My Path To Becoming A Buddhist | Emma Slade | TEDxSevenoaksSchool

Translator: Tijana Mihajlović
Reviewer: Peter van de Ven You are cowering on the floor. Above you is an unknown man. He is pointing a gun at your head. He has your life in his hands. What matters to you now? What do you know which is of any use? This is the situation I found myself in in September 1997, in a hotel room in Jakarta, Indonesia. I believe it was
the start of my awakening. At the time of this incident, I was working in the financial
markets in Hong Kong, making significant size
investments for a global bank. I had made the decision
to move into a financial career after the death of my father. He had always felt
that I would suit such a career, and so I finished my studies in Fine Art and decided to grow up
and get a proper job. And I loved it;
it was fast, it was exciting. I had placements in New York,
London, Hong Kong. I ate balance sheets for breakfast. (Laughter) I wore high heels
and I walked with a wiggle. (Laughter) And then came Jakarta. As the door opened,
I took my chance and I ran. And my body escaped. But in the days that followed, I began to suffer
what I was later to discover was severe post-traumatic stress disorder. In this condition, the past and the present
know no difference. So I would be sitting
in my office in Hong Kong, looking at those balance sheets, as I could smell his skin against my body, as I could hear his shoes
moving back and forth towards me. In the yogic and Buddhist tradition, we have a metaphor
for the development of a human being – the total development of a human being – and it’s that of the lotus flower. Now, the lotus flower begins in the mud, in the base of a lake, and from there it grows up, up, up, looking for light, looking for the Sun
and the surface of the water. Jakarta was my mud. But it was also the seed
of my future development. As I lay cowering on the floor, I knew the preciousness of a human life and I knew its impermanence. Also, a seed of compassion was planted, and I’ll explain. As I left, and I ran out of the door
and down the corridor, behind me many armed men
ran into the room. There was much gunfire. And later on that evening,
when I sat down with the police, they showed me a photograph of the man. And he was slumped against the hotel wall in his underpants. And around him the spatters
of blood, everywhere. And they were very pleased
to show me this photograph. And I looked at it, and I felt such sorrow; such sorrow for this man,
such sorrow for this situation. And this moment and this feeling, out of all of these moments
and all of these feelings, is the one I don’t forget. Now, back in England I had help to recover from post-traumatic
stress disorder. Once I had recovered enough
to see my life clearly, I felt that I’d been treating it
very superficially, and that after this experience,
I really needed to inquire more deeply into what it is to be a human being, what the potential
of a human being might be. And so I resigned my job, and I stumbled across yoga, and I found I was naturally
very adept at yoga. I pursued it, enjoyed it, and it helped me gain trust
in myself and the world again. At the same time,
I began to look more closely at a long-held interest
in the nature of mind, particularly as described
in Buddhist practice. And this is the reclining Buddha
of my grandfather, which I saw as a child in our home, and which always I wanted
to have near me, and that is still with me now. As a result of this interest in Buddhism, I visited a Buddhist monastery. And I heard in this
Buddhist monastery this mantra. It’s called “The Great
Mantra of Compassion.” You see it and hear it
all across the Himalayas. When I heard this mantra,
it really touched something in me, something very deep in me,
buried deep in me, I think. Now, there’s many ways to say this mantra. With the risk of being spiritual X-factor, I’m going to just show you the way
that I like to say it, okay? (Singing “The Great Mantra of Compassion”) Something like that. Now, I continued to teach
yoga and meditation and investigate Buddhism for many years. And then I probably reached
some kind of ceiling, here in the West. But I was lucky enough to get
the opportunity to go to Bhutan, the Himalayan Kingdom of Bhutan, in 2011. And when I went there – that’s somewhere I’d wanted
to visit for a long time – I met a monk in a temple and something very profound happened. I returned to England and then I decided to go back
to Bhutan to find him because something had happened there. So I returned to find him and discovered that he was a Lama. A Lama is someone in Bhutan
who must have done at least three years, three months,
three weeks solitary retreat. So he’s somebody who’s specialized
in the nature of mind. And it was obvious that he was my teacher
and I was his student. And after that, things went very fast. Here’s my Lama.
(Laughs) Obviously, when I first met my Lama, I still had my hair and normal clothes, but in 2012 he said to me,
out of the blue, “Now you change your dress,” and he was telling me
to become a Buddhist nun; he was telling me to give up
lay occupation, to become celibate, and to train my mind
for the benefit of others. I was amazed that he suggested it and, of course, said yes.
(Laughs) So I began the preliminary practices
and trainings of a nun: many prayers, many meditations. I began to study the language of Tibet, classical Tibetan language. And I kind of thought,
“I’m peaceful now. I’ve made it.” And as it says here,
I was ready to put my slippers on, maybe look at the sky. But all that compassion practice,
all those mantras, they had affected me, in fact. And I realized that I wanted
to give back to Bhutan, the country that I love so much, and I also wanted to put my wish
to be a compassionate person … into action. And so, in 2015,
I founded this UK charity. It’s called “Opening
your heart to Bhutan.” And this is a favorite thing of mine: to be with the children that we help. This is Tenzin Wangchuk in Eastern Bhutan. He has a cerebral palsy
but he’s a fantastic artist, and I’m there looking at
his artwork with him. This is another child in East Bhutan who spontaneously just came
and gave me this hug. This child is actually blind
but came and hugged me. And this is really why I do what I do
in far-reaching places of Bhutan: bringing practical help,
education, medical supplies, etc. to children who need my help. Of course, it’s ironic now that my financial training
is of great help in running a UK charity
and running many projects in Bhutan, organizing many people,
looking at the costings of things, inquiring about how to achieve
things on the ground. So the skills of old have been very useful in bringing me now
a very meaningful and happy life. Now, in terms of your own
process of awakening, I would really like to share with you
that your life is in your hands. But you should ask
what matters to you now. What do you know which is of any use? More of what I know is here and here. Thank you very much. (Applause)


