I have read nearly every book written by the Berg family, the founders of The Kabbalah Centre, and though I have since gone onto read other far more profound authors on the subject like Israel Regardie, I still find many Berg books, particularly Becoming Like God and The Power of Kabbalah, to be insightful and of use to everyone from advanced students to beginners. This is why I was slightly disappointed with Yehuda Berg’s The Kabbalah Book of Sex, a title so intriguing I believe it became the fastest selling book the family has had to date.
One of my favorite movie quotes is from Angelina Jolie in Playing By Heart where she looks at her life’s love, Ryan Phillipe, after discovering he is HIV+ and says, "When has having sex or not having sex ever not been a problem?" I love that line. And it’s for that reason that there is a lot to love about this book and probably for those same reasons I have found myself questioning a lot of its content.
The #1 thing I have taken away from this book is that, like all things in life and Kabbalah, sex boils down to your consciousness.
Are we out to have an orgasm? Or are we out to give an orgasm?
The consciousness of a Kabbalist is that we are supposed to become more like God, all giving and sharing, not receiving. A Kabbalist works hard to receive only with a desire to share, not with the selfish desire to "receive for the self alone," and it is when we’re out to give selflessly that we end up receiving the most pleasure from the universe.
Sex is no different. If your intention is to give pleasure to your partner, your own pleasure will be not only greater, but the blissful energy that is created in that connection to one and other is a positive energy you’re bestowing upon the world.
The second most important thing I took away from this book is a step that, until now, has been missing from the Kabbalah books I’ve read by the Bergs.
We hear a lot about ridding ourselves of this "desire to receive for the self alone" and instead having a "desire for the sake of sharing" — but what I had not heard about until now was that in order to have a desire for the sake of sharing, you must first rid yourself of the desire to receive altogether! This step certainly makes it less of a mind fuck. If you try to be in a constant state of sharing instead of receiving, when you receive by default you’ll automatically want to give it back, and thus will continue to receive even more!
So, #2 lesson learned: To rid ourselves of the desire to receive for the self alone, we must really first rid ourselves of the desire to receive completely.
Okay, now stick with me because here’s where things get tricky…
Yehuda Berg states in The Kabbalah Book of Sex that according to the Zohar and other Kabbalistic materials, masturbation is evil, as is the use of pornography to stimulate yourself.
Whoa! Back up! Right? Those were my thoughts too. I know all those porn star friends of mine who wear red string in their sex scenes will be crushed by this news.
However, if you’re into the Kabbalistic way of life, it’s kind of hard to discredit this claim. Masturbation is, after all, an entirely selfish act. You are not giving to anyone. You’re completely receiving for the self alone. It’s not doing the world any good for you to masturbate and many times it in fact detracts us from connections of great importance.
Resistance is a big part of transformation in Kabbalah too. The harder a selfish desire is to resist, the more light it will bring you when overcoming it.
For instance, if you’re in a partnership and you masturbate frequently, you may find sex with your partner less exciting or have less of a need to connect with that person on a physical level. If you’re single, according to The Kabbalah Book of Sex, it can make you feel like you are fulfilling your own needs and dull your desire to connect to another person, which, according to The Kabbalah Book of Sex, is one of the most important reasons we are on this Earth — to find our Soul Mate. And every time we singles get ourselves off, that selfish energy could distance us from finding our Soul Mate karmically, as would any form of selfish sex with another person.
If that’s not enough to bring you down, there’s a whole lot of talk in the book about "exposed semen" being something that the adversary snatches up and feeds off of. (The Adversary, aka: The Opponent, negative energy, Satan, Samael, etc.) And this relates not only to masturbation, but even to sex with someone you love. Semen should never be exposed according to Berg’s findings in the Kabbalah. And the more it is, the worse the karma and negativity you incur.
Yeah. There’s a lot more where this came from, but I’d like to just stop here for a second before moving on and give my thoughts on the masturbation and semen bit.
First of all, I don’t doubt that less masturbation in general is a good thing. It probably does make our connections and our desires to connect much stronger.
But let’s talk about pornography for a moment.
Let’s say that a couple film themselves having the most spiritual sex ever! Both of them go into it with not only the intention to give selflessly to each other, but even to share their pleasure with the world! These are all acts of giving. So then, making pornography, could be a giving act depending on your consciousness — but the negativity comes from the selfish receiving of watching it? Hmm.
