Alan Clements was the first American to ordain as a Buddhist monk in Burma where he lived in a monastery during the 1970s and 1980s. During this time he trained in Buddhist psychology and insight (vipassana) meditation with two of the most respected meditation teachers of the modern era, the Venerable Mahasi Sayadaw, and his successor, Sayadaw U Pandita.
In 1984, Clements was forced to leave the monastery by Burma's dictatorship, with no reason given. Subsequently, he returned to the United States, and as an independent, dharma teacher, led over one-hundred meditation retreats, worldwide. In 1988, he expanded his understanding beyond classical Buddhism, and began working for global human rights and freedom. His efforts 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 a journalist, Alan has lived in some of the most highly volatile areas of the world. In the jungles of Burma, in 1990, he was the first eye-witness to document the mass murdering of the ethnic minorities by the military dictatorship, which he wrote about in his first book "Burma: The Next Killing Fields?" (with a foreword by the Dalai Lama).
Invited to the former-Yugoslavia in 1993 by a senior officer for the United Nations, where he lived during the final year of their war consulting with NGO's and the United Nation's on the "vital role of consciousness in understanding human rights, freedom, and peace."
In 1995, the French publishing house Editions Stock contracted Alan to reenter Burma and attempt contact with Aung San Suu Kyi, the elected leader of her country's pro-democracy movement and the 1991 Nobel Peace laureate. She had just been released from six years of incarceration. The goal was to invite Aung San Suu Kyi to tell her courageous story, illuminating the philosophical underpinnings of Burma's nonviolent spiritual revolution - a nationwide struggle for freedom known as a "revolution of the spirit."
The transcripts of six months of conversations, smuggled out of the country, ultimately became the book "The Voice of Hope." Translated into 13 languages, The Voice of Hope offers penetrating insight into the psychology of totalitarianism 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 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 advisor for Beyond Rangoon (Castle Rock Entertainment), a feature film depicting the crisis in Burma, directed by John Boorman.
Alan's book, "Instinct for Freedom: A Maverick's Guide to Spiritual Revolution - The Practice of Finding Liberation Through Living," details his thirty-year long "search for truth and freedom " - from the sacredness of monastic silence deep into the dark heart of war zones. "Instinct" is a revolutionary book about the power of authenticity - "the liberating art of being true to one's heart." And forms the foundation of the World Dharma vision as well as the basis for the course.
Alan is also a political and spiritual satirist, and performs his monologue, "Spiritually Incorrect: In Defense of Being, Human," to audiences around the world, as benefits to raise awareness of Aung San Suu Kyi and her country's ongoing struggle for freedom.
Clements has been interviewed on ABC's Nightline, CBS Evening News, Talk to America, CBC, VOA, BBC, and by the New York Times, London Times, Time and Newsweek magazines, Yoga Journal, Conscious Living, and scores of other media worldwide.
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.
World Dharma Online Institute Join anytime.
Endorsements for Alan Clements
"Alan Clements is a refreshing underground alternative to mainstream spirituality. Both direct and daring, he invites challenge to all forms of compromise and blind allegiance to dogma or authority. As one of the West's senior-most dharma teachers, he speaks on the nature of consciousness and freedom in ways rarely heard, translating ancient and complex Eastern truths into modern and practical Western realities."
- Marcia Jacobs, A psychotherapist specializing in victims of war, rape and trauma. And a senior U.N. representative for Refugees in Bosnia and Croatia from 1993 - 1997.
"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
"Rarely has a book touched me as deeply and personally as [Alan's book] 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
"Alan is uniquely qualified to widen our perspectives, both of ourselves and of meaningful action in the world. His eloquence and sincerity calls us closer to our fullest potentials."
- Joseph Goldstein, author of One Dharma: The Emerging Western Buddhism
"I have known Alan for over a decade. He is my first call when I seek insight and candor concerning personal and professional advice. As a teacher, his eloquence moves audiences to ask the questions behind questions about how we live, why we work, and how it fits together."
- Robert Chartoff, Chartoff productions. Producer of Rocky, The Right Stuff, and Raging Bull