My name is Paul Beard and I am the Dharma Director for the Dharmadatu Buddhist Order and Sangha. I was born in 1954 to traditional working class parents in East London. I dropped out of the formal education system at the age of 14 to pursue a passion for music & theatre. I worked as a police officer in London for 30 years. As a result of a series of close encounters with the fragility of my own mortality, I took up formal meditation practice in 1978. In 1980 during a six hour period of meditation there was a realization experience which changed the way things were understood. What followed became an on-going actualization process that has been supported and encouraged by training and working within all of the main traditions of Buddhism.
By 2005 the conclusion had been reached that the Buddha-Dharma had become yet another institutionalized religion and as a result it could only offer limited benefit to those whose conditioning factors were as a result of being born, educated and living within a Westernized culture. It made sense therefore to drop the traditional, institutional and dogmatic aspects of religious Buddhism and try to communicate the Dharma from a Western secular perspective to those who are intent on the realization of clarity and peace of mind.
In January 2006 this approach began to be introduced to a Western Australian audience. The Sangha that developed as a result, continues to grow and has provided support and a real opportunity to deepen practice for those who engage with it. Coming into contact with the Dharma in 1980 literally saved my life and has resulted in great joy and freedom. It is impossible to express in words the depth of gratitude I have for all of those who have supported this on-going journey where I now have the opportunity to witness others growing, by their own efforts along the Dharma path.
My birth name is Craig. I was born in Elizabeth Vale, South Australia. My father was in the army and moved my mother, little brother and myself to Perth when I was four years old and I have been here ever since. I have a wife and two beautiful children all of which provide both joy and challenges! My work also proves challenging as it has taken me away from home over the years, sometimes for over a month at a time. As time went on the stress of both work and family life began to stack up and I found myself in a very dark place. Couple this with years of drug and alcohol use I was in a very fragile state indeed! So I began researching various new age ideologies and like a lot of ‘seekers’ eventually came across Buddhism. It seemed like a subject worth exploring so I began looking into it and found the Dharmadatu Sangha operating out of a room adjoining our local yoga studio here in Mandurah. After a few emails between Paul Beard and myself I mustered the motivation and courage to go down and have a look. What I found was a serene learning environment for both meditation and the Dharma, all presented by an experienced teacher in a western context. This was a couple of years ago now and although there are still bumps in the road, the Dharma has provided me with a sense of ‘home’, especially when times get tough. My practice is a work in progress and is constantly tested by both my own actions and outside entities. Meditation has helped me immensely to clear away negativity and gain clarity in my day to day life. I am and will be forever grateful for the support offered by the sangha and the Dharma path set out by the Buddha all those years ago.