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date: 24 March 2017

Buddhism in America

Summary and Keywords

Buddhist history in the United States traces to the mid-19th century, when early scholars and spiritual pioneers first introduced the subject to Americans, followed soon by the arrival of Chinese immigrants to the West Coast. Interest in Buddhism was significant during the late Victorian era, but practice was almost completely confined to Asian immigrants, who faced severe white prejudice and legal discrimination. The Japanese were the first to establish robust, long-lasting temple networks, though they, too, faced persecution, culminating in the 1942 incarceration of 120,000 Japanese Americans, a severe blow to American Buddhism. Outside the Japanese American community, Buddhism grew slowly in the earlier decades of the 20th century, but it began to take off in the 1960s, aided soon by the lifting of onerous immigration laws and the return of large-scale Asian immigration. By the end of the 20th century American Buddhism had become extremely diverse and complex, with clear evidence of permanence in Asian American and other communities.

Keywords: Buddhism, Asian American, Zen, Buddhist Churches of America, temples

The story of Buddhism in the United States is one both familiar and strange. There are many points of intersection with the narratives of other religious traditions that have struggled to find a place for themselves in the New World. As with Christianity, Judaism, Islam, and other imported religions, Buddhists had to organize new communities, deal with challenges provoked by unfamiliar social and political circumstances, attract newcomers and retain practitioners, handle conflict with other sects and religions, and adapt to rapid innovations in transportation, communication, and other technologies. Yet there are also aspects of Buddhism’s history in America that are less commonly shared or even unique. Examples include the stigma produced by being non-monotheistic and based in non-European culture, marginalizing racial and colonial attitudes toward Buddhism’s mainly Asian population, and in later decades the appropriation of many Buddhist practices, concepts, terms, and other elements by the non-Buddhist wider American culture, often for purposes or with meanings radically different from those intended in their original contexts. As such, Buddhism presents a particularly rich site for examining how religions have unfolded in the diverse and competitive American landscape.

Buddhism’s history in America is difficult to tell concisely, because “Buddhism” is a broad concept that encompasses an enormous variety of religious traditions from many parts of Asia, sometimes with minimal overlap with one another. What they do share is a common practice of tracing their traditions back through the teachings of the 5th-century bce Indian monk known as Siddhartha Gautama, called “Buddha” (meaning “awakened one”) by his followers. Buddhist cosmology envisions an endless cycle of lives as beings are born in various temporary states (heavens, hells, animals, humans, and so on) dependent on their actions in their current and previous lifetimes. Various deities, buddhas, and other spiritual beings exist to provide assistance with mundane and spiritual matters, but ultimately final liberation from suffering is achieved by attaining the state of awakening to reality for oneself.

Developments and disagreements over how to best practice Buddhism gave rise to many streams of practice, philosophy, and organization in Asian history, with forms of the modern age falling more or less into four general categories: Theravada Buddhism, the dominant form in Southeast Asia and Sri Lanka; Mahayana Buddhism, the primary form in East Asia and Vietnam; Vajrayana Buddhism, practiced throughout the Tibetan-Mongolian culture area; and, finally, groups—mostly products of recent centuries and often heterogeneous in nature—that do not fit well into any one of these types. Buddhism as a total phenomenon lacks even the most minimal form of centralization or formal connection between the hundreds of lineages and denominations clustered under these four types, and thus Buddhist history in America is less the story of how a single major religion entered the United States as it is thousands of separate (only sometimes) interconnected, stories of how disparate groups and individuals each in their own time confronted and dealt with the challenges and opportunities mentioned here. Yet because there are common patterns that emerge from these many specific encounters, a general (if abstract) history of Buddhism in America can be attempted.

Buddhist Beginnings

Transnational American trade networks and political ties in the colonial and early republican period resulted in fragmentary information, art, and occasional sailors, merchants, and similar voyagers from Buddhist cultures reaching North America. But Asia was an afterthought—if a thought at all—for most Americans and was viewed simply as a trade opportunity or, especially in later decades, a potential mission field for Christianity. The concept of “Buddhism” as a large, self-coherent form of organized religion was not yet available. This began to shift in the 1840s owing to developments on both the domestic and international levels, particularly in the port cities of New England, with their robust global trade and scholarly networks. Two often overlapping groups were key to the initial emergence of interest in Buddhism: on the one hand, religious and literary progressives, stimulated in part by the European Romantic movement, who sought inspiration in various non-Christian cultures, and, on the other hand, the first generation of American Orientalist scholars, heavily influenced by the growth of Buddhist Studies in Europe. These can each be represented by milestones achieved in 1844. Elizabeth Palmer Peabody, under the editorship of Henry David Thoreau, translated a portion of the Lotus Sutra from French and published it in the Transcendentalist journal The Dial, the first time that a Buddhist scripture was rendered into English. And on May 28 of that same year, Edward Elbridge Salisbury, following pioneering work performed by the French scholar Eugene Burnouf, read his groundbreaking essay “Memoir on the History of Buddhism” at the first annual meeting of the American Oriental Society.1

If Buddhism’s history in America begins haltingly with small steps taken among Euro-American elites on the East Coast, it was soon joined by a second, even more significant development far away on the Pacific Coast. In 1848 gold was discovered in California, and soon the gold rush brought a massive influx of fortune seekers, workers, and new residents to America’s western territories. Prominent among them were the Chinese, the first immigrant population from an Asian society. They carried with them a heterogeneous religious culture that included Mahayana Buddhist, Confucian, and Daoist elements, often observed by the same person or group without significant sectarian differentiation. In the coming decades temples and shrines would appear all along the West Coast and into the western interior wherever the Chinese traveled in search of wages.2

Life for America’s first Buddhists was neither easy nor very pleasant. Marked by two unacceptable forms of “otherness,” the Chinese were racially and religiously excluded from aspects of American life controlled by Euro-Americans. Forced by white racism to live in ethnic ghettoes without adequate access to police, education, political representation, and other basic civic elements, the Chinese formed voluntary associations for their own protection and uplift. Buddhism provided one locus of community organization, especially as a source of supernatural blessings for laborers working difficult and often dangerous jobs in mines, laundries, railroads, and other exploitative businesses as well as communal support for the religiously based ritual and familial obligations arising from the inevitable deaths experienced by this population. It is within this context of external social exclusion and internal mobilization and organization that the first temples appeared, founded in San Francisco’s Chinatown in approximately 1852 or 1853 by mutual aid societies. The following year, the community’s marginality was underscored by the California Supreme Court’s decision that Chinese people in America had no real rights, including no ability to serve as witnesses in court, owing to insurmountable racial and cultural inferiority.3

