Excellence Reporter: Emma, what is the meaning of life?
Emma Slade: Like many people the ups and downs of life have encouraged me to reflect on, perhaps even stand face to face with, this question.
I feel very lucky to have been born at a time and in circumstances which have allowed me to have such a state of physical and material ease. I am very well aware that to have the good fortune of a healthy body and good education, a roof over my head and central heating mean that many of my basic needs as a human being have been fulfilled.
Particularly when one has this opportunity to have such a stable base then it becomes easier to have the energy and time to consider the profound question of what brings meaning to life.
From my own personal life experience and my Buddhist studies my conclusions to date are:
1. Have the courage to ask the question.
2. Notice that the sense of meaning in many peoples lives comes in their connection to others, whether this be family, friends, community or animals and nature.
3. Deepening and widening these connections is likely therefore to increase ones own sense of being meaningful and living according to your own sense of integrity.
4. Notice from your own experience, if, moments when you feel meaningful are also the times when you feel happiest. If so then deeply reflect on this link and keep going!
5. Consider where your sense of meaning and value have come from; strangely enough they may have been formed by some of the more tougher experiences of our lives. Seeing this can help us see that the gathering of wisdom can come from transforming difficulty as well as from celebrating our good fortune and opportunities.
Emma was born in Kent and was educated at universities in Cambridge and London. She had an exciting international career in finance which she committed to with mental drive and a tasteful selection of suits. But a deep seated desire to enquire into the deeper aspects of what it is to be a human being was brought to the surface following a life-changing visit to Jakarta, Indonesia.
She resigned from her financial career and began travelling and exploring yoga and meditation. Since then she has taught yoga and meditation for over 15 years and continued to deepen a life – long interest in Buddhism.
Her interest in what lies at the roots of yoga and meditation strengthened after meeting a Buddhist Lama on her first visit to Bhutan in 2011. This crucial chance meeting led to her studying Buddhism with this Lama and, eventually, led to her ordination in Bhutan as a Buddhist nun. She was named Pema Deki which means blissful lotus – a title she is doing her best to live up to!
In 2015 she set up the UK charity – Opening Your Heart to Bhutan – to help children in Bhutan. She continues to travel to Bhutan frequently to manage these charity projects and continue her Buddhist studies.
Her first book, Set Free: A Life-Changing Journey from Banking to Buddhism in Bhutan, detailing her inspirational story was published in April 2017. Proceeds from the book will be donated to the charity. The book can be found on Amazon UK and in bookshops and is in the process of being translated into a number of other languages.
Her ted x talk on her story has been watched by thousands of people and she continues to contribute with insight and humour to many international publications and events. Emma was featured on the Happiness episode of The Davina Hour with Davina Mccall.
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