Gavin Danby smiled complacently and then sipped a little of the red wine I had just poured him.His face fairly shone with self-confidence, doubtless born of intellectual certitude.Quite a contrast, I felt, to the rather baffled, not to say dour, visage of David Lee, who sat no more than a few feet away.One might have supposed that Lee had just received a blow on the chin or been verbally insulted, the way he looked at present.Perhaps the truth of what Danby had said was getting through to him.Either that, or he was in mounting revulsion against it!

††††† "So you don't believe in God after all," he at length rejoined, "but only in the godly."

††††† "Quite," Danby confirmed, continuing to smile."The difference is important."

††††† "And yet, if you don't believe in God, surely you must be an atheist?" Lee countered, frowning.He cast me a puzzled glance, as though for support, and I obligingly returned him some non-verbal sympathy.

††††† "Well yes, I suppose so," Danby conceded, suddenly becoming serious, "though only to the extent that I don't believe in the traditional concepts of God - that's to say in God the Father and God the Son.As far as they're concerned, I concur with Nietzsche that 'God is dead'.But ..." and here he paused to gather his thoughts together "... that doesn't mean to say I'm prepared to consider the religious issue closed, as though there were no possibility of a more relevant or contemporary concept of God in the making."

††††† "Ah, but aren't you contradicting yourself again by talking in those terms?" objected Lee, who looked momentarily pleased with himself, like a man who had just scored a point against his opponent in some tournament or other.And, of course, to some extent he had.

††††† "Well, let's put it this way," said Danby, who turned uneasily in his armchair."I'm an atheist inasmuch as I cannot approve of a concept of God which posits an external, all-powerful force currently acting in and on the Universe.But I do believe, however, that there's a manifestation of the godly to be found in man which corresponds to the Holy Spirit, a part of the psyche which is essentially spiritual and may be cultivated to a greater or lesser extent, depending on both the individual and the stage of evolution into which he is born.This realm of spirit I like to call the superconscious, and it's my firm belief that the ego, or conscious mind, is fundamentally nothing more than the result of a fusion, or mingling, of the subconscious with the superconscious."

††††† "In other words a kind of dualistic compromise," I ventured, offering Danby a share of my sympathy.I could tell by the appreciative look he cast me that he was pleased with my modest contribution to the debate.

††††† "To be sure, Jason," he responded, briefly nodding his head."And it's precisely that compromise which we moderns are in the process of outgrowing.Or, to put it another way, we're evolving away from the balanced egocentric dualism of our Christian forebears towards a context in which the superconscious predominates over the subconscious, with a consequence that all dualistic criteria, including those appertaining to Heaven and Hell, are rendered irrelevant."

††††† "Presumably Hell is to be equated with subconscious domination and Heaven with superconscious affiliation," Lee commented, still looking slightly puzzled.

††††† "Absolutely," Danby confirmed with a confident smile."And the further we evolve away from the subconscious, the less relevance Hell has for us and the more relevance, by a corresponding degree, do we ascribe to Heaven.Not that we think of Heaven as a place to which 'the good' are sent after death.On the contrary, that would be a very Christian interpretation and one, moreover, that would presuppose 'the bad' being sent to Hell.No, we moderns prefer a term like the post-humanist or, better, post-human millennium, which avoids dualistic association and presupposes a future salvation in which all men can expect to share.And not after death either but ... after human life has run its evolutionary course, and the transformation of man into the godlike superman becomes a fact."

††††† David Lee's face once again assumed an expression of puzzlement.Evidently his Marxism hadn't quite led him to envisage such a transcendental culmination to human evolution.

††††† "But how would this transformation be effected, and what, exactly, would it presuppose?" he wanted to know.

††††† This was, to be sure, a tricky question, and I waited anxiously for Danby to reply.When he did, it was with a modesty I hadn't come to expect from him.

††††† "Well, such a transformation is probably so far into the future that we can't be exactly certain of the final form it will take, nor exactly how it will come about," he at length responded."But at least we can hazard an intelligent guess.We can suppose, for instance, that the most likely way of attaining to the post-human millennium will be through a systematic, thoroughgoing cultivation of the superconscious with the aid of a meditation technique in which the bliss of spiritual transcendence is encouraged to develop and expand.This technique, applied over a long period of time and gradually refined upon, should lead to each aspiring individual spending more time in the superconscious than in the subconscious, and thus becoming progressively less egocentric, progressively more biased, as it were, towards the spirit. Well, whether or not such a condition, practised globally, would be taken for the post-human millennium, I don't know; though it's probable that a lot of people would be superficially prepared to regard it as such.However, my own opinion is that such a condition would be more symptomatic of humanity en route to the post-human millennium than of that millennium itself, no matter how advanced along the route to it the universal practitioners of transcendental meditation may happen to be.As long as there is some contact with and dependence upon the subconscious, even the most spiritual of men will still remain human and not become truly divine.The ultimate consummation, it seems to me, would reside in one's transcending the body altogether and living entirely in the bliss of the superconscious, becoming one with that bliss, free from subconscious influence.

