Jump to ratings and reviews
Rate this book

Illusions: The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah

Rate this book
In the cloud-washed airspace between the cornfields of Illinois and blue infinity, a man puts his faith in the propeller of his biplane. For disillusioned writer and itinerant barnstormer Richard Bach, belief is as real as a full tank of gas and sparks firing in the cylinders...until he meets Donald Shimoda--former mechanic and self-described messiah who can make wrenches fly and Richard's imagination soar....

In Illusions, Richard Bach takes to the air to discover the ageless truths that give our souls wings: that people don't need airplanes to soar...that even the darkest clouds have meaning once we lift ourselves above them... and that messiahs can be found in the unlikeliest places--like hay fields, one-traffic-light midwestern towns, and most of all, deep within ourselves.

128 pages, Kindle Edition

First published January 1, 1977

Loading interface...
Loading interface...

About the author

Richard Bach

110 books3,177 followers

Since Jonathan Livingston Seagull - which dominated the #1 spot on the New York Times Bestseller List for two consecutive years - Richard Bach has touched millions of people through his humor, wisdom and insight.

With over 60 million copies of his books sold, Richard Bach remains one of the world's most beloved authors. A former USAF fighter pilot, Air Force captain and latter-day barnstorming pilot, Bach continues to be an avid aviator-author, exploring and chronicling the joys and freedom of flying, reporting his findings to readers.

His most recent works include Travels with Puff, which recounts Bach's journey from Florida to Washington state in his small seaplane, Puff, and Illusions II: The Adventures of a Reluctant Student, which incorporates Bach's real-life plane crash.

In October 2014, the never-before-published Part Four to Jonathan Livingston Seagull was published.

Readers can find more about Richard and his work at www.richardbach.com

Ratings & Reviews

What do you think?
Rate this book

Friends & Following

Create a free account to discover what your friends think of this book!

Community Reviews

5 stars
29,711 (47%)
4 stars
17,825 (28%)
3 stars
10,214 (16%)
2 stars
3,167 (5%)
1 star
1,315 (2%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 2,683 reviews
13 reviews4 followers
March 4, 2009
I believe this book moved me more than any other before or since. Not because the writing was so great but the thoughts contained in it were so close to what I was feeling as a 19 year old away from home and on my own for the first time. I still believe the ideas contained here are timeless and profound. The fact that the author kind of went a bit off the deep end does not bother me (although it did for a while!)

I remember that some factions of the Christian right were outraged that the book referred to a Messiah other than Jesus. That always surprised me because I felt that most of the ideas contained here were quite Christ like. I have seen quotes from this book appear in many locations and use many of them myself when working with students. (I teach music part time). Some of my Favorites:

"Argue for your limitations and sure enough they're yours." Probably my all time favorite.

"We teach best what we most need to learn."

"Rarely do members of the same family grow up in the same house."

The idea that our thoughts can control our lives is a very powerful one and truer than many realize. Last years phenom book and DVD "The Secret" tried to express the same ideas in a much less creative manner. If you want to go that route head straight for "Psycho-Cybernetics" by Maxwell Maltz. The first and best of it's kind.
1 review3 followers
February 21, 2012
This book changed my life. Over and over again. That is the simplest way to put it. One day a girl came into the pizza parlor I was working at and I commented on her tramp stamp. (It was as always, an attempt to get her to lower the jeans) - It was a blue feather tattoo. I asked what it represented and she told me it was the feather from the cover of a book, called "Illusions", and it had changed her life.
She brought the book into me as promised a couple days later with a four leaf clover as a book mark.
Needless to say, this was my lucky book. And, it happened to be the lucky book of a couple of other people close to me as well.
I told my friend about this and he remarked to me that it was fairly coincidental as he had just received this book as a gift from his brother.
Years later I recommended past this quirky thing to another good friend of mine, and he promised to put it on the top of his to read list. He found it the next day in a dumpster while looking for some song lyrics he had thrown pout.
I know this tells you very little about the content of the book, but like all Bach's works it is sweet and inspirational. I've seen it in the fiction, self help, and religious sections of books stores at it is unclassifiable in its means to reach its audience.
This is for young and old. To anyone and to all, may it help shape your life as it has shaped mine.
Profile Image for Sfdreams.
130 reviews43 followers
July 5, 2007
I LOVED this book!! I read it over and over and have given copies to several people.

