If you like your enlightenment with large doses of spiritual-political satire and activist entertainment, then Alan Clements is for you. This former monk delivers conscience raising that celebrates freedom of expression and the power of the human voice.
As a former monk in dictatorship-ravaged Burma and a journalist in areas of extreme conflict, including the former Yugoslavia, Clements riffs on issues of violence and nonviolence, compassion and greed, servitude and freedom, from his deep personal experience and a rare satirical humour.
Clements challenges the ego-driven quest for individual ‘enlightenment’ where he says, ‘mindfulness is an employment opportunity and people use namaste like a greeting at McDonald’s.’
As one of the first Westerners to be ordained as a Buddhist monk, Clements credits political unrest and violence in Burma with bringing him to a deeper and more powerful awareness.
‘I was there in 1979 until 1984 and was thrown out by the dictator. That set me on an involuntary activist campaign to support this country that I had virtually no insight into. Here I was living in one of them most Stalinesque regimes in the world and here was Alan looking into his mind. I was not aware of the terror state. I was blacklisted for almost 20 years. I have gone back since and interviewed political prisoners to find out how they survived.
Freedom, as Clements ironically discovered, was crucial to the survival of the hundreds of imprisoned. ‘The iron bars did not incarcerate them. One prisoner said that these bars incarcerate them.’
‘It is the courage to care about things larger than your own self-interest.’ That is what she said. This is radically confronting to the disguise of self-awakening, which is often the disguise for egoism. It plays into our obsession with pleasure and constantly reaffirming our goodness, all while our world is collapsing!’
Clements believes we need to shift our thinking away from ‘self’ and towards the concept of what he calls ‘world dharma’.
‘We are not stopping the unbridled aggression of Americans, or the globally sanctifed massacre of Palestinians. It’s very hard to see our place in the homicidal western complex; everything we do that is petroleum driven is a kind of unconscious self-immolation of life.
‘We need to celebrate the power of freedom. Our freedom and your freedom is inseparable; that is the new edge of global dharmism.
‘I don’t think the playing field is as it was two years ago – catastrophic climate change and near-term extinction are on our doorstep – it’s almost game over as we know it on this plane of existence.
So how does a person practise World Dharma – what does it even look like?
‘Gandhi didn’t walk around preaching veganism by eating meat. We have to examine our own self-deception, self-denial and hypocrisy and not chastise it down into suppression, but celebrate it so as to reveal how people could do it to themselves… We are in a human-driven catastrophic collapse. I guess you could say we are in a “holy shit” moment!’
When Clements speaks of the lack of freedom of others as not being separate for us he is not talking about the spiritually trendy concept of ‘oneness’. In fact, he is highly suspicious of the covert totalitarian implications of ‘oneness’.
‘The best oneness is twoness! The show I do, Spiritually Incorrect, is for smart people – the last thing you want to do is have your mind co-opted by the enemy. There are a lot of shamans and so-called new-age thinkers out there that co-opt people into servitude.’
For Clements it’s about being a critical thinker.
‘The number one thing you need to do is to reclaim your intelligence, reclaim your discernment, overcome your delusion and reclaim your critical thinking!
‘We missed that boat somewhere. I think at some point there was too much rainbow, too much hugging, too many drugs, and with that basic critical thinking went out the door. New-age religion has become the cult of “me-ness”. It’s very hard to step out of the lock-step of the culturally sanctioned hip cool arenas of spirituality.
‘Spiritual practice is challenging; you want to make sure that what you are thinking are your own thoughts, and what you practise is the dehypnosis of your own illusion. Reclaim your own consciousness – it’s a discipline of radical self-awareness that the world needs!’
Alan Clements presents Spiritually Incorrect at the Byron Community Centre. The event is a benefit for Burma Project International in support of reforming Burma’s military-drafted constitution, thus allowing Aung San Suu Kyi to run for president in the 2015 national elections. Freedom.
Thursday February 26 at the Byron Community Centre, 7.30pm
Ticketing: $30 advance, $40 cash at the door
Advance Reservations ONLY by emailing [email protected]
(include full name, mobile, number of tickets, six max, with ‘Byron 26 Feb’ in the subject field).
Detals on our Facebook events page, and please feel free to add to the invitation list.
There will also be a presentation at Temple Byron on Sunday 1 March – limited to 20 people.
For bookings, email your full name and mobile to: [email protected]