Alan Clements was the first American to become a Buddhist monk in the country of Burma, where he lived for the good part of a decade. Since leaving the monastery, he has become a spiritual maverick, working for global human rights and teaching his contemporary understanding of liberation to audiences around the world.
After twenty years of leading retreats, Instinct for Freedom is Clements's first book of spiritual exploration, a visionary blend of adventurous autobiography and radical inquiry. Here he presents what he calls World Dharma, an approach to spiritual development that mirrors the narrative of Clements's visionary life. He gives voice to an essential spirituality that can be common to all people — a world dharma based in one precious human value: freedom, the liberation from fear, ignorance and dogma, and the elevation of dignity, conscience, and beauty.
For Clements, freedom is rooted in real life experience, in holding life's complexities in balance with its wondrous gifts, and in the transformational power of relationships with other people and with the world. Exploring the nature of consciousness and our place in the mysterious cosmos may be the key to our freedom, he says. In detailing the early years of his Dharma life living in silence in a Burmese monastery, Clements presents a rare, beautiful, and nuanced account of the actual experience of intensive meditation and what it can offer.
Yet Clements's approach is not a doctrine. It is an intuitive process realized through deep inner trust, gentle self-inquiry and naturalness of spirit and expresses itself in daily acts of courage and love. No amount of spiritual practice or meditative training can adequately prepare us for life, he says. We must find our liberation through living, in this very moment, now, in whatever circumstances we face.
“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. I am thrilled to see his rich and productive search being shared with wider and wider audiences.”
~ Bo Lozoff, Human Kindness Foundation author of We’re All Doing Time
“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