This article is graciously provided for republication by the author, Swami Nityamuktananda Saraswati (Dr. Christa-Maria Herrmann), German by birth, naturalized British, originally studying Theology, her university studies soon expanded to Education, Psychology, Philosophy and Art and Design (Ceramics). Different teaching jobs (in colleges and universities) in various countries followed. At the center of her studies (as well as her teaching) was always the subject of 'Self-awareness'.
To find our Soul mates is a longing within the human being, but our notion is colored by a romantic image of what that means.
We normally understand that when we have nothing to complain about another, be it wife, husband, friend...they are our soul-mates. So, we want a mate, a partner, a friend who is like ourselves, so that life feels whole, or rather we feel whole and fulfilled because there is nothing that interferes with what we want/like/think. The question then is…where is the root of that longing? The Greek word for that longing is thumos and that means “the life –energy itself”; Longing makes it possible for us to go all the way to where we need to go! Mind gets distracted by this and that, but longing is the power that drives us “home”.
This is obviously connected to the question of what we mean by Soul, the soul that longs…(meaning what?) for fulfillment/wholeness…(meaning what?). It might help to go back to the roots, which, as so much of our cultural and philosophical heritage, lie in the Greek philosophy - or may be even beyond that. In a philosophical text by Plato, called the Symposium, he describes how several well known philosophers of the time, including Socrates , meet and discuss, over a “nice meal and plenty of wine” the topic of love. The Symposium takes place in the house of Agathon. One of the speakers is Aristophanes. In his speech he explains that we feel ‘in love’, when we feel whole and he explains why (obviously from his understanding). He says, that at the beginning of time, in a golden Age (as we would term it) there were people who had one head, but two bodies, (four arms and legs etc.) with faces and limbs turned away from one another. They wheeled around like clowns doing cartwheels; they were amazingly powerful. Some were all male, some all female, some androgynous (half male, half female). The males were said to have descended from the sun, the females from the earth and the androgynous couples from the moon. They scrambled around the earth, getting more and more arrogant, trying to usurp the power of the gods, but Zeus (head of the Gods) wanted nothing of it, and so with his thunderbolt he blasted them apart, separating the two bodies.
He then asked Apollo, the healer, to turn their faces, pull the skin tight and make each part appear whole. Since then people run around saying they are looking for their other half because they are really trying to recover their primal nature. The women who were separated from women run after their own kind, thus creating lesbians. The men split from other men also run after their own kind and love being embraced by other men.
Aristophanes then claims that when two people who were separated from each other share a special feeling, which cannot be explained. He says if these Beings work with the “power/the God of love” – they will find wholeness.
A much neglected side glance here is interesting. Zeus asks Apollo to “turn their heads arround and heal their bodies”. Now Apollo was the divine version of the Iatromatis, meaning the wandering healer and prophet; he was the god presiding over incubation ( meditation and Yoga Nidra!) I.e. he was the god that helped getting deepest self- knowledge, which is what healed!
A bit closer to our times, in Theosophy, we find Edgar Cayce elaborating that God created androgynous souls—equally male and female. (Here the androgenous nature is on the subtle level only). Some theories postulate that the souls split into separate genders, perhaps because they incurred karma while playing around on the Earth and "separated from God." Then, over a number of reincarnations, each half seeks the other. When all karmic debt is purged, the two will fuse back together and return to the ultimate. Which is kind of saying something similar to the Greek model.
In the Jewish tradition too, we find a similar idea, believing that destiny chooses our partners, each being has a in the divinely inspired husband, wife or special friend - a soul mate, a Basherte(r).
It is from this thinking we derive the expression that “marriages are made in heaven.” The idea of a divinely chosen mate is manifest in the Jewish scriptures, where it says that 40 days before a child is born its mate is determined by God.
So the idea that there is a special person, with whom we share a destiny is part of some of the strongest influences in the “western” culture. I might add that in the Ancient Middle European culture, statues of the Goddess are found, where she has a phallic upper torso, and a pregnant (womb) lower belly; obviously manifesting the idea of androgynous beings.
In the modern thought world, it is common to speak about our psyche (Soul) as having both qualities male and female traits (even as specific as talking about the anima (female wisdom soul) and animus (male wisdom soul) both being present in each being, yet with dominance of one or the other.
Even in the Yogic thinking, we are told that ultimately a balance between those two parts of our being will make us androgynous…whole. (Swami Veda Bharati). So are we literally seeking someone in this life which is the “other part of our soul”? There seems to be a red thread through all the above traditions, that we seek for someone who makes us whole. Is the search for a soul mate a search for wholeness? In Hinduism we find the idea, that the world Soul, the universal soul becomes conscious of itself, desire companionship, and therefore brings forth from its own Being the male and the female. Both exists as off-springs of the One….
