Simple Ways You Can Learn and Teach Loving-Kindness

June 27, 2017 Carol 1 comment

Love and Loving-Kindness

What is love anyway? It’s strange, in a way, that the word hardly requires explaining. It seems that we all just instinctively know what it is!

You will find a number of posts on Simple True Happiness that include a discussion of the term loving-kindness. You’ll also find, if you care to look, an abundance of information on this topic. Wikipedia defines loving-kindness as follows: “Loving-kindness is a specific kind of love conceptualized in various religious traditions, both among theologians and religious practitioners, as a form of love characterized by acts of kindness.” Would you agree that all true love includes expressions of kindness?

Why Should We Care About Kindness?

Because being kind to others makes us happier and healthier!

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“All men have been created to carry forward an ever-advancing civilization. The Almighty beareth Me witness: To act like the beasts of the field is unworthy of man. Those virtues that befit his dignity are forbearance, mercy, compassion and loving-kindness towards all the peoples and kindreds of the earth.”
― Bahá’u’lláh

Imagine a world where everyone everywhere practiced loving-kindness all the time. While that’s probably an impossible dream, every one of us can take steps that bring us ever nearer to that vision. Loving-kindness is learnable. Here are some simple ways you can learn and teach loving-kindness!

Learn Loving-Kindness

Consider these suggestions for increasing your knowledge of loving-kindness, and your proficiency at its practice.

Practice Loving-Kindness Every Day

All that is required is being kind and noticing kindness throughout the day. Embrace any opportunity to take a minute out and do something kind for yourself or for someone else. Pay special attention to the kindness in your life and make an extra effort to be a kind human being.

Looking for some fresh kindness ideas? The Random Act of Kindness Foundation has a host of terrific ideas. Visit this page to browse their database: Kindness Ideas.

Practice Loving-Kindness Meditation

“Lovingkindness meditation gives you a new way to connect with everyone—even the difficult people in your life.” — Sharon Salzberg

The Buddhist Centre: Buddhism for Today  explains loving-kindness meditation as follows: “The original name of this practice is metta bhavana, which comes from the Pali language. Metta means ‘love’ (in a non-romantic sense), friendliness, or kindness: hence ‘loving-kindness’ for short. It is an emotion, something you feel in your heart. Bhavana means development or cultivation. The commonest form of the practice is in five stages, each of which should last about five minutes for a beginner.” For each of the the first four stages, you focus on a person: yourself, then a good friend,  next someone neutral, and for stage four, someone you actually dislike. For the fifth and final stage, you focus on all four of these same people at once; then you “extend your feelings further — to everyone around you, to everyone in your neighborhood; in your town, your country, and so on throughout the world.”

Dalai Lama XIV has a most beautiful and clear description of loving-kindness and the associated meditation stages:

“Just as compassion is the wish that all sentient beings be free of suffering, loving-kindness is the wish that all may enjoy happiness. As with compassion, when cultivating loving-kindness it is important to start by taking a specific individual as a focus of our meditation, and we then extend the scope of our concern further and further, to eventually encompass and embrace all sentient beings. Again, we begin by taking a neutral person, a person who inspires no strong feelings in us, as our object of meditation. We then extend this meditation to individual friends and family members and, ultimately, our particular enemies.

We must use a real individual as the focus of our meditation, and then enhance our compassion and loving-kindness toward that person so that we can really experience compassion and loving-kindness toward others. We work on one person at a time.”

Don’t you love the Dalai Lama’s phrase “we work on one person at a time”? By progressing through the five stages, loving-kindness can eventually spread from your heart to everyone, to all beings everywhere.

For a more detailed explanation of the practice of loving-kindness meditation, see Sharon Salzberg‘s fine article on A Simple Yet Powerful Way to Open the Heart and Connect with Others.

Would you like to teach loving-kindness to the children in your life? Would you like to rid our nation’s schools of violence and bullying? I’m sure that we would all like to see peaceful, caring communities in every corner of our nation.

Here are some ideas to get us all started:

Teach By Example

Encourage your child to get involved in kindness projects. Help her or him to implement their kindness ideas. 

Imbed Teaching About Peace In the Educational Practice of Every School

“We must remember that intelligence is not enough.
Intelligence plus character—that is the goal of true education.”
—Martin Luther King Jr., Morehouse College, 1948

  • To get a sense of what can be done, follow the example of the United Nations International School (UNIS) in New York, where teaching about peace is imbedded in the educational practice.  See Advice From a Third Grader: How to Make Kindness Ripple Throughout the World!
  • The following organizations can help you implement a peace program in your community’s schools:
    • Peaceful Schools provides comprehensive social-emotional education and conflict resolution products and services. Our goal is to empower youth, promote trust and accountability among community members and allow students to experience a sense of safety and belonging that enables them to engage in learning more freely.
    • Teaching Peace Initiative is a nonprofit educational organization, dedicated to inspiring a generation of proactive peacemakers through comprehensive curricula that stress the values of tolerance and open-mindedness.
    • is a source for lessons, book reviews, school projects and peace happenings.

Practice Loving-Kindness Meditation With Your Child

Additional Resources

Quotes for You to Tweet

Tweet this: “Unexpected kindness is the most powerful, least costly, and most underrated agent of human change.” ― Bob Kerrey (1943), American Politician

Tweet this: “Wherever there is a human in need, there is an opportunity for kindness and to make a difference.” ― Kevin Heath , Ceo More4kids

Tweet this: “The best part of life is not just surviving, but thriving with passion and compassion and humor and style and generosity and kindness.” ― Maya Angelou (1928); Poet, Dancer, Producer, Playwright, Director, Author




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