Buddhism is one of the five major world religions and at one time or another satisfied the spiritual needs of most countries in East Asia. Buddhists today number around one billion worldwide.
Buddhism made its way to the West in several waves, beginning with colonial scholars, continuing through the Beats of the fifties and the idealistic youth of the sixties, and receiving a huge push with the escape and exile of many high Tibetan lamas due to the Communist Chinese occupation of Tibet.
Buddhism, especially the Diamond Way, has received a friendly welcome in highly educated, critical Western societies, where its non-dogmatic attitude and emphasis on direct experience is a refreshing approach.
Nowadays, Buddhist methods and ideas are being investigated and applied in areas as various as neuroscience, health, and palliative care.
Interest in Buddhism as a complete spiritual path is growing. Buddhism starts with recognizing everyone's wish for happiness, develops through altruistic motivation and action, and ends with the goal of the full development of human potential.