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Volusia Buddhist Fellowship
Morris Sekiyo Sullivan
1493 W. Beresford Ave.
DeLand   Florida
USA   32720
(386) 738-3715

  Morris Sekiyo Sullivan Bio

I grew up in Texas, in a very traditional Baptist family. I became interested in Eastern religion and meditation in the late 1960s, at about age 12. There were no teachers in my area, but I learned what I could from books, sporadic yoga classes and fellow martial arts students.

I studied religion in college in the 1970s, and felt drawn to Buddhism, especially Zen. Even after moving to Florida, however, I never had much direction or instruction until the early 1990s, when I found a Unitarian pastor in Orlando who had attended retreats with Thich Naht Hanh leading a meditation group based on the Order of Interbeing model.

About the same time, I began leading a Rational Recovery group that met at the same church. RR was based on Albert Ellis, Ph.D.’s Rational-Emotive Behavior Therapy, and I observed dramatic similarities between REBT and Buddhism. What I learned during those years working with REBT continues to inform my Buddhist practice, which expanded to include Insight Meditation and Tibetan practices.

In 2004, a meditation group formed at a Unitarian Church in DeLand, where I live. DeLand is a small town inland from Daytona Beach and about an hour from Orlando. It eventually fell to my wife and me to lead the group, and we organized our first Change Your Mind Day, bringing representatives from several Buddhist traditions together for a day of dharma talks. We will host our sixth such event this fall.

In 2004, my wife and I also met Than Chaokhun Sunan Phra Vijitrdhammapani, the abbot of Wat Florida Dhammaram in Kissimmee, Fla. and we began attending dhamma talks and special events at the temple. In 2006, I scrounged together vacation and sick leave to ordain for a brief but meaningful monastic retreat.

Almost five years ago, I was invited to talk to a group of inmates at Tomoka Correctional Institution. The inmates had declared their religion as Buddhism, but were not permitted to assemble and practice without a volunteer present. That turned into weekly meetings, which I now share with a Zen monk from a neighboring county. In addition to the regular meetings, Together, we have organized four Zazenkai (day of practice) sessions, spending several hours in meditation and dharma talks in the prison chapel.

I had been looking for some time for a program that would give me the credentials needed to perform some of the functions needed by growing Buddhist communities like the ones in DeLand and at the prison. However, DeLand and the surrounding area is not densely populated enough to support multiple Buddhist organizations, and prison inmates come to us with highly divergent sectarian points of view, so I preferred a program that would help me serve a diverse group of people with varied spiritual needs.

I stumbled across information about the Bright Dawn Institute for American Buddhism ministry program online and got a basic description of it from a student who was in the group before ours. I visited the main website and liked what I read, so I did more research into the program and its teacher, Rev. Koyo Kubose, before applying to the program. Bright Dawn and Koyo-sensei seemed to offer what I was looking for. After two years, I find that it gave me what I had hoped for, and a lot more besides.

My own practice has deepened immeasurably. More important, however, my ability to support others has grown by leaps and bounds. I consider myself very, very fortunate to have found the program, and truly privileged to have spent time with instruction from Rev. Kubose.

Effective May 26, 2010 I am a Bright Dawn Institute for American Buddhism Lay Minister.

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