Plato and The Splitting of Primeval Man in Two
Through using google to try to find the historical origin of twin flames, there are quite a few websites that point to a play the Plato wrote called Symposium (you can read here >> ). In my habit of always wanting to know the truth, I read the play to see for myself how this idea was expressed and what else Plato may have had to convey on the subject. What it turns out is that it might not have been an idea that Plato, himself, took much stock in.
In Symposium, there is a gathering of individuals at Agathon’s house. During this gathering, it is decided that there will be a discussion on the topic of love (because they all felt sober enough to discuss the matter). Phaedrus, Aristophanes, Pausanias, Eryximachus, Agathon, and Socrates all take turns sharing their ideas. Each person’s account is different from the others, and each approaches the subject from a different mindset (as a result of one being a poet, another being a physician, or etc.). Socrates’ account, because he is Plato’s protagonist, goes last so that he can showcase a wisdom that is superior. This wisdom does end up being praised by those who are part of the gathering.
Prior to Socrates giving his account, when it was Aristophanes’ turn to speak, he begs for the others not to make fun of him before even beginning. He then recounts a story of primeval man. He states:
“… the primeval man was round, his back and sides forming a circle; and he had four hands and four feet, one head with two faces, looking opposite ways, set on a round neck and precisely alike; also four ears, two privy members, and the remainder to correspond… Terrible was their might and strength, and the thoughts of their hearts were great, and they made an attack upon the gods…”
Aristophanes then discusses how Zeus comes up with a plan:
“Methinks I have a plan which will humble their pride and improve their manners; men shall continue to exist, but I will cut them in two and then they will be diminished in strength and increased in numbers; this will have the advantage of making them more profitable to us. They shall walk upright on two legs, and if they continue insolent and will not be quiet, I will split them again and they shall hop about on a single leg.”
Of what occurs after being divided, Aristophanes recounts:
“…two parts of man, each desiring his other half, came together, and throwing their arms about one another, entwined in mutual embraces, longing to grow into one … And when one of them meets with his other half, the actual half of himself, whether he be a lover of youth or a lover of another sort, the pair are lost in an amazement of love and friendship and intimacy, and one will not be out of the other’s sight, as I may say, even for a moment: these are the people who pass their whole lives together; yet they could not explain what they desire of one another. For the intense yearning which each of them has towards the other does not appear to be the desire of lover’s intercourse, but of something else which the soul of either evidently desires and cannot tell, and of which she has only a dark and doubtful presentiment…”
At the end of his speech, Aristophanes states:
“But my words have a wider application—they include men and women everywhere; and I believe that if our loves were perfectly accomplished, and each one returning to his primeval nature had his original true love, then our race would be happy.”
His ideas are made a little jest of at the party and Agathon makes his speech next. When it comes time for Socrates to speak, he starts: “But if you like to hear the truth about love, I am ready to speak in my own manner.”
Socrates’ speech is based on a conversation he had in his youth with a woman named Diotima. She convinces Socrates to understand that Love comes from a state of wantingness of what is fair, good, and beautiful. This state of wantingness results from Love (Eros) being the progeny of Poverty (Penia) and Plenty (Poros). For, according to Diotima, Poverty schemed to lay with Plenty when he had to much to drink and as a result she conceived Eros. She also tells Socrates:
“…and you hear people say that lovers are seeking for their other half; but I say that they are seeking neither for the half of themselves, nor for the whole, unless the half or the whole be also a good. And they will cut off their own hands and feet and cast them away, if they are evil; for they love not what is their own, unless perchance there be some one who calls what belongs to him the good, and what belongs to another the evil. For there is nothing which men love but the good. Is there anything?’ ‘Certainly, I should say, that there is nothing.’ ‘Then,’ she said, ‘the simple truth is, that men love the good…To which must be added that they love the possession of the good…And not only the possession, but the everlasting possession of the good…”
Diotima then advises Socrates that desire for goodness and beauty progresses from something lower to something higher (see the video lower on Diotimas Ladder of Love). First an individual will seek to love one form. Then, they soon will perceive “that the beauty of one form is akin to the beauty of another.” She tells Socrates:
“For he who would proceed aright in this matter should begin in youth to visit beautiful forms; and first, if he be guided by his instructor aright, to love one such form only—out of that he should create fair thoughts; and soon he will of himself perceive that the beauty of one form is akin to the beauty of another; and then if beauty of form in general is his pursuit, how foolish would he be not to recognize that the beauty in every form is and the same! And when he perceives this he will abate his violent love of the one…”
Diotima continues that as men rise up the ladder of love they will:
“…contemplate and see the beauty of institutions and laws, and to understand that the beauty of them all is of one family, and that personal beauty is a trifle; and after laws and institutions he will go on to the sciences, that he may see their beauty, being not like a servant in love with the beauty of one youth or man or institution, himself a slave mean and narrow-minded, but drawing towards and contemplating the vast sea of beauty, he will create many fair and noble thoughts and notions in boundless love of wisdom; until on that shore he grows and waxes strong, and at last the vision is revealed to him of a single science, which is the science of beauty everywhere.”
