What does it mean to love all beings?

What, exactly, does it mean to “love all beings”? When someone says “May all beings be happy,” what does that mean?

Here’s my sense of it.

Love for all beings is a feeling and a stance. It is a feeling of love, of mettā, of friendliness and good will. And it is a stance, an approach, an orientation towards others.

It means that we noticed that we want to be happy, that we deserve to be happy, not as an inalienable right but as an intrinsic worthiness—that all of our friends and loved ones also want to be happy, are worthy of the same—and that the same is true for all life, all are worthy of happiness.

It means that we noticed that one being—ourselves, a family member or friend, a pet or small child—is worthy of love, not just because they are who they are, not solely because of circumstantial or conditional reasons, but also simply because they are alive, simply because they are a living being. We noticed that the very fact of life is a miracle, sacred and precious—that life is worth respecting and loving and caring for, in and of itself, axiomatically—and therefore that all beings, all life, is worthy of that same love and respect.

It means that we do not privilege one category of being over another. We love humans, but we also love animals and plants and the Earth itself. Should we encounter alien life, we are prepared to love them, too. Should there be immaterial beings, we would love them, too. Should the multiverse hold other realms with other beings, we see them as worthy of our love.

It means that we noticed that suffering is intolerable, inexcusable wherever we find it, whatever amount or context it is in, whoever is experiencing it. We would not want to suffer ourselves, we would not want our friends and family members to suffer, we would not want anyone to suffer. We would do everything we can to reduce or eliminate suffering, for any and all beings.

It does not mean that you like all beings, although you might aspire to. It does not mean you are a pushover, that you are lovey dovey and nice in all circumstances, that you have no boundaries. It means that you aspire to choose the loving action, that you strive to act lovingly in your behavior, to manifest kindness in your life.

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