If you are to utilize guidance to find a soulmate, the first thing you need to do is learn to tell the difference between the voice of your inner teacher and that of your ego. This is not really difficult, since your guide and your ego espouse entirely different thought systems.
Cultures throughout the world seem to resonate with the idea that there is a high-minded influence within us that argues in favor of love, humility, and forgiveness, and that it is opposed by another that urges us to be egotistical, selfish, and judgmental. The cartoons of my childhood, for example, depicted what I am calling ego as a little red devil whispering malicious advice into a character's left ear, while a winged and haloed angel representing guidance spoke words of generosity and tolerance in the other.
Guide's Thinking Differs from Ego's
The simplest way to explain the difference between your guide's perspective and that of your ego is to say that the former believes that love is real and fear is not, while the latter believes that fear is real and love is not.
It may surprise you to learn that your ego doesn't believe that love really exists, but it's true. Just think! When you allow your ego to direct your search for love, you are actually asking the only thing in the universe that doesn't know what love is, to find it for you. Talk about letting the inmates run the asylum!
How is it that our false self knows nothing about love? Well, that's the way we designed it. From a metaphysical perspective, the human mind invents an ego for the purpose of making love seem unreal.
And just why would we want to do such a silly thing? A number of spiritual traditions suggest that it is because God is love. They say we wanted to forget about our Creator for a while, so that we could play at being creators ourselves. And since everything that God creates is a perfect reflection of divine love, the only way we could generate an experience that would be uniquely our own was to make up an imperfect world where love's opposite -- fear -- would appear to rule. Thus, fear is our own original contribution to an otherwise loving universe.
The Ego Makes Sure the Game Goes On and On and On
The ego's problem is that any experience of love, however attenuated, threatens to trigger our memory of reality, and spoil the game we came here to play. Its job is to make sure that doesn't happen. Thus, we might compare the ego to the weight belt a scuba diver dons to counteract her natural buoyancy. If a diver took off her weight belt, she would quickly bob back up to the surface.
If you and I released identification with our ego, we would quickly bob back up into reality; where it would be apparent that love is everywhere. As long as we prefer to remain immersed in frightening illusions, our ego is necessary to filter every trace of love out of our perceptions -- no mean feat in a universe made entirely of love!
The fact is that whenever we genuinely care for anyone, we do bob back into reality, although usually only briefly. That's why being in love is so heavenly! It's like an all-expenses-paid vacation from fear. Our ego has to be extremely vigilant to nip this sort of thing in the bud. It knows very well that once we start loving, there is no telling where it might end. Today your dog or cat -- tomorrow the world!
Why Egos Make It Difficult to Recognize Love
You'd think that if our false self is so intent upon preventing us from experiencing love, it would actively discourage our search for it, but this is not the case. Our ego doesn't just warn us not to trust those who care for us; it also inveighs against the horrors of a lonely old age. Indeed, far from being indifferent to love, our false self often seems almost obsessively concerned with finding it. To hear our ego tell it, no real happiness is possible in life until we unite with that "special someone" who alone can validate our worth, give meaning to our lives, and solve all our earthly problems.
What we need to understand is that our ego knows perfectly well that love is the only thing we really want or need. This leaves it with no alternative but to become embroiled in our search for a soulmate. If it said what it thinks -- that love doesn't really exist, and only fear is real -- we would very quickly see the absurdity of searching for fulfillment within a loveless illusion. At that point, our ego's whole world of distressing possibilities would be canceled for lack of interest -- and our ego along with it!
No, our false self can't induce us to remain in illusion by ignoring our desire for love. None of us is so deluded that we'd put up with that! So instead, it carries out its mission by offering to show us how to find love, and then making sure that we never do. Like a carnival scam artist, our ego assures us that there is no reason for us not to win the romantic jackpot on our very next try. But somehow it never seems to work out that way. There is actually no "danger" at all of finding a soulmate as long as we play the game by our ego's rules.
How can our false self guarantee that we will not stumble upon true love despite its interference? It can't. But what it can do is make it very difficult for us to recognize what we've found. Egos render love "invisible" in much the same way Siegfried and Roy make tigers disappear on stage in Las Vegas -- through the skillful misdirection of attention. First our false self reassigns the name "love" to something that poses no threat to it, and then it keeps us so busy searching for the wrong thing that we wouldn't notice the right one, even if we tripped over it.
The Love Substitute: Conditional Love or Infatuation
I'll say more about the love substitute our ego keeps us searching for, but for now, let me just call it conditional love or infatuation. When your ego offers to help you find "love," it doesn't mean real love -- the unconditional kind that fills you, and those around you, with lasting joy and satisfaction. To find that kind of love you'd have to abandon your ego and relate only with your soul.
No, the kind of love your ego has in mind for you is something quite different. Once you've become deeply embroiled in the search for it, your gaze will pass right over the real thing without a glimmer of recognition.
You see, the human romantic dilemma isn't that true love is so very hard to find, but that it is too ordinary to withstand comparison with the exotic illusions our ego offers in its place. In the same way that diamonds seem precious while the pure water we need in order to survive doesn't, we take love for granted and strain after the impossibly beautiful substitute our ego offers in its stead.
