The Healing Principle

The Universal Pressure to Thrive and Flourish



Reaching towards the light.  



All beings everywhere want to be happy.

All beings tremble before danger, all fear death.  

All beings fear before danger, life is dear to all.  

The Buddha



If a mad dog is chasing you, you run away.  

When you cut your finger, it heals up by itself.  



The DNA molecule has the fundamental property that it reproduces itself.  

  1. All living beings are genetically constructed and operated, and therefore, all living beings experience a pressure to reproduce.  
  2. In order to reproduce, they experience a pressure to survive.  
  3. In order to survive, they experience a pressure to flourish ― to thrive and to stay fit, healthy, strong and feeling good.  If they did not do this, they would soon get ill and die.  

These last two, the biological adaptation towards survival and thriving / flourishing, constitute the Healing Principle.  

This is a basic, direct consequence of evolution and natural selection.  It is so obvious that we tend to overlook it in everyday life.  

It has become a fierce biological imperative operating at all times and all levels within all living beings.



How did it become so strong?  


Natural selection

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.

Free Dictionary


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 imperative.  


Inclusive fitness

Inclusive fitness is here defined as the fitness of the individual, the fitness of the individual’s genetic offspring and relatives, and the fitness of the individual’s friends (those who help the individual to survive and thrive).  

The morality in this site is based on inclusive fitness.  It is centred on the individual, just like natural selection.  (see: Circle of Concern)


Facts and values

Human flourishing is probably the main fact that human beings value.  We value it because evolution and natural selection favour that we find it important, because an inclination to thrive and survive increases the chance of reproduction.  


“Benefit / harm” pillar of morality

We spend our days seeking flourishing for ourselves, or those within our circle of inclusive fitness.  

When this seeking of thriving affects others, ethics come into play.  


Nature’s compassion

When we encourage someone to flourish, this is called compassion.  

The Healing Principle – the universal drive towards fitness, flourishing, thriving, well being – is the currency of compassion.  Nature encourages us to flourish.  Active compassion is therefore a part of the fabric of nature and is encouraged by nature.  


We love to see compassion generated

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 intended.  


Benefit and harm in the short and long term

Benefit and harm are defined as whatever makes us feel good or bad (see emotions).  Some things make us feel good in the short term – but are damaging, and therefore make us feel bad, in the long term.  Likewise, some things that are uncomfortable in the short term bring success and happiness 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.  Our purpose is to thrive, and, we hope, ethically.  



Even though evolution is a blind, impersonal, natural process, the Healing Principle looks after each of us personally.  It seeks “my” flourishing.  It is at once universal and particular.  


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 yourself to flourish.  How this affects others is important.

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 he or she 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 socially (for humans, an interdependent species, the two are often linked).  


Ethical direction; the fact/value divide; the is/ought problem

Because the moral formula, the definition of goodness, has the Healing Principle as its raw material, then its ethical direction is “up”, towards more flourishing.  All living things derive value, usefulness, from the evolutionary fact of the Healing Principle.  This is similar to the is/ought problem, where there is a philosophical difficulty in deriving “what one should do” from “what is”.  In practice, as natural evolved beings, what we feel we should do is thrive.  


A rational faith

We can have faith in the Healing Principle, because we can trust that it works to produce real results if we encourage it in the right way.  


An atheist religion?

The Healing Principle is effectively a force that pervades all of nature, so therefore it pervades you.  It within you, without you, and all around you throughout nature: the universal, active drive towards well-being, health, strength, feeling good and survival that is always available to help everyone.  

It is perhaps the most sacred thing we have.  As nature’s compassion (“God’s love”), it forms part of the DNA of the existing major 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 take place in the present moment, the here and now.  


Universal higher consciousness


Consider these:  


Personal consciousness – the consciousness of the individual.  The higher consciousness of the individual can be associated with the Healing Principle or universal pressure to flourish, and with the definition of goodness.  


Collective consciousness –  1) the consciousness generated by the group; the Hive Switch.  2) the flourishing generated between individuals via generosity, empathy, cooperation, connectedness.  


The Hive Switch:  “collective joy”.  


The hive switch is an adaptation for making groups more cohesive, and therefore more successful in competition with other groups”. Muscular bonding.   

Haidt’s Hive hypothesis: “Human beings are conditional hive creatures. We have the ability (under special conditions) to transcend self-interest and lose ourselves (temporarily and ecstatically) in something larger than ourselves … The hive switch is an adaptation for making groups more cohesive, and therefore more successful in competition with other groups”.

(from Jonathan Haidt:  credit)


Think about a football crowd; a choir; a prayer meeting; a rave; collective singing and dancing;  where everyone in the group is acting as one, and feeling high as a result.  


Universal consciousness is the universal pressure to flourish.  It can be called a consciousness because it does things (encourages all living beings to flourish) and has a direction (towards more flourishing).  It can be called universal because it exists within all living beings.  This nurturing phenomenon is traditionally associated with the Mother.


Reality – this phenomenon, “harsh reality”, is traditionally associated with the Father: the head and guide of the rest.  


“Mother” and “Father” may exist within both men and women, boys and girls.




God is love.

The Bible:  1 John 4:8


I will be with you – will you be with Me?  

Richard Foster – “Life with God”


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


behold, the kingdom of God is within you.

Jesus: Luke 17:21


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


Nature loves courage.

Terence McKenna


... 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”


Broken bones always seem to mend.  

Angus & Julia Stone – “The Devil's Tears”


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

The Flowering Brain – neuroscience and healing

Action for Happiness programme of happiness lessons (article)


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 life.  

Fake Buddha quotes


A loves A if A’s happiness depends on A.  

Philip Veasey





The mechanics of making living beings flourish:  non-living objects need to be directly manipulated, but living beings will grow, thrive and flourish of their own accord if the right conditions are in place.