Awakened Living Study Program, Lesson 51: MASTURBATION

Introduction
Dear brothers and sisters: Good morning and thank you for attending our weekly Awakened Living Study Program. My name is Alaye Soteme and I will be your host. Our topic for today’s Study is MASTURBATION. May we focus our full attention on this study for the lessons of life because knowledge is POWER, knowledge is SUCCESS, knowledge is FORGIVENESS, knowledge is WISDOM, knowledge is ENLIGHTENMENT and knowledge is AWAKENED LIVING.

All quotes relating to GOD are interpreted in a Universal sense; in other words our use of the word GOD does not refer to any religion, cultural Gods, saviors, or created Gods. GOD is the underlying ESSENCE of the Universe. GOD has no chosen people, GOD has no Sacred Text and GOD has no Sacred Place! The Universe is the Sacred Text, the Universe is the Sacred Place and all creatures are Testaments of GOD! 

Further you are here to look at life from a different angle. You are not here to follow what others have put in place be it their religion, their Gods, their sacred texts, their beliefs or their way of thinking. You are here to share your LIGHT with the world.  The beliefs of our ancestors are our liabilities. Our challenge is to look at life in ways that promote interdependence and destroy all forms of discrimination including racism, tribalism, nationalism, nepotism, fundamentalism, fanaticism, favoritism, exclusivism, chosen people and racial superiority. 

Lastly, none of the quotes here is absolute or written in blood. They are all human thoughts and ideas based on their experiences and according to their levels of consciousness. The Awakened Living Study Program is a platform to study what others have said and improve on them. Do not for any reason use the quotes as mantra for life because you are the LIGHT!

Opening Meditation
You may offer an appropriate prayer before reading, discussing and reflecting on the famous quotes and the Sacred Texts verses. You may use the following prayer:

O LOVE who pervades the universe, we thank you for this opportunity to learn. We pray for LOVE to manifest amongst us to guide our readings, discussions and reflections. We specially pray for peace of mind and save us from all distractions and concerns of mind and body so that we may learn the lessons of life for our guidance and the transformation of our lives. In the name of Love, the Earth and the Universe, Amen.

Announcements
The Study Leader may make announcements at this time. Welcome new members, recognize birthdays or anniversaries; make an award or recognize a contribution; announce Circle of Life successes. This is also an opportunity for anyone to share an experience, give thanks or make a request for special prayers.

Opening Thoughts
The leader or an appointed person will stand and read the opening thoughts. The opening thoughts explain the topic of discussion. You may use the information below or explain it in your own words.

Our presentation today is on Masturbation. Simply stated masturbation is playing with your genitals in order to derive some pleasure. I first came across the word masturbation when I was reading a medical book in the elementary school. I still remember what the book said. I didn’t know exactly what the word meant at the time and I didn’t check it out in the dictionary. There was no sex education at the time in the elementary school I attended. It was only in High School that our biology teacher answered our questions regarding sex. There was no sex education even in High School at the time. In most cases young people learn about sex through their family and mostly from peers which of course should not be trusted. Today, the information is everywhere but when doing your research make sure to include the thoughts of as many professionals as possible. According to the book I read in the elementary school, masturbation is degrading and unhygienic. This presentation will help us to decide if masturbation is in or out. But before then let us check out what other people are saying about masturbation.

Famous Quotes
Take turns to read the famous quotes and discuss what you have learned from each quote.  Please give credit to the author of the quote and as an assignment for presentations each person may choose an author and find out more about the author to share with the group during the next session.