††††† "Viewed in this way then," Danby continued, following a short pause, "the post-human millennium would correspond to the simultaneous transformation of brains into pure spirit and thus to a merging of individual spirits round a common axis of spiritual bliss.Freed from the isolation of one's individual self, one's spiritual integrity would automatically be led to merge with other spirits in due process of transcending the flesh, and so become part of and fully integrated into a globe of spiritual bliss.And this globe would signify the culmination of evolution, justifying and fulfilling the Universe.One might therefore argue that, in cosmic terms, evolution signifies a journey, as it were, from the impure, chemical, passing light of suns to the pure, unchemical, eternal light of unified spirit via the worldly medium of planets and the development thereupon of organic life where such life is possible, as on the Earth."

††††† "All this sounds rather like Teilhard de Chardin's concept of a universe converging to some omega point," I remarked, for once taking over the reins of response from my friend David Lee, who seemed more puzzled than ever and consequently unable or unwilling to formulate a response of his own.

††††† Danby smiled appreciatively."It does," he admitted, nodding, "and only goes to show how great minds think alike - at least to some extent."At which point he laughed impulsively, and I knew at once that he had returned to his old immodest self again."For although I have much in common with Teilhard de Chardin as an evolutionary thinker," he went on, "I'm by no means in accord with him all the way, especially where his apologetics and theory of Christogenesis are concerned.His phenomenology, as expressed in Activation of Energy, is something with which I'm generally in accord.But I draw a line where the Christian in him is concerned, and am extremely sceptical concerning the subject of an already-existing Omega Point which exerts an attractive influence on man, drawing him up towards it.On the contrary, it's my firm contention that the progression towards this hypothetical culmination of evolution is inherent in human life itself and significant of the evolutionary nature of such life.Rather than being pulled by an already-existent Omega Point towards our ultimate transformation, we are goaded-on by our essential nature towards the attainment of such a condition.We have to bring it about.As yet, the basis for a transcendent climax to evolution only exists potentially in us, being dependent on the extent of our evolution.Insofar as we have a superconscious, we all carry a germ of the godly about in us which can be cultivated and encouraged to blossom by degrees, as I said earlier.Now the more that germ is cultivated, the more is the godly made manifest in life.Yet it isn't something that can be equated with God in an external, all-powerful, authoritarian sense - with reference, for example, to what Christians call 'the Creator', otherwise known as 'the Almighty'.Which is why I said I didn't believe in God but only in the godly - a paradoxical statement which was intended to apply not only to former and, in my opinion, inferior concepts of God, but also to such a concept as an already-existent and influential Omega Point.

††††† "No, so far as I'm concerned God is in the making and therefore dependent on human evolution for His or, rather, its ultimate manifestation as spiritual bliss ... posited in a future Beyond," Danby continued."At present, it's only potentially existent in the myriad spiritual fragments of individual human selves and has yet to emerge as a kind of conglomerate spiritual entity.The Universe is simply the arena in which God strives, through man, for total Self-realization.When the Many have become One, an ultimate globe of pure spirit, then God will be fully manifest and completely whole.Evolution can accordingly be viewed as a journey from the Devil to God, a journey beginning in the hideous chemical heat of countless flaming stars and culminating in the cool bliss of the Holy Spirit.In light of this fact, we should speak of a diabolic origin to the Universe and of a divine consummation to it, a journey from absolute evil to absolute good."

††††† It was a stunning thesis, almost Nietzschean in its transvaluating implications and willingness to uphold a sort of alpha-to-omega generalization in preference to a more academic objectivity, such as would have distinguished between the Divine and the Diabolic rather more in traditional cosmic terms, as between Jehovah (the Creator) and Satan (the Devil), relative, so I would have argued, to theological extrapolations from the central star of the Galaxy and the sun respectively.Why, if what Gavin had said was really the case, then we had no reason to doubt that the world in which we men lived was gradually becoming a better place, that human progress was steadily bringing us closer to the godly in superconscious bliss and not, as some people thought, leading us farther down the road to Hell!Despite all the manifestations of evil that indubitably still existed, modern life was closer to the post-human millennium than life had ever been in the past.If we were for the most part biased, even if only incipiently, towards the superconscious, then we were certainly in a better psychic position than our Christian forebears, egocentrically balanced between Heaven and Hell, had generally shown themselves to be.If they had been as much under diabolic as divine influence, then we had at least attained to a stage of evolution in which the Diabolic generally played a less powerful role, and society could be regarded as being more under the Holy Spirit's influence, perhaps by as much as three-quarters to one-quarter or, alternatively, two-thirds to one-third.Life had accordingly never been so good, despite all the temporal ups-and-downs to which we were still subjected.

