Tuesday, January 24, 2012


The book contained fewer than 10,000 words. It tells the story of a seagull called Jonathan Livingston Seagull. The manuscript written by Richard Bach was turned down by many publishers. At last it was accepted and published by Macmillan Publishers in 1970. Surprisingly it broke all hardcover sales records since "Gone with the Wind". It sold more than 1,000,000 copies in 1972 alone. 

The story is about Jonathan Livingston Seagull who flew for the love of flying rather than merely to catch food. Young Jonathan Livingston is frustrated with the meaningless materialism and conformity and limitation of the seagull life. Seized by a passion for flight, he pushes himself, learning everything he can about flying. For him flying isn’t something to get food, he tries to break the ‘speed limits’ because every limit is a restriction of freedom. Eventually, his lack of conformity to the limited seagull life leads him into conflict with his flock, and they cast him out of their flock. An outcast, he continues to learn, becoming increasingly pleased with his abilities as he leads a free life.

One day, Jonathan is met by two radiant, loving seagulls who take him to a “higher plane of existence” in that there is no heaven but a better world found through perfection of knowledge, where he meets other gulls who love to fly. He discovers that his sheer tenacity and desire to learn make him “pretty well a one-in-a-million bird.” Jonathan befriends the wisest gull in this new place, named Chiang, who takes him beyond his previous learning, teaching him how to move instantaneously to anywhere else in the Universe. He realizes that one has to be true to his self: “You have the freedom to be yourself, your true self, here and now, and nothing can stand in your way.”

Jonathan returns to his former flock to share his newly discovered ideals and the recent tremendous experience, ready for the difficult fight against the current rules of that society. He wants to find others like him, to bring them his learning and to spread his love for flight. He soon found several good flight students. Fletcher Gull was one of them, he has a desire to learn to fly. Jonathan teaches Fletcher to fly like Chiang has told him.

His mission is successful, gathering around him others who have been outlawed for not conforming. Ultimately, the very first of his students, Fletcher Lynd Seagull, becomes a teacher in his own right and Jonathan leaves to teach other flocks.

Actually the story is about people, not birds. It teaches men and women about the meaning of life, that we are put on earth to strive and to reach for perfection in whatever we choose to do. Flight is a symbol of any human activity that enlarges the personality. Eating is a symbol of activities which only gratify the senses. It is important, but it is not the goal itself. One has to go beyond and strive more to attain perfection.

We learn from Jonathan the price which must be paid for excellence. Excellence requires leaving the flock, being alone, and practising. And the practice requires “fierce concentration.”

The book is dedicated to “the real Jonathan Seagull who lives within 
us all” Every one of us could learn something from this book because there are a lot of princi
ples and eye openers in it. Here are some beautiful quotes in the book.

“You have the freedom to be yourself, your true self, here and now, and nothing can stand in your way".”

“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.”

“Do you have any idea how many lives we must have gone through before we even got the first idea that there is more to life than eating, or fighting, or power in the Flock? A thousand lives, Jon, ten thousand!”

“Whatever stands against that freedom must be set aside, be it ritual or superstition or limitation in any form.”

“Don’t 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.”

“[Perfect speed] isn’t flying a thousand miles, or a million, or flying at the speed of light. Because any number is a limit and perfection doesn’t have limits.”

“Keep working on love.” 


Saturday, January 14, 2012

Ego - the enemy within

Whenever you suffer mentally try to analyze it. You will find somewhere the ego is the real cause of it. The ego goes on finding causes to suffer. Ego lives on others’ attention. If nobody pays attention to you, if nobody thinks that you are somebody important, significant, then the ego feels hurt. Ego is always depending on others, always in search of food, that somebody should appreciate it. As Osho calls aptly, this is a deep begging. It is a deep slavery.

We want to have more to draw others’ attention. The ego always wants more. It has an addictive need for more. But it can never be satisfied. The Buddhists calls this egoist structure as the hungry ghost with an enormous belly and a mouth the size of the eye of a needle.

It is “the enemy within”. It is the enemy of a genuine happy or spiritual life. It is what gets in the way of experiencing real happiness or real love.

Comparing, complaining and resentment are common egoist activities.

Comparing yourself to others is the ego in one of its most vicious forms. “I have more than him. My ___ is better or worse than yours”. It’s a perpetual losing battle because there will always be somebody better and always somebody worse than you are. Even if you are the best in the world at what you do somebody will always be right on your tail. If you keep seeing your life as a competition with those around you, then you will continually be dissatisfied and the ego will drive your life.

Ego has the great need to always be right and to have the last word. This is another one of the ego’s most destructive functions. People who have a need to continually be right are headed for the ultimate downfall. These kinds of people will often get far in life because of their persistence and aggressiveness. But these people mostly will fail when they are on the brink of great success. Their need to be right will be their downfall and years of hard work can be destroyed in minutes when this portion of the ego takes over. Leaders with this attitude ultimately lose touch with reality and eventually stop perceiving truth that can rectify themselves because they are so adamant about being right.

Be very clear – your ego is not the real you! Through the ego the society is controlling you. You have to behave in a certain way, because only then does the society appreciate you.

Some people live their whole lives fighting for the sake of satisfying their inflated egos. Each one of us feels worthy in a way or another, even those who feel inferior. But it becomes a problem when this sense of self worth becomes exaggerated to the extent that it leads the person to a life full of suffering and pain.

Here are the views of two great thinkers -

Zen Master Phillip Kapleau says, “Ego, that shadowy, phantomlike figure with insatiable desires and a lust for dominance, sits astride the senses like some oriental potentate. Or, to change the simile, ego is like a magician carrying up his sleeve the deadly tricks of greed, anger, and wrong thinking. Worse, he is quite capable of rationalizing his actions with an air of sweet reasonableness. This wily and slippery conjurer deludes us into believing we can enjoy the delights of the senses without pain only by delivering ourselves into his hands ..”

Eckhart Tolle says, “On the psychological level, the sense of lack and incompleteness is, if anything, even greater than on the physical level. As long as you are identified with the mind, you have an externally derived sense of self. That is to say, you get your sense of who you are from things that ultimately have nothing to do with who you are: your social role, possessions, externl appearance, successes and failures, belief systems, and so on. This false, mind-made self, the ego, feels vulnerable, insecure, and is always seeking new things to identify with to give it a feeling that it exists. But nothing is ever enough to give it lasting fulfillment. Its fear remains; its sense of lack and neediness remains.”

Whenever your mind is in turmoil, start looking for the ego - not in others, but in yourself. Whenever you feel miserable, immediately close you eyes and try to find out from where the misery is coming and you will always find it is the ego that has clashed with someone.

When you can learn to let go of the ego, the level of success and fulfillment you will achieve will be dramatic. Only with your ego in check will you have the ability to reach your full potential and real peace.

• N.Ganeshan