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Thinking About: Soul Mates

June 11, 2010

Anyone who tells you they have never wrestled the idea of soul mates is a liar. Whether propagated by Disney or Bollywood, the message we have all grown up with has always been the same; there is one perfect person for everyone: your ‘Soul Mate’. We have been so throughly brainwashed by this imaginary idea of perfection created solely for ‘me’, that even the most practical of us start believing in it (at some point, on some level). And the idea starts taking on a real shape.  So real that sometimes, (if you close your eyes tight and just believe) it may even take on the shape of an actual person.

If we are all created equal and insignificant, then why not believe that there is one person out there who makes us significant. We are not alone after all. Its a beautiful concept, (if at times a desperate one).

And then on the flip side there is the bleak reality. In many circles of late, I find the topic of discussion to be the alarmingly increasing rate of early divorce. Many couples our age don’t seem to make it past the “terrible twos” let alone the seven year itch. This fact is quickly followed by the shocking news of Al Gore and wife Tipper’s pending divorce and the sudden realization that the number of divorces after decades of marriage is also increasing.

The concept of soul mates and divorce didn’t really go well together till I came across this excerpt on the Greek Classical explanation of soul mates here and (the rest of it) here.

“Once upon a time, Aristophanes relates (in a scene from Plato’s The Symposium), there were gods in the heavens and humans down on earth. But we humans did not look the way we look today. Instead, we each had two heads and four legs and four arms – a perfect melding…of two people joined together, seamlessly united into one being. We came in three different possible gender or sexual variations: male/female meldings, male/male meldings, and female/female meldings, depending on what suited each creature the best. Since we each had the perfect partner sewn into the very fabric of our being, we were all happy. Thus, all of us…moved across the earth much the same way that they planets travel through the heavens – dreamily, orderly, smoothly. We lacked for nothing; we had no unmet needs; we wanted nobody. There was no strife and no chaos. We were whole.

But in our wholeness, we became overly proud. In our pride, we neglected to worship the gods. The mighty Zeus punished us for our neglect by cutting all the double-headed, eight-limbed, perfectly contented humans in half, thereby creating a world of cruelly severed one-headed, two-armed, two-legged miserable creatures. In this moment of mass amputation, Zeus inflicted on mankind that most painful of human conditions; the dull and constant sense that we are not quite whole. For the rest of time, humans would be born sensing that there was some missing part – a lost half…and that this missing part was out there someplace, spinning through the universe in the form of another person. We would also be born believing that if only we searched relentlessly enough, we might someday find that vanished half, that other soul. Through union with the other, we would recomplete our original form, never to experience loneliness again.

This is the singular fantasy of human intimacy; that one plus one will somehow, someday, equal one. But Aristophanes warned that this dream of completion-through-love is impossible…the original cleaved halves of the severed eight-limbed humans were far too scattered for any of us to ever find our missing halves again. Sexual union can make a person feel completed and sated for a while (Aristophanes surmised that Zeus had given humans the gift of orgasm out of pity, specifically so that we could feel temporarily melded again…), but eventually, one way or another, we will all be left alone with ourselves in the end. So the loneliness continues, which causes us to mate with the wrong people over and over again, seeking perfected union. We may even believe at times that we have found our other half but it’s more likely that all we’ve found is somebody else who is searching for his other half – somebody who is equally desperate to believe that he has found that completion in us.”
*Excerpt from “Committed”, by Elizabeth Gilbert, page 97-99*

Do you think Greek mythology explains the tragedies of modern life or is it just plain and simple high expectations, laziness and aversion to hard work & commitment?  You tell me.

(Images via weheartit.com)
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6 Comments leave one →
  1. PeacockWings permalink
    June 11, 2010 3:13 pm

    this is very thought provoking.
    the excerpt from this does make a very valid point.
    to me, soul mates are not exactly the “one we should marry”
    they are exactly what it says-mates to my soul. This can be
    a best friend, boyfriend, or maybe even a parent.
    I believe it is simply someone who is here
    to help you through this life-in whatever way they can.
    While many do find their “soul mate” and marry them
    they *to me* are just the lucky few.

  2. June 12, 2010 3:29 pm

    this definitely gives a different dimension to understanding the relationship b/w two people — but a wise lady once said to me…don’t always keep on finding ur soulmate in ur husband (after i was married) & u wud be happy and sail thru many ups & downs of marriage..i think somehow in one corner of my mind it sticked..:

    http://weddingonthecards.blogspot.com/

  3. June 16, 2010 4:11 pm

    PeacockWings: Thanks for stopping by. The idea of a soul mate being someone other than the person we marry is a lovely one with the slight downside that with people moving all over the world and on with their lives the chances of getting to then spend the rest of your life with your soul mate becomes kind of out of the questions… But its still lovely.

    Sovina: The wise lady had it right …. low expectations and a lousy memory are undoubtedly the key to a happy life. Lol.

  4. June 20, 2010 7:47 am

    I have soul mates; not one, not many but a very small few. And these people are so special. They’re sorta the ‘ones that got away’ in one sense but on the other hand they are so special and important I’m ever filled with joy when I see them in a happy relationship or happy at work.

  5. Vincenza permalink
    October 6, 2011 4:27 am

    (Finally found this quote after thinking about it since I first read this last year! Yay!)
    I am one of the amazingly lucky people who has found my soul mate, and I get to move around the world to marry him. In a small crowd outside a pub, I heard a voice and followed it to introduce myself to him. I am pretty sure that a part of me recognized the sound of my soul mate. He literally feels like my other half – think alike, feel alike, dream alike.

    I had a dusty, forgotten list in the far corner of my heart (behind all the baggage I’ve stacked up over the years) of all the things I would love to find in my partner. He fulfills every item on every line and amazingly more. I mean, really, I’ve never met another person who is as passionate as I am about despising bananas! How could I have ever guessed something as unimportant as banana-hating could be another stitch in that re-binding between our two halves?

    Crazy. Cool. Ours.

  6. January 5, 2015 3:38 am

    Stellar work there evryeone. I’ll keep on reading.

Your words inspire me... so comment away! :)

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