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A series of essays in popular form on Advanced Thought subjects, giving special attention to questions bearing upon individual happiness, harmony, and health. Excellent books for beginners in the New Metaphysics.
Contents of Volume I.
Mind and Body (Part I.).
Mind and Body (Part II.).
The Forgiveness of Sin.
Contents of Volume II.
Questions and Answers.
The Gospel of Healing.
The Power of Thought.
How to Develop the Gift of Healing.
Talks about Treatment.
The Negation of Good.
The Benefits Derived from Spiritual
Contents of Volume III.
The Kingdom of Heaven.
The Elements of Success.
The Power of Good.
New Thought Idea of Prayer.
The Treasures of Life.
What is Spiritual Science?
The Power and Scope of Spiritual
Science in Daily Life.
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SPIRITUAL SIGNIFICANCE OF "THE
“THE FLYING DUTCHMAN."
BY B. O. FLOWER.
Richard Wagner held that in the great legends of a people, which are handed down from generation to generation and modified from time to time by master minds in different ages, are to be found lessons of supreme importance to the race. He believed that the presenting of these wonder tales in a forcible manner would arouse the emotional nature and stimulate the thought of the people to such a degree that the nation to which they appealed might be renewed and rejuvenated through the ethical uplift thus received. In many of tliese legends he discerned the dominating note to be the redemptive power of pure, unselfish love-love such as is nowhere in human life found in greater beauty or fulness than in woman. This splendid dream, -salvation through love,—which even now floats before civilization as a pillar of fire, Wagner found present in many of the greatest myths of the German peoples; and even in his first two music dramas, after he had discarded the old conventional opera ideal, as well as in his later masterpieces, this thought is the key-note. Senta in "The Flying Dutchman” and Elizabeth in “Tannhäuser” are the personification of that love which redeems, glorifies, ennobles, and
In “The Flying Dutcliman” the great composer broke away from tradition in methods of composition and also became an apostle of ethical progress and a teacher of nations.
The legend of the Flying Dutchman, though probal:ly borrowed in part from the ancient mythology of the Norsemen, belongs to the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, that stirring period when western Europe was awakening from the lethargy of the Middle Ages, and when the wondrous stories of daring navigators, who had found a new world, were being circulated throughout maritime lands. In its details the myth varies somewhat, but the most popular legend describes a daring captain, whose greed for gold no less than his love of adventure led him to attempt to double the Cape of Good Hope. Storms, however, drove him back. He knew of the wealth of the Indies; he had heard of other daring seafolk who had sailed to the lands of gold and gems; and, furious at several failures on his part, he swore a dreadful oath that he would double the Cape if it took him all eternity to accomplish the feat. Satan, who in the popular imagination of that per od was a reality and wellnigh as powerful as Deity, heard the rash vow and condemned the reckless seaman to sail the maili until the Judgment Day in a phantom craft whose blood-red sails and black masts should everywhere be the herald of doom to all the ill-fated vessels that came within its wake.
Such in brief is the legend that became a popular superstition in the morning years of modern times. But man is ever rising. The savage in his nature, though very tenaci us, slowly gives place to the divine ideals impearled in the soul of every son of God; and as the centuries come and go these ideals unfold, and man's conception of Deity and justice take on nobler shapes. The angry Judge and the avenging Juhovah give place to the All-Father, whose name is Love. Hence the nineteenth-century poets gave to the weird legend the human touch, and brought it more en rapport with our conceptions of eternal justice and infinite love. The ill-fated mariner still wanders the deep, but now a single star shines in what was hitherto the impenetrable darkness of despair. Every seven years, according to the newer version, he was permitted to land for one night, and if perchance during any of these brief respites he should find a woman who loved him enough to marry him, and who would be true to him until death, the curse should be lifted and he and his wife should enjoy eternal felicity in the home of love. If, however, she fails, both are to be forever lost.
Richard Wagner had read Heine's version of the Flying Dutchman during a winter of hardship and gloom in Riga, Russia, and with the theme fresh in his mind he set sail from Pilau for London and France on a Norwegian vessel that did not appear to be built for the roughest weather. On the voyage terrific storms were encountered, and more than once the captain believed his craft to be doomed. On two occasions they were compelled to run the boat into little inlets—feats performed with great risk, as the ragged rocks on either side were ready to tear the ship asunder if the waves swept it out of the narrow channel.
While in the inlet during one of the enforced delavs, Wagner, who was ever on the alert for material that would increase his knowledge or stimulate his imagination, plied the Norwegian sailors with questions concerning the myth, and soon found that to these simple-hearted mariners the ill-fated Dutchman was no legend, but a terrible reality. They knew nothing of the redemption through love, as given in the nineteenth-century poem. On the contrary, they knew, or thought they knew, that the sea was still infested by the doomed mariner, and that at any moment his black mast and blood-red sails might be seen heralding their certain dcom. Had not Eric beheld him ere his vessel had been ground to pieces on the rocks? Had not Hans and his companions seen him before the Northern Light went down? Why, to the sailors the Flying Dutchman was as much a reality as the devil was to the medieval Church.
The rough old sailors gave the musician the legend, stern and rugged as was the age in which it was born. They also
told him many more weird tales of the sea, which were rich in suggestive hints and in which the Wandering Jew of the ocean and his fatal phantom bark figured as heralds of death and ruin.
With all these stories haunting his brain, and with his imagination stirred as it had never been moved before, Richard Wagner listened to the wild music of the storm-lashed sea. He did not then know how the somber symphony was singing itself into his soul. It was not until about two years lat r, after one of the most bitter experiences that a sensitive nature was ever called upon to undergo, and at a time when the composer's heart was filled with infinite yearnings for his own Fatherland, that Wagner retired to a little cottage in the suburbs of the French metropolis and surrendered himself to the vision, the song, and the sermon which filled his imagination, and which since the wild nights on the Baltic had been the companions of waking and sleeping hours.
The theme had grown with the months as his mind had brooded over the legend that sounds the depths and reaches the heights of human emotion: on the one hand the nameless horror and anguish born of despair; on the other the ineffable ecstasy known only when love is seen in its supremest manifestations. Here was the damnation motif matched and overpowered by the salvation motif: night with all its appalling blackness lost in the glory of day. Here was man doomed to be lashed by the fury of the deep from land to land, and knowing full well that, wherever the black mast and baleful red sails were borne, death, ruin, and destruction followed in their wake. On the other hand was a woman, in all the glory of opening maidenhood, rising to the divine heights where loss of self is joy--when that loss means the salvation of another. On the one hand man, lost through presumptuous arrogance and a determination to gratify selfish whims and desires; on the other hand the lost saved by woman as the embodiment of divine love.