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Set Free: A Life-Changing Journey from Banking to Buddhism in Bhutan Paperback – 10 Apr 2017
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‘It’s an amazing story and what’s most remarkable about it is the personality of Slade herself. She is an exceptional individual’(Suzi Feay, Literary Journalist)
'This is an amazing woman with an amazing story' (Davina McCall)
‘This book chronicles the gradual transformation from a high-flying financial advisor to a committed Buddhist nun through the course of work, relationships, motherhood and finally spiritual commitment. A good read for all those involved in practising a spiritual path in a western context.’(Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo, author, teacher and Buddhist nun) See all Product description
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Emma (or Pema – her ordained name) story moves back and forward from quiet Kent and Bhutan to busy London and Hong Kong. Throughout it is a search to find a balance between all the competing demands and expectations of a modern life; between meditation and action, West and East, family and solitariness, physical and spiritual, success and happiness, being a mother and a nun. Emma Slade has written a book that shows how we can keep all the plates spinning and still have a focus on compassion for ourselves and others. I highly recommend it to you
However, towards the end of the book her character really started to grate on me. The book is meant to be very honest but it is not really. From the outset it should have been marketed as yoga teacher turns buddhist nun and not as banker turnt buddhist nun as she was only a banker for a few short years at the beginning of her career. Obviously, the book would have been much less marketable that way.
Another thing that I found frustrating was her complete lack of considering the feminist aspect of becoming a nun. As a Buddhist nun you are entering into a patriarchal and misogynist system in which you take vows to be second class compared with male monks. You have to bow to all male monks and serve them and it will never be the other way round. Surely, as an intelligent Western woman she should have at least considered this aspect of her decision.
I am sorry to say that I found Emma also qiute egotistical. Yes, she does initiate a charity for Bhutan but she abandons her child who is only 8 or 10 at the time she writes the book.(She writes that she spends several months in Bhutan each year and I assume her son stays in the UK to be with other people as he has to go to school.) In fact, she abandons everybody in her life - her job, her yoga students (to go back to her old career), her boyfriends, endless "friends" with whom she easly hooks up on her many travels and finally also her child. (I would also bet that she will give back her robe after a few years as most Western Buddhist monks and nuns do.)
It is the hallmark of narcissistic people that they may do many great and kind things in public but are harsh and neglectful to their own family. I can`t help seeing this pattern in Emma. She does an amazing job helping disabled children in Bhutan, writes a book about it and becomes a bit famous - all, I am sure, immensely pleasurable to her ego. But her own son who is also bit disabled needs to spend several months a year with other people. What will he say about the kindness of his Buddhist nun mum when he grows up?
Much Metta to Emma and to her son Oliver and to all in Bhutan and her family. Her story after Jakarta really shows you that you can move on from trauma. It isn't an easy ride or a quick fix, Emma has turned her life into helping others and her own spiritual growth.
The tale of a beautiful, intelligent and successful young woman who becomes a Buddhist nun was always got challenge the view of a middle-aged, public school educated Englishman, but Emma unwraps her story with such clarity, logic and humanity that the only thing I don't get is what made her go into banking? I keep meaning to write to her and ask.
If ever Emma gets fed up with being a nun or wants to raise money for her charity, she could take up thriller writing, so good isher description of the hostage situation.
Well worth reading.
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