Meanwhile, interest in Buddhism beyond the immigrant Asian population continued to slowly build. Christian missionary accounts sent from Asia, philologically based research by European scholars, and the search for authenticity by a rising class of American spiritual seekers were the primary engines of this growth. Often, the treatment of Buddhism was primarily a further battleground in contests over authority and meaning already playing in more mainstream sectors of American society, especially Christianity. Conservative and evangelically oriented Christians discovered in the ritualism and supposed stagnation of Buddhism further proof that their religion was not only superior but, indeed, triumphant; those who sought alternative spiritual comfort or esoteric knowledge proclaimed Buddhism to be a powerful source of mysticism; while rationalists (religious and otherwise) turned off by dogmatism or extremism portrayed the Buddha as a scientist and his teachings as a reasonable philosophy.4

Already at this early stage, the transnational reality of American Buddhism was clearly apparent. Many significant developments took place in Asia and resulted in subsequent expansions of Buddhist possibilities back in the United States. A prominent example during this period was the “conversion” of Helena Blavatsky and Henry Steel Olcott. Blavatsky and Olcott were founders of the Theosophical Society, a new religious movement that mixed Spiritualism and Western Esotericism with generous helpings of Hindu, Buddhist, and other non-Western traditions. In 1880 they left the United States for India, and on a trip to Ceylon they publicly took refuge in the Buddhist tradition and its five basic ethical precepts. Their degree of commitment to Buddhism may be questioned, but Olcott, at least, spent much of his remaining life advocating for Buddhism while also attempting to reform it along patterns similar to Western liberal Protestantism and Enlightenment thought. Through the international networks established by the Theosophists and their fellow travelers, ever more information about Buddhism flowed to the United States. In a similar fashion, the prominent intellectuals Ernest Fenollosa and William Sturgis Bigelow took Tendai Buddhist precepts and studied Shingon Buddhist meditation in Japan beginning in 1885—their return to the Boston area subsequently provided a major stimulus to interest in Buddhist art and philosophy.5

After the Chinese, the Japanese were the next significantly Buddhist group to reach areas that would become part of the United States. A handful arrived as early as 1868, but emigration to the Kingdom of Hawaii was banned by the Japanese government the following year, remaining in place until 1885. With the reversal, significant numbers of Japanese men left to serve as manual labor on American-run sugar cane plantations. Like the Chinese in California, they encountered dangerous, unfair working conditions and social exclusion. Life was rough, and while nearly all Japanese were at least nominally Buddhist, religion was not strongly noted among the Japanese laborers at first.6

Meanwhile, on the American mainland increasing white resentment of the Chinese brought about ever-more official discrimination, and in 1882 Congress passed the Chinese Exclusion Act, cutting off nearly all Chinese immigration. The Japanese were soon seen as a replacement source of cheap labor and began arriving on the West Coast. Buddhist denominations in Japan were alerted to the difficult living conditions and lack of religious access by the men working in Hawaii and the potential that large clusters of Japanese would soon need ministry in California as well. Japan’s largest Buddhist denomination, the Jodo Shinshu Honpa Honganji sect of Pure Land Buddhism, began to conduct fact-finding missions, and missionaries argued that greater religious observance among the Japanese would curb undesirable behavior and make them better workers. The result was the founding of the Honpa Hongwanji Mission of Hawaii and first Jodo Shinshu temple in Hilo in 1889, the first Jodo Shinshu temple in San Francisco in 1898, and the Buddhist Mission of North America (also in San Francisco) in 1899.7

These Japanese institutions differed from the Chinese shrines in significant ways that assisted their long-term viability. The Chinese had produced hundreds of shrines, but most were short-lived, assembled and run by often transient laymen, without trained monastic leadership or strong support by parent organizations in Asia. Frequently, they were a room or set of rooms in a preexisting institution such as a mutual support society, boarding house, or private residence and thus were in some ways an adjunct to the primary purpose of their affiliated institution. They thus had little ability to weather the ever-deteriorating environment in which Chinese Americans were forced to pursue their lives. The Japanese temples and their umbrella organizations persisted, by contrast, in part owing to the greater cohesion resulting from Japanese Buddhism’s higher degree of sectarianism; their reliance on trained missionary ministers; their support by large, relatively wealthy parent denominations in Japan; and their fundamentally religious nature. While religious activities often took place at Chinese community centers, for the Japanese the equation was fruitfully reversed: founded and run as temples, the member congregations of the Buddhist Mission of North America and similar organizations drew the greater Japanese American community together while allowing cultural activities to take place at the temples, rather than having religion be merely one of numerous sponsored activities.8

The various forces at work in the initial establishment of Buddhism in America—trans-Pacific economic and political entanglements, East Asian migration, global Christian expansion, and the intriguing possibility that Asian cultures held spiritual resources for modern ills—came together in the defining event of the early period’s history: the 1893 World’s Parliament of Religions, held in conjunction with the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago. A gathering of representatives from many denominations and countries, the event was dominated by Christians but included a relatively impressive showing by Buddhist leaders, especially from Japan. Buddhists seized the opportunity to present their own views and voices to Americans, rather than following the usual pattern of non-Asians and non-Buddhists arguing among themselves as to what Buddhism was and how it should be treated. Audiences at the World’s Parliament were reportedly fascinated by confident, English-speaking monks who argued forcefully for the integrity of their religions and cultures.9

In the immediate aftermath of the Parliament, Buddhist speakers embarked on lecture tours of the United States, converted curious white Americans, and strengthened transnational ties among Buddhists and sympathizers within and beyond the United States. Perhaps most impactful was the relationship established between Japanese Rinzai Zen monk Shaku Sōen and German American author Paul Carus, who lived near Chicago and attended the World Parliament. A religious rationalist with a deep interest in Buddhism, Carus was the editor of the Open Court Press and its two progressive religious journals, Open Court and The Monist. Through these venues Carus frequently published material authored by himself, Shaku, and others who pushed back at negative depictions of Buddhism and sought to present Buddhism as the most scientific and enlightened of religions. Shaku sent his disciple Suzuki Daisetsu Teitaro (known in American as D. T. Suzuki) to work with Carus in 1897, leading to a highly productive partnership that lasted eleven years and laid the groundwork for the eventual boom of interest experienced by Zen Buddhism in the 20th century.10

Japanese American Buddhism during the Years of Trouble

American Buddhism in the 20th century can be divided productively into three time periods: 1901–1945, 1946–1968, and 1969–2000. During the first of these three periods, Buddhism in America was dominated by the activities of the Japanese immigrants, their descendants, missionaries with Japanese connections, and sympathizers in the Euro-American population. The experiences of these American Buddhists were significantly determined by white nativist racism, the vagaries of U.S.-Japan relations, and Japanese Buddhist institutionalism. Chinese American Buddhists also remained, though the immigration ban and hostile environment meant that their growth was sluggish and their institutions fared poorly; small numbers of Korean Buddhists and other Asians also found homes in Hawaii and the United States, rarely with any public religious presence.

