The late Dr John Lester (1919-1999) was a pupil of Gurdjieff and of Jane Heap; in fact, he was one of those closest to Jane. I am proud to say that he was a friend of mine, perhaps “an uncle in the spirit” would be the best way of saying it. When he visited Australia to see his son, he stayed with me for about a month, as I recall. He was an extraordinary man: really very kind, and full of intellectual interest. Many of his insights were striking.
One of his papers is called “Are Allergic Patients Safe ‘Going all Electric?”. I thought of it when I saw Jason Bawden-Smith’s In the Dark: New Ways to Avoid the Harmful Effects of Living in a Technologically Connected World. It was that which induced me to purchase Bawden-Smith’s book, despite my aversion to his style (e.g. “I don’t want to geek you out.”)
I am by no means convinced of many of Smith’s claims, although I am sure, chiefly because of what Dr Lester taught me, that his basic theory is correct: that we are too far removed from nature for our own good. I recall asking Dr Lester about how even things like electricity are derived from nature, so how can we say that they are not natural? His response was wonderful: “They may be derived from nature, but one should not abuse nature.” It flung me back on discernment: how do we discriminate whether we are using or abusing nature? We need judgment.
Dr Lester would agree that Smith that it is right to be concerned about electro-magnetic fields. In the paper I referred to above, Dr Lester described his cure of Mrs M.M., a full time nurse and mother of two children. As he said, she had been treated in psychiatric hospitals for about five years when he was asked to see her. Dr Lester wrote: “She became suicidal due to skin rashes, irritation and depression.” Treatment for food allergies brought some improvement, but too little to reconcile her to her fate. She was contemplating suicide when she was referred to Dr Lester.
After reading her massive files, and taking her history, Dr Lester felt certain that she had no psychiatric illness at all, and that her improvements in the psychiatric hospitals had been due to the more natural environment there, as opposed to the comfortable modern conveniences of home such as her nylon carpet and her telephone. He asked her to do two things: start wearing cotton next to her skin rather than nylon, and to walk in the garden in her bare feet for half an hour each day: “… to get herself ‘earthed’ and to discharge as much electricity as possible. I pointed out that the amount of time was a guess and she could handle it herself by intuition.”
Mrs M. was, he wrote, “immediately transformed.” Further, she began to build a sort of electrical “credit”, where sometimes she could last one or two days without going outside. She found that she needed less than half a day.
Very significantly, when she had a “credit” she could eat the foods to which she was believed to be allergic, but when she did not, or had not earthed herself, the foods sent her to sleep! But if she had just been on the lawn, she could eat them with impunity. To be able to attend church, stay awake, and participate in the cuppa with the vicar afterwards (the most important part), she would walk to church barefoot, hopping onto every verge she could! It worked.
She even became a minor t.v. celebrity. The cameras would film her getting her rash, walking on the grass, and within five minutes, the rash subsiding. There was no doubt at all in Dr Lester’s mind, that unexpected EMFs were the culprit in many of her outbreaks. By sound treatment, she came to need no more than twenty minutes per week of earthing.
The good doctor concluded that one should be aware when one receives a shock from one’s clothing, and stop wearing such items. He used these insights to treat a golfer who could no longer manage more than nine holes due to sore feet. It turned out that wearing cotton rather than nylon socks, and wearing leather soled shoes allowed him to walk pain free for 36 holes.
Another tale was of a nine year old girl who had nightmares. Dr Lester asked if her nightie was nylon. Yes it was, her mother said. Give her cotton, advised the noble physician. The mother did. The child’s nightmares ceased at once.
Mrs. H, had marital problems it is not necessary to name. These persisted until, at Dr Lester’s advice, her electric blanket was replaced with three woollen blankets. That cleared her up when she was in bed. However, her husband observed to Dr Lester that she was still irritable elsewhere in the house. Dr Lester asked about the heating, since it was electric blankets which affected her. When the husband disclosed that they had under-floor heating at home, Dr Lester asked him to sometimes turn it off without telling his wife. “I was subsequently informed that she was definitely more irritable while the heating was on.” Dr Lester saw two other patients with unexplained insomnia. When they took his advice of walking on the grass for half an hour before retiring, they could sleep peacefully.
Dr Lester concluded: “From all these examples, and the known facts of the order of the amps and volts used in organic life, it is more than a possibility that our unnatural electro-magnetic environment plays at least some part in the causation of our illnesses right across the board.” He believed that when people became ill they were more susceptible to the environment, and that this and certain other factors could explain why testing does not show a clear connection between EMFs and illness.
I found some of Bawden-Smith’s book interesting, even if his style is too chatty, and on one tangential matter which I happen to know something of, he makes a mistake (at p. 77 about evidence in court cases).
I am also sceptical about the devices he tries to sell. I would want to see evidence, first. But I do think that he has made a very important point, and one which is too often overlooked. We are using all these devices such as “smart meters” without being certain that they are safe. In view of the apparent explosion in many conditions such as autism, I believe that it is not enough to say “there is no evidence that smart meters are unsafe”, and so on for these many devices. I believe that they should not have been introduced until we were sure that they are safe. Also, there should be more green space where people can conveniently sit with their feet in contact with the grass. If you look at our park benches, they are invariably sedulously placed on concrete plinths to “protect” us from nature.
I believe that my friend Dr Lester was right. We are living too far removed from nature. As he wrote: “There is no doubt that the body uses electro-magnetic forces in its communications system transferring internal information from cell to cell and over longer distances, e.g. nerves. It is also reasonable to assume that external forces of the same order would affect the functioning of the internal forces by at least a process of induction.”
Joseph Azize, 11 December 2016