For soul mates, bonds of the heart can't be broken

February 01, 1994|By Colleen O'Connor | Colleen O'Connor,Dallas Morning News

Hit the pits in your relationship? Can't stand your significant other? Wish fate had never entwined your lives?

Not to worry.

This temporary troublemaker could be your lifelong soul mate, according to Thomas Moore, author of a best-selling new book, "Soul Mates."

That's because the soul roots deeply into the muck of life -- amid petty grievances, screaming fights and the Sisyphean struggle to work it out. Even if the relationship doesn't last, he believes, the depth of your connection has fundamentally changed your life and led you down a new path toward destiny.

"There are two people I know who are really struggling in their marriage," says Mr. Moore, a former religion professor at Southern Methodist University.

"They may not think they're soul mates, but from my point of view, they would be, because of the fact that they're drawn to each other and are exploring each other's lives in a way that's extremely intimate. They are connected, even though at the moment maybe they feel they don't want to be connected."

A soul mate is distinguished by a few key signs.

"It's the kind of relationship that seems quite fateful, that seems to happen despite the intention of the people," says Mr. Moore.

"There's a kind of understanding and relatedness that's not based on any clear reason, and seems a bit mystical. There's a very strong feeling of having a kind of connection. The person will be important to you whether the relationship lasts or not."

Soul mates hail from all haunts of life: family, work, the neighborhood community center. A soul mate could be your mother, your son, your colleague, your paper boy.

But when your soul mate happens to be your life mate, things often descend into the murk of mystery.

It's a fate thing.

Don't look to "Soul Mates" for a quick fix. Like Mr. Moore's previous book, "Care of the Soul," this new book probably won't please the self-help crowd.

A how-to book on relationships often answers such questions as: What is wrong with me that I can't have a long-lasting relationship?

But a soul-oriented book on relationships prefers more contemplative questions: What does fate want in its demands on me? What am I made of that my heart moves in directions different from my intentions?

Though Mr. Moore offers no guaranteed solutions in his books, both have hit the New York Times best-seller list -- mainly through word-of-mouth. This suggests a need in society for a dive off the deep end -- a plunge past easy answers into thoughtful questions.

Because "the life of soul lies in the grittiness of ordinary life," as Mr. Moore says, things that might seem bad -- like depression, jealousy, anger and wrecked relationships -- are actually gifts that lead to a richer life.

Take divorce.

That particular experience, says Mr. Moore, is not a failure to maintain a commitment but rather the tendency of fate to spin us in different directions.

"People feel very guilty about divorce and failed relationships," he says. "I'm not saying a person shouldn't feel bad. But guilt suggests we're not thinking deeply enough about it. . . . Just because a person is divorced doesn't mean the relationship is not going to be important at some level, and full of meaning."

Paradox is key.

Soulful relationships of all kinds, from workplace friendships to the most intimate romances, must embrace opposing desires -- for closeness and distance, dependence and independence, individuality and community.

Are you in a relationship and want to flee? Don't freak. It's normal.

"If we have strong desires to have a family, live with another person or join a community, but find, after these desires have been satisfied, that we are drawn in exactly the opposite direction, then we might remember that this complexity is simply the way of the soul," he writes.

That's because the soul, that pesky being, yearns for attachment and separation.

What's a hapless human to do?

"Maybe the best way to tend these two needs," he writes, "is to notice where the anxiety is. In matters of soul it is advisable never to compensate or to try to escape but instead to tend better the very thing that is causing the trouble."

Mr. Moore likes to infuse his soul musings with religion. A man who lived in a Catholic religious order for 12 years, he has a doctorate in religious studies from Syracuse University.

Actually, a little divinity comes in handy when it comes to relationships.

"The point in a relationship," writes Mr. Moore, "is not to make us feel good, but to lead us into a profound alchemy of soul that reveals to us many of the pathways and openings that are the geography of our own destiny and potentiality."

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.