Are you kidding? Masturbation and Meditation? No kidding. Mantak Chia for one has a "practice" based on this principle! I'm as puzzled as you as to how a sex act can go well with focused meditation, and how it can go well with a morality based spirituality. Never mind, some new-age approach is to build up enough energy for eventual astral travel into immortality! Like the spirit going to the Big-Dipper seeking immortality! Morality? Just a passing comment, afterall in our contemporary society, "my morality is none of your business"! Anyway back to the main subject. The question is "How did masturbation become related to Taoist meditation, as perceived in the West"? A misunderstanding or a mistranslation of a classic text leads to an answer.
Taoist Yoga (性命法诀明指）by Master Zhao BiChen (趙避塵) of the Wu-Liu School (伍柳派) was translated by Zen master Charles Luk (encouraged by Carl Jung to translate classic Chinese texts on Enlightenment for the benefit of Western readers). One significant feature of the Wu-Liu school is its use of sublimation of sexual energy in its practice (some details of which I discussed in previous posts). The essence is before our sexual drive tips us over to erotic thought, a practitioner shall sublime such energy for spiritual use. The essence is "No erotic thought". Not that "erotic thought" is anything essentially bad, but that it is an insurmountable obstacle DURING meditation. Can one "refrain" from erotic thought during masturbation (or corporeal sex)? The answer is negative. Hence, the teaching of classic Taoist meditation is clear!
It is therefore unfortunate that translator of Taoist Yoga Charles Luk (he himself a Zen master rather than a Taoist master) either had a misunderstanding or did a wrong translation. In Zhao's book, it was mentioned that even very old people could have their latent energy stirred up. It is through stirring up their sexual impulse - BUT up to the point of having erotic thought. The difference is like a "hot lady" versus a "hooker". The former belongs to cultured entertainment (like present day fashion catwalk and sports cheering team performance) while the later belongs to pornography. Different period/culture will have different definition of pornography; stirring up of one's erotic thought will be a good definition of pornography. And classic Taoist master knew the difference, hence their stand against the arousal of erotic thought during meditation was adamant.
Anyway Charles Luk mistranslated the text into: old people "may use artificial means (e.g. masturbation) to arouse the genital organ" (page 14), and it made all the difference and misunderstanding.
One last question: How should we suggest our older folks (say 60+) to do in view of their losing vitality? Probably the best advice will be for them to do some zhan zhuang (standing or sitting) and/or tai-chi (Well, perhaps viewing some cheerleading performance on TV is not a bad idea too...:):)