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Famous Buddhists

Updated October 30, 2020 129.4k views50 items

There are probably a lot more famous Buddhist people than you realize. This is a list of Buddhist famous figures, featuring well-known individuals who practice or have heavily studied Buddhism. All branches of Buddhism have been included. Buddhism is a philosophy and religion based on the teachings of Siddhartha Gautama, known to most of us as "the Buddha."

Though it's found throughout the world, Buddhism is most popular in Asia, and it originated within India. There are two major branches of Buddhism, Mahayana and Theravada, the former being the most popular. The common thread among all branches of Buddhism is the concept of "dependent origination," that reality is an interwoven web of cause and effect.

Though its origins are distant, there are plenty of famous American Buddhists. Beloved Star Wars director George Lucas is Buddhist, as is Goldie Hawn and Orlando Bloom. They are far from the only celebrity Buddhist followers though. David Bowie and Steve Jobs were both known Buddhists. Tiger Woods is one of the Buddhist athletes. 

Did you know that Richard Gere studied Buddhism? Read on below to learn more about famous important people in Buddhism. 

  • David Bowie experimented with multiple religions throughout his life, including Buddhism. At one point, he was studying under Tibetan lama Chime Rinpoche. Bowie described himself as a "mid-art populist and postmodernist Buddhist surfing his way through the chaos of the late 20th century."


    • Born: 1947-01-08
    • Birthplace: Brixton, London, United Kingdom
    • Gender: Male

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  • Photo: Tinseltown / Shutterstock

    Star Wars visionary George Lucas has described himself as a "Buddhist Methodist," connecting to both the eastern philosophy as well as the religion of his childhood.


    • Born: 1944-05-14
    • Birthplace: Modesto, California, United States of America
    • Gender: Male

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  • Goldie Hawn was raised by Jewish and Presbyterian parents, but found herself drawn to Buddhism as an adult. 


    • Born: 1945-11-21
    • Birthplace: Washington, D.C., United States of America
    • Gender: Female

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  • Steve Jobs took a trip to India in 1974, which sparked a lifelong interest in Buddhism. Jobs' Buddhist principles were part of the influence behind his Apple products.


    • Born: 1955-02-24
    • Birthplace: California, United States of America
    • Gender: Male

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