Years after renouncing her successful career as an investment banker and becoming a Buddhist monk in the high mountains of Bhutan, Emma Slade says renunciation does not necessarily mean giving up something.
Speaking at the Robb Report Limited Edition 2018 conclave, Emma said for her, renunciation was a process of “cleansing myself off confusion”. “I don’t think I was giving up anything. In fact, I gained a lot in the process,” she said.
Asked about how she defines worldly luxury, Emma, who also has a teenage son, said, “The ultimate state of luxury is when you can say you have enough.”
“Being able to say this is an incredible thing in today’s world. It gives you immense freedom. Life begins thereafter.”
The turning point in Emma’s life was when she was held hostage at gunpoint at a hotel in Jakarta, Indonesia. Speaking about it, she said that was a moment when she was terrified.
“I did not think I will survive. You get immense power once you realise that you have lived after seeing death from such close quarters. There is nothing that scares you anymore,” she said.
On being asked about her experience as a women Buddhist monk, Emma said it has been a big honour. “The difference is that once you have adorned the robes, people no longer tell you that they are fine. They tell you how exactly they are feeling. This is a big honour.”
In 2015, Emma decided to start an organisation in Bhutan that works with children with special needs. “After I became a monk, I realised that I may be at peace with myself, but there is much suffering that remains in the world.”
Speaking on finding internal peace, she said that often when people see that their relationship is dying, they realise that the most important thing is love and how it makes you feel.
“But six months later, they are back to their previous self. They abandon their wisdom.”
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