anam cara

Anam Cara

(a different perspective on what it means to be a soul mate…)

“When the heart weeps for what it has lost,

the spirit laughs for what it has found.”

Anonymous Sufi Aphorism

Q: Why weep at all?

Why not discover what the Spirit found so all can be happy?

While elliptical-ing the hour away at the gym the other day, I came upon an article about a woman who had recently ended a romantic relationship with a man she believed was her ‘soul mate’. The author explained how the relationship was tumultuous and that she and her partner experienced extensive highs and lows. While this romance seemed to be passionate, it was also filled with judgments, incessant fighting, coupled with the on again, off again cycles that challenged relationships endure. Towards the middle of the article, I wondered what the author’s understanding of passion and love actually was. Is the soul really attracted to relationships that hurt? Perhaps there are qualities in people that we are drawn to, whether they are healthy, happy or not. When they are unhealthy, hopefully we recognize how to remove ourselves from them. The experts say that our early childhood conditioning and experiences often determine our perceptions of love and our world. This understanding can be limiting, if we do not allow ourselves the opportunity to see beyond our own interpretations of the world and ourselves.

How and why do we learn to romanticize love?

Why is the aspect of romance in love illusory?

(and so attractive?)

The author’s story mirrored the typical possessive romances that have increasingly become the “attractive norm” in our country today. It didn’t occur to me that what the author had with her partner was necessarily the soulful love that she thought she had found, but rather addictive and unhealthy. My interpretation of the author’s relationship reminded me of a modern-day, Wuthering Heights, with the constant tormenting and possessiveness of Heathcliff and Cathy. Always tearing at each other’s emotions, entangled in loss and eternal heartache.

Love does not = heart-ache…

Love = Happy

(all the time.)

That is why they call it—love…

The author continued to describe how a friend of hers told her what a real soul mate was and how a soul mate is someone who comes into our lives to show us the areas we need to address, reflect on and possibly change. Our soul mates are supposed to be Our Personal Pointers and pivotal individuals to help us grow.

A question we might ask ourselves is: Aren’t we all soul mates to each other? If we rely solely on the opposite sex or a few individuals to mirror us (soul-fully), positively or negatively, then we miss out on the second most important relationship there is: the relationship with humanity. The first, most significant and sustainable relationship we have is ultimately with ourselves.

Perhaps within this model of Soul Mate, we can look at every person that we have a meaningful encounter with as a Soul Friend. Why narrowly limit ourselves to only a few individuals when we can connect with everyone? Even unpleasant relationships give us insight into ourselves; something extra to learn about who others are as well.

* * * * *

Soul mate is not exclusive to our romantic liaisons; the author’s relationship with her partner might have been healthier, more rewarding, had they remained friends, without the attachment of romance. A relationship’s potential can be adversely affected when the idea of romance and sex is introduced. Sometimes sex heightens the closeness between two people, however it can also create an illusion around what love is not. The notion of romance can form a bridge to a deeper meaning within the relationship, yet this is not always the case. When Honest Love is present, sex can be a byproduct or nonexistent as the relationship remains independent of the need for physicality.

With our society being primarily sensory based, we do not always give the necessary time and attention to any relationship, separate from our external objectives. If we gave time to whom we valued, personally and professionally, we would understand immediately that the internal objectives are always where truth and safety resides. (We are protected by truth, even the unpleasantness of what it may reveal.)

The challenge for each individual is to identify for him or herself what it is that they are exactly feeling. When we know how we feel, we understand the higher meaning of the relationship, (if there is one) and allow for each person to be who he or she naturally is, rather than forcing anything. This allowing and freedom also applies in relationships among parents, and siblings.

* * * * *

Romance is a contradiction in that it is illusory and when we let go of that which is not real we see with clarity what passion is in the context of Honest Love. In a sense romance does not disappear, rather it shifts from a fantasy state and evolves into an unconditional one, ever more intense, in the absence of possession. When love is unencumbered we value the Other and we become passionate about Who That Person Is, and not Romanticize about the idea of how we would like them to be. In the presence of Honest Love we discover, naturally, the fragility and stability that love has always been.

* * * * *

If we are here to learn from each other and everyone, how can we not be connected soulfully with everyone?

The word mate could mean ‘friend’, not just life partner or sex partner. Anam Cara in Gaelic means, ‘soul friend’, which I believe is exactly what we are talking about. When we view all of our encounters/relationships from the perspective of the soul, perhaps if there is a departure or shift, in the relationship, we can see into it with insight and understand what we learned rather than what was lost. After all, why do we have to lose anything?

The article led me to think about my relationships, (with everyone) and it also raised a few questions about my Silent Friend, and someone I would call my most ardent Anam Cara. While we are all reflections of each other, soul friends too, loving another unconditionally is rare, but to truly like and enjoy another? That quality gives another meaning to the soul of a true friend. I think Aristotle said it best when describing friendship, but I believe his definition also applies to intimate relationships:

“Friendship is composed of a single soul inhabiting two bodies.”

* * * * *

We are all soulfully linked to one another, whether we like this or not, it is what makes us human. Our relationships can be explosive, passionate, loving or rote. Our relationships are in their purest state, when the innocence of our true nature is freed. When we are natural (persona-free) in our friendships, there is an undeniable honesty and vulnerability—a purity that Jesus and Buddha always made a significant part of their teachings. One might interpret their messages this way:

The Cluttering begins, when the Child ends.

All relationships mirror our deepest desires, our greatest fears as well as our strengths and weaknesses. To think that we can exclude ourselves from the Ugly that we see in others is our limitation and inability to understand our human frailties. When we can see our intentions and motives with honesty, whether they are self-serving intentions and motives or intentions that will benefit all, then we can take responsibility in how to see ourselves completely and how to be a true soul friend with everyone.

* * * * *

We are all on this planet to learn from one another, the Good, the Bad and sometime even the Scary. The faces may look different, but underlying each individual there is a core, which, if we are open to it, we can connect to that deepest place that resides within all of us—the most sacred anam cara, our Self.

So, when that Clock is about to strike 12 and that noon train is approaching around the bend; the tracks are laden with golden bricks pointing in a Direction and your life is asking you: Decide, Decide, Decide...who are you going to listen to? Your heart or your mind?

(only time will tell...)