Soul Mates

August 3rd, 2012

 I HAVE been here before,
              But when or how I cannot tell:
          I know the grass beyond the door,
              The sweet keen smell,
    The sighing sound, the lights around the shore.

          You have been mine before,—
              How long ago I may not know:
          But just when at that swallow’s soar
              Your neck turned so,
    Some veil did fall,—I knew it all of yore.

          Has this been thus before?
              And shall not thus time’s eddying flight
          Still with our lives our love restore
              In death’s despite,
    And day and night yield one delight once more?   Daniel Gabriel Rossetti 1854

We hear much about “soul mates”.  But, what are they?  Literature and film would have it that the soul mate is one person, the only “love of your life”, your true other half.

Some are skeptical about all this.  Naomi Cohn, author of “Nick and Norah’s Infinite Play List” says,  “There is no such thing as a soulmate…and who would want there to be? I don’t want half of a shared soul. I want my own damn soul.”  Well, it’s a point of view.  But…as we aren’t alone here on this pretty planet, some of us like company….the right company.  So, exactly what are soul mates,  do they exist, and if they do, are we with them right now? Chances are, yes, you are.

The concept of soul mates is discussed historically and in some religions. Plato talked about them, the Hindu religion refers to them, the word in Yiddish “bashert” means destiny, Theosophy digs into it, and since the 60’s it’s landed soundly as part of our culture, and not always correctly, according to some things I’ve read.   The mainstream idea is that, if we are lucky, we will meet and mate with that “one” soul, and settle into “happily after after” world.  It’s one definition.  But, from what I’ve gathered over the years, I’ve surmised that there are different types of soul mates.

Here are just three….


As were these two, I also think….

Here’s a description of  how this came about in Eastern tradition from the Maharani Rutan,  “According to the ancient scripture of the Gita it was a dialog between God, Krishna. and Rama . God gave Krishna a Divine vision to save mankind and learn peace and love, and Rama was his brother.  This is why Krishna is known as a God of Love because he brings love to many. During the epic dialogs, Krishna and Rama used to argue philosophically a lot so God said to Krishna be on earth and be your brothers soul mate.  And when Krishna asked what is a soul mate.  God said, “Soul mate will be someone that is placed on earth to learn and teach from.”

The broad definition coming from this tradition is that a soul mate can be anyone with which we have a close bond, and who help us recognize important lessons about life, love, and about OUR SELVES.  Some are meant to be life long bonds, some come together to experience something that will move their soul forward.  We see people drifting apart, and we see this as a “failed relationship”.  Not always so!   Have you ever had a relationship that didn’t work, was painful, and had to end?  When the smoke clears, and it usually does clear, and if we’re self aware, we’ll ask ourselves what lessons that person had for us.  Margaret Mead famously said, “I’ve had three successful marriages”.  Each was there for her at a specific time and place, and when she needed that lesson.   I’ve always thought our families of origin, as well as romantic partners, were great teachers for us.  They’re our first relationships, our first experience of love, and they are usually life long.  Family conflict, while painful as hell, is a great teacher.  How we deal with that is up to us, but in the end, they offer us a path to learn, let go, and most importantly teach us to take the lesson, move on, let go, and forgive!


Yoko might have been John’s other half, but Paul was there for the mission.

Are you in a business partnership right now?  Particularly close to a co-worker or project partner?  Do the two (or three) of you feed off each other’s energy and help you move an idea forward? Do you instinctively know what part you bring to the team, and even though there are bumps and grinds and conflicts along the way, does the finished product feel right?  When it does feel right, it feels like a world changer, and sometimes it IS.  Lennon/McCartney?

I’ll talk about my philanthropic work a bit.  I have been fortunate to have run into some amazing mission mates.  One was a woman who brought a cutting edge idea to us about engaging men in preventing relationship violence.  She’s moved on now, but I have no doubt in my mind that she was brought to us for just that  reason. Two of  the documentaries we’ve supported were led by mission mates of mine.  There is a closeness that exceeds the normal colleague bond.  We know it’s a mission, and that’s what brought us together, and each of us brings something to the table.

Mission soul mates can be very different people, and that can make the process tough.  Sometimes, the pair goes their own way, but what they started, be it a business, a project, a work of art, goes on. If the two involved know their own strengths and their own limitations and respect what the other brings, it’s magic.  My brother Ted and I are two vastly different people.  But, I’m absolutely convinced that we are mission soul mates.   In San Francisco, a few months back, I saw a tape of Joe Biden talking about violence prevention and he mentioned “Ted and Cindy”, almost as a team.  We may not see each other for months at a time, but we’re a team, and a team that was meant to be since we showed up in the same family in Iowa 50-0dd years ago.

Now for the real goody bag….


Over 20 years is a long time in Hollywood

According to interviews with both of these two, Kevin Bacon and Kyra Sedgwick just knew that they were meant to be together.  They could be what is now called “twin souls”.  According to Sufi teachings, twin souls are like two Roman rings interlocking with each other, impossible to pull apart.  If you are a believer in many lifetimes, it is said that the two might experience many lifetimes, together and apart, until they arrive at a true twin soul bonding.

How do you know when you’ve met that person?  It might be like the famous line in Jerry Maguire, ” You had me at hello.”  We’ve all had love at first sight.  But, these delicious pairings are for life.  Doubts fly out the window, and there is a deep inner knowing that tells you this is the right one.  Trials and challenges will not break you up, you come back stronger.  Infidelity is rare, as you are no longer searching.  Most important, these relationships make us feel BETTER about ourselves, not worse.  They inspire us, they can improve our productivity, and they motivate us to be better people, to each other, to ourselves, and to our world.  Sometimes, twin souls come from vastly different backgrounds, races, cultures and social class.  They may be heterosexual pairs or same sex.  No matter.  They will happen if they are meant to be.

Perhaps the most beautiful tribute I ever read, to this kind of soul mate was written by Nobel Prize winning biochemist Kary Mullis to his wife Nancy, in his dedication to his book, “Dancing Naked in the Mind Field”.

Here it is.

Jean Paul Sartre somewhere observed that each of us make our own hell out of the people around us.  Had Jean Paul known Nancy, he may have noted that at least one man, someday might get very lucky, and make his own heaven out of the people around him.  She will be his morning and his evening star, shining with the brightest and softest light in his heaven.  She will be the end of his wanderings, and their love will arouse the daffodils in the spring to follow the crocuses and proceed the irises.  Their faith in one another will be deeper than time and their eternal spirit will be seamless once again.

Or maybe he just would have said,  “If I’d had a woman like that, my books wouldn’t be about despair.”

This book is not about despair.  It’s about a little bit about a lot of things, and if not a single one of them is wet with sadness, it is not due to my lack of depth; it is due to a year of Nancy, and the prospect of never again being without her.       Kary Mullis, “Dancing Naked in the Mind Field”. 1998

Here’s to many years with our soul mates, each and every one.


Comments (15)