In Asian countries, where Buddhism is much more prevalent, the philosophy is not so much a religion of the masses. It is kept alive by a monastic elite, who spread their influence by teaching and example. So, too, in America, with the difference that the equivalent class here consists of movie stars and rock musicians, who can spread their message through movies and television.From: Steven Barr, "Buddhism: time-tested tranquility" in The Gazette (campus newspaper of The University of Western Ontario), 31 March 2005, (URL: http://www.gazette.uwo.ca/article.cfm?section=Campus&articleID=118&month=3&day=31&year=2005; viewed 1 July 2005):
Richard Gere is one such celebrity. Richard Gere makes his admiration for the Dalai Lama, the Tibetan spiritual leader in exile, well known. Gere periodically retreats to Tibet to brush up on his Buddhism. While there, the actor enjoys a very different existence than he does in Hollywood. According to Gere, he has a simple room and has to share a bathroom. There is a limited supply of water and no television, air conditioning or newspapers. Self-prescribed torture? For Gere, as he explains it, this is his time to relax, to meditate, to release.
It may not be the latest religious fad in L.A., but Buddhism has certainly continued to attract celebrity practitioners unsatisfied with their own religions. From Richard Gere to Orlando Bloom, Beastie Boy Adam Yauch to Kate Bosworth, the adoption of Buddhism into celebrity culture has helped bring the Eastern religion into the Western conscience.From: Tricia Cambron, "At festival, Buddhists explore budding bond with film", 28 January 2005, in San Francisco Chronicle, on The Buddhist Channel website (http://www.buddhistchannel.tv/index.php?id=00000000012,00000000709,0,0,1,0; viewed 1 July 2005):
Celebrities like Gere, Yauch, Steven Seagal and Keanu Reeves have made their religious beliefs public...
Richard Gere is a longtime devotee... The International Buddhist Film Festival, coming to the Bay Area today through Feb. 13, is a natural extension, says San Francisco Zen Center's Michael Wenger, of the symbiotic relationship evolving between film and the way of the Buddha.
Richard Gere is one of 14 celebrity Buddhists assessed in Armstrong's article "Celebrities who are Buddhists... with an assessment of the degree Buddhism is a part of each of their careers." Richard Gere was ranked second highest on the list in terms of the proportion of web hits (google.com: 3.1%) and current news article hits (news.google.com: 1.9%) mentioning him which also contain either the word "Buddhism" or "Buddhist." From: Tom Armstrong, "Celebrities who are Buddhists... with an assessment of the degree Buddhism is a part of each of their careers", 8 March 2005 in Zen Unbound Emagazine (http://www.zenunbound.com/celebbuds.html; viewed 18 August 2005):
Let us then look at the Tinseltown moths that flitter around the white light of Buddhism. From a googling of websites that come up on a search of "Buddhist, celebrities," we found lists enabling us to amass the thirteen prime Buddhist celebrities on the chart at right. Some are cited as Buddhist leaders: Richard Gere is often in the company of the Dalai Lama and has a foundation in his name to aid Tibet and other most worthy causes; Tina Turner, if you believe Tricycle writer Jeff Wilson, has helped to bring the dharma to the South; Keanu Reeves is now working with Gere on a project to make a film in India about the Buddha's life.From: Gary Strauss, "Stars unleash their passion", published in USA Today, 4 July 2005 (http://www.usatoday.com/life/people/2005-07-04-celebs-religion_x.htm; viewed 21 November 2005):
...Gere, Seagal, Anderson, and Cohen each allow Buddhism to be a big part of their persona... Jennifer Lopez is spectacularly popular, but only recently took up an interest in Buddhism after starring in a movie recently with Richard Gere.
What happens when a Hollywood star spouts off about religion?
...Richard Gere, a politically active Tibetan Buddhist, once took advantage of his appearance on the Academy Awards telecast to make comments about Chinese repression of Tibet. It got him in hot water with the academy but appears not to have hurt his career.
From: "Religious Affiliations of Celebrities" page in "Celebrity Religion" section of "Religion Facts" website (http://www.religionfacts.com/celebrities/religions_of_celebrities.htm; viewed 20 April 2007):
Below is an index of the religious affiliations or belief systems of celebrities (both living and dead; in film, television, music, literature, academics and politics), listed in alphabetical order by last name...
Celebrity: Richard Gere
Religion/Belief: Tibetan Buddhism
Quotes, More Information, Sources:
Richard Gere has been a practicing Buddhist for decades, first in Zen and then in Tibetan Buddhism. He has frequently met with, and been taught by, the Dalai Lama. - Shambhala Sun, May 1999 [link to: http://www.shambhalasun.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=1882]