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):
For Adam Yauch, front-man for the rap group the Beastie Boys, Buddhism become a way to combine traditional religion with an eastern way of thought. The 27-year-old Jewish-born rapper wants to maintain his Jewish traditions and calls the conversion spiritual, rather than religious. Yauch, who was formerly known more for his sneering sarcasm than his religious preferences, returned from a 1993 trip to the Himalayas with an interest in Tibetan Tantric Buddhism. The two other members of the Beastie Boys, Michael Diamond and Adam Horovitz, have accepted his conversion.
The Beastie Boys have even donated proceeds from two songs on Ill Communication to a Tibetan relief organization established by the group. Their latest project is the Bodhisattva Vow, a rap tribute to the austere virtues of the Buddha Way.
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... Furthermore, Argasinski noted, "potential adherents are not required to undergo a religious conversion to study and benefit from Buddhist teachings." Case in point is Adam Yauch of the Beastie Boys, who has maintained his Jewish traditions but calls his conversion spiritual, rather than religious.
Adam Yauch 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." Adam Yauch was ranked first, with the highest proportion of web hits (google.com: 4.2%) and current news article hits (news.google.com: 15.8%) mentioning him also containing 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):
Adam Yauch was complicated to assess because he is known as both Adam Yauch and as MCA of the Beasties. To get to the data we wanted, we assessed 'Adam Yauch' and 'MCA, Beasties' separately, and then subtracted the overlap... Adam Yauch organized a concert for Tibet and for someone in his profession (a rapper) his religion is deliciously interesting.