Kobutsu Malone

Biographical Clarifications

"I have no zendo, no temple. People call me their friend - I call people my friends... it's very simple. I learn from my friends, my friends learn from me, it's not at all complicated."


Recently Kobutsu has been attacked by individuals regarding credentials, in particular questions concerning his studentship under Chögyam Trungpa, Rinpoche and Eido Shimano and how long he studied with Eido Shimano. Kobutsu has also come under apparent criticism for appearing in an article in the New York Times concerning his involvement with Jusan Frankie Parker prior to witnessing his execution in 1996. People have questioned Kobutsu concerning his mode of dress, specifically his wearing of a gold brocade rakusu (bib-like vestment) that was presented to him by Venerable Shodo Harada, Roshi when Kobutsu and his son Ryushin departed Sogen-Ji Monastery in Okayama-shi, Japan in 2007.

Kobutsu has received anonymous defamatory email and has had his email service interfered with. Also, there have been questions raised by individuals concerning the honorifics "Venerable," "Zenji" () and "Osho" that Kobutsu has used on occasion. Hopefully the following data will clear up these issues:

Below are two very old photographs of Chögyam Trungpa, Rinpoche from Kobutsu's archives. These photographs were taken circa: 1970/1972. The picture on the left was taken at Tail of the Tiger in the rented tent that was used at the time for seminars. It sat in a field near the original farmhouse near a big old tree. This photograph was taken during one of Rinpoche's seminars. The location of the second photograph on the right is unknown. Neither picture can be attributed. Kobutsu has submitted both photographs to The Chronicles of Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche website archives.

Below are two old photographs of Kobutsu (known as Kevin Malone at the time, his legal name is now Kobutsu) taken circa: 1970 and circa: 1974. The picture on the left was taken on the Taconic State Parkway in New York State while returning from an early seminar with Chögyam Trungpa, Rinpoche. The photograph on the right was taken a few years later, in Coconut Grove, Miami, FL. Neither picture can be attributed.

(The following exhibit can be clicked on to see the full size image in pdf format.)
A letter of recommendation written by Eido Shimano for Kobutsu in 1999 - Kobutsu's 22nd year as a student of Eido Shimano. Please note: Kobutsu did not take the Precepts with Trungpa Rinpoche, he took Refuge with him in a private interview.

(The following exhibit can be clicked on to see the full size image in pdf format.)

Kobutsu's Ordination as a Rinzai Zen Buddhist Priest; officiated by Eido Shimano in Sing Sing Prison, Ossining, New York on October 24, 1993.
Photos by Rinko Peggy Crawford

An announcement of Kobutsu's ordination from The New York Times On Sunday section of October 24, 1993
(Each of the following exhibits can be clicked on to see full size images in pdf format.)

Three letters written by Eido Shimano in support of Jusan Frankie Parker and Kobutsu in 1996: Including a half page article that appeared in the New York Times regarding Frankie Parker's Jukai (not ordination) that Eido Shimano took an active role in.

Note: "Thou shalt not kill" is the sixth commandment, not the first.

A photo of Jusan's rakusu, (bib-like vestment) - calligraphy by Eido Shimano.

Jusan's funeral conducted by Eido Shimano at Dai Bosatsu Zendo.

  Photo by Tom McKitterick

E-kun Liz Potter and Kobutsu - Private audience with
His Holiness Tenzin Gyatso, The Fourteenth Dalai Lama
- New York City, May 4, 1998.

 Memorabilia and documents were presented to His Holiness as a gesture of gratitude for His support of Jusan's clemency appeal.

New Year's Greetings from Eido Shimano to Kobutsu in 2000.

(The following exhibit can be clicked on to see the full size image in pdf format.)

"Moved by circumstances" over time to completely reevaluate Dharmic affiliation:

Dainin, Jack Jones - Shodo Harada, Roshi - Koson, Damien Echols
- Kobutsu Malone
Death Row - Arkansas - September 2000

Below is a dedication written in a book by Venerable Shodo Harada, Roshi and presented to Kobutsu on September 20, 2000 when he took Shodo Harada, Roshi to Death Row cell-side in Arkansas. The story of their pilgrimage is on line here: The Japanese Kanji are translated: ("To" is inferred:) Kobutsu Roo Dai Osho ("Old Buddha Venerable Great Priest Who Gives the Precepts") Hoo Za Ge ("Dharma Seat Beneath") [honorific, "placing myself beneath you" - all Zen teachers use this to other Zen teachers in salutations] Below it says: Soogen Shoodoo, Kyuu Hai ("Sogen Shodo, Nine Bows"):

A letter to Kobutsu from Shodo Harada, Roshi September 22, 2000:

Pilgrimage to Japan

The dedication written by Venerable Shodo Harada, Roshi in a book presented to Kobutsu - New Year's Eve 2006 - Sogen-Ji Monastery - Okayama-shi, Japan.

A picture of the zahai's (name plaques) in Sogen-Ji Monastery Zendo. The first zahai of the tan on the far right translates: "Kobutsu Osho."

Pilgrimage to Malaysia

(The following exhibit can be clicked on to see the full size image in pdf format.)

Kobutsu is well known in Malaysia and has taught at various temples and centers there. Shodo Harada, Roshi gave Kobutsu specific permission to wear the orange kesa prior to his trip to Malaysia. Everyone there refers to monks of all ranks as "Venerable." Kobutsu gave up on asking people not to do so. He was completely unsuccessful, so he adapted and now accepts the honorific merrily. He has on ocassion been refered to by others as "Roshi" but he consistantly discourages the use of that honorific. He figures, at his age - he might just as well make a qualitative judgement to be "Venerable" over the epithet "dharma parasite" bestowed on him recently by an anonymous (but known) ordained "sangha" fan.

All the so-called "practice" in the world cannot necessarily transcend deep-rooted personality disorders. Sociopathic behavior needs to be addressed through psychoanalysis, or psychotherapy, and brutally honest personal psychological introspection; in many cases zazen and so-called "training" alone are insufficient.

Regarding alleged claims of Dharma Heritage:

Kobutsu has not ever claimed or implied to any one, to be any sort of Dharma heir. He has never referred to himself as a "Zen Master" or "Roshi." He has never claimed to have "Transmission" of any sort. He has not ever, and does not presently, claim or imply to be anyone's "Dharma heir." Kobutsu is simply a "Rinzai Zen Buddhist Priest" as his ordination certification indicates. His actual expositions, writings, prison and social justice work, stand on their own merit.

Thank you for your patience.

Kobutsu lives in a remote village on the coast of Maine, he may be reached through: kobutsu@engaged-zen.org