Dr. Shariff Abdullah
(1951 – )
+ Provided legal services for low-income individuals in North Carolina
+ Member of the Black Panther Party
+ Lecturer at many Universities including Marylhurst and University of California – Berkeley
+ Won “Community Empowerment Award” from POTUS Jimmy Carter
+ Won the “MLK Lifetime Achievement Award” from the World Arts Foundation (2009)
+ Aided in negotiating peace between the Sri Lankan government and Tamil Tigers
+ Has three daughters who all went to Virginia State University
Shariff Abdullah was born Sherwood James Sanders in Philadelphia, PA in 1951. He was reared in Camden, NJ. He relays that Camden, NJ was severely economically depressed. His family could not escape economic hardship. He was able to read at eight years old, and his mother had to apply for public housing. They arrive at their new home, and Dr. Abdullah sees a sign that says “CONDEMNED.” The landlord looks at Dr. Abdullah and says “Don’t worry about it kid.”
Dr. Abdullah could not verbalize what he saw as wrong with his city. However, he knew he had to take action. At twelve Dr. Abdullah led a demonstration for improved housing with The Black People’s Unity Movement. His love for building his community grew, and at fifteen he aspired to be an Episcopal priest. Unfortunately, he saw the Episcopal Church do nothing to improve the actual living conditions of people, especially black people.
In college he converted to Islam, a religion he stayed in for fifteen years. He decided to leave the religion when he went to Friday prayer and said a man wearing a t-shirt that said: “Kill them all let G-d sort it out.” He saw this and voiced his disapproval. The others in the mosque had no problem with it. At this point, he decided this was not the religion for him.
Dr. Abdullah considers himself a Societal Transformationalist. The societal transformation he seeks happens first in individual consciousness. Dr. Abdullah integrates his consciousness with the beings around him. Once his consciousness is integrated, he can determine solutions. An integrated conciousness will remedy the root of the problem.
Dr. Abdullah is most know for negotiating a ceasefire between the Sri Lankan government and a rebel army called the Tamil Tigers. He worked with a Sri Lankan organization called Sarvodaya. His team was respected by both sides and was able to understand the needs of both armies. After the war was over, the organization facilitated the writing of the Sri Lankan constitution.
Dr. Abdullah believes in creating a world that works for all beings. He recommends looking into the nature of the ideal society. Frequently, people focus on immediate problems that are mostly symptomatic. People then become dogmatic about their solution path and various camps are created. The building of these philosophic schools leads to more conflict. Those in power utilize the conflict to manipulate people for personal gain.
To change your consciousness, a person must first understand consciousness. There are three basic types of consciousness. The first consists of the stance that the individual is separate and above all other beings and is called “breaker” consciousness. The second consists of the stance that there is no individual, we are all one, and the one is sacred. This stance is called “keeper” consciousness. The last stance is called “mender” consciousness. The “menders” were formally “breakers” that converted to the “keeper” philosophy. “Menders” have the ability to heal the world because they have a thorough understanding of both stances.
Once a person’s consciousness has improved, he or she must implement their vision. Societal change does not come from protest or getting bills through Congress. It comes from fulfilling a vision. If repairs need to happen on the road, block the road and fix it. Don’t wait on the government! If anything, tell the government to improve the road by a specific date or we will. The transformers must focus on the solution. Protesting focuses energy on what is not wanted making the problem worse.
Dr. Abdullah is also against violence. Violence only releases anger and produces no creative energy. The non-violent stance is a one hundred and eighty-degree shift from his earlier days as a black Muslim and a Black Panther. In retrospect, he sees that the anger they inflicted on each other the anger they had for the greater society. Indulging in anger led to the organization becoming dysfunctional.
Shadow to Light (S2L) Program
The Shadow to Light (S2L) program is a group study program designed to remove emotional blockages called a shadow. Shadow, as Dr. Abdullah explains, is anything that blocks divine light. The student will eliminate these emotional blockages that cause the shadow, and their consciousness will improve. As the course progresses and more people take the course a critical mass will be reached. The planet will begin to shift at critical mass.
Shadow is another word for fear, and Dr. Abdullah has categorized the fear under four groups.
+The shadow of violence
+The shadow of other (racism, sexism, other aspects of other)
+The shadow of lack (poverty, greed, hoarding)
+The shadow of despair (depression, suicide, mass homicide)
Shadow blocks light. Dr. Abdullah has categorized the Lights under four groups.
+The light of peace and security
+The light of inclusive community
+The light of abundance
+The light of deep fulfillment
The removal of shadow is essential because Shadow causes most of life’s problems. Shadow keeps us small, unenlightened and perceiving reality in an incomplete way. Shadow keeps us from our best selves. As a result of so many people not living up to their full potential, society resides in a perpetual state of injustice. Insecurity, immorality, and mindlessness is the basis of the current culture.
