Tuesday, February 02, 2016
Five Percenter Table Talks Featuring: Author Paul L. Guthrie
Five Percenter Table Talks
Featuring: Author Paul L. Guthrie
I recently had an opportunity to build with Author Paul Lawrence Guthrie about his book Making of the Whiteman, his documentary series via the World Dhamma Foundation and various other sciences of life. We've agreed to make a portion of our dialogue available to the public. There are Five Percenter newborns, others within our Nation and members of other conscious groups who are not familiar with his contributions in regards to KOS [Knowledge of Self]. I wanted to highlight some of those contributions. Also, over the years the Five Percenters have often been labeled Muslims and Mr. Guthrie's work, particularly clarifying some of the source material of the Nation of Islam's teachings and 120 lessons, has been very helpful in addressing this label. Do the knowledge!
Saladin Allah: The first time I heard of you was back in the 90’s and it was through a book you published entitled "Making of the Whiteman: History, Tradition and the Teachings of Elijah Muhammad." That book was a staple for those of us coming into knowledge of self before the proliferation of the internet and social media. Even today, and almost twenty five years later, that book is still considered a literary classic. What prompted you to write that book and how do you see it almost twenty five years later?
Paul Guthrie: At that time, a lot of the literature on the topic was religious in nature and I wanted to write something non-religious. I wanted the book to be short enough to read in one day; with over-sized type, to reduce eye strain; and to use plain words, so as to be understandable to everyday people. I'm happy that the book has held up well, over time.
Saladin Allah: True indeed. In addition to the book itself one of the best parts to me were the numerous sources you cited in the back. I read the book in one day yet invested many days researching the sources. Some of the books I found in my local library hadn't been taken out in almost twenty years. With the development and expansion of the internet, we now have a Millennial Generation born as social media natives. For many, web surfing and social networking has begun to replace the traditional fact finding missions of exploring local libraries, bookstores, visiting people and etc. to gain knowledge. What does this technological paradigm shift mean for our present and future generations? How does this shift positively and/or negatively effect ones journey who is seeking knowledge?
Paul Guthrie: Those references were used with the hope that people might go on to further reading. The way you used the book was exactly what I had in mind.
Since the rise of the internet, literacy has been in decline. And even literacy itself, is changing. Reading words printed on paper (in books) is a different process than reading online. When I first began to read online I had to almost re-learn the kind of thought processes used while reading from books. It took me several months to re-learn how to mentally process online information. Computers throw the information at you at a different speed and with a different flavor. It's not the same; it comes at you from a different angle. I promote that people use paper printed books (while they’re still available), and maybe supplement their reading with online sources.
I’m not very familiar with most of the social media. However, I think it’s safe to say that following the shift towards social media, people are becoming less social. Maybe computers should be used in moderation.
Saladin Allah: Since the release of your book I see that you've been able to successfully use this 'medium' to present something called The World Dhamma Foundation. What is the World Dhamma Foundation and how did it come about?
Paul Guthrie: Dhamma means reality. Dhamma is the word used in Buddhist circles to describe things as they are, as well as to describe the science or method leading to the attainment of insight into those things. Dhamma is a scientific discipline rooted in personal experience. World Dhamma Foundation promotes the study and practice of Dhamma (Buddhism).
Saladin Allah: Several years ago in 2008 through the World Dhamma Foundation you began to share a series of videos related to your research on W.D. Fard, also known as Master Fard Muhammad; co-founder of the Nation of Islam. In those videos you elaborate in detail on his origins in India, not Arabia and his teachings correlation to Buddhism, not Islam. How did you begin to make these correlations and what in particular within the Supreme Wisdom book and specific degrees within 120 lessons made you come to this conclusion?
Paul Guthrie: My Supreme Wisdom lessons come literally from a garbage can, from the alley behind Muhammad's Temple #8. The Temple threw them away in the 1970's. I lived a few blocks away, near 25th and Imperial and I still have those lessons today. The Temple was located across the street from what had once been the local chapter of the Black Panther Party.
The 120 or Supreme Wisdom lessons is a coherent body of teachings. A pattern or paradigm. In my view, Buddhist principles and practices run throughout the lessons from start to finish. When I look at the terminology used throughout them; as well as the principles and practices, they are consistent throughout with Buddhism. I think it's significant that W. D. Fard mentions no Islamic principles or practices. If we call the lessons “Islam” we should know it’s very different from what the rest of the world calls Islam. And it’s okay to do so, however for me it seems more coherent to refer to those principles and practices as perfectly consistent with Dhamma.