Japanese American Buddhism in the first half of the 20th century can be broken into three phenomena: the Jodo Shinshu temples of the Honpa Honganji sect, the activities of other sects, and tentative efforts to transmit Japanese Buddhism to non-Japanese. The Honpa Honganji dominated the landscape for three primary reasons: it was one of the largest Buddhist sects in Japan, many Japanese emigrated from regions that were traditional strongholds of the sect, and sect leaders committed institutional resources, including personnel and funds, to missionize the Japanese in the West. This form of Buddhism centered on the teachings of the 13th-century monk Shinran, who taught reliance on Amida Buddha to the masses and whose direct lineal descendants formed the spiritual headship of the sect. As such, it was not dissimilar in some ways to the Chinese forms of popular Buddhist piety observed in the western states, but it contrasted sharply with the academic picture of Buddhism among elite Euro-American circles, which was drawn from Indian texts, often with Theravada Buddhism connections. This living Mahayana Buddhism challenged the fragile consensus of what Buddhism was, repulsing some but ultimately expanding the American understanding of Buddhism’s diversity and complexity.

With the steady arrival of large numbers of Japanese, racial resentment by Euro-Americans increased and eventually resulted in efforts to restrict Japanese immigration and limit Japanese immigrants’ rights and privileges, just as the Chinese had experienced. The 1907 Gentlemen’s Agreement effectively cut off large-scale male labor immigration, seriously reducing the number of Buddhist immigrants, but also had a secondary effect that was salutary in some ways to the development of settled Buddhist communities. Since Japanese women could still come to America, an era of picture bride weddings soon arose. This influx of women into the Japanese American community resulted in the rise of American Buddhist families and second-generation American Buddhists. Denied ready access to many sectors of American culture for racial, national, and religious reasons, Japanese Americans turned to the temples—the large majority associated with the Honpa Honganji sect—as their primary community centers. Temples developed Japanese schools, provided organizing and socializing opportunities for women and men, attempted to instill Buddhism in the new generation, encouraged traditional Japanese arts and crafts, and assisted in many ways with the transition from Japanese to American society.11

Buddhism in AmericaClick to view larger

Fig. 1: At the Berkeley Buddhist Temple in California, a devotee offers incense before the statue of Amida Buddha (2011).

Courtesy of Jeff Wilson.

Differences between Japan and the United States soon resulted in innovations in Japanese American Buddhism. For instance, temples in Japan were run primarily by the minister and were passed down as property through his family, with more or less stable congregations based in centuries of legally required temple membership. In the United States, however, differing laws and social circumstances resulted in temples owned and run by boards of elected lay directors, who negotiated the hiring (and firing) of ministers with their region’s overseer. In practice, ministers retained substantial authority and responsibility, but there was much greater power sharing than seen in Japan and a need for ministers to attract and retain Japanese American members to recently built institutions, rather than reliance on age-old relationships. These factors facilitated a shift in the delivery of programs and teaching of Buddhism that ever more heavily favored the needs and opinions of lay members. Temple organization expanded rapidly: by 1920 there were approximately sixty temples and branch groups in Hawaii and nearly forty temples with many branch temples on the continent.12

While the Honpa Honganji had the head start and strong numbers, other forms of sectarian Japanese Buddhism also made their way across the Pacific. Often, temples from newly arrived traditions would initially appear in Hawaii, followed by a lag of several years to decades before they also developed on the North American continent (invariably, in California first). The Jodo Shu school of Pure Land Buddhism opened its first Hawaiian temple in 1894, the Nichiren Shu debuted theirs in 1899, the first Soto Zen temple appeared in 1903, and the first Shingon Shu temple formed in 1914. These sects sometimes competed for members with the Honpa Honganji, but the presence of Honpa Honganji temples also provided opportunities. Several times, when disputes arose within Honpa Honganji temples, their rival sister sect, Jodo Shinshu Otani, managed to pull away schismatic members to found their own temples in America. In general, the common experiences of cultural displacement, racial discrimination, and shared ethnicity and religion kept intersectarian disputes to a minimum. These temples developed along lines similar to those of the Honpa Honganji ones, with gradual laicization, Japanese language schools, and family orientations.13

White nativists often perceived the Japanese temples and their language schools as foreign, unassimilable enclaves, but efforts were nonetheless made to reach out beyond the borders of the Japanese American community. As early as 1900 the Buddhist Mission of North America established an English-language study group—the Dharma Sangha of Buddha—aimed at non-Asian Americans and in 1901 began publishing The Light of Dharma, an English-language journal. Shaku Sōen returned to the United States for a trip in 1905–1906 and taught Zen meditation to interested Americans. As information about Buddhism was still difficult to come by, non-Asians interested in Buddhism often drew from a variety of different sources, including multiple Buddhist traditions, Theosophy, influences from Transcendentalism, and more. Sectarian purity was not a great concern, and most Buddhisms practiced by non-Asians were hybrid in nature, with information more likely to come from reading than from encounters with living Buddhists.14

Japanese American Buddhism was dealt a significant setback with the passage of the Immigration Act of 1924, which banned all Asian immigration. The results varied. On the one hand, the single greatest source of temple growth was now cut off, but, on the other hand, the hostile American environment pushed larger numbers of people into the temples for support and comfort. Increase now came entirely from American-born, English-speaking persons (Japanese American primarily but also some Euro-Americans), shifting the makeup and therefore the power networks over time from Asian-born Japanese speakers to younger Buddhists who saw themselves as fully American and wished the same for their religious communities. English-language outreach efforts to Euro-Americans increased in the 1920s and 1930s and were often now led by Buddhist converts affiliated with some particular Japanese American temple or parent organization. For example, the Honpa Honganji Mission of Hawaii bishop Imamura Yemyo ordained Ernest and Dorothy Hunt in 1924 and put them in charge of the mission’s English department. They composed scores of hymns (many still in use today), compiled service books, lectured, and presided over or assisted with the ordination of more Euro-Americans in the Honganji tradition. Ernest Hunt also held ordination in the Theravada tradition, and after Imamura’s more nationalistic replacement fired the Hunts in 1935, he eventually received transmission in the Soto Zen school—a prime example of the eclecticism of this period. We see it also in the 1932 publication of A Buddhist Bible by Dwight Goddard, a highly influential early text cobbled together from disparate Buddhist and non-Buddhist sources. Goddard also tried to establish an American order of Buddhist monks but found little sustained interest in his project from other converts.15

The steady rise of anti-Asian discrimination over nearly a century finally reached its zenith in the wake of the December 8, 1941, Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in Hawaii. A spike in vandalism against Buddhist temples immediately occurred, and temple leaders were soon detained by the authorities on suspicion of possible seditious inclinations. On February 19, 1942, President Franklin Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066, forcing 120,000 Japanese Americans from their homes on the West Coast into remote concentration camps. Temples, farms, homes, and other property were stolen, sold at a loss, or ransacked during the incarceration, a serious material blow to American Buddhist infrastructure. While Japanese American Christians were also incarcerated, the Buddhist community fell under especially heavy suspicion.16

