Book Excerpts - The Shared Heart

Book Excerpts - The Shared Heart

Book Excerpts - "The Shared Heart"

Soul Mates

Imagine being separated from your beloved for eighteen years!

Sometimes in meditation I glimpse my life before coming to earth to incarnate in this body. As I feel this, Barry is always with me and I know we have been together in a deep and beautiful way before entering these bodies. It is as if it was decided that we make the journey toward earth at the same time.

I was born May 18, 1946, in Buffalo, New York, second child of a Protestant family. Barry was born nine days later in Brooklyn, New York, second child of a Jewish family. Before we were born, I feel there was a promise that we would be reunited when the time was right...and only when the time was right.

When I was an adolescent I suffered the usual pains of loneliness. I was not the type of girl that was asked out on many dates. I was rather proper and shy in my behavior with boys. Weekend nights were spent with my beloved family or babysitting. Sometimes I would cry late at night because there was no special friend in my life. During these moments of great loneliness I would feel a comforting presence come and tell me that there was someone waiting for me. I would then get an image of a tall, dark-haired man, who was a doctor. This image would come to me perhaps once a week.

When I was eighteen I went to Hartwick College, a small Lutheran School in upstate New York. The population was predominantly Protestant, and I held a secret hope in my heart that I would meet a nice man of my religion and perhaps we would marry. Barry, meanwhile, had applied to several prestigious colleges and had been rejected by them all. It was then too late to apply to any more schools, and he had nowhere to go.

One day, in the midst of his moping about at his high school, he was called to the school office. There, a representative of Hartwick College who had somehow heard of his plight, had an application already filled out. He described the school in roughly five minutes, and asked Barry if he would like to sign and make it final. Without a moment's hesitation, Barry signed the application. As I look back now, I realize how little we are aware of the divine hand working in our lives, and how little we understand all that is done to bring us together, to help us all fulfill our destinies here on earth.

How romantic it was to meet during a snow-ball fight between dorms, and to be smashed in the face with snow by your life-time partner! Then there was a movie, and walking back to the dorm, a kiss.

That kiss was like the kiss upon Sleeping Beauty, and something surged through us both, awakening each to a deeper place within. We were but children in terms of our maturity, yet for an instant we gazed into each other's eyes and remembered our deep and eternal love. Though it would be years until that happened again, we could never forget the memory, though at times we tried very hard to.

As innocent children we probed our way into the mysteries of love. We used to meet secretly every evening in the dining room and talk for hours. We had much catching up to do! Finally, I felt I had met someone who understood me completely and was my best friend.

The day came, however, that Barry told me he was Jewish and could never marry outside of his religion. I was shocked! How could he be Jewish in this Protestant school? Of course we couldn't marry. We really should break the relationship. But we were hooked and love pulled us higher and higher, though like caught fish, we struggled more and more. I transferred to a different college in order to be away from him. He also transferred to a more Jewish-populated school, hoping to meet a Jewish
girl. At Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center I thought for sure I would meet that tall doctor of my vision.

Barry and I couldn't keep apart, of course, and we kept visiting each other. The love grew and grew, and our fights got worse and worse. We each wanted the other to change religion, to make it all right somehow. Finally we decided to break up completely and not see each other ever again. It seemed like the only thing to do, as neither would change for the other. Our family and friends were happy and thought we had acted wisely. We, however, were miserable.

One dark and lonely night I took the elevator to the 20th floor of my dorm building. Stepping out onto the roof, I beheld the entire panorama of New York City. I cried bitterly and prayed to God in the way I had been taught at church. I told God I was breaking up with Barry for Him and asked if this was right. I prayed for a sign to Help me understand.

The next day a friend of mine got a surprise visit from her mother, whom I loved very much. She told me that the night before she felt a definite impulse to give me a little Poem from her prayer book. She gave me the poem, and one sentence was underlined, "Above all else Love is most important. "

A current went through me and I knew love surpassed personalities, religions, doctrines, everything. I ran to the phone and called Barry. He understood. Shortly thereafter we were engaged to be married. The two struggling fish had surrendered to love and were being pulled in. I was reunited with the tall, dark-haired doctor-to-be of my vision.

