I imagine those reading about Karen and I, how we came together and something about our relationship, will have ideas, or at least wonder, about the spiritual nature of our relationship. This is, of course, especially so in the context of the widespread and sometimes differing notions about the realm of spiritual relationships, partnerships and companions, from popular ones like ‘soulmates’ or ‘twin souls’, to others less well-known perspectives.
In this appendix I would like to explore some of the perspectives in order to share something more about how Karen and I experience the meaning and nature of our relationship using the context of an overview of various perspectives on spiritual marriages and partnerships that we have encountered. I have drawn examples and views from several sources that I have chosen because they resonate in some way or another with our experience of the nature of our relationship, or to round out the exploration further with examples of types that have similar elements but are not significantly the same.
Naturally Karen and I feel a special bond between us, a deep spiritual connection with various levels. Over the years we have encountered a number of perspectives about spiritual partnerships of this sort. In our experience these different perspectives at times reflect different interpretations of the same reality, and at other times they are describing different types of relationships between two or more souls.
To clarify some of these perspectives I will explore three main categories of spiritual partnerships as a way to explore both the theme of spiritual partnerships and relationships in general, as well as our own relationship in particular. At the same time, there is an ongoing sense of mystery and depth to our bond that persists in spite of an ongoing deepening of understanding, so I want to also stress that this is not a final or complete perspective, but also an unfolding exploration. Also, there are experiences shared in this autobiography that further indicate dimensions of our experience of our relationship that go beyond the general ideas explore here in this appendix.
Although this is a theme with considerable depth, and to our view one that there is still much to learn about in our world at this stage, I will attempt to simplify the topic by distinguishing spiritual companions and relationships into three main types. These are soul friends and colleagues; spiritual families or soul groups; and ‘twin souls’.
In many ways these types of relationships are simply spiritual parallels to ordinary human relationships such as friends and work colleagues, various dimensions of family relationships, and spouses, respectively. Since we each have a deeper, spiritual self or soul that endures beyond this current human incarnation, it makes sense that we also may have various types of relationships that mirror on a deeper level, and often over a larger period of time, the same types of relationships in a spiritual context. And naturally, it is common for us to know in various ways in the human world different souls with whom we have these deeper connections.
Soul Friends and Colleagues
Naturally there are many types of relationships that share a deep bond based on spiritual values, activities or other connections. In our discussion here we are not including all the many forms of spiritual connections that we find such as teacher/student, colleagues, parent/child, and others that can form from, or develop, a deep spiritual connection. We are primarily exploring those that emphasize a type that may include a romantic aspect, a marriage or some related component of a primary paring and partnership, even if the relationship is platonic or does not include marriage.
The first common notion of a strong spiritual partnership, especially when involving marriage, is simply the idea that the two people have a particularly deep connection. This is often understood to be for reasons that can include a past incarnational history of relationship with each other, or of simply having strongly shared values, or important similarities and complementarities, and so on. Sometimes the popular term ‘soulmates’ is used in this way. It simply means two souls that share a considerably stronger bond with each other than they do with most other people.
This view of a spiritual companion or soulmate often includes the notion that there are, for each person, many people in the world that could be experienced in this way. In other words, one can have more than one soulmate of this type.
Another type of spiritual partner could be considered a version of this type of relationship. This is one in which a specific spiritual relationship is entered into intentionally and particularly for the purpose of a mutually supportive path of spiritual growth or service. This is perhaps the most fundamental meaning of this type of this first type of spiritual partnership – when the two individuals share spiritual values and enter the relationship in order to, at least in part, support each other on the spiritual path. Or they may awaken to this meaning of the relationship together sometime after they come together and form a couple.
But there are a couple of variations of this sort of partnership that I have encountered. One is the notion of instances when a spiritual union is specially formed, sometimes initiated by the two individuals involved, and sometimes by the suggestion of others. Examples of this type are relationships in tantric traditions, such as in Hinduism and Tibetan Vajrayana Buddhism. In these traditions it is sometimes held to be a great value for a practitioner to be partnered with another person for some kind of spiritual benefit. For instance, in Tibetan Buddhism, this can be to increase the longevity of one or both individuals, or for the partners to engage in physical and/or subtle sexual practices that serve to enhance their spiritual development.
