By some accounts, the practice of Buddhism in the West has grown in recent years to rank it fourth in adherents behind Christianity, Judaism and Islam. However, it is technically not a religion.
The Dalai Lama's popularity as a spiritual leader and Thich Nhat Hanh's popularity as a teacher are two reasons Buddhism is on the rise in the West. Buddhism is a spiritual practice that does not seek to recruit followers or undertake missions to raise money to build houses of worship. Its emphasis on peacefulness, meditation, and the cultivation of personal wisdom resonates with younger generations who in large numbers have rejected the orthodoxy of their parents and grandparents. The dissolution of congregations and sale of houses of worship attest to the waning popularity of organized religions with restrictive doctrines. Meditation is a personal experience that appeals to people who may see religious rituals as empty gestures done in the view of others, possibly for the benefit of others.
Many Western practitioners of Buddhism are attracted to the idea of personal enlightenment and rationalism instead of worship of something external and supernatural. It could be because there is increased distrust of authority and more of a desire to find meaning from within rather than without.