The Soulmate Experience

While all around the pushing and prodding of our feelings,

The twisting and turning of our hearts,

Displaying an almost indefinable strength and purpose, a reason, a reason, a reason

Where no reasons seem to exist.

Yet as in a vision, a voice transcending all our imagination

Jewel of life, guiding light heralding a joyous new dawn,

Clear and gift of time, divine nature, super-nature

The supreme gift of knowledge and space, in this cacophony of life

Peace will come.

-Jon Anderson, Horizon

On August 19, 1982, I was with my brother and his wife on a camping trip, canoeing down the North Fork Crow river, just northwest of Minneapolis. We were on the last night of our trip, and had pushed ourselves hard to reach the small campsite before dark. Exhausted, we pitched our tents, ate our dinner and went to bed. Everyone was too tired to say much, so we just went to bed.

After I climbed into my small one-person tent and snuggled into my sleeping bag, I fumbled around for my small flashlight. I clicked the flashlight on and pulled out my copy of Yogananda's book, Autobiography of a Yogi, and began reading where I'd left off the previous night.

I read for about an hour, as was my custom. Then I closed the book, shut off the flashlight and set them both by my side and went to sleep.

Several hours later, at the edge of dawn, my body was still inanimate but I wasn't inside it. I became fully conscious and aware. In front of me was the most incredible woman I had ever seen, more attractive than the wildest fantasy I could have imagined. Notice I said "attractive," not "beautiful." She wasn't nearly as beautiful as some of my favorite television models like Cheryl Ladd or Christie Brinkley, but she carried within her a magic, an attractiveness that I had never known in my twenty-one years. She had dark-brown hair that draped on her shoulders, and the most beautiful eyes. I stared into her captivating eyes and reflected how to best describe her looks, if someone were to ask. Her features were attractive to me, but not stunningly beautiful as most men judge women. I carefully chose the words "beautiful to me" as my perfect description of her face.

Somehow, I knew this woman. We had been together many times before; in fact, I knew that she and I had chosen to come to this earthly existence together, as we had for many lifetimes. This wasn't just a friendship that bonded us together through our many lives; it was love. Until that morning, I had not known what true love was. My soul was burning inside with a passionate fire of love for her. This love consumed my every thought, my every motivation, my every desire. For the first time in my life, I felt like a complete person because I was with her. There was no longer a gaping hole of loneliness in my soul. She was mine and I was hers. I was with her and I had no intention of ever leaving. We were soulmates.

I was floating above her body, and I could see she was asleep, tossing and turning in obvious inner conflict and turmoil. Sleep is a place where we go to work on life's problems, and that's exactly what she was doing.

Because I was out of my body, I could communicate with her subconscious sleeping self. I could hear her thoughts and she could hear mine. She told me that a good friend of hers-a man-had asked her to marry him. She was tossing and turning because she couldn't decide whether or not she should marry him. She told me that he was a really good friend, the best friend she had ever had. He was kind and gentle and loving, and she knew that he loved her. She felt as if his proposal was an opportunity of a lifetime. She was lonely and she didn't want to throw away her only chance at having a loving husband and family. She was afraid of being alone and that it might be her last chance at love.

"Oh my God, nooooo!" I cried to her. "I love you. I want to marry you. Please don't do this to me. I need you. I beg you. I'll do anything, I promise." On and on I pleaded with her not to marry the man. My pleading only made her decision harder. "But what if this is my only chance? If I tell him no, he'll go away and I'll lose him as a friend. I'm afraid. I don't want to lose him. He'd make a good husband." Desperately I pleaded, "Listen to me: I need you. I love you. If you marry him, then what happens to us?" "But he loves me." "I love you. I will marry you. All I need is a chance. Please say no!" In a frenzy of emotion, I begged her, "Please, you've got to promise me you won't marry him."

Finally she said, "All right. I won't marry him." I could tell that her inner conflict was not yet over, however. She still had some thinking to do. Maybe she just said that to calm me. Nonetheless, I was relieved when I heard those words. My soul soared with joy and I gave a huge sigh of relief, saying "Oh, thank God. You've just made me so happy. I love you."

I felt like I had just averted disaster. I looked deeply into her eyes and said, "I love you." I reached out my arms to embrace her, to hug her, to hold her for the rest of eternity, but something went terribly wrong.

As I reached out, I started getting farther and farther away, and I couldn't get close enough to touch her. I was being pulled back to my body. In horror, I watched her get farther and farther away from me. I screamed and clawed and fought and used everything within my power to get closer to her, all to no avail. Desperately, I looked at her and tried to memorize her face. Finally, she was out of sight.

I woke up in my tiny tent, alone.

Tears were streaming down my face. I cried. I'd never felt so alone, so betrayed. I repeated to myself, over and over, "She was real. I know she was real. I've got to find her." An abyss opened up in my soul. I was alone. I sobbed in my tent for more than an hour, until I heard my brother and his wife get up to start the day. I had just lost the only thing that was important to me (material things are not important to me because, as a spirit, I know some day we must leave them all behind).

Somehow I had to find the strength to get out of that tent. It was within that hour that I resolved to find her. I determined to let no other women into my life until I did. It was then that I turned my heart to steel.

For five solid days the memory of her face shone brightly in my mind. It haunted me and teased me, like a photograph staring at me. Whenever I closed my eyes, I saw her face. For five days the image of her never left my closed eyelids.

Back home, I tried to sketch her, but it was beyond my ability. It would take a master to capture her hauntingly beautiful eyes. I decided that I couldn't do it justice, and that any half-drawn picture of her would only bias me later, so I tore the sketch up. After five days, her face was erased from my memory, but I believed I would recognize her if I ever saw her again.

"Where is my soulmate?" I asked my inner voice. It replied: "I can't tell you because that's part of your life-lesson." Sometimes the hardest lessons of our lives must be learned the hard way. If they were given to us easily, they wouldn't have the same value.

For many years I spent my life alone, searching for her, bearing my pain and longing for her. I let no other women enter my life; I was a closed door. You can't imagine the loneliness I felt. Every day I prayed to find her. Everywhere I went, I looked deeply into women's eyes, searching for "her," and every day I was disappointed....

Before the soulmate experience, I had one quest: my spiritual development. I thought that I could live a spiritual life of contemplation alone. Spiritual seekers had been doing it for ages. Buddhist monks did it. Nuns and hermits did it. Ascetics did it. Saints did it. It seemed like the natural path for me to take. But the soulmate experience had affected me deeply. I had never believed in soulmates. I never realized how lonely I had been. Now I felt an emptiness inside that could only be filled by a lasting relationship.

From that point on my life had two purposes: to further my spiritual development, and to find the relationship I now desperately needed. But how could I find this soulmate of mine? Where would I look? She could be anywhere in the world.