How Do Loving-Kindness and Compassion Relate to One Another?

Loving-kindness and compassion are concepts. They are similar, however also a little different. This week, in the Mindful Self-Compassion class I am running, we discussed these topics. Subsequently, I wanted to share some insights on how loving-kindness and compassion relate to one another.


What is Self-Compassion?

Christopher Germer in his book The Mindful Path to Self-Compassion: Freeing Yourself from Destructive Thoughts and Emotions refers to self-compassion as –

“… simply giving the same kindness to ourselves that we would give to others.”

In Dr Kristin Neff’s book – Self-Compassion: Stop Beating Yourself Up and Leave Insecurity Behind, she talks about –

Self-compassion entails three core components. First, it requires self-kindness, that we be gentle and understanding with ourselves rather than harshly critical and judgmental. Second, it requires recognition of our common humanity, feeling connected with others in the experience of life rather than feeling isolated and alienated by our suffering. Third, it requires mindfulness – that we hold our experience in balanced awareness, rather than ignoring our pain or exaggerating it. We must achieve and combine these three essential elements in order to be truly self-compassionate.”


What is Compassion?

There are a number of definitions on compassion, including –

  • “We define compassion as the feeling that arises in witnessing another’s suffering and that motivates a subsequent desire to help.” ~ Goetz, Keltner & Simon-Thomas
  • “…the desire to remove suffering from the other person” ~ Thich Nhat Hanh
  • the wish that all sentient beings be free from suffering.” ~ Dalai Lama


What is Loving-Kindness?

Loving-kindness is the English translation of the Pali term met, which is also translated as “friendliness”. A couple of definitions of loving-kindness include –

  • “…the desire to offer happiness” ~ Thich Nhat Hanh
  • “the wish that all sentient beings may be happy” ~ Dalai Lama


So, How Do Loving-Kindness and Compassion Relate to One Another?

Both loving-kindness and compassion are practises of good will. When loving-kindness bumps in to suffering (and stays loving), it is compassion. A meditation teacher from Myanmar shares –

“When the sunshine of loving-kindness meets the tears of suffering, the rainbow of compassion arises.”


Over to You…

I hope this post has given you some insights in to how loving-kindness and compassion relate to each other. Is there anything else you would add? If so, please feel free to share your insights below.


If you are ready to reclaim your courage and take the next step towards your freedom and living whole-heartedlywhy not join our Toolkit?


References –

Germer, C. (2009). The Mindful Path to Self-Compassion: Freeing Yourself from Destructive Thoughts and Emotions. New York: Guilford Press.

Goetz, J. L., Keltner, D., & Simon-Thomas, E. (2010). Compassion: an evolutionary analysis and empirical review. Psychological bulletin, 136(3), 351–374. doi:10.1037/a0018807

Neff, K. (2011). Self-Compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself. New York, USA: HarperCollins Publishers.

Nhat Hanh, T. (2007). Teachings on Love. California, USA: Parallax Press.

Leave A Response

* Denotes Required Field