Barry and I had found out the hard way that one's life partner cannot be picked out by the intellect, the shoulds and the should-nots of an upbringing, or the desires of the mind and the body. Only the heart, only love, can tell. What seems to the mind as the greatest obstacle, through the healing power of love, can become the greatest strength. When we thought of marriage, the difference in religious upbringing seemed insurmountable. Yet through love, patience, and understanding, our path to God has become universal, and is certainly the greatest strength in our life together. We have seen this happen with many couples. An obstacle will present itself in the merging process and, rather than giving up, if the couple works through the barrier they come out on the other side much stronger and wiser because of it. It is as if the barriers were there purposefully to make the love between the couple deeper and more beautiful. When they manifest themselves, they are gifts, which, when surmounted, serve as stepping stones to bring a couple closer in realization of God.

In wanting to be with one's life partner it is best not to think about how you want him or her to be like, but rather, to feel in your heart how much you already love this person. It is this love going forth that will draw the person to you. The mind is a poor judge of who is right. A little story which illustrates this comes to mind:

Once, when Barry and I first started counseling in Santa Cruz, we saw a divorced woman in her forties who became especially dear to our hearts. She had grown children and now was alone and wanted very much to be with a man. Month after month we would hear of her struggle with different men. The right one just never seemed to manifest. During one session she was particularly discouraged and we asked her to describe just what type of man she was wanting. She was quick to reply and listed about ten practical qualifications, such as same age, grown children, stable income, etc. We then suggested sitting together and picturing a man of these qualifications coming into her life.

As soon as I closed my eyes the face of a man popped into my mind. This was a man we knew very well from past counseling experiences, and yes, he fit all the qualifications. I decided I would not tell Barry or the woman. That night Barry described the exact same person, vision, and experience. We wondered for a long time whether to introduce them. Matching up clients seemed highly unprofessional so we decided to try to forget we had seen the man's face so vividly. Besides we hadn't seen him in over a year and did not know how to get in touch with him anyway, so it seemed easy to just forget it.

The very next day we traveled to San Francisco for a seminar. as we walked in the door, the first person we met was the man of our vision. Barry was totally surprised by the "coincidence" that he blurted out the whole story. When we described the woman to him he became very excited.

We had them both come to our home to meet, which was an awkward moment for everyone. This man had all the qualifications that our client-friend thought she wanted, and vice-versa. They later dated each other twice and found they had a great deal in common. However, a certain quality of the heart was missing, that indefinable spark was not there. After two meetings they chose to stop seeing each other.

The four of us learned so much from that experience. Only your heart can tell your life partner. Only your heart can draw that being to you. Your mind will naturally seek the easiest person to be with, one with whom it is easy and comfortable. But your heart, the voice of the soul, will seek the person who can best help you climb toward God.
The mind seeks an easy relationship. The heart seeks a spiritual partner. Many people are married to their perfect spiritual partner and do not even realize it because their mind and desires are wanting the relationship to be more comfortable and painless. Many times the difficulty with your partner is the very thing compelling your spiritual development. It takes a lot of love poured forth to either feel your spiritual partner or draw him or her to you. What beautiful work!
I remember my struggle before accepting Joyce as my spiritual partner. From the very beginning of our relationship, even before we met, there was a definite place of "knowing" deep within myself; so deep, however, that it was easily buried by my conscious desires and mind.

As an eighteen-year-old first-year college student, I was what you might call a late bloomer. A very awkward, shy, and sensitive child, I was much more interested in sports than girls. Much the same as Joyce, I didn't take notice of the other sex until I was almost eighteen years old. In my last year of high school, I experienced two brief, but intense romances. I was very awkward, and I believe I scared both girls away.

In college I tried (for a few months anyway) to polish my act. I somehow fell in with a certain infamous fraternity. At the time I tried to convince myself that sophisticated girls were the ones to be with. The word in 1964 was "cool" (you know, not like one's mother). This quest was a failure from the start.

One day I was sitting with my "cool" friends at a soccer game in the very cold late autumn of Oneonta, New York, when I saw Joyce for the first time. She didn't attract me in the way I thought I was supposed to be attracted. She was sitting on the bleachers above me and off to the side, laughing and joking with a group of boys and girls. She was acting silly and having a great time. And I remember, as if it were yesterday, my feeling of attraction for her.
Her joy was innocently and unselfconsciously bubbling over. It was very infectious, but somehow made me feel very serious at the time. She wasn't doing any of the things I would have wanted her to do. Yet, there was a feeling of insecurity deep inside me...that this girl would never willingly have much to do with me.

Then came the fateful snow-ball fight with my well-aimed snow-ball. Later we were assigned to be waiter and waitress together in the dining hall. How beautifully God works!

