Soul mate. The term widely used for a romantic partner or the better half. A Person we can’t imagine our life without; at least the current understanding of the term states so. A relationship has more than the connection of souls, it comprises of physical and mental connections as well yet we never hear of physical or cognitive link in a romantic sense. So how did we jump to soul mate? What are the origins of the terminology?
Before I dive into that discussion let’s talk about the soul first. Soul is considered a spiritual being by us. Scientists, however, disagreed they believed soul to be just another word for psyche. A psychological term used to define the pattern of Cognitive activity. Since soul and mind were so deeply connected, to understand the soul the brain needed to be studied thus falling under the category of Neuroscience. No other branch of science studied the soul individually.
Religiously or spiritually speaking the soul is considered a separate being. An immortal instrument that resides inside the body making it alive. Many religions talk about the process of giving soul to a body at birth and extracting it at death. So far we learned that soul could either be a poetic reference, a metaphor for brain or an actual immortal essence of a being.
Ibn Sina described the soul as “an incorporeal substance that acts through the body.”
The argument about soul has lasted centuries. Where it resides in the body has been wildly debated but never concluded. Since it’s inception it’s been surrounded by controversial philosophies. And Philosophies gave birth to ideas, the bases of conducting experiments. Ducan MacDougall found an experimentally determined value of 3/4th of an ounce (or 21 grams) as the mass of the “soul substance” leaving the body of a person at the point of death in 1901. Similar research was mentioned in The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown in 2009. Though the story was told through a fictional character, the research and the organisations mentioned were all real. Now this is all relatively new. I wanted to trace the mention of souls as far back as I could, the oldest reference I found was Egyptian.
(2600 BC) “via Ra theology, the early dynastic Egyptians, apexed, likely in the mind of polymath Imhotep, were the originators of the concept of the soul called the “ba”, a supposed entity that had a certain mass, and which was weighted on the scale of Maat, against the feather of truth to determine its moral value.”
It seems the Egyptians not only knew about the existence of soul but were already conducting experiments to weigh the mass of the soul. Further down the research I came across the term Split Soul in Theology, which in other words is called soulmate, already popular around 2000BC. In the image below we have an example of how one soul was divided and made in two. Thus called the Split soul.
Certain sources referred to Greek mythology as well. For references I looked up Plato’ symposium (375BC) a recommended classic in philosophy containing various philosopher theories on love and the origin of the term Platonic love. It also talks about Greek literature and mythology, that’s how I found some very interesting concepts.
“According to Greek mythology, humans were originally created with four arms, four legs and a head with two faces. Fearing their power, Zeus split them into two separate parts, condemning them to spend their lives in search of their other halves.
…and when one of them meets the other half, the actual half of himself, whether he be a lover of youth or a lover of another sort, the pair are lost in an amazement of love and friendship and intimacy and one will not be out of the other’s sight, as I may say, even for a moment…”
These humans are mentioned in stories as the Androgynous. They were said to be miserable without their other half. But since this philosophy only talks about the physical aspect of the halves. Some might argue they couldn’t be constituted as soulmates. But I suppose the concept was derived from there. That’s how Split soul or soulmate came to existence. It means the literal other half of a person be it physical or spiritual.
There are numerous school of thoughts regarding this. This first one I ever came across explained that when Adam and Eve were sent to Earth. God decided not to make any new additions to the Earth. What was done was done. But if God decided not to disrupt the channel, Then how do we get new bodies and souls? Where do they come from if not from the unknown? The answer to that; we bury our dead or burn them. Their decaying bodies become a part of the Earth enriching the soil flowing into everything and most importantly us. From the soil to our bodies, I know the concept might make you all gag right now but it’s true. The decomposed bodies work like a fertiliser in everything we eat. The soul is a different story though. A Soul upon a person’s death gets divided into two. Which then enters into two new borns. But because they are divided and only half of themselves, both parts feel incomplete till they stumble upon the other half some point in their lives. And they instantly recognise each other as their missing half. The connection and spark is instantly registered on both sides. Some say that’s how you fall in love describing the significant other as your better half or soulmate.
Ibn Hazm stated somewhere around 1022 “The lover’s soul is ever-seeking for the other, striving after it, searching it out, yearning to encounter it again, drawing it to itself it might be as a magnet draws the iron.”
The purpose of sharing the last ideology is that it kind of explains the current love situation we face. According to this theory the soul has been dissected more than one time, which indicates that we might have more than one soulmate or other half. To me that’s more believable because it explains how we fall in love more than once or share unexplained connections with people.
Coming back to the contemporary times, Soulmate is considered a romantic notion that most cynics don’t believe in. I always thought it was a term created to sell love stories. Turns out it’s not true. I can’t tell you about the authenticity of above mentioned ideologies. Coming from The Egyptians who believed they could persevere the body by mummification for afterlife and the Greeks who are the definition of dysfunctional family. They are however the originators of the concept that we now use in every possible romance tale. I think the our need for completion and wholeness drove is to the point where we started believing in soulmate or true love blindly. The rest was taken care of by movies with concepts and dialogues as “‘my one true love” or “true love’s kiss” or “you complete me”, the list goes on.
I would honestly love to believe that my soulmate or my other half exists. We all feel a sort of emptiness in our hearts but somehow I doubt it has anything to do with the supposed other half. I think it has more to do with us needing companionship. Philosophers over the years tell us to find ourselves, by finding ourself we will find the Divine within us. You all must have heard the Sanskrit word Namaste. Did you know what it means? A greeting with hands together at heart centre “represents the belief that there is a Divine spark within each of us that is located in the heart chakra”
If philosophy and even some of the religions tells us to find the Divine in ourself, why not find love inside within as well? I say the same applies to this theory. Find the other half within you and make yourself whole again. Instead of waiting for that one person that completes you. That would be my advice to anybody waiting for that spark associated with “the one”. Don’t wait for someone special to make you complete. Only You can complete yourself.
The links I used:
- Plato’s Symposium.
- Ra theology
- Souls though Philosophy.
- Soul theorist Hmolpedia