Masturbation

All research or scholarship questions
Mike

Masturbation

Postby Mike » Tue Jun 29, 2004 8:03 pm

Hi, i am really :? confused are Bahais allowed to :oops: masturbate or not?

thank you

Mike

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Postby brettz9 » Thu Jul 01, 2004 12:29 am

Dear Mike,

This is the only guidance on the subject which I have seen:

"We have found in the Holy Writings no explicit references to masturbation, but there are a number of principles and teachings which can guide a Baha'i to the correct attitude towards it. In a letter to an individual believer, written by the Guardian's secretary on his behalf, it is pointed out that:

'The Baha'i Faith recognizes the value of the sex impulse, but condemns its illegitimate and improper expressions such as free love, companionate marriage and others, all of which it considers positively harmful to man and to the society in which he lives. The proper use of the sex instinct is the natural right of every individual, and it is precisely for this very purpose that the institution of marriage has been established. The Baha'is do not believe in the suppression of the sex impulse but in its regulation and control.'

"In response to another letter enquiring if there were any legitimate way in which a person could express the sex instinct if, for some reason, he were unable to marry or if outer circumstances such as economic factors were to cause him to delay marriage, the Guardian's secretary wrote on his behalf:

'Concerning your question whether there are any legitimate forms of expression of the sex instinct outside of marriage: According to the Baha'i Teachings no sexual act can be considered lawful unless performed between lawfully married persons. Outside of marital life there can be no lawful or healthy use of the sex impulse. The Baha'i youth should, on the one hand, be taught the lesson of self-control which, when exercised, undoubtedly has a salutary effect on the development of character and of personality in general, and on the other should be advised, nay even encouraged, to contract marriage while still young and in full possession of their physical vigour. Economic factors, no doubt, are often a serious hindrance to early marriage but in most cases are only an excuse, and as such should not be over stressed.'

"In another letter on the Guardian's behalf, also to an individual believer, the secretary writes:

'Amongst the many other evils afflicting society in this spiritual low water mark in history is the question of immorality, and over-emphasis of sex...'

"This indicates how the whole matter of sex and the problems related to it have assumed far too great an importance in the thinking of present-day society.

"Masturbation is clearly not a proper use of the sex instinct, as this is understood in the Faith. Moreover it involves, as you have pointed out, mental fantasies, while Baha'u'llah, in the Kitab-i-Aqdas, has exhorted us not to indulge our passions and in one of His well-known Tablets Abdu'l-Baha encourages us to keep our 'secret thoughts pure'. Of course many wayward thoughts come involuntarily to the mind and these are merely a result of weakness and are not blameworthy unless they become fixed or even worse, are expressed in improper acts. In 'The Advent of Divine Justice', when describing the moral standards that Baha'is must uphold both individually and in their community life, the Guardian wrote:

'Such a chaste and holy life, with its implications of modesty, purity, temperance, decency, and clean-mindedness, involves no less than the exercise of moderation in all that pertains to dress, language, amusements, and all artistic and literary avocations. It demands daily vigilance in the control of one's carnal desires and corrupt inclinations.'

"Your problem, therefore, is one against which you should continue to struggle, with determination and with the aid of prayer. You should remember, however, that it is only one of the many temptations and faults that a human being must strive to overcome during his lifetime, and you should not increase the difficulty you have by over-emphasising its importance. We suggest you try to see it within the whole spectrum of the qualities that a Baha'i must develop in his character. Be vigilant against temptation, but do not allow it to claim too great a share of your attention. You should concentrate, rather, on the virtues that you should develop, the services you should strive to render, and, above all, on God and His attributes, and devote your energies to living a full Baha'i life in all its many aspects."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, a copy of which was sent to the compiler with a letter dated March 8, 1981; quoted in Lights of Guidance, no. 1220)

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Study further

Postby Pilosofia » Sat Mar 05, 2005 9:54 pm

The replies are most assuredly interesting and thank you for it's
message. This is one of those times the human soul needs to
investigate deeper, much can be learned here. :)

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Postby Dawud » Sun Mar 06, 2005 8:40 pm

And what sort of emotive utterance would it be appropriate for a Baha'i to cry out at the moment of orgasm, pray tell?

More work for the Hands of the Cause, I guess!

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Surprised ?

Postby Pilosofia » Sun Mar 06, 2005 10:39 pm

I find that sort of humor inappropriate. :roll:

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Postby Dawud » Sun Mar 06, 2005 11:59 pm

Really? Why? I mean, it's not easy to contemplate the theological implications of masturbation without at least a hint of a grin...

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To Dawud

Postby Pilosofia » Mon Mar 07, 2005 10:33 pm

Everyone enjoys humor and laughter helps to relieve tension,
it's the way it is presented that makes a difference.
That is all I have to say on this matter. :roll:
Have a nice day. :wink:

Guest

Postby Guest » Mon Apr 04, 2005 10:05 pm

I think the the guidence Brett posted can be summed up in simple language something like this:
There is not specific reference to masterbation in the Writings of Baha'u'llah. However, there are references to how we are to avoid "vain imaginations." Assuming that the thoughts one is having while masterbating are vain, one should seek to avoid masterbating (and thus the concurrent vain imaginations). Also, masturbation is a sexual act and we are told that the proper expression of the sexual impulse is within a marraige. However, there are many things that Baha'u'llah has asked us to do, so don't stress out too much about it.

Considering that Baha'u'llah has explicityly revealed things about the number of times we need to wash our feet, if it was really important to classify all the various forms of sexual activity I'm sure He would have done so. Also, if the Universal House of Justice thought it was an important thing to legislate on at this moment in history, they would have legislated on it.

The moment we start looking at the Revelation of Baha'u'llah as a mere grocery list of do's and don'ts I think we miss the whole purpose of His Revealation. For instance instead of concentrating on the particular question of masterbation, if we instead deepen and meditate on our essentially spiritual natures, we will be much more likely to be in line with that implied prohibition, with the added benefit of also being more spiritual.

Its akin to fasting. Just not eating from sunrise to sunset is a very different act than fasting from sunrise to sunset. Not masturbating is a very different act from trying to be spiritual and detached from the material world and regulating our physical desires (while of course not "suppressing" them).

Bear in mind also that, unlike some religious doctrines, there is nothing in the Baha'i Writings to suggest that there is something inherently "evil" about the material world, and we are encouraged to partake of its fruits, as long as we understand that the spiritual fruits of a spritual life are far superior to a hedonistic life full of only material pleasures.

--jpd

Guest

Postby Guest » Tue Apr 05, 2005 8:12 am

I thought that "vain imaginings" referred to mistaken or obstinate theological opinions.

Guest

the important reasons of masturbation

Postby Guest » Fri Apr 22, 2005 4:32 pm

in my opinion: (as we as female or male)
- we must masturbate for hygenic reasons
- we must masturbate to know better our body and feelings, and to increase our curiousity about the body of the one(s) we like, and to having the sex as a nirvana reach
- we must masturbate for the good health of our mind - for de-stressing
- foreplay is very important on a sexual relationship, and this is not much more than discorvering the body feelings of the one we like by their masturbation needs
- having sex, physiologically, is not much more than sharing masturbation!

Mike

Postby Mike » Sat Aug 20, 2005 11:28 pm

:wink:
so is that a yes or a no?

:arrow: Mike (guy who posted this whole topic)

Guest

Postby Guest » Sun Aug 21, 2005 12:59 am

The Universal House of Justice, in the letter I included earlier, clearly says no. Whatever other individuals say does not represent the Bahá'í position. Only the Universal House of Justice does (and the Bahá'í Writings of course).

Brett

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Postby brettz9 » Sun Aug 21, 2005 1:55 am

As far as Majnun's argument that the paragraph in the Kitáb-i-Aqdas about semen not being unclean referring to masturbation, a bit of wider context may be helpful to dispel this idea.

As the notes to the Aqdas state:

In a number of religious traditions and in Shí'ih Muslim practice semen has been declared ritually unclean. Bahá'u'lláh has here dispelled this concept. See also note 106 below.


Note 106 deals with the general concept of certain items and peoples being unclean, clarifying that Bahá'u'lláh has abolished this concept here.

This statement is in reference to ritual uncleanliness. In other words, the presence of semen is not going to dispel a person's prayers (just like Bahá'u'lláh also states in the Aqdas that wearing fur, etc. will not interfere with one's prayer). This is not in reference to hygienic cleanliness. 'Abdu'l-Bahá, in the Secret of Divine Civilization, on the contrary, confirms that one should in fact perform ablutions (washing) after intercourse.

And certainly there is nothing in the statement of Bahá'u'lláh to indicate that He meant to permit masturbation. On the contrary, the House of Justice states in the letter above that He forbids indulging in one's passions.

