This section of the book is from the "Handbook of Nature Cure Volume One: Nature Cure vs. Medical Science" book, by John L. Fielder.
Following the lead of Nature, man lived originally in perfect sinlessness in the enjoyment of purest happiness, in a state of unclouded bliss, such as the myths of paradise current among all civilised nations tell us about. But reason—the serpent in paradise—held out to man the alluring prospect of reaping still greater advantages and pleasures for body, mind and soul if they would no longer obey the commands of God, the laws of Nature [which God communicated to them through the organs of sense (smell, taste, etc), instinct, and conscience], but would pursue their joys and happiness in their own way.
Out of this false use of reason, out of this abuse of reason, as I remarked in the beginning of my book, grew science, the daughter of that serpent, not only the science of medicine, but also the other sciences (pedagogy, theology, philosophy, jurisprudence, etc). Science does not observe the laws of Nature to make mankind prosperous and happy. Medical science even declares that living strictly in accordance with Nature would prove very injurious to man. Eating exclusively natural food does not give sufficient strength and injures the health, and the more intimate contact with light and air is very dangerous (colds, etc), it declares. Moreover, the natural mode of life would deprive us of many joys. On the basis of anatomical, chemical and other researches, it then goes on to prescribe an artificial diet, of which it says that it is at once enjoyable and strengthening to man, and thus lays down hygienic rules which leave instinct, taste (in its correct use), and conscience entirely out of consideration. Other departments of science, such as pedagogy, theology, philosophy, jurisprudence, etc, would also make men good and noble, and lay down precepts which in other ways than through close communion with Nature promise to guide men to happiness and contentment.
In this way men came to put on shoes, to turn from the earth as their resting place, and to make themselves bedsteads. They fancied thus to gain for themselves well-being, comfort, and joys which Nature did not offer them. But men gain neither comfort nor enjoyment, neither health nor happiness, neither virtue nor nobility of following the false allurements of their reason and the teachings of science, but only disease and pain, disgust and vexation, vice and crime, misery and despair—the very opposite of what they wished to attain, for thus Nature always avenges herself.
The feet are in a certain sense for man what the roots are for plants. Man draws vital energy and strength out of the earth through his feet.
Even barefooted, without sandals, if possible, ought to be the foundation of every Nature cure.
In order to sleep again on the earth it is best to select a nice grass plot; if there is no grass plot to hand, a thin reed matting, such as gardeners use may be placed on the ground. In that way, of course, the earth power will fall very short of its full effect. Any thicker covering of straw, wool, cloth, or the like, to lie on must not be thought of, for the connection with the earth would in that case be markedly interfered with. No head rest is necessary, for it is of special benefit for the head to lie on the cool refreshing earth.
We must not be discouraged if the first nights spent on the earth should prove uncomfortable.
I have made the experience that patients, after the first few nights, were actually attracted to their bed on the ground, and strongly refused to tolerate anything under them.
In rainy nights I was often concerned about having the patients come into the huts to sleep, so that the quilts should not get so wet, but it was with difficulty that I could induce the sick people to leave the ground. So, also, the hardness of lying on the ground is no longer felt. Nor need we fear the earth too cold at night to lie on entirely naked under covers; we shall only experience the sensation of delightful coolness. Some perspire more easily lying on the ground than in a bed. Of course, beginners and those persons who have not yet regained sufficient animal heat through a natural mode of life, can only lie naked on the ground under covers in warm summer nights, or in very mild or not too cold spring and autumn nights in our climate (Europe).
During the first nights one generally sleeps worse on the ground than formerly in bed. After that, and sometimes even in cases of protracted and obstinate insomnia, a long, exceedingly refreshing and strengthening sleep will set in, which state of affairs will last for some time. But generally most persons will soon begin to sleep less and less, sometimes only from one to two hours, and the less they sleep nights lying on the ground, the brighter, stronger and fresher they will feel the next day. I myself have not slept a wink for weeks at a time on the ground, but during that period I never felt the least discomfort or trouble of any kind, as was formerly the case in sleepless nights during my long and severe nervous suffering while lying in a bed. On the contrary, those nights were particularly delightful and free of ennui, and during the day I was never so entirely without any trace of weariness and languor, and I never felt more refreshed than at that time.