A casino may seem a strange place for a Buddhist epiphany.

But for David Everard now known as the Venerable Kelsang Lodro, a teacher of Kadampa Buddhism at the Heruka Buddhist Centre in Woodstock Road, Golders Green the time he spent as a croupier was instrumental in his journey of spiritual enlightenment.

"It was about 15 years ago, when I was 32. I was a croupier and a gaming inspector in casinos. Obviously when you come into contact with the incredibly rich, you soon realise money doesn't bring happiness some of the most miserable people in the world are very rich," he said.

"When you see someone spend more money in a couple of hours than you will ever have in your entire life, then it raises quite a fundamental question.

"I just asked myself am I happy? And I wasn't, but you get trapped. I realised if I went into work the next day and my boss tripled my salary, I still wouldn't be happy."

Mr Lodro returned last Friday (April 25) from an international festival of buddhism in Toronto to begin a residency in Golders Green. His head is shaven and he wears a yellow and maroon robe. The room in the Buddhist Centre is almost completely empty apart from a shrine at one end.

Yet he was not looking for anything religious when he came across Buddhism in Yorkshire. So is he happy now?

"I am definitely far more happy than I ever have been no doubt about it. Everyone can accomplish basic happiness because it comes from within the mind you can't buy it," he said.

In the story of the Buddha's life, the young Buddha walks out on his wife, baby and the pleasure palace he has been living in, and wanders off to learn more about the world.

"These days I would never advise anyone to do that. A lot of people probably do want to walk away from their family and children, probably for the wrong reasons. If you have a family and children, it is probably the best opportunity to practice patience and love," said Mr Lodro.

"A lot of people want to run away to a mountain top and become nice and patient. But put them back in the middle of London, and they are often a mess."

And like material wealth, simply being surrounded by tranquil scenery will not itself bring fulfilment.

"I was in Sydney recently where there is some of the most beautiful scenery in the whole world and yet people there are still pretty unhappy," said Mr Lodro.

His main occupation now, aside from teaching, is setting up new centres, with the aim to set up a centre in every city to promote world peace.

"I like to borrow a slogan from Greenpeace: think globally but act locally. We can help other people and if we show that, through our family and neighbours, life would begin to improve for everyone."

Meditation classes are on Monday evenings at 7.30pm. For information, call Ai Peng on 020 8455 7563.