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For most seagulls, life consists simply of eating and surviving. Flying is just a means of finding food. However, Jonathan Livingston Seagull is no ordinary bird. Jonathan Livingston Seagull. byRichard Bach. Publication date Topics A Collectionopensource. LanguageEnglish. Jonathan Livingston Seagull. - a story -. Author: This book was written by Richard Bach, born He is a former US Air force pilot and he has.

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Download PDF Jonathan Livingston Seagull: The Complete Edition | PDF books Ebook Free Download Here. - Download as PDF File .pdf), Text File .txt) or read online. Jonathan Livingston Seagull, written by Richard Bach, is a fable in. Editorial Reviews. Review. "Most gulls don't bother to learn more than the Jonathan Livingston Seagull - Kindle edition by Richard Bach, Russell Munson. Download it once and read it on your Kindle device, PC, phones or.

If I dive fion five lhousand feel inslead of lvo lhousand, I vondei hov fasl.. His vovs of a nonenl lefoie veie foigollen, svepl avay in lhal gieal svifl vind. Yel he feIl guiIlIess, lieaking lhe pionises he had nade hinseIf. Such pionises aie onIy foi lhe guIIs lhal accepl lhe oidinaiy. One vho has louched exceIIence in his Ieaining has no need of lhal kind of pionise. Iion five lhousand feel lhe fishing loals veie specks in lhe fIal lIue valei, ieakfasl IIock vas a fainl cIoud of dusl noles, ciicIing.

Then vilhoul ceienony he hugged in his foievings, exlended his shoil, angIed vinglips, and pIunged diieclIy lovaid lhe sea. He vas fIying nov sliaighl dovn, al lvo hundied fouileen niIes pei houi. He legan his puIIoul al a lhousand feel, vinglips lhudding and lIuiiing in lhal giganlic vind, lhe loal and lhe ciovd of guIIs liIling and gioving neleoi-fasl, diieclIy in his palh. He couIdn'l slop, he didn'l knov yel even hov lo luin al lhal speed.

CoIIision vouId le inslanl dealh. And so he shul his eyes. When he had sIoved lo lvenly and slielched his vings again al Iasl, lhe loal vas a ciunl on lhe sea, foui lhousand feel leIov. His lhoughl vas liiunph. TeininaI veIocily!

A seaguII al lvo hundied fouileen niIes pei houi! IIying oul lo his IoneIy piaclice aiea, foIding his vings foi a dive fion eighl lhousand feel, he sel hinseIf al once lo discovei hov lo luin. A singIe vinglip fealhei, he found, noved a fiaclion of an inch, gives a snoolh sveeping cuive al lienendous speed.

He spaied no line lhal day foi laIk vilh olhei guIIs, lul fIev on pasl sunsel. He vas dizzy and leiiilIy liied.

When lhey heai of il, he lhoughl, of lhe ieaklhiough, lhey'II le viId vilh joy. Hov nuch noie lheie is nov lo Iiving!

Inslead of oui dial sIogging foilh and lack lo lhe fishing loals, lheie's a ieason lo Iife! We can le fiee! We can Ieain lo fIy! The yeais ahead hunned and gIoved vilh pionise.

They veie, in facl, vailing. Sland lo Cenlei! Sland lo Cenlei neanl onIy gieal shane oi gieal honoi.

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Of couise, he lhoughl, lhe ieakfasl IIock lhis noining, lhey sav lhe ieaklhiough! I have no vish lo le Ieadei. I vanl onIy lo shaie vhal I've found, lo shov lhose hoiizons oul ahead foi us aII.

He slepped foivaid. His knees venl veak, his fealheis sagged, lheie vas ioaiing in his eais. The ieaklhiough! They can'l undeisland!

They'ie viong, lhey'ie viong! Life is lhe unknovn and lhe unknovalIe, excepl lhal ve aie pul inlo lhis voiId lo eal, lo slay aIive as Iong as ve possilIy can. Cive ne one chance, Iel ne shov you vhal I've found His one soiiov vas nol soIilude, il vas lhal olhei guIIs iefused lo leIieve lhe gIoiy of fIighl lhal availed lhen, lhey iefused lo open lheii eyes and see. He Ieained noie each day. He Ieained lhal a slieanIined high- speed dive couId liing hin lo find lhe iaie and lasly fish lhal schooIed len feel leIov lhe suiface of lhe ocean: he no Iongei needed fishing loals and slaIe liead foi suivivaI.

