About Alan Clements

Boston born Alan Clements, after dropping out of the University of Virginia in his second year, went to the East and become one of the first Westerners to ordain as a Buddhist monk in Myanmar (formerly known as Burma). He lived in Yangon (formerly Rangoon) at the Mahasi Sasana Yeiktha (MSY) Mindfulness Meditation Centre for nearly four years, training in both 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 Sayadaw U Pandita.

In 1984, forced to leave the country by Burma’s dictator Ne Win, with no reason given, Clements returned to the West and through invitation, lectured widely on the “wisdom of mindfulness,” in addition to leading numerous mindfulness-based meditation retreats and trainings throughout the US, Australia, and Canada, including assisting a three month mindfulness teacher training with Sayadaw U Pandita, at the Insight Meditation Society (IMS), in Massachusetts.

In 1988, Alan integrated into his classical Buddhist training an awareness that included universal human rights, social injustices, 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 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 oppression of ethnic minorities by Burma’s military, which resulted in his first book, “Burma: The Next Killing Fields?” (with a foreword by the Dalai Lama).

Shortly thereafter, Alan was invited to the former-Yugoslavia by a senior officer for the United Nations, where, based in Zagreb during the final year of the war, he wrote the film “Burning” while consulting with NGO’s and the United Nation’s on the “vital role of consciousness in understanding human rights, freedom, and peace.”

In 1995, a French publisher asked Alan to attempt reentering Burma for the purpose of meeting Aung San Suu Kyi, the leader of her country’s pro-democracy movement and the recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991. Just released after six years of incarceration, Alan invited Aung San Suu Kyi to tell her courageous story to the world, thus 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 offers insight into the nature of totalitarianism, freedom and nonviolent revolution. Said the London Observer: “Clements is the perfect interlocutor….whatever the future of Burma, a possible future for politics itself is illuminated by these conversations.”

Clements is also the co-author with (New York Times bestselling author) Leslie Kean and a contributing photographer to “Burma’s Revolution of the Spirit” Aperture, NY) – a large format photographic tribute to Burma’s nonviolent struggle for democracy, 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, trans-traditional 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 one’s life 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 spiritual memoir about his years in Burma and chronicles his pursuit of truth and freedom, while illuminating the framework of the World Dharma vision that also forms the basic for the World Dharma 2.0 Master video Course offered 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 two most recent books, “Wisdom the for the World – The Requisites or Reconciliation: Alan Clements in Conversation with Venerable Sayadaw U Pandita of Burma,” and “A Future to Believe In – 108 Reflections on the Art and Activism of Freedom,” inspired by and dedicated to his daughter Sahra, has received distinguished praise from numerous leaders and activists, including Dr. Helen Caldicott, Joanna Macy, Dr. Vandana Shiva, Bill McKibben, Paul Hawkin, and Derrick Jensen (the 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.”

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. More recently, Alan was a presenter at the Touche Global Consciousness Conference 2019 in Bali. In conjunction with the BSNO at MSY and their Nayaka Sayadaws, he also conducts with Dr Ingrid Jordt and Dr Jeannine Davies, 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



“How to describe Alan’s presentations? A tall order. Love poems/riffs/odes/chants to the goddesses of compassion, deeply inscribed with the blood of Burmese slaves, soldiers in Iraq, Palestinian children, freedom fighters anywhere. A momentary entry into an internal tête-à-tête, ad infinitum; a glimpse at all that inner discursive dialog which marks us unequivocally as members of the human race. Just in case we get too spiritual, let’s not forget that we are required to, by nature, include everything. To paraphrase the Vietnamese monk Thich Nhat Hahn’s poem, “Please Call Me by My True Names,” I am both the 12-year-old raped girl and the pirate who raped her. It is difficult to reconcile seeming opposites, and it takes the heart of a poet. Thich Nhat Hahn is a poet; Alan is one as well.”

Marcia Jacobs, a psychotherapist specializing in victims of war, rape, and trauma; a senior U.N. representative for refugees in Bosnia and Croatia, 1993–1997; and a former officer of the International War Crimes Tribunal

“Alan’s life is material for a legend. An intellectual artist, freedom fighter, former Buddhist monk, he shares his insights and experience with a passion rarely seen and even more rarely lived. He’ll make you think and feel in ways that challenge your entire way of being.”

Catherine Ingram, In the Footsteps of Gandhi and Passionate Presence

“I have known Alan for well over three decades. He is my first call when I seek insight and candor concerning personal and professional advice. As a speaker, his eloquence moves audiences to ask the questions behind questions about how we live, why we work, and how it fits together. Alan’s presence—his remarkable ability to engage an audience, connect with their heart—stands alongside the best talent I have seen in the world.”

