Saturday, 04 January 2014 02:40

10 Hollywood celebrities interested in Buddhism

Written by Nirvana Desk

“Buddhism is one of the world’s oldest religions, originating around 500 BC in India. It offers a spiritual journey that focuses on personal spiritual development and the attainment of a deep insight into the true nature of life,” Steven Barr writes in his article based on Buddhism in western society, Hollywood. The allure of “insight into the true nature of life,” may have many in the West turning to it for guidance, either in combination with their western religion or entirely in its place. It was not until the second half of the twentieth century that Buddhist ideas reached a wider section of the American society. American servicemen returning from East Asia after the Second World War and Korean War, brought with them an interest in Asian culture which included Nichiren Shoshu and Zen Buddhism. As the population of new practitioners grew in the West there is also an increase in westerners raised with the practice of this Eastern religious philosophy. Buddhism is one of the fastest growing religions in our country.

It is considered a “moral philosophy,” and this could be the draw that is has on western society. There is no form of redemption, heavenly hope, or final judgement; one lives within the circle of Karma where your deed reflects the world you live. In Buddhism, karma specifically refers to actions of body, speech, and mind that spring from mental intent and bring about a consequence or fruit, or result.

According to cultural theorist and staff writer from Unbound Magazine at the College of New Jersey Anna Argasinski, “Buddhism may be alluring to celebrities because it confronts egotism and challenges the notion of individuality. It is also firmly bound in the disciplines of the imagination, so celebrities interested in exploring their creativity may find Buddhism more appealing than the traditional Western forms of religion.”

These are celebrities who practice buddhism or incorporate it into their religious practices.

1. Angelina Jolie


One of the most beautiful women in the world, Angelina Jolie’s views on Buddhism are more centered around her son Maddox than anything else. A Cambodian orphan, Maddox Chivan found a new family in Brangelina – and Jolie regards Buddhism an important part of his heritage. Shortly after she adopted him, she got a tattoo in Khmer script which is a Buddhist prayer. Though she does not necessarily believe in a god, Buddhism is an important part of her household.

2. Brad Pitt


This is where Brad Pitt also comes in. He and Jolie have been seen frequenting Buddhist temples – all for their adopted Cambodian child Maddox. The couple ensures Maddox gets his Buddhist lessons regularly.

3. Kate Hudson


Although raised in her maternal grandmother’s Jewish religion, ‘The Reluctant Fundamentalist’ star has embraced the various teachings of Buddhism. And the Buddhist influence in her life has been her mother Goldie Hawn. While Hudson describes herself as spiritual, her mother has taught her to look at life as lessons to be learned: how everyone experiences love and disappointment, laughter and pain.

4. Orlando Bloom


‘The Lord of the Rings’ star Orlando Bloom embraced Buddhism early in life and in 2004, he became a full member of Soka Gakkai International, a lay Buddhist association affiliated with the teachings of Nichiren. When he was dating actress Kate Bosworth, also a Buddhist, they had built a Buddhist altar at his London home – and were also planning to build a retreat at Malibu, California.

5. Sharon Stone


‘Basic Instinct’ star Sharon Stone has also converted to Tibetan Buddhism. Self-confessed and religious, she openly believes in God and is an ordained minister with the Universal Life Church. In the 1990s, she was a member of the Church of Scientology, until fellow actor Richard Gere introduced her to the Dalai Lama.

6. Richard Gere


No prizes for guessing that the next celeb on our list is Richard Gere. He first studied Zen Buddhism under Kyozan Joshu Sasaki. His interest in Buddhism grew when he traveled to Nepal when he was 29 and later met the Dalai Lama in India. An active supporter of the Dalai Lama, Gere is a practicing Buddhist. Gere visits Dharamsala, the headquarters of the Tibetan government-in-exile, regularly.

7. Sarah Jessica Parker


The obvious reason why people, especially celebs are drawn to Buddhism is for its simple philosophy and focus on spirituality – and Jewish-raised Sarah Jessica Parker has apparently also gone the spiritual way. She had made many headlines for being a Jew-Bu – a term used for people who combine Buddhist philosophy with Hebrew teachings.

8. Steven Seagal


The ‘Under Siege’ star is another Hollywood celeb interested in Buddhism. Tibetan lama Penor Rinpoche had even announced that Seagal was a tulku (incarnate lama). This went on to arouse controversy in the American Buddhist community, and it was suggested that Seagal bought his Buddhahood by donations to Penor’s Buddhist center. Seagal, in an interview later, was quoted as saying, “I was born very different, clairvoyant and a healer.”

9. Uma Thurman


‘Kill Bill’ heroine Uma Thurman was brought up a Buddhist by her dad – although she now calls herself an agnostic. In fact, her father was the first westerner to be ordained as a Tibetan Buddhist monk. Uma’s name is derived from the Tibetan name ‘Dbuma Chenpo’ (the ‘db’ is silent) – meaning, ‘the great middle way’. She has been quoted as saying, “it’s more my religion than any other because I was brought up with it in an intellectual and spiritual environment”

10. Keanu Reeves


Although he is rumored to be a Buddhist, it is not so. This is in spite of the fact that he has himself cited an intense interest in the teachings of the religion. One of the reasons for the misconception is probably his role as Gautama Buddha before his enlightenment in the 1993 movie, ‘Little Buddha’.After Kabbalah, Scientology, Vedic and Christiani

ty, Tibetan Buddhism is the one of most fashionable Hollywood religions. Among the latest of those enchanted with this Eastern philosophy is ‘Iron Man’ star Robert Downey Jr., a Jew-Bu of sorts.

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Source: The Buddhist Vision