Françoise Cartau & Emmanuel Valency: Perspectives on spirituality and sexuality between a Buddhist and a rabbi.

- through Fabrice Groult

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Like the book The Jew in the lotus. Rabbis among the lamas by Roger Kamenetz, Buddhist News organized a meeting between Buddhism and Judaism. And this, around the theme of spirituality and sexuality. On the lotus side, Françoise Cartau, 75, regional delegate of the Buddhist Union of France for New Aquitaine and head of the Tibetan Buddhist Center Kadamtcheuling in Bordeaux. On the Jewish side, Emmanuel Valency, 36, rabbi of Bordeaux and the Southwest.

Why did you decide, by mutual agreement, to meet your eyes on "the spirituality and sexuality in Buddhism and Judaism”?

Emmanuel Valencia : Sexuality is an extremely important subject in Judaism. To the point that, when we prepare the bride and groom, we do it individually not only to allow optimal concentration of the student, but also so that he does not feel any shame, vis-à-vis the others. pupils, to ask all the questions he wishes to the teacher. If sexuality is so essential, it is obviously because without it, there is no procreation. Moreover, among the laws of Judaism, the importance of the welfare of the wife dominates. And this well-being goes through sexuality, even if it is framed by certain rules.

Francoise Cartau : For my part, I found it interesting to see how we respond to each other and how we specify each other. In the Buddhist tradition, the human being being both body and spirit, the path to liberation also passes through the balance between the two. Sexuality is therefore a natural part of our lives. It's a way, like any other, to be happy, to live and to respect the other. Moreover, nowadays we see a vision of sexuality that I consider degrading. It is considered, wrongly it seems to me, as a means of pleasure and not shared love. Finally, the disruption of desire that we observe in our society appeals to me.

Emmanuel Valency, you mentioned the importance of the sexual fulfillment of the wife, according to Judaism. Can you clarify your thought?

Emmanuel Valencia : The woman is absolutely not a sexual object in Judaism. I would even say that it is quite the opposite. It is the wife who thus decides on married life. It is up to her to suggest – and not to express aloud – her desire to make love. This implies complicity, harmony between the bride and groom who must speak the same body language. As for the husband, he can solicit, but the last word goes to the wife. I emphasize that the notion of mutual consent is fundamental. The Talmud says that in the time of Ezra, this prophet issued a decree forbidding Torah study to those who had just had sexual intercourse or emission of semen. And this, so that men do not consider themselves vis-à-vis their women as roosters. Sexuality must therefore be measured and considered, mainly out of respect for the wife. Other reference: At the very beginning of the Book of Genesis, when God blesses men, he says: “Grow, multiply, fill the Earth and conquer it. In the Talmud, this "conquer her" is an anomaly. We thus evoke a "conquer her" in reference to the wife: in the couple, the man must always be on the lookout for his wife's desire and make sure to be constantly desirable in order to conquer her.

What about this place of women in sexuality, according to Buddhism?

Francoise Cartau : The Buddhists also ask that the woman be respectable and respected in her body. I am thinking of menstrual periods or when the woman is pregnant: out of respect for her and the child she is carrying, we prefer to abstain from “frantic” sexual intercourse. It is not with the idea of ​​prohibiting, but to avoid the risk of no longer being aware of the act which is being accomplished. If the position is uncomfortable for one of the partners, we refrain from it. The place is also important: the sexual relationship does not take place in a public place, simply to avoid embarrassment, not only from one of the partners, but also from the person who could surprise the couple.

“Today we see a vision of sexuality that I consider degrading. It is considered, wrongly it seems to me, as a means of pleasure and not of shared love. Finally, the disruption of desire that we observe in our society concerns me. » Francois Cartau

Emmanuel Valencia : In Judaism too, sexuality is regulated in relation to the woman's menstrual cycle. During the period when the wife is menstruating, there is total separation in the couple. The man can't even hand her an object. This can be difficult for a young couple when the desire is very strong, but the idea of ​​marking a break thus allows, once again, to avoid considering his wife as a sexual object. Always out of respect for women.

You have used the word “respect” several times. Is this notion at the heart of sexuality, both in Buddhism and in Judaism?

Francoise Cartau : When I spoke of “being aware”, it is also out of respect for the sexual act which is fundamentally an act of reciprocal love: the expression of tenderness for one's partner. According to our spiritual path, sexuality is not just about sex. It is indeed a way that the body has, in agreement with the spirit, to express the desire that his or her partner be happy. In both men and women, there is a question of intention and a lack of taking possession of, or enjoying the body of the other to serve one's own pleasure. With Emmanuel, we are, on this point, in perfect osmosis. Just like on that of mutual consent.

Emmanuel Valencia : In Judaism, the idea is to give to the other, without seeking to receive anything in return. If one is able to give in this way, then one is able to experience true love. It is in this sense that sexuality meets love. At the moment of the sexual act, if each has the intention of giving himself to the other without expectation, and achieves this objective, then one reaches perfection. Moreover, from the point of view of Jewish mysticism, if there is, at that moment, fertilization, the fruit of this relationship will also be perfect.

photo of author

Fabrice Groult

Fabrice Groult is an adventurer, photographer and Buddhist who has traveled the world since a young age. After studying Buddhism in India, he embarked on an eighteen-month journey through Asia that took him to the Himalayas, where he discovered his passion for photography. Since then, he has traveled the world capturing images of Buddhist beauty and wisdom. He was a guide for ten years, and is now a journalist with Buddhist News.

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