Adventures in Buddhism
By Sensei Morris Doshin Sullivan
Adventures in BuddhismJul 29, 2023
Ullambana and Feeding the Hungry Spirits
Late summer through early fall is an important time for many Buddhist cultures, a time in which we offer food and drink to our ancestors, and we feed the hungry ghosts in our midst. In this episode, Sensei Morris talks about the significance of these observances, including instructions about how the listener also might make an offering to the hungry ghosts.
Every Step of the Journey is the No-Journey
In this talk, Sensei Morris discusses a saying by one of his teachers, Ven. Khai Thien--"Every step of the journey is the journey." He shares thoughts on how to make use of this saying, and also how to transcend it, to experience the "no journey" that the instruction ultimately embodies.
No Peace at White Sands
White Sands Buddhist Center is a peaceful place. And yet, there is no peace at White Sands. In this episode, Sensei Morris Doshin Sullivan talks about how to make peace by embodying peace.
What is Enlightenment?
You often hear that the objective of Buddhist practice is enlightenment. But there are a lot of different views of what constitutes enlightenment. In this episode, Sensei Morris talks about the idea of enlightenment in a way that can help us direct our practice and live more enlightened lives.
Who--Or What--Is Buddha?
Most people come to Buddhism with some ideas about what it means to be "Buddha." But spend some time with Buddhists from different traditions, and you soon see that this word Buddha might change from one context to another. In this talk, Sensei Morris explains some of the different meanings can apply to this word, "Buddha" and how we might use that word to wake up ourselves.
King Ashoka and Religious Tolerance
Many newcomers to Buddhism wonder how their spiritual practice might relate to the spiritual practices of others. In this episode, Sensei Morris Doshin Sullivan talks about the Buddhist king, Ashoka, and his commitment to cooperation between religions. Sensei Morris will also share a short story about a time when King Pasenadi went on a diet.
What does it mean to be free? We talk about freedom often--political freedom, freedom from oppression, and so on. But is that freedom, or is there a spiritual freedom that lies beyond that?
The first factor of the Noble Eightfold Path is Right View. But what does this mean? Do we need to "hold" certain views in order to consider ourselves Buddhist? And is it enough just to believe in the right thing? In this talk, Sensei Morris Doshin Sullivan talks about Right View and the importance of practice in developing wisdom.
The Buddha often talked about the importance of having spiritual friends. In this episode, Sensei Morris Doshin Sullivan addresses a friendly spiritual community about how to get the most out of spiritual friendship.
Dharma Teachers: When the Student is Ready
You hear this saying a lot: "When the student is ready, the teacher appears." But what does it mean to teach the dharma? How can you tell if the teacher who "appears" is one worth following? In this episode, Sensei Morris Doshin Sullivan talks about teaching the dharma and seeking a teacher.
Navigating Difficult Relationships with Loved Ones
In this episode, which includes a talk given on Father's Day 2022 at White Sands Buddhist Center, Sensei Morris Doshin Sullivan talks about how difficult relationships can become a catalyst for spiritual growth.
The Fire Sermon
Soon after his awakening, the Buddha spoke to 1,000 ascetic fire-worshippers, and explained to them how to stop the cycle of mental actions that lead to stress and pain.
All Phenomena are Ruled by the Mind
The first two verses of one of the best known books in Buddhism, The Dhammapada, state that everything we experience is determined by the mind. But what does this mean? And how can we put it to use to increase our wellbeing and improve our experience of life? In this talk, Sensei Morris Doshin Sullivan unpacks those two verses and talks about faith, practice and the mind.
The Buddha Way: The Path
In this episode, Sensei Morris Doshin Sullivan talks about a parable from the Lotus Sutra in which the Buddha explains that the practice is the ultimate way, the way to Buddhahood. He then shares a discussion of an earlier discourse, in which the Buddha explains the factors of the Noble Eightfold Path.
The Greatest Blessings
The Buddha was once asked, "What is the highest blessing?" His answer became a comprehensive guide to living well on the Buddhist path.
Spiritual Truths: How to Tell if a Teaching is Reliable
In the modern world, we have access to countless religious and otherwise spiritual traditions and teachers. Some of these teachings can sound pretty good. But how can we tell if a teaching is going to take us down the path we want to travel? In this episode, Sensei Morris shares a conversation the Buddha had with his own stepmother about that topic.
What Do I Need? Part Five
In this episode, Sensei Morris wraps up his discussion of essential elements of Buddhist practice with a talk about skillful means and Buddha Nature.
