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Mary E. Vandenack: Loving Kindness

A Gift To Consider For The Holiday Season

(page 2 of 3)

WHAT IS LOVING KINDNESS?

Sometimes, we see others in the world as inconvenient hassles who are "in our way." We may think what we need, what we think, or where we are going is more important than anything that is going on for anyone else. The goal of loving kindness is to look at every being with the realization that all beings are important and relevant.

I found definition of "loving-kindness" in Wikipedia. Loving-kindness is defined as:

  • friendliness
  • benevolence
  • amity
  • good will
  • kindness
  • love
  • sympathy
  • close mental union
  • active interest in others

Loving kindness is ultimately unconditional, totally inclusive love. It is not dependent on whether love is "deserved" or not. There are no expectations of anything in return.

CULTIVATING LOVING KINDNESS

The practice of loving kindness comes from a variety of traditions. Sometimes, the terminology is different. In this article, I am going to describe a meditational practice used in Buddhism to develop loving kindness. The meditation is thought to result in the characteristics of friendliness, compassion, appreciative joy, and equanimity.

While the ultimate goal of loving kindness is to see all beings as relevant, the first practice is to cultivate loving kindness toward oneself. Without true self love, loving kindness cannot be projected outward. In relation to self love, the expectation is not that of instant magical transformation of ourselves into someone that we want to be but rather to find love for ourselves as we are.

Once loving kindness has been successfully cultivated toward oneself, the practice progresses. The next practice is to cultivate loving kindness towards someone for whom you have respect and appreciation already. Then, you practice cultivating loving kindness towards loved ones and close friends. Next, you would practice with respect to someone that you know but about whom your feelings are neutral. Then, you seek to practice loving kindness toward those that are hostile toward you. Finally, loving kindness is directed at all beings.

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