The Bridge of Forgiveness: Autumn 2018

Furtwängler was discussing what Wagner referred to in his wonderful, albeit polemic essay "On Conducting" as the melos of a musical work. This great composer urged conductors to listen to the work's melos, the Greek word for "song" (also roughly translated as "melody"). By this he meant the inner melody of the composition, without which the music would be conducted "without a shadow of soul or sense." He thus urged conductors not to be slaves to the printed page, but rather to hear the melos behind the music, what violinist Isaac Stern spoke of as the "silence between the notes." Wagner's point was that conductors frequently miss "the heart [or melos] of the work." He was speaking of the soul of the music (its content), not the notes (the form), reminiscent of Jesus' statement in A Course in Miracles about the forgotten song that is the memory of "the song the Son sings to the Father, Who returns the thanks it offers Him unto the Son" ( Of this song, Jesus said: "The notes are nothing" (T-21.I.7:1).

A conductor, therefore, to go back to Wagner, must truly understand the essence of the work. When this real meaning is understood, each of the separate parts of the composition falls logically and naturally into place. Thus Wagner emphasized that while most conductors conduct all the notes (indeed, many may do so brilliantly), they lose the breadth of the piece when they simply conduct one passage after another with no feeling for the organic connection between them. Thus the music's soul is lost.

In this sense, it is helpful to think of A Course in Miracles as a work of art; art being at once the product of the artist's creative genius as well as its interaction with the observer, listener, or reader. Moreover, the structure of A Course in Miracles provides a model for how we are to live our lives under its principles, for it too is composed as a living, organic process. Life here, then, would be seen as an ongoing journey of learning to practice forgiveness, the Course's method par excellence for undoing the ego and awakening us from its dream of separation.