I might also add that Shoghi Effendi was not unsympathetic to such difficulties. He states (in a different topic from masturbation) that in the area of sex, as in other areas, people will fall short of the ideal. But as he also says in another letter (on another sexual topic), though we should rely on the mercy of God, we should also not press upon it (indicating that people should not just reconcile themselves to an imperfect lifestyle).

best wishes,
Brett

Mike

Postby Mike » Sun Sep 04, 2005 11:16 pm

:arrow: :arrow: :arrow: Thanks so far everyone for your replies.. keep postin though its good to have lots of the writings to read :lol: :oops: :wink:

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Postby Baha'i Warrior » Wed Sep 07, 2005 2:54 pm

Anonymous wrote:in my opinion: (as we as female or male)
- we must masturbate for hygenic reasons
- we must masturbate to know better our body and feelings, and to increase our curiousity about the body of the one(s) we like, and to having the sex as a nirvana reach
- we must masturbate for the good health of our mind - for de-stressing
- foreplay is very important on a sexual relationship, and this is not much more than discorvering the body feelings of the one we like by their masturbation needs
- having sex, physiologically, is not much more than sharing masturbation!




Actually, for those of you who are not Baha'i, this is not a Baha'i answer. This is more of the type of answer that an animal might give, if he could speak english. Look, if you have to ask the question you probably already know the answer. If the Guardian is critical of masturbation, then why do it? The Universal House of Justice certainly does not advise it.

What is the difference between masturbation and penetration, anyway? In one case you are imagining a girl, and in the other case......etc. Yeah, the difference is that actually having sex is worse (forbidden), but imagining about it is almost as bad (though not to the same degree). Just put together some Baha'i principles in your head. Baha'is are not supposed to read "love" novels, for example, that "raise passions," and should avoid anything else that raise your passions.

A Baha'i male--and when I say Baha'i I mean a real Baha'i--will not have these urges if he keeps his mind clean, thoughts pure. How does he do that? Not only does he pray, but at every moment in his life he is in a prayerful mood. I suppose it is somewhat the fault of society and the fact that many girls these days dress worse than prostitutes, but you can even avoid these people (these are all tests): If a girl walks by and she is dressed inappropriately, don't "look" at her; If you go to the movie store to rent a video, don't get one that is rated R for constant sex or whatever; Don't listen to explicit "rap" music, etc. I am not saying that it is easy, and I am not saying it can easily be done like that, but obviously you have to take the initiative. For example, if you do read the Writings, then how the heck can you truly even think of masturbating after this Hidden Word:

ALAS! ALAS! O LOVERS OF WORLDLY DESIRE!

Even as the swiftness of lightning ye have passed by the Beloved One, and have set your hearts on satanic fancies. Ye bow the knee before your vain imagining, and call it truth. Ye turn your eyes towards the thorn, and name it a flower. Not a pure breath have ye breathed, nor hath the breeze of detachment been wafted from the meadows of your hearts. Ye have cast to the winds the loving counsels of the Beloved and have effaced them utterly from the tablet of your hearts, and even as the beasts of the field, ye move and have your being within the pastures of desire and passion.


Do not think for a minute that the Blessed Beauty is not referring to those who call themselves "Baha'is"!

Guest

Postby Guest » Thu Sep 08, 2005 9:41 pm

Nice answer Baha'i Warrior

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Postby Baha'i Warrior » Fri Sep 09, 2005 1:46 pm

I will say, though, (I learned this in my human anatomy/physiology class) that men reach their "sexual peak" at age 18, and it declines from there, whereas women do not reach it until age 31 supposedly. So obviously it is harder for men than women, because men have more testosterone therefore stronger libido, at least in their 20s. But if it is a very difficult thing for you, then take the advice of the Guardian and get married early—but obviously not for just that, as it would lead to problems in the marriage.

Guest

Postby Guest » Sun Nov 20, 2005 4:28 pm

brettz9 wrote:This is not in reference to hygienic cleanliness. 'Abdu'l-Bahá, in the Secret of Divine Civilization, on the contrary, confirms that one should in fact perform ablutions (washing) after intercourse.

This makes no sense to me, like many things in the Faith.

This is how I see it. Sex, without the "love" factor attached, is a purely animal instinct (lust if you will). When the Faith says the the sexual impulse is only allowed to be expressed within marriage, and is why the whole institution of marriage has been created, they are basically saying you are doomed until you marry. It just doesn't make sense.

And why even mention ablutions? What am I going to do, have sex all night long with my wife, then NOT take a shower or something? It's mentioned as if it is a ritual that is to be performed immediately after intercourse or something. Anything ritualized just doesn't make sense. If sex is a gift from God, and isn't "dirty" if used in the proper context (in this case, marriage), technically, why do I even have to shower (not that I won't, but that's just personal preference)?

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Postby Baha'i Warrior » Sun Nov 20, 2005 7:21 pm

My friend Guest, I am wondering, are you a Baha'i? You know, just because you do not understand a law does not automatically mean that it doesn't make any sense. Besides, technically laws don't have to make sense. The Writings say that if God instructs us not to drink water, we should abstain from water if we love God, even though we will die. However, all the laws are very rational. It would be a more accurate thing to say, "I am much less than God. His wisdom surpasses that of mine. Maybe, since God is wiser than me, His laws actually do makes sense, even though I do not understand them."

Yes, you are "doomed until you marry," if you want to put it that way. But, I didn't catch which part of that law did not make any sense. You have impulses for a lot of things; some good, some bad. Some are not inherently "bad," like sex, but are only legitimatly expressed between two married people. The UHJ: "Bahá'ís do not believe that the sex impulse should be suppressed but that it should be regulated and controlled." And the Guardian: "Outside of marital life there can be no lawful or healthy use of the sex impulse." As you can see, since masturbation is use of the sex impulse (outside of marriage), you should not do that either. It is not forbidden, and not even comparable to that of fornication, but it is still not beneficial to one's spiritual development.

As you know, cleanliness is a virtue. Cleanliness is so important that Baha'u'llah states:

"Should the garb of anyone be visibly sullied, his prayers shall not ascend to God, and the celestial Concourse will turn away from him."

Now let me ask you, is dirt itself "unclean," or is it rather considered unclean having dirt on your clothes? Dirt is good if it stays in the pot, bad if it gets on your clothes. Or are stains inherently "evil," or is it just that having a stain on your shirt is not in accordance with cleanliness? Being clean, though material, has a great spiritual effect. 'Abdu'l-Baha says that organization is very important; things have to be in their proper places and have to be clean. Order and cleanliness are very important things.

You said: "Anything ritualized just doesn't make sense." Again, if I were you I'd try to be open-minded and reexamine what you are saying, especially if you are a Baha'i. If you are going to say something doesn't make "sense" without any kind of logic, perhaps you shouldn't say it.

Guest

Postby Guest » Sun Nov 20, 2005 11:46 pm

Baha'i Warrior wrote:My friend Guest, I am wondering, are you a Baha'i? You know, just because you do not understand a law does not automatically mean that it doesn't make any sense. Besides, technically laws don't have to make sense. The Writings say that if God instructs us not to drink water, we should abstain from water if we love God, even though we will die. However, all the laws are very rational. It would be a more accurate thing to say, "I am much less than God. His wisdom surpasses that of mine. Maybe, since God is wiser than me, His laws actually do makes sense, even though I do not understand them."
Technically, laws must make sense, or there is lack of justice. So in all cases, the reason the law exists is just not clear to us. Still, I can't help but not understand why the UHJ would say such a thing.

Yes, you are "doomed until you marry," if you want to put it that way. But, I didn't catch which part of that law did not make any sense. You have impulses for a lot of things; some good, some bad. Some are not inherently "bad," like sex, but are only legitimatly expressed between two married people. The UHJ: "Bahá'ís do not believe that the sex impulse should be suppressed but that it should be regulated and controlled." And the Guardian: "Outside of marital life there can be no lawful or healthy use of the sex impulse." As you can see, since masturbation is use of the sex impulse (outside of marriage), you should not do that either. It is not forbidden, and not even comparable to that of fornication, but it is still not beneficial to one's spiritual development.
I don't see how occasional (say 1/3 times) releasing of sexual tension in the form of masturbation is "unlawful or unhealthy". If anything, its healthier than keeping the tension built-up and acting as a constant stressor. I can't help but feel this is a law tailored to the masses who would probably abuse the right to masturbate outside of marriage, if the writings said somewhere that it was lawful, even in moderation.

As you know, cleanliness is a virtue. Cleanliness is so important that Baha'u'llah states:

"Should the garb of anyone be visibly sullied, his prayers shall not ascend to God, and the celestial Concourse will turn away from him."
To me, the Baha'i Faith is all common sense at the very base of it. Hence, I don't take the above statement literally. Say I'm a homeless person with dirt on my shirt that I can't get out. God knows, and you know, if you've done your best to keep your shirt clean and be as clean as possible for the prayer session in question. I don't get why it doesn't work the same way with masturbation. If I know I'm doing it purely for stressor reasons, and not to fantasize or what not, then what's the big deal. It's funny how God gives me this impulse that is totally dominating my physical being because He made it that way, in terms of hormones and such, and He expects me not to relieve the tension in a purest-possible fashion. I'm not gonna just sit the stress out days after days.

Now let me ask you, is dirt itself "unclean," or is it rather considered unclean having dirt on your clothes? Dirt is good if it stays in the pot, bad if it gets on your clothes. Or are stains inherently "evil," or is it just that having a stain on your shirt is not in accordance with cleanliness? Being clean, though material, has a great spiritual effect. 'Abdu'l-Baha says that organization is very important; things have to be in their proper places and have to be clean. Order and cleanliness are very important things.
You're talking to a super clean, super organized person. Everything should have its place. This does pertain to sexual things as well, but I really don't see why masturbation is a bad thing, for the purposes mentioned above.

