Saturday, May 21, 2011

Forget about the Rapture - try Karuna instead

A small group of people, fueled by a pastor whose church has been raking in millions on his claims, have declared May 21, 2011 the End of the World. Some people have sold all their belongings and piled into cars, vans and RVs, driving around the country to convince the rest of us to Believe Before It Is Too Late. They are standing on street corners, stopping people as they go about their own business. The signs are everywhere, and I am not talking about floods, fires and famine. There are signs throughout the New York City Subway system, people are carrying placards in Times Square. The New York Times reports that a nice family from New Jersey has dragged their three reluctant, skeptical teenagers to the City to spread the word. The kids wonder if they will still have to make their beds.

Doomsday rumblings are nothing new. The Right (or possibly Wrong) Reverend who predicts the End this time draws his calculations supposedly from Biblical sources and says that while the true believers will be lifted up sometime on Saturday, the rest of us will roast until October 21. It will be oblivion by then. He said the same thing in 1994. End Day predictions have been made with certainty and the accompanying pamphlets, placards and proselytizers in 1844, 1914, 1918, 1924 by the same group, 1942, 1981 and again in 1988,'89.'92,'94,'95…..Apparently, Sir Isaac Newton even calculated the date: 2060.

Some claim the ancient Mayans have also predicted the End (or could it be the New Beginning?) on December 21, 2012. Personally, I think the Mayans got tired of carving, thinking that 500 years into the future was enough to predict. There is a large movement of intelligent people who believe that Mayans were predicting a major shift in consciousness. If we are all about to experience a worldwide consciousness shift for the better, if we could truly develop peaceful, respectful dialog across the dinner table, across political aisles and across borders, then I say, bring it on. I am not exactly seeing signs of an increase in civil discourse right now; political wannabes still spout vitriol and lies, governments still send in the guns, crazed fanatics are routinely blowing themselves into tiny bits, along with as many people as possible for some kind of "cause." This morning it happened inside a hospital.

Rapture literally means "to catch up" or "to snatch." To be rapt means to be engrossed or absorbed. To be enraptured means to be transported with emotion or filled with joy. Which brings me to my question:

Where is the joy? How do we trust that we will wake up tomorrow and it will be a good day? What can we do to change our attitude to approach any day as if it is a good one? How do we stop our rapt attachment to negative thoughts, worries and fear? I don't for a minute believe that selling all my earthly belongings and standing on a hill with my arms up waiting to be wafted into heaven is the answer.

Karuna is the answer. Compassion, first applied to my unruly mind which can't seem to stop its habit of drawing false conclusions and believing the worst is about to happen. Karuna, pouring like honey on all my self-created obstacles. Compassion radiating out towards the people I love, once karuna has soothed my inner beast. Karuna will bring my arms down if they reach away from what is real, to gently wrap them around the people I love, soothing them as well. Joy can be generated by spreading karuna out to the whole world.

As I write this, there have been no earthquakes, no beam-ups. The Doomsayers are still standing in the subway stations holding their pamphlets. I've got cinnamon rolls in the oven and nothing says karuna more than something freshly baked. Take a deep breath. As you exhale slowly, breathe compassion out towards all.

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