Rasanath Das joined BofA in 2006, working in “technology, media and telecoms,” reports Reuters. A longtime adherent of karma yoga, he moved into a monastery in New York’s East Village in 2007, using his paychecks to help keep the monastery going.As his personal life grew more ascetic, Das became disillusioned with banking. An assignment to work M&A for Playboy magazine was the final straw, and in 2008 he quit finance altogether.
“One Bank of America manager praised his courage and another said he was making the worst mistake of his life,” reports Reuters.
Recently he has been “leading Occupy Wall Street protesters in meditation.” But he primarily sees himself as a “corporate chaplain.”
“‘It was only after joining the monastery that I began to understand the prison of Wall Street,’ he said. ‘I didn’t hate those people but I began to understand what drives them and how much shallowness and suffering is there inside.’
Das has left Wall Street but not the financial industry. Part of his new work is speaking at corporate retreats about leadership and self-awareness to help managers get beyond the greed he sees driving the financial industry.
After a local newspaper recently profiled him, two high-flyers from the investment bank Goldman Sachs visited him at the monastery to discuss the financial crisis. ‘They’re coming back again soon,’ he said.”
Das’ work at Bank of America included mortgage-backed securities. He told Reuters that he couldn’t comprehend MBS no matter how much he learned about the sector—rare honesty about the complex securities. In 2007, a higher-up at Bank of America described the collapsing global economy as a game of musical chairs: “When the music stops, the person or bank that has the assets sitting on his books loses.”
Das isn’t the only unexpected character—or spiritual leader—to show up at Occupy Wall Street. Check out our slideshow of the most surprising people to visit the protests.
And don’t count out meditation’s value for investing. Ray Dalio says it’s the biggest secret to his success.