The crisis situation demanded new innovations in how Buddhism was organized and conducted. New temples were organized in the camps, and the English-speaking younger generation decisively consolidated its power, given their ease of interaction with the camp authorities and their greater ability to represent themselves as loyal Americans. The Buddhist Mission of North America was renamed the Buddhist Churches of America in a bid for further appearance of assimilation. Understandably, fewer non-Asian Americans were willing to publicly declare themselves as Buddhist during the war with Japan. When the last camps were finally shut down in 1946, American Buddhism had in some ways been rolled back by decades, with earlier gains lost and the need to rebuild and comfort the traumatized outweighing any immediate interest in growth, outreach, and missionization. Thus ended the first phase of 20th-century American Buddhism.17

American Buddhism at Midcentury: Retrenchment and Gradual Diversification

The postwar period was in some ways an interregnum for American Buddhism, and it continued to be dominated by Japanese forms of Buddhism, but this was also an important phase during which seeds were planted that would lead to an incredible flourishing of Buddhist diversity by the century’s end. The Japanese American Buddhist communities turned to reestablishing themselves in the wake of the massive disruption they had experienced. Temples were reopened, new service books with considerable English material were created, and new temples were planted in eastern cities where Japanese Americans had been relocated. With immigration from Japan long since prevented, a rising generation of American-born members and leaders with little firsthand experience of Asia and an imperative to avoid “foreignness” that might provoke renewed persecution, Japanese American Buddhist social life began to take on a highly mainstream appearance. Temples held dances and beauty contests for the younger generation, supported basketball leagues and Boy Scout and Camp Fire Girl troops, and engaged in chaplaincy and other charitable activities. The shift in Japan’s status from enemy to occupied opponent and then to staunch Cold War ally helped to lessen prejudiced attitudes toward Japanese Americans, though overt racism remained a fact of daily life. The opening of the Buddhist Churches of America’s Institute for Buddhist Studies—the first Buddhist seminary in North America—in 1966 was a major milestone, as now priests could be trained in the United States, in English, rather than being sent to or imported from Japan.18

Buddhist scholar D. T. Suzuki returned to the United States in 1949, visiting first Hawaii and then California, finally staying in New York City for years. In each of these places he taught university courses and provided lectures to Buddhist groups and the wider public, often speaking with Quakers, Unitarians, liberal Catholics, and other segments of America’s progressive religious movement. His presentation of Zen as the essence of religion fired the imagination of the nascent counterculture, while his exotic manner and insightful presentations of Japanese traditional arts caught the attention of high culture mavens and resulted in magazine profiles and television interviews. The emergent Beat movement soon absorbed significant influences from Suzuki, pored over Goddard’s Buddhist Bible, and sought out information on Buddhism from Asian American communities, scholarly writings, and occasional voyages across the Pacific. Jack Kerouac, Gary Snyder, Philip Whalen, Will Peterson, Alan Watts, and others—all members of the West Coast literary and spiritual alternative scene—attended study sessions at the Berkeley Buddhist Church, learning general Buddhism and Pure Land Buddhist ideas from the head minister, Kanmo Imamura. The adventures of these 1950s cultural mavericks were described in Kerouac’s 1958 The Dharma Bums, which helped publicize the growing entanglement of Buddhism and American counterculture trends.19

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Fig. 2: At the Barre Center for Buddhist Studies in Massachusetts, local stone has been used to construct a stupa (2010).

Courtesy of Jeff Wilson.

Asian and Asian American teachers had occasionally taught non-Asian students, and Asian American organizations had included some non-Asian members or hosted outreach efforts to such communities, but autonomous temples and meditation centers directed toward training non-Asians were extremely rare during Buddhism’s first century in America. It was in the decades after the war that significant Buddhist groups established for the purpose of teaching non-Asian Americans began to emerge. Important examples include the Zen Studies Society in New York City (1956), Cambridge Buddhist Association in Massachusetts (1958), Diamond Sangha in Honolulu (1959), San Francisco Zen Center (1962), Rochester Zen Center (1966), Zen Center of Los Angeles (1967), and Cimarron Zen Center in Los Angeles (1968). All of these groups had a basis in Japanese Zen Buddhist lineages, and, significantly, several were run by white American converts who had been trained, but in some cases not ordained, in Japan. Buddhism, and Zen in particular, held a fascination for many spiritual seekers, and while the number of people willing to commit to the rigorous practice standards of the formal Zen institutions was small, a much larger pool of hippies, poets, neo-Orientalists, and religious liberals consumed books on Zen by D. T. Suzuki, Alan Watts, and others.20

A second important stream of evangelization also came from Japan in the form of Soka Gakkai, a new religious movement connected to the Nichiren Shoshu sect of Buddhism. Missionary activities began primarily with Japanese military wives in 1960, but by 1963 English-language meetings were held, and an aggressive campaign to recruit Americans emerged. Soka Gakkai’s Buddhism offered a contrast to that of the convert Zen groups: it was lay-led rather than centered on enlightened teachers, it practiced vigorous chanting instead of silent meditation, it stressed devotion and exclusive sectarianism rather than intellectual contemplation and detachment, and it promised immediate material benefits from practice instead of an esoteric emphasis on awakening. It was also much more successful in attracting devotees from many American demographic groups: whereas the old-line Japanese temples mostly relied on Japanese American membership and the new Zen centers attracted mainly educated white Americans, Soka Gakkai gained significant numbers from these groups and from poorer whites, from African Americans, and from others previously unrepresented in American Buddhism.21

Two other historical milestones were reached during this interim period. First, in 1955 Mongolian monk Geshe Wangyal opened the Lamaist Buddhist Monastery of America, the first temple in the greater Vajrayana tradition that would come to be known as “Tibetan Buddhism” in the United States. Located in New Jersey, it served small numbers of displaced Mongols and Kalmyks but also attracted the notice of Robert Thurman, a white American who studied at the temple before being ordained by the Dalai Lama in India as the first Western monk in the Tibetan tradition. The other significant milestone of this era was the creation of the first Theravada Buddhist temple, the Washington Buddhist Vihara. Founded in 1966, it was established primarily by Sri Lankan expatriates in the Washington, DC, area. American interest in Theravada and Tibetan Buddhism had existed since the 19th century, but these two temples were the first institutional presence for their religions in the United States. Their impact during these early years was minimal, but in the coming decades the traditions they represented would become major players on the American religious landscape, as would a revitalized Chinese Buddhism.22

Buddhism in the Later 20th Century: Booming Diversity

The watershed moment for American Buddhism came in 1965, but it took several years to begin to make a visible impact. The Immigration and Naturalization Act of 1965 eliminated the racist barriers to Asian immigration that had so dramatically retarded Buddhist development in the United States. Immigration from countries with significant Buddhist populations soon skyrocketed. One of the primary push factors was the regional destabilization of the Vietnam War, which brought Vietnamese, Cambodian, and Laotian refugees and immigrants with their traditions to the United States for the first time; Thai and Burmese immigrants also came, in part owing to unfavorable economic or political conditions in their home countries. Between 1971 and 1980 the first temples in each of these traditions were opened, and by the end of the 1990s hundreds of such temples operated throughout the United States. The Cambodians, Thai, Laos, and Burmese followed Theravada forms of Buddhism, which now became a major factor in American Buddhism. The Vietnamese mostly practiced a Mahayana form of Buddhism similar in many ways to that of the Chinese.23

Buddhism in AmericaClick to view larger

Fig. 3: Many temples, such as Chua An Lac in North Carolina, are converted houses, churches, or other buildings not originally built for Buddhist purposes (2003).