While I’ve tried using google to find out if there was anything written about twin flames (including what the troubadours may have believed) that might back up some of the current ideas about “twin flame runners,” “false twin flames,” or “dark forces keeping twin flames” apart, I couldn’t find very much. Possibly these are ideas that existed. On the other hand, possibly, the idea of twin flames, as seen through Plato’s character’s eyes (i.e. Aristophanes), was simply one poet’s romantic notion that our perfect mate is our “other half” and that we complete one another. A similar story can even be seen, to some degree, within the story of how Eve was created from Adam. For, they were both joined as one before becoming two.
On another interesting note, since the phrase “platonic love” is a term that was named after Plato and can be defined as a form of love that isn’t obsessed with the body or lust, it is kind of an irony that Plato is being associated with the notion of twin flames at all. Plato merely used this kind of romantic notion in one of his plays for his protagonist to spring off of to make a different kind of point.
Twin Flames/Souls as Taken from the Christian Gnostics
In contrast to the tale told by Aristophanes in Plato’s Symposium, the Gnostics seemed to have a much different approach. Because there were numerous Christian gnostic groups, not all groups had the exact same belief systems or traditions which were dependent upon their interpretation of gnostic gospels.
For example, according to gnosis.org, the idea of a “flame” often referred to spiritual light. As such, the twin flame was seen as “with Sophia,” an angel, or even Jesus/Christ in some cases. Here is what gnosis.org has to say on the subject of twin flames:
“In the mythology of the Gnostics, we each have a twin angel, a twin flame that is with Sophia and which she carries about her as a train of stars. In Blavatsky’s telling of the myth of Sophia, she describes a cord of light that Sophia fashions to connect each human spark with that star of greater consciousness. This is the connection that we must straighten out… The aim of the Gnostic is always straight—to the source, to the origin, to the beginning. What we must do to straighten our aim is to begin to remove the distractions that constantly seek to deflect our aim. These distractions come in many forms: “If only I had more material possessions, more sexual satisfaction, more people agreeing with my ideas, then everything would be straightened out.” Even if we manage to obtain all these things, we have not gotten any closer in touch with our connection to the Divine Source. These are all distractions, attachments to things either material or psychological that are outside of our connection to a higher reality of being.” http://gnosis.org/ecclesia/homily_Candlemas.htm
According also to another page on the same website:
“What is the Divine Twin or Twin Angel?
