When people often think about a soul mate, they imagine an individual who will complete their lives:
A soul mate will counteract your weaknesses with their strengths... you will fit together perfectly, complement one another and the relationship will fall into place with little or no effort.
It's not surprising that this ideology exists; the media has done a fantastic job of fuelling the notion of meeting 'the one, your soul mate' and living happily ever after. While the concept serves it purpose well in Hollywood & Bollywood movies, does it really do you any justice in the real world whilst searching for your life partner? Furthermore, where did the idea of a soul mate actually originate from? Hallmark? Movie producers? Fairytales? Or is there some real depth and meaning behind it that has been lost in translation, or warped into what is today a means for commercial entertainment?
Not surprisingly, I quickly discovered that there are a number of theories on the origin of soul mates. Some date as far back as circa 385-380, ranging to new age theorists in the modern era, who have a plethora of their own ideas about this concept...
According to the Greek Philosopher Plato (c. 385–380 BC) there were three types of human beings: men, women and humans that represented both genders as an individual (androgynies) – so a person was made up of both a man & women with two heads, four arms, four legs etc. The gods started fearing that the androgynies were getting arrogant, strong & powerful and could overthrow them at anytime. After much debate, the Olympian God Zeus decided that rather than annihilate this race, he would split them in half, to reduce their strength & power. He then went one step further and dispersed these men & women across the globe, condemning them to a lifetime of searching for their other half in order to feel whole again. It’s an interesting theory and certainly fits in with the whole idea of feeling complete once you meet 'the one'. It also has a 'karmic' feel to it. The androgynies were being punished for not paying respect and homage to the gods – their creators – without whom they would not exist.
New age theorists believe that our soul mates (note plural) are connected through karma and reincarnation. These theories are based upon the premise that each time we are incarnated, we experience soul mate relationships when both people help one another to achieve a higher level of soul evolution. The objective is to reach perfection and union with God. However, this can take several lifetimes to achieve. Furthermore, a soul mate relationship can be with someone other than your partner – a friend, a parent or even a work colleague. Essentially, you can share a soul mate relationship with anyone that you have a strong emotional bond with, whereby both individuals are aiding each others’ spiritual growth. To add a further twist to this, let’s say you’re sharing a soul mate relationship with your friend in this lifetime, it's believed that they could have been your spouse or lover in a previous lifetime. In this lifetime they have come back to reconnect with you as you still have much learning to do from one another and, or to heal past wounds from experiences shared in a previous life.
So, in a nutshell, the purpose of a soul mate relationship is to help your soul evolve to a higher plane in each lifetime to bring you closer to God. You achieve this through personal growth lessons experienced through your soul mate relationships. Perhaps what’s most interesting here, and what shatters the romanticism surrounding soul mates, is that it is not restricted to one person, or even a lover, over the period of your lifetime.
Of course all these theories are subjective and open to interpretation, but certainly give you food for thought. As a Hindu, I can relate to reincarnation and past life karma being brought into your current life experiences and relationships. But, for me, the lesson that stood out the most was that if you want a ‘soul mate relationship’ with a life partner, you need to find someone who can assist your soul's development, while you contribute to their personal development. This certainly goes against the romantic notion of soul mates and what we are led to believe from the media - a soul mate is a person with whom you will fit together with perfectly. But if we think about it logically, this form of interaction within a relationship is, in fact, common sense. After all, what is the outcome of a relationship in which two individuals aren't contributing to each other's growth? They'll get bored, find themselves communicating less, trying to seek this growth outside of the relationship, and soon enough, these relationships end. So, perhaps it’s time to stop waiting for 'the one' who is going to make up for your shortcomings but start focusing on 'the one' with whom, hand-in-hand, you’re going to experience a journey of soul evolution.
I’ll leave you with a final quote from Elizabeth Gilbert (an American author & journalist):
"People think a soul mate is your perfect fit, and that's what everyone wants. But a true soul mate is a mirror, the person who shows you everything that is holding you back, the person who brings you to your own attention so you can change your life."