This is reflected in the yab-yum (‘father-mother’) symbolism often found in Hindu and Buddhist tantric imagery, such as sculpture and mandalas, where the partners are portrayed in sexual embrace. There are many levels of meaning in this vision of sexual union, which can take the form of spiritual practices employed for the cultivation of this union. Some of these practices are purely internal and involve the meditative union of inner masculine and feminine principles or energies, and other combine meditative practice with outer practices involving physical sexual union.
In Tibetan Buddhism the feminine consort, the female participant in these tantric practices, is sometimes referred to as a ‘khadro’ or ‘dakini’. Her presence to the male practitioner may be only in the subtle worlds, or she may come into his life as a female in some form such as a partner, wife or purely a mutual practitioner. There are many ways that the dakini principle may enter the life of a practitioner (and the male equivalent, sometimes called daka, can also enter the life a female practitioner), invariably to signal or initiate a new stage of spiritual practice. In fact, it is a common belief in certain traditions that some stages of enlightenment are not possible to attain without the physical or subtle presence of a spiritual partner or consort.
There is now a growing literature in the West exploring these aspects of Tibetan Buddhism. A good, though more scholarly, treatment can be found in Dakini’s Warm Breath: The Feminine Principle in Tibetan Buddhism, by Judith Simmer-Brown. Parallel ideas and practices can be found in Hindu tantra, as well as in other traditions such as Taoism.
As we will see, this type of spiritual partnership does not seem to fully exhaust the significance that Karen and I experience in our union. But we have found a great deal of important parallels for us in these traditions, especially Tibetan Buddhism. This would certainly make sense, both from the angle of the universal, archetype quality of these teachings, but also because both Karen and I have a strong sense of connection to Tibetan Buddhism, going beyond one or two incarnations, some as recently as in the last century or so.
As part of the process of how Karen and I came together, and also very strongly in the immediate aftermath, we were flooded with tantric phenomena, visions, energies and intuitions. For instance, in the Tibetan tantric path the energies of our ordinary human nature need not be renounced in the process of our awakening, but rather are transformed like a fuel that feeds our spiritual fire. Immediately in the first few years after our inner marriage, we were inundated with this understanding, feeling strongly that the body and our desires need not be rejected or simply ‘let go of’. Although we had not yet read or encountered Tibetan tantric teachings, we seemed to strongly and innately understand and resonate with these perspectives.
This approach to sexuality (and to life in general) is not simply a falling back into embracing desires and dualistic consciousness. Instead it is one of bringing an inner spiritual presence to ordinary life, the body, desires, emotions – including sexuality – and using all these dimensions of our human nature in our spiritual awakening. Our human life and experience is transformed rather than simply renounced or detached from as in many traditional paths.
Many of Karen’s experiences that arose spontaneously, especially during the period of our coming together, we later found reference to in some form or another in Tibetan tantric teachings (and other traditions as well). For instance, on several occasions (then and since) Karen saw an unusual inner symbolic language that was primarily visual and that she could understand intuitively. This seems to be related to what the Tibetans and Hindus call a ‘twilight language’ (sandha-bhasa), which is known to the dakinis. Also, the reader will remember the spiral dances that Karen (and I internally) would enter into spontaneously in Karen’s inner visions and travels. In Tsultrm Allione’s Women of Wisdom, she shares that it is said that the great yogini Marchig Lapdron ‘raised her body several feet from the ground and began doing the twenty-four dances of the peaceful dakini’(1). In the corresponding footnote she further says, “According to Professor Namkai Norbu this actually sometimes happens at the point in the initiation because the energy that enters from the guru and the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas activates the internal energy of the initiate. These dances are the movements of enlightened energy…”(2). Karen’s visions, of course, were internal, but seemed to have expressed this same kind of tantric dance experience, stimulate by the flow of powerful energies of initiation.
Emphasizing the impact of a dakini entering the life of a male practitioner, Allione writes, “dakinis transmit directly through life experiences rather than through complex philosophical arguments. The dakini often makes her first appearance when the practitioner is making their transition from an intellectual approach to an experiential approach” (3). And, “living with a wisdom dakini brings intuitive insights in daily life situations” (4). In my case, I was certainly already on my way to a more intuitive, experiential mode of experience at the time we met. But my initiatory cycle during the time of our meeting, and our union and embarking on a life path together, was a decisively powerful doorway, accelerating this process considerably. And there is no doubt that part of what Karen brought into my life was a more ‘ordinary life’ experience of the spiritual path, with daily life situations forming the foundation of practice, including marriage and raising children. Until that time, though daily life practice was part of my path, the emphasis and direction were much more towards meditation, study and teaching. After we met, my life quickly changed in the direction of a greater focus on family life and a spirituality of daily life, though, of course, our meditation practice continued to remain strong.
