Buddhism was almost entirely unknown in western countries until the 19th century. European diplomats and scholars who travelled and lived in Asia collected Buddhist texts to have them translated into English, German and French. Awareness of Buddhism arrived in the United States around the 1840’s when the first Chinese immigrants settled in the western part of the country.
Still, in general Buddhism remained poorly understood in the west until the 1960’s when the first Buddhist teachers started arriving and quickly found thousands of followers – to some degree in harmony with the Hippie movement. However curious westerners without serious study tended to view Buddhism as more of a mystic movement, rather than an encompassing spirituality involving meditation.