"Loving friendliness, or loving kindness, is a very powerful force to transform suffering. We are all born with seeds of loving friendliness, so we all have the capacity to live it. You can find it mentioned everywhere in the Buddha's teachings. We must nurture the seeds of loving friendliness and help them unfold both in ourselves and in others.
"I travel all over the world teaching. One day I was in an airport near London waiting for a flight. I had quite a bit of time, so I was sitting cross-legged on one of the airport benches with my eyes closed practicing loving-friendliness meditation. Then I felt two tiny, tender hands reaching around my neck. I slowly opened my eyes and discovered a very beautiful little toddler. This little one had put her arms around me and was hugging me. I looked over and saw that her mother had come after her. I did not know what language the child spoke, but I said to her in English, 'Please go to your mother.' The child hung on to my neck and would not let me go. Finally the mother carefully snatched her up. But the last I saw of her, she was still struggling to get loose and run back to me.
"Maybe because of my robes, this little girl thought I was a Santa Claus or some kind of fairy-tale figure. But at the time I was sitting on that bench, I was sending out thoughts of loving friendliness with every breath. Children are extremely sensitive. When you are angry, they feel those vibrations. When you are full of love and compassion, they feel that, too. This little girl may have been drawn to me by the feelings of loving friendliness she felt."