The book starts off with a "handwritten" and smudged story, written like books in the Bible, by a auto mechanic who discovered the Divine in himself and was followed by throngs of people,who called him a messiah, until he had to disappear.

Then the "real" book begins: A young man flys around the country in his airplane, supporting himself by selling flights in his plane. One fateful day, he meets a strange individual who seems to have amazing abilities, including (one of my favorites)preventing insects from smashing on the windshield.

I feel that this book deepened my spirituality, and reinforced my desire to live life more peacefully, and with great kindness. I only wish I could perfect the "no-bugs-killed-on windshield" trick!! (Remember the Kleenex commercial about the monk who saves the spider, turtle, and fish, then after he blows his nose is dismayed to see that Kleenex kill germs? That is somewhat like me: I am always helping various critters outside--I don't like to kill anything. However, I don't worry about bacteria, molds, dust mites, mosquitos, and cockroaches. I am a hypocrite in that way!)
Profile Image for Rajat Ubhaykar.
Author 1 book1,616 followers
October 3, 2012
I call anything sounding grand and oh-so-awesome but actually meaning squat a Richard Bach quote. Illusions, to summarize, is a compendium of such quotes.

However, I gave the book two stars only because it is consistent with the philosophy it preaches. The idea that the book is saying anything of consequence is an illusion and you are the one attaching any reality and importance to it.

The book might have had some 'message', but I was too busy smell-proofing my mind from all the shit flying around.
Profile Image for Madeline.
190 reviews18 followers
April 12, 2010
um... probably the nicest thing to say about this book would be... a dumb mans "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance"

anyway, i saw this book at a garage sale for 25cents... that made me pick it up. what made me *buy* it was this introduction

"I do not enjoy writing at all. If I can turn my back on an idea, out there in the dark, if I can avoid opening the door to it, I won't even reach for a pencil. But once in a while there's a great dynamite-burst of fling glass and brick and splinters through the front wall and somebody stalks over the rubble, seizes me by the throat and gently says, "I will not let you go until you set me, in words, on paper." THAT is how I met "Illusions."

could i NOT read this book?!?

also, the back of the book has like a starry night time scene and says only "More than a great national bestseller. A great way of looking at life." - - and since i'm on this spirituality kick, i thought i'd give it a shot.

unfortunately, "spirituality" is letting me down.

Profile Image for Shakirah.
40 reviews5 followers
March 12, 2008
I heard about the book on Esther & Jerry Hicks Video. After reading the reviews here on Goodreads I decided to make the 10 odd minute trip to Kinokuniya to grab a copy. I never regretted it. A book which carries the message of how we mould our own future, our own life, our own outcomes in a very engaging way. I finished this wonderful book in 4 hours or so. If you need anything to lift your spirits when you are feeling down, or restore your faith in the Law of Attraction, this is one of the many books that will be very helpful.
Profile Image for Steve Merrick.
Author 15 books8 followers
March 1, 2017
"Here is a test to find whether your mission to Earth is finished; If your alive it isn't."
Why write of the book when it could be more fun to explain the reactions of several other people who have read this one. Before I say anything else I feel it needs a health warning. The symptoms that I have witnessed as people read this book include, delusional psychosis, fantasising in public, maniac attempts at cloud bursting and one very very bruised nose. (A result of a grown man trying to swim in the grass on a very dry day in Hackney. If only he hadn't decided to dive in.) Also most of these poor crazed Richard Bach Fans discover something mystical and illuminating within themselves as they read the book. Unfortunately all of them want to share this great gift with everyone, so get used to some rather odd lectures if your Partner, flatmate, best friends, or children lay their hands on a copy of this book.
The story however is brilliant, A Messiah who wants to quit. A pilot who doesn't want to fly using machines anymore. Written masterfully and with a huge degree of characterisation. If you have read Jonathon Livingston Seagull (also by Richard Bach) then this is an evolution of that first book. However dangerous the book may be its a must have on any shelf. I hate to admit it but this book is enlightening, entertaining, thought provoking, but above all original. A one off. The mould was smashed up afterwards because I have never read anything quite like this. Nor have you.