You said: "Anything ritualized just doesn't make sense." Again, if I were you I'd try to be open-minded and reexamine what you are saying, especially if you are a Baha'i. If you are going to say something doesn't make "sense" without any kind of logic, perhaps you shouldn't say it.
I feel that ritualizing anything can sometimes lead to superstitious outlook in people over time. "Hey baby, that was great, but sorry I can't cuddle now, I gotta go shower, so do you... we're dirty, and that's bad." So God gives us this gift of sexual impulse, yet we can't even express it to the fullest without having to worry about staying physically clean?

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Hello

Postby brettz9 » Mon Nov 21, 2005 12:14 am

This is Brett dropping in for a short visit... In reference to my statement that:

This is not in reference to hygienic cleanliness. 'Abdu'l-Bahá, in the Secret of Divine Civilization, on the contrary, confirms that one should in fact perform ablutions (washing) after intercourse.


...My meaning was that Baha'u'llah's statement of semen not being unclean did not mean that it was hygienic not to wash. The context of 'Abdu'l-Baha's quotation referring to ablutions, I should have made clear, was stating, in reference to the laws of Muhammad on this subject (and other mundane matters such as those relating to hygiene), that:

...the purpose of His consummate wisdom was to free the people from the chains of fanaticism which had bound them hand and foot, and to forestall those very objections which today confuse the mind and trouble the conscience of the simple and helpless.

(page 29)


So, it seems, especially if you read the full context (which is fairly long) that He was saying that these old laws of Islam--including to perform "ablutions" after intercourse--were simply to avoid the kind of strange asceticism which made people not cut their nails, not wash themselves, etc., in the name of being "detached" from worldly matters. The original context of the quotation provides this understanding (A large purpose of this Book was to make arguments for these traditionalist Muslims that copying certain Western practices such as democracy was not contradictory to Islam--Here He argues that Muhammad confirmed various laws which were also practiced by the polytheists before Muhammad's time, thus implying that it was not back-sliding to learn from others whose lack of faith and morals one might not completely accept, but who could nevertheless have something to offer that was worthy of emulation). Maybe "ablutions" is not the best translation, either. In any case, in the Baha'i Faith, the crystallization of oral traditions into rigid formula has been avoided due to the non-acceptance of their binding nature, and reliance instead only on authoritative sources.

As far as "doomed until you marry", we might also mention that our Writings encourage Baha'is to marry young. There was a recent study which found that those couples (in the U.S. as I recall) marrying earlier (in their early/mid twenties) were significantly happier than those marrying later. Although it is not absolutely binding, since it is really a personal private matter, the injunction to marry is really made fairly strong in order that people may enjoy the benefits that marriage can offer. And real security and happiness cannot be provided by self-stimulation.

Brett

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Postby Baha'i Warrior » Mon Nov 21, 2005 1:57 pm

Very good response, Brett. It's good to see you back.

That is a very good point you made. I'm sure this is a (big) problem for many youth. It's a bigger problem for young men, naturally. Heck, you are permitted to marry at the age of fifteen, so right about the time this urge starts to kick in you can get married. (That is, if both families agree, etc.) Really, if you want to see the wisdom in the Baha'i laws, you just need to look at society. Look at what happened after the counter culture revolution of the 1970s. "Free love" lead to many children without fathers, broken families, an exaggerated number of divorces, "serial monogamy," homosexuality, etc. and all the social ills that stemmed from them. World unity will not be achieved until we can all control our animal instincts. And this will only be achieved through fear of God.

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Postby brettz9 » Tue Nov 22, 2005 2:10 am

Thanks BW for the welcome back, and your comments here as well.I should make a disclaimer that I still may not be able to stay consistetly.

To respond to one tangential point of one of the guests...
"Should the garb of anyone be visibly sullied, his prayers shall not ascend to God, and the celestial Concourse will turn away from him."
To me, the Baha'i Faith is all common sense at the very base of it. Hence, I don't take the above statement literally. Say I'm a homeless person with dirt on my shirt that I can't get out. God knows, and you know, if you've done your best to keep your shirt clean and be as clean as possible for the prayer session in question.


Baha'u'llah refers to this in effect in paragraph 74:

Cleave ye unto the cord of refinement with such tenacity as to allow no trace of dirt to be seen upon your garments. Such is the injunction of One Who is sanctified above all refinement. Whoso falleth short of this standard with good reason shall incur no blame. God, verily, is the Forgiving, the Merciful.


best wishes,
Brett

Guest

Postby Guest » Tue Nov 22, 2005 2:17 am

brettz9 wrote:Thanks BW for the welcome back, and your comments here as well.I should make a disclaimer that I still may not be able to stay consistetly.

To respond to one tangential point of one of the guests...
"Should the garb of anyone be visibly sullied, his prayers shall not ascend to God, and the celestial Concourse will turn away from him."
To me, the Baha'i Faith is all common sense at the very base of it. Hence, I don't take the above statement literally. Say I'm a homeless person with dirt on my shirt that I can't get out. God knows, and you know, if you've done your best to keep your shirt clean and be as clean as possible for the prayer session in question.


Baha'u'llah refers to this in effect in paragraph 74:

Cleave ye unto the cord of refinement with such tenacity as to allow no trace of dirt to be seen upon your garments. Such is the injunction of One Who is sanctified above all refinement. Whoso falleth short of this standard with good reason shall incur no blame. God, verily, is the Forgiving, the Merciful.


best wishes,
Brett

Thanks Brett.

Right on. Thanks.

But I was sort of bringing it up in terms of relating it to the masturbation issue. It's the same thing, is it not? God, and I, know my true purpose for "cleaning the pipes" if you will. It's a personal thing.

I really don't feel its unlawful to masturbate outside of marriage for the benign purposes I stated. I still can't help but feel the Baha'i laws on the matter are tailored for the lowest possible common demoninator.

And I still think that any law should be just. You can't have a law for the sake of having it.

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Postby Baha'i Warrior » Tue Nov 22, 2005 1:22 pm

Guest,

Actually, there is no Baha'i law that prohibits masturbation. In a compilation Jonah Winters put together, question #39 asks: "Is masturbation allowed?" The response is: "It is discouraged" but " it is also a matter Bahá'ís are encouraged not to dwell unduly on. The Universal House of Justice says":

"You should remember, however, that [masturbation] is only one of the many temptations and faults that a human being must strive to overcome during his lifetime, and you should not increase the difficulty you have by over-emphasizing its importance.... Be vigilant against temptation, but do not allow it to claim too great a share of your attention. You should concentrate, rather, on the virtues that you should develop, the services you should strive to render, and, above all, on God and His attributes, and devote your energies to living a full Bahá'í life in all its many aspects."
Lights of Guidance, No. 1220

Source: http://bahai-library.com/?file=winters_ethics_survey


The true purpose of "cleaning the pipes" ( :lol: ), as you so humorously put it, is to "relieve stress." This "stress" can be overcome, I have found, by doing two things: reciting prayers daily, and consciously trying to keep a clean mind, which would mean not "looking" at scantily clad girls. They do not respect themselves and therefore do not deserve our respect or attention. Ignoring them works, and also not even thinking about them. Dwelling too much on these things can lead one astray.

(I believe this is still untranslated, but Baha'u'llah says that there will be a day when a naked women will walk down a street and no man will turn to look at her.)

Of course, this is part of being a man, but it can eventually be overcome. But, again, as the UHJ puts it, this isn't an issue that deserves much of one’s attention. We should all try to "be vigilant against temptation," but it is not always possible, and I don't think God holds that too much against a man, at least if he was making a sincere effort to overcome it. But, like with everything else, it is betwixt you and your Maker.

So again, all the Baha'i laws are indeed very just. There is no anti-masturbation law, just exhortations. If this was a Baha’i law, then most of the men would find themselves in Hades in the next life...

Guest

Postby Guest » Tue Nov 22, 2005 2:17 pm

BW, what you say makes sense, and I saw it as this also (the fact that it's not something to dwell on, and is just a tiny fraction of the overall big picture).

The thing is, I doubt meditation and/or ignoring any visual or other stimulus would truly remove the stressor. It's a biological need inherent in me as a man. I am human after all. Ignoring it through spiritual means would be in vain I think.

In fact, I doubt it's even physically healthy to ignore it, assuming you're really good at it and never masturbate. I've taken some psychology, biology, and human sexuality courses, and they all state that not masturbating can be physically unhealthy.

Again, I don't delve on this issue as much as I make it seem on this forum. I know myself if I'm masturbating for pure intentions or not, so if I don't feel guilty afterwards, I really don't think I'm doing anything wrong or even "giving in" to anything impure. It's like eating. It's a physical need, and I eat when I'm hungry. Can hunger not also be classified as a "carnal" desire?

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Postby Jonah » Tue Nov 22, 2005 3:50 pm

I've wondered how the "guidance" against male masturbation would be weighed vis-a-vis a medical recommendation in <i>favor</i> of it. For example, the widely-reported findings of a 2003 study suggesting that ejaculating at least 5 times per week has a measurable effect on preventing prostate cancer (see for example http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/3072021.stm ). The study indicated that this preventative effect was most pronounced for men in their 20s -- earlier than many men marry, and hence earlier than they can ejaculate in a married sexual relationship, as required by the Faith.

