Love Perfected, Life Divine, written by Swami Kriyananda in the last year of his life, addresses one of the most misunderstood dimensions of the spiritual life — soul mates: the principle that every soul has a dual. I find it deeply touching that Kriyananda, just at the point of his completion of his service to his Guru, should have brought us this heart-awakening narrative of the soul’s longing for completion, in God and in one other soul.
The search for the soul mate is the subject of much wry humor and, in its frequent and often tragic emotional misapplication, the cause of vast suffering. Right understood, it is a rigorous, demanding, and ultimately divinely rewarding path to freedom. Practiced as a true spiritual discipline, the merging of twin souls leads finally to transcendence of their separate egos and a perfecting of their love in God.
An unabashedly spiritual book
Love Perfected, Life Divine is Swami Kriyananda’s complete rewriting of Marie Corelli’s The Life Everlasting, the only novel Paramhansa Yogananda read all the way through, and one that Kriyananda himself read many times. What attracted Kriyananda was the unabashedly spiritual nature of the book.
Marie Corelli’s writing is powerfully evocative but often, to the modern sensibility, so lush as to be suffocating. In his rewriting, Swami Kriyananda has brought Marie Corelli’s diffuse and overwrought prose into the simplicity and crystal clarity that characterize all his writing. He has thus made of her original a deeply inspiring fictional window onto the teachings of Sanaatan Dharma.
Marie Corelli (1885–1924) was, right up to her death, an enormously popular English author, including among her fans such luminaries as Queen Victoria and the Prince of Wales. Hers was an age with a literary appetite not only for overblown prose, but also for unapologetic spirituality. Our own age, secular and cynical, is less tolerant of such fiction. Since her death, her books have been all but forgotten.
And yet Paramhansa Yogananda, a God-realized master, loved The Life Everlasting. Swami Kriyananda, in the spirit of discipleship, took this novel of a bygone era, freed it from the limitations of its original style, and transformed it into a spiritual classic. What Swami Kriyananda has done in his total rewriting is to lift the spirit of Marie Corelli’s book to the high level of his own spiritual realization. In so doing, he has illuminated the divine truth behind human love, and the road the lover must travel to find love’s perfection.
The divine truth behind human love
Love Perfected, Life Divine wears the outer garb of a traditional romance—a mysterious ship that glows in the dark, sails soundlessly and has no evident source of power; a setting that is hauntingly beautiful; a mysterious brotherhood hidden away on rocky crags overlooking a crashing surf. The lover struggles to overcome, against all odds, a succession of obstacles to her union with the beloved.
What the reader quickly realizes, however, is that the overcoming required is not different from that required of the devotee, who is tested again and again until, freely, joyfully, he transcends ego-identification to merge into his true, cosmic Self. The particular route to self-transcendence in Love Perfected is, as an angelic voice explains, the lover’s quest for union with her beloved.
This quest is an expression of the same law of duality that underlies not only the first manifesting, out of oneness, of the universe, but also the pairing of every soul with that “twin soul with whom [she] must merge together ere they can both merge in God.” Later, the heavenly voice opens wider the door to understanding:
Love can be perfected only in Perfection itself, and perfection is God! There must be no desires, no attachments, no self-limiting ego-centered thoughts of any kind. Souls were created dual, and their merging is the extinction of their separate individuality, and a blending together in a perfection of love that is, for all beings still separate, not possible. It is the recognition that their love for each other comes from God, and can find its fulfillment in Him alone.
Lessons learned through many incarnations
As the heroine’s inner spiritual journey takes her through a series of tests, the reader recognizes her spiritual lessons as the universal lessons every spiritual aspirant must master. The heroine experiences again the unfolding drama of her relationship with her twin soul through many incarnations, each one dominated by a life-changing mistake or delusion, each one relived but now illuminated by an inner divine presence who shows her the lesson to be learned, and the way forward.
And learn she does: “I was resolved. Whatever it took to find the perfection of love—in God—was my only possible path. I must learn to love not only with my twin soul, but all creatures made by God.”
Now having faced, learned from, and released the past, she is ready to meet her spiritual guide, and to move forward as a disciple, to undertake the spiritual discipline already completed by her twin. The last third of the book describes her journey as a disciple—her self-transformation through meeting and transcending the inner obstacles. As she passes each test, she feels her soul expand into the light. What each time seems to be cruelly real, and even terrifying, proves to be inside her own mind. Faced courageously and prayerfully, each trial is transformed into divine love and joy.
The joy of universal service
In the end, she does win through, to find that her beloved twin soul has been awaiting her all the while. The lovers are united at last: each has, separately, made the spiritual climb that must precede the union of twin souls. At this point, the now united lovers are given a service to perform together, one that will expand their love in ever-widening circles. Free in and with each other, the twin souls are now ready for the joy of universal service—to be channels of God’s love to all mankind.