Courtesy of Jeff Wilson.

As for the Chinese themselves, they, too, experienced a large new migration of Buddhists, often those with Taiwanese connections at first and later a huge increase in immigrants from the mainland after relations with the People’s Republic of China were normalized. During the 1950s and early 1960s a small pool of Chinese students and intellectuals had made their way to America, and a few Chinese American temples had managed to survive the long period of immigration drought, typically located in Hawaiian, West Coast, or large city Chinatowns. The first Chinese monk to settle in the United States was Hsuan Hua. In 1962 he arrived from Hong Kong and began teaching at the Buddhist Lecture Hall in San Francisco; in 1968 he expanded it into the Sino-American Buddhist Association, which would become the first large Chinese American temple organization of the 20th century. Chinese American Buddhism was significantly invigorated by the new influx of immigrants after 1965, especially in California and the greater New York City area. Chinese Buddhism also attracted some converts from beyond the immigrant and Chinese American population, and in 1969 five white Americans (three men and two women) associated with Hsuan Hua’s community traveled to Taiwan to receive ordination, the first American-born monks and nuns to undertake the higher monastic precepts in a traditional lineage. The majority of Chinese American Buddhist communities, however, were entirely made up of Chinese speakers during the first decades after immigration reform.24

Another major new addition to the American Buddhist scene was the arrival of missionary monks from the Tibetan exile community. The 1959 escape of the Dalai Lama from Chinese-dominated Tibet set off a major exodus of religious leaders and laypeople, who first clustered in India but eventually began to trickle out into other countries. As early as 1961 the Sakya lama Deshung Rinpoche began assisting with the Asian Studies program at the University of Washington in Seattle. Concerted efforts to convert and train Americans only really began in 1969, when Tarthang Tulku arrived in Berkeley and opened the Tibetan Nyingma Meditation Center, followed in 1972 by the Tibetan Nyingma Institute. Unlike the Lamaist Monastery in New Jersey, Tulku’s activities were directed toward the wider American population, and his Berkeley location in the heart of counterculture territory soon brought a steady stream of curious students. Also in Berkeley that year, Shambhala Publications, the first major American Buddhist press, was opened, part of a trend toward increased availability of information on Buddhism written in English, in the United States, by Buddhist authors for an American audience.25

In 1970 an even more influential Tibetan teacher came to America and established his first center in Vermont, Tail of the Tiger. A maverick by nature, Chogyam Trungpa had recently given up his monastic vows and sought to create an approach to Buddhism that would bring advanced Buddhist teachings and practices within the reach of Western laypeople. He freely drank, smoked, promoted sexual adventurism, and engaged with the rebellious streak of 1970s alternative American culture while establishing a wide-reaching Buddhist infrastructure and transmitting esoteric teachings previously rare in the West, winning a devoted following among spiritual seekers. In 1973 he opened a new center, Vajradhatu, in Boulder, Colorado, which would be his primary base of operations until close to his death in 1986. Starting in 1974 Trungpa organized annual summer teaching institutes in Boulder that drew thousands of people and not only showcased his own ideas but also publicized the efforts of many other Buddhist teachers beginning to ply their trade in the United States. By the 1980s these institutes had morphed into Naropa University, which received accreditation as a Buddhist college in 1986. Other, generally less outrageous Tibetan teachers established teaching centers across America, and in 1979 the 14th Dalai Lama came to the United States for the first of many visits and teaching tours. Often, groups based on Tibetan Buddhism had no Tibetan members other than the founding lamas, serving instead a clientele of new Buddhists and sympathizers.26

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Fig. 4: At the Ekoji Buddhist Sangha of Richmond in Virginia, laypeople practice vipassana meditation (2002).

Courtesy of Jeff Wilson.

Buddhism pitched to non-Asian Americans, increasingly by white Americans who had come to Buddhism as adults, was an ever-expanding trend. One of the most successful examples is the vipassana movement. Vipassana is a form of insight meditation cultivated in the Theravada tradition. Traditionally a monastic practice, in colonial Burma reformist monks began to teach vipassana to the masses as a way to preserve Buddhism and strengthen society, and eventually Western travelers also became involved. Americans and Europeans who trained in India and Southeast Asia began to bring vipassana meditation movements to the United States in the 1970s, leading to the 1975 founding of the Insight Meditation Society in Barre, Massachusetts by Jack Kornfield, Joseph Goldstein, Sharon Salzburg, and Jacqueline Schwartz. While they frequently invited monks to teach, all four founders and many of their invited teachers were laypeople like their retreat participants, and they helped bring about a very “low church” form of Buddhism. This American vipassana movement drew from a Theravada background but with a minimum of monastic or Southeast Asian cultural elements, mixed with a high degree of reliance on Western values and epistemologies such as psychology and egalitarianism. While the model often required extended silent retreats, it nevertheless was a strikingly postmonastic development.27

Buddhism in AmericaClick to view larger

Fig. 5: Many Japanese American temples, such as the Honpa Hongwanji Hilo Betsuin in Hawaii, have added pews, service books, and Sunday gatherings to accommodate American norms (2008).

Courtesy of Jeff Wilson.

