These are excerpts from Jonathan Livingston Seagull, a beautiful Novella, authored by Richard Bach.

Part 2

Jonathan believed that he was in heaven, he now had a beautiful body which could fly much faster than his old one. Still, there was a limit. In heaven, he thought, there should be no limits…By and by, he came to realise that there was still much for him to learn. But with a difference. Here were gulls who thought as he thought. Each one was striving for perfection in the thing that they loved the most, which was to fly. He realised that there was no such thing as heaven! We choose our next world through what we learn in this one. Learn nothing, and the next world is the same as this one, all the same limitations and lead weights to overcome. The Elder Gull told him, “There is no such place as Heaven. Heaven is not a place, and it is not a time. Heaven is being perfect.”

“You will begin to touch heaven in the moment you touch perfect speed. And that isn’t flying a thousand miles an hour, or a million, or flying at the speed of light. Because any number is a limit, and perfection doesn’t have limits. Perfect speed, my son, is being there.”

So Jonathan started taking lessons from the Elder Gull in achieving the perfect speed. The trick was, “To fly as fast as thought, you must begin by knowing that you have already arrived.” The trick meant that Jonathan should stop seeing himself as a limited body with a 42 inch wingspan. The trick was to know that his true nature lived, as perfect as an unwritten number everywhere at once across space and time. One day as Jonathan stood concentrating, all in a flash he knew what the elder had been telling him. He felt a great shock of joy as he shouted,”Why, that’s true! I am a perfect unlimited gull!” And he found himself with the elder in a strange surrounding. He had learnt the trick!

Days went by learning new things, and then one day, the elder vanished, as he was leaving, he told Jonathan, “Keep working on Love.” As days passed by, Jonathan found himself wanting to go back to earth. His way of demonstrating love was to give something of the truth he had seen to other gulls who were in search of it. His friend Sullivan discouraged him, but Jonathan could not ignore his calling. He consoled his friend saying, “If our friendship depends on things like space and time, then when we have finally overcome space and time, we’ve destroyed our own brotherhood! But overcome space, and all we have left is Here. Overcome time, and all we have left is Now. And in the middle of Here and Now, don’t you think that we might see each other once or twice?”

Saying this, Jonathan Livingston Seagull goes back to earth…

Reflecting on Jonathan’s experience, a few things that come to my mind…

There exists no place as Heaven. Perfection is heaven. To reach perfection, you have to be alive in the Now and Here. Cross the barriers of space and time. There is no place to exist other than Here. There is no time in which to exist other than Now. When you are completely in Here and Now, you are in Heaven! The only obstacle which stops us from being in Heaven is the constant reminder about our limitations. The day we transcend this obstacle, we are perfect beings created in the image of our creator! 

Another small story….

There is a town where only ducks live. Every Sunday the ducks waddle out of their houses and waddle down Main Street to their church. They waddle into the sanctuary and squat in their proper pews. The duck choir waddles in and takes its place, then the duck minister comes forward and opens the duck Bible. (Ducks, like all other creatures on earth, seem to have their own special version of Scriptures.) He reads to them: “Ducks! God has given you wings! With wings you can fly! With wings you can mount up and soar like eagles. No walls can confine you! No fences can hold you! You have wings. God has given you wings and you can fly like birds!”

All the ducks shouted, “Amen!” And they all waddled home.

This is what happens with most of us. We say “Amen” and live life like we have always lived it. But let’s realise there is much more to life than mere existence. We weren’t born to live meaningless, average existence. We have been given gifts, abilities, untapped potential, intelligence, energy, passion and dreams so that we can live an extraordinary life. So let us tap into them, and rise to our full potential.

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Divya Pai

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