Well, what if you don’t watch it alone? What if you share it with your partner and it enhances your pleasure together?
And what to make of the exposed semen? Isn’t this all starting to sound like the Catholic church condemning the use of condoms because sex is supposed to be used for procreation, not recreation?
What is worse? Someone who masturbates frequently? Or someone who has a series of meaningless one night stands? And are the one night stands better for the soul than masturbation so long as the semen is released inside of someone? None of these questions are answered in The Kabbalah Book of Sex, which makes me think that the Bergs need to spend more time with the gays. We know a lot about sex. Our lives have at times revolved around it. So if anyone has some questions, it’s us.
Speaking of homosexuality, there are a few brief pages that are devoted to this in The Kabbalah Book of Sex. After hundreds of pages about how we were once all one soul that was split into male and female energies, Adam and Eve, with Adam being the "giving" energy and Eve being the "receiving," ala penis and vagina, and even likening it to science in the form of protons and neutrons, positive and negative poles that attract only to each other, finally, after all of this heteros-only babble, do we get a couple pages that tell us, "Hey, by the by, all this will work just fine for the gays too!"
Well, Berg says it works just fine because even in gay relationships there is usually one partner with a "receiving" energy of Eve/neutron/neg-pole and another with the "giving" energy of Adam/proton/plus-pole. Basically, this is his nice way of saying that one’s usually a top and one’s usually a bottom.
If that’s not enough, the ultimate slap in the face comes when we’re told that the position for ejaculation should always be in missionary position, with the man on top and the woman on her back. It says that this way you’re emulating God. Like God’s giving energy flows from on high down to the Earth, the man’s giving energy flows down to his female receiver.
I’m a little outraged for the women here.
Have the Bergs never heard of "topping from the bottom?" You know, the women are giving pleasure to the men just as much as the men are giving pleasure to the women. So why can’t they be on top? Why can’t they be in the driver’s seat and let their love and their giving energy flow down onto the man? Why can’t the man receive the female’s energy? Does Yehuda Berg honestly believe that one needs a penis to get inside of someone or that one can not get "inside" of someone as a physical receiver?
One word: ARCHAIC.
A word I’ve never been able to associate with the Bergs or The Kabbalah Centre until now. Even The Bible itself speaks of how its lessons must adapt to the times. Kabbalah has certainly been all about that as well, and the Bergs even moreso, making this knowledge readily accessible to everyone from all walks of life.
So as not to merely complain, I would like to give some suggestions to anyone who may be as confused and disappointed as I.
– While all forms of sex for selfish purpose is bad, perhaps it is best not to involve others in your plight and stick to masturbation instead of a series of meaningless encounters driven only to get yourself off.
– And maybe it’s not such a bad idea to limit one’s masturbational activities, so that we don’t numb ourselves to the desire to give of ourselves to another person.
– In Kabbalah it has been said that one of the great challenges of life is to see beyond that of the physical world. What if one of the great "gets" of life is to see beyond the idea of male and female, penis and vagina? What if when the unified soul split into two energies of Adam and Eve, giver and receiver, what if, instead of looking for those outside of ourselves, we were to find that they actually both exist within us? Maybe, just maybe, the point is to actually marry the two within us, to embrace our "masculine" and our "feminine" so that we may then become whole and have more to offer our soul mate? Would it not be better to offer your soul mate a whole person as opposed to a half person that needs completion — and after all, wouldn’t that need of completion be just another form of selfish receiving?
– And since marrying those within us kind of gets us off the "hunt for the red hot soul mate" kick, let’s talk about how much more sense that makes now too, consider that according to Kabbalah, God is all giving and all loving to all of us, treating all of us like his soul mates. If it is our job to become more like God, it is also our job to see the world as our soul mate and recognize that we are all one even when it comes to those people we can’t stand. There’s your resistance and there’s your transformation. You don’t need another person to make that happen. You just need God. A special partner to rely on, share secrets with, grow and evolve with, would be incredible, but is not essential and certainly not at the expense of continuing your own spiritual growth so that you can give more of yourself — and the best version of yourself — to the world in general.
But then, call me crazy, but I also have a difficult time believing that every time my semen is exposed, it’s fodder for Satan.
To be clear though, it’s not Kabbalah I’m finding a problem with. It’s the Centre’s interpretation of it that I find myself questioning and disagreeing with.