Amid all this Buddhist flourishing, few concerted attempts were made to draw different groups and traditions into pan-Buddhist cooperation. Most Buddhists attended their local temple or group and had minimal interaction with members of other Buddhist communities. Multilineage practice or exploration certainly took place, but it was almost exclusively by individuals and was frequently limited by language or ethnic barriers that restricted just how widely ranging such journeys could be. Furthermore, those individuals most inclined to sample many Buddhist traditions were also the least likely to identify as Buddhists and were seldom institutionally minded, meaning that they floated through more sectarian organizations, sometimes causing interesting cross-pollination but not founding lasting public institutions. Temples in the same lineage often participated in umbrella organizations or maintained ties by circulating monastics and literature among one another, but long-term formal cooperation between Buddhist temples of heterogeneous ethnic, sectarian, or geographic backgrounds was uncommon. Thus inter-Buddhist organizing, when it did appear, was often loose, local, and temporary. Multiple Buddhist groups might band together to hold a joint celebration of the Buddha’s birthday, for example, but have little interaction through the rest of the year. One successful pan-Buddhist organization was founded in 1978, the Buddhist Peace Fellowship. A network of individuals, mostly drawn from adult converts to Buddhism who brought with them concerns for environmentalism, peace work, and social justice, the fellowship served as a shared nexus for theorizing Buddhist social and political engagement and sometimes carried out direct action or letter-writing campaigns, among other activities. Buddhist Peace Fellowship chapters across the United States were often the only place where Buddhists of different lineages could gather in sectarian-neutral yet Buddhist spaces.28

Buddhism in AmericaClick to view larger

Fig. 6: Group rituals and celebrations, such as this one at the Richmond Buddhist Association in Virginia, are an important part of American Buddhist practice (2004).

Courtesy of Jeff Wilson.

Through the 1980s into the 1990s, the United States saw a proliferation of new Buddhist temples and meditation groups, a rising public profile, and increasing calls for the development of “American” forms of practice. Often these were connected to calls for greater female leadership (rather than the male dominance typical of most forms of Buddhism in Asia), more democratic institutions (as opposed to guru-centric ones), and better balance between Buddhist ethical and meditative demands and the realities of lay life in a non-Buddhist society. For Euro-Americans, African Americans, and other newcomers to Buddhism, there was a persistent wish to shear Buddhism of alleged “Asian trappings” but also desires for purity and authenticity and attraction precisely to the seemingly exotic aesthetics of Buddhist cultures. Many Asian American temples served as bastions of Asian culture, where comfortable foodways, languages, and social arrangements from the Old Country could be practiced temporarily, but they, too, engaged in discussion over what it meant to be American and Buddhist, especially if they were old enough to host a second or later generation.29

By the end of the 20th century, virtually every type of Buddhism found in Asia had also established a presence in the United States, and Buddhist imagery, terms, practices, and concepts were familiar to many Americans through their appearance in movies, television, and literature. Few urban centers lacked at least one Buddhist group, and parts of the country with significant Asian immigration or particular histories of alternative spiritual practices usually boasted multiple temples and centers from different traditions. While racial and religious prejudice had not disappeared, for Buddhists and Asian Americans they were much more muted compared with earlier eras, and American Buddhists were mostly counted as a nonproblematic part of America’s social diversity.30

Discussion of the Literature

Concerted academic study of Buddhism in America is a relatively new phenomenon. Scholars of Buddhism have focused primarily on the past, and those who do deal with contemporary phenomena typically study Asia. Meanwhile, the robust field of American religious history has been overwhelmingly focused on Christianity, especially Protestantism. While it has seen an impressive diversification of interests since the 1980s (especially more work on Catholics), Americanist attention to Buddhists is still uncommon and rarely sustained. Occasional books, articles, and dissertations appeared in earlier parts of the 20th century, but it is only since the late 1990s that a cohort of scholars has coalesced dedicated to working on Buddhism in the United States or other parts of the West. Even in this emergent subfield, historical studies are relatively rare. Far more energy is given to anthropological and sociological approaches, usually directed to contemporary groups, than to rigorous historical studies. Thus the history of Buddhism in America remains a profoundly understudied area, and there are holes in both the history and historiography. No comprehensive scholarly overview of American Buddhist history exists at this time. However, some very specific groups, individuals, or time periods have been examined in important works. Good examples include Duncan Ryūken Williams and Tomoe Moriya’s edited collection on first-generation Japanese American Buddhism, Issei Buddhism in the Americas (2010); Stephen Prothero’s biography The White Buddhist: The Asian Odyssey of Henry Steel Olcott (1996); and Thomas A. Tweed’s The American Encounter with Buddhism, 1844–1912: Victorian Culture and the Limits of Dissent (2000), the definitive work on this time period.31

The literature on Buddhism in the United States has usually employed a comparative lens, holding up, for instance, some Buddhist phenomenon in Asia and its counterpart in the United States to see how and why they may differ or Buddhism in an earlier and later period of American history to explore why change may have occurred. This pattern emerged early in the historiography, for example in Tetsuden Kashima’s Buddhism in America: The Social Organization of an Ethnic Religious Organization (1977). This trend continues, in various forms. Studies of American Buddhist history increasingly take a transnational perspective, with attention to how Buddhism changed in Asia prior to its arrival in the United States, rather than making blanket assumptions that transformations seen in American communities are solely due to the North American social and political environment. There is also enhanced attention to how global networks were established and exploited by Buddhists and sympathizers during the 19th and early 20th century, such that Buddhism in America is best seen as part of a worldwide circulation of religious and cultural flows, not a phenomenon taking place only in America or in isolation from other places. A primary example of this readjustment in the scholarship is Judith Snodgrass’s Presenting Japanese Buddhism to the West: Orientalism, Occidentalism, and the Columbian Exposition (2003).32

Understandably, a persistent focus of attention has been race and ethnicity. One perspective has seen Asian American Buddhist temples as ethnic enclaves, with debates over whether they held Asian Americans apart from the mainstream, assisted assimilation, or served as sites of resistance. Kashima’s Buddhism in America again provides a useful example of this debate. A related allegation has been that Buddhism tends to divide sharply into groups that serve Asian and Asian American populations and groups that serve non-Asian Americans (usually, with white dominance in both leadership and membership). There has been pushback against this model of “two Buddhisms,” in part because some perceive it as reinforcing rather than merely describing racial categories and stereotypes. Connected in part to these concerns has been extensive discussion of how to categorize the different forms of Buddhism present in the United States as well as how to define in the first place who “counts” as a Buddhist and therefore how many Buddhists there were in America at any given time period. Classic examples of these debates are found, for example, in the essays by Jan Nattier, Rick Fields, and Ryo Imamura in Charles S. Prebish and Kenneth K. Tanaka’s The Faces of Buddhism in America (1998).33

Primary Sources

Even leaving aside the substantial and important body of writings produced in languages other than English, the American Buddhist literary outpouring has been huge. For the researcher it is complicated by three facts: (a) this outpouring has often been in the form of ephemera or small-run publications sponsored by local temples; (b) so many different, unconnected forms of Buddhism have been practiced in the United States, necessitating a very wide net to catch them all; and (c) publicly accessible archives of Buddhist historical material are rare, and no one has undertaken a systematic collection of such materials across sects or time periods. Substantial footwork is usually required to carry out any project, but some useful and representative examples of the possible sources available for consultation can be provided.