For more articles on that, see http://google.com/search?q=prostate+cancer+masturbation

-Jonah

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Postby Baha'i Warrior » Tue Nov 22, 2005 4:14 pm

Anonymous wrote: In fact, I doubt it's even physically healthy to ignore it, assuming you're really good at it and never masturbate. I've taken some psychology, biology, and human sexuality courses, and they all state that not masturbating can be physically unhealthy.



We should always keep in mind that, though we believe in the principle of harmony of science and religion, much of science today and many studies are biased. The UHJ, on the topic of homosexuality, has even said: "Contrary evidence may well exist but may be overlooked by scientific reporting that is, for one reason or another, biased."

Also, it is the general consensus today that a "moderate" drink is good for you, good for blood pressure, wine has antioxidants, etc., and—this is very absurd—that moderate alcohol consumption can even contribute to memories (in a good way)! The guys that do these studies love their glass of wine; if you look at the "updated" food pyramid, they have added alcohol to it as something you should drink to stay healthy! (This is not to say that there are no studies out there from reputable sources saying that alcohol does bad things to you.)

But we need only look to the Writings. In countless instances, the Writings talk about the harmful effect alcohol has on its user. In an untranslated tablet, Baha'u'llah states: "We have taken the cure out of this medicine." (Meaning wine). That's direct enough for me. We should look to science only when it is in agreement with the Writings.

As to masturbation being "healthy." I have studies say that. Even if it is true, we still are told that it is not something a Baha'i should do. It's negative effects outweigh the positive (spiritual harm vs. physical harm). It places sex on your mind every day, even though it should not be there.

Once, at a youth conference I attended at Louhelen, someone asked Habib Riazati (sp?) if Baha'is can masturbate. His response was rather humorous. He said, when you masturbate, what are you thinking about? A horse? No, you are thinking about a girl! Is this in line with keeping your mind pure of defilements?

So if it is indeed healthy to exercise your sex impulse, maybe that is one reason why the youth are exhorted to marry early (as young as the tender age of fifteen). There are statistics that suggest that people who marry younger have better marriages.


Again, I'm not trying to say that "masturbation" is a filthy, abhorrent practice. It is somewhat understandable. But I still do solemnly believe that a person can overcome those urges if he really wants to.


Anonymous wrote:Can hunger not also be classified as a "carnal" desire?


Indeed, there are many similarities between libido and hunger. You release dopamine when you do both, especially if the food you are eating is particularly tasty. You can even release a substantial amount of dopamine playing video games, best illustrated by video gamers in Japan found frothing at the mouth, dead on their keyboards.

Excess of anything is bad. That is why moderation should be practiced in all things. But as far as the Writings are concerned, masturbation is not a "moderate" use of the sex impulse. Granted it is nowhere near as bad as actually fornication, but if your mind is always on it, and you are faced with a test, do you think you will "pass" it? Might there not be a better chance at "passing" it if your mind is never on that sort of thing?

Just my thoughts...

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Postby Baha'i Warrior » Tue Nov 22, 2005 4:30 pm

Good point, Jonah. So again, this might be a reason why we are encouraged to marry early. But this is how things should be "weighted": if the Writings say not to do it, you should not do it. Naturally in a decadent society we would expect to see many studies trying to prove that masturbation is good, or homosexuality is "good," or how drinking beer is "good." And even if these things are indeed physically "good" for you (which alcohol certainly isn't anyway), the fact remains that God is never wrong. If one is concerned about getting prostate cancer (i.e. if it's in the family), then he should marry early, because according to the Writings the only healthy and legitimate use of the sex impulse is within marriage:

"We must struggle against the evils in society by spiritual means, and medical and social ones as well. We must be tolerant and uncompromising, understanding but immovable in our point of view. The thing people need to meet this type of trouble, as well as every other type, is greater spiritual understanding and stability; and of course we Bahá'ís believe that ultimately this can only be given to mankind through the Teachings of the Manifestation of God for this Day."

(Letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, dated 5/21/54 to an individual believer.)


Besides, Jonah, you aren't going to tell me that the young men don't masturbate, at least the ones "concerned" about this Baha'i principle. I'm sure their prostates are good to go, and now they should focus more on their spiritual well being. :wink:


But the conclusion is that you can do it, just don't think that the Baha'i exhortations are meaningless. And if any of us do this, we certainly should say things that would cause other youth to become “movable in [their] point of view.”

Guest

Postby Guest » Thu Nov 24, 2005 3:42 am

Hi all!! Oks, im brazilian, so im sorry about my english :oops:

I think we are all human beins, so the problem affect us all. And it´s not easy to a young (men or women) in actual days.

So, its possible to conclude that the masturbation its not good
to our 'souls' progress, and we must to think if that is hard to me, also is hard for everyone.

I think its important to say, that mainly a Bahá´i, shouldn´t to discrimine/ignore the thoughts of non-bahais. We Bahá´ís, are not above of nobody. We must be humbles in our hearts. All laws from all prophet were created for US humans, and are propitious for our lives. In that case, Bahá´u´lláh is the prophet taught for our time...we must consider that taughts is made by the God love for us, for our soul progress. If we love Him, we can undubt to surpass our 'vices' and get work for Your services.

Hey, i know its hard...but just because is hard, you shouln´t ignorate what say God about it :-)

Every tests are hard, but if we can 'to pass' this certainly reflect in our live, we can feel that.

Guest

Postby Guest » Thu Nov 24, 2005 8:42 am

He said, when you masturbate, what are you thinking about? A horse?


How did he know...?!

No, you are thinking about a girl! Is this in line with keeping your mind pure of defilements?


Well, less defiling than thinking about the horse...

Guest

Postby Guest » Thu Nov 24, 2005 10:30 am

Anonymous wrote:
He said, when you masturbate, what are you thinking about? A horse?


How did he know...?!

No, you are thinking about a girl! Is this in line with keeping your mind pure of defilements?


Well, less defiling than thinking about the horse...

Hahaha that's actually a funny point, but he could have said say "sky" instead of "horse". The idea is to get his point that it's a natural inclination to fantasize about a member of the opposite sex in the process of masturbation.

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Postby Baha'i Warrior » Thu Nov 24, 2005 9:06 pm

ah, yes. let's leave Mister Ed alone



Anonymous wrote:
Anonymous wrote:
He said, when you masturbate, what are you thinking about? A horse?


How did he know...?!

No, you are thinking about a girl! Is this in line with keeping your mind pure of defilements?


Well, less defiling than thinking about the horse...

Hahaha that's actually a funny point, but he could have said say "sky" instead of "horse". The idea is to get his point that it's a natural inclination to fantasize about a member of the opposite sex in the process of masturbation.

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Postby Baha'i Warrior » Thu Nov 24, 2005 9:08 pm

Truer words have never been spoken

Mike

Postby Mike » Sun Dec 04, 2005 4:32 pm

What have i created here!? hahaha :badgrin:

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Postby Baha'i Warrior » Tue Dec 06, 2005 4:39 pm

lol

i like the evil smily guy HAHAHAHA

very nice topic indeed. it is something definitely on the minds of young people so it is a good topic and hopefully, Mike, you gave gained some insight among the orgy of ideas presented here :badgrin:

CJ

Postby CJ » Mon Jan 02, 2006 3:35 am

i will just put my 2 cents worth in here, speaking as a woman.
women definitely have this masturbation issue to deal with too, but the point I wanted to make is that in the past, I have been hit on by guys who have said they have fantasized about me, etc, as if I would think it was a comliment or something. in short, this really disturbs me and grosses me out, the fact that someone who is not my husband or a man I am in love with is using my image in his mind, without my permission. really creepy, if you ask me. if you are masturbating you probably have an image in your mind of a woman who is not your wife. that means that in a way, you are messing with someone else's wife, or future wife

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Postby Baha'i Warrior » Mon Jan 02, 2006 3:27 pm

CJ wrote:i will just put my 2 cents worth in here, speaking as a woman.
women definitely have this masturbation issue to deal with too, but the point I wanted to make is that in the past, I have been hit on by guys who have said they have fantasized about me, etc, as if I would think it was a comliment or something. in short, this really disturbs me and grosses me out, the fact that someone who is not my husband or a man I am in love with is using my image in his mind, without my permission. really creepy, if you ask me. if you are masturbating you probably have an image in your mind of a woman who is not your wife. that means that in a way, you are messing with someone else's wife, or future wife


Yes, CJ! You make some very good points. Thank you very much for sharing your insights.

Yes, men have this problem and the problem with our society is that it has sunk so low that now men will openly go up to random women and say things to them that could be perceived as "sexual harassment" I suppose. What has happened now is we have movements like the rap subculture which glorifies primarily two things: money and women (which they refer to using expletives), and treats them both pretty much the same. And now can we see why the Baha'i Faith is so important, and even more important for people to follow the exhortations outlined in the Aqdas?

