Emma Slade in conversation with Michael Rutland
Emma Slade in conversation with Michael Rutland

Trading investment banking for Buddhism in Bhutan

Emma Slade who traded a high-flying international banking career to become a Buddhist nun, spoke about how she broke out of the labyrinth that is a banker’s world to embark on a journey of spirituality during one yesterday’ session of the Mountain Echoes Lit Fest in Thimphu.

Emma Slade also talked about the event that brought her to Bhutan and her first book, ‘Set Free’, during the 35 minute conversation with Michael Rutland, founder and chairman of the Bhutan Society of the United Kingdom.

Emma Slade, became a Buddhist nun in Bhutan in 2012 and is a founder of the United Kingdom (UK) charity, Opening Your Heart to Bhutan, for differently abled Bhutanese Children.

During the conversation, Michael Rutland asked Emma if the reverse journey of abandoning being a Bhutanese monk and continuing her career as banker is possible.

“The skills that I have learned working in finance being used with the intention to help others are incredibly helpful and there is nothing wrong with those skills accumulated because it is benefiting a number of people,” Emma said. “Money is important but people should know how to use it properly”.

Emma said her book, Set Free, which she wrote in six months is about clarity and awakening. “It is very hard in today’s world to know things like what is enough, when can I say I am content, when can I feel the joy of contentment and what do I need to do to stop feeling I haven’t had enough,” she said. “This book is not telling you that you are failing but this book is telling you that you are on the way and you should keep going.”

“When my father died, I was literally tormented and I wanted to feel better but I didn’t know how to feel better having lost him. So to seek security and safety, I went to financial market, financial market of power, glamour and success, I thought I could be safe, I thought my heart could be healed but seeking safety and security in money, I ended up being held hostage. So I discovered that money doesn’t make you safe.”

Emma said that though her book begins with trauma the book is an inspiring journey of awakening especially from the perspective of a Western Buddhist.

Mountain Echoes Literary Festival is an initiative of the India Bhutan Foundation, in association with Siyahi. It brings together writers, biographers, historians, environmentalists, scholars, photographers, poets, musicians, artists and filmmakers to engage in cultural dialogue, share stories, create memories and spend three blissful days in the mountains.

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