This was not part of my conscious life plan before Karen arrived. From my side, I did not intend to have a family at that point in my life, nor to have the focus of my spiritual practice be married life, work and raising a family. My encounter with Karen, facilitated by our inner lineage, and my embrace of the opportunity presented, powerfully initiated a new direction in my life. And Karen, from her side, also experienced a radical change in life direction through her relationship to me and also the life events and direction our marriage set in motion.
But Karen’s influence on me extended to the subtle and consciousness dimensions as well, as did mine for her. It is not just that Karen initiated me more deeply into the realm of feeling, daily life and embodiment, but also the fuller richness of the spirituality of the feminine, including kundalini, and the world of Nature and the Spirit and Intelligences of the Earth.
Although the description above from the Tibetan tradition emphasizes the value of this type of relationship for the male practitioner, the reverse is also true for male ‘daka’ and their impact on female practitioners. For Karen and me our union serves our mutual spiritual awakening as bodhisattvas. We each support and empower each other’s unfoldment and dharma. The parallels of our own experience and what we have found in Tibetan Buddhist teachings are numerous. But that is too much to explore here.
Another interesting version of spiritual partnership from Buddhism comes from the Theravada Buddhist tradition. We first learned of this in a book about the great 20th century master Acariya Mun called Venerable Acariya Mun Bhuridatta Thera. Acariya Mun was a well known and highly revered Thai Buddhist monk and teacher. The author shares that during meditation Acariya Mun remembered that in an ancient past life he decided to embrace the path of bodhisattvahood, requiring that he renounce attainment of final nirvana and engage in numerous rebirths in order to perfect his spiritual development as the path to attain full Buddhahood (samyak sambuddha). In order to do this, he shared that it was necessary to also engage in a spiritual partnership. This partnership is described in the endnotes to the book as:
“Spiritual partner. Literally, “one’s partner in developing the spiritual perfections (parami). (Paramis, paramitas in Sanskrit, are qualities cultivated on the path of bodhisattvahood).
Most living beings have an individual, usually of the opposite sex, with whom they have maintained an intimate, personal relationship spanning countless lifetimes over eons of existence. Life after life, those couples who share a deep spiritual commitment will reconnect and renew their relationship, assisting each other to develop one or another aspect of spiritual perfection. Such a devoted companion is considered to be essential for the eons-long quest to become a fully-enlightened Buddha, as Gautama Buddha’s own story illustrates:
In a past eon of the world, as a forest-dwelling ascetic named Sumedha, he threw himself at the feet of an earlier Buddha, Dipankara, and resolved to become a Buddha himself in the future. As he made this vow, a young woman bearing incense and flowers stepped forth joyously to congratulate him. He immediately rejected her support, saying that as a forest-dwelling ascetic he was determined to live alone. Dipankara then cautioned the young ascetic, telling him that every aspirant to Buddhahood had a spiritual companion (pada-paricarika) who was his inseparable partner throughout the long, arduous journey to perfection. After that, through countless lives, the Bodhisattva and his spiritual partner labored and sacrificed together for the benefit of other living beings as they traveled the Path of Awakening.” (5)
It is said that in the case of Gautama Buddha, his spiritual partner was his wife in that incarnation, Yasodhara, whom he left in his quest for awakening, but whom he later helped in her attainment of arhatship or liberation. Earlier in the same book Acariya Mun says, “Take the case of the Lord Buddha and his former spouse, Yasodhara…for many ages they had jointly developed goodness of all kinds” (followed the path of bodhisattvahood together developing the Paramitas or qualities of the bodhisattva).
