life.
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Illusions: The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah
Illusions: The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah by Richard Bach (Mass Market Paperback - Oct. 10 1989)
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