Saladin Allah: It's interesting you mention that because a similar paradigm shift took place with the branch of the Nation of Islam under the leadership of Minister Louis Farrakhan fairly recently. Over the last decade his Department of Supreme Wisdom stopped issuing official copies of the Supreme Wisdom book and consequently the lessons. His controversial Scientology campaign directing his believers to get audited at its church and study Dianetics also came a short time after this.
In your videos about W.D. Fard you talked about how the lessons only mention about a few Islamic words in comparison to ten thousand other words, and not in a traditional Muslim context. Another point you elaborated on, in addition to Fard's handwriting being Urdu, not Arabic, is that in his 'Instructions to the Laborers' he specifically defined the teachings as "mixed." In my own research I also found correlations between some of the lessons and what Madame HP Blavatsky taught within the Theosophy Society such as her being educated by hidden masters in the East during the time of Fard's childhood, the 25,000 calendar and etc. Did you also come across these correlations? What other correlations did you find throughout these "mixed" teachings other than Buddhism?
Paul Guthrie: Yes, in the lessons you can see evidence of the trends of that time. And as you've noted, Blavatsky’s Theosophical Movement is one such trend. Blavatsky's Isis Unveiled was published in 1877, and the same is officially recognized as W. D. Fard's birth year. Blavatsky is said to have borrowed the title Isis Unveiled, from the title of Anacalypsis, by Godfrey Higgins. The full title is: "Anacalypsis: An Attempt to Draw Aside the Veil of the Saitic Isis or an Inquiry into the Origin of Languages, Nations and Religions." It's reported that W. D. Fard frequently used the text Anacalypsis during his talks. Both Anacalypsis and Isis Unveiled focus on Buddhist India.
Regarding groups ceasing to issue the Supreme Wisdom lessons: maybe they believe they’ve exhausted the value contained in those lessons. Sometimes religious organizations ban or otherwise de-emphasize their source material for political reasons. Ancient Rome’s conversion to Christianity is one such example. In the case of Christianity, many of the early texts were banned following the Roman conversion. Rome did that for political reasons. The Gnostic school (Knowledge) was replaced by the newly Romanized, Pistos school (Faith). In politics and in religion, authority tends to flow uphill. Outside of politics and religion, authority normally rests with the individual. I think the lessons speak of that dynamic and guard against it - where the Instructions say, "I do not want importance among the Laborers nor Officials."
I mention the 25,000 year processional calendar cycle and the trillion-plus calendar year system in Part One of the documentary series. I plan to talk about a lot of other correlations in Parts Three and Four.
Saladin Allah: Much of what you say conflicts with what people are traditionally taught about Fard and the lessons. What has been the general consensus from those who have been exposed to your research? How has your research been received by the different branches of the Nation of Islam? And I ask because many people are unaware that there are multiple "Nations" of Islam with various leaders such as the late John Muhammad [Elijah's brother], Silias Muhammad, Solomon Royall, The Son of Man [Marvin Muhammad], Ahmad A. Muhammad, Minister Louis Farrakhan and others.
Paul Guthrie: Most of the people from whom I've heard have been open to the ideas. I think they’re exceptional in that they probably don’t represent the general consensus.
There are a number of Nation of Islam organizations. I don’t know that any of those organizations have received the Get On Board The Wheel documentary series in a welcoming way. Outside of the people who are already studying with us, the most positive reception has been from the Five Percent. I value their responses. Especially the older Gods -- many of them already know what I’m talking about. Additionally, I’ve heard from many rank-and-file Nation of Islam members; some of them have been very supportive. I value their support too.
Saladin Allah: Your research is what sparked a public dialogue and inspired various people to research, write about, lecture and even publicly debate the correlation between Indian or Indus Valley teachings and the original source material of the Supreme Wisdom book and 120 lessons. As Five Percenters, we are scientists of life, not religious or dogmatic. This is one of the reasons many of us appreciate you; you've added on and continue to add on knowledge to our cipher. Because we are not Muslims and don't base our worldview on a belief system, in our quest for knowledge we strive to be right and exact and stand to be corrected if we're not. If I'm building with another Five Percenter or anybody that's sharing information that either conflicts with or adds onto what I previously learned, I'm open to researching and integrating it into my life if it's right and exact. That attitude and posture is a vital part of the growth and development process.
Although change can be challenging for any of us, I think it's very difficult for most religious people because their foundation is belief, not knowledge. In regards to those who have been the most oppositional to your research, what have you found to be the most problematic for them to accept? What have you learned from this opposition and how have you addressed it?