Profile Image for Celia.
1,165 reviews150 followers
July 13, 2018
Richard Bach is the author of Jonathan Livingston Seagull, a book about birds, but teaches lessons relevant to humans. I liked that book, but I like his second book MORE. It is about PEOPLE learning life lessons, not birds. I guess I relate more to people!!

Illusions is a lighthearted mystical adventure story about two barnstorming vagabonds who meet in the fields of the Midwest. Richard Bach meets Don Shimoda, the Reluctant Messiah. Magic and miracles surround Don. He calls them Illusions, not Miracles. Richard wants to learn. Don presents him with Messiah's Handbook: Reminders for the Advanced Soul. It starts 'Perspective, Use It or Lose It. If you turned to this page, you're forgetting that what is going on around you is not reality'. Richard reads more and more and Don speaks more and more. Very beautiful life-clarifying phrases.

I see this book as a wonderful book to read AND DISCUSS with a friend.

If any of you want to read this book, let me know if you would like to discuss it with ME.

5 stars
Profile Image for Melissa.
544 reviews3 followers
August 11, 2016
I loved this story.
I love taking responsibility for my own life and outcome.
I love doing what I want to do, and leaving others free to do what they want.
I loved the analogy about all the creatures clinging to the sticks and rocks in the river, but one was tired of clinging and let go to follow the path the river led it down.
I loved the point that freedom is watching "your own films" not someone else's films, and the introspection that resulted when I pondered the films I actually like and what that says about life choices.
I want to live freely and happily, to give up the boredom.

I love
"What the caterpillar
calls the end of the world,
the master calls a

I guess, in short, I loved this book :)
Profile Image for Nafi3.
135 reviews26 followers
November 26, 2020
به نقل از کتابخوان:
«پندار» رمانی نوشته‌ی ریچارد باخ نويسنده‌ی آمريكایی است كه زمانی هم خلبان بوده و به دليل علاقه زيادش به پرواز هميشه توی داستان‌هایش اشاره‌ای به اين مقوله دارد. او موسس مذهب پرواز است و مريدانی نيز دارد.

خلاصه داستان:
دونالد شيمودا يك منجی جهانی است كه به حقيقت زندگی پی برده و معجزات زيادی را انجام می‌دهد. او تصميم می‌گيرد مدتی از جمعيت دور شود و در اين زمان با خلبانی به نام ريچارد آشنا شده و معنا و مفهوم جهان را به او می‌آموزد ... اين كه جهان و حقايق به نوعی وهم و پندارند و بعد از كشف و بنا بر درک عقلانی ما حقيقت می‌يابند ... اين كه با تمركز و باور و اعتقاد می‌توان هر كاری را انجام داد...
برشی از متن کتاب:
جهان را زیبا، دادگر، بی‌طرف و کامل تصور کن؛ سپس از یک چیز مطمئن باش، آن وجود آن را بسیار بهتر از آن‌چه که تو تصور می‌کنی تصور کرده است.
Profile Image for Bradley.
Author 5 books3,910 followers
September 19, 2015
I read this when I was a kid and it really did influence me, as did Jonathan Livingston Seagull. I love reality bending fiction and I also loved the bent it had toward living with wisdom. I can't imagine what my life would have been without being surrounded by good notions like that. Of course, it was also surrounded by reality bending, too, so maybe I was pretty messed up as a kid. Fortunately, I read a lot in order to shuck-off all of those reality-bending mindscapes in favor of new reality-bending mindscapes. As we all know, more reality-bending is better. Right? Right?
Regardless, it was one of the best, and first books that I had read of its kind and I suppose it will always have a great spot in my heart. Love and wisdom, after all, are some of the best things in the world.
Profile Image for Mevsim Yenice.
Author 4 books965 followers
December 5, 2017
Richard Bach'ın malesef ki Martı'nın gölgesinde kaldığını düşündüğüm eseri.

Gönülsüz bir mesih ve onun "Bu kitaptaki her şey yanlış olabilir." diye biten el kitabı. İnsan olmakla kafayı yediğimiz şu kısa(!) ömrümüzde müthiş insanlar olmaya çalışıp, hata yapmadan yolun sonuna gelmeye çalışırken hatanın en büyüğünü yapıyoruzdur belki de. Belki de ihtiyacımız olan tek şey, bir mesihin çıkıp da bize "Bildiğin, yaptığın her şey yanlış olabilir. Dert değil." demesi. Bunu hissettirmişti bu incecik kitap bana.