"Say: He is not to be numbered with the people of Bahá who followeth his mundane desires, or fixeth his heart on things of the earth. He is My true follower who, if he come to a valley of pure gold, will pass straight through it aloof as a cloud, and will neither turn back, nor pause. Such a man is, assuredly, of Me. From his garment the Concourse on high can inhale the fragrance of sanctity.... And if he met the fairest and most comely of women, he would not feel his heart seduced by the least shadow of desire for her beauty. Such an one, indeed, is the creation of spotless chastity. Thus instructeth you the Pen of the Ancient of Days, as bidden by your Lord, the Almighty, the All-Bountiful."

I have to confess that there have been times when I saw a wallet or expensive watch lying on the ground in the men's changing room and my heart skipped a beat because for an instant I thought "hey, I could steal this thing." Of course I did not, but I think what Baha'u'llah is referring to is that not only should we not act on our impulses, but make ourselves so spiritual that things like that will no longer even be a test for us.

about the masturbation, I remember a sociology professor I had for a semester stated that "romance is women's response to men's sexuality." what he was saying is that men are more into the sex aspect of love and women are more into romance. not being a women I wouldn't know if that's true, but it is true that for whatever reason most perverts are men (well higher testosterone mostly), not women. the few exceptions are crazy female school teachers that copulate with their students, but these cases are relatively rare.

anyway, how much worse or better the world gets is up to us Baha'is, so let us try to ge the word out there! 8)

—Warrior

CJ

Postby CJ » Mon Jan 02, 2006 4:53 pm

I think the idea that masturbation is a man's problem is an error, and that this idea was created to make excuses for some of the violence that goes on. perhaps women don't pursue pornography as much as men, or they don't pursue men as much as men pursue women, because maybe they are socialized not to do so, to play the role where you are the non-aggressive one, and the man is the one who makes the move, makes the decisions. maybe this is why men are disproportionate when it comes to sex offences, compared to women.
anyway, re the whole masturbation issue, I can't tell you the conversations I've had, where I've spoken to women in my family, women friends, Baha'i or not, about the no masturbation thing, and they protest, say that can't be, find it a very difficult thing to accept and follow (even though it's not a law, UHJ says we shouldn't) I get really ticked off when I hear that women have lower sex drive than men, etc, because in all the time before I was a Baha'i, I never, ever found this to be true and I think that this belief contributes to inequalities between men and women.

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Postby Baha'i Warrior » Mon Jan 02, 2006 5:37 pm

Just the fact that almost all sex offenders are men proves that men are more aggressive and thus have higher sex drives. Men have more testosterone, this is just a scientific, biological fact, and this is what contributes to the increased aggression especially in regard to sex.

I'm of course not disputing that this is not a problem for women, but since you mentioned men saying bad things to you, and women usually (generally) are not that crude, I used the example of men.

Also according to an anatomy professor I had, men reach their "sexual peak" at age 18 and women don't reach it until they are 31 years of age. So at least if we are talking about college-aged youth, the men are going to be the ones more inclined toward sex. Just look at your own campus.

—Warrior

CJ

Postby CJ » Mon Jan 02, 2006 10:19 pm

'Just the fact that almost all sex offenders are men proves that men are more aggressive and thus have higher sex drives.'

this shows that they are more aggressive. however, it does not follow from this that they have higher sex drives than women. testosterone has shown to be related to increased aggression; show me a study that indicates that it increases horniness

'...women usually (generally) are not that crude, I used the example of men. '

the reason that women are not that crude is because they are socialized to be demure and docile and submit, not because they aren't all as horny as men.

'Also according to an anatomy professor I had, men reach their "sexual peak" at age 18 and women don't reach it until they are 31 years of age'

this is not necessarily biological. again, in most cultures, young women are conditioned to be demure and act all virginal or like they don't like sex. it is considered unchaste if a woman doesn't act this way. so maybe women are just more confident and accepting of their sexuality when they get older. I do remember my campus, and what I remember was that the guys weren't necessarily hornier, they were just socialized to think it was okay to admit it and pursue it.

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Postby Guest » Tue Jan 03, 2006 1:22 am

okay after I posted this I did a search on links between testosterone + increased sex drive and, guess I was ignorant because there is a connection. :oops: however, just because a man has more testosterone does not necessary mean that he will have an increased sex drive. many things, not just testosterone contribute to sex drive in both sexes, including other hormones. the relationship between sexual drive and testosterone has not been extensively explored. apparently it has been shown to increase libido, but researchers are still unsure about what other variables are at work.


here is a clip from an article at http://mentalhelp.net/psyhelp/chap10/chap10r.htm

Some think men are by nature more sexual or "hornier" than women. Probably not true (remember, not long ago, the church thought women were over-sexed). Indeed, Masters, Johnson & Kolodny (1985) found the sex response--orgasm--is very similar in men and women. Women can climax as fast as men; they can have more orgasms. College males and females are about equally (75%) active sexually (Playboy, 1976); college communities don't need prostitutes any more. The same percent of first year college men and women (80%) have had their genitals stimulated by a partner; 40% of women and 50% of men have climaxed this way (Kolodny, 1980). When viewing erotic films women actually became just as sexually aroused physically as men. Yet, when asked, many of these women denied (or were unaware of) their sexual responses (Heiman, et al., 1976). Women tend to underestimate their own sexual arousal while overestimating males' sexual arousal (Byrne, 1976). It appears that the social-sexual indoctrinations given women--the sexual taboos--take time to wear off. As a woman gets more sexual experience, she responds more freely to sexual stimuli. That may be why males hit their sexual peaks early (late teens) while women peak much later. More and more women are escaping this oppression of sexual sensitivity and are learning to "turn on" easily (like men do). Unfortunately, a few women conclude that they are abnormal--"nymphos." That is seldom the case; they are just healthy and uninhibited

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Postby Baha'i Warrior » Tue Jan 03, 2006 3:08 pm

CJ wrote:this shows that they are more aggressive. however, it does not follow from this that they have higher sex drives than women. testosterone has shown to be related to increased aggression; show me a study that indicates that it increases horniness.


Testosterone for men is has been known for a long, long time to contribute to their libido. The function of testosterone in women is not as well understood. Just look it up on Google, this is an established fact and I don't think there is any reason need to say much more about it.

CJ wrote:the reason that women are not that crude is because they are socialized to be demure and docile and submit, not because they aren't all as horny as men.


Is that a bad thing? From a Baha'i standpoint? If women appeared, in your words, "horny" all the time then that'd just give men more of a reason to want to copulate with them. Anyway, until the world turns to Baha'i principles, no one will be happy.

—Warrior

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Postby Baha'i Warrior » Tue Jan 03, 2006 3:21 pm

Anonymous wrote:When viewing erotic films women actually became just as sexually aroused physically as men. Yet, when asked, many of these women denied (or were unaware of) their sexual responses (Heiman, et al., 1976).

If they don't know they were sexually aroused or they don't feel that way, then Maybe they were not sexually aroused! Just because some of their neurons fired doesn't mean they were "aroused," and this is evidenced by the fact that some of them were "unaware" of being aroused. That to me does not make any sense!

—Warrior

CJ

Postby CJ » Wed Jan 04, 2006 12:25 am

Hi Baha'i Warrior.
You wrote;

'Testosterone for men is has been known for a long, long time to contribute to their libido. The function of testosterone in women is not as well understood. Just look it up on Google, this is an established fact and I don't think there is any reason need to say much more about it.'

yes, the point I was making was that just because men have more testosterone, doesn't automatically mean that they have a greater sex drive than women.


'Is that a bad thing? From a Baha'i standpoint? If women appeared, in your words, "horny" all the time then that'd just give men more of a reason to want to copulate with them. Anyway, until the world turns to Baha'i principles, no one will be happy'

one important thing, from a Baha'i standpoint, is work towards equality of men and women, and this can't happen until we get rid of stereotypes. imo the pov that men have higher sex drives than women is a stereotype.

if women appeared horny all the time, it doesn't necessarily follow that men would want to copulate them more. in fact the woman who is assertive about her desire for sex scares a lot of men, while the woman who acts all docile and virginal, like they don't want it, is the one that these men go after. they chase women not so much because they are have a greater sex drive, but because of the conquest and because it makes them feel powerful.

'If they don't know they were sexually aroused or they don't feel that way, then Maybe they were not sexually aroused! Just because some of their neurons fired doesn't mean they were "aroused," and this is evidenced by the fact that some of them were "unaware" of being aroused. That to me does not make any sense! '

like I said before women are conditioned to be docile and that if she acts like she likes sex, then she is considered unchaste. things are changing now, but still we have these extreme views where women are either whores, or all innocent and virginal, there is no middle ground.

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Postby brettz9 » Wed Jan 04, 2006 8:30 am

Dear CJ,

Nice to hear another woman's voice in this forum...Welcome...

if women appeared horny all the time, it doesn't necessarily follow that men would want to copulate them more. in fact the woman who is assertive about her desire for sex scares a lot of men, while the woman who acts all docile and virginal, like they don't want it, is the one that these men go after. they chase women not so much because they are have a greater sex drive, but because of the conquest and because it makes them feel powerful.


