All belief systems have been affected by globalisation. This has meant that the ideologies of various belief systems have been spread by various methods: conquest; missionary activity; mass migration; mass media and other forms of technology.
Buddhism has spread rapidly and has become popular through the promotion in the media of both its doctrines and its leaders. The Dalai Lama is an internationally respected and loved world leader and the issue of Tibet has become a very topical in many western countries with a range of celebrities promoting its cause.
Before the Second World War Buddhism was a religion known only to a few in the West and much of its practice was misunderstood. Zen Buddhism started to become popular in the United States with the "Beat" generation in the fifties. As young people began to travel in Asia it became one of a range of Eastern philosophies explored and adopted in the sixties and seventies by the "counter culture". Unlike many of those other philosophies however, its popularity has remained steady and continues to grow in many societies.
Some Christian sects, for example the Jesuits, have established strong ecumenical links with Buddhism and joint meditation retreats have been undertaken in centres like Assisi in Italy.
A series of books and films have promoted Buddhism. Increasing international travel has also brought a wider variety of people into contact with Buddhist cultures. In addition, the affluence of westerners has also allowed them to spend time pursuing Buddhist beliefs and to lead a monastic life without the need of a supporting general community.
Buddhism is able to adapt to and accommodate different cultures and because it does not evangelize or actively seek converts it is seen as non-threatening. It also sits well with non-religious belief systems and with the advances of science and technology because it accepts change and practices non-attachment to ideals or ideas or concepts.