Let me start with a warning: you are about to read relationship advice from a woman whose last date was in 1998. I have spent the last 16 years more or less as an interfaith nun… well, the last 15 years and then 1 year as a recovering interfaith nun.
However, I see a lot of marketing materials for how to find “true love,” and I’d like to think that in all my years focusing on God I’ve learned a little something about true love.
It’s all over the place: workshops with easy steps to “find the one,” sponsored facebook posts promising secrets on “finding your twin flame.” There are books and blogs and all kinds of things you can buy to help you “attract your soul mate.” Even scarier, there are sites promising “tricks to make him fall in love with you.” Is loving you something you want to force on someone using some kind of manipulation or programming? Really?
I don’t know if I believe in soul mates or not. I do and I don’t. What seems more likely to me is that we have soul families – groups of souls that we are closely related to on the family tree of life that we meet again and again and when we do, we resonate. Like one soul might be my husband in one lifetime, my sister in another and my mother the next time around. Sometimes we might be best friends, then we’ll come back as gay lovers. So, even if I don’t think we have just one soul mate, I read Richard Bach’s “One” just like all the other spiritual young girls of my day and I waited for lightening to strike.
Then I fell in love with God – I guess lightning struck.
You see, when I see all these romantic comedies, romantic dramas, romantic thrillers and romantic horror movies – how practically every movie, tv show, novel or salsa recipe has some sort of emphasis on a romantic relationship, I can’t help but think that this incessant focus on finding our other half is really coming from our yearning for union with the Self. When I see people selling romance-scented-crystal-candle-dream-guy-catchers, promising to help end the lonely empty feeling inside, it just feels like it’s a misplaced yearning for God.
I give you an example from my own life. I think it is safe to say that I am a Bhakti – I love loving God, I have a very devotional nature. Well, I didn’t grow up in India where I could channel this part of myself down at the local Krishna temple. I was in the 8th grade and I was living in Sweden. Sweden is not an overly devotional place. So, instead of a gopi, I became what was known as a Duranie – a somewhat deranged fan of the musical group Duran Duran. I had a jacket covered in 52 Duran Duran pins. I had so many posters of Duran Duran (especially John Taylor, the cutest one!) on my walls that I ran out of space and started putting them on my ceiling. For their birthdays I hand sewed them personalized teddy bears with each of their names embroidered on them and sent them off to their fan club. I had so much devotion in my being and I had nothing else to aim it at – so I displaced my devotion and idolatry onto these poor unsuspecting Englishmen.
Now that I have pictures of Jesus in every room, now that my house is filled with devotions for Amma, Ramakrishna, Mother Theresa and St Francis, I understand where this devotional urge in me was coming from. I just didn’t know I could love God, yet. I didn’t find that out until years later.
So, when I see all these ads and articles about “finding your soul mate,” I can’t help feeling that it is our misdirected longing to find God. Not that we can’t also find a beautiful loving partner in life, a soul from our soul family who gets us and supports us, who gives us love and affection, safety, trust and intimacy, fun and laughter, tears and comfort, understanding and compassion and all the most valuable things we can hope for from our human connections. It’s just that I think if we put ALL our needs and ALL our fulfillment in the hands of this one person, if we think this one person is going to COMPLETE us, we set both of us up for heartache.
So, since I do not have vast dating experience to speak from, I can say that in my observation of the nature of my own heart, that love that we are seeking is about finding our own SOUL, not a soul mate. It’s not about finding that special someone who is easy going, who loves to laugh and have fun and also likes to dine out. I believe that to truly experience the love of a soul mate – you first have to experience your own soul – to see the Self in your beloved, you must first know the Self in your own heart. And to think that some other person can do that for us is frankly lazy and irresponsible.
It is up to US to complete our own selves – to know our own hearts and to awaken our own souls and to fill our own beings with so much LOVE that we want to explode and share it with the world – and then we can share it with that special someone. I think we will all be happier if we stop looking to our latest date or to the latest and greatest rock star or celebrity to fill us up. I think we will all have healthier and more fulfilling human relationships once we recognize that Love Itself is what completes us. Then we can, as a whole and complete person, share our journey with another happy and fulfilled human being and live happily ever after.
So, that is what I think is behind all the hoopla about soul mates, Duran Duran, Elvis and the Beatles. God is everyone’s soul mate and rock star.