This point of view within Buddhism, at least for Acariya Mun, seems to have two aspects. One is the view stated at first that ‘most living beings’ have a primary partner who they often grow with over many lifetimes. This is perhaps one meaning of this kind of special relationship – one with whom there is an especially or uniquely deep bond or partnership. But the description goes on to suggest that at least some schools of thought within Buddhism believe that to follow the path of bodhisattvahood to full enlightenment, it is preferable or even essential to form such a partnership. This special type of connection with one other person, a unique soulmate, we will explore further in the section of the third type of spiritual companion.
Incidentally, Acariya Mun said that he, too, had taken this vow in the distant past. Interestingly, according to the author who was a close student of Mun’s, Mun had shared with his students that at some point in that life, upon remembering his ancient vow both to become a bodhisattva (embracing the path to Full Buddhahood), and to share this path over many lives with another soul as spiritual companions, he changed his mind. After many years of practice, and, indeed, many lifetimes of practice as a bodhisattva, Acariya Mun decided that “he did not wish to be born again”, prolonging his liberation and experiencing the difficulties of future births and suffering. So he renounced both his vow of bodhisattvahood and his related vow to his spiritual partner and went on to achieve Arhatship and final nirvana on his own in that lifetime.
Acariya Mun’s story is interesting, but for us the more resonant point is that his biography discusses the Buddhist notion of the pada-paricarika or spiritual companion, a concept from early Buddhism that does not appear to be commonly talked about. In fact, it may be that this interpretation of the spiritual partner is more unique to Acariya Mun, as far as the Theravada tradition is concerned. Nevertheless, this seems to be a particularly deep version of this first type of spiritual partnership wherein two individuals, by their own choice, vow to share a long, multi-incarnational journey to profound spiritual awakening, a goal that some suggest even requires the support of a companion soul.
Karen and I certainly share very many elements of this vision. We also strongly identify with the path of bodhisattvahood and having experienced that we were brought together by our lineage, in part, because our relationship is essential to our path and work.
Spiritual Families or Soul Groups
The essence of the first type of relationship is that it is based on some kind of developed affinity such as past life experiences (and karma), similarities of values, philosophy and character traits, and so on. This second perspective of spiritual partnership is based on a view found in different forms that there is some kind of underlying reason why some souls have stronger relationships with each other. For instance, in Tibetan Buddhism there is the teaching of The Five Buddha Families or Five Tathagatas. This is an understanding of five fundamental expressions of enlightenment that have many manifestations, including a typing system wherein each person can be understood as being affiliated more with one of these five different qualities or principles. In other systems similar ideas might be organized around different numbers of principles, an especially common one being seven types or Buddha Families, such as based on the seven chakras, seven rays and similar archetypes.
The notion arising from this is that people who are soulmates or naturally good fits for spiritual partnership might be so due to being part of the same spiritual family, the same soul group. These affiliations may have already existed before the individual began their cycle of human incarnations, rather than arising over time as a result of numerous incarnational experiences, and so may have been a strong or inevitable causal factor in determining with whom a given individual would have an especially strong connection. It is essentially the idea that each individual has a strong affinity especially with those who share the same ‘spiritual genes’, something established long ago.
An example of this view was held by the 20th century Christian mystic Stylianos Atteshlis, also know as Daskalos (for more about Daskalos, see chapter 20) who believed that the essence of every human being, their spiritual Self or ‘monad’, was ultimately emanated from a parent being or Holy Monad (6). This Super-Intelligence, which Daskalos viewed as a cosmic being individualized within the Absolute, emanates countless ‘monadic rays’ or Spirits like a kind of ‘Oversoul’, each becoming spiritual beings of different sorts, some of which become human beings. Daskalos believed that there were countless Holy Monads or cosmic Intelligences that each emanated innumerable monadic or spiritual essences.
In the case of two human beings that have been emanated by the same Holy Monad, for instance, they would have a special affinity and would be drawn into incarnation with each other more often than with other souls from different Holy Monads. As such, though they may go through many phases during their human incarnations, their spiritual destiny on Earth would inevitably be worked out most strongly in relationship with these other soulmates from the same Holy Monad, those of the same spiritual family.
This idea of underlying spiritual families that is often found in one form or another in other teachings and traditions, including the idea of the Five Buddha Families of Buddhism. Karen and I also feel a resonance with this type of understanding, though we experience a stronger connection to the understanding of their being ‘Seven Buddha Families’, each with their own numerous sub-divisions. So, in this second view of spiritual partners, it is not only that those who are potential soulmates have a history that makes them compatible (as in the first perspective described above), but they also can share a deep archetypal source and nature that establishes an innate and ancient connection, leading to inevitably strong bonds at the human level as well, though at any given point in time the relationship karma may be just as negative as positive.