1 In masturbation there is nothing but loss. There is no reciprocity. There is merely the spending away of a certain force, and no return. The body remains, in a sense, a corpse, after the act of self-abuse. There is no change, only deadening. There is what we call dead loss. And this is not the case in any act of sexual intercourse between two people. Two people may destroy one another in sex. But they cannot just produce the null effect of masturbation. D.H. Lawrence
2 The one thing that it seems impossible to escape from, once the habit is formed, is masturbation. It goes on and on, on into old age, in spite of marriage or love affairs or anything else. And it always carries this secret feeling of futility and humiliation, futility and humiliation. And this is, perhaps, the deepest and most dangerous cancer of our civilization. Instead of being a comparatively pure and harmless vice, masturbation is certainly the most dangerous sexual vice that a society can be afflicted with, in the long run. Comparatively pure it may be — purity being what it is. But harmless!!! D.H. Lawrence
3“Masturbation is a sinful habit that robs one of the Spirit and creates guilt and emotional stress. It is not physically harmful unless practiced in the extreme. It is a habit that is totally self-centered, and secretive, and in no way expresses the proper use of the procreative power given to man to fulfill eternal purposes. It therefore separates a person from God, and defeats the gospel plan. “This self-gratifying activity will cause one to lose his self-respect and feel guilty and depressed, which can in the extreme lead to further sinning. As a person feels spiritually unclean, he loses interest in prayer, his testimony becomes weak, and missionary work and other Church callings become burdensome, offering no joy and limited success...” Apostle Mark E. Peterson, “Overcoming Masturbation: A Guide to Self Control,” distributed by the LDS Church.
4 In this room, right now, each of you, in your own lives, has agonized over the fact that you have masturbated. Masturbation isn't sinful. If it feels good — do it. You have my blessing, and you yourself know how it relaxes you. Madalyn Murray O'Hair, in an address to Memphis State University, Memphis, Tennessee, "Fundamentalism" (22 October 1986).
Masturbation is our first and natural form of sexual activity and if that’s inhibited or damaged, then we suffer for the rest of our lives. Betty Dodson
6 Masturbation: the primary sexual activity of mankind. In the nineteenth century it was a disease; in the twentieth, it's a cure. Thomas Szasz
7 Masturbation is not physically necessary. There is already a way by which the male system relieves excessive spermatic fluid quite regularly through the nocturnal emission or wet dream. Monthly menstrual flow expels the female's egg and cleanses the womb. For both sexes, physical or emotional tensions can be released by vigorous activity. Thus, in a biological sense, masturbation for either gender is not necessary. In a gospel sense, it is a sin: Masturbation, a rather common indiscretion, is not approved of the Lord...regardless of what may have been said by others whose 'norms' are lower. Spencer W. Kimball
8 Lust is a captivity of the reason and an enraging of the passions. It hinders business and distracts counsel. It sins against the body and weakens the soul.”  Jeremy Taylor
9 God forgiveth you your nocturnal emissions and masturbation. But know ye the value of your seed, for your seed is the cause of the creation of one who worshippeth God. Keep your seed in the exquisite place. The purpose of this command is that perhaps the fruit of your existence will come to the aid of the religion of God. When semen cometh out by your own free will, make the ablutions, prostrate yourself and say this verse nineteen times: ‘Thou art the Most Pure and Sublime, O my God! Thou art free from error and lack. There is none other God save Thee! I proclaim Thy sublimity, and I am of those who know that Thou art the Pure.’” (Báb, Arabic Bayan, Vahid 8, Bab 10; provisional translation)
10 "The struggle with the temptation to masturbate is the smithy in which adolescents form their character. They either learn how to control themselves, with all that that entails, or they do not, with all of the self-loathing projected as hatred of authority which that entails. Masturbation is, in a sense, the root sexual evil first of all from a developmental point of view -- it is the child's introduction to sexual sinning -- but also because all other sexual sinning is at its root masturbatory.  E. Michael Jones
11 "... masturbation is an intrinsically and seriously disordered act...the deliberate use of the sexual faculty outside normal conjugal relations essentially contradicts the finality of the faculty. For it lacks the sexual relationship called for by the moral order, namely the relationship which realizes 'the full sense of mutual self-giving and human procreation in the context of true love.' All deliberate exercise of sexuality must be reserved to this regular relationship."  Pope Paul VI
12 "So often the habit of masturbation becomes compulsive, that is to say, the person is not able to control masturbatory activity in spite of great efforts to do so. Usually such a person is lacking in insight and needs therapy in conjunction with spiritual direction." Fr. John F. Harvey