††††† "I suppose it's easier to accept an evil origin to the world when you dwell on the active volcanoes and fearsome dinosaurs of primeval times," Lee commented, returning to the fray."But when you come more up-to-date, as it were, and consider, say, the plants, trees, and flowers of, in particular, temperate climes, it doesn't seem nearly so easy.You feel that nature, as we commonly understand it, isn't really a bad thing, irrespective of the sarcastic viewpoint expressed by Aldous Huxley in one of his early essays - Wordsworth in the Tropics, I believe it was - in which he draws our attention to the diversity of nature in relation to widely different climates.Somehow, you find it difficult to associate the Hogs Back or the Sussex Downs with evil."

††††† Danby nodded sympathetically."And not least of all because we're men of only a rather moderately-advanced spiritual nature, and can thus take a fair amount of the external manifestations of subconscious life for granted," he opined, smiling weakly."Yet whether we like it or not, the fact nevertheless remains that nature, in all its global diversity, is fundamentally of diabolic origin, insofar as it conforms to subconscious or, if you prefer, unconscious domination and should accordingly be regarded, by all earnest strivers after spiritual perfection, with something of a Manichaean eye.In temperate zones it may be less radically evil than either its tropical or primeval manifestations, but that isn't to say it's comparatively good!It's still nature and, as such, subject to sensual dominion.It isn't a manifestation of the godly.And anyone who makes a point of worshipping it is effectively a Satanist, no matter how much he may talk about God.Pantheism is simply a mode of devil-worship, and pantheists are really demonomaniacs in worldly disguise.Such, in my opinion, was what D.H. Lawrence and John Cowper Powys would appear to have been, to name but two modern nature-mongers.Their attitude to nature was frankly pre-Christian - as, to some extent, was their attitude to sex, especially Lawrence's."

††††† Both Lee and I raised our brows in startled surprise, and Danby, perceiving our incredulity, proceeded to modify his tack slightly.

††††† "Now, of course, I don't wish to imply that we should completely turn against nature and sex as though we werealready on the verge of spiritual transformation," he continued, smiling defensively."For such a radically Manichaean procedure could lead, even in this relatively late day-and-age, to all kinds of psychological and physiological disturbances.I simply wish to stress the fact that to make a cult of either nature or sex is to affect such a radically reactionary stance ... as to align oneself with the forces of evil, and thereby render oneself contemptible to all truly progressive spirits.Pay your respects to nature and sex in moderation by all means, but don't get involved with them to the deplorable extent that you're prepared to throw away 2000 years of Christianity and become a damn pagan, fucking himself to death!For paganism, in all its forms, is certainly not above Christianity but, on the contrary, very much beneath it - in fact, so far beneath it that I've often been struck with a mixture of horror at and pity for those who, in this age of transition, have made a virtue of extensively studying the customs and beliefs of pagan peoples like the ancient Greeks and Romans, as though that held the clue to some higher life which the past two millennia have somehow denied us!No, let's not make the tragic mistake of endeavouring to look-up to the pagans!"

††††† He had become quite flushed with conviction and, for an instant, I saw him in the role of some great messianic prophet haranguing the masses with all the righteous indignation his genius could muster, as though the better to instil some moral sense into them.And it occurred to me, too, that his denunciation probably had a bearing on twentieth-century authors like Gide and Camus who, in addition to the aforementioned British authors, had turned their attention back to the ancient world in order, it seemed, to discover there certain alternative modes of life to what existed in the present.But I didn't probe him on this matter, for my conscience pricked slightly in consequence of various pagan predilections which I, myself, had once entertained, not least of all with regard to sexual promiscuity and gluttony - those two supreme vices which the medieval aristocracy had inherited, in some degree, from their pagan forebears and continued to espouse in the face of official Christian disapproval.No doubt, Danby would have placed my self-indulgences on a similar level to pantheism and dismissed me as an incorrigible heathen!But I was interested, all the same, to learn what he regarded as sexual moderation, and put the question to him.

††††† "It depends on the individual and where he lives," came his considered response, after critical reflection."A city person is less likely, on the whole, to be given to sexual promiscuity than a provincial or country person, if for no other reason than that he lives in an extensively artificial environment.But a sophisticated city person will be less sexually active, as a rule, than a relatively unsophisticated one, for the simple reason that he'll be more spiritual.Moderation for him might mean twice a month, whereas for the average sensualist it would probably mean twice a week.All I can say for sure is that the former would be a superior kettle-of-fish to the latter, since his greater spirituality should indicate that he was closer to the godly.On the other hand, the more sexually promiscuous one is, the closer one approximates to the beastly, and consequently the lower one stands in the human hierarchy.Christianity has always understood this.For the division between the Damned and the Saved in eschatological paintings is ever one between the low and the high, the evil and the good, those who are predominantly sensual and those, by contrast, with a predominantly spiritual disposition.I say 'predominantly' though, in point of fact, Hell and Heaven signify absolutes in which the word 'exclusively' would be more apposite.But, for temporal purposes, a less extreme interpretation has greater relevance to evolving humanity and is closer, moreover, to matters as they have stood for the better part of these past 2000 years."

