Being a Part-Time Buddha

posted in: Dharma Topics | 0
May 20, 2021, 7:00 to 8:45 pm
Silver Spring, Maryland, community online on Thursday evening
May 21, 2021, 7:00 to 8:45 pm
Open to all online on Friday evening
Dear Still Water Friends,

Yesterday morning, I started the day with a nourishing loving-kindness meditation. But not long afterward I became frustrated with my daughter for leaving her face mask in the car after I had reminded her to bring it with her as we went into a public building. Even after retrieving the mask, I struggled to let go of my annoyance. As part of me clung to the suffering of not being heard, another part of me recognized that I wasn’t being very mindful or kind. I became frustrated with myself and even with my mindfulness practice: “Didn’t I meditate this morning? Why am I still suffering and making others suffer as well.”

Sometimes, the most basic practices of mindfulness can feel just beyond my reach. It can be hard to slow down, to become present, and to become aware of my habitual reactions. When I struggle with becoming present, I wonder “Will my practice of meditation and mindfulness ever be enough?”

Once, I posed the question of how much mindfulness practice is enough to Still Water’s Senior Teacher, Mitchel Ratner. His response was, “Some mindfulness is good, more is better.” This simple notion is for me both grounding and encouraging. It helps me keep focused on the joy and calm I find through the practice, without getting lost in striving to reach some particular outcome. In the introduction to Love’s Garden, Thich Nhat Hanh writes about how the process of becoming more awakened is often nonlinear.

When you begin to practice Buddhism, you begin as a part-time Buddha and slowly you become a full-time Buddha. Sometimes you fall back and become a part-time Buddha again, but with steady practice you become a full-time Buddha again. Buddhahood is within reach because, like the Buddha, you’re a human being. You can become a Buddha whenever you like; the Buddha is available in the here and now, anytime, anywhere.

When you are a part-time Buddha, your romantic relationships may go well some of the time. When you are a full-time Buddha, you can find a way to be present and happy in your relationship full time, no matter what difficulties arise. Becoming a Buddha is not so difficult. A Buddha is someone who is enlightened, capable of loving and forgiving. You know that at times you’re like that. So enjoy being a Buddha. When you sit, allow the Buddha in you to sit. When you walk, allow the Buddha in you to walk. Enjoy your practice. If you don’t become a Buddha, who will?

You are invited to join us this Thursday and Friday evenings. We will begin our Dharma sharing with these questions:

  • When are you most likely to experience yourself as a part-time Buddha?
  • When are you most likely to feel discouraged by the difficulties your encounter in your practice of mindfulness?
  • What helps you return to the practice when you feel discouraged?

Another excerpt from Thich Nhat Hanh’s introduction is below.

Warm wishes,

Rachel Phillips-Anderson

Special Still Water announcements:

Online morning practice is wonderful.
It nourishes our calm, focus, and clarity, and prepares us for the challenges of our day. Each session offers sitting meditation, walking meditation, introductions, a mindfulness reading, and Dharma sharing. You are invited to join us.

Silver Spring Online Group
Monday, Wednesday, Friday, 7:00 – 8:00 am EDT. Please contact Ann at

Takoma Park Online Group
Tuesday, Thursday, 7:30 – 8:40 am EDT. Please contact Eliza at

Ashton Online Group
Tuesday, Thursday, 7:00 – 8:10 am EDT. Please contact Gene at

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Two Gardens
From Thich Nhat Hanh’s introduction to Love’s Garden

You have two gardens: your own garden and that of your beloved. First, you have to take care of your own garden and master the art of gardening. In each one of us there are flowers and there is also garbage. The garbage is the anger, fear, discrimination, and jealousy within us. If you water the garbage, you will strengthen the negative seeds. If you water the flowers of compassion, understanding, and love, you will strengthen the positive seeds. What you grow is up to you.

If you don’t know how to practice selective watering in your own garden, then you won’t have enough wisdom to help water the flowers in the garden of your beloved. In cultivating your own garden well, you also help to cultivate her or his garden. Even a week of practice can make a big difference. You are more than intelligent enough to do the work. You need to take your situation in hand and not allow it to get out of control. You can do it. Every time you practice walking mindfully, investing your mind and body in every step, you are taking your situation in hand. Every time you breathe in and know you are breathing in, every time you breathe out and smile to your out-breath, you are yourself, you are your own master, and you are the gardener in your own garden. We are relying on you to take good care of your garden, so that you can help your beloved to take care of hers.

When you have succeeded with yourself and with your beloved, you become a sangha—a community of two people—and now you can be a refuge for a third person, and then for a fourth, and so on. In this way, the sangha will grow. There is mutual understanding between you and your beloved. When mutual understanding is there and communication is good, then happiness is possible, and the two of you can become a refuge for others.

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