Historical usages of the concept
In his dialogue The Symposium, Plato has Aristophanes present a story about soulmates. Aristophanes states that humans originally had four arms, four legs, and a single head made of two faces. He continues that there were three genders: man, woman and the “Androgynous”, each with two sets of genitalia with the Androgynous having both male and female genitalia. The men were children of the sun, the women were children of the earth and the Androgynous were children of the moon, which was born of the sun and earth. It is said that humans had great strength at the time and threatened to conquer the gods. The gods were then faced with the prospect of destroying the humans with lightning as they had done with the Titans but then they would lose the tributes given to the gods by humans. Zeus developed a creative solution by splitting humans in half as punishment for humanity’s pride and doubling the number of humans who would give tribute to the gods. These split humans were in utter misery to the point where they would not eat and would perish so Apollo had sewn them up and reconstituted their bodies with the navel being the only remnant harking back to their original form. Each human would then only have one set of genitalia and would forever long for his/her other half; the other half of his/her soul. It is said that when the two find each other, there is an unspoken understanding of one another, that they feel unified and would lie with each other in unity and would know no greater joy than that.
According to Theosophy, whose claims were modified by Edgar Cayce, God created androgynous souls—equally male and female. Later theories postulate that the souls split into separate genders, perhaps because they incurred karma while playing around on the Earth, or “separation from God.” Over a number of reincarnations, each half seeks the other. When all karmic debt is purged, the two will fuse back together and return to the ultimate.
In current usage, “soulmate” usually refers to a romantic or platonic partner, with the implication of an exclusive lifelong bond. This is to say, the word is used with more rarity than other terms associated with ‘romantic’ or ‘platonic’ partner. It is a very versatile term, being defined differently by different individuals, as it is related to the concept of love. It commonly holds the connotation of being the strongest bond with another person that one can achieve. Soulmate is not used as often as other terms representing the same idea, and this is likely to lead to its perceived rarity in meaning. The definition ranges widely and cannot be pinpointed. It is commonly accepted that one will feel ‘complete’ once they have found their soulmate, as it is partially in the perceived definition that two souls are meant to unite. The term “soulmate” first appeared in the English language in a letter by Samuel Taylor Coleridge in 1822.
New Age concept
According to Mark L. Prophet and Elizabeth Clare Prophet, a soulmate is a separate entity with whom one has spent many lifetimes as a friend, lover, co-worker or partner, and to whom one is usually drawn to fulfill a specific mission. They describe a soulmate as one of many potential spiritual brothers or sisters: “even though there may be a great attraction and bond between soulmates, fundamentally, in the ultimate sense, you could define it more as a brother/sister relationship, even though soulmates have great marriages and a great union of hearts.” According to Mark Prophet: “A soulmate relationship has to do with the seat of the soul chakra, that chakra just above the base … The connection is one of parallel and mutual evolution rather than origin.”
Bashert: Jewish view of soulmates
Bashert (באַשערט) is a Yiddish word that means “destined”. It is often used in the context of one’s divinely foreordained spouse or soulmate, who is called “basherte” (female) or “basherter” (male). It can be used to express the seeming fate or destiny of an auspicious or important event, friendship, or happening.
The idea of basherte or basherter comes from statements found in classical rabbinic literature. A proverb that “marriages are made in heaven” is illustrated by a story in a midrash collection:
A Roman matron, on being told by Rabbi Jose ben Halafta that God arranges all marriages, said that this was an easy matter and boasted that she could do as much herself. Thereupon she assembled her male and female slaves and paired them off in couples; but on the morrow they all went to her with complaints. Then she admitted that divine intervention is necessary to suitable marriages— (Genesis Rabba lxviii. 3-4).
Even God Himself finds it as difficult an undertaking as the dividing of the Red Sea. Forty days before a child is born its mate is determined upon— (Genesis Rabba lxviii 3-4; also Babylonian Talmud, tractates Soṭah 2a; Sanhedrin 22a; comp. M. Ḳ. 18b; “Sefer Hasidim,” § 1128).
In modern usage, Jewish singles will say that they are looking for their bashert, meaning they are looking for that person who will complement them perfectly and whom they will complement perfectly. Since it is considered to have been foreordained by God whom one will marry, one’s spouse is considered to be one’s bashert by definition, independent of whether the couple’s marital life works out well or not.
Some psychologists state that believing that a soulmate exists specifically for a person is an unrealistic expectation.
- Patrick Hanks, ed. (1985). Collins English Dictionary. William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. p. 1390.
- Eddie Chandler (2006-02-01). “Do Soul Mates Exist? – AskMen”. Uk.askmen.com. Retrieved 2015-10-22.
- “The Internet Classics Archive& The Symposium by Plato”. Classics.mit.edu. Retrieved 2012-09-22.
- Krajenke, Robert W. (1972). Suddenly We Were!: a Story of Creation Based on the Edgar Cayce Readings. A.R.E. Press.
- “What is a Twin Flame?”. Soulevolution.org. Retrieved 2007-12-21.
- “Soul mate – Definition and More from the Free Merriam-Webster Dictionary”. Merriam-webster.com. 2012-08-31. Retrieved 2013-08-24.
- “soulmate”. Natural Health Magazine. Retrieved 2013-09-16.
- Elizabeth Clare Prophet, Soulmates and Twin Flames: The Spiritual Dimension of Love and Relationships. Summit University Press, 1998.
- Prophet, Mark and Elizabeth, The Ascended Masters On Soulmates And Twin Flames: Initiation by the Great White Brotherhood: Volume 2. Summit University Press, 1988, pg 87-88.
- Springer, Shauna (2012-07-28). “Soul Mates Do Exist—Just Not In the Way We Usually Think”. Psychology Today. Retrieved 2013-08-24.
- Auzeen, Goal (2012-06-06). “Do Soulmates Exist?”. Psychology Today. Retrieved 2013-08-24.
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