What It's All About
When love beckons to you, follow him, / Though his ways are
hard and steep. / And when his wings enfold you yield to him, /
Though the sword hidden among his pinions may wound
you. / And when he speaks to you believe in him, / Though his
voice may shatter your dreams as the north wind lays waste the
garden. . . . All these things shall love do unto you that you may
know the secrets of your heart, and in that knowledge become a
fragment of Life's heart.
KAHLIL GIBRAN, THE PROPHET
The One. The love of our life, the fulfillment of our dreams. That glorious person who will set our soul on fire and stoke our passion for life. We get up in the morning to the song of this promise on the radio and lull ourselves to sleep at night with novels and films about two disenchanted people who finally find each other and, in the process, make the world a better place. We hope against hope that one day this will be our story. We long for this connection we've heard about, with all its magic and mystery
and mojo; we want to be lit up and transformed simply by being in the presence of that heaven-sent "one and only." Ah, soul mate love.
The longing to taste this sort of bliss, to partake in this sort of partnership, is deeply ingrained. It is as if our psyches are coded with the desire to overcome our sense of separateness from each other. Finding a partner and thriving together seems to be our central mission, a natural instinct that powers our daily lives and drives us forward. We find ourselves going to nearly any length to have this crazy, wonderful thing called love.
If you have ever had a maddening crush or experienced the marvel of sexual union, you know that the energy is not of this world. It is a miracle that presents itself to you, leaving you feeling blessed and chosen. While falling in love, we sense we are being drawn into something bigger
than ourselves, as if we are being called upon to participate in something important unfolding within and all around us. We can feel ourselves changing as the relationship plunges us headlong into situations that trigger bold realizations and glimpses of enlightenment. When love is in the air, we find ourselves at the center of the universe with all the wheels of creation in full motion.
Suddenly we remember we are meant to lift ourselves up from our denser vibration and become lighter. We are meant to shatter any barriers that keep us from being happy and peaceful. We are meant to become ever more conscious and in turn spark consciousness in those around us. We are meant to touch each other deeply and inspire the next generation of creators and healers. And in this way romantic love—and the search for it—plays its part by stirring us to wakefulness.
Any time you are rocked by romantic love, you are being urged by Providence to open your eyes so that you can expand as a person. When you are silly with infatuation or furious over a missed connection with your lover, you can be sure that this is just part of the curriculum of enlightenment. Such is the call of Spirit to go beyond the limits of our individual egos and unpack some particular aspect of our evolution.
Love can play itself out in so many scenarios (warm and excited conversations, great sex, screaming fights, tumultuous breakups, to name just a few), that it's not always easy to see its underlying message. I believe it is this: You are not successful in love just because you find a partner and stick with them for a lifetime; you are successful in love when it provides you with a way to keep learning about yourself and the world around you, becoming more connected with the Oneness of all of life, so that each experience you have—glorious, sad, or frustrating— becomes a strand in the web of your evolution. How you navigate the ins and outs of love is what gives purpose to your time on earth.
It doesn't matter whether or not you are in a committed relationship at the moment of reading this book. You may be married or you may be looking for a partner; you may be wondering if you are in the right relationship or
you may be trying to make the one you're in more magical. But know this one thing for sure: any and all roads will lead to your spiritual awakening. All that is required is a desire to experience deep and profound love.
What matters most is that which is getting stirred up within you. Each time your buttons are pushed or your lust is ignited, you can be sure your soul is rumbling to give birth to some new level of awareness. The soul mate does you the unwitting service of poking and prodding until you open up. They bring you to your edge—your sense of limitation—and then push you to go farther. Sometimes it's gentle, kind, and generous; but sometimes it's just plain maddening.
Every single interaction, every exchange between you and that significant other has meaning and purpose. The mirror of relationships shows us where we need to grow, and guides us forward. The soul mate relationship— whether it manifests as joyful or heart-rending—is a portal through which we access our spiritual potential.
