(Story begins here) Pete gazed up as an exotic bird sang out and hopped between the leafy tree canopies. “Amazing how lush this all is, out here in the desert,” marvelled Pete.
“The water comes from the Euphrates, just takes a few very clever screws and you have irrigation,” said Mani proudly. “It was always my favourite spot. Hence why visitors see it when they’re in my presence.”
“The universe is bubbles of pure light trapped within the water of darkness of evil. But you see, water bubbles always find their way to the surface”
“So where exactly is this?” asked Pete. Mani winked playfully.
“That is one thing I will keep to myself, Rafiqam,” he smiled. “Even the archaeologists of your age haven’t found the ruins just yet. It’s so much fun watching them look. They’ll kick themselves when they find them!” Pete smiled as Mani continued. “One last thing before you go Pete. I taught that whilst matter is not inherently evil, everything in the universe is a mixture of good and evil. A rose is a flower and a thorn. A hunter is a provider but also an initiator of great animal suffering. It’s a battleground. But good will always win. The universe is bubbles of pure light trapped within the water of darkness of evil. But you see, water bubbles always find their way to the surface, no matter which route they take, what overhanging rock ledges or other obstacles are in the way, the air separates from the water, so the good separates gradually from evil to escape back to the land of pure goodness. ‘Pure land’ as some Buddhists call it. So everyone is a battle ground.
It’s why all the great stories are about a battle of good and evil with good winning. My teachings involve the virgins of light and all sorts of other concepts which spread around the world so well, because they were the truth. We adore stories like this because they are a reflection of a greater truth.”
“So there is good and evil in me?” asked Pete. “I don’t go round slaughtering anyone or being cruel.”
“There is good and evil in all of us Mr Goodshaw,” said Hypatia primly. “We tend not to notice it within ourselves just as we don’t notice a room’s temperature until we go into one of a different temperature. Let’s say no more.”
“No, please,” said Pete, “help me understand what evil is in me.” Hypatia sighed.
“You are a good man, Pete, especially for a human, someone so near the beginning of evolution. Your evil is not active, you do not seek to harm me, but and I mention this only because you asked and because it may benefit you, not to be discompassionate. Whilst you have tried to be as polite in my presence as possible and it is very much appreciated, you have been unknowingly glancing at me in a most… concupiscent manner.”
“What does concupiscent mean?” asked Pete uneasily. He was starting to guess from the context and a guilty realisation.
“It means relating to sexual desire,” said Hypatia bluntly. “Remember, I don’t just see the parts of my body where you’ve been shooting little glances, I see your thoughts themselves. You’ve had sixteen brief fantasies about me during our conversation.” Pete flushed.
“But, but surely everyone has those thoughts,” he stammered.
“This is where good and evil are a matter of perspective to some degree,” said Hypatia. “To you, it is normal. To me, losing focus at times on my words, the expression of my soul and briefly focusing on the illusion of my body, my extreme physical beauty, that is a form of evil.” Hypatia was not being vain, but strictly factual. She continued. “My soul is real. It is my platonic form, focusing on it is the truth. My body is not real, it is just a manifestation. It is a lie. Focusing on that lie however briefly is briefly fostering evil.” Pete didn’t know what to say. He glanced at Mani to help him out, but Hypatia continued as kindly as she could. “Mani cannot help you. He finds me bodily just as beautiful as you, if not more so. A soul of his greater age can see me in what you might call a kind of higher resolution. But he has not glanced at me inappropriately once, nor had a single sexual thought about me this entire time.” Mani smiled modestly as Hypatia continued. “The reason being that he sees my body merely as the chrysalis bearing the butterfly of my soul. His focus is on the heavenly beauty, not through willpower but by sheer age of soul.” Hypatia smiled at Pete gently. “I am sorry Mr Goodshaw. Maybe I have made my point too explicitly. This is the difficulty, evil is partly a matter of perspective. We do not blame a spider for eating her mate after copulation nor a small child for making rude comments about people in the street. This is because it is par for the course for them. You are a human artificially suspended in heaven thanks to Phaethon. I should not hold you to the standards of this level of reality. Judge not lest ye be judged, as a great soul once said. I’m sure those at a higher level of reality than this might recognise evil in how I have just made you feel. They may be beings of such compassion that they would not be capable of doing so even to make a point. That’s just how reality is.”
“I see,” said Pete, “I’m very sorry for how I have looked at you and the thoughts I’ve had about you.” Hypatia smiled.
“It’s alright Mr Goodshaw. It’s been a long time since a man looked at me like that, so a bit of novelty value!” The philosopher saw that making light of it hadn’t helped, so she reached out and placed her hand on top of Pete’s head. Instantly he felt the shame and awkwardness flow out of him. Hypatia flinched and expelled a small beam of red dust from her palm which floated towards the ground. “How did you?” began Pete, but Hypatia just smiled.
“That’s one for another time. Mani got up and stood beside her. “Anyway Pete, hopefully all this talk of crucifixion and other assorted murders puts being pushed by a man in a coffee shop into perspective?” Pete grinned.
“It does,” he agreed. But Mani was suddenly serious.
“It has to Pete. Your message is old, in fact it is as old as time, but it is the most vital message to the human race, regardless of any cost to yourself. You will keep preaching the light?” Mani looked uncharacteristically anxious.
“I will,” said Pete with redoubled resolution. Mani and Hypatia beamed at each other as if watching their son getting a swimming award on the school stage. “Thank you both. I really appreciate the time that you’ve spent with me.”
“Not a problem Pete. Goodbye for now.” They both waved the young man off and then sat down together to talk some more as Phaethon began adjusting Pete’s neuron firing in order to bring him back to his own world.