I agree that there is truth in the first conclusion you make, but I must say I think it is unfortunate that such discussions have to focus so much on the issue of power (yes, I know feminist theory deals with this). I think such focus is, as with most racial discussions in America (and spreading elsewhere unfortunately) a heavy over-politicization of a much more human topic. Rape, around which such discussion of power often focus, is indeed a terrible, terrible thing, as is other abuse. But to say that a man who is attracted to women who are demure is because he necessarily wants to have power over them is really going too far (though I know this is an often repeated statement). Rather than seeking common truth, I feel these discussions (oriented so much around "power") lead people to take sides and fail to see nuance, and see the other as more human.

Is there something wrong with being shy or even demure? I think chastity is a virtue to be embraced--yes by both sexes, but in seeking a truly liberated identity for women, I think we should not lose sight of this, just because it is trendy to say that woman is liberated by becoming just as openly sexual as some men have been. Of course, the converse is equally important as well, in that men are also called to be chaste, and there is certainly a long way for us to go in this arena.

But, I don't believe it calls for selectively referring to scientific research to believe that every difference in this area is due to socialization or false perceptions. The Baha'i Writings repeatedly emphasize that spiritual equality does not mean sameness (even in function, let alone physiological inclinations). Social biologists agree also that there are significant biological differences affecting different behavior between the sexes. If a man likes reserved women (to a degree), it could also reflect imprinted biology leading to his selectivity for women who are more likely to have the self-control to care for him and his progeny. Women may also, through biological selection, be, yes, attracted to strong, virile men to a degree, but also to those who are likely to control themselves enough to stick around to provide for and protect her. And because men, biologically, historically, and socially may be inclined to provide for and protect (see the letter from the House on the difference of function between the genders in the raising of young children), does not mean that they must inevitably consider the woman as helpless or only suitable for raising babies...It is too far of a pendulum swing to argue this, as some feminist discusssions often do whenever nuances are attempted to be introduced into the discussion...

More and more women are escaping this oppression of sexual sensitivity and are learning to "turn on" easily (like men do).


Again, I don't see this as any kind of liberation...On the contrary, it is a new kind of slavery. When women (as well as men) express themselves so openly (outside of marriage), it takes away not only from gracefulness, beauty and subtlety which either sex might enjoy, but also the ability for men and women to enjoy more common, natural friendships. This is not to embrace any kind of puritanism; it is equally negative to see the effects of inner oppression. As the Writings state, marriage is the place for the expression of the sexual impulse. This is not, I strongly believe, so that we can all feel proper and stilted--on the contrary, it allows us to enjoy life and its potential beauties more naturally--without the shallow extremes of the daily tugs and tows of materialism--tows which not only disrupt live from a more even-keeled life, but also from emotional heart-breaks caused by a lack of commitment resulting from sexual license. Or as the House of Justice states, the Faith seeks to offer "freedom from the ubiquity of sex..." This is nothing to speak of the benefits of chastity for the sensitive feelings of marriage partners.

I hope we can pursue discussions here in a manner where we attempt to look at the situation with our own eyes--using the Writings as the guide to open them, guided in turn by true science. As Shoghi Effendi wrote in Advent of Divine Justice, we must be willing to admit any good qualities which our "enemy" might possess. Otherwise, we are bound to repeat divisive trends around us. As a side note, I feel that in moving to a country which does not possess such systematic partisanship (such a country being automatically suspect for being automatically repressive, male-centric, etc. by Westerners alike, despite the pride of its people, women included), one can gain a greater appreciation of the possibility for a more civil dialog. We as men and women are in this together! :)

And, BW, though I agree this topic (and others) are disproportionately large, remember that this is a subset of the topic of materialism (stated positively as chastity and holiness) which is one of three important spiritual requisites outlined by Shoghi Effendi in the Advent of Divine Justice (a moral charter of the Faith) for the successful spread of the Faith.

best wishes,
Brett

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Postby brettz9 » Wed Jan 04, 2006 10:43 am

I've wondered how the "guidance" against male masturbation would be weighed vis-a-vis a medical recommendation in favor of it. For example, the widely-reported findings of a 2003 study suggesting that ejaculating at least 5 times per week has a measurable effect on preventing prostate cancer (see for example http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/3072021.stm ). The study indicated that this preventative effect was most pronounced for men in their 20s -- earlier than many men marry, and hence earlier than they can ejaculate in a married sexual relationship, as required by the Faith.

For more articles on that, see http://google.com/search?q=prostate+cancer+masturbation


Hi Jonah and all...To belatedly reply to this post, let me first quote from the Bahá'í International Community statement, Prosperity of Humankind:

Throughout recorded history, human consciousness has depended upon two basic knowledge systems through which its potentialities have progressively been expressed: science and religion. Through these two agencies, the race's experience has been organized, its environment interpreted, its latent powers explored, and its moral and intellectual life disciplined. They have acted as the real progenitors of civilization. With the benefit of hindsight, it is evident, moreover, that the effectiveness of this dual structure has been greatest during those periods when, each in its own sphere, religion and science were able to work in concert.

(Propserity of Humankind, par. 36)


I think we should not ignore the scientific evidence (if examine it carefully out of a duty to find the truth), on the contrary, we should embrace it, assuming the methodology is not flawed, etc. However, we should also look to the Writings, realizing they do not contradict good common sense (e.g., Shoghi Effendi stating that fasting would never have been prescribed had it been bad for one's health--excepting of course, people who are ill, which the Faith already excepts for).

The study indicated that this preventative effect was most pronounced for men in their 20s -- earlier than many men marry, and hence earlier than they can ejaculate in a married sexual relationship, as required by the Faith.


I think a Faith-based response to this scientific study (which I have no reason to doubt) might include the following:

1) The Faith does encourage people to marry young. Just because many people (in Western countries) marry increasingly older (if at all), does not mean it is an ideal situation. With serial monogamy, etc., the wider society has been able to at least physiologically get by with this, but this does not mean other aspects of Baha'i lives should not change along with this guidance for Baha'is. As I think I mentioned here before, studies also show less marital happiness for those who marry later (or granted, probably also if too early, especially if maturity is not controlled for in some fashion).

2) In this case, I do not doubt that sexual relations are healthy. Bahá'u'lláh Himself states that marriage is conducive to (or demonstrates) fidelity.

This can relate to the real need of many human beings for sexual expression.

"The proper use of the sex instinct is the natural right of every individual, and it is precisely for this very purpose that the institution of marriage has been established."
(Shoghi Effendi, A Chaste and Holy Life, p. 56)


Shoghi Effendi was quite sympathetic to this in a number of letters...e.g.:

"Sex is a very individual matter, some people are more passionate by nature than others, and might consequently suffer more if forced to be continent."

(Light of Divine Guidance Vol.2, p. 71)


"Regarding your questions: by holiness in our Baha'i teachings is meant attachment to God, His Precepts and His Will. We are not ascetics in any sense of the word. On the contrary, Baha'u'llah says God has created all the good things in the world for us to enjoy and partake of. But we must not become attached to them and put them before the spiritual things. Chastity in the strict sense means not to have sexual intercourse, or sexual intimacies, before marriage. In the general sense it means not to be licentious. This does not mean we Baha'is believe sexual relations to be impure or wrong. On the contrary they are natural and should be considered one of God's many blessings.

(Light of Divine Guidance Vol.2, p. 71)


In a letter I cannot find now, he stated, as I recall, in the context of not removing adminstrative rights for a woman who had a child out of wedlock to the effect that it was, as in all other areas of life, entirely human to fail in the area of sex.

3) As the above implies, though it may cause one to "suffer" to be continent, some situations, as far as is possible for one to bear, is still called for in the Faith. Just because something may be physically healthy, does not mean it is always the right thing to do. Of course, the pattern of life of a Baha'i is meant to be generally speaking, a sustainable and moderate lifestyle, which as the quotations above state, allow one to partake of all of the blessings of life. Sometimes, however, (such as with Baha'is in Iran who were and still are, according to our belief, to do their absolute best, even in the midst of torture, to avoid recanting their Faith) extenuating moral as well as physical circumstances, make it difficult to enjoy all advantages in this world.

The Qur'án admits that wine has its advantages but that its disadvantages outweigh its advantages. I think this demonstrates a good point about the harmony of science and religion. Our religious side should not ignore the scientific truth which may be out there (though being necessarily circumspect about some scientific claims when materialism holds such a strong grip on society's individuals and institutions) as our religious impulse should be based in a desire for all of Truth in all its aspects including the material as necessary, nor fear that such evidence would undermine the legitimacy of a nuance-filled and broad Faith which we might not adequately have understood, nor should our scientific side lead us to relinquish our Faith and principles because we may be sometimes called to do something difficult. But unlike with wine (whose heart advantages at least can, according to even a Welch's commercial, be found also in fruit juices!, and which can be prescribed if necessary by a legitimate physician), sex cannot be as easily foregone by the average individual.

"The Baha'i Teachings do not only encourage marital life, considering it the natural and normal way of existence for every sane, healthy and socially-conscious and responsible person, but raise marriage to the status of a divine institution, its chief and sacred purpose being the perpetuation of the human race--which is the very flower of the entire creation--and its elevation to the true station destined for it by God.

