All relationships offer us the opportunity for spiritual awakening. They are of paramount importance to our development because through interaction with one another we grow in self-awareness. Every relationship has the capacity to reveal our spiritual nature and to expose our human fallibility – the illusion that we are all separate.
Unfinished business from prior lifetimes between ourselves and others is the usual reason we reunite in the present incarnation. We have the opportunity to transcend through the power of compassion repetitive patterns that have been operating between us. These patterns might include emotional manipulation and other power struggles, judgemental relating, undesired separation, recurring deception, and inequality in the relationship.
Equally valuable is the opportunity a relationship gives us to see our own wounds and ingrained patterns. By exposing our issues in this way the relationship can increase our self-awareness and open our spiritual hearts.
Karma can manifest in friendships, personal and business relationships, between colleagues, teacher and pupil, employer and employee, parent and child, healer and patient, next-door neighbours, etc.
A frequent karmic lesson is the need to let go of co-dependency and learn the all-important lesson of individual autonomy within the relationship. In this case the difficult conditions are an evolutionary necessity for both individuals and for their relationship.
Another common reason for experiencing negative karma in relationships is that at some point in the past we have vowed to get even after being wounded by another individual. This is an indication that we have misunderstood spiritual law, which is that we are not separate. The intention to take revenge can set off a karmic chain reaction. Whenever we act on the need to 'right a wrong' we can perpetuate karma for many lifetimes.
On the other hand, with evolved awareness we can accept that there is an original cause for any painful situation. In this way we can see beyond the life that is currently being lived and experience true compassion. This is the law of grace (see Karma).
Relationship experience is perhaps the most potent reminder that we are all responsible for our own actions. It is important to remember that at a soul level we create the conditions that allow us to grow and work out the difficult aspects of our karma individually and with other people. So prior to re-birth, we choose the group of people we must incarnate with, in order to fulfil the karmic and evolutionary requirements. As our life unfolds we attract whom we need at a time when we are ready to understand, and to change.
The search for a soul mate is common and widespread. However the term 'soul mate' is generally misunderstood. A soul mate relationship involves two people who have consciously chosen to use their relationship as a means of continuing their individual spiritual development.
Our capacity for love is limited until we are spiritually awakened, i.e. until we are attuned to our True Self, which is our spiritual nature, and realise the illusion of separation from the Source. As long as we are dominated by our minds we are restricted to conditional loving, to addictive and co-dependent relationships.
The majority of relationships are between karma mates, as most people are not fully awakened and therefore unfinished business from past lives is often perpetuated and remains unresolved. A karma mate relationship is one in which conditional loving dominates.
In a soul mate relationship each person has chosen to follow a spiritual or philosophical principle to guide their individual lives and their relationship. In other words the relationship has a shared spiritual or philosophical foundation. Consequently, the people concerned interact with heightened self-awareness and can view their shared experiences from an enlightened perspective. The result is unconditional love for one another, which generates positive karma. The people concerned may still have karmic wounds and lessons but the process of healing and resolution will be supported through their relationship and eventually achieved.
It is possible for karma mates to become soul mates, but this progress can only be made if both people embrace an understanding through which unconditional love can be experienced within the relationship, as described above.