Inner Friendship For Naturalists

10:00 AM - August 12, 2014 by Jonathan Burch

Inner Friendship For Naturalists

(Secular Humanists, Atheists

And All Others Who 

Do Not Believe In The Supernatural)

    Inner friendship is about receiving wise guidance from your inner voices that know better than you do how you should respond in your circumstances to be happy.   You experience the source of your inner voices, hunches, thoughts or feelings as a person who becomes your inner friend.

    For a naturalist, who does not believe in the supernatural, but believes in the reality of physical nature of which we are all a part, your inner friend is a personality in your natural, evolved unconscious.  How is it possible that some part of your unconscious knows better than you do consciously how you should respond in a situation to move toward your fulfillment as a whole person - your happiness?

    We have only recently learned about the unconscious in a scientific sense through the work of Sigmund Freud, Carl Jung and others.  What we haves learned is that the unconscious is a rich landscape of personalities and archetypes that have evolved to help us live successfully as we mature from infancy to adulthood to old age.

    What does psychology suggest about how this wise internal guidance might happen?  Recently there was a series of experiments which shpwed the brain's ability to average manythings together to form an average image.  Frist 32 pictures of faces of women of different races and facial types were averaged together by a computer.  Then the picture of this average face was rated by other people on its attractiveness.  The average face was rated as very attractive, even beautiful.  Then the same experiment was repeated with men.  The result was that the average male face was very attractive, even handsome.    

    A conclusion of these experiments was that the human brain had an ability to average mental images of faces, and the the average human face was beautiful.  In a way it makes sense.  Think of the people you know who have a good looking face, except for the large hook nose, or very large lips, or ears too low, too big or too high.  These features that do not look good, are averaged out in the average face, which is then beautiful to humans.  Average human is beautiful!

    Now apply this principle to typical human situations and typical human responses to those situations.  Over many years of watching people respond to those situations, one accumulates many such examples of how to respond to a typical situation.  If the brain averages all the successful responses to that typical situation, it can make a mental image or template of the typical successful human response to that situation.  It could also be that these template responses are taught by culture to new generations, who do not have to learn them by trial and error.

    This is how it works.  This template system of successful human responses evolved in the unconscious.  It cannot speak to us consciously with conscious verbal language, words, so it communicates with us with something that is understood in both the conscious mind and the unconscious mind - emotions and feelings.

    When you are thinking about a particular response to a situation, you will have a feeling about it.  If your proposed response is a good match to the successful template for that situation, you will feel peace and harmony.  If your proposed response is a little off, you will feel anxiety.  As the proposed response gets farther and farther away form the successful response template and toward a dangerous response template, the feelings change from fear to terror to panic, trying to warn you more and more insistently not to do it. 

    These feelings are your introduction to your inner friend who knows better than you do consciously what is the right response for you in your circumstance to lead to your fulfillment as a whole person - your happiness.  Your inner friend is there, evolved in your unconscious, and ready to guide you to full life, if you will listen and follow.  You do that through an active, loving inner friendship.

    Something you will discover is that your inner friends evolved to help you succeed in life, and as a part of that has evolved a desire to lovingly help you.   Your inner friend is a positive  personality inside you who has feelings and desires and can love you, just as you can love your inner friend.  

    Evolution copies what works.  Nature evolved the efficient, oxygen-using eukaryote cell.  Now all plants and animals are made of eukaryote cells.  This idea of a personality works, so evolution has used it in many different situations in the human being.  You have many personalities inside you.  You can have a close, intimate, sharing, guiding, loving inner friendship with a personality in your unconscious.

    There are several ways you can access your natural inner friend in your unconscious.  Four are presented here.

Dream Analysis

    Carl Jung studied 80,000 dreams and leqarnd from this how the unconscious works.  In his system the purpose of the dreams is to aid the ego, the conscious self, to accomplish individuation.  This is the psychological growth process of going from bring a newborn infant to a mature adult.  How do you know who your are and what to do to live successfully?  This process teaches you how to make adaptive decisions and responses in your circumstances as an adult to survive, flourish and reproduce.

    To aid in this process of individuation, nature has provide some internal guides.  Jung describes three of them, which the growing individual encounters in order.  These are first the shadow, then the anima in a man or the animus in a woman, and finally the Jungian Self, the center of the psyche, which knows how you should live.

    Dream analysis allows you to learn from these inner personalities or archetypes what you need to know to grow to a successful adult.  Dream analysis can be your communication method with your inner friend.

    As you use dream analysis and learn from  and apply the lessons from your dreams in your life, you will get more and better dreams.  You will feel a closeness and friendship with the source of the dreams and a sense of partnership in guiding you to successful life.  This is your natural inner friendship through dream analysis.


    If you do not use dreams, you might use art to communicate with your inner friend.  Some people are artists.  There are artists of varying quality and different media.  Some paint, some dance, some sculpt, some write poems.  In each category there are those who are really talented and those who do it, but obviously not so well.  All of these are artists for our purposes.  You may be able to use art, when nothing else works.  Some people cannot put into words the things that are deeply concerning to them or about themselves.  However, they can expresses these concepts in art.  That is a way to get them out and open up the communication with your inner friend that works for you.