I believe that the romantic quest is a gateway into heaven, through which we can tap into our true Self. When I say Self with a capital S, I mean the divine within us—who we really are beyond the personality and learned traits that shape our public persona. The Self is our primordial truth; it is our center, our innocence, and our perfection. It is that which is divine in each and every one of us.
This subtle essence of divinity is the infinite and immortal seed of love which Hindu sages call Atman, Christian mystics refer to as Christ Consciousness, Buddhist scholars hold as Buddha Nature, and Judaic tradition calls ruach. This identification with God is our highest potential; it is our actuality that we must ultimately embrace even as we travel through the story of our humanity. It is said that we are all made in God's image, and thus within us is the individualized presence of Spirit, or God. I sometimes refer to God as Spirit because the word Spirit seems less a personification and more the all pervading
All-That-Is. This, our divine heritage, whispers to us to recall that at the inmost part of ourselves we are fundamentally One with God and with everything. Such is the unity consciousness that draws us to one another.
The concept of soul mates has its origins in Greek mythology, according to which human beings were originally born with two heads, four arms, and four legs. When these humans offended the gods, they were split down the middle and condemned to spend eternity searching for their other halves in order to become whole again. Such myths resonate with our own feeling that we have been split off from something essential; perhaps it is the awareness of the divinity within us. Because some of us have lost track of who we are at our core, we feel incomplete, disconnected. And so it is that the quest for soul mate love feels like a religious experience, and in a very
real way, it is: we find our way back to our Oneness with God by learning to connect and discover our union with each other.
Should you choose to be alert to this curriculum, you will come to understand where you need to grow in order to fulfill your spiritual goal. You can then break through the patterns that have held you back from Self-realization (the full integration of one's humanity with one's divinity).
By seeing your mistakes in the mirror of partnership you will learn to correct them. You will become a more loving person by learning to overcome your tendency to judge, control, or cause pain. You will learn to interpret the world using the language of love and thus replace any antipathy with kindness. And even if you don't choose to take an active role in this process, you will still get the lessons you need; you'll just keep getting them over and over again until you take them to heart.
The quest for a soul mate is a narrative we follow that helps us dissolve the boundaries between our individual selves and God. If we can learn to love even one person wholeheartedly and without condition, we will have succeeded in allowing Spirit to be known in and through us. Partnership with a person is a metaphor, or microcosm, for partnership with God. Romantic love is one of many spiritual schools; in it we can learn to embrace, substantiate, and reinvigorate our divine heritage.
As a counselor of personal growth and spirituality, I work with clients using body, mind, and spirit to affect change in their lives. Having seen so many people struggling with their relationships, I've come to realize that the desperation they feel when things aren't going well is in fact an excellent catalyst for delving deeply into their problems in a productive way. It certainly worked that way for me many years ago, when it dawned on me that if I didn't start doing things differently, there was a very real possibility that things could get dangerously worse than they already were. I was in an abusive relationship, running out of money, and in fragile health. I had lost most of my friends and nearly all my self-respect.
Then, by the grace of God, I began running into various spiritual teachers and really worked at taking in their messages for healing. I, in turn, undertook my own program to turn things around. I prayed and meditated. I attended workshops and classes and intensive retreats. I read every self-help book in sight and taped inspirational messages all over my home and car.
And things began to change. Sometimes the shifts were barely perceptible; at other times I was bowled over by the miracles showing up in my life. I was finally able to leave my abusive boyfriend; I started making money doing meaningful work; and my health rebounded. When people commented on the changes in me, I realized that I had intuitively found my way into a process that was highly effective in creating transformation. So I wrote and produced a series of guided meditation CDs and began volunteering my services to any and all who needed them. After a while I went into business helping clients make changes in their lives, and wrote Expect a Miracle: 7 Spiritual Steps for Finding the Right Relationship.
