Both Ne and Ni are associated with "connections", and it often becomes hard to tell which is which from the definitions. But Ne's connections between different things would be like my attempts to connect together different personality typing systems according to corresponding elements. These elements (such as factors and temperaments) would be the external objects being focused on. The connections between them are likewise external (such as different systems having analogues to "extroversion"). Ni's connections are deeper and harder to pin down, but would involve elements such as "meanings" that underlie the surface parts.
In light of Beren's "philosophy of life" descriptions for the "operating Charter" concept; I find that they hold the key for completely cracking this confusion of Ni with Ne.
Ne: There are always other perspectives and new meanings to discover
Ni: There is always a future to realize and a significance to be revealed.
"Revealed" basically means "uncovered". So it's a matter of UNcovered versus DIScovered. They sound synonymous, but there really is a difference.
un- prefix of reversal (from PIE *anti "facing opposite, near, in front of, before")
dis- "do the opposite of" (from PIE *dis- "apart, asunder")
"uncover" or "reveal" implies that something was covered, and now we're reversing this.
For "discover", the object is not necessarily covered to begin with. It's just not known about, and instead of covering it, so it remains unknown, we're doing the opposite of covering it, and making people aware of it.
So "discover" reflects Ne's external focus, of meanings that are implicit in the object, yet are being made known to observers by the subject relaying the information. "uncover/reveal" reflects Ni's internal focus, where a subject picks up a significance that has apparently been covered, and now reverses this by applying it to the various objects involved.
Also, we have new meanings vs significance.
Ni is about significance, which is really a subjective thing, not directly implicit in the object.
A good way I have just thought of of describing this is what I have called an "event template". In the forest analogy, the template would be what the forest was said to be symbolic of. Life's interconnectedness, which includes recycling. Things are created, then destroyed, and new things are created from the, Hence, the replacement of forest with a housing development (possibly with materials made from the forest!) will play out this pattern.
The "underdog loses out to the big and powerful" is another example.
It tied to experiences I had, and formed what I'm calling a "template". A sort of situational counterpart to an archetype.
Another template is based on Aliens, where they make the exciting discovery of life on another planet, but the guy has the horrible experience with the face-hugger. When it comes off; it seems he is all right, and he tries to move on from that trauma and in somewhat of a daze, get back to normal life by eating with the others. But then, that's when the horror of horrors happens. The alien inside him bursts out. This is what loomed in my mind as I had to walk around in this heat after loosing so much blood, and I tried to be OK and get back to normal, but the others were saying I was not completely myself, and almost in a daze. Luckily, no further horror happened after that. Still, it all fit into these templates.
The templates are purely my own in applying to situations; hence, introverted, and yet they do tie into universals (hence, other people using the same concepts), which is also characteristic of introverted functions. Those would be the internal "focal points" of the illustration I posted.
So what ends up happening, is that whenever there is some really exciting event or prospect, I have this back-of-my-mind fear that something really bad is going to happen. Of course, Ni for me is in the shadow, in the "Senex" or "critical parent" position. It is negative, and very incomplete, and not a good guide at all.
So now we see the basis of Berens' description of Critical Ni for INxP's as "putting a damper on plans for the future with negative thoughts of how things will be". It's based on a sort of negative template. My "good" parent Ne tells me that the negative is only a possibility, but more likely (looking at the external data available so far), things will go all right. Yet for some reason I lock on to this negative possibility. I'm no longer exploring possibilities; now I'm inferring significance.
For NJ's, this function will be more mature, and they will have more positive uses of it, which will also be more likely to come true, as more indepth, complete templates will be created, which will pick up more cues on whether a particular outing really fits into the template that ends in disaster. From what I have heard, many of them have learned to keep this stuff to themselves, being we are in a heavy S[J] society that thinks it's weird. (Ni is at the bottom of their shadow, after all).
I have noticed that the language of Ni types will often be filled with references to fictional stories and proverbs. These form the templates Ni plays off of; or more accurately, rather than being original templates themselves, they more likely fit into timeless templates (i.e. universals) that Ni uses fiction and current experience to link all together. ENTP John Beebe also does this a lot, and this would be Ni backing up his dominant Ne (with "parent" Ti), in discussing his theories. He himself has said that the study of archetypes are the domain of Ni.
Ni is often described as dealing with "frameworks", which is a term usually associated with Ti (also making it confusing). But Ti deals with frameworks of judgment, you make decisions with, such as sets of principles. Ni would deal with frameworks of perception, in which you take in new information. I would say all four introverted functions have frameworks. Ti is logical frameworks (called "principles"), Fi is ethical frameworks ("values"), Si is concrete frameworks (i.e. memories of how things should be), and Ni is abstract frameworks, such as these event templates.
Ni is often confused with Si even, because a person can look at how events play out over and over, and then get a sense of what will happen in the future. However, this can be Si. Looking at how gravity always pulls things down, and then deducing that something you let go of will drop would be Si. It is concrete data. It's the act of creating a template of events that is the process of abstracting (from memories), not just any "foretelling" of the future. It generates a concept.
This also brings to light the fact that the simplistic descriptions of Ni as "foretelling the future" really do not do the function justice. This is what has made it so hard to figure out all this time. And any person who seems to have some sort of "visions" of the future is automatically made into an NJ type. The templates may give you a sense of what will happen, and you can loosely call them "visions", but they are not glimpses into the future.
Another example is in one of Berens' descriptions of Ni; a person choosing a dog has a "vision" of a dog barking and crying, and then realizes that they should get a dog that didn't mind being alone. This doesn't even have anything to do with any particular singular event being "predicted". It was a template or model of a situation that was referenced to inform a decision for the better, to avoid that template possibly being realized in a future event.