There are reports in Gnostic scripture and tradition about a celestial twin spirit who overshadows the human and at certain special times manifests to him. In Pistis Sophia such a twin comes to Jesus early in his life and unites with Him. The Holy Prophet Mani experienced several manifestations of his twin who finally united with him and took him to heaven.” http://gnosis.org/ecclesia/catechism.htm
If you read the book Gnostic Gospels by Elaine Pagels, it offers up the idea that even Jesus can become our twin. Elaine states: “The titles of the Gospel of Thomas and the Book of Thomas the Contender (attributed to Jesus’ ‘twin brother’) may suggest that ‘you, the reader, are Jesus twin brother.’ Whoever comes to understand these books discovers, like Thomas, that Jesus is his ‘twin,’ his spiritual ‘other self.'” The quote provided is:
“Since it has been said that you are my twin and true companion, examine yourself so that you may understand why you are…I am the knowledge of the truth. So, while you accompany me, although you do not understand (it), you already have come to know, and you will be called ‘the one who knows himself.’ For whoever has not known himself has known nothing, but whoever has known himself as simultaneously achieved knowledge about the depth of all things.”
You can read this Gnostic text at http://gnosis.org/naghamm/bookt.html
Was Mary Jesus’ Twin Flame?
As for whether Mary Magdalene is the twin flame of Jesus, in the gnostic text Dialogue of the Savior, it is asserted that Mary rejected the “works of femaleness.” According to Elaine Pagels in her book The Gnostic Gospels the “works of femaleness” are “apparently, the activities of intercourse and procreation.” Though just because there was no intercourse between them wouldn’t mean they weren’t still twins, just it couldn’t be glamorized they were twins in a high intensity romantic pairing.
As for theories that arise stating they were both husband and wife, it doesn’t really make sense to me that none of the gospels that have been found mentioned her as his wife (even not presenting her at his crucifixion as his “wife” rather than as a disciple or accompanying his mother). Comments are made about their closeness in certain texts, but, again, the disciples seem almost confused or offended about why Jesus shared so much with Mary or was so close to her. There is also theory that Jesus was from a messianic group of Nazarene “Essenes” who rarely married.
As for theories that according to the culture of the time, Jesus would have been married, there is a lot of biblical evidence more of Jesus behaving in a counter-cultural way. I tend to agree with what Rev. Dr. Mark D. Roberts writes:
“What is exceptional about Mary, when understood in her own cultural setting, is that she was one of Jesus’ closest followers. Moreover, she was the first witness to the risen Christ, a role of exceptional honor and privilege. Surely Jesus held Mary in the highest regard, though not as his wife. Ironically, the efforts to turn Mary the disciple of Jesus into Mary the wife of Jesus actually minimize how truly extraordinary she was as a central follower, supporter, and witness of Jesus.” Read more here>>
All in all, I do not feel that seeing Mary and Jesus in a glamorized “Twin Flame” light helps women or men gain a higher sense of freedom—the type most mystics recognized through being able to give up their attachments. After Jesus died, those who wanted to emulate Jesus often went to walk in the desert alone to emulate what Jesus did (this is before the creation of the Catholic Church in 300 AD). Many were aesthetics. In fact, the first monastery was founded by Pachomius, who after having a divinely inspired vision, sought to gather some of these aesthetics and wanderers together in a community/communal home (a “community of solitaires”).
Other Less Romantic Ideas on Twin Flames
Other sources on the internet reference that “twin flames” are not necessarily romantic if viewed in the incarnated sense. Both are drawn together for a higher purpose for the collective and not simply for romantic reasons. According to this theory, some may not even always be romantic partnerships. Alternatively, twin flames may meet one another in order to work through a collaborative relationship. Some may even be same sex. This is not necessarily in a homosexual sense either.
While I tend not to believe in giving one’s power away to any theory of twin flames, I like this collaborative idea of twin flames more than the romantic notions that seem to be reproductions of the idea of finding ones “Soul Mate.” During this point on our planet, what happens to life on it largely depends on whether we can learn the ultimate lessons and difference between what is real, what matters (even if it is real), and what helps us to focus on the good of the whole rather than just our own sense of personal happiness. There is currently something about the romantic idealism that seems superficial and I’ve seen it trap so many people in obsession or unhealthy codependency with a love relationship. I believe that if we can become more open and willing to overcome this sense of superficiality and to care about something bigger and more meaningful, it can help us carve a more productive collective course for ourselves and Mother Earth into the 2020’s.