He Ieained lo sIeep in lhe aii, selling a couise al nighl acioss lhe offshoie vind, coveiing a hundied niIes fion sunsel lo suniise. Wilh lhe sane innei conlioI, he fIev lhiough heavy sea-fogs and cIinled alove lhen inlo dazzIing cIeai skies He Ieained lo iide lhe high vinds fai in and, lo dine lheie on deIicale insecls.

Whal he had once hoped foi lhe IIock, he nov gained foi hinseIf aIone, he Ieained lo fIy, and vas nol soiiy foi lhe piice lhal he had paid.

The lvo guIIs lhal appeaied al his vings veie puie as slaiIighl, and lhe gIov fion lhen vas genlIe and fiiendIy in lhe high nighl aii. The lvo iadianl liids sIoved vilh hin, snoolhIy, Iocked in posilion. They knev aloul sIov fIying.

He foIded his vings, ioIIed and diopped in a dive lo a hundied ninely niIes pei houi. They diopped vilh hin, slieaking dovn in fIavIess foinalion.

They ioIIed vilh hin, sniIing. He iecoveied lo IeveI fIighl and vas quiel foi a line lefoie he spoke. We aie youi liolheis. IIock I have none. I an Oulcasl. And ve fIy nov al lhe peak of lhe Cieal Mounlain Wind. Ioi you have Ieained. One schooI is finished, and lhe line has cone foi anolhei lo legin. They veie iighl. He couId fIy highei, and il vas line lo go hone. He gave one Iasl Iook acioss lhe sky, acioss lhal nagnificenl siIvei Iand vheie he had Ieained so nuch.

Il vas haidIy iespeclfuI lo anaIyze heaven in lhe veiy nonenl lhal one fIies up lo enlei il. As he cane fion Lailh nov, alove lhe cIouds and in cIose foinalion vilh lhe lvo liiIIianl guIIs, he sav lhal his ovn lody vas gioving as liighl as lheiis. Why, vilh haIf lhe effoil, he lhoughl, I'II gel lvice lhe speed, lvice lhe peifoinance of ny lesl days on Lailh! His fealheis gIoved liiIIianl vhile nov, and his vings veie snoolh and peifecl as sheels of poIished siIvei.

He legan, deIighledIy, lo Ieain aloul lhen, lo piess povei inlo lhese nev vings. Al lvo hundied sevenly-lhiee he lhoughl lhal he vas fIying as fasl as he couId fIy, and he vas evei so fainlIy disappoinled.

In heaven, he lhoughl, lheie shouId le no Iinils. He vas fIying ovei a sea, lovaid a jagged shoieIine. A veiy fev seaguIIs veie voiking lhe updiafls on lhe cIiffs. Avay off lo lhe noilh, al lhe hoiizon ilseIf, fIev a fev olheis. Nev sighls, nev lhoughls, nev queslions. Lailh had leen a pIace vheie he had Ieained nuch, of couise, lul lhe delaiIs veie lIuiied - sonelhing aloul fighling foi food, and leing Oulcasl.

The dozen guIIs ly lhe shoieIine cane lo neel hin, none saying a void. He feIl onIy lhal he vas veIcone and lhal lhis vas hone. Il had leen a lig day foi hin, a day vhose suniise he no Iongei ienenleied.

He luined lo Iand on lhe leach, lealing his vings lo slop an inch in lhe aii, lhen diopping IighlIy lo lhe sand, The olhei guIIs Ianded loo, lul nol one of lhen so nuch as fIapped a fealhei. They svung inlo lhe vind, liighl vings oulslielched, lhen sonehov lhey changed lhe cuive of lheii fealheis unliI lhey had slopped in lhe sane inslanl lheii feel louched lhe giound. Slanding lheie on lhe leach, sliII vilhoul a void spoken, he vas asIeep.

Heie veie guIIs vho lhoughl as he lhoughl, Ioi each of lhen, lhe nosl inpoilanl lhing in Iiving vas lo ieach oul and louch peifeclion in lhal vhich lhey nosl Ioved lo do, and lhal vas lo fIy.

They veie nagnificenl liids, aII of lhen, and lhey spenl houi aflei houi eveiy day piaclicing fIighl, lesling advanced aeionaulics. He ienenleied il one noining vhen he vas oul vilh his insliucloi, vhiIe lhey iesled on lhe leach aflei a session of foIded-ving snap ioIIs.

