Thursday, November 20, 2014


Thank you for your concern.

The other day I received this message from my teacher, Harvey Daiho Hilbert Roshi:

Rev. Kobutsu Malone who has spent his life in service to others is now in dire need of funds.  His car broke down and he was hospitalized needing a stent in his heart.  This is a man who sat with prisoners about to be executed, who has led the way in exposing priest abuses, and who has steadfastly been a spokesman for engaged practice.

If you can assist him, please go to the Engaged Zen website and press the donation button in the lower right hand corner of the home page.


This note hit me hard. It's only been a little more than a month ago I met Kobutsu by telephone. When I was wondering where to find rakusu rings for five Jukai students, my fellow priest and student Polly Miaodao Perez told me about Kobutsu. "He makes them himself," she said, and she sent me to the link that shows just how he does it. So I called him. He's a good guy, open and very generous. I told him I needed five rings. He asked about my lineage, and I told him Daiho Hilbert Roshi is my teacher. "Yes, yes," he said. He told me his story about his teacher Eido Shimano who had shamefully abused his student's trust and respect. I won't go into that, other than to say how much I admired Kobutso for being able to separate his disgust for his teacher's actions towards him and his family and the practice of Zen. As Daiho stated above, here's a man who has followed the Bodhisattva Way, bringing about abundant good to all beings through intense engaged practice. I was honored to speak with him. And when I said goodbye, I asked how much I owed him. He said, "Send what you can." Four or five days later I received a box in the mail. It contained eight rings, each from a different kind of wood. Five, I believe, came from hardwood trees in the Amazon region of Brazil and Venezuela. The other three are from trees native to New England and the East Coast. All, if you stare at them, hold them, carress them, are exotic in their own unique way. And each is a hand-crafted ensō expressing the path of the Buddha, the path of form and emptiness. They are beautiful. And they are among the last that Kobutso will ever make. He's older now, he has eye problems, and the work if too difficult.

Please, provide what Dana you can to Kobutsu Malone. The Both Sides / No Sides Zen Community is collecting donations that we will send along next week, or you can go to the Engage Zen website and make a donation there. The donation box is in the lower right hand side of the home page.

And here is a photo of seven of the rakusu rings that Kobutsu sent to us. Please note that he also included a copy of his book Prison Chaplaincy Guidelines for Zen Buddhism. And what happened to the eighth ring? Polly happily grabbed it for herself when I was showing them to her. Ha! --Bobby Kankin

1 comment:

  1. Completely unplanned, I had the pleasure of having a conversation on Skype with Kobutsu after his procedure. I had no clue of his situation until he brought it up, almost in passing. Kobutsu related his story to me which involved not only being in a cold parking lot with a car that wouldn't start but a ambulance ride to the hospital for a stent. He had been discharged from the hospital only a short time before he spoke to me.

    Of course, because he is Kobutsu Malone, he had a cup of coffee and Harley-Bear at his side at all times. Kobutsu even got up to refill his cup - where I learned he does not have a coffee pot but brews his coffee a cup at a time in the microwave.

    All through the conversation, Kobutsu never turned his attention away from my questions and in fact, as we talked, I mentioned how hard it was to explain dana to my formerly-Pentecostal wife and her still-Pentecostal family. Kobutsu agreed and soon mentioned how he was grateful to the doctors, nurses and the ambulance guys and that he would send them each a card to thank them.

    After our talk, I wondered how I could practice dana in my own life. Realizing now how Kobutsu has practiced dana with his talk with me and knowing now of his situation, starting my own practice of dana will be pretty easy.

    I would bet Kobutsu would not want donations given in pity but certainly, if you have dana in your heart and mind, your donations will be welcome.

    Maybe he would like a coffee pot?