Saturday, 20 November 2010

The First Western Buddhist

"The best religion is nothing but the truth."

Buddhism in the west is a very recent phenomenon and the honour of being the first well known westerner to convert to Buddhism was a member of the American military,journalist,lawyer and co-founder of the Theosophical Society. His name was Colonel Henry Steel Olcott and he was born in Orange,New jersey in 1832.

As co-founder along with Madame Blavatsky they founded the Theosophical Society which is still going strong today and the launched it to advance the understanding of spiritual principles and the search for truth.

They arrived in Colombo,Sri Lanka in May 1880 and both took the 5 precepts at the Wijayananda Temple in Galle on May 19, 1880.

So important is this event believed to be in the westernization of Buddhism that the Sri Lankan government still honour his memory to this day and a statue was built to him outside Colombo's main railway station. He also created the multicoloured Buddhist flag. He died on February 17th 1907.

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