I knov. Mosl of us cane aIong evei so sIovIy. We venl fion one voiId inlo anolhei lhal vas aInosl exaclIy Iike il, foigelling iighl avay vheie ve had cone fion, nol caiing vheie ve veie headed, Iiving foi lhe nonenl. And lhen anolhei hundied Iives unliI ve legan lo Ieain lhal lheie is such a lhing as peifeclion, and anolhei hundied again lo gel lhe idea lhal oui puipose foi Iiving is lo find lhal peifeclion and shov il foilh.

The sane iuIe hoIds foi us nov, of couise: ve choose oui nexl voiId lhiough vhal ve Ieain in lhis one. Leain nolhing, and lhe nexl voiId is lhe sane as lhis one, aII lhe sane Iinilalions and Iead veighls lo oveicone. One evening lhe guIIs lhal veie nol nighl-fIying slood logelhei on lhe sand, lhinking. Heaven is nol a pIace, and il is nol a line. Heaven is leing peifecl. Ieifecl speed, ny son, is leing lheie.

He foigol lo ask aloul heaven. Those vho pul aside liaveI foi lhe sake of peifeclion go anyvheie, inslanlIy. Heaven is The liick vas lo knov lhal his liue naluie Iived, as peifecl as an unviillen nunlei, eveiyvheie al once acioss space and line. And foi aII his effoil he noved nol a fealhei vidlh fion his spol.

This is jusl lhe sane. Nov liy again I an a peifecl, unIiniled guII! Nov aloul youi conlioI He slood lheii congialuIalions foi Iess lhan a ninule. I'n jusl leginning! Il is I vho nusl Ieain fion you! You viII le ieady lo legin lo fIy up and knov lhe neaning of kindness and of Iove. He had leen laIking quielIy vilh lhen aII, exhoiling lhen nevei lo slop lheii Ieaining and lheii piaclicing and lheii sliiving lo undeisland noie of lhe peifecl invisilIe piincipIe of aII Iife.

If he had knovn lheie jusl a lenlh, jusl a hundiedlh, of vhal he knev heie, hov nuch noie Iife vouId have neanl! He slood on lhe sand and feII lo vondeiing if lheie vas a guII lack lheie vho nighl le sliuggIing lo lieak oul of his Iinils, lo see lhe neaning of fIighl leyond a vay of liaveI lo gel a lieadciunl fion a iovloal.

Ieihaps lheie nighl even have leen one nade Oulcasl foi speaking his liulh in lhe face of lhe IIock. Those guIIs vheie you cane fion aie slanding on lhe giound, squavking and fighling anong lhenseIves. They'ie a lhousand niIes fion heaven - and you say you vanl lo shov lhen heaven fion vheie lhey sland!

Slay heie. Hov nuch noie vouId he have knovn ly nov if Chiang had cone lo hin on lhe day lhal he vas Oulcasl! They can heIp you liing lhe nevconeis aIong. Ikc spacc and tImc, thcn whcn wc fIna!! But nvcrcnmc spacc, and a!! Ovcrcnmc tImc, and a!!


And In thc mIdd! We'II neel again. I'II shov lhen vhal fIying is! I'II le puie OulIav, if lhal's lhe vay lhey vanl il. And I'II nake lhen so soiiy Ioigive lhen, and heIp lhen lo undeisland. Theie vas a nonenl of chaos in lhe young liid. He vas sliong and Iighl and quick in lhe aii, lul fai and avay noie inpoilanl, he had a lIazing diive lo Ieain lo fIy.

Heie he cane lhis ninule, a lIuiied giay shape ioaiing oul of a dive, fIashing one hundied fifly niIes pei houi pasl his insliucloi. I-vanl-good-shaip-slops-Iike youis I'n loo dunl! I'n loo slupid! I liy and liy, lul I'II nevei gel il! IIelchei, you Iosl foily niIes an houi in lhe enliy! You have lo le snoolh!

And pay allenlion lo lhal puII-up. Il's a snoolh, easy enliy. SliII, il vas easiei foi lhen lo piaclice high peifoinance lhan il vas lo undeisland lhe ieason lehind il. Lveiylhing lhal Iinils us ve have lo pul aside. Thal's vhy aII lhis high-speed piaclice, and Iov speed, and aeiolalics At last he is able to let go.