††††† "You mean that none of us can be either exclusively evil or good?" Lee queried, anxious to seek clarification.

††††† "No, as human beings we can't become exclusively evil," Danby replied."But I do believe that we can evolve to a stage of life which transcends the human and thus become exclusively good - in other words, pure spirit.It may take centuries, but I do believe it's possible.On the other hand, to become exclusively evil, totally under subconscious domination in sensual stupor, we would have to regress to the level of plants or stars, and, short of a nuclear conflagration, I don't think we're ever likely to do that - at least not willingly!Thus Hell and Heaven, regarded as the inception and culmination of evolution, the inception of it in subconscious agony and the culmination of it in superconscious bliss, could be more literally interpreted as spheres of being in which, on the one hand, stars and, on the other hand, a globe of pure spirit may be said to exist.Yet Christian man, arising at a stage of evolution in which man had attained to an approximately-balanced dualism in egocentric compromise between the two main parts of his psyche, would not have been capable of envisaging such non-human extremes as constituting Hell and Heaven respectively, but was obliged to project himself into the opposing realms, and to have their human occupants brought into direct contact with either demons or angels, depending on the context.Now while demons and angels may be inventions of an extreme significance, they are considerably less extreme, in my opinion, than what I contend the literal constituents of both the inception and culmination of evolution to be, and thus stand closer to the human.It's as though demons should be equated with the very lowest stage of human life, and angels, by contrast, with the highest - a stage before the ultimate transformation, as it were."

††††† "Because they're represented in bodily, and hence anthropomorphic, terms?" Lee suggested, with a sly smile on his lips.

††††† "Precisely," Danby confirmed."They're to some extent humanized and thereby rendered accessible to the understanding of Christian man, whose balanced dualism precluded him from literally projecting his conception of the hellish and the heavenly towards their ultimate extremes, and thus necessitated the formulation of egocentric myths relative to anthropomorphism.However, now that an ever-growing number of us are partial to a superconscious bias, such mythical projections are no longer relevant - indeed, appear a trifle absurd.Yet at the time of their inception they were the only possible formulation of the less-than-human or the more-than-human of which dualistic man could reasonably conceive, and admirably served to symbolize the opposing natures of the respective extremes.Had it been possible, the introduction of stars into the realm of evil would hardly have served to inspire a fear of the Devil into most men's minds but, on the contrary, would have looked perfectly tame and cosmic, suggestive of some clear night sky.Conversely, the introduction of a self-contained globe of light into the realm of goodness would have been too abstract and impersonal to appeal to the understanding of a majority of men in that age.They could only conform to egocentric projections, remember."

††††† Yes, it all sounded feasible enough, and seemingly justified the anthropomorphic symbolism which Christian man had been obliged to adopt.I had, I dare say, seen hundreds of paintings which depicted the Last Judgement, not least among them the memorable Giotto in the Arena Chapel at Padua, and been somewhat puzzled by their symbolism.Somehow it always seemed like a foreign language to me, a language I hadn't learnt, in spite of the fact that I was ostensibly a Christian, having been born into a predominantly Christian country.Like most people, now as previously, I would have been more inclined, if pressed on the issue, to contend that the juxtaposition of Hell and Heaven, presided over by Christ in Judgement - that Abraxas-like figure of evil and good, damning with one hand and saving with the other - signified a kind of simultaneous event, rather than the beginning and ending of evolution.And although the subject-matter obviously pertained to the Last Judgement, I would have seen it as a kind of traditional manifestation of something reputed to be going on all the time, following mortal death; that is to say the lesser individual judgements leading up to the greater collective one ... in which 'the good' are saved and 'the bad' damned.Personally, I didn't believe there would be an afterlife in that sense, since I wasn't a practising Christian and had long ago come to the conclusion that if, by any chance, we did survive death, it would probably be on other, non-Christian terms - terms which excluded the possibility of Judgement and were more-or-less the same for everyone.Having known Gavin Danby for some time, I'm quite aware that he would have dismissed the concept of individual judgement in a posthumous Beyond.He had no use, he once told me, for spiritualists and sťance-mongers.The idea of one's spirit surviving bodily death seemed to him utterly senseless and would have amounted, in his opinion, to a futile and altogether illogical hope.What purpose, he wondered, could such a survival serve in this personal afterlife of ghostly existence?To be sure, I couldn't, at the time, find a credible answer, and so confessed to being in the dark about it - a confession which, with his subtle irony, Danby considered perfectly understandable!Only later did I discover what his alternative to posthumous survival really amounted to, for I had been under the impression that he simply regarded death as a blank, a return to the darkness of non-being, and had accordingly let the matter drop.But I was soon to learn that, while such an attitude to death was in fact the one to which he barbarously subscribed, he had another concept of the Afterlife, a concept which posited a millennial Beyond after human life had run its course.This is the one with which I've since become familiar, this idea that we're no more than tiny links in a chain of evolution stretching from the beginnings of organic life to its ultimate climax in spiritual bliss, and that when we die we die, and that's all there is to it.We die, but not for nothing and not for ever!Eventually, beings will emerge from man who won't die, as we do, but become transmuted into pure spirit and thus live for ever in the bliss of the Infinite, at one with the ultimate manifestation of divinity in the Universe, as already defined.From Nothingness to Eternity was the title of an album by the Mahavishnu Orchestra, that brilliant jazz-rock group led by John McLaughlin, which I had seen in Danby's extensive record collection, and that just about explains the direction of evolution.Out of gaseous nothingness came the stars, and out of the stars came the planets, and out of the planets came organic life, and out of organic life came man, and out of man should come the godly life that will lead to the transcendent culmination of the Universe.

