Divorced, Yes, But Soulmates Nonetheless

Leslie Parrish and Richard Bach

I just finished reading The Bridge Across Forever: A True Love Story, Richard Bach’s intimate and revealing account of his love affair and marriage to actress Leslie Parrish. As a hopeless romantic, I enjoyed the book very much. I like Bach’s poetic style and his fearless dedication to connect with readers by sharing his deepest emotions.

Bach and Parrish were very much in love. In one of the workshops they presented together, Parrish gave this answer when asked about how somebody could recognize when they have found thier soulmate:

A soulmate is someone who has locks that fit our keys, and keys to fit our locks. When we feel safe enough to open the locks, our truest selves step out and we can be completely and honestly who we are; we can be loved for who we are and not for who we’re pretending to be. Each unveils the best part of the other. No matter what else goes wrong around us, with that one person we’re safe in our own paradise. Our soulmate is someone who shares our deepest longings, our sense of direction. When we’re two balloons, and together our direction is up, chances are we’ve found the right person. Our soulmate is the one who makes life come to life.

Leslie Parrish with Stubby Kaye in the 1959 movie, "Li'l Abner"

I was disappointed to learn that Bach and Parrish divorced in 1999 after twenty-one years together. Why should I care? I think we all like to think that there is such a thing as a lifelong romance. When a “perfect” relationship that has been so publicly chronicled ends, it tends to deflate the “fairy tale romance” balloon that we all want to believe exists.

Richard Bach wrote this about their divorce:

Leslie and I are no longer married. Soulmates, to me, don’t define themselves by legal marriage. There’s a learning connection that exists between those two souls. Leslie and I had that for the longest time, and then a couple of years ago, she had this startling realization. She said, ‘Richard, we have different goals!’ I was yearning for my little adventures and looking forward to writing more books. Leslie has worked all her life long, and she wanted peace, she wanted to slow the pace, not complicate it, not speed it up. Not money, not family, no other men or other women, separated us. We wanted different futures. She was right for her. I was right for me. Finally it came time for us to make a choice. We could save the marriage and smother each other: ‘You can’t be who you want to be.’ Or we could separate and save the love and respect that we had for each other. We decided the marriage was the less important. And now we’re living separate lives.

I believe that Leslie and I were led to find each other, led through the years we lived together, and led to part. There’s so much to learn! When a marriage comes to an end, we’re free to call it a failure. We’re also free to call it a graduation. We didn’t say, ‘I guess we weren’t led to each other, I guess we’re not soul mates after all.’ Our graduation was part of the experience we chose before we were born, to learn how to let each other go.

I have no reason to doubt Bach’s account and I’m sure that his assertion that the breakup was initiated by Parrish makes it easier for fans to accept, especially considering that Bach was such a self-absorbed dunderhead at the start of their relationship and that soon after their divorce, he married a much younger woman. Ultimately, of course, it’s nobody else’s business, no matter how public the two of them have been about their relationship.

Of course, just because a relationship ends does not mean it was a failure. Each relationship showers us with gifts. For instance, joining our heart with another’s allows us to express and experience our deepest desires for emotional and physical intimacy.

When love beckons to you, follow him,
Though his ways are hard and steep.
And when his wings enfold you yield to him,
Though the sword hidden among his pinions may wound you.
And when he speaks to you believe in him,
Though his voice may shatter your dreams as the north wind lays waste the garden.

Kahlil Gibran

Finally, here is a long, insightful interview with Bach and Parrish when they were still very much together.

An Interview with Richard Bach and Leslie Parrish by John Harricharan

John Harricharan: Richard, you have a reputation for being difficult with the public. You put up tremendous walls and only come out when you choose, touch the public and then go back behind those walls. The question is why?

Richard Bach: Difficult? Not at all. But walls, of course. Like most writers, we like to find what we know and pass it along to anyone who cares. When that’s done, as soon as we’ve said the best we can say, there’s nothing else about us that’s remotely interesting to anybody else, and we go back behind the walls. We can be intimate in books, we can be intimate in talks, but then we need time to be alone. When people push us, or demand, it’s true that we can get a little frosty.

John Harricharan: Leslie, could you comment on what Richard has said?

Leslie: As the practical one of this pair, I’d like to address the practicalities of the need to withdraw. Stop and think what you’d do if there were constant demands on your time from outside your family, outside your work, outside the choices you’ve made for your life. Lovely offers, some of them important, but if you responded to all of them, or even a tiny part of them, you’d have no time to think or work, no time for a life of your own.

We had a very clear example of this with the book, The Bridge Across Forever. It was very intimate and readers sent us wonderful, intimate letters in return. We were so touched by them, as the introduction to this new book says, that we spent more than a year answering letters.

Then it came time to write One and we had to put the mail aside. There were people who’d written when they were in need of support at critical times in their lives, sometimes desperate times, and when we stopped reading the letters, we knew there must be letters like that which were not being addressed, and we worried about them.

While we were writing, it must have seemed a complete withdrawal. Now, with the book done, we’re reading all the letters that piled up, but our answers are very late, indeed. We’re not difficult, we just have priorities that others don’t know.

John Harricharan: So it’s with the intent of focus and intensity to produce something that would be shared again that you lock the world out?

Leslie: It always is. There has to be that time of quiet and concentration. Some people make the assumption that because we live on an island, we have nothing to do, so they might as well drop in on us and chat for an afternoon. No matter how serene the island appears to be, our office is a whirlwind of activity, computers everywhere, machines whizzing connections to New York and London and Los Angeles. In a life as pressured and as complicated as ours, we don’t have the luxury of sitting around and talking with each other for an afternoon, much less with strangers. Sometimes we miss each other, even though we’re together in the same office, because there’s so much focus on work and so little on ourselves.

Our next goal is to slow down and experience some other aspects of life instead of feeling so missionary all the time. We think we have a lot to learn from some time spent not working. I suppose then we’ll seem even more withdrawn, but maybe this will help people understand.

John Harricharan: You have said, Richard, that you hate to write. Yet after Illusions, we saw Bridge and now “One.” Why do you keep writing? Is there an idea which you come upon and feel you must express, or do you just want to write a book every few years? And will you write more?