  1. they should get a monk from the most ancient original branch of Buddhism to talk which is (Theravada branch) would give more insight into things

  2. Namo Buddhaya! understanding of you self help you to understand the whole world . you be with your religion and study about budism. you can study it because it is the reality in this world . may you attain Nibbhana !!!!

  3. Thanks for sharing this wonderful story of your transformation. Yes the mud exists and even the darker stuff below the mud that I went through.

  4. She needs Jesus, and I suspect she’ll find him. He is the One whom Siddhartha Gautama said would come after him and be known as “Love,” and the One after whom all religions and indeed all human souls are seeking. May God save and enlighten her, through the prayers of the Theotokos. Amen!

  5. Pardon my ignorance, but Buddhism seems like it's mostly a theology that focuses on peace and happiness and an escape from real life. It's like Buddhists almost try to create some type of fictitious utopian world for themselves. Other religions seem to have more structure when it comes to the relationship between G-d and humanity. These religions (such as Judaism) also emphasize the importance of being kind and doing good for the world while still being grounded in reality.

  6. Emma Slade you hsve such inner peace there are no words that. Can describe I am extremly Grateful that you share your Vídeo OM Shanti

  7. thanks a million to you for sharing your out of this world experience with us!Please tell me how to be a monk like you?

  8. Everthing comes from
    Your weaknesse of
    Unhappiness.i believe in
    Nichiren daishonin in
    Nichiren shousu more
    Than fourty years and
    Have all my happiness
    Al my life.nichiren daishonina real budda too
    Atain enlightment eight
    Hunderd years ago
    Teaching said your
    Life is a workbook
    Of couse and effect.

  9. Its like a costume isn’t it. You haven’t learned anything dear. Been a monk isn’t about charity dear it’s about you. 😂😂

  10. She is one True Inspiring Soul ….Her Smile Tell it all happy her decision was … Respect for all she did ….Her Sacrifice her devotion is beyond anyone's
    atleast not easy for people like us as a lay People takes a Lot to go on a Path like that away from Cities… Families….Love ones ..
    Namo Buddha
    Thank You Ted

  11. HINDUNISM (open ideology) religions into two main philosophical branches of astika, which venerates Veda (six orthodox schools ) and nastika  (e.g., Buddhism, Jainism, sikhism, etc.). However, both branches shared the related concepts of Yoga, saṃsāra (the cycle of birth and death) and moksha (liberation from that cycle)…thanks indus vally to give our  ancestors valueble info to nxt generations..

  12. Youed tube only presents the monk's way.   You can also practice the non monk's way.  Sitting in a temple on top of some mountain or deep in the jungle will get you nowhere.  You are abandoning life and not embracing it.  YOu must get right into the dirt and grime of the city.  The noise etc.  A baby just cried, a car horn just honked, all is at it should be.

  13. this video gives me PTSD, its a real disorder you guys.. your very insensitive if you think that my PTSD is any less serious than anyone elses :'/

  14. How can i learn as much as she did about the mind , at how to understand it and be one with it as when i was younger? I have OCD and need learn to have peace

  15. Buddhism was spread by king Ashoka in India from Afghanistan to Shri Lanka and abroad 😊. However, Islamic conversion destroyed everything in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Forcefully converting them to Muslims. I hope these noble people are safe always.

  16. What tickles me about western men and women is that they decide to become monks in their late 50s and 60s and so on in their elder years after they've lived their younger lives partying and enjoying life,then they make the big decision. It's very different in Buddhist countries when they do it at a very young age 20s and less even.