††††† How long will the Universe take to reach this culmination?Hundreds, thousands, millions of years?Astronomers say the sun is unlikely to change much for another eight-thousand million years.Eight-thousand million!Now if other stars have even longer life-spans than the sun, how long will it take before the converging universe, about which de Chardin speaks, actually attains to the Omega Point, and the ultimate level of life, totally superconscious, becomes a cosmic fact?Ten-thousand million years?Twenty thousand?No-one is, as yet, in a position to say, nor can we be sure whether this hypothetical culmination of evolution could only come about following the disintegration of stars.For although it seems likely that the ultimate globe of superconscious spirituality would be sufficient unto itself, and therefore not in any need of solar assistance, we cannot be certain that it would exist on its own at first, as the logical successor to the stars.Indeed, reason compels us to assume that its inceptive formation would materialize some time before the final collapse of solar energy, else how could we expect to survive on this or other planets in order to effect the envisaged transformation to true divinity?Somehow it seems unlikely that we shall have to await the dissolution of stars, before such a transformation becomes either possible or necessary.In all probability, its inceptive establishment will come about long before the cessation of solar energy, and continue to co-exist with the Cosmos until such time as the stars finally collapse and only pure spirit remains.

††††† It might even transpire that the Omega Point will start out as a relatively small globe of transcendent spirit created from the superconscious mind of the most advanced civilization in the Universe, and gradually expand, over the millennia, as more civilizations attain to spiritual transformation and thus become one with it.After all, we have no reason to assume that the Earth is the only planet in the Universe with advanced or advancing life.There are probably thousands if not millions of others, so why shouldn't their higher inhabitants also be partial to the influence of a converging universe and be simultaneous participants in the evolutionary drive towards its culmination?And why, for that matter, shouldn't a number of these other civilizations be ahead of us in evolutionary terms, and thus stand closer to an ultimate transformation?If the evolving universe can't converge en masse to the Omega Point, it could at least do so by degrees, so that the latter would be in a process of continual expansion until such time as the last civilization had undergone spiritual transformation and so become a part of it.Then, in definitive oneness, it would exist through all eternity as the culmination of heavenly evolution, while the few remaining stars continued to disintegrate, leaving the Universe to its ultimate perfection - the complete and utter triumph of true divinity.

††††† Until the last star had ceased to burn, however, there would still be a degree of evil in the Universe, a manifestation of the original creative force behind all life.So long as a single sun remained, the Universe would still be imperfect, subject to the solar influence behind the laws of nature, the unclear light of chemical conversion, the infernal heat of solar energy.But with the disappearance of the last sun, all that remained of the sensual, the material, the impure, would also disappear, and the Devil's grip on the Universe be completely broken.Only the Omega Point would prevail, and it would shine in self-contained blessedness for ever.Beginning in strong divinity, the Universe would culminate in true divinity, and thus attain to moral perfection.'Out of evil cometh good', and not merely in a temporal sense.Out of the Almighty would come, via evolving life, the Holy Spirit.

