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Famous Buddhists

Thursday, 27 August 2009

famous buddhistsFor the Hollywood celebrities, the choice of religion is as critical as the choice of a new role. They are guided by considerations of their personal philosophy or by trends - Kabbalah spread in Hollywood thanks to Madonna, while Scientology was made popular mainly by Tom Cruise. Buddhists stand apart in this «vanity fair of beliefs» as they are rather low-key in expressing their religious views. Many stars, including Steven Segal, Orlando Bloom, and Tina Turner, confidently declare that Buddhism has changed their lives for the better.

A Hollywood blockbusters star, Steven Segal, in 1997 surprised the fans of martial arts by confessing his obsession with Buddhism. This sensational statement soon received most creditable confirmation: the Tibetan Lama recognized the actor as tulku - in Tibetan Buddhism a person who has achieved a high level of spiritual development. As it turned out, Seagal is a Buddhist and went to an Asian country as a teen to learn Buddhism, acupuncture and martial arts from Tibetan Buddhist monks, who left China and sought refuge in Japan. Not only is he a 7th degree black belt and Aikido master, he is a Zen teacher and healer.

The star of «Pirates of the Caribbean» and «The Lord of the Rings» Orlando Bloom turned to Buddhism for very good reasons - the actor claims that «the philosophy of Buddhism is one of the ways to find harmony». In 2007, Bloom even said that he was thinking of leaving the film industry to «take a break» and engage in spiritual self-improvement: «The philosophy that I've embraced isn't about sitting under a tree and meditating, it's about studying what is going on in my daily life and using that as fuel to go and live a bigger life», Bloom said.

Kate Bosworth is another celebrity who started practicing Buddhism because her then-boyfriend, Orlando Bloom, was into Nichiren Buddhism. Despite the break-up that followed soon, Bosworth didn't give Buddhism up. Bosworth's affair with the Buddhadharma really seems to mean something: «It's just a really incredible state of mind. It's basically about constantly growing and making yourself a better person and focusing on what you want for yourself and the world and really putting it out there».

Richard Gere is one the most well-known and devout Hollywood Buddhists. Moreover, he is a friend of Dalai Lama. Gere is a passionate advocate for human rights in Tibet; he is a co-founder of the Tibet House, creator of The Gere Foundation, and he is Chairman of the Board of Directors for the International Campaign for Tibet. Because of his support for the Tibetan cause he's banned from the People's Republic of China - and he's also banned as an Academy Award presenter because of using the podium to denounce the Chinese government. Born into a Christian family, Gere says that he has no idea where his inclination towards Buddhism comes from, and explains its rise to new faith by karma. Gere scores high marks for sincerity of practice, and meditates daily. «It helps me set my motivation for the day», he says.

As a majority of Hollywood celebrities who practice a religion, Tina Turner used Buddhism mostly to solve her personal issues. As shown in the biopic What's Love Got to Do With It, it was Turner's Buddhist practice that gave her the strength to leave her abusive marriage to Ike Turner, who abused drugs and often resorted to battering, in the 70's, which in turn made her an icon for abused women everywhere. Tina Turner has been practicing Buddhism for more than thirty years, guided by the principles of religion in most matters. Turner is open about her passion for Buddhism - she talked about it on Larry King' show, and even sang some Buddhist hymns live. Commenting on her religious beliefs, Turner said: «I had to teach myself because I didn't have the freedom to go to actually go to meetings or for people to come to me ... and it changed my life».

Inessa Hyder 

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Lizzie  - More on Chanting   |2010-05-29 06:51:27
Jamás me hubiera imaginado lo de Steven Segal.
Narong Sripetch  - Business owner   |2010-11-09 20:37:22
I would like to know how many famous stars a turned to be Buddhist now?
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