Seeking What the Soul Desires

Alan Clements

About the Guest

I am truly humbled to welcome today’s guest, Alan Clements, onto the show. Honestly trying to condense Alan’s bio into something shorter than his entire podcast, has been a challenging task. In short, though, and trying to not to do this globally recognised Spiritual Leader a disservice. Alan was born in the US, he is a former Buddhist monk, and was ordained as one of the first Buddist Monks in former Burma. In 1984, forced to leave the country by Burma’s military authorities, Alan 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. Years later in Zagreb, he wrote the film Burning while consulting with NGO’s and the United Nation’s on the pivotal role of consciousness in understanding human rights, freedom, and peace.

Alan has made a career of integrating his classical Buddhist training with a political awareness that includes global human rights, environmental sanity, democracy and the preciousness of everyday freedom. His efforts working on behalf of oppressed people led a former director of Amnesty International to call Alan “one of the most important and compelling voices of our times”. A speaker at UN, Amnesty and global events, we can say with complete confidence that Alan knows a thing or two about living a meaningful and intentional life.

If you are at all interested in hearing from this poet, writer, artist, creator and global speaker on seeking what the soul desires, conscience reflection on the quality of our presence on earth and falling in love with life in the moment amidst troubling times, then settle in and listen on as Alan blows my mind with his poetic and eloquent deconstruction of the times we live in and how to face up to life’s challenges with conscious intention.

Podcast Summary 

  • Alan started looking at life differently while growing up in America and the war zones of Vietnam being draftable. A society where people are exposed to violence and advocating democracy at the expense of other people’s existence was very repulsive to him. His earliest days of seeking peace and happiness were to trust his perceptions. That took him to align himself with a few people: the radical, rebels and music savants. With his new-found inner circle, they banded, created poetry, made love, danced, did art and thrived in a community of free-forming movement.

  • As time went on, Alan felt an urge to understand which led him towards the East. Alan and his partner travelled across Europe and the Middle East and eventually found their way to India. They came to visit, not to seek salvation, but to experience the sanctity the place provided to ask existential questions. They lived in India for a few years and found the calling that meditation was the natural response to this inner journey.
    • Alan’s journey eventually led him to the country of Burma where he requested if he could stay and be ordained as a Buddhist monk to meditate. The government declined his petition so he spent the next year and a half figuring out how he could get into the country. He was inspired by the monks in Burma because he believed they held the secrets of the soul. They said that if you reach various states of consciousness, you’ll come to know about yourself; you’ll come to know a more sustainable, ethical, spiritual and dogmatic intelligence that supersedes the cultural neurosis that you’re born into and your entanglement with it.

    • Alan felt a revolution in his heart early on. He was disgusted by the classroom setting and confining himself into mediocrity. Early on he pursued a radical path. He considered himself a rebel but in retrospect, he felt that he was a wise person who was consciously repulsed by the sociopathic fabric of society.

    • Alan stayed in Burma because of their teachings and practices. They were not into transactional teachings. In other words, everything was offered freely. It was offered generously without any condition other than practice. The meditative practices and wisdom he gained uplifted his spirit.

    • For Alan, falling in love is the greatest possibility of mitigating the inherent suffering of being human and the way to elevating the highest status of the spiritual, psychological, emotional and physical life is to reinvent the meaning of what love means to your soul. He encourages people to defy conformity, to fight your life in your mind and listen to the artists out there on how they’re doing it. Then, come back home and ask yourself, “What do I really love? And what will I do to make that real?”

    • “Don’t just tell someone you love them. Tell them what you love about them. Touch their hand, embrace their soul and do something beautiful today for others. That’s the message for today. Meditation isn’t just about personal peace but also an action living an engaged life.”

    • Alan believed that the urban centres we’re living in today are already driven by fossil fuels that poison the future. People are compelled to reach into their wallets to spend money and driven by a cultural norm and propaganda of advertising on what beauty is that has nothing to do with true beauty. People are like living in sociopathic kind of holographic mirage. Bad hallucination. Society is corrupt. As what J. Krishnamurti posits, “it is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society.” Alan holds the idea that if you get that at your soul, you start becoming rebellious. A rebellion-driven creature who refuses to participate in the politics of sociopathic behaviour. This means finding small oases, as rare as they are. There is no real oasis on this planet anymore. You’ve got to find one in your heart. And, if you’re lucky to find it in two or three, you’re really rare. Be willing to fight and do everything you can to authenticate what you call conscience, integrity and passion.

    • Finally, Alan shares some valuable insights from his journey. First, “learn what resilience means and to practice it every day. Ask, “what does my soul cry out for?”. Do all that you can to navigate the map. Know your needs. Take care of yourself – your diet, your health and your body. Do yoga, walk and exercise. Second, are you living where you want to be? If not, pack up and go with a suitcase. Third, find a new tribe if you need to. If you’re not happy with the one you’re with. Be humble. Go to places in the world. Ask questions. Dare to be different. Break the monotony and the pain. Get up and move. If you don’t know meditation, Alan suggests learning the beauty of meditating. Lastly, if you’ve made mistakes, seek forgiveness in a letter, text or even in your own mind. If consciousness exceeds death, what would you like your child to be reborn in? What would you want them to know? Live that truth”.

    • “Live in the most radical way today. If you’re pretending to think you’re saving for the future, take about 1/10 of that and use the remaining to go on the most radical adventure for the next six months that you could imagine. Going with your wife, friends, lover, yourself, brother or sister and do everything you can to use the gift while Earth exists. To go on the most splendid adventure and to learn from the earth. Learn from other people, animals, trees, and butterflies. Swim, get naked, get a massage, do tantra retreat, make love with life and breathe in a way that you’ve never dreamt but risk it all for the reason you’re a human.”

    Podcast Conclusion 

    Okay so that was podcast one with Alan, of the new series on living with conscious intention in troubled times, I’m kidding!  My mind was just blown, I’ll need to recover from the sensory overload that was my first interview with Alan, before recording another, but I would definitely love to have him back on the show.

    Download the complimentary book: Wisdom for the World.

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