"That there should be, however, certain individuals who by reason of some serious deficiency, physical or mental, would be incapacitated to contract marriage and enjoy the blessings of an enduring and successful marital life is only too evident, but these constitute only a very small section of humanity, and are therefore merely an exception, and their condition cannot possibly invalidate what an all-wise and loving Providence has decreed to be the normal way to a fruitful and constructive social existence.

"The exact conditions and circumstances under which such incapacitated individuals should be advised or even prevented perhaps from entering into any sort of marital existence have not been specified in the Baha'i Writings, but will have to be defined later on by the Universal House of Justice. In the meantime, those believers who consider themselves as falling into the above category would do well, before taking any final decision themselves, to consult medical experts, who are both conscientious and competent, and to abide by their recommendation.

"This is what the Guardian would advise you to do, and he will pray that you may be guided in reaching the right decision in this assuredly delicate and indeed most vital matter confronting you at present. Whether your illness is the result of any inherent constitutional weakness and inherited predisposition is a question which you should refer to experts in the medical field, though even expert physicians themselves may in very few cases find it exceedingly hard, if not altogether impossible, to give a final and decisive answer."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, April 15, 1939)


So basically, I think we can say that this research, if anything, confirm what the Writings have to say on this subject--get married! (I know I should talk, just getting married now at 33...)

best wishes,
Brett

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Postby brettz9 » Wed Jan 04, 2006 11:20 am

One further comment, along the lines of it being human to fail in this area...

The House of Justice stated:
"Your problem, therefore, is one against which you should continue to struggle, with determination and with the aid of prayer. You should remember, however, that it is only one of the many temptations and faults that a human being must strive to overcome during his lifetime, and you should not increase the difficulty you have by over-emphasising its importance. We suggest you try to see it within the whole spectrum of the qualities that a Baha'i must develop in his character. Be vigilant against temptation, but do not allow it to claim too great a share of your attention. You should concentrate, rather, on the virtues that you should develop, the services you should strive to render, and, above all, on God and His attributes, and devote your energies to living a full Baha'i life in all its many aspects."

(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, a copy of which was sent to the compiler with a letter dated March 8, 1981; quoted in Lights of Guidance, no. 1220, emphasis added)


As the Qur'án states:

"by good things and by evil things have we proved them, to the intent that they might return to us."

best wishes,
Brett

CJ

Postby CJ » Wed Jan 04, 2006 11:34 am

HI Brett;

yes I believe that this topic has become a little hard-lined and I get kind of worked up over it. but you have to understand where I am coming from as a woman in this society where I hear men all the time making exucses for pushing a girl into sex, or viewing porn, or whatnot, and saying it's because of their overvamped sex drives. it is aggression, unfortunately, and when I hear other things such as Bahai Warrior express his opinion that sex offenders are that way because of their sex drive, when it is an established psychological fact that is about power and control, drives me mad. I still see that many Baha'i men have not educated themselves on women's issues. it is sad when I see that organizations such as 'Men Against Violence Against Women' springing up all over the place, but never meet any Baha'i men who are a part of these groups. INdeed, in our Faith we are to dispel ignorance, are we not?

' But to say that a man who is attracted to women who are demure is because he necessarily wants to have power over them is really going too far (though I know this is an often repeated statement). Rather than seeking common truth, I feel these discussions (oriented so much around "power") lead people to take sides and fail to see nuance, and see the other as more human.

this is not what I means. what I was protesting about was the extremes in 'man is strong and woman is weak' we see this dynamic all the time in such people as, say, Jessica Simpson, who admits that she acts stupid, weak and helpless around men because they like it and makes them feel more manly (not to blast her, she's great, just balked when I read this)


'Is there something wrong with being shy or even demure? I think chastity is a virtue to be embraced--yes by both sexes, but in seeking a truly liberated identity for women, I think we should not lose sight of this, just because it is trendy to say that woman is liberated by becoming just as openly sexual as some men have been. Of course, the converse is equally important as well, in that men are also called to be chaste, and there is certainly a long way for us to go in this arena.'

no, this is not what I meant. what I meant was that women have been repressed from exhibiting NORMAL sexuality, that is, enjoying sex, etc. it has been seen as something unchaste for her to exhibit normal sexuality. a chaste woman doesn't admit she likes sex etc.

But, I don't believe it calls for selectively referring to scientific research to believe that every difference in this area is due to socialization or false perceptions. The Baha'i Writings repeatedly emphasize that spiritual equality does not mean sameness (even in function, let alone physiological inclinations). Social biologists agree also that there are significant biological differences affecting different behavior between the sexes. If a man likes reserved women (to a degree), it could also reflect imprinted biology leading to his selectivity for women who are more likely to have the self-control to care for him and his progeny. Women may also, through biological selection, be, yes, attracted to strong, virile men to a degree, but also to those who are likely to control themselves enough to stick around to provide for and protect her. And because men, biologically, historically, and socially may be inclined to provide for and protect (see the letter from the House on the difference of function between the genders in the raising of young children), does not mean that they must inevitably consider the woman as helpless or only suitable for raising babies...It is too far of a pendulum swing to argue this, as some feminist discusssions often do whenever nuances are attempted to be introduced into the discussion...'

no, this is not what I intended. I just hate the stereotype where many people say 'men have a higher sex drive than women' I just don't believe it's true. and it is not proven scientifically. I was targeting what I see as harmful stereotypes, which many who deal with rape victims know play a major role. and rape also does happen in marriage, so it's not just that these types of dynamics are between single people only

More and more women are escaping this oppression of sexual sensitivity and are learning to "turn on" easily (like men do).


Again, I don't see this as any kind of liberation...On the contrary, it is a new kind of slavery. When women (as well as men) express themselves so openly (outside of marriage), it takes away not only from gracefulness, beauty and subtlety which either sex might enjoy, but also the ability for men and women to enjoy more common, natural friendships. This is not to embrace any kind of puritanism; it is equally negative to see the effects of inner oppression. As the Writings state, marriage is the place for the expression of the sexual impulse. This is not, I strongly believe, so that we can all feel proper and stilted--on the contrary, it allows us to enjoy life and its potential beauties more naturally--without the shallow extremes of the daily tugs and tows of materialism--tows which not only disrupt live from a more even-keeled life, but also from emotional heart-breaks caused by a lack of commitment resulting from sexual license. Or as the House of Justice states, the Faith seeks to offer "freedom from the ubiquity of sex..." This is nothing to speak of the benefits of chastity for the sensitive feelings of marriage partners.'

all I read from this sentence was that women have actually been able to enjoy sex more than they were allowed to in the past. what good does it do if you're married but can't enjoy sex because society tells you you shouldn't? The Baha'i Faith recognizes the value of the sex impulse.

' As a side note, I feel that in moving to a country which does not possess such systematic partisanship (such a country being automatically suspect for being automatically repressive, male-centric, etc. by Westerners alike, despite the pride of its people, women included), one can gain a greater appreciation of the possibility for a more civil dialog.'

sorry, I didn't uunderstand what you meant here.

CJ

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Postby Baha'i Warrior » Wed Jan 04, 2006 2:41 pm

Brett makes a good point. You are accusing us (men) of wanting power over women, etc., that is a stereotype you have. “Feminists” think that because men oppressed them, now it is their right to (try) to oppress men. Well I guess if a man is trying to get a job they won there, or with divorces they won also. In fact some of the greatest inequalities I see these days are women exercising their power over men, not the other way around. There are many immature women that laugh about the husbands they divorced, I see it all the time in coffee shops. They are always saying bad stuff about men and it somewhat vexes me. (Granted not all women are like this, just as not all men are scared of "horny" women.)

Also, what you are talking about is society. Let's talk about us Baha'is because the world isn't going to change until we do something about it. I think there are many men, especially Baha'i men, that do not fit your description. Also, through the teachings of Baha'u'llah both men and women will know how to behave, which is in a very chaste way. You can't change how people think these days without giving to them Baha'u'llah's message. The world is suffering from many ailments, and they will not be alleviated—ever—without the instructions from the Divine Physician.

—Warrior

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Postby Baha'i Warrior » Wed Jan 04, 2006 3:23 pm

CJ wrote: it is aggression, unfortunately, and when I hear other things such as Bahai Warrior express his opinion that sex offenders are that way because of their sex drive, when it is an established psychological fact that is about power and control, drives me mad.


I'm sorry, I cannot control how you feel. You should say some prayers and try to stay objective. Yes, sex offenders are that way because of their depraved natures combined with sex drive. What did I say that is "offensive"? I really am trying as hard as I can to find it. I really am not trying to offend you, but if you look at psychological studies, people after football games are more destructive because of their increased testosterone levels. Testosterone has a lot to do is aggression, I'm not saying it's the only contributing factor to things like rapes but it is a big one.



CJ wrote:I still see that many Baha'i men have not educated themselves on women's issues. it is sad when I see that organizations such as 'Men Against Violence Against Women' springing up all over the place, but never meet any Baha'i men who are a part of these groups. INdeed, in our Faith we are to dispel ignorance, are we not?


Please refrain from being judgmental of men who do not go to these organizations. There are many ways of tackling the issue. One good way is to change people's minds through Baha'u'llah's revelation than trying to force them to think a certain way.