Richard Bach: It’s like a pulsar inside us. There is this great burst of energy, forcing us to write, and then the star goes quiet for a time, and we think it’s gone, but it’s gathering energy for another burst. And we seem to be almost unwilling participants in this. I’m sure that “One” is the last book we’ll write, but I’ve been just as sure every book would be the last. I wish it would stop, but I suspect that over the next few years something, some strange whimsical, quirky, other-world part of us will say, “Well, let’s see what can we hand over that will be so overwhelmingly fascinating that they’ll have to write it, no matter what?”

“One” came from a long-term curiosity about what might have been, what would have become of us if I had run from love; if Leslie had? Who are those people we might have been? Where are they now? Then one day I picked up a little book, The Many Worlds Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics. It says that every possible event that can happen, does happen in an alternate space-time. It’s like the theory of relativity itself; it’s incredible, but no one can fault the math!

Physicists do not accept the idea of time. They say, “There is no space-time, there is not time, there is no before, there is no after. The question what happens ‘next’ is without meaning” I thought, if all these other paths exist, and if there is no such thing as time, when all paths must be simultaneous! But how can this be? How can opposites be true? And I went to sleep thinking about that and all of a sudden I was looking down on this infinite pattern and it all clicked, everything made sense!

There’s a pattern behind space-time, and every event is part of the pattern, each lifetime is a different path through the same pattern, and I told Leslie, I’ve just found the answer to every question in the universe! I hit the computer transfigured with inspiration and understanding and the words that I wrote were just…awful! I could see the idea, but I couldn’t write it! How many beginnings, Leslie, did we go through on this book?

Leslie: Well, it was an elusive little thing-twenty-four chapters down one road, eleven chapters down another. Then having danced all around us like that, it suddenly became very clear. It was the same idea all along. The challenge was to write it so it was not pure science, so abstract that no one would care about it. How do you get readers to experience this understanding, to see themselves in the pattern, to know their power of choice over the direction their lives can take?

John Harricharan: The process of writing this book is rather interesting. There seems to be no boundary between Richard and Leslie. You wrote that you become “RiLeschardlie,” which is in keeping with the title of the book, One. How do you write together?

Richard Bach: We’re two apprentice pole vaulters, we pick up this sentence or this paragraph and we say, “What a wonderful pole, we can really jump with this!” So we run like crazy, slam that pole into the ground and go sailing up into the sky toward our idea-and then we hear this cracking breaking sound and down we go-kafoof!-in a cloud of dust. Didn’t even come close to the vision we’d had. We then say, “Well, that one didn’t work” And we try again, another paragraph: “What a wonderful pole this one is!”

All the while, that beautiful idea floats high up there, out of reach, and you can’t stop trying, you can’t stop bouncing up toward it: spring shoes, you drag a trampoline under it, you point cannon-barrels at it, climb in and light the fuse.

My way of writing a book is completely disorganized-to hurl myself at the problem, over and over. Leslie’s way is to sit down very quietly and outline a logical progression of ideas. I didn’t let her do that at first. I said, “Leslie, I know I’m going to get it this way. Tomorrow I’ll have something terrific, not perfect but” But time after time, my way wouldn’t work.

Finally, I remember, I gave her a handful of rough chapters, certainly not a finished book, but a start at least, rough chapters. That was the lowest point for me, when I saw her face and knew that she thought they were a little less than wonderful. But she took those chapters and she gave them the direction they were looking for all along, and at least the book was underway. It was not easy.

John Harricharan: This must call for a tremendous amount of patience, no matter how much you love someone, or it will generate more heat than light. How do you handle that, Leslie?

Leslie: With honesty. Without that, it would be a disservice to Richard, to the readers, and to the idea itself. It was not that the idea wasn’t there, it’s that it wasn’t in a form that would sing. I think one of the most exceptional things about Richard’s writing is that he can write philosophy and people who generally wouldn’t have much interest in reading philosophy suddenly become fascinated with it. He can write about flying, and people who hate flying learn to love it because he brings it into some kind of exciting presence that touches them and they say, “Yes, this is a part of my life and I see how it applies.” I think that’s one of his greatest gifts.

The first attempt at this book was very scientific, very philosophical. But there was not story line to make a reader stay with it. The ideas were intriguing, but they wouldn’t touch the audience that Richard has communicated with so well. The second version was a reaction to the first, it became laden with story line and it was just a novel, an adventure. The wonderful ideas that had started the whole thing were buried in the plot.

They say there’s a statue hidden inside every stone. A book is the same – a beautiful, clear thought hidden within masses of disorganized ideas. As sculptors chip away the stone in order to find the statue, writers chip away extraneous verbiage so readers can see the shape of an idea clearly. My gift is to see through the confusion, to bring order and simplicity. And though Richard is the most loving man I can imagine with me, he is still more reserved than I am in writing, and I encourage him to show more of his feelings in a book than he normally would.

John Harricharan: So it’s the synergy of it all that works.

Richard Bach: Yes! Then there are two tests that we have for all of our writing: So What? and Who Cares? There is an answer to both. The answer to Who Cares is that a reader cares, if the writing is good. The answer to So What is that these ideas give us completely new understanding, change our sense of who we are and why we’re here.

But the road to So What is writing and cutting and rewriting and editing over and over. Does this paragraph, this sentence, this comma, express the idea? If not, we do it again. I can understand, listening to me now, why I hate writing. It’s terrible work.

Leslie doesn’t feel that way. Sometimes I’d be bashing on the keyboard completely frustrated and I’d look over at the computer next to mine and she’d be having a wonderful time. She’d look up with a big smile, “Oh, Richie, isn’t this fun? I love writing!” Those times I wanted to throw a lamp at her.

Leslie: For me, it’s a joy. You have the power to make things as positive and beautiful as you wish when you write. It’s magic.

John Harricharan: We have followed you through Jonathan Seagull, with Donald Shimoda over Bridge to One. It appears that both of you have experimented successfully with astral travel. Do you do that from a practical standpoint or is it just recreation?

Richard Bach: We don’t practice any more. It’s an interesting syndrome that happened over and again to amateur psychic researchers. First, we discover that we have these capacities that we never knew we had. With great practice we learn that we have the ability to leave our body, to know what’s going on at some point miles and days distant from where we are, to know what someone else is thinking. We discover these and we say it’s incredible! We do it for a while longer and we say, nice. I accept this. But novelty turns to understanding, and then it’s time to get on with other aspects of our lives, there’s new learning still to come.

