Matsubara was born into and grew up in a Zen temple family in the Myoshinji denomination of the Rinzai School in Japan. Following his Zen monastic training in Heirinji Monastery, he earned a PhD in Asian religions from Cornell University (2009). He taught Buddhist studies and East Asian languages and cultures, as well as religious studies, at UC Berkeley (2009-2013) and was the BDK Fellow at the Ho Center for Buddhist Studies at Stanford University (2013-2014). Currently he is a visiting scholar at the East Asia Program at Cornell University. In addition, he is a research associate at the Contemplative Studies Initiative at Brown University. He currently resides in Oakland, California.