Gyomay Kubose (1905–2000), born Masao Kubose, was a Japanese American Buddhist teacher who founded the Chicago Buddhist Church (now the Buddhist Temple of Chicago) in 1944. Although born in the United States, he spent much of his youth in Japan. After graduating from University of California at Berkeley, Kubose moved back to Japan where he began studying under his spiritual instructor Haya Akegarasu, who was in turn a student of Kiyozawa Manshi, a Meiji-era reformer of Shin Buddhism.
Kubose was a non-sectarian Buddhist and followed Kiyozawa’s message that Buddhism should be implemented as a personal voyage, and not merely a communal tradition as it had become prior to the Meiji era. He also extended a great amount of influence in North America, and traveled much of the United States on his lecture tours. In addition to the Buddhist Temple of Chicago, he also established the American Buddhist Association and the Buddhist Education Centre in Chicago.
He extended the Buddhist ideal that duality was an illusion created by egotism, and that originally everything was one. Many of his lectures and teachings focus upon this, using a juxtaposition that oneness and individuality can coexist, provided one does not allow the ego to get in the way. Another focus of his was the extension of Kiyozawa’s message, that Buddhism should be a personal experience and that it was not merely enough to go to the temple and recite sutras. The experience had to come from within, or there was no substance. To that end, Kubose placed the Buddha in the same field as Socrates, in that Buddhism was a philosophy first, and a religion second. The intention was that philosophy is something a person contemplates anew, and while they may rely on the teachings of the religious tradition, the practise of realising oneness and thereby Enlightenment must be their own.