Sacred Texts Quotes
Take turns to read all the sacred text quotes and discuss what you have learned from each quote. In your discussion compare and contrast the quotes. What did you learn from the similarities and differences? What quote inspires you? What life lessons did you learn from the quote? Please give credit to the sacred text during your reading by mentioning the name of the text and where the quote could be found. 

1 A little confusion can alter the sense of direction; a great confusion can alter the inborn nature. Taoism. Chuang Tzu 8
2  The effect of wrong belief is so dominant that the self does not evince its inborn inclination to the real path, just as the invasion of a bile-infected fever brings an aversion to sweet juice. Jainism. Nemichandra, Gomattasara
3 All vices are like chains thrown around the neck. Sikhism. Adi Granth, Sorath, M.1 p. 595
4  Dear friends, I urge you, as foreigners and exiles, to abstain from sinful desires, which wage war against your soul. Christianity, New Testament: 1 Peter 2:11
5 Mencius said, "Slight is the difference between man and the brutes. The common man loses this distinguishing feature, while the gentleman retains it." Confucianism. Mencius IV.B.19
6  Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. Christianity, New Testament: Colossians 3:5
7 When a man has an emission of semen, he must bathe his whole body with water, and he will be unclean till evening. 17 Any clothing or leather that has semen on it must be washed with water, and it will be unclean till evening. Judaism, Tanakh: Leviticus 15:16-17
8  By doing evil the self becomes a rogue, an animal, or inhabitant of hell; and always beset by thousands of pains, it strays incessantly. Jainism. Kundakunda, Pravacanasara 1.12
9  So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. Christianity, New Testament: Galatians 5:16
10 Having attained human birth, which is an open gateway to Brahman, one who... remains attached to the ties of the world is not fit to be called human. Pleasures of sense may be had in all lives: leave them, then, to the brutes. Hinduism. Srimad Bhagavatam 11.3

Teaching Story
The teaching story is a story, a parable or thoughts related to the topic of discussion. An appointed person will read each story and the group will take turns and discuss. What does the story mean to you? What did you learn from the story? Did the story add anything new to the topic of discussion? How has this study enriched your life?

The general consensus of the medical community is that masturbation is medically healthy and psychologically normal. But we should also watch out for the unexpected. Here are a few findings to consider in your decision:

1 A team of researchers at England's University of Nottingham looked at whether men with more intense sex drives were at higher risk of prostate cancer. Polyxeni Dimitropoulou, PhD; Rosalind Eeles, PhD, FRCP; and Kenneth R. Muir, PhD, obtained detailed sexual histories from 840 men. About half the men got prostate cancer by age 60, and about half did not have cancer. The findings were surprising. Sexual intercourse did not affect prostate cancer risk. But frequent masturbation did -- in different ways, at different times of life. Taken from WebMd from the internet:

2. Masturbation could also be an obsession or an addiction that could affect one’s daily life. It could affect your life in the sense that you become a loner or one with low self esteem. The obsessive masturbator might be thinking like this; “Now that I have found a sexual outlet who needs the opposite sex? Such statements are not healthy and the person who thinks so should immediately seek help. The one who develops a low self esteem because of masturbation feels dirty after the act and avoids company. In this case masturbation is definitely not for you! You are also advised to seek professional help.

I am addicted to masturbation; how do I break the cycle?