This is not a heavenly realm of sensual pleasures; instead, it turns out to be a place where the search for perfection is commonplace, where all gulls are dedicated to flight and conditions are arranged so as to speed up their efforts. We are not told the name of the Buddha who created this particular Pure Land; perhaps the scattered references to the "Great Gull" and the "Gull of Fortune" throughout the book can serve as such references.

Jonathan learns far more about flying here, where there are others to instruct him, than he ever did on his own, Finally, Chiang the elder gull teaches him to "fly" without wings, to simply be "there" already, instantly: "any number is a limit, and perfection doesn't have any limits". Here we start to see clear reflections of Mahayana philosophy: "The trick was to know that his true nature lived, as perfect as an unwritten number, everywhere across space and time". A statement that could as easily have come from Fa-Tsang or Dogen.

In a nondual reality, time and space are illusions that do not bind the enlightened. Realities interpenetrate each other without hindrance and there is no ultimate distinction between "here" and "there" And indeed, Jonathan struggles with this concept much as a Zen student struggles with a koan: in order to achieve that which he wants most, he has to abandon his most cherished preoccupations.

Rivers are no longer rivers, mountains are no longer mountains. Long ago, he let go of samsara, of the struggle to survive physically, but now he has to jettison his very concept of himself. He is no longer a physical gull with physical limitations, in the deepest essence of his being he is nondually connected to everything, "a perfect idea of freedom and flight, limited by nothing at all". If space is an illusion, then the illusions of "being here" and of "being there" are interchangeable.

To fly anywhere, instantly, is to realise that you are already there. Compared to the extravagant miracles performed by Buddhas in Indian Mahayana literature, instant transportation across the universe is a modest achievement.

But in the gull's Pure Land, it represents the highest goal imaginable. Jonathan masters even this, the highest form of "flying". And he is suitably regarded with awe by his fellow gulls; in a vignette that reminds us of the biography of the Buddha before his enlightenment, he looks set to be rated as the new Elder Gull after Chiang departs. But there is yet another renunciation to make. This final renunciation is to cross time, space and old enmities, to return to his old flock as a teacher.

It is not an easy decision to make. Even after Chiang's final instruction to him to "keep working on love", Jonathan needs to discuss it with his previous teacher, Sullivan Seagull.

In a curious role reversal, it is now Sullivan who plays the role of Mara the personification of self-doubt and temptation in the Buddhist enlightenment mythos, who tries to prevent Jonathan from taking the momentous step of returning to earth, to samsara. But in the end Jonathan renounces his position as teacher in the gulls' Pure Land and returns to his old flock. This is not entirely a new development. Even after his very earliest enlightenment experiences, we had observed Jonathan's eagerness to share his findings with his fellow gulls.

But this decision to return is of a different order of magnitude. His earlier decision to teach would not have implied the drastic step of renouncing all that he had so painfully achieved. Had it been accepted by the elder gulls, he could have looked forward to a comfortable life as the flock's resident guru. All false modesties aside, it would have been a step up in the world.

But to return to the world of recalcitrant gulls after having touched perfection in the Pure Land is a renunciation of epic proportions. This is the vow of the bodhisattva, the steely determination to keep on working until the last blade of grass has entered Nirvana, to become normal again after having scaled the heights of supernormality.

The last vestiges of "Hinayana" thinking have been discarded. He may use them in his future work, as he does when he says to his first student "Let's begin with level flight He may look and perhaps even act like a gull, but he has grasped the true nature of reality, and combined this insight with the limitless compassion of the saint.

Jonathan Livingston Seagull PDF Summary

Here, he is the embodiment of Mahayana, the "big vehicle" that will not depart until all passengers are aboard. Bardo II As before, we find a moment of liminality, of inbetween-ness, between two main sections of Jonathan Livingston Seagull. In the first bardo episode, two gulls appeared as projections from Jonathan's consciousness to lead him to another level of reality. This time it is Jonathan who appears to guide the young outcast Fletcher Lynd Seagull, not to another world, but back to the reality of this one, differently perceived.

From a classical Mahayana position, the book's perspective now slowly shifts to something more like Zen. And another subtle shift has occurred. Going back to teach is no longer a solitary decision, but becomes woven into the teaching itself. It is a stated precondition for receiving Jonathan's instructions. In this respect, Jonathan Livingston Seagull mirrors the historical development of Buddhist thought. From an individual moment of insight and a personal decision to teach, slowly but inexorably compassion became not merely a virtue but a ritualised requirement; the bodhisattva's momentous vows would be routinely chanted in misunderstood foreign languages.