Many Buddhist organizations have produced their own in-house congregational or denominational histories, often to coincide with major anniversaries or expansions. For example, the Buddhist Churches of America produced two large, data-filled anniversary projects: Buddhist Churches of America, vol. 1, 75 Year History, 1899–1974 (1974), and Buddhist Churches of America: A Legacy of the First 100 Years (1998). The Japanese American National Museum in Los Angeles houses the archives of the Buddhist Churches of America, which are accessible to the public by appointment. On the individual level, many useful autobiographies or personal accounts of significant events have been written, often providing not only personal information but also important insights into the authors’ larger communities during their lifetimes. Examples include Bhikshu Hung Ju and Bhikshu Hung Yo’s Three Steps, One Bow: Two American Buddhist Monks’ Own Story of Their Extraordinary 1100-Mile Journey for World Peace (1977), Jane Michico Imamura’s Kaikyo, Opening the Dharma: Memoirs of a Buddhist Priest’s Wife in America (1998), and Bhante Walpola Piyananda’s Saffron Days in L.A.: Tales of a Buddhist Monk in America (2001). A fascinating collection of letters between a Buddhist priest and prison inmates is Hogen Fujimoto’s Out of the Mud Grows the Lotus (1980); the letters of pioneer Zen missionary Robert Aitken are held at the University of Hawai’i Mānoa Library Archives. Written by a Buddhist insider, Rick Fields’s How the Swans Came to the Lake: A Narrative History of Buddhism in America provides a fascinating look at how American Buddhists imagine their own history and story of practicing in the United States.34

Service books for Buddhist congregations are often invaluable sources for the actual practices carried out by followers. One classic example is Praises of the Buddha, produced for the use of Hawaiian Jodo Shinshu temples, which first appeared in 1949 and went through multiple revisions. Buddhist groups have usually produced their own newsletters or journals. One useful list of early journals appears in Lori Pearce’s chapter of Issei Buddhism in the Americas. Sometimes selected articles are represented in book anthologies, such as Wind Bell: Teachings from the San Francisco Zen Center, 1968–2001 (2002) and Not Turning Away: The Practice of Engaged Buddhism (2004), which presents material from the first twenty-five years of the Buddhist Peace Fellowship’s journal, Turning Wheel. Collected sermons and newsletter essays have often been repackaged as books, starting with Shaku Sōen’s Sermons of a Buddhist Abbot (1913). Other representative examples include Shunryu Suzuki’s Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind (1970), Hozen Seki’s The Great Natural Way (1976), Chogyam Trungpa’s Cutting Through Spiritual Materialism (1987), and Jack Kornfield’s A Path with Heart: A Guide Through the Perils and Promises of Spiritual Life (1993).35

Primary source collections on specific topics can also sometimes be found. The largest is Thomas A. Tweed’s six-volume series, Buddhism in the United States, 1940–1925 (2004). Other examples include Not Mixing Up Buddhism: Essays on Women and Buddhist Practice (1986) and Carole Tonkinson’s Big Sky Mind: Buddhism and the Beat Generation (1995).

Further Reading

Ama, Michihiro. Immigrants to the Pure Land: The Modernization, Acculturation, and Globalization of Shin Buddhism, 1898–1941. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 2011.Find this resource:

Mitchell, Scott A., and Natalie F. Quli, eds. Buddhism Beyond Borders: New Perspectives on Buddhism in the United States. Albany: State University of New York, 2015.Find this resource:

Moriya, Tomoe. Yemyo Imamura: Pioneer American Buddhist. Honolulu: Buddhist Study Center Press, 2000.Find this resource:

Prebish, Charles S., and Martin Baumann, eds. Westward Dharma: Buddhism Beyond Asia. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2002.Find this resource:

Prebish, Charles S., and Kenneth K. Tanaka, eds. The Faces of Buddhism in America. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1998.Find this resource:

Prothero, Stephen. The White Buddhist: The Asian Odyssey of Henry Steel Olcott. Bloomington and Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, 1996.Find this resource:

Snodgrass, Judith. Presenting Japanese Buddhism to the West: Orientalism, Occidentalism, and the Columbian Exposition. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2003.Find this resource:

Tweed, Thomas A. The American Encounter with Buddhism, 1844–1912: Victorian Culture and the Limits of Dissent. 2d ed. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2000.Find this resource:

Williams, Duncan Ryūken, and Christopher S. Queen, eds. American Buddhism: Methods and Findings in Recent Scholarship. Surrey, UK: Curzon Press, 1999.Find this resource:


(1.) Thomas A. Tweed, The American Encounter with Buddhism, 1844–1912: Victorian Culture and the Limits of Dissent. 2d ed. (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2000), xxix–xxxi.

(2.) Stuart Chandler, “Chinese Buddhism in America: Identity and Practice,” in The Faces of Buddhism in America, ed. Charles S. Prebish and Kenneth K. Tanaka (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1998), 13–30.

(3.) Chandler, “Chinese Buddhism in America,” 16–17. The fragmentary nature of the historical record has made precise dates and founding organizations difficult to conclusively determine.

(4.) Tweed, The American Encounter with Buddhism, 1844–1912.

(5.) Stephen Porthero, The White Buddhist: The Asian Odyssey of Henry Steel Olcott (Bloomington and Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, 1996); Tweed, The American Encounter with Buddhism, 1844–1912, 30–32, 40.

(6.) Arthur Nishimura, “The Buddhist Mission of North America, 1898–1942: Religion and Its Social Function in an Ethnic Community,” in North American Buddhists in Social Context, ed. Paul David Numrich (Leiden, The Netherlands, and Boston: Brill, 2008), 87–106.

(7.) Michihiro Ama, Immigrants to the Pure Land: The Modernization, Acculturation, and Globalization of Shin Buddhism, 1898–1941 (Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 2011).

(8.) Chandler, “Chinese Buddhism in America”; Ama, Immigrants to the Pure Land; Tetsuden Kashima, Buddhism in America: The Social Organization of an Ethnic Religious Institution (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1977); Nishimura, “The Buddhist Mission of North America, 1898–1942.

(9.) Judith Snodgrass, Presenting Japanese Buddhism to the West: Orientalism, Occidentalism, and the Columbian Exposition (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2003).

(10.) Martin J. Verhoeven, “Americanizing the Buddha: Paul Carus and the Transformation of Asian Thought,” in Prebish and Tanaka, The Faces of Buddhism in America, 207–227; Richard Jaffe, ed., Zen, vol. 1 of Selected Works of D.T. Suzuki (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2014).

(11.) Kashima, Buddhism in America; Nishimura, “The Buddhist Mission of North America, 1898–1942.”

(12.) Kashima, Buddhism in America.

(13.) Ama, Immigrants to the Pure Land.