Infatuation ravishes our senses, and seems to promise gratification beyond our wildest dreams. Unfortunately, when we mistake it for the genuine article, we slowly starve for love even as we seem to gorge ourselves on it.
Real love is actually a pretty pedestrian affair, characterized by simple virtues like patience, forgiveness, tolerance, humor, gentleness, empathy, tact, honesty, discipline, and practical support. It is not heralded by a state of breathless exaltation, but by a sense of peaceful contentment. Chances are you've had many opportunities in your life for "true love" that you passed up without a backward glance.
The "Special" Relationship is Based on Infatuation
A Course in Miracles contrasts the special relationship -- which is based upon infatuation -- with the holy relationship, which is grounded in real love. Special relationships are all about how love is supposed to be. In pursuit of them, we do our best to achieve a union where everything looks perfect, regardless of the way it feels.
The ego's fantasy of "special love" involves a partner so obviously desirable that he or she reflects glory on us every time we are seen together. A suitably romantic courtship, during which both parties do a flawless portrayal of people in love, culminates in a fairy-tale perfect wedding. Then the lucky couple goes off to live happily ever after in the local equivalent of a palace, producing beautiful, trouble-free, high-achieving children, who reflect well on their parents. It will all be just perfect -- as long as everyone does their damndest to keep up appearances.
Unfortunately, concern with the outward appearance of a relationship always comes at the expense of content. It is exhausting to hold a pose for five minutes, much less a lifetime, and however "perfect" special relationships look from the outside, they leave the participants feeling empty and alone. Both know that they are valued only for the act they can put on, and that any attempt to reveal their true selves will be regarded as a breach of contract. As the Course points out, the special relationship is a very impressive frame, but the picture it holds is dark and depressing.
Holy or Wholesome Relationships: Being Yourself
Holy relationships (think wholesome relationships if you find the religious connotation off-putting) are achieved only when we forget about the frame (the way our union appears to others, all the social and material advantages it does or doesn't offer), and focus instead upon content (the glorious way it feels to be with someone we truly enjoy).
The holy relationships soulmates work to create don't necessarily look like anything out of the ordinary. Your friends aren't going to drop dead with envy when you walk into a room on the arm of a man or woman whose chief appeal lies is the fact that he or she really understands who you are, shares your enthusiasms, and enjoys hanging out with you. But being with such a person feels marvelous! You can finally stop smiling for the camera, let your belt out a notch or two, and be yourself.
Real Love: Too Ordinary to Compete with the Ego's Dreams
Are you beginning to see what I mean about real love being too ordinary to compete with our ego's dreams of achieving glory through the conquest of a very special partner? In interviewing couples for this book, I've been repeatedly struck by the way people seem to reserve hyperbole for individuals who appeal to their egos. When soulmates describe their early impressions of each other, "nice" is the adjective that crops up most frequently. Nice feels awfully good, but it is of no use whatsoever to our ego in its quest for glory.
In closing, I'd like to point out one other interesting feature of soulmate relationships -- the way everything else seems to fall into place once we make love our first priority. The Bible says, "Seek ye first the kingdom of heaven, and all else shall be added unto you." The literal truth of this statement is repeatedly demonstrated in soulmate unions where someone gives up "everything" for love, and then winds up getting it all anyway. Karen, for example, thought she needed a man who was rich and successful. By choosing to love and marry her soulmate, despite the fact that he was poor and unsuccessful, that's exactly what she got. Invest in the picture that brings you joy, and the universe may just throw in the frame for free!
GUIDELINES FOR ACTUALIZING A SOULMATE RELATIONSHIP
1. Look for the sort of person you'd want as a best friend even if you weren't attracted to her or him sexually.
2. Don't cultivate a relationship with someone "superior" whose love appears to "elevate" you in some way, but with an equal you enjoy.
3. Remember that your soul won't be satisfied with anything less than true love. Accept no substitutes!
Reprinted with permission of H J Kramer/New World Library,
Novato, CA, USA. ©2000. www.newworldlibrary.com.
Soulmates: Following Inner Guidance to the Relationship of Your Dreams
by Carolyn Miller.
Carolyn Miller takes an in-depth look at a topic of perennial fascination. Sharing her own quest - and that of dozens of other couples - for a meant-to-be relationship, she uses true stories to illustrate what she means by "inner guidance." Contrary to popular belief, soulmate couples do not usually recognize each other at first glance. Miller shows how individuals who attract the ego are seldom the ones the soul deeply desires to be with, and soulmates are often people who look all wrong at that crucial first meeting.
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About The Author
Carolyn Miller has been a licensed clinical psychologist since 1984 with a thriving practice in Los Angeles. She is the author of Creating Miracles: Understanding the Experience of Divine Intervention and Soulmates: Following Inner Guidance to the Relationship of Your Dreams. Dr. Miller, along with her soulmate and husband, Arnold Weiss, Ph.D., are founding directors of the Los Angeles-based Foundation and Institute for the Study of A Course in Miracles, a nonprofit organization dedicated to spiritual psychotherapy and education.