Tavsiye ediyorum.
Profile Image for Errin Davenport.
7 reviews11 followers
January 5, 2014
This is a wonderful book! I have read it several times and with each reading I discovered a little part of myself, and remembered those times of miracles I had forgotten.
Profile Image for Farnoosh Farahbakht.
63 reviews310 followers
January 16, 2015
در حال خوندن کتاب یه اتفاق جالب و عجیب برام افتاد!
سر کار با یکی از همکارام در مورد مفهموم خانواده بحث می کردیم.به طور اتفاقی کتاب رو که تازه شروع کرده بودم و فقط چند صفحه اولش رو خونده بودم از رو میز کارم برداشتم و این جمله که با فونت درشت نوشته شده بود نظرم و جلب کرد : "حلقه ای که خانواده ی حقیقی تو را به هم متصل می کند، همخونی نیست بلکه احترام و خوشحالی است که نسبت به زندگی یکدیگر دارید.بندرت اعضای یک خانواده در زیر یک سقف با هم بزرگ می شوند."
تعجبم وقتی خیلی بیشتر شد که شب در ادامه کتاب خوندم شیمودا که ن��ش یک منجی رو داره کتاب مسیحایی خودش رو به ریچارد شاگردش میده و میگه "فقط این کتاب را باز می کنی و مطلبی را که بیش از هر چیز نیاز داری می یابی" !!
Profile Image for Mehrdad Mozafari.
Author 1 book30 followers
July 31, 2019
این بار از کتاب نمی گم
از خودم می گم:
به وقت بود و به خواندنش نیاز داشتم
Profile Image for Monica.
582 reviews611 followers
January 2, 2018
I've read this book more than once. The first time I read it, I was 22 years old, very idealistic and I thought this was the most brilliant book ever written by anyone. This one and "The Bridge Across Forever" were almost sacrosanct. Fast forward 15 years and I reread it with fond memories of the past and it struck me as less than good. In fact it was plodding and somewhat tedious. I am therefore splitting the middle and giving it 3 stars. A book for the younger idealist in me, not the jaded woman I am today.
Profile Image for Tom Quinn.
536 reviews141 followers
August 25, 2019
You are never given a wish without also being given the power to make it true.

You may have to work for it, however.

Sometimes the stories of why we read the books we read are more interesting than the books themselves. Illusions was recommended to me by a coworker as one of his favorite books. In exchange, I suggested to him some of my favorites (and also pressed them on him from my personal library with an urgency that might have bordered on off-putting). I find it tricky to read someone else's favorite book, because there's a lot of pressure to say the right thing after. Illusions seems tailor-made for buddy reading and book clubs, though.

I was impressed by Illusions early on, and I'm glad the author had the sense to make his point and not drag everything out. I saw something of Hemingway in Bach's spare and economical sentence crafting. It's as if Hemingway wrote magical realism, kind of. Add in the gentle-but-stern sentimentality of Vonnegut and you've got a good idea of what to expect. The shared language of pilots, mechanics, and gearheads did not appeal to me but I see how it serves a purpose. Bach doesn't labor too hard on the dialect or make it difficult to follow by any means, but the jargon is present throughout. Still, the book as a whole feels warm and inviting. Truth be told, the saccharine sweetness of the main "there's a miracle worker in all of us" message is a bit hokey but it seems to come from a good place. There are quite a few parallels with a favorite film of mine: I Heart Huckabee's. The reminder that we can choose how we judge and react to things, that we can construct our own perceptions of the things around us, is a soothing and comforting one. Some of the more outrageous demonstrations don't do it for me, though.

3 stars out of 5. Divorced from all the personal context, the text isn't all that impressive. But our reading is never truly divorced from personal context, and I'm glad to have shared this one with someone.
Profile Image for Jared Della Rocca.
595 reviews13 followers
June 30, 2014
I am the product of two families. On the biological side, I was raised a Roman Catholic, and frequently joke that I'm part of the world's largest religion, Lapsed Roman Catholics. On my married side, I've been raised a Spiritualist. Wait, strike that. I'm a lower-case 's' spiritualist. Because it's not an organized anything, it's just a state of being.

