Rev. Morris Sekiyo Sullivan, Volusia Buddhist Fellowship’s primary dharma teacher and spiritual head, received his Sensei credential in 2010 from Bright Dawn Center for Oneness Buddhism, a non-sectarian tradition based on Japanese Mahayana Buddhism.
In 2013, he was honored at White Sands Buddhist Center with dharma transmission from the monastery’s abbot, Ven. Khai Thien, making him a lineage holder—a 42nd generation Master in the Lam Te Chuc Thanh Dharma Lineage of Rinzai Zen. With this acknowledgement came a new dharma name, Pháp Hương Nhất, which means Dharma Fragrance One.
Rev. Sullivan began leading Volusia Buddhist Fellowship meetings in 2004. In 2006, he began meeting weekly with Buddhist inmates at Tomoka Correctional Institution. The prison group now includes approximately 30 inmates. He also ordained as a Theravada monk and studied Vipassana meditation with Than Chaokhun Sunan Phra Vijitrdhammapani, the abbot of Wat Florida Dhammaram in Kissimmee,
Rev. Sullivan’s interest in Buddhism and Eastern Religion began in the 1960s while he was a teenager living in Texas. In the mid-1970s, he began reading about Zen Buddhism while studying philosophy and religion at a community college in Central Florida. His first formal Buddhist practice began around 1990, when a Unitarian minister in Orlando founded a meditation group that followed Thich Nhat Hanh’s Order of Interbeing practice tradition.
Along the way, Rev. Sullivan also explored Tibetan practices like Tonglen and Lojong. While leading meetings of a recovery group that used Rational-Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT) as an alternative to 12-Step self-support, he became fascinated with the similarities between Albert Ellis’ theories about psychology and the Buddha’s teachings.
Last year, the former freelance writer and journalist published his first dharma book, Wisdom; Compassion; Serenity: First Steps on the Buddhist Path. He also recently published Loving Heart, Peaceful Mind, a workbook to accompany retreats and workshops combining REBT and meditation.
He has just completed work on The Buddha’s Path, a collaboration with photographer Gary Monroe (The Highwaymen: Florida’s African-American Landscape Painters) about the Buddhist pilgrimage sites in northern India and Nepal. The book will be available soon from Deer Park Publishing.
Sensei Sullivan speaks regularly at Unitarian Churches and to other groups about applying Buddhist practice to everyday life.