††††† Yes, and if Gavin Danby was to be believed, our Christian civilization had evolved to a stage where the old dualistic compromise between Heaven and Hell no longer obtained, having been superseded by a transcendental bias.The Abraxas-Christ, with His dual-natured damning/saving disposition, was slowly being superseded by the Holy Spirit ... of which He was a part, but only a part!Another part of Him, being man and flesh, was of the world and distinctly mundane.There was even a part of Him which was of the Father and therefore reactive.It approximated to strong divinity, no less than His higher, attractive self approximated to true divinity.Between the flesh and the spirit Christ came as a 'fisher of men', more correctly of men in their prime as men, balanced between flesh and spirit.As, however, for men who have transcended the dualistic balance through evolution's slow progress, Christ is no 'fisher' but must give way to the Holy Spirit, to that which stands above Him in superconscious bliss.Today, of course, a great many of us realize this, if not consciously then unconsciously.For we are unable to become or remain Christians, but are striving for some higher ideal, some new religion.In reading what the finest intellects of the past few centuries had written, we have become resigned to the fact that Christianity no longer speaks to the more evolved, but only to those at a lower and more primitive stage of evolution.It speaks to the ignorant, the down-trodden, the backward, and, to be sure, it still has quite a fair-sized audience!But where is the voice that can speak to the more intelligent and sophisticated people?Officially it doesn't exist, but, unofficially, it is becoming increasingly manifest in people like Gavin Danby, who would direct us towards the Holy Spirit and the practice of transcendental meditation.

††††† He, I know, often refers to himself as a transcendentalist, implying that he takes his cue not from Christ but from that part of the psyche which he terms the superconscious and knows to be of the essence of true divinity.His argument with Teilhard de Chardin has already been noted and remains, I believe, a valid one.He has no use for an apologetics of Christianity leading to acceptance of a Christogenesis, or evolution of Christ in the Universe.He wants to see Christ replaced by the Holy Spirit, so that we cease to think in egocentric, anthropomorphic, and personal terms, including recourse to prayer.He believes that our growing bias for the superconscious justifies this, and, personally, I have to agree with him, much as I may balk at his diabolic/divine generalizations with effect to evolutionary progress from alpha to omega, which obviously puts the Father in a rather unflattering light.Yet, I must say, it took me a long while to come round to his viewpoint, not because I was a Christian - other, that is, than in a rather nominal sense - so much as because I held certain atheistic beliefs which left little or no room for the Holy Ghost.I simply regarded transcendental meditation as a fad which would quickly die out.Now, however, I'm not so sure.Indeed, I incline to a more sympathetic view, though I have certain grave reservations concerning its immediate future.

††††† Of course, I realize that David Lee wouldn't sympathize with me here, since he has long been a Marxist and therefore decidedly materialistic in his ideological leanings.I knew when first introducing him to Danby that they would differ violently on the subject of what Gavin calls God or, rather, the godly, meaning true divinity.But I was interested, all the same, to see if he would crack and slightly relent under pressure of Danby's logical acumen, sacrificing some of his bias for strength in the process.I believe to some extent he has, though I know for a fact that Danby sympathizes with Marxists and has been going through an identity crisis of sorts recently which could well result in his becoming a kind of Marxist or, at any rate, socialist himself in due course.I say 'kind of' because I know for a fact that he could never totally reject transcendentalism, even if, in the short term, he decided that materialistic considerations and obligations were more relevant to the world.There would still, I feel, be a recognition at the back of his mind that, ultimately, transcendentalism had to be the leading string, with politics and economics considerably in its service.But he hasn't spoken to me about this, nor, to the best of my knowledge, has he written about it.No, if one thing more than another gave me a clue to his approaching change-of-heart, it was what he said, the other week, about Propter, the guru-like character in Huxley's After Many a Summer, criticizing him for an individualist and elitist approach to salvation which, with its emphasis on contemplation for the privileged few, struck him as socially inadequate and altogether too bourgeois.I think he would rather the great majority of people were in a position to do a Propter, but a Propter, without de-centralist inclinations, who related to Teilhard de Chardin's evolutionary cosmogony of centro-complexification.This, I think, would be compatible with the concept of a converging universe to the Omega Point, that is, with the world gradually evolving from the Many towards the One.Obviously, this can only be brought about via an ideology which gives its attention to the masses and their social advancement, so that, ultimately, the great majority of people will be in a position to take transcendentalism seriously, and thus converge en masse towards the Omega Point.No use expecting the cream of the bourgeois world to get us there then, since they are all-too-few in number and more obsessed, in any case, with their own personal salvation.

††††† But this discussion has blossomed quite nicely, and I really think they are having a mutually beneficial effect on each other, an effect of give-and-take, so to speak.For their initial suspicions have abated, during the past fifteen minutes, with David Lee now more willing to lend an ear than before.Naturally, Danby knew he was dealing with a Marxist, because I told him before they met.But Lee's atheism seems not to have unduly worried him.After all, he's an atheist himself insofar as his rejection of traditional religious criteria is concerned.He doesn't believe in God the Father ... for the simple reason that he is too evolved for that; in fact, so evolved that, considered as Creator, the Almighty, etc., the Father seems to him indistinguishable from and equivalent to the Devil, in contrast to which he perceives God the Holy Ghost as in a process of formation throughout the Universe, in the context of our mounting allegiance to the superconscious, and therefore only existing in embryo, as it were, in that part of the psyche given over to the spirit.The Holy Spirit has still to be fully created, but, in the meantime, it will continue to expand with the addition of successive layers or contributions of superconscious mind, until such time as full spiritual maturity is reached, and true divinity ultimately reigns supreme in the Universe.

