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I met my beautiful & precious niece for the first time this weekend...that's my partner holding her, although you can't really see
That sounds amazing @dhammachick, she must have had fun!
I just found out about a 10 day retreat by Barrie, Ontario which is about a 40 minute drive from where I am and they focus a lot of meditation which is great because I have been lacking in that area. Also, I heard you don't speak for most of the retreat - can't wait!
I think is the basics of Buddhism is compassion and kindness but it's so much more than just these 2 words. We must be kind and compassionate to ourselves and the ones we care about around us. We need to be kind and compassionate to strangers, even when it's difficult or they test our patience. We need to be kind and compassionate to animals. We need to be kind and compassionate to trees, shrubs, plants and flowers. I think if you do this the basics will fall into place.
Currently I'm reading The Tibetan book on Living & Dying. I thought it would be sad and morbid, it's anything but. I came across a quote by Gyalse Rinpoche that I really liked and spoke to me.
Planning for the future is like going fishing in a dry gulch;
Nothing ever works out as you wanted, so give up your schemes & ambitions.
If you have got to think about something - make it the uncertainty of the hour of your death
I got goose bumps just typing it out. It spoke to me because I spend so much time thinking and planning and for what. Even if Buddhism never existed, it's obvious that plans don't always work out and if they do, it's only by coincidence to some degree. I knew this, but still nothing. I recently started practicing not planning and even trying not to assume what is going to happen and just live in the beautiful moment. By assuming an outcome or making a plan for the future I create an illusion of something that has never happened and therefore can't be created by simply planning it. I even find myself now helping others do the same thing. Here is an example.
I'm a trainer at an insurance company (don't hate me) and a new trainer in my department had to teach a class so her agents can obtain a licence to sell insurance in Ontario. She was terrified to do it and scared about what might happen. She thought of all the possibilities (all negative of course). I stopped her and said "do you realise you are creating this really negative event which has never happened". Didn't stop her but it made me understand it more.
Yes, how is that going @JaySon, I have noticed your absence these last few days. I hope all is going well. I miss your posts and advice.