Leslie: I feel that having touched upon it, first, accidentally, then deliberately, you don’t have to continue to practice it. But it appears in your life in other forms. There’s a thing I’ve been repressing all my life which I guess is a psychic sense, something that knows a lot of things that I don’t have any right to know, yet I know them for sure. They’re intensifying now, and I’m learning to trust them.

John Harricharan: Can you give us an example?

Leslie: There was one last week. Richard went to pick up an airplane after its annual inspection. Mind you, he flies airplanes all the time, flying is as normal for us as it is for most people to get into a car. But last week, I was frightened for days before he picked up that airplane. I had very intense feelings that said, “Something’s wrong!” I told him, “I’m worried about you. Check it over very thoroughly before you fly it.” And sure enough, there was something very wrong, something that could have killed him on takeoff. He was in a super-alert state from all my nagging, I suppose, and he’s also a fantastic pilot, so he was able to act very swiftly, do exactly the right things and land before things flew apart.

John Harricharan: Where do you think this information came from?

Leslie: I think I’m finally beginning to allow, to recognize, an area of myself which I didn’t like or want. My mother was very psychic when I was little, she knew many things before they happened. And I got so frightened of that gift of hers, I surely didn’t want to find it in myself. So I denied these insights for years and made a lot of bad choices because of that denial.

Then I happened to meet this man, Richard Bach, who was very gifted in this way too, and fascinated with psychic phenomena. And we talked about experiences I’d had before I ever heard about psychic experiments – like spontaneous out of body experiences that I’d never mentioned to anyone till I met him. And he’d say, “How do you account for this, pragmatist?” And I didn’t know. So we did some experimentation, and every time we did, we were amazed at the discoveries we made, how good we were at it.

John Harricharan: Do you think that anybody can do this if they practice?

Leslie: Absolutely. I’ve been a tough one to convince because I didn’t welcome it. If it could get through to me, then it should certainly work for someone who is open to it. I think sometimes people try so hard to have psychic experiences that they use a conscious part of the mind when it seems the unconscious side is the part the excels at this. The things that happened to me seemed to come of their own accord, naturally. I’d say the best approach would be to focus on something beautiful and open yourself to the possibilities.

Richard Bach: There aren’t just a few of us scattered through the land who are creatures of light and everyone else is a lump of clay. We’re all creatures of light, and if it intrigues us, if we’re magnetized towards understanding this power that we have, then we can practice and demonstrate it. First we have our curiosities, then little hints of ability and then very powerful demonstrations.

We are light-beings who have chosen to believe in the limitations of space-time for our own very good reasons. We love to surmount obstacles in order to express life. We do this in a world that appears to be uncaring, or cruel, or ferocious. What’s the reason for tragedy and disaster? To force us to call on our light within! And when we do, that light bursts forth, right in the midst of tragedy, to sing to us of our power. Our purpose for living is to shine that light.

Leslie: Now there is intense interest in this subject. It seems that humanity is ready to see another level of itself – a higher level. There was a time when the western mind lived in Europe and knew nothing of the “new world.” Then it discovered whole continents, part of the planet it had never noticed. Now we go back and forth between old and new and there is an awareness that the physical world is on. We feel we’re ready to open ourselves now to new emotional and psychic continents, and the result will be an emotional oneness. We see the birth of that today as walls of suspicion between peoples and nations begin to disappear and we find love and friendship and joy in discovering one another at last.

John Harricharan: If we’re all aspects of the “One” then it follows that we’re all connected in this and every other lifetime. I have met in my investigations, over forty Cleopatras, Caesars, and Pharaohs. Could I not tap into a lifetime, say, of Attila the Hun and see what my relationship was with that aspect of myself?

Richard Bach: Certainly. All those beliefs of lifetimes are not in the past, they’re not in the future, they’re right now! And in this simultaneity of being, none of them are real, they’re all belief systems, playgrounds, learning grounds in fields of space-time. I think the only reality is Love, that transcendent eternal explosion of life that knows us for who we are, Love that is divinely indifferent to whatever we choose to believe.

John Harricharan: What you’re saying then, Richard, is that there could be forty or four hundred Cleopatras for those who felt a connection to that aspect?

Richard Bach: I think the “historical” Cleopatra and her infinite number of alternate mirrors are aspects of every single one of us. I said, “every single one,” but as there is not separation between the drops of water in an ocean, there is no separation between us. We are one. Each of us ocean-drops is free to perceive itself as a limited entity, with the circumference of its being extending only a tenth of an inch from its center. The ocean, however, says, “If you want to feel that way, but I know who you are. I know that you’re one with me, dear little drop, and never can we be separated.” There are no boundaries except those we accept in our thought.

We all know those who draw their boundaries carefully and say, “I’m only human. Nobody’s perfect. I accept my limitations.” And we know others who take an opposite view and say, “I can do anything I choose to do. It is in my power to change the world.” Those are the ones who most often change the world, and there are many of them on the planet today.

John Harricharan: Leslie, you and Richard are so close in the focus of this lifetime. Richard speaks of alternate lifetimes and aspects. Do you feel that in those alternate lives you’re with an alternate Richard, or could you possibly be with others who are not close aspects of Richard?

Leslie: I can’t imagine anyone other than Richard. I think that’s why I waited forty years for him in this lifetime – I couldn’t imagine anyone else. I don’t mean this physical expression of Richard necessarily, but this expression of spirit which fits so perfectly with mine.

Richard Bach: If we visit a masquerade party with our wife or husband, we look at our partner and see familiar eyes behind a strange mask. The face is different from the one we’re used to seeing, but the same person lives behind that mask. So it might be in other experiences we have. We feel bonds between us which the eye cannot see.

John Harricharan: What you’re saying appeals to thousands of people on earth today, especially someone like me, who, as you know, just a few weeks ago lost someone very close and special.

Richard Bach: You have not lost your beautiful wife, John. Books like One are fictional ways of telling the truth. There was Richard surrounded by the beliefs of Leslie’s death. “This is our house and she’s gone, this is her gravestone, for God’s sake, and it’s solid rock and don’t try to tell me different” But different was true, and at that very moment she was saying, “I am with you!”