Robert Chartoff, Producer of Rocky, The Right Stuff, and Raging Bull

“One of the most important and compelling voices of our times . . . Alan Clements is a riveting communicator — challenging and inspiring. He articulates the essentials of courage and leadership in a way that can stir people from all sectors of society into action; his voice is not only a great contribution during these changeful times, it is a needed one.”

—Jack Healy, former director of Amnesty International, and founder of the Human Rights Action Center


A Future to Believe In (Transforming Our World)

108 Reflections on the Art and Activism of Freedom

“This book is the music of wisdom, a dance with the finest places of the human heart. It is also like a walk with your favorite friends, mentors and teachers as they point out the beauties of the journey. You will want to keep this timeless treasure within reach, so you can open it to any page, and let a paragraph or a line ignite you again to the truth of your own being.”

Joanna Macy, Author of World as Lover, World As Self

“Distilling the essence of world religions, cultures, politics, and spiritual traditions, Alan Clements’ magnificent, timely book provides a courageous and intelligent compass personifying our aspirations for freedom and wisdom, and in so doing, offers insights on how to actively shape a future that gives life hope. With our planet in peril, it is imperative that we act now to provide a secure future for our children and future generations. Make this book your guide, mentor and friend.”

Dr Helen Caldicott, Author of Nuclear Power is Not the Answer and If you Love this Planet; Founding President Physicians for Social Responsibility

“In this radiant book is a new consciousness.”

Lowry Burgess, artist, professor, creator of the first official Non-Scientific Art Payload taken into outer space by NASA in 1989

A Future to Believe In is a treasure, not a mere book.”

Paul Hawken, Author of Blessed Unrest

“This transformational treasure is more relevant now than ever before, and perhaps the most important book available to face the global crisis head on and transform our lives and the planet for the better. Please join the revolution, and share word of this masterpiece of ‘mindful intelligence’ and compassion with the world.”

Marcia Jacobs – Psychotherapist specializing in work with victims of war, rape and trauma. A senior staff member of the UN and other humanitarian agencies from 1993 – 2005, working with refugees and other war-traumatized populations

“At a time when the contemporary spiritual landscape has become dangerously gentrified and domesticated, Alan Clements restores us to our senses — wild and elemental. He summons the voices of those who, along side him, have not traded their souls for the market-driven need to be tame or acceptable, and points us to the wilderness of true, engaged, fiercely authentic awakening. This is why we are alive — to set freedom free, in ourselves and for others, in every aspect of our lives from the most mundane daily task, to the most profound political act.”

Kelly Wendorf, Author and editor Stories of Belonging

“A Future To Believe In provides us with a standing wave of insight, a perpetually central pivot pertaining eminently to private and political spheres, inextricable, afterall. This book should be made mandatory world-wide for all heads of state.”

Lissa Wolsak, Author of In Defense of Being, Squeezed Light and Pen Chants

“We live in times that spread greed, violence, fear and hopelessness. We live in times when consumerism enslaves us while offering pseudo-freedom. Alan Clements labor of love, “A Future to Believe In: A Guide to Revolution, Environmental Sanity, and the Universal Right to Be Free,” brings us reflections that inspire us to be free and fearless.”

Dr. Vandana Shiva, Author of, Earth Democracy; Justice, Sustainability, and Peace, Soil, Not Oil, and Staying Alive

Instinct for Freedom: Finding Liberation Through

“During an era when a spate of shallow, narcissistic fiction has found a niche as ‘sacred literature’ Alan’s work is a wonderful relief and reminder that the heart of spirituality still is, and will always be, compassion.”

Bo Lozoff, Founder of the Prison Ashram Project and Human Kindness Foundation and author of We’re All Doing Time and It’s a Meaningful Life

“Rarely has a book touched me as deeply and personally as Instinct for Freedom. This profound work is a call to action, a spiritual force for change. May the beauty of Alan’s writing and the power of his personal journey compel you to be true to your own heart so that we may all experience the gift of freedom in its purest form.”

Cheryl Richardson, Author of Stand Up for Your Life

“This superbly written, profound, and moving work addresses head-on the central question of our time: how to put meditation into action and so transform the real conditions of the real world. Its honesty and passion are liberating, and its message both timeless and acutely timely.”

Andrew Harvey, Author of The Direct Path and Sacred Activism

“Courageous and compelling, Instinct for Freedom is a vivid account of how one man’s renunciation gave way to his own love and desire. This is a haunting and beautiful story, one full of teachings for seekers of all persuasions.”

Mark Epstein, M.D., Author of Going to Pieces without Falling Apart