Letting Go of Wall Street
Rasanath Das was an atypical member of the city's investment-banker class.
The 32-year-old MBA earned a $170,000 salary working long days negotiating deals at Bank of America. But on his free nights, he slept on the floor of a bare room shared with 13 other Hindu monks in a monastery in the East Village. On weekends, he taught classes on scripture and scrubbed floors and pots.
"I realized I was not dependent on external objects to make me happy. It was like letting go of crutches and being able to walk faster," Mr. Das said.
His journey from the 1% to the 99% began in 2008. He felt ready to eschew materialism and devote himself entirely to spirituality—that is, until he received a stellar performance review.
"It was like a scene out of 'Wall Street,' where Michael Douglas said, 'I'll make you a star.' It was tempting," Mr. Das said.
He told his boss he wanted to leave for the monk's life. He resigned, took vows of celibacy and abstinence and traded suits and button-down shirts for the white garb of a Bhakti monk, dedicating his life to devotional Hinduism—and to helping his former banking colleagues find enlightenment.
After quitting, Mr. Das spent his days on monastery business, developing a plan to open a café downstairs and working on scripture teachings.
But the law of karma states that you can never really leave the past behind, and so it was that the financial world continued to lay a claim on Mr. Das, albeit in an unexpected way: During the past year, bankers and companies have sought him out to counsel them on mindfulness and the market.