This second way of living has trickled down from my mother-in-law to my wife and now to me. They are both more well-versed and studied in the miracles around us, while I am more of a novice believer in the power of the universe. Science, for me, is just a way of explaining the miracles in terms we can understand. But look at your cell phone. Open up an app. It's become routine, but can you explain how any of that works? And not just in general, but in the particular. Because for me, that's a goddamned miracle! And that's stuff that millions of people can probably explain how it works. Go bigger. Human life is created from stardust, exploding supernovas billions of years ago. Think about that for a minute, or an hour. Now tell me life isn't a miracle. But it's a miracle of science. It doesn't require God, or organized worship. It just requires us to open our eyes a little bit wider.

And that's what Illusions reinforced, for me at least. It's to open your eyes a little bit wider to the world around you. Understand that everything we see, everything we experience, is our brain doing its best to understand the illusion, the miracle of the world around us. But if we open our eyes and our mind a little wider, we can stop experiencing these miracles and begin to participate in them. We can go from observers to creators, from humans to Messiahs.

Intrigued? :-) Welcome to the unorganized organization of spiritualists. There's coffee and cake in the basement afterwards ;-)
Profile Image for liz.
276 reviews27 followers
April 26, 2009
Please note the shelves this book is on: It's much more "junk" than "fun." I received this as a gift, and it says on the cover, "The glorious best seller by Richard Bach author of Jonathan Livingston Seagull and One", which I think pretty much sums it up. The author's note in the beginning is pretentious drivel about "I never wanted to write another book again because it's just so hard, but these characters and this story were just begging to be let out of my head..." Waah. The book isn't even 200 pages, and the print is not tiny. You can finish it in an afternoon (he probably did). It's really predictable, and I could get the same basic idea reading a book about Buddhism without having to deal w/ the BS plot. I'm trying to find one to link to, but really, pretty much ANY book about Buddhism (or Buddhist meditation) will give you the same ideas but better articulated. Which I guess is kind of funny, since the person who gave me the book gave it to me because she loves the message, and she's an observant Christian (albeit an extremely cool, funny, and open-minded observant Christian).

An excerpt from the "Messiah's Handbook" (oracular book within the book):
You are
never given a wish
without also being given the
power to make it true.
You may
have to work for it,

As a matter of fact, hey. You want to read a BETTER book about a "reluctant messiah" (not that better is really saying much) that'll give you the same basic message in a way more satisfying way? Try this.
Profile Image for Nathan Trachta.
267 reviews4 followers
September 6, 2016
My friend Renee recommended this one to me, she knows I've had questions in life and I'm open to unique perspectives; what can I say, I don't know everything in life and I'm still learning. Illusions is a book of self learning or teaching by and indirect method, I'll let you decide. For me it was an indirect method learning about the illusions of life and how we limit ourselves. In this case Mr. Bach has two gentlemen who give airplane rides to people meet and we watch as one quests and learns about himself and the world. As he slowly expands his world past his narrow, limited world into understanding that the world is limitless and only we limit ourselves elite meant happens. Yes, Mr. Bach has shown us there is a world outside of the box we place ourselves in and while others can show us there's more around us, only we can go beyond our self imposed limits.

This is an outstanding read! I learned so much about myself it's amazing. This is a solid 5 star book where we can learn about ourselves and if we limit ourselves from doing all that we possibly can. While the is an allegory about a persons relationship with God, you don't have to limit yourself with this viewpoint. Expand yourself, take wing, and fly beyond your limits so others are amazed and you become their teacher.
Profile Image for Contrarius.
621 reviews90 followers
June 15, 2011
This is one of my favorite books of all time. Yes, it is all soft pop-philosophy, but it can be profound at the same time. Just listen to it with an open heart, and let its message ease into your heart.
3,731 reviews78 followers
May 10, 2020
Illusions: The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah by Richard Bach (Delacorte Press 1977)(Fiction). A barnstorming messiah stops long enough to make some profound statements. This is much better than it sounds. For instance: "The original sin is to limit the is. Don't." - Donald Shimoda. My rating: 7.5/10, finished 1978.
Profile Image for Özlem Güzelharcan.
Author 5 books278 followers
August 7, 2018
Şimdi içeriğine dair hiçbir şey hatırlamıyorum ama ilk okulda okuyup da çok sevdiğimi, çok etkilendiğimi, hatta kitaptan cümleleri ezberleyip evin bahçesinde kendi kendime tiyatro yaptığımı net hatırlıyorum.
Sihirli, spiritüel bir şeyler vardı sanki kitapta.

