Plato is often accredited to the idea of “Platonic Love,” which is very different from the ideal of Twin Flames or Twin Souls.
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 >>) as one of the first known places that Twin Flames were made mention of. In my habit of wanting to know the truth, I decided to 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.
This quote can be little misleading since it does not necessarily reflect a belief of Plato’s. It is instead something stated by a character in one of Plato’s plays.It is part of a speech that acts as a launching pad for another character to reveal a greater “truth.”
In the 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 show 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:
…the 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:
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 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.” It is from this “truth” provided that Plato is more aligned with ideas of “Platonic Love.”
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…Then love,’ she said, ‘may be described generally as the love of 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 flames, 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.
While I couldn’t find much on the internet that accommodated our current ideas of twin flames, I did find that there was mention of twins, twin flames, or souls in certain gnostic sources and websites.
Twin Flames/Souls as Taken from the Gnostics
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
It almost seems as the account of the split soul and the Gnostic idea of twin angels have been somewhat combined together for current new-age philosophy.
In the Gnostic Gospels, Elaine Pagels 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.” See here >>
Other sources on the internet reference that “twin flames” are not necessarily romantic if viewed in the incarnated sense. For instance, twins could souls that 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.
If there are other sources, I have not found them yet, but if I find anything new, I will amend this article to include this.