  17. 'Emma was previously a successful investment banker'. Well it was either this or starting a craft brewery, I suppose, then 😉

  18. TED videos have much more than story of the speaker. I don't want to disrespect her achievement or the path she took but she could said more about buddhism and life rather than just narrating her story and at the end marketing her book and charity. TED videos convey a message or idea that is unknown or overlooked by us. After watching this video for 12 minutes all I got was "Your life is in your hands. ", which was not I was looking for.

  19. Why do Buddhist have to look like that? I thought Buddhism is a spiritual way of life and has nothing to do with appearances. One would have to constantly keep looking in the mirror to remind yourself "I'm a Buddhist".
    But I don't know anything about anything.

  20. Change~the ultimate opt to out, be free as all is a sort of transportation, to carry us beyond our present place in real time…trasatory, impermanent human existence has but one "antidote for PTSD" ~LOVE~May Buddha bless us all~

  21. Ah, Buddhism; the anti-Brahmin movement of 2500 years ago. I seriously doubt that the Buddha wanted to create a breakaway religion, just wanted to advise people about their minds, attitudes and behaviors. Fast forward to the 2000s, and the heart of Buddhism is Mindfulness practice, which is what psychologists teach their patients to help overcome all kinds of mental disorders. I call myself a Hindu-Buddhist-Taoist, and have learned to blend the teachings of all these paths. Buddhism is a agnostic practice; no discussion of God/s allowed. That does not sit well with me, but I won't get into that. And the essential teaching is to "take refuge" in the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha. When I studied Buddhism, I immediately rejected that. After all, the greatest source of wisdom is deep within our minds, and THAT is where our refuge should be. Once you learn how to ride a bicycle, you don't need someone to keep holding the bicycle!
    One last thing: the Pali word Dukkha has been translated as "suffering." But Dukkha usually translates as sadness. Not suffering. It refers to how our lives can be devoid of satisfaction and true joy. In the Yoga tradition, the deepest part of the mind is the layer of bliss, called Ananda maya. (aananda; maya is pronounced different with short syllables, from maaya which means illusion). This bliss layer gets obscured by the ego mind like clouds obscuring the sun. So our true innate nature is that of bliss, and not dukkha. Dukkha is simply what we create with our minds. See a child happily playing, and then think whether the child lives in Dukkha!!! Yes, the Dukkha will come once the child grows up and gets married, haha! 🙂 Just kidding, just kidding!
    And oh, one more thing: the two countries in the world where Buddhism is predominant, Sri Lanka and Myanmar, are full of hateful and intolerant people. So much for Buddhism, which becomes just a fixture you put on the wall and then do exactly as you please.

  22. Got a strong emotional charge when I heard her sing the mantra. So much sorrow, with an undertone of compassion.

  23. in the first 5 minutes of hearing her speak and dress i realized this person is still on a lower rung of zen

  24. It's been two years and still in my recommendation page. Thanks for spreading the word. Bless u all I'm Buddhist from Philippines

  25. Actually she shouldn't be a Buddhist monk ,She should be a Buddhist nun.Well,as a Buddhist since my birth,I think she should learn more about Buddhist culture

  26. This is sorry but redickulous hides truth is just going to be brutally honest I about to give up . I not anything you guess you know is sick to believe you guess truth unbelievable I beyond you guess that I was Buddha in small town in I done text unless asked I know none to tell and then I done but if none ask I done wasting my time because you I just dishonest untrue people guess you know you guessed wrong I am sorry it's a liar you many have became . When guess wrong becomes lie you believe still like you try help you really hurt many are hiding truth under guess's unbelievable is what I waste time tried to find anyone how knows anything to hear me I because you guess you something I hurt trying hard enough phone ask or to bad beyond guilt

  27. Unbelievable I beyond guilt I can choose to stop pointing way without guilt now guess you can . I only prove point is many how truth not buried ego is huge master this unbelievable how as always student . Master student maybe ego return if you believe master . Of path wrong way I was always true and just as could be told for staying true and just before and threw great suffering I choose to show many the way I done ask or hope you guess s ovany religion you can guess me either asses I trying to show you the way I was direction point way all I say ask actually. Without doubt must see eyes of truth and just beauty path be known to eyes true beauty in seeing truth born I think I will ki me but is fine I hope it does really

  28. I’m sorry about what you’ve been going through and I’m glad you find good people to help you. Only something very important I want to tell you and the others because the time is short and the End of this world is getting very close !!! Armageddon !!! Buddha- Siddhartha never promised : by him you can go to the Father ! Buddha said the end of his life I’m still searching for the truth and Jesus said I’m the way the TRUTH and the life even from mud if you like so if Jesus is the truth and no one on this earth claimed that and He is the Son of God ; highest in wisdom, morally as spiritually .Jesus giving up His holy divine Kingdom in Heaven and the Creator became a creation for us no one can be that humble ever!!! He called your name from the darkness to be with Him forever did you hear that ?Buddha didn’t sacrifice his life for you he can’t save you he is not Devine only Jesus can !! He is the Holy of the Holiest never forget this please I pray for everybody God help you 🙏❤️

  29. I would like to know or you might be also interested in finding out why Buddhist monks are asking for control over Mahabodhi Vihar(temple) in bodhgaya, don't they already Own it ?