Sonra Jonathan Livigstone girdi hayatıma ve bana adımı (Gezgin Martı) bahşetti. Şimdi 25 yıl sonra burada karşıma çıktıysa Mavi Tüy, tekrar okumam gerektiğine dair en güzelinden bir mesaj değil de nedir bu?
Profile Image for Candice.
545 reviews
April 28, 2018
Ugh. Arrogant, precious, trite, irresponsible. Methinks the author could use a lesson in transcending ego, for he could not resist sharing his vast knowledge of aviation, even at the risk of alienating readers with his cocky jargon. He was also fond of reminding us that he was often one step ahead of his master and was able to correct him at turns, peppering the speech with dickish evidence.

I disliked the jocularity, verbiage, setting, background, and even the message. I do not buy that I "just don't get it" and that it's "so deep it must be read many times to understand". I find no unassuming depth or truth here. Perhaps I might have as a college student, but as a salty old 38-year-old woman, I've heard these messages conveyed clearer and more convincingly elsewhere. And without the full-blown barf-inducing ego.

Thank the Lort that it was short.
Profile Image for Lance Greenfield.
Author 122 books234 followers
November 26, 2015
This is absolutely the best book that I have read in a long while.

There is much philosophy and much humour. And there is so much to stimulate the reader's mind into a flurry of thoughts. I could pick out so many quotable passages, but my favourite remains as one which I used on my own blog recently. If you are interested, take a look at Writer’s Quote Wednesday – The Chrysalis Moment .

I loved it so much that I shall immediately put it onto my personal top books of all time list.
3 reviews24 followers
February 5, 2010
Wow, this book... *sigh* When I FINALLY got around to reading this little beat up paperweight, I was sick, in bed, with nothing else to do. I could have just as easily been asleep and equally productive. It was such a disappointment, because not only was it practically free, one of my best friends had good things to say about it.
This book was like the dictionary of fortune cookie-isms. The general message seemed to be "Whatever you think, that is what is, also, the opposite of that is as well." And my lucky numbers, what are they? And how do you say, "Stop smoking weed" in Chinese?
Profile Image for Roula.
483 reviews137 followers
January 13, 2022
Απο αυτα τα βιβλια που θες να υπογραμμισεις σχεδον ολοκληρα, αλλα δε γινεται κι ετσι ξερεις απλα οτι θα τα διαβασεις πολλες πολλες φορες ακομη στη ζωη σου και θα κρατηθεις (και) απο αυτο στα δυσκολα σου. Παραθετω μερικα απο τα αγαπημενα μου αποσπασματα :

“Listen!” he called across the gulf between us. “This world? And everything in it? Illusions, Richard! Every bit of it illusions! Do you understand that?” There was no wink, no smile; as though he was suddenly furious with me for not knowing long ago.

Argue for your limitations,
and sure enough,

Every person,
all the events of your life
are there because you have
drawn them there.
What you choose
to do with them is
up to you.

Here is a test to find
whether your mission on earth
is finished:
If you’re alive,
it isn’t.

What the caterpillar
calls the end of the world,
the master calls a

Profile Image for Nick Duretta.
1,226 reviews14 followers
March 1, 2014
I didn't know quite what to make of this. It's a mishmash of new-age wisdom and eastern philosophy disguised as some sort of fanciful folk tale about a man with godlike powers (he can create items out of thin air, fly his barnstorming plane without fuel, and so on) and a book of aphorisms he passes on to Bach, the author who also is in this tale. It's all a bit too precious. Thank goodness it was short.
Profile Image for Laura Larson.
291 reviews12 followers
September 14, 2020
This is an inspiring and thought-provoking novella about what life really means. It really made me think about my place in the world, morality, and the comfort of religion.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 2,683 reviews

Can't find what you're looking for?

Get help and learn more about the design.