The Venerable Sayadaw U Pandita of Burma (also known as Myanmar), was one of the foremost authorities on vipassana (insight) meditation and a pioneer of the Western mindfulness movement. With thousands of students in centers worldwide, Burma's most senior Buddhist monk also trained hundreds of leading meditation teachers in both the East and West. Yet, despite all of this, and numerous influential books compiled from his public talks, he rarely gave interviews. In Wisdom for the World: The Requisites of Reconciliation, he breaks his silence to reveal some of his most compelling insights, delivered as his final teaching for the people of the world and his native country, Burma.
Over 9 consecutive nights before he passed away in April 2016 at the age of 95, the Venerable Sayadaw weighed in on some of the most critical issues facing Burma and the world today through exceptionally rare and remarkable conversations with his first Western student, journalist, and friend of nearly 40 years, Alan Clements.
Covering topics from religious extremism to systemic oppression, and the requisites for surmounting them, the Venerable Sayadaw deftly elaborated on the Mahasi Sayadaw system of mindfulness meditation and its application in our troubled world. "More important than victory of others is to be victorious over oneself," he says, illuminating the difference between right and wrong mindfulness and calling for a worldwide revolution in Spiritual Intelligence, or "SQ" (a key component of his teachings over the past 15 years).
As the principle spiritual adviser to many of the leading figures in Burma's decades long non-violent democratic revolution, Wisdom for the World speaks a final time to those leaders and fosters hope for a country still convulsing from decades of dictatorship. Here, this beloved teacher elucidates the role of reconciliation in calming the turmoil of conflict faced by so many in the world today.
With forbearance, wisdom and compassion, the Venerable Sayadaw outlines the theory and practice of gaining mindful control of one's own mind so that we may all move towards a more peaceful society. Essentially, Wisdom for the World provides the timeless psychological and spiritual guidance - the mindful intelligence - for anyone desiring to surmount intolerance, hatred and discrimination, in whatever form they take.
Clements was among the first Westerners to ordain as a Buddhist monk in Burma, where he lived in a monastery practicing mindfulness meditation for nearly five years, before being expelled from the country in 1984 by the dictatorship, with no reason given. Leaving the monastic life, Clements returned to the West, becoming a spiritual maverick, journalist, and human rights activist engaged in Burma's nonviolent struggle for freedom while speaking up for political prisoners worldwide.
Clements co-authored The Voice of Hope with Burma's Aung San Suu Kyi - the former political prisoner and Nobel Peace Laureate. In addition, his books include, Burma: The Next Killing Fields, and Revolution of the Spirit, both with forewords by the Dalai Lama and endorsed by 8 Noble Peace Laureates and former President Jimmy Carter. He's also written Instinct for Freedom and A Future To Believe In: 108 Reflections on the Art and Activism of Freedom.
Clements has been interviewed on ABC National, Talk to America, CBC, VOA, BBC, the New York Times, Time and Newsweek magazines, the Sydney Morning Herald, Utne Reader, Yoga Journal, and scores of other media worldwide. He also delivered a keynote at Amnesty International's 30th Year Anniversary at the John Ford Theater in LA. You can learn more about Alan's work on his website: www.AlanClements.com.
Contributing editor Fergus Harlow is a long time assistant to Alan Clements and World Dharma.
During the course of his career Clements has been interviewed on numerous television and radio programs, including ABC's Nightline, CBS Evening News, CBC and SHAW TV in Canada, German National TV, ABC TV in Australia, Voice of America Radio, Radio Free Asia, the BBC, and in the New York Times, London Times, The Guardian, San Francisco Chronicle, Washington Post, Time and Newsweek, Yoga Journal, Utne, Yes, and scores of other media worldwide. www.AlanClements.com
"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 tete-à-tete, ad infinitum; a glimpse at all that inner discursive dialog 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 to, by nature, include everything. To paraphrase the 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, 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, 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, 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 Healy, former director of Amnesty International, founder of the Human Rights Action Center.