The process in nature by which, according to Darwin's theory of evolution, organisms
that are better adapted to their environment tend to survive longer and transmit
more of their genetic characteristics to succeeding generations than do those that
are less well adapted.
After life started on Earth, the Healing Principle would quickly have become stronger
and stronger within successive generations of living things, because those that most
sought to preserve their health and survival would have out-lived and therefore out-reproduced
the others. Through this process of accumulation of positive traits, the adaptation
we can call the Healing Principle would soon have become a fierce, primary, universal
This means that nature wants you to survive, in vigorous health. We can encourage
this imperative with self-nurturing actions, or obstruct it with self-destructive
In practice, it means making the most of environmental conditions, and doing the
work of nurturing, of putting the right conditions in place so that well being can
Facts and values
Human flourishing is probably the main fact that human beings value. We value it
because evolution and natural selection favour behaviour that encourages health and
survival, because these factors increase the chance of reproduction.
What we do for ourselves we can do for others, and this is called compassion. We
spend our days seeking, gaining or maintaining flourishing, evolutionary fitness;
aiming to feel good in the short or long term (or preferably both). In itself this
is morally neutral, but we may do it in a good or bad way as far as it affects other
The Healing Principle – fitness, flourishing, well being – is the currency of compassion.
Active compassion is therefore part of the fabric of nature.
We love compassion
We love to see the Healing Principle at work in ourselves. We love to see others
happy and flourishing. We love and admire people we describe as brave, those who
risk their own well-being for the sake of others, or who expend effort for others,
or who protect others. We feel good when we produce it in others: when we share
our own well-being with others.
Frequent short-sightedness of the Healing Principle
Nature has built us for survival rather than happiness. However, of course, we want
both. The Healing Principle can sometimes be rather blind and troublesome in its
operations, which can lead to unhappiness, for example when it makes us selfish,
or thoughtless of consequences, or when the ego and emotional systems, trying to
protect us, constantly have us in a state of worry and high alert. If we want to
achieve happiness, then we may need to modify the natural order slightly, so as to
apply the Healing Principle in a way that is more optimum for happiness than nature
Short and long term consequences
Some things make us feel good in the short term – but are damaging in the long term.
Likewise, some things that are uncomfortable in the short term bring success in
the long term. The short term only lasts a short time, while the long term can last
for a significant chunk of your life.
A natural purpose
The Healing Principle – the drive to achieve flourishing and feeling good, in the
short and long term – can be thought of as one of nature’s purposes for us.
A rational faith
The Healing Principle – nature’s tendency to thrive in response to nurturing – is
an idea we can have faith in to help achieve compassionate results, because it is
rational, and because coupled with insight, it really works.
Unconditional love, forgiveness, redemption
The Healing Principle is unconditional because it's available to good and evil people
equally – there's no moral judgement involved, and one doesn't have to earn it by
being a good person. You just have to be good at putting the right conditions in
place for you to flourish. How you do it is the moral part.
It's redemptive because no matter how terrible your life is, nature’s tendency to
make you flourish is always there trying to help you become well, and if you decide
to access it, encourage it and work with it explicitly, it can work miracles in your
life. A good example would be a drug addict. Drugs can ruin a person’s life, but
if they can get clean and take steps to make themselves healthy, their world can
become a beautiful place again.
No matter how many times we go wrong, there's always some kind of chance available
to make things better again, whether individually or morally (for humans, the two
tend to be interlinked).
An atheist religion?
The Healing Principle is effectively a force that pervades all of nature, so therefore
it pervades you. It is at once personal and transcendent, within you, without you,
and all around you throughout nature: the universal, active drive towards well-being,
health, strength, feeling good and survival.
It is perhaps the most sacred thing we have. As nature’s compassion (“God’s love”),
it forms one of the DNA strands of the existing organized religions, and together
with the concept of truth, affords a mystical and spiritual perspective to atheists,
as well as the grounding of an ethics of compassion.
The nurturing actions required by the Healing Principle can be treated as a meditation,
since actions necessarily occur in the present moment, the present time and place.
I will be with you – will you be with Me?
Richard Foster – “Life with God – a life-transforming new approach to Bible reading”
Did not He find thee an orphan, and shelter thee?
Did not He find thee erring, and guide thee?
Did not He find thee needy, and suffice thee?
As for the orphan, do not oppress him,
and as for the beggar, scold him not;
and as for thy Lord’s blessing, exalt it.
The Qu’ran: Sura 93
Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you
will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who
asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door
will be opened.
Jesus: Matthew 7:7,8
The disciples said to Jesus, “Tell us what the kingdom of heaven is like.” He said
to them, “It is like a mustard seed. It is the smallest of all seeds. But when it
falls on tilled soil, it produces a great plant and becomes a shelter for the birds
of the sky.”
Jesus: Gospel of St Thomas
... evolution selects for adaptive actions.
Michael Tomasello – “A Natural History of Human Thinking”
In the midst of winter, I found there was, within me, an invincible summer. And
that makes me happy. For it says that no matter how hard the world pushes against
me, within me, there’s something stronger – something better, pushing right back.
Albert Camus – “Return to Tipasa”
In all species, nature works to renew itself as it works to nourish itself, and to
protect itself from danger, each by its kind and for its kind, in the great work
of continuation that is evolution. In humankind the work of renewal lies in the work
of affection, the bond of one to another made by desire.
A C Grayling – “The Good Book: a secular Bible”
Eventually Muhammed’s religion of al-Llah was known as islām, the act of existential
surrender that each convert was expected to make to God: a muslim is ‘one who surrenders’
his or her whole being to the Creator. At first, however, the believers called their
religion tazaqqa. This is an obscure word, which is not easy to translate. By cultivating
tazaqqa, Muhammed’s converts were to cloak themselves in the virtues of compassion
and generosity; they were to use their intelligence to cultivate a caring and responsible
spirit, which made them want to give graciously of what they had to all God’s creatures.
By pondering the mysteries of creation intelligently Muslims would learn to behave
kindly and this generous attitude would mean that they acquired a spiritual refinement.
Al-Llah was the great exemplar. Muslims were urged to contemplate His ‘signs’ in
order to appreciate His graciousness to the whole of the natural world. As a consequence
of his generous intelligence, there was order and fruitfulness instead of chaos and
selfish barbarism. If they submitted to His edicts, they would find that their own
lives could be transfigured by a similar refinement.
Karen Armstrong – “Muhammad”
chance uk – nurturing and healing troubled children
What is the difference between “I like you” and “I love you”? Beautifully answered
by Buddha. Buddha’s answer was so simple. When you like a flower, you just pluck
it. But when you love a flower, you water it daily. One who understands this, understands
The little girl loves the flower and so she waters it. Then the flower grows of
its own accord, and this is a universal principle of nature. You can be, at the same
time, the little girl and the flower. The water is compassion. What we do for ourselves
we can do for others.