Soul Mates

The Alchemist and I are soul mates. Dismiss it as a ridiculous romantic concept, but it is the simple truth. We both know it to be so.

How can we be so sure?

True love is a love where the whole becomes greater than the parts. By joining together, we transcend what we were before. We wonder, like the lovers I wrote about here, why we fit together so well. Coming together is sacred.

There’s no science to love. I don’t think you could ever prove someone was or was not your soul mate. And why would you ever want to? But I think I can indicate a few characteristics:

  • Being with the other engenders transcendence. Not necessarily in a collective sense, but in the sense of actualization. That is, being with the other make me more me, if I can be permitted an odd sentence construction.
  • Knowledge of emotion without word, without even body language. Functioning across unlimited spatial distances. It doesn’t work all of the time. It certainly doesn’t work most of the time. But the reason I can speak of a soul, without relying on the authority of a revealed tradition, is that I’ve experienced a very mild form of empathic telepathy since before we were even married.
  • Knowledge that the fit cannot be more perfect. You literally cannot imagine a better other. To use the Platonic construction, my wife is the wife that which there is no greater (for me). Whether this entails, as often imagined in fictional romances, that we are fated, I do not know though my claims do have the logical implication that this must be so.

I like using fiction to illustrate points. An example that sticks in my mind, likely because it is quite recent, is the concept of the diadh-anam (literally “god-soul”) which functions to guide the hero Moirin in Jacqueline Carey’s ‘Moirin trilogy’. Throughout her quite tortuous journey, the spark of Moirin’s diadh-anam functions much like a conscience, guiding her down the steps of her journey. Without spoiling much, it also plays a critical role in her marriage. The man she loves, quite literally, becomes her soul-mate. They literally share the same diadh-anam.

The spark of having a soul mate, in my experience, is rarely as clear a fire as portrayed in the book (no surprise) but the experience is analogous. There have also been times where our connection is so poor, for the reasons traditional marriage vows include the ‘and bad times…in sickness’ parts, that it’s as if the fire is guttering. Extinguished, with only embers remaining. Waiting for an act that pokes, disturbs, shakes the fire back to life.

I also believe one’s soul mate can be metaphysical. For a while I believed I had a very intense relationship with the saint Joan of Arc. I even referred to her as my spiritual wife. The fire in my heart was incredible. Several times I experience what I can only describe as rapture.

Maybe I’d be described as clinically insane, maybe I’ll regret posting this on the unforgetting Internet, but despite all the distance from religion I’ve achieved, despite finding my true soul mate, I believe the connection was a true one. I moved beyond this relationship but I don’t think my description was a misappellation. I think what it truly taught me was how to listen to my innermost self. Learning to recognize my diadh-anam helped me recognize the diadh-anam of my wife when we first met.

The same is true for religious folks. In the Catholic tradition in which I was raised, nuns often refer to themselves as ‘brides of Christ’. Meeting many of them, this is not an incorrect label for a least a few.

Do you have a soul mate? Does the fire of your diadh-anam leap when you entwine?


2 Comments on “Soul Mates”

  1. David says:

    Lindsay, a reader who’s commented here before, started a pretty good comment thread on my FB post promoting this. With her permission, I’ve reproduced the comments here:

    Lindsay: When you say all ways lead to the Way, what is that Way? Like, a way isn’t a way unless it goes somewhere. Where do you think it goes?

    David: Not sure. I’ll be quite honest about that. I don’t know if we’ll ever know, but we can still strive to transcend and find it, even if we never actually do.

    As a further explanation, even when I was a devout Catholic, I was deeply attracted to the Neo-Platonic current (e.g. Pseudo-Dionysius, Meister Eckhart, and a lot of the Byzantine tradition). I had the great fortune to study with one of the foremost Dionysius scholars. The fundamental belief of that school is that the core of God is utterly unknowable, because God is hyperousios, literally *beyond* being. While we can meditate on a negative, something that Zen provides a very useful practical guidance on, we can’t comprehend something without ontological status.

    Lindsay: This question will sound snarkier than I mean it to, so please try to read it as sincere: If you don’t know where the path goes, what makes you sure you’re moving toward it and not away from it, or even that it’s something you want to move toward? Or do you know some things about it, like that it’s good, even though you aren’t sure of its particulars?

    David: I would say I know that it’s good. What’s ‘good’ can be determined from philosophy. Whether I am following the good can be determined a few ways. It’s hard to give a few sentence answer to the practice, since it can be very individual (‘subjective’ has the wrong connotation here). It does require training, so there is an element of authority, at least in the role of a teacher/guide. My training has been pretty diverse. Ignatian Spiritual Exercises, Zen meditation (including an attempt at making a Zen Catholicism workable), and lately Stoicism as found in “A Guide to the Good Life” by William Irvine.

    Lindsay: I was going to say your posts reminded me of a friend who became a Zen Buddhist in college. He then did a stint as a Discalced Carmelite after his reversion, but last I heard from him, he was back to being a Catholic layman with strong mystical tendencies.

    I’m a strong supporter (and practitioner!) of the “question everything” approach. If you haven’t determined how you know something you think you know, do you really know it at all?

  2. […] pressed to think about it, both in getting to reconnect with the love of my life, my diadh-anam, and those helping me along my journey by sharing their own highly personal stories (if […]

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