What Do I Need? Part Four
In this episode, Sensei Morris continues the series of essential elements of Buddhist practice with a discussion of Buddhas and Bodhisattvas.
What Do I Need to Know? Part Three
In this episode, Sensei Morris Doshin Sullivan talks about the second turning of the Wheel of Dharma, with the teachings on emptiness and the way of the bodhisattva.
What do I Need to Know, Part Two
In this episode, Sensei Morris continues his discussion of the day-to-day usefulness of the Buddha's key teachings, with an emphasis on the discourse on anatta--the not-self characteristic--and the factors of dependent origination.
What do I Need to Know, Part One
A lot of people starting out exploring Buddhism can get overwhelmed by the prospect of learning how to practice. There are so many resources, from so many different schools and viewpoints, it can be very confusing. In this first in a series of talks, Sensei Morris talks about the foundations of Buddhist practice and how to make them useful in your real life.
Want a gift that will last forever, won't wear out, and that you won't have any desire to exchange? In this episode, Sensei Morris Doshin Sullivan offers you some gifts you can give yourself that will also benefit others: kindness, gratitude and purpose.
Awake: The Factors of Enlightenment
What does it mean to "be" enlightened? In this episode, which Sensei Morris Doshin Sullivan gave on Bodhi Day, 2021, he talks about the seven factors of enlightenment and how we might use them as a blueprint for enlightened living.
The Buddha was once asked, "Are you a god?" And he answered, "I am awake." In this talk, Sensei Morris Doshin Sullivan discusses how a human being just like us became the awakened one, and what it means to us and our spiritual lives. This talk was given a few days before Bodhi Day, 2021.
Can you be Buddhist and Jewish, Christian, Muslim, etc.? Can one practice more than one religion at once? A number of people attempt to add Buddhism to the religion of their family or their culture. Is it possible to do and do it well? In this episode, Sensei Morris Doshin Sullivan talks about some ways this might work.
Trading Pleasure for Bliss
A monk--a former king--sat in the forest meditating and exclaiming, "What bliss!" He had let go of a life of kingly status, and in return received heavenly bliss. In this episode, Sense Morris Doshin Sullivan talks about the Buddhist principle of renunciation--of letting go of short term gratification in favor of long term happiness.
Questions from the Buddha Hall
After a dharma talk, Sensei Morris typically opens the floor for questions about Buddhist practice. In this episode, he shares some of the results of those question and answer periods.
Self-Compassion--Being Kind to Yourself
Many people are compassionate toward others, but have trouble extending that same compassion toward themselves. In this episode, Sensei Morris Doshin Sullivan talks about the myth of self-esteem and about how to create self-compassion instead.
Generosity and Spiritual Practice
Many people come to Buddhism looking for meditation and special practices. But the first lesson in Buddhism is one of the first lessons many of us receive as children--it is important to share. In this episode, Sensei Morris talks about some of the ways to develop a giving heart, and the way we will benefit spiritually as a result.
How to Tell the Truth
When exploring your spiritual path, how can you tell if you're on the right track? In this episode, Sensei Morris talks about the Buddha's advice on how to tell if your spiritual path was taking you somewhere worth going.
Life is Too Serious to Take Too Seriously
Of course, spiritual practice is an important matter. However, the ability to laugh--and especially to laugh at ourselves--is an important skill to bring along on our spiritual journey. Even the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Tutu consider it essential to living a joyful life. In this episode, Sensei Morris Doshin Sullivan talks about not taking ourselves too seriously.
Mindfulness of Time
Time, and awareness of its preciousness, is an important topic in Buddhist teachings. In this episode, Sensei Morris talks about how to be mindful of time in a way that supports and encourages spiritual growth.
At one time or another, almost everyone has been harmed by someone else. Often, we carry the weight of this harm long after any physical damage is healed. In this episode, Sensei Morris Doshin Sullivan talks about how to begin the healing process by practicing forgiveness.
The Value of Heedfulness
Mindfulness is a big buzz-word these days, but there's a related idea we can call "heedfulness" that the Buddha considered supremely important. In this episode, Sensei Morris Doshin Sullivan shares a story about Sariputta and heedfulness, and then a dharma talk he gave on the subject.
In this episode, Sensei Morris Doshin Sullivan talks about the fifth factor of the Noble Eightfold Path, Right Livelihood.