John Harricharan: If the belief system were changed by reason or by the intellect, would you have been able to perceive and hear her?

Richard Bach: Reason and intellect are opening wedges in an understanding of reality – and there we go right back to the only thing that’s real in any universe: that brilliant fire of Love that burns to the exclusion of everything else. As we recognize the presence of Love, we break through that wall of grief that would try to convince us that the dear soul with whom we have learned and loved so much no longer exists, or that she or he cannot speak with us. There is no wall that Love cannot vaporize. We may believe in death, Love doesn’t.

John Harricharan: Concerning this thing called the New Age, what are your thoughts? Also the proliferation of channels from ancient east Indians to dolphins to the cosmic chicken?

Richard Bach: I think we’re at a point of immense personal discovery. So many of us today have learned from empty pasts in ages gone by. We’re tired of emptiness and ready for a new age, and we have decided to create it around us. There is a massive wish to discover, to experience individually the highest we can imagine.

As creatures of enormous creativity and uncertain confidence, we use channeling as training wheels of the spirit. It’s adventurous to open ourselves to other voices, and if it’s the cosmic dolphin that comes through, what a playful, intelligent image we’ve chosen! What matters is not that a dolphin speaks to us, but what the dolphin says. If that dolphin is speaking from the center of our being, it will be chatting to us about the nature of love and of what our gifts to the world can be, and how our lives can be uplifted. Should the dolphin suggest that our mission is to destroy everyone who does not swim, however, then we’re well advised to shut down the channel.

Judge not by the form of the messenger, but the form of the message. Does the message strike harmonics in our highest self, does it expand our capacity to love, does it free our world from the chains of beliefs that would hold it down?

Leslie: Some aspects of channeling disturb us, though. I feel that, in its best sense, we’re using someone else to give us permission to affirm what we already know. And if that’s what it takes to allow ourselves to recognize these perceptions or to pry them from the place we have hidden them, that’s fine. But there’s an aspect of it that’s very disappointing when you consider that people become involved in search of spiritual insight and some of them wind up involved in high finance, instead. I think we should be wary of channels who urge us to buy more than a look at their ideas. When we buy real estate from our channel, for instance, and then the roof leaks, we’re disappointed in too many ways.

John Harricharan: Richard, I’m taking you out on a limb now. Is this what happened to Christianity where everyone looked to the messenger and forgot the message?

Richard Bach: Not only Christianity, John, but every other religion that defies form instead of knowing. Pretend for a moment that you were Jesus, or Siddhartha, and you found this gift of understanding and gave it to your time the best you could. Now watch while the centuries roll by and your gift is organized and ritualized and commercialized. How does it feel, Jesus, to watch the ones you wished to set free not only bind themselves in slavery to your wooden image, but to torture and kill those who worship differently? If I were Jesus, I’d be mortified.

John Harricharan: What really is the New Age and where do you think it is going?

Richard Bach: One of the delights of the new age is that it’s a turning of consciousness to give us permission to look beyond appearances. But there are traps that come with it. It’s brave to throw off the old altars and churches and ceremonies that kept us from discovery, it’s not so brave to replace them with chants and rituals and new priests who are retreads of the old.

John Harricharan: Yet Richard, it appears that mankind has always had hierarchies, and seems to seek out those who know. What would you do if I were to come to you and say, “Great Guru of the Skies, you have found that for which I have always longed. You studied with the Great Seagull and you’re a friend of Don Shimoda who can walk on water. If I associate with you, if I pray to you and bring you gifts, would you, Great One, help me find the way?” How would you respond to that?

Richard Bach: I would respond unto you, “No gifts, my child. Send cash.”

Leslie: (Laughter)

John Harricharan: But don’t we need help? Don’t we need a teacher?

Richard Bach: We have a teacher! The teacher is ourselves! We already know everything we need to know — our challenge is to discover that we know it. Turn to gurus, I think, and we become guru-dependent, no different from drug-dependent, alcohol-dependent — needing an outside force to control our lives. Yet for thousands of years, the most advanced teachers have told us that the answers are within: “Neither Lo, here! nor Lo, there! The kingdom of heaven is within you.” “Seek, and ye shall find; ask, and it shall be given; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.”

Leslie: Years ago, I went to a psychoanalyst. I am forever grateful to him for refusing to give me his answers, his wisdom, for forcing me, instead, to recognize my own wisdom. At the time, I was so filled with doubts, I tried continually to lean on him, to force him to live my life for me. He consistently refused, he insisted I had the answers, the ability to make good judgments. I finally recognized he was right, and took responsibility for my life at last, able to walk through all its good and bad without crutches.

Richard Bach: But we don’t have to go to anyone to find understanding. We can sit still, eyes closed, and then open our eyes, notice whatever we see and ask, “What is the lesson from this?” Right now, for instance, I’m looking out the window and I see a huge fir tree, as massive thing of branches and barks and needles. Let’s say there’s a rainstorm and two little raindrops fall together at the base of the tree, and they’re drawn up through the root hairs and all the millions of possible paths toward the top of that tree, choosing every turn. Perhaps way up high, one will go out to one branchlet and one will go out another.

The tree is a symbol of the simultaneity we’ve been talking about, a reminder that all these possible choices were there before ever the droplets fell from the sky. They choose their way through the infinite possibilities that the tree offers as we choose our way in the space-time. Ultimately they find their way out of the fir-needles, evaporate into air and clouds and the cycle can be repeated any number of times. The raindrops can experience every aspect of that tree or they can fall back and become one with the sea again or they can do both or they can do something else.

We live on our own spinning metaphor, turning about another metaphor still. And when we understand that even our solar system is a tiny little metaphor, lost in the enormity of a universe, does it hint at the immensity of love?

John Harricharan: We have all read or heard predictions from Nostradamus to modern day prophets concerning imminent physical Earth changes. What are your thoughts on these predicted disasters?

Richard Bach: Each of us is free to move our consciousness through that infinite pattern of possibilities as we please. If we’re filled with fears, or if we trust the fears of others, we’ll choose a path in which our city falls into the sea, or a path in which a third world war vaporizes us, or whatever other disaster is most thrilling or horrifying or fascinating for us.