Finally, I got up my nerve and asked Joyce out on a date to see the new movie "Tom Jones" several evenings away. The day of the movie came, and I bumped into Joyce walking on campus. She asked me, "What time will you be picking me up for our date tonight?" With a perfect deadpan expression I replied, "What date?" She got visibly flustered. I started laughing, and it was almost the end of a relationship that hadn't yet started. However, she finally did see the humor of the situation...I think.

Well, I did in fact pick her up that evening. Our first date! We started walking down the hill through the campus. We had problems right from the start. Joyce had a way of walking that was the antithesis of the way I wanted a woman to walk. She had a kind of childlike bounce to her step...really enjoying just being alive and walking. Unfortunately I could not appreciate that at the time. I was just plain embarrassed. Slowly widening the space between us, I hoped nobody would notice we were together.

Yet it was our good-night kiss that evening that really put me into a turmoil. It was truly the kiss of death, because from that moment on, all that was false in me started to die. I would lay awake at night in my dorm room struggling with my conflicting feelings about this girl named Joyce. I felt so at home, so at Peace in her presence. I just couldn't let go of how "unsuitable" she was for me, and my mind-set about who was right for me and who wasn't. I continued to struggle with her physical appearance, which seemed far from my late-teenage ideals. Today it seems rather silly, but at the time it was dreadfully important and caused me much suffering.

There were also many "little" things in her personality that turned me off. Finally, however, the day came when I found out she wasn't Jewish. It seemed a final confirmation of all my doubts. She didn't really look Jewish, but her last name of Wollenberg fooled me. But by then it was too late. I had tasted of the love far beyond my little head-trips. Try as I did to Push Joyce out of my mind and heart, I could not keep the longing to be with her submerged. It would inevitably bubble up reminding me of that heavenly wine which would then all but drive me crazy.

In those early days, we would get together because the pull was so great, and there would be a moment of near ecstasy. Then our minds and egos would pull us back down, and we would sadly realize that we really shouldn't be together. Sometimes we would fight and argue, blaming and trying to change each other. I smile now when I remember the many, many "scenes" outside her dorm, while everyone was watching Barry and Joyce go at it again.

This whole time, imperceptibly, the false was dying and truth was growing within each of us. After each fight, and I was again alone righteously proclaiming to myself how unworkable our relationship was, I would start to suffer a loss of something. I would find myself in a state of mourning. The grievances I was holding onto would lose power and importance -- and die a little more. Joyce was becoming more and more attractive to me. Her beauty seemed to be emerging and a respect for her was growing within me.

Perhaps every couple has at least one seemingly insurmountable barrier. Ours at the time, and for the first four years we knew each other, was our religious upbringing. Religious differences seem more easily worked through in this day and age than what Joyce and I went through in the mid-sixties. It is not that I was a particularly devout Jew, nor Joyce a devout Protestant. It was more of a cultural shock for both of us. In both our families it was simply unheard of for anyone to marry outside of the religion. These traditional values had a lot of power and hold on us. The question, "And how will the children be raised?", would echo in our minds. It was, in the end, fine for Joyce to stay Protestant and
me Jewish, but it seemed at the time that if our children were neither of the two they would be nothing -- they would lack spiritual direction.

It's true! This was a major stumbling block in our lives at the time, and the source of many arguments. But, as one of our teachers later reminded us, "Your greatest weakness will turn out to be your greatest strength." As a couple, this was our greatest weakness, and we were forced to go deeper into our respective religions. And the deeper we went, the more we felt the common source of all religions: the spirit of love! We discovered that all the differences between religions existed only in the mind. And the mind has only the concept of love, whereas the heart experiences. Our greatest weakness has indeed become our greatest strength. For the all-prevailing spirit of love and truth has become the center of our relationship and family, our ever-present orientation.

This is the heart of the whole issue of soul mates, or twin souls, or twin flames, or whatever you want to call it. Too many people are running around looking for "that perfect partner"...outside of
themselves. All of the esoteric terms and definitions tend to put most people more in their heads and less in their hearts. The true soul mate is a state of consciousness, not a person. You may even be with your perfect mate and dislike each other intensely, failing one of the main tests of your life.

The purpose of a love relationship is to set your sights on love, rather than the relationship. The test of every marriage is to come to love more than to love the person. That love comes from your heart, the deepest center of your being. Love is a feeling, a radiation of light, a presence. It is not a personality. When you touch upon love, you are touching your soul mate -- and soul-marriage -- the mystical marriage. It all happens within you, the merging of your soul with Your spirit, the merging of who you thought you were with who you really are. In this realm of the heart you then see with the eyes of God. All things and persons are seen for what they are -- light-infused and love-permeated. Your husband or wife glows with a beauty that can make you gasp!