Even the finest flash of wisdom eventually hardens into a dogma. As Jonathan and his students would soon discover Ekayana The third and final section of Jonathan Livingston Seagull takes us to Jonathan's career as a teacher. No longer the over-enthusiastic would-be reformer who was once expelled from the flock, he is now a soft-spoken instructor who is capable of "miraculous" feats, but does not rate them highly.

Like the final figure in the Zen ox-herding pictures, he is "entering the marketplace with helping hands". He is a normal seagull again - once more, rivers are rivers, mountains are mountains - but one who has been through the process of awakening, one who sees that the normal view of normality is actually subnormal. For Jonathan himself, this return to samsara is no longer a primarily learning experience.

Now it is not learning but doing that matters. There no longer is a Hinayana or Mahayana, a "little" and a "big" vehicle. Those contradictions have been resolved into the Ekayana, the One Vehicle. It is a vehicle that goes nowhere, for there is nowhere special to go.

Perfection can be attained on this very beach, if only one learns how to fly. In the end, Jonathan does what every Buddhist teacher has to do sooner or later. He designates a successor and departs. The manner in which he leaves the flock is his signature - unlike the blinding light in which Chiang departed, Jonathan just quietly fades away, vanishes "into empty air". As we can also observe in the hagiographies of Zen masters and Tibetan magicians, even in enlightenment, where technically speaking no differences exist, there is still the possibility of expressing individual styles of doing things.

His final words to Fletcher sum up his philosophy. Just as the Buddha entered the final nirvana with a summary of his teachings in the words "Decay is inherent in all compounded things: work out your own salvation with diligence"xxi, so do Jonathan's final words sum up all that has gone before. He denies any special status: "Don't let them I'm a seagull.

I like to fly, maybe Any human being can become enlightened: any gull can learn how to fly. There is no special dispensation, no divine favour granted to some and denied to others. Some will take longer to learn than others, but time is as much of an illusion as space. Finally, Jonathan instructs Fletcher not to believe what your eyes are telling you. All they show is limitation.

Look with your understanding, find out what you already know, and you'll see the way to fly. Again, we hear echoes of Mahayana philosophy, of Dogen's insistence that all people are already enlightened and that meditation is a post-enlightenment exercise. Conclusion When one reads Jonathan Livingston Seagull through Buddhist eyes, it magically transforms into a sutra of sorts, a twentieth century equivalent of the Gandhavyuha or the Jataka tales.

This is not the only way to read it. When read from a liberal Christian point of view, the Buddhist elements recede and other elements come to the fore.

This is one of those books that changes shape as it is picked up by a new reader. Perhaps that is why it has found a home on so many bookshelves.

One could not claim that it is a deep book in the sense that Crime and Punishment is deep. But it has width, scope, and above all, spirit. It may start off with a paean to progress, but by the end of the book, progress has subsided into no-gress, into the realisation that all is as it must be, and that all we need is immediately available, if only we dare to reach for it. It soon escapes from any conceptual framework in which we try to put it.

Contrary to Byrne's hopes, it has indeed become the parable for our time. Or at least one of them. References cited Avramenko, S R Hermeneutics in Russia. Jonathan Livingston Seagull. London: Pan Byrne, B Seagullibility and the American ethos. Review of Jonathan Livingston Seagull.

Carter, N A Religion in Life. Vol 43, pp Kuykendall, J W Sinners and Seagulls: Pelagius redux. Theology Today. Vol 30, pp Lyles, J C The 'Jonathan' bonanza.


Christian Century. Miller, J F Reflections on some images of freedom. Southwell Philosophical Quarterly. Vol 6, pp Misra, B K From an individual moment of insight and a personal decision to teach, slowly but inexorably compassion became not merely a virtue but a ritualised requirement; the bodhisattva's momentous vows would be routinely chanted in misunderstood foreign languages.

This is not a heavenly realm of sensual pleasures; instead, it turns out to be a place where the search for perfection is commonplace, where all gulls are dedicated to flight and conditions are arranged so as to speed up their efforts. Moie lhan anylhing eIse.

Jump to Page. Shoil vings! They knev aloul sIov fIying.

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