I began to notice a pervasive wistfulness when people talked about relationships: they seemed to pin their hopes on finding and keeping the ideal partner—what is commonly referred to as the One—and it got my wheels turning. Over and over, I would hear the details of struggle in
finding the perfect partner. There was such a deep longing, almost a desperation about the search. I think that longing is what Tibetan Buddhists call the "hungry ghost"; it is the incessant, and sometimes manic, yearning we feel when we search for someone or something to make us feel whole and happy. No matter how hard we try to shape our partners (or potential partners) into an ideal form—or replace them in hopes of something better—the longing remains unsatisfied. And so it will be, until we realize that no other person on earth can fill the void we've created by forgetting the whole of who we are and what we are part of. We are—all of us—extensions and manifestations of Spirit. And until we step up to that holy birthright, we will keep on searching for a soul mate who seems ever beyond our reach.
It became obvious to me that this problem needed to be addressed—it's almost as if the ideas thrust themselves into my mind. I realized that somewhere along the way, we as a society had lost sight of the truth. Instead of finding peace within ourselves, we looked for happiness in the
form of another person, situation, or thing. We would work hard to "get" someone, but then the relationship would "fail." Either the magic seemed to wear off or we never took the chance to commit to a partner because
there might be a better deal just around the corner. Or, saddest of all, we suffered quietly in an unfulfilling marriage, dreaming of what might possibly set us free.
I receive many letters asking me agonizing questions about how to know if this or that partner is the right one, or whether or not sexual attraction is necessary for a happy marriage, or if compromising ideals could cost
someone the love of their life. Most of all, I am asked if there really is someone for everyone. These are not idle musings; these questions haunt us at night when we can't sleep. They shadow us as we go about our daily lives and insist on being considered. The desire for profound love is
painful when we haven't met anyone, and all-consuming once we have and are trying to maintain the fantasy of what love should be.
No matter what the question, this is the answer: we are here in each other's lives to facilitate in one another a higher state of consciousness. We are here to open each other's eyes to God. We don't talk about that; it certainly isn't the spoken goal of most partnerships. But that is what is at play.
The spiritual task underlying romantic partnership is to close the psychic gap between one another and in so doing to close the gap between our humanity and our divinity. As we awaken the highest and most true part of
ourselves and become more God-like, we evolve up through our grosser and more base tendencies into more developed ones. How better to achieve intimacy with our higher nature than to cultivate intimacy with the person who stands before us? You might have assumed that soul mate love was about finding the love of your life and setting up house together—and it is—but you will also come to see that part of the bargain is nothing less than spiritual salvation.
So this book is not about simply keeping the love you find (in fact, keeping a particular relationship might not end up being desirable at all), but about the process of truly experiencing the deep and abiding love we know exists but sometimes feel only in the beginning of the romance. I'm not here to demystify soul mates; I'm here instead to help you discover the very love you've heard about and make it grow and last. The One is indeed waiting for you, it's just a matter of your being able to recognize that person and step up to the plate. The One is that special person, but you are the One as well. By following the process laid out in this book, you will become
the very love you want. You will draw to you the exact match that will speak into your soul's longing. And through it all, you will realize a greater Oneness—the inborn and ever expanding connection with Spirit, or God.
The challenge of finding and keeping a soul mate is the perfect impetus for our metaphysical maturation. Our love relationships bring us face to face with our demons, and we are willing to confront them and learn how to better ourselves because we want so badly to fulfill love's magical promise. It is by using the experiences that arise within the context of partnership—both the joyful and painful ones—that we come to embrace the enormous spiritual capacity that lies within us, making us capable of magnificent
things, not only in the arena of relationships, but in every area of life.
The love relationships we give birth to in our dreams lead us to higher ground. They push us to find out who we are and what we are made of, to awaken to our power, if we choose to do so.
There is only one way to find soulful love, and that is through Spirit. Spirit is where we came from and within Spirit we will continue to journey. The "right relationship" is a bridge connecting us to our highest potential. We are all chosen for love; the question is whether or not we show up to claim it.
May the following pages guide you along the way. May the light of truth illumine your path. And may you know with all your heart and soul the One who awaits you.
From THE ONE: Finding Soul Mate Love and Making It Last by Kathy Freston; May 1, 2006. Reprinted with permission from Miramax Books