Can you see this? Can you understand the words of Jesus, "Seek ye first the Kingdom, and all things will be added unto you."? All the prophets and masters say the same thing: when God becomes number one in your life, when the indwelling spirit becomes more important than the who's and what's and where's your life then becomes a flow of perfection. Then you create beauty in all that you see, hear, touch, or in any way turn your attention upon. Love is never-ending creation.
Whenever Barry and I ponder the issue of soul mates and the tendency we all have to look outside of ourselves for fulfillment, we are reminded of a very powerful experience I had. It was actually a turning point in my life. In the summer of 1978 we decided that to truly advance on the spiritual path we had to submit ourselves to a series of strict disciplines. We were at the stage where we thought we had to go somewhere and do something.
We decided upon a very intensive six-week retreat. We rented a large house outside the town of Mt. Shasta in Northern California. One of our objectives was to work with our sexual energy, which at times flowed so powerfully between us that we seemed to have little control over it. Our plan was to sleep in separate bedrooms and abstain from sex, which proved to be very interesting. We also decided to spend at least half of our time in silence, and totally alone. Every other day one of us could watch Rami while the other went to meditate on the slopes of Mt. Shasta.

About one week after our arrival we were sufficiently settled into our new location to start. I'll never forget my first day alone. I had looked forward to it for many weeks. After Rami nursed in the morning, I left her in the capable hands of Barry and drove up the mountain. This was my first full day away from Rami since her birth fifteen months ago, and that alone was an amazing feeling. Walking through Panther Meadows I felt the strong Presence of Divine Mother -- the female aspect of God.
I sat by a rock overlooking the bubbly stream and looked at all the wild-flowers growing everywhere. In that moment I felt Rami so strongly and felt that her presence in my life allowed me to feel the Divine Mother. By caring for Rami, I was growing closer and closer to that mother-presence within me. I felt so grateful for Rami and the privilege of motherhood. That moment will always be very precious to me. Afterwards, I chose a place and forced myself to meditate for six hours, doing various breathing and other practices. In my zeal to reach that state of complete inner calm I neglected to also be conscious of flowing in my body, and ended up with a great big headache. So much for my first day on "the intensive retreat."

The next day with Rami was very joyful, and the following day alone was more balanced than the first. On the fourth day Barry took off for the mountain bright and early. Rami and I both had a difficult day. She was having trouble cutting teeth and I was having trouble with myself. I was beginning to feel overwhelmed with loneliness. I had spoken to no one in four days except for Rami, whose vocabulary consisted of "Mama, Barry, Dolly." She cried a lot over her teeth, while my mind was crying a lot within.
Doubts came crashing in: "What a stupid thing to be doing. It's not right that you don't see Barry and sleep with him. This is getting you nowhere, needless suffering..." On and on the doubts and negativity came. Rami finally settled down for the night and I went to my lonely room downstairs. I felt lonelier than I had in a long while. At that point, our VW van pulled up and out jumped Barry. He was shining like the sun and I could tell he had a good day from the way he walked. I watched him sadly as he ascended the outside steps to his private bedroom. My mind and body were aching to be with him. He had been my best friend for thirteen years and I knew just being with him for a few minutes would lift the loneliness I was feeling. I was ready to run out the door, but when I turned to my heart the answer was: "No, do not go, continue to be alone!"

With much sadness I went out into the evening air and started to walk. The darkness seemed blacker than usual and even the presence of my beloved dog, Bokie, didn't cheer me up. I felt indescribable loneliness and such a strong desire to be with a friend. Tears flowed from my eyes as I cried out to God for help to understand. In that moment I was filled with the feeling of being with my very best friend. It was as if that friend surrounded me everywhere and talked with me and walked with me and loved me totally. Yet I was alone. I knew in that moment that my truest friend is within. When I look only to Barry for that friendship...or to Rami...or to any other human being, I will never be totally satisfied. It is the friend within our own heart that fills the loneliness and gives us the feeling of being totally loved. The more we contact and feel our inner friend, the more we can give and receive from others. The highest work we can do in a relationship is to seek the joy and stillness of this Inner Presence and then share that love with others. I forget this over and over again and allow myself to get far away. But when I do remember and feel this great indwelling God Presence, then peace and gratitude flood my being.

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