The process of living causes shadows to form. Messages from authority figures and peers can make people value things that are not important or feel doom is imminent. Dr. Abdullah also discusses of shadows can be passed down in DNA. A person’s DNA holds trauma from past generations. Life circumstances can trigger the embedded trauma DNA.
There are many reason shadows form and linger. The first is denying that the shadow exists. Many people go through life never even attempting to deal with or understand their shadow. Personal stories also help to maintain shadow. If a person fears intimacy, he will say women don’t like him because he is poor. The individual will subconsciously sabotage his attempts to make money. The lack of money will give him an excuse to not be intimate. He will never have to face his fear.
The shadow to light technique is an elaborate process that takes a few weeks. The scope of this analysis can not give Dr. Abdullah’s method proper justice. However, the process involves building a sacred altar to ground a person in the shadow she is trying to remove. A person meditates on the energy and moves the energy from her mind. Then there is a closing ceremony to acknowledge the energy is out of the mind. The S2L process is the beginning of the transformation. A person will work on fully removing the shadow over many years.
Next Steps in Human Consciousness
Dr. Abdullah believes there is an all encompassing consciousness that can influence events in physical reality. He has six main precepts to this philosophy.
+All is alive
+All is conscious
+All is connected
+Mind is all-pervasive
+Consciousness is universal
+The laws of physics bend toward consciousness
The last point is one that he feels particularly imperative to prove. As evidence, he provides Arthur Koestler’s heat lamp experiment. He connected a heat lamp to a random number generator. If the random number generator had an even number, the light would turn on, if odd it turned off. He verified that the light stayed on fifty percent of the time by letting the random number generator cycle ten thousand iterations. Then he did the same experiment with unborn chickens under the lamp. The lamp stayed on an amount of time beyond statistical probability. Dr. Koestler repeated the experiment with an independent observer. This time there was one tray of fertilized eggs and one tray of hard-boiled eggs. The observed did not know which tray had which type of egg. The tray with the fertilized eggs had the lamp stay on an amount of time out of statistical probability.
He also references the Princeton Egg Experiment. In the experiment, random number generators were set all over the world. The researchers noticed the random number generators create a significantly significant amount of even numbers before catastrophic events. Noted instances of this happening were, the explosion of the space shuttle Columbia and the September 11th attacks.
Transcendental meditation conducted an experiment on meditation in a city. The meditation group organized hundreds of meditators to meditate at a particular time of day. Crime including murder rates dropped significantly in that hour. Confirmation for the experiment came after the experiment was repeated in many cities.
These cases serve as evidence that our consciousness can have an effect on physical reality and there are “other-worldly” forces he calls the Life-Energy Field, at work in our daily lives. People on a meditation path can begin to develop these powers of the Life – Energy Field. He specifically details the Five Latent Powers listed below.
+Collective Telepathy / Knowing
Without going into extreme detail, he lists as sub-categories to these powers, shape shifting, teleportation, communication with plants, communication with animals, and weather control. More common latent power subcategories include changing heart rate, respiration, and power of prayer.
Examples of collective telepathy he sites are the knowledge of Polynesians to discover uninhabited islands. He claims that would set out to sea on canoes and know where to row. Another example of group telepathy was his ability to sing a song in a language he had never heard of before during an Ayahuasca trip. He recounts himself and a close friend being able to sing the song on key with correct pronunciation.
He also uses as evidence recounts of an ancient civilization, known as Zhangzung (500 BC – 625 AD). Zhangzung predates ancient Tibet, a culture occupying the area currently. There are many stories of the people of Zhangzung having many of the powers Dr. Abdullah calls latent powers.
Dr. Abdullah is aware that many people will not be able to believe the Life-Energy force exist. His contention is these people are unimportant. It is not his student’s job to convert non-believers. The goal is to grow and cultivate the people that are on board with these plans. Again, there will be a critical mass reached, and the world can move into what he calls the Third Global Civilization. Ancient cultures such as Zhangzung represent the First Global Civilization, modern man occupies the Second Global Civilization, and our glorious future represents the Third Global Civilization.
What he has right
Dr. Abdullah has a thorough understanding of shadow. The most important aspect of his work on shadow are the tangible methods for removing Shadow. He also explains how shadow holds individuals back. Again I highly recommend his study of shadow work.
He is correct that until people’s mindset has changed, there will be not a real improvement of the state of the world. All other measures will be partial and only affect symptoms. The world will continue to create more flowery language and predatory systems.
Dr. Abdullah’s view of violence is also correct. Violence always causes more problems than it solves. The anger that begets violence should be acknowledged, analyzed, and released. Working through the anger will allow your relationships to improve. Once a person has begun to progress effort should be made to bring others along.
