Some of you may have seen the news reports about a fundamentalist Christian sect based in California that claimed that on the 21st of May the “rapture” would occur—-the final judgment day on which all true believers would be taken up in to heaven by Jesus. This is actually a belief that has been nurtured down through the centuries based originally on a verse from the Bible. The word rapture comes from the Latin word “rapio” which means “to catch up or take away,” and the word also includes implications of being carried away by great emotion, pleasure, joy, enthusiasm and bliss.
The interesting thing for me is that the operating belief in these religions is that some outside force—-God, Jesus, Allah—-will swoop down and replace this painful and corrupted life that we have on earth with a life of heavenly comfort. Helpless sinners that we are, we can only await the appointed time, and our salvation will come through the grace of a benevolent, if also judgmental, divine being.
This idea that we are incomplete and that we will be completed by something that is added on is so pervasive that we cannot really see it. Our cultures have indoctrinated us from the beginning to think that we are unfinished and imperfect and that deliverance will come from something outside us. Most people these days are probably not of the opinion that God will appear in the sky and raise us all up to heaven, but we do hold more subtle beliefs that our true well-being will be presented to us by some external element. We feel that rapture will only happen in our lives if something is added on: a loving partner, vocational and financial success, acclaim and respect, the right drug-—in short, being transported to some new life that is different from the life we have right now.
We can see the evidence of this in pop culture-—for instance, the love songs about being carried away by the knight in shining armor or by the sexual experience that will change our life completely. We have loads of self-help books that tell us how to acquire all the material circumstances that will make our lives okay. The underlying assumption is that well-being will be delivered by something we do or obtain.
There is also the notion of what rapture, bliss and ecstasy mean. When we hear those words we probably have an image of some person (not us) shivering with orgiastic delight in the midst of a splendid experience. But as compelling as that image may be, there are other ways of being “carried away,” which, again, is what the word rapture originally meant. The irony is that in the rapture that I am speaking about, there is no carrying away at all. In fact it is just the opposite! It is in NOT being carried away, but in residing fully in the here-and-now. We don’t move anywhere; we are not carried away to some other state; no deity comes to take us off to a heavenly realm. We simply rest in our true self.
Is this merely theoretical? Am I just blowing smoke here? No, dear reader, I am not. To have a direct experience of this is a matter of gaining increasing confidence in our naturally rapturous state and of becoming more familiar with its presence in every moment. We don’t move even one inch; we don’t shape anything into something else; we don’t add on anything to what is already completely whole.
How to realize this? By doing nothing. It is by allowing the natural open intelligence that is the basis of all things to be as it is. Without believing in anything—not even what I am saying here or wanting it to be true-—we just relax and recognize, and we do this over and over again. When thoughts and emotions carry us away, we simply return to the place we never left, and we do this again and again for short moments, many times.
At some point apparently ordinary things in life become extraordinary. We are enraptured by a life that had been hidden from us as long as we were seeking something. No longer carried away by anything in particular, we are open to the rapture that only this very moment can provide.