Eastern tradition collides with Western individualism in this provocative and compulsive story of Buddhism, American-style. A genuine spiritual movement becomes strangely entangled with elitist aesthetics, the culture of celebrity, multi-million-dollar investment portfolios, sex scandals, and an unsolved crime. Explored through a singular mix of hippies, millionaires, intellectuals, and lost souls whose lives are almost unbelievably intertwined, American Zen examines the inner workings of the profoundly influential San Francisco Zen Center. In exploring the history of the most important institution in American Buddhism, American Zen provocatively captures the profound ambivalence of people who earnestly seek both inner peace and worldly satisfaction.