Another person who may have shared our journey, who may have traveled in consciousness just as far up the same tree as we have, who has come with us to the point of hearing others predict disaster is free to say, “This will not be true for me. I refuse to accept such an uncreative future. I refuse to accept a world war in my experience and I’ll do whatever I can to make a world of peace come true. I’ll love my enemies, if I must. I’ll become a citizen-diplomat. I’ll help to change the world.”

That person, with her resolve, is choosing a future which does not include nuclear destruction. Her world might come within a few seconds of destruction or it might miss it by years, but she will not experience that which she refuses to accept. Those who warn of earth-changes, of disasters and terrors, are heralds of possible futures for those who have something to learn from them.

John Harricharan: This is a tremendous amount of freedom. When I commune with the God Force, the Infinite Is, and I say, “Father, Thy will be done,” do I hear the answer, “My will is exactly what you will for yourself”?

Richard Bach: I hear, “My will is already done.” There is no past; there is no future. Love’s will is done now. But we’re free to believe anything else we want to believe. I don’t think this life force steps in our way and says, “I refuse you the opportunity to believe that you are limited or to believe that you’re destructible or to believe that you’re subject to space and time and disaster.” It says instead, “If you choose that, dear reflection of Me, that’s your freedom. But you cannot change reality, I AM, AND SO ARE YOU.”

When we’re born on this planet, we’re taught to believe that what we see is real. But as we grow in understanding, we recognize first that we’ve been hypnotized by that reaching, and second that it’s within our power to de-hypnotize ourselves. And as we do that, the illusion appears to change, to come in harmony with what we most value. If we most value love, we will begin to see more and more love and joy and adventure-creative expressions of life shimmering everywhere around us.

John Harricharan: What do you think about astrology? In recent months it was the focus of the media. Do you think there is anything to it?

Richard Bach: There is something to astrology for those who believe in astrology, as there is something to medicine for those who believe in medicine. Every system works when we give our heart to it. But most often, I think, we find that we can pretty well count on our highest sense of right to guide our lives.

Leslie: I was raised a Catholic and I took from that system all that I felt was good and used it to grow. But when it became a system for the limitation of my though and growth instead of part of a growth process, I left it and looked to other systems, astrology, various other religions, channels, all sorts of things. Now I feel that all these systems, whether they are ancient religions or the methods that are developing the New Age, are simply ways of focusing on our highest sense of right and allowing ourselves to see it. They give us permission to set time aside for inner exploration to say, “I’m going to assign an hour for church or twenty minutes for meditation or a weekend for a seminar.”

We’re using these methods to reach that part of us that knows more than we dream we know and, whatever it is-if it’s the cosmic dolphin or someone who claims to be the latest incarnation of God-if it elevates us, if it makes us see more clearly, if it makes us a kinder soul, if it makes us happier, then listen.
Sometimes disaster is our teacher. I don’t welcome it, but if it comes, there is something to be learned from it. Richard and I sometimes say, “We knew better, but we did this anyway. Why did we do such a silly thing?” Then we find five years later that the “silly thing” was a very small sample of what would have happened to us if we hadn’t learned through that experience. It’s as if we had this sample as an inoculation so we could develop antibodies. Five years later, we can say, “We had a taste of that before, and we don’t have to go through it again. Thank goodness for that earlier disaster!”

John Harricharan: In your book “One” you mention crystals. What are your thoughts on crystals?

Richard Bach: We use them as an image in one chapter. They are very pretty.

Leslie: We have a beautiful crystal in our living room. It is from a dear friend and we love it for its beauty and for the love of the friend who gave it to us. But, aside from that, we don’t see any magic in crystals other than the magic that we give to them ourselves.

John Harricharan: Money, Richard — how to make money. Having had lots of it, lost it and regained it, how does money impact on your relationship with your soulmate, your environment and the people of the world?

Richard Bach: Money is a great isolator. In fact, we don’t even need to have money or make money, we only need to be perceived as having money to be isolated in the strangest ways from most of the community around us. It reaches the point where a person with money spends a great deal of time reacting to people who are reacting to the money.

Leslie: I lived in great poverty as a child and young woman, and I used to think of money and how to make money as a means to get away from the constant struggle to survive — as freedom. Now I know it isn’t freedom. It’s not a solution, but a new problem. It comes with its own challenges and tremendous obligations.
The way to obliterate financial problems with your soulmate is to have absolute equality in the management and control of money. We share everything so neither of us has financial power over the other, and that’s been a wise arrangement. I don’t think we’ve ever had an argument about money.

Richard Bach: In the highest sense, at least on this level of space-time belief, money is the way in which we say thank you for a gift that’s been given. But with money come the tests. My bankruptcy, which at the time we thought was a disaster, turned out to be a major blessing. It taught me so much! I said money is an isolator, but it’s a magnet, too. It draws all kinds of people to you — you may not want them but it draws them to you anyway. The reverse of that, a bankruptcy, sends everybody away. People we thought were friends, and some we thought were family, showed us that our value to them was measured in dollars, in money, and that was a memorable discovery.

Leslie and I went through that experience together. We were not even legally married when I went bankrupt, and there was part of me, way down deep in my cynical soul that said, “This is a test for her. My friends have run away; now we’ll see what my soulmate is going to do.” She didn’t flicker. Leslie was there closer than ever, and that demonstration alone was worth the bankruptcy.
And the principle of exchange was still true: if you give a gift, society’s way of thanking you is in the language of money. You make money.

We learned from that experience, and we wrote about it: how it feels to find a soulmate, to find happiness in the midst of financial death. That adventure was called “The Bridge Across Forever,” which some people enjoyed enough to say thanks by buying the book, and we were financially reincarnated. They don’t know it, but their thanks lifted us out of poverty.

John Harricharan: I will quote from a letter, Richard, that you wrote to me the day after my wife died. “Her light is no more out than is the light of the sun, though it may seem dark till the world turns to let you see with your eyes what you know in your heart. Remember to write what she says to you now.” Is this what you mean by communication at all levels whether in the body or not?

Richard Bach: If we believe that we’re separated from someone, though they stand in the same room with us, we’re separated. If we believe that we’re together, if we believe that they are with us, if we listen through our inner senses, there’s a chance we’ll hear. Why not trust ourselves to know that we have our own channel of communication through love?

