After dropping out of the University of Virginia in his second year, despite his scholarship, Boston-born Alan Clements went overland to India and the East, to become one of the first Westerners to ordain as a Buddhist monk in Myanmar (formerly known as Burma). He lived at the Mahasi Sasana Yeiktha (MSY) Mindfulness Meditation Centre for nearly four years, training in the practice and teaching of Satipatthana Vipassana (Insight) meditation and Buddhist psychology (Abhidhamma), under the guidance of his preceptor the Venerable Mahasi Sayadaw and his successor, Venerable Sayadaw U Pandita.
In 1984, forced by the dictator Ne Win to leave the country with no reason given, Clements returned to the West and through invitation, lectured widely on ‘The Wisdom of Mindfulness’ and led mindfulness-based meditation retreats and trainings throughout the US, Australia, and Canada, including assisting at a three-month Mindfulness Teacher Training with the Venerable Sayadaw U Pandita at the Insight Meditation Society (IMS), in Massachusetts.
In 1988, Alan integrated into his Buddhist training an awareness that included universal human rights, social injustice, environmental sanity, political activism, the study of propaganda and mind control in both democratic and totalitarian societies, and the preciousness of everyday freedom. His efforts working on behalf of oppressed peoples led Jack Healey, a former director of Amnesty International to call Alan “one of the most important and compelling voices of our times.”
As an investigative journalist Alan has lived in some of the most highly volatile areas of the world. In the jungles of Burma, in 1990, he was one of the first eye-witnesses to document the mass murder and oppression of ethnic minorities by Burma’s military dictatorship, which resulted in his first book, ‘Burma: The Next Killing Fields?’ (Graced with a foreword by His Holiness the Dalai Lama).
Shortly thereafter, Alan was invited to the former Yugoslavia by Marcia Jacobs, a senior officer for the United Nations, where based in Zagreb during the final year of the war, he wrote the film ‘Burning’ (for Chartoff Productions) while consulting with NGOs and the United Nations on ‘The vital role of consciousness in understanding human rights, freedom, and peace’.
In 1995 a French publisher asked Alan to attempt re-entering Burma with the purpose of meeting Aung San Suu Kyi, the leader of her country’s pro-democracy movement and 1991 recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize. He met with Aung San Suu Kyi, who had just been released from six years of incarceration, and invited her to share her country’s courageous story with the world, together recording and illuminating the philosophical and spiritual underpinnings of Burma’s nonviolent struggle for freedom, known as a ‘Revolution of the Spirit’.
The transcripts of their five months of conversations were smuggled out of the country and became the book ‘The Voice of Hope’. Translated into numerous languages, ‘The Voice of Hope’ offered insight into totalitarianism, mind control, freedom and nonviolent revolution. The London Observer reviewer stated: “Clements is the perfect interlocutor…Whatever the future of Burma, a possible future for politics itself is illuminated by these conversations.”
Clements also co-authored (with the New York Times bestselling author Leslie Kean and a contributing photographer) ‘Burma’s Revolution of the Spirit’ Aperture, NY, a large format photographic tribute to Burma’s nonviolent struggle for democracy, again with a foreword by the Dalai Lama and essays by eight Nobel Peace laureates. In addition, Clements was the script revisionist and principal adviser for Beyond Rangoon (Castle Rock Entertainment), a feature film depicting Burma’s struggle for freedom, directed by John Boorman.
In 1999 Alan founded World Dharma, a nonsectarian organization of self-styled seekers, artists, rebels, writers, scholars, journalists, and activists dedicated to a trans-religious, independent approach to personal and planetary transformation (through the integration of global human rights, meditation, and the experiential study of consciousness) with a life of expression through the arts, media, activism and service.
In 2002 Alan wrote ‘Instinct for Freedom – Finding Liberation Through Living’ (New World Library and World Dharma Publications), a memoir about his years in Burma which chronicles his pursuit of truth and freedom while illuminating the framework of the World Dharma vision that also forms the basis for the newly released ten-hour, 37-chapter video book, ‘A Guide to the Practice of World Dharma – the Dharma Art of Mindful Intelligence, that of Finding Liberation Through Living’. The World Dharma Video Book is offered through Vimeo On Demand and through the World Dharma Online Institute (WDOI) that he co-founded with his colleague, Dr Jeannine Davies.
‘Instinct for Freedom’ was nominated for the Best Spiritual Teaching/Memoir by the National Spiritual Booksellers Association in 2003 and has been translated into numerous languages.
Alan’s most recent books include: ‘Wisdom for the World – The Requisites of Reconciliation: Alan Clements in Conversation with Venerable Sayadaw U Pandita of Burma’; ‘Burma’s Voices of Freedom: An Unfinished Struggle for Democracy’ (a four volume set of books co-authored with Fergus Harlow); a spoken word album on SoundCloud titled ‘Freedom: Acts of Conscience, with music by Intext; ‘Extinction X-Rated – An Auto-fictional Dark Satire On Good and Evil’; and ‘A Future to Believe In – 108 Reflections on the Art and Activism of Freedom’, inspired by and dedicated to his daughter Sahra Bella. The latter work has received distinguished praise from numerous leaders and activists, including Dr Helen Caldicott, Joanna Macy, Dr Vandana Shiva, Bill McKibben, Paul Hawken, and Derrick Jensen (environmental poet laureate) who wrote:
“This culture is killing the planet. If we are to have any future at all, we must unlearn everything the culture has taught us and begin to listen to the planet, to listen to life – the core intelligence of nature and the human heart. This book not only helps us with the unlearning process – the greatest challenge humankind has ever faced – it provides the essential wisdom, the spiritual intelligence, to open ourselves to finally start to hear.”
To be released soon (2022): Additional books by Alan
Tonight I Met A Deva, An Angel of Love, a children’s’ book endorsed by the Dalai Lama
Facing Death: Alan Clements In Conversation with Reverend Bodhi Be, 2022
And a book of poetry: A satirical, irreverent and comedic spoken word performance film, titled: Raw War – The Spiritual Battle of Our Lifetime to Stop the Rise of Global Totalitarianism
In addition, Alan has presented to such organizations as Mikhail Gorbachev’s State of The World Forum, The Soros Foundation, United Nations Association of San Francisco, the universities of California, Toronto, Sydney, and many others, including a keynote address at the John Ford Theater for Amnesty International’s 30th year anniversary. Alan was also a presenter at the Touche Global Consciousness Conference 2019 in Bali.
Alan has been interviewed for Time and Newsweek magazines, CBC TV Canada, ABC Australia, the New York Times, Sydney Morning Herald, Radio Free Asia, Democracy Now, Talk to America, Mother Jones, Yoga Journal, The Village Voice, and scores of other print, radio and television media throughout the world.
In conjunction with the BSNO at the Mahasi Sasana Yeiktha, Yangon, Myanmar, along with their Senior Nayaka Sayadaws Alan, along with his colleagues at the Buddha Sasana Foundation of America/Canada, Dr Ingrid Jordt and Dr Jeannine Davies, conduct an annual Ten Day International Wisdom of Mindfulness Meditation Retreat for English speaking participants at Mahasi Sasana Yeiktha Yangon (MSY), Myanmar.
For more information, visit: AlanClements.com or WorldDharma.com