Aside from the major distinction between being born into an Axial or a non-Axial state, are there differing degrees of opportunity for spiritual progression according to the precise nature of the Axial state one is born into?

Hindu texts speak of the rarity of the opportunity for liberation – not only the rarity of the human state itself, but then the rarity of being born into a brahmin family and of having other opportunities for liberation.

Applying this to our current situation, one may say that not only the Axial state itself, but the type of society we are born into, the level of intelligence we are born with, our natural propensity for spiritual endeavour; all these are factors determining the level of opportunity we actually possess.

And each of these factors is determined by our werde (to use the Aristasian term) or karma. In other words, our level of opportunity is not simply a matter of luck, but is the result of our actions and choices in previous existences.

Maid is defined as “she who has the power of choice”. The term “maid” is connected to the words “may” and “might” — “might” in particular being a word that emphasises the close relationship between choice and power — a thing might or might not happen, and one has the might to choose. Among Latin-based words the close relation between potency and potentiality expresses the same thing. So, by definition, even the maid with the least opportunity still possesses some power of spiritual choice, which the animals and other non-Axial beings do not.

So take the maid who is born in the Pit — perhaps in a very unpropitious part of the Pit (for example, one with little recognition of God) — and with very little intelligence, so that her ability to criticise the Pit is virtually nil. Even so, she may choose to lead a good life, to do good deeds rather than bad ones; she may turn toward whatever form of God she encounters.

All these actions may ensure her not only an Axial birth, but a more propitious one in her next existence.

And let us also realise that actions which for another might be downward steps might for her be upward steps.

We can never judge the actions of another, nor can we make judgements based on her circumstances. Werde is a subtle and intricate matter, a weaving of many threads, of which we can see only the tips that touch our world.