Rev. Gyomay M. Kubose

Natsumatsuri, a remembrance

Oneness, written by Rev. Gyomay M. Kubose

 Honors & Awards

-Brotherhood Award from the Japanese American Citizens League (1959)

-Chicago Uptown "Man of the Week" (1959)

-Silver Beaver Award from the Boy Scouts of America (1961)

-Honorary Life Member of the Uptown Lions Club (1964)

-Honorary Life Member of the Uptown Chamber of Commerce

-World Buddhist Mission Cultural Award from the Japanese Buddhist Mission Cultural Association (1970)

-Included in the 1976 Bicentennial edition of the Notable Americans of the Bicentennial Era (1976)

-Outstanding Community Service Award from the Japanese American Service Committee (1981)

-Chicago Uptown Commission Board Member

-Chicago Nikkei Community Father of the Year Award from the Japanese American Association of Chicago (1984)

-Honorary Award from the governor of Hiroshima, Japan (1986)

-The 5th Class Order of the Sacred Treasure Gold and Silver Rays from His Majesty the Emperor of Japan (1987)

-Senior Citizen Hall of Fame Award from the City of Chicago (1988)

-Distinguished service award from the 15th generation Grand Tea Master, Sen Soshitsu, of the Urasenke Tradition of Tea (1991)

-Gave opening invocation of the Parliament of World's Religious Centennial Celebration (1993)

Although born in America, Rev. Gyomay M. Kubose spent the early part of his life in Japan where he undoubtedly absorbed a heritage rich in Buddhist influence. Returning to America, he attended the University of California at Berkeley, graduating with a degree in Philosophy in 1935. Then he went to Japan and studied under his teacher, Rev. Haya Akegarasu, at his Dai-Nippon Bunkyo-kenkyu-in at Myotatsuji Temple in Ishikawa Prefecture. Accompanying his teacher on lecture tours, he traveled extensively in Japan, Korea, China, and the US.He returned to the US in 1941 just prior to World War II and spent two years in the Heart Mountain Relocation Camp in Wyoming. Then he came to Chicago in 1944 and founded the Buddhist Temple of Chicago. In 1949, he accompanied and interpreted for the Abbot and Lady Kocho Otani of the Higashi Honganji, the Eastern Headquarters of Buddhism in Japan, on their US tour. Over the years he helped establish various organizations affiliated with the Temple; such as Boy Scout Troop 515, later followed by Cub Scouts, Explorer Scouts, and Girl Scouts; a Japanese language school; and in 1955, the American Buddhist Association.In 1966 he went to Japan for three years to do special studies in Buddhism at Otani Buddhist University in Kyoto. On his way home from Japan in 1969 he made a world tour. He visited Buddhist historical places in India, toured southeastern countries, and attended the World Buddhist Conference in Malaysia. He visited the Holy Land in Israel, and also went to Rome, Athens, and other European countries.He started the Buddhist Educational Center in Chicago in 1970, which offers courses in Buddhism and Japanese cultural arts. He also established a meditation group. He has lectured widely throughout North America, Peru and Brazil, and in Japan. Throughout his life, he emphasized and taught non-sectarian Buddhism for all. He passed away in Chicago on March 29, 2000.
Natsu Matsuri (Temple's Annual Summer Festival)

Sunday night and it was beginning to get dark. The barriers had come down, and some of the work crew were gathered in the parking lot, resting up for the next effort, perhaps taking the trash out to the dumpster.The children of the neighborhood were wandering in and out. Other people from the buildings nearby had come too. In the midst was the dull-eyed crew, myself among them. I was thinking of my tired feet and other spiritual factors such as whether we needed gas in the car.Then I saw Rev. Kubose come through the gate, very peacefully, very quietly. I thought of the hours he had kept throughout the weekend and that he was still in his eighties. Just then, he saw one of the children, grabbed her hand, and the two went around in a circle. At the end, Rev. Kubose was laughing and finished with a modified jumping jack exercise.Turning from the little girl, he met with a man of the neighborhood, an American Indian named Eddie. They shook hands, then Eddie gave the street handshake, which Rev. Kubose responded to with style.The apparent mood changed in a moment, for Eddie bowed and kissed Rev. Kubose's hand. There was surprise and then Rev. Kubose bowed again and with great respect kissed Eddie's hand.In less than 5 minutes, from the start at the gate through the kissing of hands, Rev. Kubose demonstrated so many of his teachings, so naturally. The joy of the moment, appreciation of all people, respect, reacting in the moment, lack of ego, and the tremendous energy and life force that he has. All of this is in Rev. Kubose's writings and teachings. To see him live this however, is a powerful lesson. Just watching him, I was ashamed of myself.
Anna Idol - Chicago, Illinois


by Rev. Gyomay M. Kubose

The reality of nature, the reality of life is oneness. But we humans have such a strong egotistic nature. We are the ones who create dualism; we are the ones who talk about two sides: front and back, right and wrong, me and you. As soon as life is dichotomized, tension is created. But when life is harmonized, there are no quarrels, no complaints. Each takes his or her part and does the best. There is totality in oneness. A mother and child are one. A mother forgets danger and risks her life for the child. It is not sacrifice. They are two separate beings but they are one. A mother exhibits an immediate, direct action of oneness. It is a natural act - not a sense of duty, or “must,” or “ought.”
Oneness and individuality coexist. There is no question about the importance and uniqueness of each individual life. However, difference is no difference. The very difference is equality, is one. When colorless light is put through a prism it separates into different colors. This very light is all colors; all the colors are one light. Our life is like that: various manifestations, various individualities, but the core of life is one. When we become one, it is colorless no self, no ego. But our narrow, self-centeredness prevents us from seeing this oneness. When we learn to transcend this ego activity, we find that our ego as it is becomes the true self. This is enlightenment. Different lives become one life, transcending differences yet maintaining uniqueness. We harmoniously live one life. We say a hand has a front and back. But there is only one hand. Hand is hand. Dichotomizing and labeling are only concepts. We should not conceptualize and divide things into two. Reality is one. Our life is one.