*Decide. Decision is the first step to success. Decide and put forth a plan of action.
*Your plan of action could be some or all of the following: Avoid watching pornographic movies, avoid reading pornographic magazines, avoid watching pornography on the internet. ----*Avoid having sensual fantasies.
*Channel your creative outlets to something meaningful like writing, drawing, music, painting, etc. Your creativity is more likely to replace your uncontrollable thoughts on sex than any other endeavor.
*Begin a hobby for fun
*Join Masturbation Anonymous or consult a professional.
*Before I forget I advise you not to be concerned with the excess semen in your body because your body will release it naturally in your sleep or through your urine.

Closing Meditation
The closing meditation presents the highlights of the Study.  The highlights should include among others what you have learned and what aspects of the study are worth noting. The leader or an appointed person may share the closing meditation. You may use the thoughts and information provided below but I encourage you to use the contributions of the participants and current relevant information.

Our closing meditation focuses on young people. If you have decided to abstain from sex till marriage you don’t have to worry about masturbation because masturbation is not for you. Let your mind focus on your future and do the best you can to bring that future into reality. You are not going to make any mistakes on this path. There will be no unplanned pregnancies and there will be no sexually transmitted diseases because you have decided to abstain from all acts of sexuality till marriage. You are reserving yourself for that special person who will share your life and live with you happily ever after.

More important is that we are not here to do whatever people do. We are here to look at life again and pave our own path. This new look destroys prejudices, bigotry, discrimination, inequality, slavery, intolerance, and imperialism The beliefs of our ancestors are our liabilities and our challenge is to look at life in ways that improve our survival and potentials in order to move us forward.

Donations
You may accept gifts and donations at this time for the work you are doing. It takes effort, time and money to put the Study Program together so I encourage attendants to give. An appointed person may now pass the donation bag. The leader may bless the gifts after the donations.

Closing Prayer
Always close your Study Program with a prayer or an affirmation. Pray for guidance and direction during the week. Pray for everyone present. The leader or an appointed person may offer the closing prayer.

Refreshments
You may serve refreshments after the Study. This is a time to relax and socialize. Get to know the people in the Program with you and I mean really know them well. One of the secrets of success is connection so I encourage you to know the people around you. The host may decide what to serve or he or she may ask the attendants what they want for refreshments before each Study Program.

Talent Contribution
You may now entertain the group with your talent in music, songs, dance and poetry including playing musical instruments. This is also a good time to share some Awakened Living tips for the benefit of the group. 

Circle of Life
The Circle of Life depicts different aspects of your life. You are at the center and the different aspects radiate outwards to form a circle as long as they are in harmony. You can pinpoint an aspect of your life at any given time and find out if you are in harmony with the rest of the circle. If an aspect needs improvement you may have an uneven circle. Your challenge then is to work on the area that needs improvement in order to keep it in harmony with the rest of the circle.

There are 12 aspects in this version of the Wheel of Life including Health, Spirituality, Family, Relationships, Education, Mission, Finances, Work, Play, Personal Development, Environment, and creativity. Take time to answer the following questions and begin to work on the areas that need improvement.

Health
1. Are you healthy?
2. Do you have any bad habits like drinking, smoking, pornography, fast foods, etc?

Spirituality
1. Are you spiritual?
2. When was the last time you meditated, chanted, affirmed or prayed?

Family
1. Do you have a family?
2. Are you happy with your spouse, children, and parents?

Relationships
1. Do you have friends?
2. Are you happy with your friends, co-workers, boss?

Education
1. Do you have a degree?
2. When was the last time you read a book?

Mission
1. Do you have a mission statement?
2. What is your life mission?

Finances
1 Are you financially stable?
2. Do you have any debts?

Work
1. Do you have a job, career?
2. Are you happy with your job, career?

Play
1. Do you play regularly?
2. When was the last time you played with your friends, children, spouse, parents or pet?

Personal Development
1. Do you lose your temper often?
2. When was the last time you took a class on human development?

Environment
1 Are you happy with your environment?
2. How are you reducing pollution?

Creativity
1. Are you sharing your creativity?
2. When was the last time you wrote a poem, painted, sang, danced, or played a musical instrument?

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