About Alan Clements
About Alan Clements
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
MEDIA AND SPEAKING INQUIRES FOR ALAN CLEMENTS
“Awakening World Dharma rests upon a basic recognition that life experience is our greatest teacher and therefore our genuine source for spiritual awakening. It is awareness that liberates, not a teacher, nor a doctrine, nor a form. “
~ ALAN CLEMENTS
“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 dialogue 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, by nature, to include everything. To paraphrase the late 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 and 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, Author of 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 and 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 Healey, former director of Amnesty International, and founder of the Human Rights Action Center
ALSO BY ALAN CLEMENTS
A Future to Believe In: 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 of 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, alongside 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 of 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, after all. 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
Praise for Instinct for Freedom: Finding Liberation Through Living
“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
Praise for TONIGHT I MET A DEVA, AN ANGEL OF LOVE
“This book by Alan Clements inspires people, young and old. He addresses that
the reality of life can be fraught with difficulties and yet full of joy. If you have
the compassion and wisdom, it’s always possible to overcome whatever
challenges you face. I admire Alan’s determination to pass this important
message onto the next generation – keeping his daughter especially in mind.”
With my prayers
The Dalai Lama
“Alan Clements’ lovely book is pure and straight from the heart. I recommend it to every living child, to give them a true appreciation of what real life can be if the search for purity and meaning prevails.”
—Dr Helen Caldicott, pediatrician; founder of Physicians for Social Responsibility (Recipient of the 1985 Nobel Peace Prize)
“This book is a gift to humanity meant to make our world a better place and to keep the future of freedom alive for generations to come. Thank you, Alan Clements. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.” —Dr Ma Thida (human rights activist, surgeon, writer, and former prisoner of conscience) is the recipient of the PEN Freedom to Write Award and the ‘Disturbing the Peace’ Award presented by the Vaclav Havel Foundation. She is currently on the Board of PEN International.
“Alan’s book is a heart treasure. A cascade of loving radiance, rippling blessings straight into the spirit of the future, through offering a lyrical guiding Light of hope for children. May his mystical song of love invoke what it is intended to do; to serve the highest awakening of joy and beauty in us all.”
—Jeannine Davies, PhD, Psychologist, Author, Relational Dharma
“An astonishing tale from an astonishing human being: a profound poetic utterance of the spirit; a sacred offering to the vast wonders of love and beauty. Thank you, Alan Clements, for this blessing, this Dharma delight; and may the whole world bathe in its exquisite wisdom.”
—Lanny Cordova, Musical Artist-Activist in Afghanistan for six years and Founder and Director, The Miraculous Love Kids: Girls’ Empowerment Through Music
“Hold on to this precious book. Read it slowly and then read it again and again and again. Keep it close. Everything you need to know is here.”
—V (formerly Eve Ensler), American playwright, performer, feminist, and activist
“This beautiful little book turns out to be a big book. Written for children—and for the inner child within all of us—this enchanting story will come as a heart-warming, soul-stirring balm for anyone who encounters it. Only a master like Clements could distill the main teachings of Buddhism into a state of such melodious, artful, poetic simplicity…And yet the book doubles as a delightfully accessible universal wisdom teaching… peering playfully into the invisible… dancing gamely with the mystical… normalizing doing so… allowing certain spiritual truths to vie for their rightful place as ‘common sense’.”
—Naomi Aeon, PhD Yale Professor turned writer, healer, and transformational teacher
“Alan Clements has been a global bridge of wisdom and love. In this extraordinary and magical gift for children, he holds the hands of their heart while walking them across to the ancient teachings of the Buddha. As a deeply devoted father, he finds the language that can awaken their precious curiosity. It is my honor to encourage all parents to bring their children to the endearment of Alan’s wise soul shared in this book.”
—Mitch Davidowitz, M.S.W., M.Ed., Psychotherapist, Global Writer and Educator
“A spectacular work of wisdom art; a magical mystery tour of beauty, purity and inspiration.
I have rarely been so touched by so few words that can be carried in my heart for a lifetime. I only wish I’d had this book of celestial splendor when I was growing up. Parents, buy this mystical tale of love and wonderment and be transformed, together with your entire family.”
—Brock Noyes, Author of Somatic Zen
“Alan has crafted a magical tale of wisdom and beauty that will not only touch the hearts of children, but of every adult that turns its pages as well.”
—Cheryl Richardson, New York Times bestselling author of Take Time for Your Life
“This beautiful book, full of love and wisdom, is a worthy tribute to a life well lived and to life itself.”
