The symbol is based upon one designed by Dr Henry Lindlahr about 90 years ago. According to him symbols were the concise and comprehensible summation of knowledge at that time, and formed a basis for further investigations. The real secret of Nature Cure itself is that there is no secret.
It is a clear diagram of the derivations of Nature Cure, disclosing our debt to the investigators and philosophers of all ages. Dr Lindlahr was merely putting several comprehensive ideas involving time, space and human affairs into the form of a "diagram".
Lindlahr's design can be likened to the chemical formula which, to the uninitiated, may seem to be a mystical symbol but which, to the person who has made a little mental effort, is a very clear "diagram" of a complete situation.
Here, then, are its salient points.
This represents the "square of matter" as it was understood in the earliest times. The marking at each corner were the ancient conventional symbols for "Earth", "Air", "Fire" and "Water." Just as present day science is establishing that all matter is composed of a very small number of fundamental forms of energy, so the ancients postulated these four "elements" as the basis of their universe.
The Square is not complete, but is represented only by the four "Cornerstones." This denotes that, although our knowledge of matter may be incomplete, it is as yet sufficient to serve as the foundation for the next structure.
This circle of consciousness rest upon the cornerstones, but is not bounded by them. In other words, our consciousness is not restricted by or to material things: there are no limits to its expansion in space or time.
The three major conscious concepts of human existence are the physical, the mental and the ethical. Of these, the first two are relatively simple to understand, but the third may call for a little explanation. Every individual, whether he is a 'good mixer' or a hermit, is essentially part of the community. As part of the community he exhibits a group behaviour, which is in many ways totally different from his behaviour as a separate individual. To remain healthy it is essential for the individual to be helpful and friendly towards his neighbours and to the other living things - plant and animal - which surround him. He must be co-operative - Symbiotic. The code of behaviour which this involves if the essence of ethics.
From the three major aspects arise three faces of a pyramid.
This represents the upward extension - "creative thought"- from these sectors. From the physical arises Science, from the mental arises Philosophy, and from the ethical Religion.
The pyramid formed by these sides of human philosophy is truncated; it reaches a small "platform" indicating the stage we have reached in our journey to the apex. This platform is labelled with the initials of the school of Nature Cure. (Students of Nature Cure is another version).
According to Lindlahr, the meaning and purpose of evolution is the completion of the co-ordination of theses studies and activities, Nature Cure occupying the highest level attained in the coordination of Science, Philosophy and Religion. Very important, however, is the figure at the top of the symbol - the "cross of Lorraine," which in ancient symbology as a formalised tree, representing continual growth and progress.
The real difficulty for many people arises out of the different meanings given to words with a high emotional content - such as "religion" and "ethics." In certain minds the mention of religion causes an eruption of hatred and vindictiveness. In others the response is wholly passive - a peaceful laying aside of all self-responsibility. In still others the feelings are of cynical contempt. Obviously with so many variables there are bound to be misunderstandings and difficulties.
Nevertheless, there is much meaning in this part of the symbol. Without it there would be a fundamental imbalance. It cannot be omitted. I have found some paragraphs by Olaf Stapledon ("What are "Spiritual" Values?") which may help those who genuinely wish to understand why religion must be retained in the N.C. symbol):- (Religion and religious can be inserted in place of spirit and spiritual):-
"Spirit" and "spiritual" are very ambiguous and emotive words. Some sticklers for clear thinking urge us to abandon them altogether. Yet it is difficult to do so. Often when talking to materialists I feel bound to use them, not merely to shock but to emphasize that the spiritual values are not reducible to primitive values. Yet frankly when theists and other spiritualists use these words, I myself am shocked. by Olaf Stapledon
That is my response exactly. Admittedly it is easier to represent such a statement as another way of saying "it is silly when others use the words, but it is right when I use them" but I believe that Stapledon has accurately observed and recorded certain peculiarities he discovered about the use of words-and about himself. The other points he makes are equally revealing and, to me, satisfying.
Human intellect is not yet sufficiently developed to form trustworthy concepts in such high spheres. The chances are thousands to one that all our most carefully conceived ideas on these subjects are more false than true ...
The goal or rather direction of spiritual development, so far as I can see, is very roughly this: precise and comprehensive awareness of the world, including oneself and other selves; precise feelings about all this; and coherent and creative action to open up ever new possibilities of the life of the spirit. This goal is essentially a communal, not an individualistic or private goal.
The self-centered individual can never even begin to seek it. It is the way of for individuals, but only for those who feel themselves to be "members one of another"...
Both strict humanists and theists might, I think, be persuaded to agree on some such terms. . . .The Human spirit, they might say, is simply the form of behaviour or way of life which is distinctive of the human species, even though no human beings succeed in living permanently on that high level.
It comes to this. In this great problem the heart is a more trustworthy guide than the intellect in its present fledgling state.
I must insist, however that the symbol is not intended to have any esoteric or inscrutable purpose. It was designed to disclose the background of Nature Cure and indicate how it was built up from ancient and modern investigation into natural phenomena. Even if the basic meaning of the "element" is now completely altered, one interesting fact emerges: The genuine Nature Cure practitioner and adherent still finds much of his time engaged with the four elements of the ancients.
EARTH:- the food component and conservation of the living soil, composting, etc.
AIR: - ventilation - environmental and personal!
FIRE:- sunlight, sunbaths, the fire of life found in living (raw) foods etc.
WATER:- sanitation, baths and compresses.
The relative importance of the different elements can be shown by the survival in their absence:-
Absence of air - death in 3 mins
Absence of water - death in 3 days
Absence of earth - death in 3months ( food )
Absence of fire - death in 3 years (sunlight and raw food that has the fire of life )