This afternoon we talk with you on a telephone, John. We’re hearing your voice and we accept that it’s you without asking you to prove your existence to us. The voice we hear could be a charlatan masquerading as John, or perhaps the voice of a very smart computer. We have no physical evidence that you exist, yet we’re exchanging ideas with you now, we’re affecting each other as though we were in the same room.

John Harricharan: Through this long experience we’ve shared with you, your own financial problems and Mardai’s illness, we’ve been with you in spirit. Yet you’ve known that we were with you, sending loving support, that we felt sad that this terrible experience was coming to you and trusted that one day terrible would give way to beautiful. Through it, you and Mardai, Richard and I were only spirits to each other, yet we’ve felt love and compassion and sadness and empathy as clearly as if we’d been together. That same sharing is available to you and Mardai now.

John Harricharan: One last question. What advice do you have for people who are just beginning to realize that there are many things out there beyond their limited worlds?

Richard Bach: Two words: Love leads. Listen to that ring of love within. Ask, “Is this my highest sense of right? Is this the direction I want most to go? Is this the way in which I can give my greatest gift?” If we follow that leading of love we’ll be guaranteed an adventurous, positive, joyful life.

Leslie: Difficult times, testing times, too, but the day will come when we’ll look back across it all and be proud of the person we chose to be.

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24 Responses to “Divorced, Yes, But Soulmates Nonetheless”

  1. annie Says:

    wow! i really like this article.

    thank you!!!

  2. Phil Bolsta Says:

    You’re very welcome, Annie!

  3. LunaJune Says:

    Wow.. great and it leaves me feeling wonderful about my momentary connection to Richard.
    Time moves us to where we need to be when we need to be there and more importantly we have to be open and see it.
    Richard Bach came to Twitter for a very short moment, and as that window open I got to connect to a man who’s words and images help sculpt my earlier life, who’s words showed me another way to live, to think, to feel, and we talked and I thanked him and told him where my energy always connects with his, under the wing of the Gyspy Moth in the fields of farmers, and of course in the sky.

    Thanks Phil… it was something I needed to read today

  4. Phil Bolsta Says:

    Glad to hear you made that connection, LunaJune. Clearly, it was important to you.

  5. mel Says:

    Mr. Phil Bolsta,

    I was born on June 29 and based on numerologists on an article I’ve read way back 2002, my soul mate’s birth date is December 29.
    Honestly speaking, I’m not a fan of horoscopes, numerology, etc. because I don’t wan’t predictions to rule my life and decisions but as I remember I’ve read that article just for fun to see if the descriptions of my personality written there are correct. Well, some of it are partially true, some are really way out of line.
    Until now, I still haven’t met any man with that birth date.

    I really don’t know if I belive in soulmates because I have not experienced falling for someone believing he is the one.

  6. Phil Bolsta Says:

    WHat I would say to anyone, mel, is this: Your search for a beloved will be more successful if, instead of trying to find the right person, you try to be the right person. Prepare yourself fin body, mind, and spirit to welcome your beloved. Prioritize honor and integrity and strive to become better in every aspect of life. As you live more consciously, you naturally develop greater empathy, compassion, and self-awareness. The greater your self-knowledge, the greater the likelihood that you will attract a compatible, emotionally healthy partner.

  7. Alan Pritz Says:

    Hi Phil,
    After reading the article about Richard Bach etc., I found myself sharing the sad sense of bubbles bursting. But I also felt myself moving into righteous judgement. It’s like, “Come off it guys! Just because you want to do different things is no reason to divorce!” Really, how many people have the hubris to assume their lives will align perfectly, or, the folly to disengage just because they don’t. It seems to me that if you love another, you set them free but that doesn’t necessarily mean you have to divorce. Consider Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward: Was she filing for divorce because Paul wanted to drive race cars at age 70+ and she didn’t? I mean, really!

    When I commented on this to my wife her remark was, “These people are simply not grown up.” And I tend to agree.

    From a spiritual perspective, I feel that soul mates are a myth anyway. The only real soul mate one has is God. To cultivate a deepening relationship with another is but a way to bring forth the soul’s capacity to love selflessly. To blend that with a harmonious orientation towards spiritual perfection moves each into a deeper state of mutuality that can eventually merge in shared divine unity. To me, that’s what marriage is about, particularly spiritual marriage. The alleged quest for soul mates is a misperception of what hooking up is fundamentally all about.

    My spiel.

  8. Phil Bolsta Says:

    I agree with everything you said, Alan, with the caveat that I can’t imagine that there’s more to the story that we aren’t privy to. The reason Bach gave for the breakup sounds awfully superficial to me too.

  9. Diana Nagy Says:

    I am currently reading this book and enjoying it immensely. Didn’t know that it was Richard Bach that was writing it when I began it. I enjoy the poem from Kahlil Gibran as well as Richard Bach’s definition of what a soulmate is. It can be challenging to stay with a person whose goals differ from yours. I have been married for over 2 years and don’t know what my husbasnd has for a goal, even if he has one. Better yet, I need to more thoroughly define my own at the age of 26, one month shy of 27.

  10. Phil Bolsta Says:

    Glad you’re enjoying the book, Diana. Good luck with your marriage. If I may offer one piece of advice: Whatever you learn, make an effort to share it with your husband. It sounds like you have a thirst for self-knowledge and self-awareness. Even if your husband doesn’t share your goals, at least try to keep him informed about what you’re thinking along those lines. Otherwise, you may wake up one day to find that there is a gulf between you.

  11. Francisco Comelli Says:

    21 years together! I read “Bridge across Forever” 20 years ago, and currently I’m in the process of finishing reading that very same… One question comes to mind, relentlessly: How could this woman put up with this man for so long?

  12. Phil Bolsta Says:

    Ha! I was thinking along the same lines at times, Francisco, but you have to give Richard credit for acknowledging when he’s wrong and for his willingness to change on a dime.

  13. Nic Says:

    Hello Phil,

    Thank you for your opinion and the time & energy you spent on this topic. I suddenly found myself, right in the middle of a process, thinking of googleling “what happened to Leslie Parrish”

    AS IF it was my first attempt to get info ! :-)

    In regards to the breakup and “who’s really to blame”:
    we all tend to blame Bach because he seems so transparent and blunt and cold fish.