Paul Guthrie: I agree with you on that, in real dialogue everyone wins. Also, I have tried to keep up with your builds for a number of years now. Your builds are informative and very solid. You teach by example Saladin and many people (including myself) benefit from that example.
As far as certain people opposing or not accepting particular ideas - I'm open to that. So far, the main opposition has been emotional opposition. I don’t see much evidence-based opposition. I suspect that over time the emotional responders will piece together a more coherent opposition. Those kind of emotional reactions are “magnetic”, it's just a way to throw us off course. In Dhamma practices, the magnetic is called clinging and aversion – if you watch, when someone reacts to an issue emotionally, you can see they’re trying to push you or pull you in one direction or the other – to turn you away from the issue. I’m open to critique and to dialogue and learning. I certainly don’t advocate that people agree with a thing until after they’ve thoroughly looked into it for themselves.
Saladin Allah: I appreciate that my brother and I'm honored that I've been able to add-on. Your mention of "magnetic" reminds me of the 22nd lesson in the 1-40. As you know, it talks about Yacub discovering magnetic while playing with two pieces of steel as a child. Within that discovery Yacub learned that the piece with the magnetic attracted the piece without. As it correlates to people, it was the piece/people without magnetic who were pushed or pulled and easily led in one direction or the other that the devil was eventually made manifest through. It was also this manifestation that eventually threw the entire human family off course. I've definitely witnessed and experienced various forms of emotional opposition and knee-jerk reactions to knowledge, especially in the form of social media trolling nowadays. If it occurs I've always strived to not go there because it's nothing more than a proverbial island of Pelon where people are made other than themselves.
Right now you've made Get On Board The Wheel Part One and Get On Board The Wheel Part Two documentary series available to the public and are currently working on Part Three. What other projects can we look forward to from The World Dhamma Foundation and are you currently working on any future books?
Paul Guthrie: That’s true, I’ve followed your builds for a number of years. I’m not surprised to hear that. It reminds me of the classic, WWII bomber pilot saying, “If you’re receiving fire, it only means you’re over the target.” Keep dropping that knowledge brother.
I do plan to put a few things in book form. Any future books will be free of charge. It's easy today to make ebooks without any overhead charges. I'm currently able to convert literature into epub, mobi and pdf formats. Under the current circumstances, it's far easier for me to produce and easier to distribute in digital formats. If people prefer, they can print them onto paper. That's how I plan to handle any future literature (free of charge).
The Get On Board The Wheel series is preparatory to the Dhamma Talks series. I want to share a view of Dhamma specifically tailored on our culture, using our language and our dialect. Alongside the Dhamma Talks series will be other series.
Saladin Allah: That's excellent to hear and I'm sure many of us are looking forward to that. Over the last decade I've seen people use some of your research to self publish books, do paid lectures and public debates. I've even heard that your book "Making of the Whiteman: History, Tradition and the Teachings of Elijah Muhammad" has been reprinted and sold without your authorization.
As there is a fine line between sharing knowledge and monetizing what we do as researchers, authors, consultants and etc., why have you chosen to share The Get On Board The Wheel series, the Dhamma Talks series and future literature for free as opposed to selling it at a reasonable cost?
Paul Guthrie: The information is free. Books, dvd’s, information or services from me are free of charge.
Saladin Allah: If it's true that your book has been reprinted and sold without your authorization, how have you addressed this in regards to your intellectual property rights?
Paul Guthrie: The last “authorized” version was in 1996 (around that time). Nearly all the copies since then have been bootleg versions (with the exception of maybe 1 or 2). A few years ago a friend asked me if he could publish a few thousand copies (he owns KHA Books). That’s probably the only “authorized” printing in nearly the last 20 years. I’m not charging him for those. I still own the intellectual property rights to the book and I do know who the bootleggers have been. I have generally responded to the bootleggers on a case-by-case basis.
Saladin Allah: I definitely understand and I will that you continue to address that. At one point an article I wrote was being used without my authorization as the forward to a book of lessons being sold on Amazon. It took some research but I was finally able to track down the author through his publishing company and get Amazon to stop selling copies and him to re-edit the book. It was a nightmare, seeing that we as Five Percenters don't sell our lessons.
Well Brother, our interview has drawn to close and I want to thank you again for this opportunity to build. Where can my readers stay connected to your continual work with The World Dhamma Foundation and is there anything else that you would like to share before you go?
Paul Guthrie: Thank you Saladin and thank you to your readers.