—Derrick Jensen, Poet Laureate, Activist, Author of A Language Older Than Words
“Alan Clements’ book about meeting an Angel of Love is a most wondrous story, perfect to open up children’s hearts and excite their curiosity. We all want to meet ‘an Angel of Love’ and the teachings about awakening are for every age, at any time. The sooner we open up to our infinite spiritual potential, the better. I recommend this great book. Do yourself a favor and offer it to members of your family, young and old!”
—Margot Anand, Author of The Art of Everyday Ecstasy, and more.
“‘This precious book by Alan Clements is a ray of light, a transcendent story of love, hope and what some might call magic, that will uplift and inspire all who read it.”
—Lynn Hendee, Producer of The Glorias; The Tempest; and Ender’s Game
“To understand the true nature of life, all one has to do is take this exquisite journey of the Four Noble Truths, told by Alan Clements in the most lovely, poetic way. Perhaps this is exactly what the Buddha had in mind for us to understand divine illumination through the pureness of a child’s heart.”
—Ora Nadrich, Author of Mindfulness and Mysticism
“ ‘Tonight I Met a Deva, an Angel of Love’ is a truly exquisite and luminous offering inspired by a father’s love for his beloved daughter, and in particular, all young people. In this beautifully crafted rhyming fable, Alan Clements illuminates profound and complex Buddhist insights by poetically simplifying them in a way that deeply touches and opens the heart. Don’t hesitate to get copies of this Dharma treasure to share, not only with the children in your life but also with friends, family and community. In our troubled times, Alan’s book is like pure nectar reminding us of the divine and the very best of our humanity.” —Kittisaro & Thanissara, Authors of Listening to the Heart and founders of Dharmagiri (a Buddhist inspired retreat center in South Africa) and Sacred Mountain Sangha, California, are meditation teachers who trained as monastics, for 15 and 12 years respectively, in the Thai Forest Tradition of Ajahn Chah.
“There is a visual and audible beauty in Alan’s short book, ‘Tonight I Met A Deva’, that spoke through my child’s voice as I read it. You can’t help but feel the ancient wisdom flowing through those words. I think it will awaken your inner child, as it did mine – and as I believe it will for the younger innocents around us.”
—Jeff Kuhn, Professor of Physics and Astronomy, University of Hawaii and Institute for Astronomy
“For thousands of years, teachings about the inner wisdom have been transmitted through stories, myths, fairy tales, mantras, tantras, and sutras. Stories are wonderful because they bring the Dharma alive, and this enchanting book by Alan Clements, a former Buddhist monk in Burma, is a Dharma teaching in the form of a mystical story. ‘Tonight I Met A Deva, An Angel of Love’ comes from a daring explorer of the inner world who has had many adventures and faced many obstacles, and through it all remains a courageous and creative voice for freedom, inner and outer. I wholeheartedly recommend to parents worldwide, gift you and your beloved family with this timeless Gem of a book, and bring the Dharma home, and a higher love into the heart.”
—Lorin Roche, Meditation Teacher, Author of The Radiance Sutras
“I admire the purity Alan Clements shares in his deeply moving new book, ‘Tonight I Met A Deva, An Angel of Love’ where he poetically illuminates the essence of the Buddha’s Four Noble Truths, and done so skillfully, in a nonsectarian, nonreligious, uplifting human way. This precious work of art is especially important during these challenging times, both for our beloved children and adults as well. On a personal note, Alan graciously accepted our invitation on two occasions to speak with the students at our Sunrise School in Bali. It was an honor to have him with us, inspiring the children and answering their questions with gentleness and compassion, and also a sense of humor. He clearly touched something special in them, planting seeds of curiosity and wonderment, and that ever so rare quality of mysticism. He also offered guidance about the natural intelligence of the human heart. At the school, we are all grateful for Alan’s visits. May this treasure of a book find its way into homes and classrooms around the world. And meanwhile we, the staff, teachers and students, hold you Alan, and your beloved daughter, Bella, and all Beings in our Prayers.”
“A heartfelt love letter, a prayer for understanding, and a profound message for his daughter, Sahra Bella Clements Earl and all children, condensed into a luminous poem, ‘Tonight I Met a Deva’, carries Alan Clements’ life-long quest: that humanity will see through the veils that cause suffering, and commence the journey for the liberation of all beings. Alan, dear treasured friend, your book is a blessing!”
—Ngoc-Tran Pham, Singer; Teacher of voice, healing, yoga and meditation.