A List of famous Buddhists. This list compiles 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. Buddhism is the philosophy held or studied by every individual on this list of celebrity Buddhists.