This book, first published in 1998, provides both a first-hand account and a theoretical analysis of the way an American Zen community works. The form Zen practice takes in the United States is described in detail through close study of two Zen groups in southern California. Preston leads readers through the buildings and grounds of a Zen residential community and introduces them to the main forms of Zen practice, paying special attention to the styles and implications of meditation. The book's second half develops a theory of the nature of religious reality as it is shared by Zen practitioners. Preston attempts to explain how this reality - based on a group's ethgraphy yet at the same time transcending it - relates to meditation and other elements of Zen practice by drawing on the tions of ritual, practice, emotions, and the unconscious found in the writings of Pierre Bourdieu, Randall Collins, Erving Goffman and Emile Durkheim.