But there is also another way of understanding soul mates, such as in the story of Rama and Sita. In the Ramayana, Rama is attracted to Sita because she is his “soul mate”, and that simply because it is meant to be so! He is not corrupted by her charms to his doom on the rocks, like the Siren of Scandinavian myths. He isn't tempted by Sita/Eve to eat of the illicit tree and doom mankind to toil in the deserts outside the Garden of Paradise. She is not like the demon ladies in the ‘Journey to the West’ who were trying to thwart the journey by taking Tripitaka's vital sperm. Nor is she the Virgin Mary who is chaste and pure and only there to be a mother of the male god. No, Rama's desire for Sita is not a bodily corruption, which gets in the way, but is instead divinely inspired; they belong together, as two sides of one coin, as one Soul. Let’s contemplate on the above background, in the yogic context. Ultimately there is One intelligent energy, let’s call it Paramatman, or in this context a cosmic “soul”, the fire from which we are many sparks. The individual soul is the divine spark, the atman, the pure core, the essence of our being. In its purity, in its sameness - it is complete; like the spark of a fir is fire.
Now this spark, this soul , this energy spins, vibrates, lives…ultimately in its most manifest form in the world, and takes on the hues/the color/ the dust of the earth. It collects individual “stuff around it” and becomes the jivatman, the individual soul. Now it is not anymore pure, bright light, but has accumulated around it various lampshades/ blankets that hide its light/its fire. Somewhere there is memory of its own brightness/ wholeness, even its home in the One/the Paramatma; it wants to return to That. This is its longing. The longing to be reunited to be whole again. And if we add the reference to apollo,this comes through deepest meditation and “Self”-awareness
What separates that light/spark/soul from the Oneness is all the “lampshades/ all the conditioning/all the karma it has acquired. I longs for the light it “subconsciously” knows is there and it sees in others! This recognition is love. We open to that love by seeing the light in us as well as in the other. This becomes easier the more we remove of the dross /the lampshades, that which separates us from our own light and from other’s light. The light is One.
We have an intuition, an awareness , that once - way back- we were one light/one fire. Looking for a soul- mate is looking for a person (or people) which has similar lampshades darkening their light/ similar karma/ similar destiny/ similar work to do. They become like a mirror to us. We recognize our light, our potential, our common work in another, thus we can travel back to the light, back to the “All-soul”, the ONE - together, complementing, helping each other on the same path.
Misunderstanding comes from thinking that the soul-mate...is that which you are not! Wholeness does not come because the other gives you what you have’t got...that is dependency, that keeps your fire… your spark separate, un-evolved. It creates more “lacking” in you!
Then what does it mean: “to find/attract a soul mate” . I means working on yourself, the more work we do in removing our lampshade, our conditioning – the brighter our light shines, the more chance we have of attracting mates who’s light also shines. Then both illuminate the path together, co-operation makes walking towards the goal easier, one helps, complements the other – BUT not out of need, but out of fullness.
To find a soul-mate…is not a question of astrology, nor does it come about by focusing your mind on the desire for it. If you focus your desire on the “perfect mate”, or your “soul mate...” the perfection you imagine is merely a reflection of your mind’s distorted imagination of perfection, its merely an image created by your conditioned mind with all its karmic hang-ups! It’s a superficial “New-age” “red-herring”. Clean your mind, the mind that hides your soul – then it’s ‘mirror-like-quality’ will attract/ reflect the light of another, who can join on the path towards return to the Ultimate Soul, which both of you are sharing.
Now that we have looked at the issue in a general way, how about couples? After all the idea of a ‘soul mate’ for most is linked to the issue of finding the perfect life-partner. If we look towards Indian mythology, we have couples Shiva and Shakti, Shiva and Parvarti, Rama and Sita, Krishna and Radha…even Purusha and Prakriti…..we live in a world of duality, we live in a world of male and female relationships (sexual or otherwise). What marks these couples, what is there secret?
One thought: in some ways - they are totally different: male and female; it’s not as we think…to find the one that is “like me”…in fact they are frequently the opposite of each other. Shiva is the one who meditates within (Space/sattva), Shakti is the one who is active, ever changing, creating, ever manifesting and dissolving….(Fire/ rajas); Rama is the warrior, the upholder of justice and dharma (Air/sattva) …Sita is the pure, submissive female that returns to Mother Earth; Krishna(has so many aspects, from adviser, to tempter…playing…(extrovert/Fire) and Radha is pure love/devotion… (Fire internal). From whichever angle we look they are never “the same”.
Find what in Taoism is called: harmony within diversity or even opposites. And here lies the secret. Everything, everyone, is unique, is different…every jivatma, every soul has its own karmic dust attached to it…yet underneath they are the same light; there is the only light! Recognizing that one karmic light within all the different forms, makes potentially everyone your soul mate.
For seeing that, we have to remove our conditioning that leads to see separation, limitations and boundaries rather than the shared light the shared love. Once we see the light in ourselves and others, everyone is our soul mate. With this insight we are back with Plato; however not so much Aristophane’s mythic images as the meaning behind them - the root of the Symposium was to explore the meaning of LOVE.
Finding a soul mate is doing work on ourselves! Not running around or waiting for destiny to present us with a Being that does “what we want”. We have to become whole beings ourselves, love ourselves - cultivating the male and female tendency in all their plurality within ourselves. Then our “soul” will shine, with the same light and love as other souls. The ray of light will become the beam of light that dissolves in Light, in Love! Love not as a romantic or possessive quality, but love as ultimate life-force. May we find that love which is the light on whose beam we can travel back to That from which we emerged. Hari Ohm.