I am writing on behalf of my beloved friend, Alan Clements. We met 43 years ago. In 1982, we became very close while serving on the staff of the Insight Meditation Society in Barre, Massachusetts. He was a Buddhist Monk at the time. Sharing love and wisdom, Alan always championed the best in me and for me. Our deep friendship has endured through dark nights of the soul and heartache. Each holds a light of clarity and hope. A true brother in the Dhamma.
Now, I have one final opportunity to be there for Alan. As many of you may know, Alan has been facing a catastrophic, life-threatening medical emergency. He was diagnosed a year ago with an acutely enlarged ascending aortic aneurysm (the largest artery leaving the heart). According to his surgeon – the Head of Cardiac Surgery at UCLA Medical – he has a 50:50 chance of rupturing at any second, with little chance of survival. Due to the extraordinary risk and high degree of complication in surgery, Alan initially decided to decline the procedure.
Despite this soul-crushing news, Alan selflessly continued his daily global Livestream teaching, whether it was alerting the world to the atrocities in his beloved Burma (where he lived as a monk and authored numerous books on their struggle for freedom,) or using this life altering event to help others reflect on death in their own life. Those around Alan have been so deeply inspired by his ongoing commitment to the service of others in this past year. Miraculously, Alan was prolific, writing two books, one titled, “Facing Death: A Conversation with Reverend Bodhi Be,” and the other “Tonight I Met a Deva, An Angel of Love,” a children’s book dedicated to both his own daughter and all children, with a foreword by the Dalai Lama. He also completed a 10-hour World Dharma Video book.
He wished to return to Bali in June to spend his remaining time in a place that felt like his home. However, while there, he contracted Covid, pneumonia and dengue fever, all collapsing his health. He is now in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, attempting to regain his strength. However, his vision is to secure a home base where he has doctors, hospice, friends and an environment familiar to him; Maui is the optimal location. He needs a home base to heal fully and focus before deciding whether to have surgery or not and a place to recover post-surgery if he chooses that route. Successful surgery will depend on regaining his lost vitality and strength through natural and medical means and a stable, stress-free home environment with appropriate professional support and services.
Despite his immersion in an avalanche of medical diagnostics, he has done what he has always done, rise to the call of humanity. Now we are being called to help Alan. Due to the pandemic, all means of livelihood ceased for him. No retreats, workshops, shows or anything else that was generating income. Alan needs us to dig into our pockets and hearts by offering whatever help we can to support this last leg of his journey here. His teachings have always been supported by dana. This is the Pali word for generosity and giving freely. When we assist Alan in these ways, we are honoring the Dhamma. The recognition of this ancient tradition of supporting teachers has always been at the heart of monastic life. It has continued to be practiced with all teachers.
I invite each of you to honor your own Dhamma while helping our beloved friend, brother, and teacher Alan Clements. I hope that this time, he does not have to be concerned about financial challenges as he courageously faces his uncertain future.