    But I sometimes wonder if my relationship with my own wife isn’t similar. We’re still together after 5 years and yes I love her but sometimes she drives me crazy with her sudden madness behavior. Of course “it takes two to tango” and I probably have something to do with it. We remember how Leslie might be behaving sometimes unrationally after Bach said some things harshly and heartlessly. She told him once in “Bridge…”not to provoke her into acting in such a way” after she had finished throwing “things” at the wall. This phrase, which I read more than 20 years ago, struck me much later as I found myself hearing the same things by my wife (she wasn’t throwing but screaming like hell). Like: you’re walking on a mine site and you’re supposed to guess if it’s going to explode. You get to know the site after many years but the bombs are sometimes changing areas purposely so that you walk on it and … boom! : the harm is done.

    2) The fact that she wanted to insist that SHE’s the rational person in the couple tends to show how important it is for her to be seen as such. She repeadedly said that in One, Bridges and she did it in this interview (Thanks to you, Phil). This doesn’t proove anything and on the contrairy demonstrates how vulnerable she feels, in my opinion. And this probably reflects merely one tiny part of how she behaves in real life. Richard has shown us the “cute” aspect.

    3)Two words : marital relationship.
    The book “Bridge…” mentions that Bach had a hard time living with one woman. I think it goes way deeper than that: most men have needs for more than one woman and the difference of libido is sometimes too much for the health of the couple. How can he satisfy himself if his “soulmate” can’t or won’t take responsibility in this aspect of their relationship? Then he asks to meet other women to satisfy his needs but she refuses.

    My point is: I think that behind the reasons that were mentioned officially to the fans, the real reason that cannot be written was:

    He wanted to be “active” again in *all the senses* of the word, including a healthy marital relationship, and she wanted to rest. There is something much more intimate behind all this and I have no right to get further info but…. in my personnal opinion: she couldn’t offer him anymore what he was craving.

    And if my theory was right, a divorce would fit perfectly in. Because the fact that she refuses to share him with other women . . . who can’t understand this? Of course, it makes perfect sense to me. But if she refused to fullfil his primal needs, that’s something else that affects the wedding directly. But or course, this is not the way it is shown in the books and articles. Richard wants to practice polygamy and this is bad. Black or white.

    I think Bach & Parrish would rather have us believe those reasons and let us critizise. And who can blame them?

    The proof that I understand them not sharing this aspect of their marriage is that I’m not going to comment on my own marital life myself, regadless of it being great or poor lol…

    I really like Leslie and this type of personnality who gets deeply involved in everything she does and I even have more empathy towards her than Richard but it still takes two to tango, period.

    I’ve wanted to share this thought for quite a while now…


  14. Phil Bolsta Says:

    I agree with you, Nic, that more is going on here than, “Oh, wait. We have different future plans. See ya!” But you’re absolutely correct that whatever intimate secrets they have between them should remain between them, no matter how much their fans want to know what’s going on. as you said, you’re not about to share the intimate details of your own marriage. That said, even if we did know all the details, we still wouldn’t know the whole story because we can’t possibly have a complete understanding of the context and of each personality and what they each need and desire in a partner and from life. Such is life.

  15. LDX Says:

    When confronted on why his relationship with Parrish ended, Richard explained that a relationship was like an education, and that when you move on to the next class you don’t take the teacher with you. Then he turned around and married a 30 year old who told him, “Honey, just write about otters,” to manufacture another best seller novel. It flopped. This relationship flopped. Richard Bach’s ride through the universe flopped when it came to an abrupt end a day ago trying to rediscover his connect with the cosmos which he abandoned in his relationship with Parrish. Soul mate relationships are indeed a gift, but they are likewise largely a product of the human imagination comfortably tucked away in a Twilight Zone area of the brain known only to the imagination. Goodbye, Richard. Your literature was interesting and motivational, your character a class act.

  16. Phil Bolsta Says:

    The report of Bach’s demise is premature. He did crash his plane yesterday but he survived and his chances for a full recovery appears to be good. I think all his fans were shocked and stunned about his marriage to Leslie Parish ending. Everyone loves to hear of fairytale romances and relationships, and theirs certainly qualified as such. WHat happened between them will always remain a mystery to us. Still, the love they shared continues to offer us hope and inspiration that such a love is possible. WHether it lasts a year, a decade or a lifetime, such love is real and worth striving for.

  17. LDX Says:

    Bach’s perfect woman was a mechanical draft, something that didn’t age and would give him the ride of his life. His description of this was poetic, but this was nonetheless the same motivation shared by all males in sex bound relationships. There are all sorts of possibilities here, including he having staged this little per adventure with his air plane to write yet another book. He’s too experienced to have dumped on a landing strip where the only obstacles to coming down safe were telephone poles, and those are too remote to pose a challenge in ordinary circumstances. Friday is a well used airport. He should have stayed in bed with Parrish. I don’t think he’s going to recover, but that’s an educated guess based on what I know has happened to him in the past.

  18. Phil Bolsta Says:

    I would hope Bach was better than that with regard to how he viewed women, but who knows. He claims that ending the marriage was Parrish’s idea. It is surprising that such an experienced pilot would clip power lines. Bach’s accident reminds me of an excerpt from a book I wrote called “The Big Book of Small Business”:

    Sometimes it’s the lessons we’ve already mastered that trip us up. I’m reminded of the mountain climber, Cameron Tague. In 2000, Tague attempted to scale the sheer, one-thousand-foot Diamond Face on Longs Peak in Colorado. The expert climber didn’t bother roping up on an easy traverse along the Big Wall’s wide, sloping ledge, where five-year-olds and a six-piece band had safely climbed. You can guess what happened. Tague’s mind apparently wandered, he pulled on a loose rock, and plunged eight hundred feet to his death. In business, we walk the cliff’s edge every day—and none of us can afford to get careless.