CJ wrote:this is not what I means. what I was protesting about was the extremes in 'man is strong and woman is weak' we see this dynamic all the time in such people as, say, Jessica Simpson, who admits that she acts stupid, weak and helpless around men because they like it and makes them feel more manly (not to blast her, she's great, just balked when I read this)


Well, wasn't that stupid? For exposing herself like that especially when many kids are watching the game? It would have been just as stupid if that pop singer, whatever his name is dropped his pants.

She was acting that way because of her own selfish interests, any unbiased person will see this. She wants to sell more records so she has to rebuild her image.



CJ wrote:no, this is not what I meant. what I meant was that women have been repressed from exhibiting NORMAL sexuality, that is, enjoying sex, etc. it has been seen as something unchaste for her to exhibit normal sexuality. a chaste woman doesn't admit she likes sex etc.


CJ most Baha'i men are certainly not like this. Maybe you can provide us with some statistics so that we may respond directly to them. Saying the same general things over and over again isn't going to help your argument.


CJ wrote:no, this is not what I intended. I just hate the stereotype where many people say 'men have a higher sex drive than women' I just don't believe it's true. and it is not proven scientifically. I was targeting what I see as harmful stereotypes, which many who deal with rape victims know play a major role. and rape also does happen in marriage, so it's not just that these types of dynamics are between single people only



Since when is a simple biological fact a stereotype? There was a study I heard about in my psychology class that random attractive women went up to men and asked them if they wanted to have sex, and 90% of the men wanted it, whereas when an attractive man went to females, less than 20% (I forget the figures) responded yes.

We live in a society where both men and women are openly promiscuous. There remains no values any more. I don't think the men care if the women is horny or not. In fact, if they are seeking out many women, all they care about is copulation and they don't care who initiates it.






CJ wrote:all I read from this sentence was that women have actually been able to enjoy sex more than they were allowed to in the past. what good does it do if you're married but can't enjoy sex because society tells you you shouldn't? The Baha'i Faith recognizes the value of the sex impulse.


This is all theoretical stuff I am sure there are many Baha'i marriages where the man and women both get a lot of satisfaction despite what society says. In fact, today society today is too open. Society is serially lax in regards to sex as the Guardian states!

Guest

Postby Guest » Wed Jan 04, 2006 10:28 pm

I'm sorry, I cannot control how you feel. You should say some prayers and try to stay objective. Yes, sex offenders are that way because of their depraved natures combined with sex drive. What did I say that is "offensive"? I really am trying as hard as I can to find it. I really am not trying to offend you, but if you look at psychological studies, people after football games are more destructive because of their increased testosterone levels. Testosterone has a lot to do is aggression, I'm not saying it's the only contributing factor to things like rapes but it is a big one.'

take 2 men, both with an equal level of testosterone-one is a person who has committed a sexual assault, the other who would never touch a woman unless she said it was okay.
this is more to do with criminal tendencies and messed up thinking than sex drive.

'Please refrain from being judgmental of men who do not go to these organizations. There are many ways of tackling the issue. One good way is to change people's minds through Baha'u'llah's revelation than trying to force them to think a certain way.'

so Baha'i Warrior, how are you tackling the issue of the equality of men and women through Baha'u'llah's Revelation? explain this to me please. What have YOU done, personally?


'CJ most Baha'i men are certainly not like this. Maybe you can provide us with some statistics so that we may respond directly to them. Saying the same general things over and over again isn't going to help your argument.'

Baha'i Warrior, if you think that there aren't Baha'i men aren't like this, you are sadly mistaken. the Baha'i community is certainly influenced by society around them and are not perfect; you are fooling yourself if you think that we are immune to the problems of the world.


'Since when is a simple biological fact a stereotype? There was a study I heard about in my psychology class that random attractive women went up to men and asked them if they wanted to have sex, and 90% of the men wanted it, whereas when an attractive man went to females, less than 20% (I forget the figures) responded yes.'

The outcome of the study you cite does not prove any biological facts, in spite of what you might think. It is a psychology study, not a biological one. an outcome of the study could be biological, it also could be due to social conditioning and psychology. the outcome is proven, however the reason behind this is unclear. 100 years ago if you asked a group of men and women if they liked, say, working on mathematics or chemistry problems, most of the women would probably say no. they would probably be thinking that it was not ladylike, or that they would rather be working in a dress shop or something if they had to have a job. now, that statistic has changed. is this due to biology? at the time many said so. the same would go for rising proportions of men enjoying their times spend at home looking after the baby.

'This is all theoretical stuff I am sure there are many Baha'i marriages where the man and women both get a lot of satisfaction despite what society says. In fact, today society today is too open. Society is serially lax in regards to sex as the Guardian state'

yes I agree with you here. there are probably a lot of marriages (but not just Baha'i marriages) where both get satisfaction.

CJ

Postby CJ » Wed Jan 04, 2006 10:52 pm

sorry, the previous post was mine. we have diverted quite a bit from the thread topic. perhaps we should continue this one under another title?

Baha'i Warrior wrote:Brett makes a good point. You are accusing us (men) of wanting power over women, etc., that is a stereotype you have.

you can't be serious. the way it is right now, there IS a lack of balance of power. surely you can't be disputing this. I am not saying that men want power, consciously, but that it's something build into our social structure. it's nothing personal against you or any other man, but you have to agree that it exists.

“Feminists” think that because men oppressed them, now it is their right to (try) to oppress men.'

I don't know what your definition of feminist is, seems to be a negative one. just for the record, I think men are awesome, have some absolutely wonderful friends who are men, and my brother is a great man, too. I am not speaking out against men, am speaking out against what I feel are gender stereotypes. if a non-caucasian person was upset about racial stereotypes and was complaining to a caucasian person about this, does that mean that they hate all caucasians? not necessarily. it just means that they are tired of the stereotypes.

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Postby Baha'i Warrior » Thu Jan 05, 2006 4:17 pm

Anonymous wrote:so Baha'i Warrior, how are you tackling the issue of the equality of men and women through Baha'u'llah's Revelation? explain this to me please. What have YOU done, personally?


The thing that seems to be bothering you and what you seem to be most vocal about is discrimination against women and gender stereotypes. This is an issue that is important to you, and the Baha'i principle of equality between men and women is important to you. However, what are YOU doing about all the other problems in society? There are many, it isn't just women who are suffering. Baha'is are not obliged to just focus on women's issues by default. Maybe someone's thing is racial unity, that is a principle maybe he wants to focus on. I teach the Baha'i principles to people I meet (non-Baha'is) as I think is most relevant to the person I am teaching, so if it is a women the first thing I will mention is equality of the sexes, if it is a black man the first thing I will mention to him is racial oneness, even though I will usually explain some other Baha'i principles. Being a student I can't really go out of my way to women's clubs, African American clubs, chinese clubs, anti-pollution clubs, etc. (Actually Ruhiyyih Khanum encouraged Baha'is to go to health clubs, chess clubs, or wherever, for them to go to them and teach Baha'i principles.) Besides without a Baha'i context I feel like their aims will really be not that effective, and I like to focus my attention more on say a Baha'i club and maybe some day they might decide to do something in regard to gender equality, who knows? But the most important thing is to get Baha'u'llah's message out there, because you try to stop men from raping women and telling them to stop making stereotypes, or whatever, but do you think it's going to work outside a Baha'i context? As long as we have movies, music, etc., that glorify these things this shows that this is how society is and society needs to change through Baha'u'llah's revelation, there is no other way it can change. And until people give Baha'u'llah a try, society will in fact become worse and worse. While the situation of women are getting a bit better, other things are getting worse like the breakdown of morals (fornication, vilification, backbiting, bad manners), violence, people's lifestyles (what they eat, how they live, etc.).

Anonymous wrote:if a non-caucasian person was upset about racial stereotypes and was complaining to a caucasian person about this, does that mean that they hate all caucasians? not necessarily. it just means that they are tired of the stereotypes.


Yeah but you were accusing me (and other men) of gender stereotyping also. We can defend ourselves too :wink:


Anonymous wrote:Baha'i Warrior, if you think that there aren't Baha'i men aren't like this, you are sadly mistaken. the Baha'i community is certainly influenced by society around them and are not perfect; you are fooling yourself if you think that we are immune to the problems of the world.


Yes, none of us are perfect—not me, not you. And yes, I am shocked, all the Baha'i communities I have been too had its fair share of divorced and broken families, single parents, and other forms of disunity and spiritual imperfection. We are still in a nascent stage of development as the Guardian tells us so naturally we are going to unfortunately emulate our own society. We should try to let outside forces have no influence on us but rely more on the Writings.

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Postby brettz9 » Tue Jan 10, 2006 1:39 pm

Dear CJ,

Sorry not to give a reply to your posting (nor was it quite the way BW summed up my words)...My energy for concentrating (especially amidst work, etc.) is quite limited...(I often post here in reply to questions with which I am already familiar, though sometimes I have bursts of energy for other topics)... Anyhow, just wanted to apologize for now, as I'm not sure if and when I'd be able to continue the discussion...I will say that I didn't mean to put words in your mouth...I was more responding to an impression than your actual words, but I'm too tired to review our discussions now to see...

best wishes,
Brett

[note from moderator: I locked this thread because it's gone on long enough, time for a new one. -JW]


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