“The truth you believe and cling to makes you unavailable to hear anything new.” ~Pema Chödrön, The Wisdom of No Escape and the Path of Loving Kindness

The Post-Traumatic Stress of Maternal Awakening by S. Kelley HarrellI recently featured Chödrön’s quote as my Twitter update while I was penning a response to a client regarding soulmates. The two seemed so related that the quote is fitting to introduce this collective inquiry: What are soulmates and why do we seek them?

Most of us have been given some concept of soul connection by early childhood, a definition that sticks with us unless or until we explore the concept ourselves. When I first began working with others as a shaman a large number of my clients were dealing with some aspect of ‘soulmate,’ whether it was the search to find one or clarifying an existing relationship with a soul relation. The thing that I noticed most was how desperately many cling to the concept of ‘soulmate’ and to the people they believe to be such. I was curious about what led people to believe that soulmate = perfect union, that having a soul connection to someone would entail staying in a relationship that clearly did not meet needs. Equally, I was driven to understand the psychology that feels it’s useless unless it is in a recognizable soul union.

Examining how the concept of ‘soul relationship’ is put out there one quickly bumps into Edgar Cayce’s work around the topics of “soul twins” and “twin flames.” Having been widely interpreted, the perspective largely perpetuated through his readings is that there is one and only one perfect soul complement. In this view the soul is a dual-faceted entity that splits itself in two equal masculine and feminine life forces in order to bridge a wider terrain of experience and learning in the earth plane. These two come together in formed life to complete the Oversoul’s (or High Self’s) earthly work. I’m comfortable that Cayce knew things that I don’t, though within the framework of my experience is a truth that souls are limitless. Not only are they infinite, they are collectives spanning distance and time, perhaps even dimensions, doing acrobatic energetic feats, splitting into many manifestations and rejoining so cleverly we can’t begin to hold them in linear understanding. This is the beauty of our transpersonal. It isn’t just metaphor that we are all connected regardless of the era we were born, the location in which we reside, the biological sex we wear, or the species we inhabit. We are connected, period.

I’ve had many clients come to me who realized they were in a soul-connected relationship only to find that interpersonal issues weren’t resolved by virtue of this spirit union. Most couldn’t understand how a precious soulmate could inflict harm on its Other. The reality is being connected at very high levels to someone doesn’t automatically impart that the earth consciousness is well-adjusted. In fact, it doesn’t imply anything. Unfulfilled expectations are the result of earthly filters we have applied to a spiritual state of being. In that state several of my clients expressed that they felt they had been given a divine gift and to walk away from it would be a dismissal of their Higher Power. More harrowing for some was the idea that in leaving this soulmate they would karmically forfeit finding another. Changing this belief isn’t just leaving a lover or spouse but is a crisis of faith much the same as realizing one’s chosen religion no longer suffices. For many to turn away from a soulmate, even in extremely abusive situations it feels like going against Nature because we have been programmed to view soul connections through a limited earthly lens. In some cases we have been indoctrinated to put our interpretation of those filters above our own welfare and needs. That inclination is as harmful in unhealthy soulmate relationships as it is insidious in those who feel they have no self-worth without one.

In that light it isn’t the soul connection that is damaging; rather, the way we have been taught to perceive it is. Soul connection at its most basic isn’t about how many we have or how long they last. The soul doesn’t know male or female, or loving one versus loving five, or romantic versus platonic love. It doesn’t even differentiate cat from tree, or son from place. The soul does not know time. All it knows is fluid, expanding compassion and unconditional love for All Things. When we start applying linear constructs to soul connections and spiritual experiences, the experiences become stagnant. Any thriving wisdom they imparted ceases to evolve and grow.

The Celtic concept of “anam cara” is the most fluid understanding of soul bonding that I’ve learned, the “soul friend,” one who simply by being in form reminds us of infinite connection and moves us in the way of growth when we won’t move ourselves. For that reason soulful bonds often create more challenges for us, rather than less. What I see in that dynamic is our power to create ourselves exactly as we want to be in as many ways as we can comprehend. Within that open comprehension and bond with All That Is, would it not be possible to see anyone as a soulmate, if we allowed it?

We live at a time that the rules for how we come into this plane are changing, if they ever were truly static. Perhaps it is our ability to widen our comprehension of the rules that has changed. Years ago a friend said to me, “When you find truth, pick it up. Inspect it carefully, then put it down and walk away.” Truth, like souls, cannot be held. My outlook has been more fluid since I learned this. I have become my metaphor, and in doing so recognize you more freely.