Faith, Worship and Buddhist Practice
Many people don't think of Buddhism as a faith tradition--the Buddha was a human being who realized something we can realize if we do the things he did. But faith and worship are still important elements to Buddhism. In Episode 26, Sensei Morris Doshin Sullivan talks about how faith and worship align with practice to lead to liberation.
Masks: Showing Your Original Face
In this episode, Sensei Morris Doshin Sullivan tells a story about an unusual lesson in charity Mogallana gave, and then shares a dharma talk on the benefits of being authentic.
Be the Refuge, with Chenxing Han
In this episode, Sensei Morris talks about a time when Sariputta showed his compassion for the poor and neglected people in society, and then shares his conversation with Chenxing Han, the author of Be the Refuge: Raising the Voices of Asian American Buddhists.
The Buddha was at times referred to as "the Tathagata," and that term appears in Buddhist scripture and liturgy almost universally across traditions. In this episode, Sensei Morris discusses its meaning and how we might apply Tathagata to our practice.
Buddhism for Real People
Sometimes Buddhist practice can seem abstract, or too geared toward monasticism. But the Buddha gave his teachings to people from all walks of life, not just monks or spiritual strivers. He talked to everyone from kings to soldiers and farmers. We can use these teachings to live more skillfully, in whatever circumstances we find ourselves.
Buddhism and REBT: A Conversation with Dr. Debbie Joffe Ellis
Dr. Debbie Joffe Ellis is a licensed psychologist in Australia, mental health counselor in New York, and noted speaker and teacher on the subject of Rational-Emotive Behavior Therapy. Her late husband, Albert Ellis PhD, developed Rational-Emotive Behavior Therapy in the 1950s, and his books on the subject had an enormous influence on the science of psychology and the mental health profession. REBT also had a huge influence on Sensei Morris' approach to Buddhism. In this episode, Dr. Joffe Ellis shares her insights on the intersection of REBT and Buddhism.
The Importance of Compassion
In this episode, Sensei Morris talks about a time when Mogallana's compassion for his mother led to an event still observe by Buddhists around the world today, and then shares a dharma talk he gave at White Sands Buddhist Center on the importance of compassion.
Sangha: The importance of spiritual community
In this episode, Sensei Morris relates a time when the Buddha helped Mogallana cope with drowsiness during meditation. He then shares a dharma talk about the third jewel of Buddhist practice, the sangha, and the way being together as a community helps us strengthen our own practice and that of others, too.
Leap Before You Look
In this episode, Sensei Morris Doshin Sullivan talks about an occasion when Mogallana used his powers to help a group of overly boisterous monks awaken. He then shares another adventure story of a more personal nature, with instructions on how to awaken your own abilities.
Profits and Prophets: An interview with Bharat Jhunjhunwala
In this episode, Sensei Morris talks about an analogy Sariputta once used to describe the essentials of awakening, and then interviews Bharat Jhunjuhnwala, economist, journalist and author of "Common Prophets of Jews, Christians, Muslims and Hindus," about economics and his hopes for cooperation between Indian and Abrahamic faiths.
The Chalice of Spiritual Practice
In this episode, Sensei Morris Doshin Sullivan talks about a time when the Buddha rebuked Sariputta for stopping short of helping a student fully realize the spiritual path, and then shares a dharma talk--one given outdoors, accompanied by singing cicadas and passing trains--about how we can develop our own paths more fully.
Why Practice Buddhism?
In this episode, Sensei Morris talks about one of the fruits of Buddhist practice that Sariputta experienced, then shares a dharma talk at White Sands Buddhist Center that looks at questions like "What good does it do me to meditate?" and "What does it mean to be enlightened?"
How to be Amazing
In this episode, Sensei Morris tells us about a time when the Buddha turned down an offer from Mogallana to use his special powers to feed some hungry monks. Then we hear his dharma talk about how we can develop super powers equal to those of Superman himself.
The Origin and Significance of the Flag of Buddhism
In this episode, Sensei Morris talks about how the Buddhist flag came into being and what its colors signify. But first, he tells the story of an elephant, a monkey and a partridge, and how their tale connects to the tradition of seniority among monks.
Episode 12: Zen Peacemakers
Sensei Morris tells about an interesting exchange between Sariputta and a young novice, and a similar comment by Dogen Zenji, founder of Soto Zen. He then interviews Geoff Shōun O’Keeffe, executive director of Zen Peacemakers International, about how the dharma has shaped his life both inside and outside the zendo.