Is there such a thing as called soulmate?
This word has created enormous confusion and suffering for humanity. People in the Western world are always looking for someone who can be their soulmate so that they can abandon their painful and never-ending search, and live happily-ever-after with that special person who was created for them.
It is important to understand our loving or other relationships in terms of the following three levels:
- Body-mate – sharing physical pleasures.
- Mind-mate – sharing the mental space
- Soulmate – the person connects us to our own soul or the universal soul which is common to all humanity. In the soul space, there is no give and take, either you are connected with or disconnected with it, and it’s not difficult to find out if at this moment you are connected or disconnected with it.
When you marry, your partner is expected to be all three of these for you and vice versa. That would be ideal, but in less-than-ideal circumstances, one ends up being only a body-mate or a mind-mate or a soulmate, or a mixture of any two of these three components.
If one is only body-mate they would enjoy only the physical relationship but there would be no feelings of togetherness, sharing of passions, intellectual stimulation, friendship, and selfless love. We see this happening in very casual relationships or encounters and with sex workers.
Another scenario would be – one is not a body-mate or soul mate but only mind-mate. This is seen in friendships between same gender or opposite ones. An example would be people belonging to the same group, ideology, school of thoughts etc. The relationship between Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir can also fall in this category, the physical relations ended but they continued to share intellectual insights and were friends to each other until the end.
A third example would be only soul mate, no body-mate or mind-mate – the example would be the relationship between Raman Mahirshi and his mother, or Adi Shankaracharya and his mother, or the mathematical genius Srinivasa Ramanujan and his wife.
Ramana Mahirishi left his house when aged 16 in search of spiritual goals and never returned, when his mother found out where he was after several years and went to take him home he refused to come, but eventually, they both lived together in his ashram for several years before she died. She was his soulmate late in life.
Shankaracharya also wanted to leave home against his mother’s wishes but he promised that he will come back whenever she remembered him and at the time of her death, which he did.
Ramanuja was a great Indian mathematician who went to Cambridge but didn’t take his wife along (a film made on his life called – “The man who knew Infinity” which won academy award – actors Jeremy Irons and Dev Patel). There was no sharing of his intellectual insights of mathematics with his wife, but perhaps there was a very deep connection between the two.
Now let us look at having two of the three ingredients.
The mind-mate and a soulmate.
There is no physical relationship but every other ingredient is present its present. We find that in many marriages, perhaps late in life, sex makes an exit (in lesbian relationships it’s called bed-death) but they continue to share intellectual space and experience self-less love. Many couples describe themselves as living like brother and sister and have no physical relationship. It is not limited only to heterosexual relationships. This could be true for a brother-sister relationship, mother and daughter, or a relationship between two friends.
An example of this would be the relationship between Sigmund Freud and his daughter Anna Freud. Anna never married and her father was the main figure in her life. They both were intellectuals and shared the mind space and perhaps the soul space as well.
It is also seen in the relationship between leaders and followers, between spiritual leaders. Having the soulmate ingredient brings in the element of selflessness in the relationship.
Being body-mate and mind mate:
People have great physical and mental intimacy but it’s all based on selfishness and the relationship keeps going because the give-get balance is alright. Since there is no connection at the soul level there is no selfless love and the relationship breaks off as soon as the give-get relationship goes off balance.
Body mate and soul mate:
Seen in couples where one of the people is not at the same level of intellectual ability is the order and there is no intellectual sharing our friendship but the physical relationship is great and there is the element of selfless love as well.
Such a relationship keeps going even if the physical side dies because of the soul connections. The relationship survives even if the selflessness is only one-sided although it would be great if it is mutually reciprocated.
Understanding selflessness in relationships. This can be of different varieties, one may be selfless out of one’s duty or demands of the situation rather than a sense of pleasure whereas in other circumstances one cannot help but be the person who is help giving and it is consistent with their inner feelings.
Misconceptions in this area:
Sadly, people think that one cannot have more than one soulmates and believe that if someone loves his or her sister or mother deeply it is at the cost of their love for their spouse but the reality is just the opposite. If someone hasn’t learnt how to love their sister or mother deeply with whom they have shared most of their life so far – what are the chances that this person will be able to love their spouse deeply. Whenever I see someone not having an intimate relationship with their sibs or parents, I can smell poor prognosis of their other relationships as well.
Even the famous psychiatrist Sigmund freud went wrong here in trying to understand relationships – he said “loving your enemy would be detrimental to your psychic apparatus” perhaps he didn’t understand that in the process of acquiring the ability to love one’s neighbour or enemy one has to neutralise one’s negative feelings and this will strengthen their psychic apparatus. Without neutralising their negative feelings towards the enemy one can’t love them.
Perhaps in the physical arena commitment and exclusivity to one person causes least problems but at the soul level any connection is likely to have a positive ripple effect on other relationships as well.
To conclude – the word soulmate simply means you are relating to the person from your soul/inner consciousness and in a selfless manner, or that person is instrumental in helping you connect to your deeper reaches where selfless love resides. This can happen with more than one person or the whole of humanity.
Your soulmate is not out there looking for you and you don’t have to look for signs of a soul-mate in any person. It is up to you to make someone a soulmate if you want to if enough ingredient are there in front of you. Just as you can make halwa if there are enough ingredients in front of you.
But you can also choose not to make halwa even if the ingredients are there in front of you. Also if you want to make halwa and enough ingredients are not there in front of you – you need to bring them out – from your own self and from this world. So there is no one person who will either fit the bill or not fit the bill. There may be many people who can easily fit the bill, and many people who with little effort will fit the bill, it’s up to you if you want a soulmate, and stop looking for that one person who was made to order for you in the heavens by your destiny.
For Jesus or Buddha the whole of humanity was their soulmate. For someone, it may just be one person or more than one person.
Another quality of soulmate relationship is that it’s irreversible, you can’t snap that relationship. That is why many individuals – after going through several relationships or marriages retain their feelings they had towards their first love. Prince Charles is an example.
As the old saying goes – A woman, perhaps a man as well, can never forget her first love. I am not sure how accurate this is in modern times. If the first love was a casual one, one does forget it, and if that first love had elements of soul connection one never forgets it whether it is the first one or the last one.
© Kishore Chandiramani, Consultant Psychiatrist
Emotions Clinic, Education and Training Centre Cic, Staffordshire, England