Another type of spiritual relationship between individuals takes this second type a step further in holding the view that there is a type of bond wherein there is only one soulmate for each person. This view is frequently based on the idea that at some level of their spiritual nature each soulmate pair was originally one being that underwent a separation, at the relative level, at some point in time. In the viewpoint of some, there are both soulmates, which are various souls with whom one has a particularly strong connection (as indicated in one or both of the previous two types of relationships), and also twin souls, a name (or similar terms) used to distinguish this third type of spiritual relationship in which there is only one other being of this type for each person.
In tantric cosmologies, including those from other cultures that do not go by that name, the whole universe is seen as an expression of the cosmic dance of relationship between two universal principles, and their personifications, in Hinduism called Shiva (masculine) and Shakti (feminine). For some, the soulmate idea is viewed or experienced as a microcosmic reflection of this macrocosmic truth. In this view, the culmination of enlightenment is experienced not only as a union of these principles within oneself, the inner Shiva and Shakti, but also outwardly as an expression of a dance of relationship between a male/female pair that express both serving and revealing this spiritual realization in their mutual awakening.
At this point the idea of soulmates or spiritual partners parallels the general tantric notions of enlightenment found in one form or another in tantric traditions, though these traditions contain many variations of interpretation and approaches to practice. But this third perspective, that of twin souls, add another dimension to the notion of soulmates. This third view of spiritual partners is often based on the notion that these beings were originally one soul, and that each pair will inevitably spiritually ‘marry’ in some way, whether in the physical world or in another dimension, as part of their ongoing mutual path to awakening and wholeness.
The perspective shared from Theravada Buddhist sources above comes close to this view with statements like, “Such a devoted companion is considered to be essential for the eons-long quest to become a fully-enlightened Buddha”, and especially, “Most living beings have an individual, usually of the opposite sex, with whom they have maintained an intimate, personal relationship spanning countless lifetimes over eons of existence”. Why it is believed, in this third view of spiritual companions, only one soulmate for each person may vary from one source to another, though the notion of having been originally one soul or essence is common. But, broadly defined, we could include the Buddhist notion of the pada-paricarika in this category as well.
Of course, the notion of various forms of spiritual marriage, partnership, or even eternal relationship, is an ancient one. Plato, in the Symposium, described a cosmology of human origins that suggested this perspective that pairs of human beings were once a single being and were separated into two parts that now long to be reunited. This type of myth of human nature and genesis in found in other ancient cultures and cosmologies as well. Another interesting aspect of Plato’s view of twin souls is that he said that the original souls, before being divided into a masculine and feminine aspect, were previously of three types. These originally unified souls were either masculine, feminine or androgynous. Apparently in Plato’s view, although each pair contained a masculine and a feminine part, their overall leaning as a united pair could still be masculine, feminine or balanced. Perhaps this view leaves room for the perspective that, at least at times, gay and lesbian relationships can also reflect an inner form of twin soul connection, not just heterosexual relationships.
Just as for Plato ‘soulmates’ were originally one being that were later separated into two, Daskalos held a similar view. Daskalos was not only widely respected for his wisdom and character but was also unusually psychic and intuitive. One of his more unusual traits was that he talked of not only having complete recall of his numerous past lives, but of the experience of having come into incarnation in his life as Daskalos without loosing awareness of his deeper spiritual identity, including memory of all his previous births. He says that he did not at some point in his life ‘remember’ past lives, but simple remained in touch with that level of his nature that had full remembrance of his past, even throughout the process of rebirth.
I mention his case because in a book about him called Homage to the Sun, the author Markides says that Daskalos had told him repeatedly that Daskalos and one of his close male associates, called in the book Iacavos, were ‘twin souls’ (7). His experience was that one was more emotional and the other more intellectual, and that they were destined to be united when they attained ‘Theosis’ (defined by Daskalos as God-consciousness). Daskalos further said that in their case they had known each other in over twenty different incarnations (8). Perhaps Daskalos and Iacavos are examples of the type of twin souls who Plato described as having originally been masculine in nature.
