Is it possible to have more than one soulmate? I hear the Hindu belief is that once you marry you are one for 7 lifetimes. Do you actually get to meet all your soulmates in a single lifetime? Do you get to know how many soulmates you have in this lifetime? And do you meet them all?
—Brown J, Canada
The very nature of the term “soul mate” suggests, as indeed Paramhansa Yogananda affirmed, that there is only one soul mate. I’ve never come across the “Hindu belief that once you marry you are one for 7 lifetimes!”
Paramhansa Yogananda did not give the soul mate subject a great deal of explanation or interest for the obvious reason that it is natural that the concept be interpreted romantically. The soul is neither male nor female. A “soul-mate,” therefore, is not a unity of male or female. The unity is on a soul level. Oneness can only be achieved on a soul level, not in the body or ego.
The teaching, esoteric as it is, states that at the time of our unique creation our one soul is cleaved into two. Like quantum physics that has established the fact that electrons separated by a large distance nonetheless parallel one another’s actions in real time (thereby defying all known laws of physics by transcending the normal limitations of time and distance), so our evolution through time and space eventually brings us back inevitably to our soul mate.
The way in which this happens depends on the degree we gradually become in contact and harmony with our soul’s native and unique qualities. This is NOT the ego. The ego is the false soul, or, as Yogananda described it: “the soul identified (falsely) with the body and personality.”
Through countless lives one will have countless relationships, including romantic ones. Imagine after death encountering all those husbands and wives from past lives! Aaarrrghh! This is meant to teach us to love all beings equally (but not romantically, obviously). Because gender identification and attributes are false to the soul’s true nature, our spiritual growth leads us away from the fascination of romance and sex towards true friendship in God. Even in a single lifetime, nature itself inclines us through the body’s aging process to gradually release attachment to sex and to the opposite sex and, in a marriage, to focus more on friendship and mutual service, respect, and appreciation. (Of course there are many people, regardless of age, who are infatuated with romance and sex to their dying day, but the more natural process is to move away from this for reasons too obvious to recite.)
Thus there are not countless soul mates. There are countless possible friends. The more so as we grow spiritually and away from ego’s innate limitations, likes and dislikes. In a broad sense, we are soul mates with the entire universe but saying that takes away from the meaning of the term itself.
As we awaken to God’s love and bliss, and shed the false trappings of personality, the magnetic power of our soul will bring into our lives and into mutual recognition that “other half” of our soul to which we are destined to be reunited before achieving final freedom and oneness with the Infinite consciousness of divine Bliss. This other soul may occupy a body of the same or opposite gender, age, or other roles, including, possibly, that of one’s guru.
I do sincerely hope that this clarifies this idea of soul mate. Yogananda spoke little about it lest people go running off in search of a romantic soul mate, or many in search of one after the other as you also suggest. It would be best to leave this idea to rest and focus instead on the purification of our karma and our love for God alone, and in all. Let be what will be. See all as our own, as manifestations of the One.
With blessings and joy to you,
Seattle WA USA