††††† True divinity, then, is ultimately dependent on man for its birth, and, verily, the ancients were right to claim that man is a god-creating phenomenon.He has been creating gods ever since he entered the spectrum of manhood - at first rather crudely and materialistically, to be sure, but with greater refinement as time wore on.When he was in the pre-dualistic, or pagan, stage of evolution his gods were correspondingly material, to be worshipped in the flesh, so to speak.He erected statues and saw the gods in them.Later, when he had evolved to the dualistic, or Christian, stage of evolution he still erected statues - witness the Blessed Virgin and Christ - but now that he was less dominated by the subconscious mind, the sensual, the material, he felt able to detach his worship from them to some extent and regard them as merely images of the real gods that apparently dwelt elsewhere, compliments of their respective resurrections, in pure spirit.He was no longer the simple pagan idolater, bowing before stone or wood as before the actual god, but had acquired a new dimension which, as the spiritual, existed in its own right and on a superior plane to the material.Latterly, however, he has for the most part outgrown this dualistic stage of evolution and attained to a post-dualistic, or transcendental, stage in which the superconscious predominates over the subconscious, and he is accordingly no longer able to take material images of divinity seriously.Now he has arrived at an understanding of God based entirely on the spirit, and thus brought himself closer to the ultimate truth of God, that truth perceived by Christ when He said: 'God is a spirit, and they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth'.However, the Christians weren't, as a rule, able to do so.For dualistic man hadn't evolved to such a transcendental level but was still tied to the material, and thus to some extent dependent on images like the Crucifix, the Virgin Mary, St Joseph, the Saints, and the Apostles to orientate his worship.Only comparatively recently, with the further progress of human evolution away from nature and materially-orientated criteria, has it become possible for more people to turn to the truth of Christ's statement and thereby re-orientate their worship on the spirit, which is found within.If they can bring themselves into closer contact with their spiritual essence they achieve, through self-realization, a direct knowledge of the godly.But the godly, according to Danby, should not be confused with ultimate divinity.It is only potentially that, a tiny fragment of spirit which, earnestly cultivated over many years, should grow and become ever more intensive, eventually becoming so intensive ... that the essence of man is obliged to transcend the body and establish the Omega Point, which will be the beginnings of the actual manifestation of ultimate divinity in the Universe.Man will thus have created the Holy Spirit, though not in his own image, as Christian man created his god, but in the literal context of ultimate divinity - transpersonal and transcendent.

††††† Yes, at last it all begins to make sense and I can now see more clearly the reason why Danby rejects de Chardin's Christogenesis on a literal basis.Yet even if he can't literally accept the divinity of Christ, like a genuine Christian, I think he would have no option but to concede that, on a symbolic plane, the Resurrection does in fact illustrate the future course of evolution in spiritual transcendence, the abandonment of the body for ultimate self.Therefore it could be said that it is the fate of man to follow Christ's example and attain to spiritual bliss in the post-human Beyond, so that Christ's evolution through the Universe, or Christogenesis, can be regarded as a preordained plan and implicit fact.We are in the process, willy-nilly, of following in Christ's transcendent footsteps.However, where Danby differs from de Chardin is in asserting that, in reality, there was no literal Resurrection and, consequently, that there can be no already-existent Omega Point compounded of Christ's transcendent presence.On the contrary, it's our duty to establish such a condition in due course.As already noted, Danby isn't a Christian.We evolve towards the Omega Point, we are not teleologically pulled towards it by a Christ in situ, so to speak.

††††† However, let us leave the final word with him.For I have been digressing too much and have quite abandoned my two friends to their discussion.They were talking, if you recall, about the literal natures of Heaven and Hell, Danby explaining the imaginative limitation of the Christian dualists on the basis of their egocentric projections, whilst at the same time justifying it in regard to its utilitarian viability.Since then, David Lee has gone on to question him more generally about paintings of the Last Judgement, especially about which ones he considers to be the most logical and which the most illogical from a contemporary viewpoint, and, latterly, whether he didn't think the whole concept of eschatological judgement illusory.After all, didn't it rather reflect the dualism of Christian man, and thus speak in terms to which we post-dualistic moderns couldn't be expected to relate?