Daskalos, at least in this context, did not say whether or not he believed or experienced that he and Iacavos were originally one soul or individuality that split into two at some point in past, as Plato suggested. But he did believe that they would merge upon attaining Theosis of God-Consciousness, though not simply through loosing their individuality in merging together in God-consciousness, but rather through becoming one soul again in Theosis while retaining individuality, now as one being.
Another version of this view is found in the Zohar, the central text of the Jewish Kaballah. The Zohar states that, “each soul and spirit prior to its entering into this world, consists of a male and female united into one being. When it descends on this earth the two parts separate and animate two different bodies. At the time of marriage, the Holy One, blessed be He, who knows all souls and spirits, unites them again as they were before, and they again constitute one body and one soul, forming as it were the right and left of one individual.” (9)
Another interesting source on the theme of spiritual partners or ‘soulmates’ is the modern Christian mystic Lorna Byrne. A primary theme of Lorna’s life experience is her extensive interaction, from a very young age, with angels and archangels. She describes in her books and talks that she has seen angels since she was born, daily communicating with them, often entering visionary states initiated by her angelic guides. The angels not only guide her spiritual practice and life work, but also teach her about a wide range of spiritual subjects. Among the various topics the angels have discussed with Lorna is the theme of soulmates.
Lorna is a very shy and sensitive person who has no education past the age of fourteen, and, due to learning disabilities, reads almost not at all. She shares her experiences in very simple language, which, in part, reflect the simple style that the angels use in teaching her. The following are a few quotes from Lorna’s books about this theme, which offer another complimentary perspective from the point of view of the archangels she is in contact with.
Some of the beings Lorna receives her teachings from include classic Archangels like Michael or Gabriel, as well as many others, some of which are not traditionally known. The quality of her communication with various sorts of non-physical beings is, in my estimation, unusually clear and authentic. In her book Love from Heaven Lorna shares that the angels have shown her that, “We each have a soulmate, a soul we knew in heaven and have a special connection with, but in most cases this person is not our romantic partner, and you will not necessarily even meet.”(10) The angels have also shared with her their view that it is a problem to have unrealistic expectations of romantic love, and that we should especially be careful not to focus on a search for our soulmate, or in any way to foster an over-idealized version of a romantic or marriage partner.
I agree that it is important to be careful not to embrace the idea of soulmates as another way to foster personal desires, allowing the notion to simply become another form of attachment to romantic love. Too often we find that people who nurture the notion of soulmates tend to project an idealized belief that the meaning of a soulmate is someone with whom one will have effortless harmony and a profound fulfillment of their personal desires. This is not really the true meaning of a soulmate or twin soul relationship, though it can be experienced sometimes in this way to a limited degree. Great love does exist between such spiritual partners on the soul plane and often on the human level, though in any given life it may be obscured by unresolved issues and obstructions. But the relationship between spiritual companions is also a manifestation of a spirit of mutual initiation. Part of the deeper reality of soulmates is that they represent the marriage of opposites, which from the point of view of ordinary human nature is actually a very challenging, fiery and transformative process. Subsequently, a relationship with one’s soulmate can just as much be a deeply challenging experience, offering opportunity for exposing our deepest attachments, aversions and misunderstandings. When these are embraced in a spirit of surrender, healing and transformation, this process is a powerful opportunity for awakening and service.
In her book A Message of Hope, Lorna continues, “Very few people marry their soulmates. We all have a soulmate, a soul we met in Heaven before we were born, and with whom we have a deep spiritual connection. I believe we have only one soulmate, but I don’t know why God created soulmates. In my whole life I have only met two couples who were soulmates. I loved my husband, Joe, but I know that he wasn’t my soulmate” (11).
In the same book Lorna also makes reference to a phrase the angels used on many occasions – “a marriage made in heaven”, but probably relates also to other relationships that are not necessarily with one’s ‘twin soul’. This reference also emphasizes the role that Spirit sometimes plays in bringing two souls together (12).
Although Lorna’s teachings have a wonderful directness and simplicity, they are obviously not a complete picture either of the fullness of this subject. But they do, I feel, add some interesting elements to a larger picture of both the nature of spiritual partners and the importance of having some proper perspective about what it means. And as one might expect, she shares that it is also important to understand that even if one does meet one’s soulmate, and this results in a spiritual marriage or partnership, one should not expect a perfect partner or even an easy and completely harmonious relationship.