  30. Dear all, not any one on planet earth ever offer you forever life and resurrection- and spiritual rebirth by His Holy Spirit than the Son of God Jesus. Don’t you want to leave forever?? Jesus is calling your name he knows you since you exist and He is loving you because He is the One care about you and He is your Creator what is your answer ?? Buddha can’t help you he had to die, but Jesus die – risen back from death and on the 40th day he flew up to the Heaven on the clouds. This how He will return back soon are you ready ???

  31. Buddhism has no God and law. It Denys all desires and basic human needs, distort human happiness into a form that is deprived of basic human rights. No true peace without law and justice. It’s fake love, fake peace without law and justice. Country that’s full of Buddhists are most miserable place in this world. It doesn’t heal your mind, it drives you crazier in another way by numbing and avoiding. Compassion is not true compassion without law and justice.

  32. this is very interesting as I am learning about various religions in a World religions class at Penn State University. Best wishes for your continued success into Buddhism and your helping others.

  33. When we come face to face with death, then we realized the this earthly world is not our real home.we are just tourist in this world.peace to all sentient beings.

  34. Yes it’s sounds very nice to relax, meditate but the problem is no one can replace even the kindness teacher or ideology the Light of the World is Jesus He is the Life and Resurrection and He gave His life for you too to save you from death.
    “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”
    ‭‭John‬ ‭1:1‬ ‭KJV‬‬
    “All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.”
    ‭‭John‬ ‭1:3-5‬ ‭KJV‬‬
    If any man reject Jesus it’s in under the delusion of darkness.
    I know most of the people on this world is in spiritual darkness we all was born like that except The Son of God Jesus Christ I keep praying God help you all the end of the Time is very soon!!! Jesus is your Savior not Buddha, he could teach how to relax is it enough?

  35. Towards the end of your video you asked " What do you know which is of any use ? I have a knowledge that can help millions of people in this modern world to alleviate their suffering from dietary diseases but I do not have the means to do it. Can you tell me how to make use of this Buddhist healing art. I dare not share it with the mainstream health people because I am sure that they will abuse this art for financial gains. Buddha was a healer.

  36. “I am the Lord: that is my name: and my glory will I not give to another, neither my praise to graven images.”
    ‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭42:8‬ ‭KJV‬‬
    “Thus saith God the Lord, he that created the heavens, and stretched them out; he that spread forth the earth, and that which cometh out of it; he that giveth breath unto the people upon it, and spirit to them that walk therein:”
    ‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭42:5‬ ‭KJV‬‬

  37. I am sorry but I just don't see the enlightenment here – sure, quitting everything and running away from life – there is nothing to do, no goals in life, sure then there are no worries
    No one can count on you for anything, you are not striving for anything, your basic needs are satisfied, you have no desires – sure you just sit around – mentally you are at peace
    It's like Kid A says I want top grades – A+ and to get that he has to stay up late, sacrifice all his free time, worry all the time
    Whereas say Kid B – doesn't care what he gets – D or F – he gets to sleep in, play, go to movies – does he worry? Not at all
    So who would you implore your kid to be? A or B?
    How many of you said A?
    The ideas are not that difficult – there is a cost to everything – this woman did not want to pay – she is happy but she is not going to achieve anything either

  38. Buddhism connect with what the inner you and that’s the Ego and Jesus connect to God and save you from to stay dead forever without God and Jesus claim He is Life and Resurrection!!!Buddhism is a religions because it has tradition it has ceremonies it has spiritual rules and that’s that.

  39. Why do you need buddhism to be like this, when thats already our true human nature although some of us are mis-informed along the way, each to their own and if this makes you happy and a better person than all the best to you. But you sure as heck do not need buddhism or anything else to become a better person we already have that instinctively within us.

  40. Life is very short and It's ending like a dream,
    Sometimes sorrow,
    Sometimes happy……
    Learn the Dhamma of the Buddha to get rid of this life-tragedy.

  41. Simple switch from corporate Business women to corporate Buddhist Nun doesn't cut it. Feel very sorry for your painful experience though.

  42. not philosophy but supreme….need to study as education and practice finally will reach to the core of Buddhist…

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