    Whatever your medium, paint, drawing, paper mache, sculpting in clay or bronze, dance or writing poetry, begin by expressing something.   Make different examples.  Find one that seems to speak to you, that stands out or maybe bothes you.  Make another one like that and see what new comes out.  Let the shapes and colors spark thoughts in your mind.  This is one way your inner friend will communicate with you through art.

    Eventually you may begin to realize that there is some subject you have been avoiding.  Think about it.  Take it out and look at it.  What bothers you about it?  What should you be doing differently?  Create some more art and see what comes out.  You are now communicating with your inner friend through your art.  

    It is like dream analysis.  What is the art saying to you.  You did not know that is what it was going to look like when you started.  Look at it, what is it telling you?  It contains a message from your inner friend inside you who has guided your hands in creating the art with the important message for you.  

    After you have gotten the massage and improved your life, give thanks to your inner friend in your mind for helping you so and loving you so to do it.  This builds the strength of your inner friendship, and makes it even more trustworthy and productive in the future.

    Keep doing your art.  Keep your inner friendship communication open.  Share you art and your inspiration with your inner friend.  If you begin to get humches or thoughts floating through your mind, that seem to be messages from your inner friend, your inner friend may begin to communicate with you that way as well as through the art. Let your inner friendship grow as it will, and give thanks for it.  Your inner friendship is precious to you.

Neuro-Linguistic Programing (NLP) 

    If you have a more scientific mind rather than an artistic sense, try the techniques of Neuro-Linguistic Programing (NLP).  Here too there is a person inside you that has your best interests at heart, with whom you can communicate to help heal your illness or injury or guide you to successful life.  It teaches you how to use your natural skills and abilities for your benefit by communicating with your unconscious.  You can ask the personality inside you to help focus the natural healing powers of the  body on  particular part of the body that needs healing.  You can state a problem and ask for a solution, even by a certain date, and it will come to mind.  These techniques work and have been taught in workshops for years.  If this makes sense to you find some books on Neuro-Linguistic Proigraming (NLP) and try the techniques for your self.  Do this to establish the communication method that works for you to establish a wise life-long, loving, guiding inner friendship. 


    The most popular form of natural inner friendship is through meditation.  Many religions have practiced meditation for thousands of years.  It has been studied by psychology and practitioners who do not believe in the supernatural, and find meditation a powerful way to receive guidance from the inner voices.

    There are two main schools of meditation, which may be called “Zero” and “One”.  You might think this was conceived by a computer, but it is quite different from bits of 1’s and 0’s.

    The goal of the Zero school is to achieve nothingness, zero, emptiness, where there is no distinction.  This is accomplished by seeking to turn off all sensation.  By having no distractions, one can achieve supreme knowledge.  

    The goal of the One is unity, where everything is one without distinction.  The individual focuses on a mantra or a single point until all sensation ceases, including the sense of self, so that one feels a part of everything.  The individual has ceased to be a separate individual and has become one with the Infinite, without desire or distinction.  

    This can be understood in one way by considering climbing the ladder of the categories.  There is a category of men and a different category of women.  However these two can be combined into a higher, more abstract, more inclusive category of all humans.  Then we can climb the ladder of the categories with all animals, all living things, all things, being, non-being, and finally everything in one category without distinction.  You can say this one category is empty, because it has no distinguishable things in it.  It simply include everything.  You can say the category is unity, because it includes everything in it.  Zero and One are two different paths to the same result, one category without distinction with everything in it.  In this sense emptiness and unity are the same thing, a category without distinction, and with no subcategories.

    Very few practitioners get all the way to emptiness or unity in their meditations.   They do so in their religions by the way they live their lives.  However, the process of meditation gets them in touch with their inner voices which guide them to successful life.

    For this reason those seeking a natural inner friendship will often turn to meditation as a way to quiet the noise inside and outside the mind, so they can listen for and hear the messages from their inner friend.  There are many books, teachers and methods of mediation.  Find one that works for you and develop your natural inner friendship.  Find it, believe in your inner friendship passionately, and let it lovingly guide you to successful life for the rest of your life.  If you do you will be as you evolved to be.  You will be happy.

    How do you begin an inner friendship with a friendly personality inside you through the power of prayer or meditation?  It is easy, just begin.  Just pray, or meditate.  

    The first step is to quietly pray or meditate to open the door to communication.  Your inner friend is always listening.  You do not have to be loud or wordy.  Just let your inner friend know you are now reaching out.  You can pray out loud or silently in your head.  “Hello.  It’s me.  I don’t know what I am supposed to do, but here I am.”  Your inner friend is waiting for you and will be glad you opened the door.  To begin … just pray or meditate.  Then follow the nine steps to a mature inner friendship in Inner Friendship For Everyone.

Request For Articles

    This article has been prepared for this web site, by the author of the site.  It is only one point of view.  If you have an experience with inner guidance through prayer or meditation in your walk with life, and would share it with others, how you did it and how it worked out, please write a brief article about it and email it to  It will be reviewed and some of the articles will be added to the Naturalist page on the web site.  We cannot put them all on at once, but we may rotate them.  Include your name, city, state and meditation community affiliation if you want.  Also include your written permission to publish your article on the site.  Any suggestions for the web site or improving the ebook for the next edition will also be appreciated.


Jonathan Burch

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