(Story begins here) The temple complex faded and a field materialised in its place. On the sporadic, sun bleached grass, thin, wizened cattle were plodding aimlessly around. In the distance were hills dotted with olive trees.
“Is this?” breathed Pete.
“Yes,” smiled Origen. “Now let’s walk a little way.” The warm breeze ruffled Pete’s hair and he felt his feet sinking slightly in the soft ground. A figure appeared in the distance, naked apart from a loin cloth, he was on one knee holding a cow’s hoof in the air and attempting to perform an operation of some sort with a small bronze tool. “What’s he doing?” asked Pete.
“A better question is what will he do,” said Origen. “But first, look closer at him.”
“His higher, spiritual self is Abel, the name translates as breath in Hebrew, an indication of spirit. In Sanskrit of course, the word is Prana, a kind of spiritual breath. You see that Abel tends to animals, to life? Animals are full of blood and in the days of the Old Testament that was seen as representing life.”
As they got nearer Pete started to see the young farmer’s skin texture. Whilst he bore the countenance of a hardened manual worker, the skin was slightly smooth, ethereal and his whole body seemed to occasionally shimmer into translucency. Another young man in a loin cloth was approaching briskly across the field. Pete gasped when he saw bulges pulsating underneath the newcomer’s skin. Some bulges stretched out the skin so far and so taut that it looked like brain tissue beneath. It sounded like muffled screams came from within the young farmer’s body itself. Pete took a step backward in fear. Origen placed a gentle hand on his shoulder. “It is alright Peter. You should watch what happens next, though it is not easy.”
“Greetings Cain,” the stooped figure said gently with what to Pete’s ear was an Israeli accent. “Can I ask that we talk briefly? Bethany has an injured foot and needs prompt treatment.” Cain sneered, oozing aggression.
“You, Abel can tell a beast’s injury from the way it walks. But you read nothing in the way I walk?” Abel looked up, fear in his eyes now, but Cain continued. “I am not here to talk, but I will grant your request of being brief.” Cain snatched the bronze tool from Abel’s hand and drove it viciously into the side of his brother’s neck, fumbling clumsily inside for the jugular artery. Abel’s eyes bulged briefly as blood spurted from his neck and drenched the soil, some spattered on the terrified beast in his care. The blood emerged in pulses, which rapidly increased in frequency as Abel’s heart exhausted itself as it tried futilely to maintain blood pressure. Desperately and instinctively, he clapped his hand to his neck, but it was useless. Abel toppled forwards and collapsed face first on the ground. Cain kicked his brother’s corpse viciously in the face and strode off back across the field to a plough in the distance. Pete was pale, shaking.
“I am sorry to show you that,” said Origen softly.
“Then, why… why did you?” stammered Pete.
“Because it is important for you to understand. But do not be alarmed, it is not as bad as you think.”
“A man violently murders his own brother and it’s ‘not that bad’?” said Pete, incredulously. Origen was smiling again.
“Do you know where this field is?”
“No, who cares?”
“Alright Peter. Do you know what this field is?” Pete gasped as the field dropped away from under them, further and further, till the land started to resemble a map, with all of Israel below them, then further till the land became a globe. Only it wasn’t a globe, it was a human head. A head apparently belonging to a tousle haired student lying beneath a duvet in a dishevelled bed which itself was lying in an even more dishevelled university hall of residence room. There was the overwhelming smell of unwashed clothing. “What just happened?” asked Pete, baffled. Origen smiled again.
“This is what the field is,” he said happily. “It is the mind of this student. He was going to go on a day out to collect money for charity. A RAG raid I believe it is called in the lexigraphy of his time. His higher self wanted to do it to help people that need it.”
“But what has that to do with_”
“His higher, spiritual self is Abel,” said Origen trying not to enjoy the look of amazement on Pete’s face. “Abel translates as breath in Hebrew, an indication of spirit. In Sanskrit of course, the word is Prana, a kind of spiritual breath. You see that Abel tends to animals, to life? Animals are full of blood and in the days of the Old Testament that was seen as representing life.”
“Is that why so much of Deuteronomy is detailed instructions on where to sprinkle a bullock’s blood?”
“Yes Pete, the blood is a representation of life, which is a representation of the true, eternal life, the world of forms. Abel is our higher spiritual component.”
“Which means that Cain is_”
“Cain tills the soil. The soil is consciousness.” Pete’s eyes widened.
“So beneath the soil is the subconscious?” Origen beamed, delighted.
“Why yes Peter! You are such a good student.” His eyes twinkled as he pointed at the comatose figure. Much more so than our friend over there. Cain is the intellect, the rational, yet materialist part of us, the part which mistakes the unity of creation for a fractured world of different selves with competing objectives. The name literally means possessive.”
“So why is this chap over here in bed if he’s supposed to be going on a charity event?”
“You have already seen why. In fact, you witnessed why.” Said Origen cryptically. Pete’s eyes widened with realisation.
“Because his Cain just killed his Abel?” Origen clasped Pete to him in a warm hug.
“Yes Peter, excellent! Our friend here has just realised that he can tell his fellow students that he is ill and they will think none the less of him for not participating. He has also realised that as a RAG member, he can still put it on his CV and so get the benefit when it comes to finding a job. His cold, rational mind has defeated the beautiful part of his mind which wanted to help people purely because they are people and because they are people they are him also. Cain killed Abel when this young man turned over in bed and went back to sleep. (continue)