  19. LDX Says:

    All true! Reality is a little further to the right. Bach described his prefect woman as am iron maiden, which Parrish confirmed was a problem for him. I am going from memory here, but I think it was Hillman whose interview with a colleague (Talking a Book) revealed the same attitude in independent minded-males. The perfect women is a sleek machine that doesn’t think, something like that, and in Bach’s case this would be a younger female less demanding on his companionship. I can give you a more pointed description of this dynamic, but it’s not an acceptable allusion.

  20. Phil Bolsta Says:

    I have no problem believing that many, if not most, men feel this way about women, no matter what they say to the contrary. However, given Bach’s enlightened, eloquent and insightful writings about Parrish, I had hoped he had transcended his basic instincts with regard to women. But perhaps such men never do. If so, it wouldn’t surprise me. Here is a post I wrote called “Twelve Reasons Why Beautiful Women Have Trouble Finding Mr. Right”: https://bolstablog.wordpress.com/2010/09/13/mr-right/

  21. kemilahypnosis.com Says:

    To save love, we separate, because we can be who we want to be. – Is that not enough reason?

  22. Phil Bolsta Says:

    Certainly it is, Kemila. I cover this topic in my book (http://GodsEyesAmazon.com):


    The love and mutual respect between spiritual partners may not always bridge the chasm of their differences. People change; priorities change. Paths cross and paths diverge.

    The value of a relationship lies in the joy it affords, not
    in its longevity. . . . The ending of a relationship does
    not mean that someone has failed. It means only that
    someone has changed, perhaps for the better.
    Nathaniel Branden

    Just because a relationship ends does not mean that beginning it was a mistake. Each relationship expands your self-awareness and clarifies what you do and do not desire in a partner.

    Each relationship you have with another person
    reflects the relationship you have with yourself.
    Alice DeVille

    Life may present you with a series of romantic partners, each of them a soulmate, each of them coming into your life at precisely the right time to take you deeper into the mysteries of your own heart.

    When something is missing in your life, it usually turns
    out to be someone.
    Robert Brault

    Every romantic relationship, no matter how long it lasts, showers you with untold blessings.

    There are no failed relationships. Every person who
    enters and exits your life does so in a mutual sharing
    of life’s divine lessons.
    Wayne Dyer

    Even if you later part ways, joining your heart with another’s allows you to express and experience your deepest desires for emotional and physical intimacy.

    When love beckons to you, follow him,
    Though his ways are hard and steep.
    And when his wings enfold you yield to him,
    Though the sword hidden among his pinions may
    wound you.
    And when he speaks to you believe in him,
    Though his voice may shatter your dreams as the
    north wind lays waste the garden.
    Kahlil Gibran

    Sometimes hearts are broken and there is nothing to be done except express gratitude for the gift you were given and move on.

    I hold it true, whate’er befall; 

    I feel it, when I sorrow most; 

    ‘Tis better to have loved and lost 

    Than never to have loved at all.
    Alfred, Lord Tennyson

    A spiritual person is generous of spirit with a former partner, wishing that the rest of their days be filled with peace and purpose and that their life be graced with ever greater and deeper love.

    There is no remedy for love but to love more.
    Henry David Thoreau

    Pledging your love to another in a healthy way always leads to positive repercussions, even when circumstances may suggest otherwise.

    Sometimes with one I love, I fill myself with rage, for
    fear I effuse unreturned love;

    But now I think there is no unreturned love—the pay is
    certain, one way or another;

    (I loved a certain person ardently, and my love was not

    Yet out of that, I have written these songs.)
    Walt Whitman

    Whether you leave a relationship feeling relief or heartache, you are presented with a tremendous opportunity for growth and renewal.

    To love and win is the best thing, to love and lose is
    the next best.
    William Makepeace Thackeray

    Step out of your emotions as best you can and challenge yourself to interpret the relationship with symbolic sight.

    Spiritual partners bond with an understanding that they
    are together because it is appropriate for their souls to
    grow together. They recognize that their growth may
    take them to the end of their days in this incarnation
    and beyond, or it may take them to six months. They
    cannot say that they will be together forever. The
    duration of their partnership is determined by how long
    it is appropriate for their evolution to be together. All
    of the vows that a human being can take cannot prevent
    the spiritual path from exploding through and breaking
    those vows if the spirit must move on.
    Gary Zukav

    Not only will you gain clarity about why things unfolded as they did, but also about what you want the rest of your life to look like.

    If you cry because the sun has gone out of your life,
    your tears will prevent you from seeing the stars.
    Rabindranath Tagore

    With fresh insight and clarity of purpose, you can take yourself apart, then put yourself together in a new and better way.

    When a marriage comes to an end, we’re free to call it
    a failure. We’re also free to call it a graduation.
    Richard Bach

    In time, your grief gives way to understanding and acceptance. Your broken heart heals and becomes stronger and more resilient.

    Relationships are like Rome—difficult to start out,
    incredible during the prosperity of the “golden age,”
    and unbearable during the fall. Then, a new kingdom
    will come along and the whole process will repeat
    itself until you come across a kingdom like Egypt . . .
    that thrives, and continues to flourish. This kingdom
    will become your best friend, your soulmate, and
    your love.
    Helen Keller

    Do not allow the fear of heartbreak to stop you from promising your love to another. By protecting your heart, you may end up losing it.

    To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and
    your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly be
    broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact,
    you must give your heart to no one, not even to an
    animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little
    luxuries, avoid all entanglements, lock it up safe in the
    casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket
    —safe, dark, motionless, airless—it will change. It will
    not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable,
    irredeemable. The alternative to tragedy, or at least to
    the risk of tragedy, is damnation.
    C. S. Lewis

  23. Tom Gryn Says:

    I think something that’s difficult to keep in mind, when re-reading the books (or reading for the first time), is that the events described in them happened a long time ago. “Bridge” was published in 1984, “One” in 1989, and I believe the divorce happened around ’97-’99. Most of that is more than two decades ago, now. Who among us is the same person they were 20 years ago?

    While both Richard and Leslie are still alive, all the people in the books as the people they were are effectively gone, lost to the passage of time. They wrote beautiful stories together, and I hope they found happiness, as individuals if not as a couple. Readers have as much explanation as we’re likely to ever have as far as “why did this happen?”, which is unsatisfying after how intimate both “Bridge” and “One” were, but that’s how it is.

  24. Phil Bolsta Says:

    Well said, Tom.

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