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For other uses, see Kindness (disambiguation).
Kindness is a virtue in many cultures and religions. The above picture is from a Laotian temple, depicting the parable of Buddha and the elephant Nalagiri. Devadutta, jealous of Buddha and wanting to hurt him, sends an angry elephant named Nalagiri into a street where Buddha and his colleagues were walking. As the angry Nalagiri approached them, Buddha's loving kindness and friendliness tames Nalagiri. The parable suggests kindness affects everyone. Buddhists call such kindness in virtuous state of perfection as Mettā,[1] while some Indian literature refer to it as maitrī (Sanskrit: मैत्री).[2][3]

Kindness is a behavior marked by ethical characteristics, a pleasant disposition, and concern for others. It is known as a virtue, and recognized as a value in many cultures and religions (see ethics in religion).

  • According to Book Two of Aristotle's "Rhetoric" it is defined as virtue.[4] It is defined as being "helpfulness towards someone in need, not in return for anything, nor for the advantage of the helper himself, but for that of the person helped".[5]
  • Philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche argued that kindness and love are the "most curative herbs and agents in human intercourse".[6]
  • Kindness is considered to be one of the Knightly Virtues.[7]
  • According to eighteenth century Bohemian philosopher Honza z Žižkova, kindness is the most important part of his practical philosophy on deceiving bureaucracy.[8]
  • In Meher Baba's teachings, God is synonymous with kindness: "God is so kind that it is impossible to imagine His unbounded kindness!"[9]


In 2009, analysts warned that 'real kindness changes people in the doing of it, often in unpredictable ways. Real kindness is an exchange with essentially unpredictable consequences'.[10]

They also argue that, in a relationship, 'real kindness, real fellow-feeling, entails hating and being hated - that is, really feeling available frustrations – and through this coming to a more real relationship'.[11]

In literature[edit]

  • "Kindness is 'Pure Love' expressed / experienced / realized ~ 'Human Kindness' defines the fate of Humankind." Jaime Corpus Reyes, Waves Of Kindness Global Initiative [12]
  • It has been suggested that 'most of Shakespeare's opus could be considered a study of human kindness'.[13]
  • Robert Louis Stevenson considered that 'the essence of love is kindness; and indeed it may best be defined as passionate kindness: kindness, so to speak, run mad and become importunate and violent'.[14] Stevenson brought up an interesting thought; however, some argue that the essence of kindness is love. This argument stands on the grounds that love breeds other virtues such as goodness, self-control, and kindness.
  • The Christian apostle Paul lists kindness as one of the nine traits considered to be the "fruit of the Spirit" [15] in Galatians 5:22.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Harvey, Peter (2007). An Introduction to Buddhism: Teachings, History and Practices. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-31333-3
  2. ^ Warder, A. K. (1970; reprinted 2004). Indian Buddhism. Motilal Banarsidass: Delhi. ISBN 81-208-1741-9
  3. ^ Gonda, J. (Ed.). (1977), A History of Indian Literature: Epics and Sanskrit religious literature, Medieval religious literature in Sanskrit (Vol. 2), Otto Harrassowitz Verlag; see page 62 and note 43
  4. ^ Aristotle's Rhetoric: Book II - Chapter 7
  5. ^ Aristotle (translated by Lee Honeycutt). "Kindness". Rhetoric, book 2, chapter 7. Archived from the original on December 13, 2004. Retrieved 2005-11-22. 
  6. ^ Nietzsche, Friedrich Wilhelm. "On the History of Moral Feelings," Human, all too human: a book for free spirits. Aphorism 48. [Original: Menschliches, Allzumenschiles, 1878.] Trans. Marion Faber with Stephen Lehman. University of Nebraska Press: First Printing, Bison Books, 1996.
  7. ^ The Manual of Life - Character
  8. ^ What is Kindness?
  9. ^ Kalchuri, Bhau (1986). Meher Prabhu: Lord Meher, 11, Myrtle Beach: Manifestation, Inc., p. 3918.
  10. ^ Adam Phillips & Barbara Taylor, On Kindness (London 2009) p. 12
  11. ^ Phillips, p. 94
  12. ^ Waves of Kindness
  13. ^ Lagrette Tallent Lenker, Fathers and Daughters in Shakespeare and Shaw (2001) p. 107
  14. ^ robert Louis Stevenson, Virginibus Puerisque (London 1909) p. 35
  15. ^ Galatians 5:22, New International Version

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]