Pop Culture and Buddhism: A List of Famous Celebrities Who Practice Buddhism

Even though less than 1% of Americans are formally affiliated with Buddhism, there are no shortages of reports on celebrities who practice the Eastern religious tradition. It seems that these days, more and more people are following the words of Buddha, with nearly three of every four Buddhists in the United States converting from a different faith. The religion’s influence continues to spread, especially among those walking down the red carpet. Here are some notable A-listers who can be linked to Buddhism:

Tiger Woods – Recent scandal involving Tiger Woods has prompted him to talk about his involvement (or lack thereof) with Buddhism, the religion that he’s practiced since childhood from the influence of his Thai mother. He has admitted that in recent years he lost touch with his faith, but vows to return to the teachings in order to straighten out his private life. Given his superstar status, he has even received personal advice from the Dalai Lama himself.

Maddox Jolie – While mama Angelina doesn’t consider herself a Buddhist, she does say that she wants the religion to be an important part of her adopted Cambodian son’s life. Maddox has spent a lot of time in temples with monks and is actively learning about the faith with his parents’ guidance.

Phil Jackson – Also known as the Zen Master, the winningest basketball coach in NBA history uses Buddhist methods and practices both on and off the court. He even encourages his players to practice Buddhist philosophy, which many believe has contributed to his great success leading teams to championships.

Russell Simmons – Russell Simmons, co-founder of hip-hop label Def Jam and creator of the Phat Farm clothing line, is one of the few known Buddhists in the hip hop world. He has been called the “Zen of Hip Hop,” and has even written books about how both yoga and Buddhism has influenced his ways of thinking and being.

Steven Seagal – The actor and martial artist has spent a significant amount of time outside of the United States, and along the way has adopted Tibetan Buddhist beliefs. His religious affiliation has helped him become guardian and bodyguard to the only child of the 10th Panchen Lama of Tibet, an honor no other American has ever had.

Steve Jobs - The Apple CEO and icon Steve Jobs converted to Buddhism after a spiritual retreat to India in the 70’s. It is said that Jobs returned to the U.S. with a shaved head and traditional Indian clothing, and soon after went on to create the beginnings of Apple Computer.

Orlando Bloom – In 2004, Bloom became an official member of a Nichiren Buddhist association, and he has even had a hand in advocacy. The actor has helped spread the ideas of Buddhism to several former dating partners, most notably ex-girlfriend Kate Bosworth and current wife Miranda Kerr.

Goldie Hawn/Kate Hudson – Actresses Goldie Hawn and Kate Hudson have both embraced Buddhism despite their Jewish heritage. The mother and daughter duo actively promote the Eastern philosophy – Hawn through her foundation which teaches Buddhist techniques and Hudson with her boyfriends. Ex-beau Alex Rodriguez of the New York Yankees was said to be contemplating converting to Buddhism before they split.

English: This is a photo of Richard Gere taken...

English: This is a photo of Richard Gere taken from a United States Government website(usaid.gov). Here is the original image URL: http://www.usaid.gov/in/images/richard_gere2.jpg (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Uma Thurman – Often listed as a celebrity Buddhist, Uma Thurman has admitted that religion has not played a big role in her life despite her father’s heavy involvement in the religion. Robert Thurman is one of the most influential American Buddhist authors and professors who gave his daughter a Tibetan name meaning “Great Middle Way.”

Richard Gere – Actor Richard Gere has been completely open about his personal relationship with the Dalai Lama, doing several interviews about his journey as a Buddhist and his work as a human rights advocate for Tibet. He has even introduced the religion to J-Lo, who took an interest in Buddhism after working with Gere on the film “Shall We Dance?”

Other famous celebrities who are affiliated with Buddhism include Keanu Reaves, Tina Turner, Courtney Love, and martial artists Jet Li, Jackie Chan, and Bruce Lee.

Jena Hayashi is a guest blogger for My Dog Ate My Blog

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