Guiding Principles and Vision

“Consciousness is the forerunner of thought, speech, and action. It is the source from which the world comes into being. It is from the mind that we form identities, create myths, and fabricate illusions. It is from the mind that values are forged, principles are shaped, and freedom is known. Thus, it can be said: To know the mind is the most important task of our life.”
— Alan Clements


Through the imaginative use of the Internet and other interactive technologies, the World Dharma Online Institute (WDOI) was conceived in 2006 to offer a recurring (and evolving) eCourse called Awakening World Dharma: Exploring a New Language of Freedom, for the purpose of empowering a global culture of conscience rooted in dignity, universal human rights, and environmental sanity, as the basis of civilized existence.

“Where, after all, do universal human rights begin? In small places, close to home so close and so small that they cannot be seen on any maps of the world. Unless these rights have meaning there, they have little meaning anywhere.”
— Eleanor Roosevelt


As a nonsectarian, multicultural, non-profit foundation, WDOI invites individuals from all countries, ethnicities, and backgrounds to participate in the eCourse as vital members of an emerging self-styled community of independent artists, seekers, teachers, practitioners, activists, scholars, students, leaders and other agents of change, dedicated to the exploration of human intelligence, imagination and freedom through the arts, service and activism.

“We are in a miracle. And if we are to progress as a species we need to re-inspire the urge for open-ended adventure. We need to explore the nature of consciousness and develop a more liberated relationship with as many dimensions of reality as possible, while remaining respectful of our humanness, both in the world, and further out as we explore the cosmos.”
— Alan Clements


WDOI provides a free speech zone, rooted in Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which states: “Everyone has the right to the freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media regardless of frontiers."

“Consciousness precedes being, and not the other way around... for this reason, the salvation in this human world lies nowhere else than in the human heart, in the human power to reflect, in human modesty, and in human responsibility.”
— Vaclav Havel


At the root of the World Dharma vision is the Sanskrit word Dharma, reputedly the oldest word in use describing consciousness in relation to freedom. By combining the words World and Dharma, the umbrella concept “World Dharma” was formed as a vision that honors the inherent relatedness of all things, all dimensions of consciousness with the material world in and around us. From this central realization, World Dharma emphasizes liberating all relationships from fear, aggression, and ignorance, while enhancing creativity, compassion, and conscientious co-existence.

“The mind is a living organism that chaperons us everywhere, haloing our bodies as the biosphere does the earth. It informs us of everything we think, feel, and say. Consciousness is as central to life as the ecosystem is to the earth. We can’t live without it, nor can it be escaped. It is home. Neglect consciousness — denigrate it, violate it — and like the earth, the individual suffers, and often causes suffering, too. On the other hand, nurture consciousness — understand its nature, inhabit it wisely — and we flourish, and elevate society too.”
— Alan Clements


The World Dharma eCourse is rooted in a central idea: "Favor the question, always question," Nobel Peace laureate and Holocaust survivor, Elie Wiesel states. "Do not accept answers as definitive. Answers change. Questions don't. Always question those who are certain of what they are saying. Always favor the person who is tolerant enough to understand that there are no absolute answers, but there are absolute questions."

“Awakening World Dharma rests upon a basic recognition: life experience is our greatest teacher and therefore our genuine source for spiritual awakening. It is awareness that liberates, not a teacher, nor a doctrine, nor a form.”
— Alan Clements


Just as there are no two finger-prints the same, there will be no two identical expressions of freedom. The World Dharma vision honors diversity — our inherent uniqueness — as the source of creativity, wisdom and love.

“Natural freedom involves deep personal trust in the inherent rightness of our humanness and our natural intelligence. It embraces our essential human wholeness, and consciously stops attempting to synchronize with projections of perfection, whether transcendent, psychological, physical, spiritual, or cultural.”
— Alan Clements


The wisdom of the eCourse comes alive through its emphasis on finding our liberation through living. This means engaging in relationships of all kinds as the dynamic context in which to actualize freedom, love, and authenticity.

The Course materials are therefore not intended to be exercises in conceptual stimulation alone, but as organic contexts in which to ignite impassioned presence — to embrace life, engage people, and manifest one's purpose in the world.

“Awakening World Dharma means extending oneself into the circumstances of any given moment, clearly comprehending those circumstances — knowing them — and bringing a liberating intimacy to the space of shared being. “
— Alan Clements


At the heart of the WDOI is our aspiration to support the empowerment of individuals to find the courage to care, to give back to life, and so change the world, and ourselves, one person, one moment, at a time.

“If you assume that there's no hope, you guarantee that there will be no hope. If you assume that there is an instinct for freedom, that there are opportunities to change things, there's a chance you may contribute to making a better world. That's your choice.”
— Noam Chomsky


The guiding principle of the eCourse is perhaps best described by the phrase "Use your Liberty" — words offered by Aung San Suu Kyi, Burma's Nobel Peace laureate, and an elected leader of her country's ongoing struggle for democratic reform.

In other words, the World Dharma vision states that we are inherently free as human beings, and not bound. Therefore freedom is the starting point of the Course, not the end point. In this way, the 'ongoing always evolving nature of the Course' is meant to ignite an already existing freedom — liberating our authenticity over and again, allowing our naturalness to breathe, thrive, and flourish.

“The authentic spiritual life is not about fitting in or transcending some imaginary self. It’s about being a person, challenging fear, and doing something remarkable with our lives.”
— Alan Clements


Freedom is our birthright, but enjoying our own personal freedom is not enough. Just as love is an action and not just a state of mind, so too is freedom an action. Aung San Suu Kyi's injunction to "use your liberty" essentially means committing oneself to everyday revolution — acts of liberating authenticity that serve our own happiness as well as elevate the freedom and happiness of others.

It is our hope that as we explore new dimensions of inner and outer space, the World Dharma eCourse will serve to unite people worldwide to genuinely co-create a future to believe in, a new society with sustainable economic, environmental and spiritual solutions, devoid of exploitation, violence, and degradation.

“Revolutionary spiritual change needs boldness — the heart to question projection, ignorance, and fear — empowering one’s self as sovereign over the spiritual state of one’s own mind. Freedom is a choice. Freedom becomes real through choice. For freedom to become a revolutionary source of power we must, as Aung San Suu Kyi counsels, learn to ‘act despite the fear.’”
— Alan Clements


It is our belief that we are just beginning to understand the structures of consciousness and the nature of the universe. This is our time on earth. Let us enter life fully, evolving the highest intelligence possible, both individually and together.

I invite you to embrace Albert Einstein's dream of true learning. "Never regard study as a duty, but as the enviable opportunity to learn to know the liberating influence of beauty in the realm of the spirit for your own personal joy and to the profit of the community to which your later work belongs."

“Freedom is not a state beyond this world. It is not fear-driven but life-giving — it includes the flesh, the ordinary self, the sacred and mundane as one. It’s reflected in the eyes of the person facing you right now. The key is to ignite our ability to be authentically present with heart, intelligence, and purpose, ready to serve, touch and be touched. It’s about making life our art.”
— Alan Clements

Hope you will join the eCourse. It would be an honor to have you.