Introduction by Charles S. Prebish
Although the counterculture of the 1960s inspired much interest in Zen and the various Tibetan Buddhist traditions, by 1975 there were no more than several hundred thousand Buddhists in North America. Most of them belonged to either Buddhist Churches of America, a series of predominantly ethnic communities in the Japanese Pure Land tradition, or the then-titled Nichiren Shoshu of America, popular with so-called American converts and composed largely of women and minorities.
If we fast-forward to the turn of the century, most reasonable estimates cited between four and six million Buddhists in North America. Fueled by the 1965 change in American immigration law, there was a huge influx of Buddhist immigrants from war-torn Southeast Asia. In all likelihood, the number of Buddhists in North America with Asian ancestry represents about 75 to 80 percent of the total number of Buddhists on the continent.