Perhaps in line with what the angels named for Lorna “a marriage made in heaven”, there is another interesting reference to spiritual companions from a book of letters collected and published in the early 20th century. This small book is called Letters from the Masters of the Wisdom, by C. Jinarajadasa, in which a rather rare example of a letter appears that was written by a great master who lived in the 19th century. He was known by the name Serapis Bey, and lived at that time in Luxor, Egypt, being the head of a hidden order of spiritual adepts who were part of the larger network of hidden Great Ones that I talked about briefly in Appendix One. This master was apparently a profound adept not only of Esoteric Christian/Coptic teachings, but also of Asian traditions, most notably Buddhism. He was the Great One who raised my kundalini in the experience I shared in chapter five. One of his students received a letter from him in the 1870s, that included the following lines, “Know that where a truly spiritual love seeks to consolidate itself doubly (become both spiritual and physical) by a pure, permanent union of the two, in its earthly sense, it commits no sin, no crime in the eyes of the great Ain-Soph, for it is but the divine repetition of the Male and Female Principles – the microcosmal reflections of the first condition of Creation. On such a union angels may well smile! But they are rare, Brother mine, and can only be created under the wise and loving supervision of the Lodge (lineage of Great Ones)… But even such must suffer before they are rewarded” (13).
We see that the notion of spiritual partners, soulmates, companions and the like are found in many religious and spiritual traditions and philosophies. And though there are many perspectives on this theme, they can be categorized into a few basic versions or understandings as identified above. It is our sense that all three of these perspectives are true. In other words, there are various types of connections that can generally lead to the experience of having a close spiritual bond or partnership with another person, including those that might, at least at times, take the form of a human marriage in the physical world.
But the form that we resonate with most is this third type – two souls that had originally been one being. For us this type of spiritual partner or companion had elements of some of the other types we discussed, such as the relationships described as spiritual companions in Buddhism, tantric partners in Vajrayana Buddhism, and so on. Although there is more to the story of our own union, for Karen and me our marriage in this life expresses a turning point in our process of reintegration, or spiritual marriage. This is part of the reason why Karen experienced three marriage ceremonies wherein we were not only joined in a human physical union, but also on the levels of soul (‘higher mind’) and Spirit. Although it is perhaps true that these unions are not common, as Lorna says she was told by her angelic teachers, there are several examples that we feel are likely examples of other ‘twin soul’ partnerships or relationships, though I am sure there are many other examples.
One of these is the relationship between Daskalos and an associate who in the books by Markides is called Iacavos. Daskalos himself expressed the view that he and Iacavos were ‘twin souls’. Another is the well-known example of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother. I believe that they also characterized their relationship in a somewhat similar fashion. Another likely example is Sri Guru Babaji (also called Mahavatar Babaji by Yogananda) and his ‘sister’ Sri Devi, or Mataji. All three of these seem to be likely examples of a close spiritual partnership based on a ‘twin soul’ type of connection that in these cases didn’t happen to be manifest as a sexual or marriage relationships. Naturally, such partnerships can take many forms in different lives, including a traditional marriage.
Based on our own experiences and the teachings from various traditions, I feel it is also possible to have an experience of such a union when only one of the two is in physical incarnation at a given time, though to manifest the fullest potential for enlightenment in each individual I suspect it is necessary to have both individuals in physical bodies at the same time. Subsequently it is believed in some traditions, such in the tantric schools of Hinduism and Buddhism, that great masters who were often renunciates nonetheless have spiritual partners or ‘consorts’ on higher planes who may or may not have been in incarnation with them during particular lifetimes.
In the case of the Buddha, it is believed by some that Yasodhara was his primary spiritual partner, though I have not heard the nature of this relationship explicitly described in the Buddhist literature as a form of ‘twin souls’ (or those who were originally one soul). Karen and I feel this is true for us, as we have had experiences of remembering being a single spiritual being existing in more formless dimensions prior to the formation of two human souls expressing a basic masculine and feminine manifestation of one being. But perhaps this is not true of all beings. I have never personally had a clear intuitive insight or experience concerning whether this is true or not for all human souls. But some of the sources referenced above do seem to think so (Plato, Daskalos and the Zohar, for instance), which I suspect is true as well.
