AWARENESS OF OUR OWN PURE SOUL AND THAT OF OUR SOUL MATES
As we have seen, the various levels of soul are associated with levels of awareness. Awareness is viewed as if on a continuum, so too the soul. The higher levels of soul are figuratively closer to their source, while the denser levels of soul--ruach and nefesh--are much closer to the range of human consciousness and can be affected by the way we live our lives. If our actions or words result in harming others, if our mind's become contracted, narrow or rigid, the ruach and nefesh are affected by the density of human consciousness. It is as if they were swimming in water that became mud. This is how they are "defiled." As such, after death, the nefesh and ruach must go through a process of purification to regain their fluidity of awareness.
The imagery of the Zohar suggests that each level of soul is dependent upon the others, yet all are attuned to the same frequency. We can imagine this like a violin string. If anything interferes with the freedom of movement, the string cannot vibrate properly and thus cannot make its proper sound. At certain levels along the string, we can press down on it, allowing one end of the string to be played. But as long as something encumbers the string, it is never fully operative.
The process of redeeming the nefesh and ruach is virtually assured after death. This will be discussed in considerable detail later in this book. The point here, however, is that the dimensions of soul that include the neshama, chayah, and yehida are always pure. They cannot be blemished, stained or spoiled in any way. Some traditions suggest that souls can be corrupted. Such teachings completely distort the concept of soul as described in Jewish mysticism and can be harmful.
The Jewish morning prayers include a sentence that says: "My God, the soul (neshama) you placed within me, she is pure."1
This idea can be used in a spiritual exercise to develop self esteem and to deepen one's sense of interconnectedness with all beings. It is a simple exercise.
Imagine you have a pure light shining within. If you close your eyes, you can get a hint of this light glowing deep inside your being. Then say to yourself, "No matter what I may feel about myself, I know that I have a pure soul." When we contemplate this affirmation for a while, we begin to feel a spark of inner peace.
The next step in this practice is to gently acknowledge that every person we encounter has a pure soul. Every time we see someone, we say quietly to ourselves, "There is a pure soul; there is another pure soul." Notice that the person could be sweet and amenable, or could have an abrasive personality. It does not matter. The soul of every being is pure.1
If we continue to do this practice for everyone, including those in whose presence we have negative feelings, it dramatically affects the way we relate to ourselves and to others. As simple as it may seem, this exercise opens our hearts.
The Zohar teaches that before God sends souls into the world, they are formed into male and female pairs. Then they are placed in the hands of an emissary, named Night, who has charge of conception. The pair is separated and each is taken down to be born in his or her time. The Zohar goes on to say that these souls are rejoined by God at the right time into one body and one soul.1
This teaching raises many questions. For example, is it really suggesting that there is only one person in the world destined to be the soul mate of another? If this were the case, what happens if one does something to cause his or her own early demise? What happens if one makes the free will choice to be with a person who is not their soul mate?
Moreover, does it mean that brothers and sisters cannot be soul mates? Who said that soul mates have to come down in opposite genders? How does reincarnation fit into the picture?
In Lurianic Kabbalah, there is only one primordial soul in the world. This is the soul of Adam Kadmon. From this one soul, sparks were disseminated throughout the universe. Everyone carries fallen sparks from the original Adam and Eve and in this way we are all related, soul-to-soul.
The goal of Adam and Eve in the Garden was to make a rectification that would bring the universe to a new level of consciousness. The so-called failure to do so caused the fall of this great, universal soul.
The original soul is described as having contained 613 "limbs," representing 613 specific missions that Adam and Eve had to accomplish to bring about the rectification of the creation.2
Each limb was itself a root which contained 600,000 smaller roots.2
So, when we multiply the 613 limbs, with each having 600,000 smaller roots, we derive that there are over three and a half billion soul-roots in total.
Each of these billions of smaller roots is called a "great soul." All these great souls themselves are composed of 600,000 individual souls, each represented by a spark. When we calculate this, the number of sparks adds up to over two-thousand-trillion. Despite the enormous number of soul-sparks in this accounting, all souls are still of the one family of Adam and Eve, composed of 613 primary limbs.
According to Luria, there are fundamental divisions of soul types, such as between Cain and Abel. Whereas the simple reading of the story in Genesis is that Cain murders Abel, the esoteric reading is that each represents a primordial force. Abel represents chesed, the force of expansion; Cain represents gevorah, the force of contraction.
The unfolding of creation is the process of a continuous struggle between opposite poles: light and dark, give and take, up and down, right and left, life and death. The contention between Cain and Abel is the first of many descriptions in the Bible of the ongoing strain between opposing forces. In the same respect, each soul is connected to a root that is associated with forces that may be in harmony with or opposed to the root source of other souls.
The Kabbalah of Isaac Luria says clearly that the goal for all of creation continues to be the fulfillment of Adam and Eve's original task. First we must reinstate the awareness of the Garden of Eden and then our charge is to redeem fallen sparks so that the universe rises to the next level: messianic consciousness.
This idea changes our relationship to the soul. Each soul is composed of many sparks, not just one. The sparks are connected with various roots of the original 613.2
We can see from this arrangement that the soul has broad diversity and can readily connect with a multitude of other souls. In fact, the number of other souls we can encounter as potential mates is enormous.
Imagine a giant jigsaw puzzle with billions of pieces, but only 613 variations in the way things fit together. This means that each piece will match many others. If this puzzle had only one solution, we would never be able to solve it. However, this puzzle is dynamic and can be solved in almost an infinite number of ways. This is the process of God-ing and creation-ing.
We may not recognize a particular soul connection we have with another person because it may not be romantic. Moreover, if it is romantic, it may not look like our dreams. "God constantly mates couples of opposing natures--hard with gentle, talkative with quiet, outgoing with ingoing--so that the world can preserve its balance."2
The very complaint we have about our mate could well be the essential quality that has drawn us together.
Therefore, the Zohar's primary advice is that every time you are looking for a soul mate, you must bless the Almighty and pray with all your heart.2
This is because the entire purpose of connecting with a soul mate, and the purpose for existence, is to elevate the consciousness of the world. Obviously, there are many potential soul mates for all of us.
Indeed, from the Lurianic perspective, we could say that virtually any long-term relationship we have is, by definition, a connection of soul mates. Some last until the death of one of the partners, some do not. Either way, even after the most romantic beginning, almost all committed couples agree that relationship is a challenge, a continuous process of give and take. This is an important aspect of the mystical side of soul mates, which is to raise awareness, and is somewhat different from the idealistic approach, which suggests a perfect blending and harmony between two beings.
The way we work with any of our potential soul mates to help elevate the consciousness of the world is one of the great mysteries of creation. So we pray not only to find a soul mate, but to gain enough understanding to appreciate the nuances of our relationship so that we can distinguish the parts that are unnecessary baggage from those that truly lift us and the world to a new state of awareness.
May we all be blessed to gain such insight.