What he has wrong
Many meditation traditions include stories of people gaining supernormal powers after decades of sustained practice. However, this does not happen frequently enough for people to compile sufficient verifiable evidence. When Dr. Abdullah talks about the latent powers in an audience of meditators of all levels he does them a huge disservice. First, beginning meditators will make it a goal to develop latent powers. If the development of latent powers is possible, only a handful of serious practitioners will attain the powers. There are enough positive benefits from meditation that almost everyone experiences. Among these common benefits, reduced anxiety and improved cognition. No reason to get people’s hopes up in developing powers they more than likely will not attain.
It is also important to make sure you control public opinion around your movement. When Dr. Abdullah says, we do not have to convert the “Anti’s” or the “Richard Dawkins” of the world he underestimates how people can thwart his movement. When he has youtube videos or blogs on latent human powers that non-believers and naysayers can view it, it could lead to a negative backlash. There could be a large group of people making his movement out to be a bunch of wackos. Dr. Abdullah says in one of his talks about latent human powers that “George Lucas had it right.” Many people would write him off at this statement and miss out on all the information he has to give. In short, leave talk of latent powers to people deep inside the movement.
Dr. Abdullah should do more work directly with black people in America. His work in Sri Lanka, Czechoslovakia, and United Nations is commendable. However, many of these other cultures have people within their culture with similar expertise. For example, Sri Lanka sends people all over the world to study. Many of these people could have provided the services that Dr. Abdullah provided.
However, Black Americans, especially descendants of slaves, do not get people from all over the world helping them out. Many analysts have equated the condition of blacks in America to people living in third world countries. For example, a black man in Cuba lives five years longer than his counterpart in the USA. There is no significant global outcry for our plight. Many people in foreign countries see their countryman coming to America and becoming successful and wondering why blacks are not doing the same thing. These people from outside the USA do not understand the emotional and psychological toll of generational disenfranchisement.
Dr. Abdullah could be especially useful due to his knowledge of New Age Spirituality. In the black community, we have many spiritual teachers that put themselves at the top of religious organizations and demand unquestioning loyalty from their followers. The members will defend these leaders no matter what level of evidence piles against them or how many transgressions they commit. Eddie Long and Malachi York are only two examples of spiritual leaders defended under all circumstances. An internally generated spirituality would be a tremendous benefit and prevent many black people from being manipulated. Most of the followers of these “hustling preachers” are genuinely looking for something greater. Not many people are telling them the answer is within.
In one of Dr. Abdullah’s talks, he explains how Ivy League professors came to aid in writing the constitution. These experts demanded their input be taken seriously despite not knowing much about the culture. Dr. Abdullah only lived in Sri Lanka a few years. He was able to become a major player negotiating peace and writing the constitution. If he was able to make that type of change in Sri Lanka, imagine what he could have done in his hometown of Camden.
Dr. Abdullah also lets the government off the hook to provide public goods. He recounts a story in which a street was damaged. Many citizens protested to get the government to repair the road. Dr. Abdullah recommended the citizens shut down the road and fix it themselves. This is horrible direction. The residents paid their taxes and are now owed a public good of functional roads. If the citizens fix the road themselves, they pay taxes twice. When a group has limited resources, they cannot afford double taxation. We must force the government to provide public goods.
Changing laws to be more favorable to black people is also paramount to our struggle. The ultimate end to racism will not come until people’s hearts change, but in the meantime, laws can restrain people from harming others. One example Dr. Abdullah provides is gun control. He recounts if you pass gun laws, then people will stab each other. That may be true, but you can’t stab fifty people in two minutes. Proper gun laws prevent mass shootings. Australia’s gun ban has prevented mass shooting for decades. Dr. Abdullah underplays the value of pressuring the government to act.
Where is Dr. Abdullah on the Spiral
Dr. Abdullah is firmly in the Green Meme. His philosophy concentrates on the psychological and spiritual aspects of racism. He has created particular systems to move people up the Spiral. Concrete processes to remove racism from the mind is an aspect of the struggle is not talked about nearly enough.
Unfortunately, like many other Green Meme individuals, he undervalues the importance of the daily circumstances surrounding black life, especially with his people, the descendants of slaves. I would like to see more articles on specific problems affecting the black community. He is all over the world helping and learning from every group of people. It appears the plight of the people he is closests to and can have the most effect on, are going by the wayside. In a color-blind paradigm, descendants of slaves get put on the back burner. Green Meme individuals love to fly all over the world to save everyone else and walk right by their countrymen.
Where can you find out more on Dr. Abdullah
The reader should check out Dr. Abdullah’s websites.
Most of the information in this article came from Dr. Abdullah’s youtube channel and TED Talk. Dr. Abdullah also has many blogs his website.
The page above is a personal blog that is not an official Spiral Dynamics Blog. The work of Clare Graves and Don Beck is the basis for this article. For more information on Spiral Dynamics, please go to the website below.