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 existential 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, nonsectarian dharma teacher, led over one-hundred meditation retreats, worldwide. In 1988, he expanded his understanding beyond classical Buddhism, and as a spiritual maverick and political activist, 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." At that time Alan was commissioned to write "Burning" - a screenplay exploring the nature of love and nonviolence in the context of hatred and war.
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."
In late 2007, based on the Buddhist monk-and nun-led uprisings in Burma, a new edition of The Voice of Hope, was updated and revised by Alan. The book, published in English by Seven Stories Press in North America and worldwide by Random House UK, will also appear in a number of foreign languages in late 2008 and 2009, including Japanese, Italian and French.
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 most recent 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.
As result of Alan's activism in Burma, in 1997 the dictatorship "permanently blacklisted" him from reentering the country, branding him "Public Enemy."
Aung San Suu Kyi was rearrested in 2001 and again in 2003, where she remains incommunicado, along with nearly 1,500 other prisoner's of conscience.
Alan is also a political and spiritual satirist, and performs his acclaimed 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.