(14.) Noriko Asato, “The Japanese Language School Controversy in Hawaii,” in Issei Buddhism in the Americas, ed. Duncan Ryūken Williams and Tomoe Moriya (Urbana, Chicago, and Springfield: University of Illinois Press, 2010), 45–64; Michihiro Ama, “The Legal Dimensions of the Formation of Shin Buddhist Temples in Los Angeles,” in Williams and Moriya, Issei Buddhism in the Americas, 65–81; Lori Pierce, “Buddhist Modernism in English-Language Buddhist Periodicals,” in Williams and Moriya, Issei Buddhism in the Americas, 87–109; Tomoe Moriya, “‘Americanization’ and ‘Tradition’ in Issei and Nisei Buddhist Publications,” in Williams and Moriya, Issei Buddhism in the Americas, 110–140.

(15.) Ama, Immigrants to the Pure Land; Tomoe Moriya, Yemyo Imamura: Pioneer American Buddhist (Honolulu: Buddhist Study Center Press, 2000); Senryō Asai and Duncan Ryūken Williams, “Japanese American Zen Temples: Cultural Identity and Economics,” in American Buddhism: Methods and Findings in Recent Scholarship, ed. Duncan Ryūken Williams and Christopher S. Queen (Surrey, UK: Curzon Press, 1999), 20–35; Louise H. Hunter, Buddhism in Hawaii: Its Impact on a Yankee Community (Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1971).

(16.) Duncan Ryūken Williams, “Camp Dharma: Japanese-American Buddhist Identity and the Internment Experience of World War II,” in Westward Dharma: Buddhism Beyond Asia, ed. Charles S. Prebish, and Martin Baumann (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2002), 191–200.

(17.) Williams, “Camp Dharma.”

(18.) Kashima, Buddhism in America.

(19.) Jane Michiko Imamura, Kaikyo, Opening the Dharma: Memoirs of a Buddhist Priest’s Wife in America (Honolulu: Buddhist Study Center Press, 1998); Tomoe Moriya and Jeff Wilson, eds., Comparative Religion, vol. 3 of Selected Works of D.T. Suzuki (Berkeley: University of California, 2016); Jane Naomi Iwamura, Virtual Orientalism: Asian Religions and American Popular Culture (New York: Oxford University Press, 2011).

(20.) Richard Hugher Seager, Buddhism in America (New York: Columbia University Press, 1999), 90–112.

(21.) Phillip Hammond and David Machacek, Soka Gakkai in America: Accommodation and Conversion (New York: Oxford University Press, 1999).

(22.) Richard Seager, “American Buddhism in the Making,” in Prebish and Baumann, Westward Dharma, 106–119; Seager Buddhism in America, 136.

(23.) Wendy Cadge, Heartwood: The First Generation of Theravada Buddhism in America (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2004), 19–43.

(24.) Chandler, “Chinese Buddhism in America.”

(25.) Amy Lavine, “Tibetan Buddhism in America: The Development of American Vajrayana,” in Prebish and Tanaka, The Faces of Buddhism in America, 99–116.

(26.) Lavine, “Tibetan Buddhism in America.”

(27.) Jeff Wilson, Mindful America: The Mutual Transformation of Buddhist Meditation and American Culture (New York: Oxford University Press, 2014).

(28.) Paul David Numrich, “Local Inter-Buddhist Associations in North America,” in Williams and Queen, American Buddhism, 117–142; Judith Simmer-Brown, “Speaking Truth to Power: The Buddhist Peace Fellowship,” in Christopher S. Queen, ed. Engaged Buddhism in the West (Boston: Wisdom Publications, 2000), 67–94.

(29.) Seager, Buddhism in America.

(30.) Diana L. Eck, A New Religious America: How a “Christian Country” Has Become the World’s Most Religiously Diverse Nation (San Francisco: HarperSanFranciso, 2001), 142–221.

(31.) Williams and Moriya, Issei Buddhism in the Americas; Prothero, The White Buddhist; Tweed, The American Encounter with Buddhism, 1844–1912.

(32.) Kashima, Buddhism in America; Snodgrass, Presenting Japanese Buddhism to the West.

(33.) Jan Nattier, “Who Is a Buddhist? Charting the Landscape of Buddhist America,” in Prebish and Tanaka, The Faces of Buddhism in America, 183–195; Rick Fields, “Divided Dharma: White Buddhists, Ethnic Buddhists, and Racism,” in Prebish and Tanaka, The Faces of Buddhism in America, 196–206; Ryo Imamura, “Buddhist and Western Psychotherapies: An Asian American Perspective,” in Prebish and Tanaka, The Faces of Buddhism in America, 228–237.

(34.) 75 Year History, 1899–1974, vol. 1 of Buddhist Churches of America, BCA History Project Committee, eds. (Chicago: Nobart, 1974); Buddhist Churches of America: A Legacy of the First 100 Years, BCA Centennial History Project Committee, eds. (San Francisco: Buddhist Churches of America, 1998); Bhikshu Hung Ju and Bhikshu Hung Yo, Three Steps, One Bow: Two American Buddhist Monks’ Own Story of Their Extraordinary 1100-Mile Journey for World Peace (San Francisco: Ten Thousand Buddhas Press, 1977); Imumura, Kaikyo; Bhante Walpola Piyananda, Saffron Days in L.A.: Tales of a Buddhist Monk in America (Boston: Shambhala Publication, 2001); Hogen Fujimoto, Out of the Mud Grows the Lotus (South San Francisco: Lotus Press and Heian International, 1980); Rick Fields, How the Swans Came to the Lake: A Narrative History of Buddhism in America, 3d ed. (Boston: Shambhala Publications, 1992).

(35.) Praises of the Buddha (Honolulu: Hawaii Federation of Young Buddhist Associations, 1949); Pierce, “Buddhist Modernism in English-Language Buddhist Periodicals”; Michael Wenger, ed., Wind Bell: Teachings from the San Francisco Zen Center, 1968–2001 (Berkeley: North Atlantic Books, 2002); Susan Moon, ed., Not Turning Away: The Practice of Engaged Buddhism (Boston: Shambhala Publications, 2004); Shaku Sōen, Sermons of a Buddhist Abbot (Chicago: Open Court Publishing, 1906); Shunryu Suzuki, Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind (New York: Weatherhill, 1970); Chogyam Trungpa, Cutting Through Spiritual Materialism (Berkeley: Shambhala Publications, 1973); Hozen Seki, The Great Natural Way (New York: American Buddhist Academy, 1976); Jack Kornfield, A Path with Heart: A Guide Through the Perils and Promises of Spiritual Life (New York: Bantam Books, 1993); Thomas A. Tweed, ed., Buddhism in the United States, 1840–1925, 6 vols. (London: Ganesha Publications, 2004); Not Mixing Up Buddhism: Essays on Women and Buddhist Practice, Deborah Hopkinson, Michele Hill, and Eileen Kiera, eds. (Fredonia, NY: White Pine Press, 1986); Carole Tonkinson, ed., Big Sky Mind: Buddhism and the Beat Generation (New York: Riverhead Books, 1995).