A Vision of Himalayan Bodhisattvas
One of my own visionary states that seems to strongly support this view is one that also happened in the 1980s. During a moment when I was spending time with Karen I entered a visionary state in which I was suddenly overwhelmed with a feeling of identification with the Himalayan mountain range and with the presence and consciousness of innumerable souls who lived and practiced there. I was especially aware of those who could be called bodhisattvas, whether they were Buddhist or not, for the Himalayas are home to yogis and sages of several traditions and nationalities.
Identified with the collective presence of these beings, now and historically, I was filled with a vast sense of their compassion for humanity and all beings, a compassion that, for advanced bodhisattvas, was the primary motivation for their presence in the world. At the same time, I was aware of what felt like a deep ‘secret’. This was the realization that, contained within, and in some mysterious way inseparable from, their compassionate desire to serve all beings, was a primarily unrecognized urge to find and become one with their ‘other’, their spiritual partner. This felt like a ‘secret’ because my powerful sense was that, at this point in the unfoldment of the Dharma or enlightenment on our planet, and in spite of the Buddhism of the region embracing tantric teachings and practices, it was still not understood that each soul had a particular ‘other’ being who was that individual’s essence partner, and that the deepest forms of enlightenment could not be reached without recognizing and tantrically ‘marrying’ that being. That is (as Daskalos expressed it), to become ‘one with them in Theosis’.
In this experience, and in subsequent intuitive visions, I experienced that, in the context of Buddhism as an example, although Buddhism had evolved over the millennia through stages that embraced an increasingly ‘middle path’, from extremes of asceticism and indulgence, to the greater balance of the Buddha’s life, to the unfoldments of Mahayana Buddhism, and on to the developments of Vajrayana/Tantric Buddhism, that there were still stages of deepening understanding of the nature of the Dharma, enlightenment and the path of bodhisattvahood to unfold. And that the mystery of ‘soulmates’ was an aspect of what was not yet fully understood.
I did not necessarily feel that great souls in the Himalayas were somehow not able to realize nirvana or deep enlightenment without this realization. Only that their actualization of enlightenment was continuously deepening over the millennia, and that another aspect of the Dharma that expresses this unfoldment is hidden in the mystery of spiritual partners or soulmates. In the same way that it is taught in Mahayana Buddhism that there are various stages of enlightenment beyond the realization of personal nirvana, in this vision I experienced that one of the keys to the development of these stages of increased richness of enlightenment was the recognition of spiritual partnership and the meaning and value of ‘tantric’ marriages and partnerships.
It is my sense that this is why many individuals, from Lorna Byrne to Daskalos and others, are talking about soulmates in our times. And also why there is growing interest in more tantric-style teachings such as Tibetan Buddhism, Hindu Tantra and Taoism, with their knowledge of kundalini and the marriage of inner and outer polarities, dakinis, consorts, sacred sexuality, and related themes. A deeper understanding of the nature of soulmates may be another component of this growing direction of modern spirituality that, among other things, is a needed remedy to the important imbalances in many older traditions and cultural inclinations. The tantric sensibility is a spirituality actively exploring a richer embrace of the feminine, the body, Nature and engagement with the world.
For Karen and me the significance of our marriage feels, in its essence, to be most strongly connected to this deeper understanding of the meaning of spiritual partnership. And our own marriage we feel is part of our participation in, and exploration of, the emergence of a stronger embrace of a spirituality based more fundamentally on this vision, not only of the integration of spirituality with marriage and partnership, but also of a more ‘tantric’ vision and path, more embracing of the world, the union of opposites, and the transformation and inclusion of the body, desire, the feminine and Nature.
1 – Women of Wisdom, p. 163
2 – Women of Wisdom, p. 195 (f.60)
3 – Women of Wisdom, p. 38
4 – Women of Wisdom, p. 39
5 – Venerable Acariya Mun Bhuridatta Thera, p. 478 (f.17)
6 – Esoteric Teachings,
7 – Homage to the Sun, p. 90
8 – Homage to the Sun, p. 96
9 – The Kaballah: Its Doctrines, Development and Literature, p. 116
10 – Love from Heaven, p. 89
11 – A Message of Hope, p. 118
12 – A Message of Hope, p. 125
13 – Letters from the Masters of the Wisdom, p. 41