What is the difference between Loving-kindness and love we feel for loved ones?
It’s very similar, but the feeling that we have for someone is contained, channeled into this one person. That is wonderful, that is great, there is very little difference. I would say though that to compare it would be like comparing it to a flower that’s just budding. You see the beauty just in one little place here [the bud]. It’s just there.
But the Loving-kindness in the meditation that we’re practicing, and that the Buddha taught, is like full bloom; there is no restriction, it’s completely open. This kind of Loving-kindness, that is fully open, also supports this kind of love that we have for loved ones.
Slowly we start to understand how this feeling works, how the mind works, and how it can be fully mature, so that this feeling can in fact feed the love that we have for the people that we already love.
It also has a chance to open up and not only contingent to a fistful of people, but to all living beings around us. The Buddha in fact said that to have loved, to experience love and Loving-kindness for someone in particular is very wholesome, but to develop Loving-kindness for all living beings in all directions is some of the highest merit that a human being can do.