††††† "Yes, to some extent it does," Danby replied, visibly impressed by the apparent interest in religious issues this professed Marxist was now displaying."One might be led to believe that a simultaneous judgement was taking place, in which the sensualists were damned and the spiritualists saved.Yet that would be out-of-step with the trend of evolution towards the godly and eventual establishment of ultimate divinity.Since life is a journey from Hell to Heaven, we cannot suppose that at the end of it anyone will be damned and obliged to roast in Hell.On the contrary, we are increasingly led to assume that humanity in toto will have become ripe, at that more advanced juncture in evolution, for spiritual transformation, and thus salvation from the flesh.There will be no Christ in Judgement for the simple reason that such a dual-natured deity only pertains to the mentality of dualistic man, not to those who have evolved beyond that mentality to a transcendent frame-of-mind.But at the time of its formulation, many centuries ago, you can be sure that the Last Judgement was a viable concept and strongly appealed to the Christian mentality.Even the notion of a posthumous, individual afterlife of either Hell or Heaven was absolutely justified, insofar as men couldn't be expected, at that more egocentric juncture in time, to conceive of a post-human millennium, or complacently accept the fact that, considered individually, they were no more than relatively insignificant mortal links in a chain of life ultimately leading to Paradise.Their egos would have rebelled against any such concept which, had they been capable of formulating it, would have proved much too demoralizing to uphold.It's only because we're closer to this evolutionary consummation, if you will, that we can at last be expected to bear the truth, painful though it may still be on occasions!As to the Last Judgement, however, I think we can safely say that we've generally outgrown the necessity of believing in it.Even de Chardin would, I think, agree with me here, since his concept of a spiritual convergence to the Omega Point leaves no room for Hell and, hence, damnation.But that is no reason, in my view, why we should reject the necessity of temporal judgements en route to the post-human millennium, as I'm sure you'd agree."

††††† David Lee allowed an ironic smile to take possession of his thin lips, before replying: "Yes, the wheat has to be divided from the chaff and/or the chaff from the wheat somehow, and it's the duty of all right-thinking people to ensure this actually comes about.Just as, in the Christian schema, the sensualists are doomed to perdition and only the spiritualists saved.For the world is still largely divisible into these two antithetical camps, so the need for temporal judgements en route to the post-human millennium undoubtedly exists.But 'the good' shall triumph in the end, of that there can be no doubt!"

††††† "Indeed," Danby concurred, warming appreciably to his interlocutor's confidence."And out of their efforts will come a new spiritual impetus, through which higher man will eventually attain to the goal of evolution in spiritual triumph."

††††† "And woman?" Lee wanted to know."Where does she fit into all this?"

††††† "Obviously as the means, now as before, of getting us there," Danby replied confidently."The act of propagation may, by dint of its sensual nature, be steeped in original sin, but at least we can be assured that without the help of women we would never attain to our evolutionary goal.Like food and sleep, woman is a sort of necessary evil - at any rate, with regard to sex.But out of evil cometh good, remember, and although woman is by no means entirely sensual, nevertheless she stands closer to nature than man, since aligned, in her fundamental bias for appearances, with the phenomenal world."

††††† "From which fact we can assume, I take it, that the post-human millennium isn't for her," I suggested, making an effort to become a part of the conversation again, "since its spiritual nature would seem to portend a radically essential, if not supermasculine, state-of-affairs."

††††† "Absolutely, Jason," agreed Danby, turning towards me."The Holy Spirit would be consummate good and therefore the ultimate positivity, quite the converse of the stars, which, in their primal negativity, are consummate evil.Regarded as the sum-total of flaming stars, Hell should be seen as a fundamentally reactive phenomenon, and its offspring, like the earth and nature, as feminine.All that pertains to the sensual is feminine, whereas whatever pertains to the spiritual is masculine.So the evolution of the Universe is from ultimate negativity to ultimate positivity - a fact which is adequately demonstrated by the current state of Western civilization, in which masculine artificiality, in the forms of large cities, industry, science, technology, etc., has increasingly come to predominate over the feminine realm of nature, with its subconscious illusion.We are indeed biased towards the spirit at last, so let us be sincerely grateful for the fact, since there is only one way forward, and that's up through expanded consciousness!No alternative exists.Yet the considerable efforts women are nowadays making to 'masculinize' themselves, as it were, and thus wear jeans, vote, take jobs, write books, play sport, etc., is a further indication of our evolutionary progress, which harbours good tidings for the future.In that, as in so many other respects, things can only get better, you mark my words!"

††††† "Yes, I incline to think you're right," Lee admitted, smiling glowingly before raising his fist in a dramatic gesture."The future belongs to us!" he added.

††††† "To be sure," I seconded rather doubtfully; for I wasn't altogether convinced that the maculinization of women, to use Danby's unhappy expression, was necessarily for the best or in any way fully commensurate with spiritual, as opposed to material, progress.Nevertheless I joined with David Lee in drinking some more wine, this time white, to the health and genius of our mutual friend.The discussion, we concluded, had dragged on quite long enough and, now that the evening had at last arrived, it seemed as though we had indeed passed from the Devil to God and were about to enter the realm of heavenly peace, wherein even positive argument could have no place.