I would like to offer a Kabbalistic metaphor for the perusal of those of you burdened by confusion, guilt and a felling of being a sinner over your own sensuality.
The Kabbalsitic paradigm is this–we are God’s taste buds in the world. God experiences, enjoys the Creation in only one way–through human perception.
There is no monastic or celibate tradition in Kabbalisitic thought. Sexuality should be welcomed and enjoyed. It is a gift from God. The act of making love with that consciousness and intention parallels the Kabbalistic union of Shekinah [the feminine aspect of the Godhead] with Tifferet from the Tree of Life. [see Etz Chaim, The Tree of Life]
This metaphor in one fell swoop allows us to 1] acknowledge the gift of our senses, all of them–sight, smell, taste, touch, hearing and 2] to not feel guilty over all aspects of sensuality and sexuality.
In fact it further guides and directs us to spiritualize our sensory experiences, to see them as divine gifts, as gifts of awareness. To welcome them and bless them. To see them as counterpoints to the inevitable pain and suffering of any given lifetime. Obviously, as with any powerful energy, there can be horrendous abuse and manipulation of these gifts. Humanity has been endowed with the free will to choose how to view them.
The Adam and Even saga is all about this choice and the challenge associated with sexuality. The ‘sin’ they committed was not sex itself but in ‘disobeying’ God. Kabbalists, however, insist that this was all a ‘set-up’, that humanity needed to make that choice in order to become fully human and endowed with free will.
To feel guilt over our sensual urges is to suppress them, to feel unclean, unholy, unsaved. Because they are natural, these impulses may eventually manifest themselves, unfortunately, in less savory outlets. Perhaps in sexual aggression, rape, child abuse, pedophilia….. I am not about to lay the blame for all of these heinous acts on a distorted perception of human sensuality/sexuality. But I certainly would not doubt their power to contribute to it.
The Kabbalisitc approach is manifested by the many prayers which are associated with eating and the appreciation of beauty–of nature and of people. The world of our senses is not an illusion to the Kabbalist. It is God manifest in the world.
And where exactly is God in this? Wherever we let ‘Him’ in, they would reply. Where and whenever we acknowledge that we are part of a divine plan, to be God’s taste buds in the world.