American Voices: Rasanath Dasa

This week’s “American Voices” essay is from former investment banker Rasanath Dasa. Since he was in the ninth grade, Dasa knew he was destined for Wall Street. The 33-year-old’s dream came to fruition when he took an investment banking position with Bank of America in 2006.

But, Dasa soon realized his childhood goal to strike multi-million dollar deals was not all he had hoped for. When the environment in the financial industry proved too much for him, Dasa set out on a new road in life. He now spends his days as a Hindu Monk in an East Village monastery in New York City.

I was always inspired by economics, I was always inspired by the financial markets but when Rupert Murdoch made his way into India with a whole area of television channels, that was the first time I had the opportunity to see the movie Wall Street.

And seeing Charlie Sheen’s character, you know, striking deals. So since that time, I wanted to be on Wall Street.

My first job on Wall Street was with Bank of America. The way the banking world worked is every night you go home a town car is there to drop you off. My signing bonus when I just signed a piece of paper to accept my full time offer was $60,000. So there’s definitely a lot of prestige attached to it.

It was definitely very stressful working on Wall Street. When people spoke to me it was specifically around personal dissatisfaction in the job that they were doing. In fact, one of my colleagues I told him you can quit and you can find something that enriches your life more. He said well it’s better to be a famous bad guy than a not so famous good guy.

But over the course of time, I also had this other side that wants true satisfaction, true peace, true inner integrity.

My last major project was for Playboy. It was just disheartening to see that I was making money by selling sex in an economy that where people found it difficult to make ends meet. So that’s when I finally made the decision that it was time to really follow my true calling.

As a monk, my life is different in a sense that I am not in an environment that is heavily competitive and image driven and this mad rush for money and power.

I do keep in touch with the financial markets. I think it’s an integral part of my personality.

When I first read about Occupy Wall Street in the newspapers, I saw movement for change. I did visit the area, conducted meditation sessions, because I wanted to contribute to change but change coming from a higher consciousness.

I work with a small group of individuals who are thinking about financial reform in different ways. This is a group of individuals who have been bankers on Wall Street, business school professors, spiritual organizations, who are coming together to discuss the issues that are plaguing Wall Street. One solution is starting to really help students in schools and colleges, business schools, think more about how they make their decisions. That’s a small change but can have a far reaching impact.

 

Comments

  • Shirahjd

    namaste

  • Estheramma

    Inspiring. Would like to know more about Dasa’s solutions and efforts for change. -Namaste

  • Rasanath

    thank you estheramma. In short, I think we need more regulatory monitoring in the short term, but in the long term things can only function well based on trust. And that only comes from grounded character, especially in our decision makers and leaders. Which then means that character development has to be a fundamental part of family and educational training for every American. Thoughts?

  • http://www.facebook.com/akincana Akincana Krishna Dasa

    with all respect, i’m curious why you chose not to wear tilok.

  • http://www.facebook.com/akincana Akincana Krishna Dasa

    great video! with all respect, why did you choose not to wear tilok?

  • Allegra

    Really nice video. Very inspiring for those of us as young people and college students thinking about what kind of impact we want to have in the world around us, through our professional lives or personal interactions. Thanks, PBS!

  • Soybeanman1

    This is a quote from John Marks Templeton, 20th Century american financier:

    Seek out the good and your mind will fill with happiness.

  • mbee1

    All this person tells us is that he is nuts.  Having been in India and read in the Indian newspapers what Hindus were doing to people of other faiths I think we would be all better off if all these religious people would take a one way trip to Mars.

  • guest

    It is interesting to read this:….   it’s better to be a famous bad guy than a not so famous good guy.
    As a monk, my life is different – I do keep in touch with the financial markets. I think it’s an integral part of my personality.
    Wait a minute: A Monk should not desire worldly riches such as money, property, etc…
    So how can a monk keep in touch with financial markets?

    Hindus strongly believe in Law of Karma and that is true even to this day. The famous Newton’s Law ‘For every Action, there is an equal and opposite Reaction’. is based on this Law of Karma.
    As long as you have credit balance in your checking account, you can withdraw or issue checks.
    Other Religions such as Christianity and Buddhism came from Hinduism and were started by individuals or named after individuals. Siddhartha was a Hindu prince before he became Gautama’.
    He sat under the Bodh tree and gained Intelligence. That is how Buddhism came, named after Gautama Buddha.  Similarly Yeshoa or Jesus of Nazareth came to preach his religion and was crucified. After crucifixon, he became Jesus Christ and that is how Christianity followed Jesus.
    Just like Protestants who differed with Christianity, we do have Protestants for Hindus and they are Jains.
    Hinduism did not start like that.
    Nobody knows who started it and all the Natural things  and planets the Sun the Moon and the Stars were already there.
    Whatever said and done, the US Economy is still in bad shape. It may take several years for the economy to turn around. All the Real Estate Mortgage Loans Interest seem artificial and does not reflect the true pict

  • rapportdujour

    Like the first commenter, I was also struck by the fact that Rasanath keeps in touch with the financial markets, and his explanation: “I think it’s an integral part of my personality.”

    It’s liberating for me to hear that we can make major shifts in how we live and still honor the different parts of who we are. And obviously, keeping in touch with the markets allows Rasanath to join others in thinking about how they can change. Cool.