This is a work in process and pieces so forgive its disjointed character.
Paul Nagy is a native San Franciscan, both of whose parents were also born in San Francisco. On his mother's side he is of Irish English descent and on his father's side, he is Hungarian. He grew up in the Ingleside district of San Francisco attending public and private schools. In 1965 Paul left high school and joined the newly created Job Corps. For 6 months he was at stationed at Catoctin Mountain Park toward the end of '65 and the beginning 1966. He was the editor the the Camp newsletter. Paul transferred to Parks Job Corps Center in Pleasanton, California, where he received his GED and trained in the culinary arts.
Parks Job Corps Center in Pleasanton California was run by Lytton systems,. At the time there was a orientation towards experimental education and job training, based upon a new corporate model to train workers in a full lifestyle manner. The culinary arts school was staffed by European trained hotel chefs and it was meant to give the basics and European cuisine. It was actually set up upon an old world apprenticeship model. One unfortunate result was that the local culinary unions refused to recognize the training and gave no consideration for graduates of the program. Though I use my basic training in restaurant cooking at various odd cooking jobs for over 30 years, I was never able to enter the apprenticeship program through the local unions and never took on cooking as a true profession.Theoretically I have always been pro-union but I have never been served well by the unions that I have belonged to. I can understand why unions are necessary for the protection of basic labor, I only wish they were more hospitable to entry level workers.
In 1967 he joined the Himalayan Academy, a yoga school founded by Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami in 1957. Here Paul was introduced to classic yoga meditation techniques and ideals. In 1967 Master Subramuniya's, as he was then known, main teachings were contained in Merging with Siva. The teachings of this Academy laid the basic foundations for all of my future esoteric studies. Here I learned how to meditate in the classic sense as described in Patanjali's Yoga Sutras. I grew to be suspicious of psychic phenomena and visionary experience. I attempted to enter the monastic life but found it to be too restrictive for me. This can best be summarized by the story of my first night in the monastery in Virginia City, Nevada. The Ashram was in a building that was used for the Pony Express. it was now the print shop and I was sleeping in a corner on a mat in my sleeping bag. I had this wet dream. This beautiful naked voluptious woman, walks up to me and sits down on my erect member, gives me a full mouth open kiss, squeezes me tight to her, and says, "You are not getting away from me that easily, Paul!" I woke up, surprised because such obviously sexual dreams were unusual in my experience, and wondered what the message forbode?
The householder and practical lifestyle teachings of Subramuniya were written after I left the Ashram. It took a few years years and several crises before Subramuniyaswami adapted his teaching to the full Sanatana Dharma. By 1977 he formalized requirements for his Western devotees to sever all prior religious, philosophical loyalties, legalize their Hindu name and formally enter Hinduism through the name-giving rite. (More about Subramuniyaswami)
Eventually I became the cook ashram, which was an isolating job because I was the only one in the kitchen. I did not make any close friends with any of the other monks and so I became lonely and slightly depressed and crazy. I found a pure digests of Subramuniya's writings a bit monotonous and began rummaging around in the attic for other things to read. I read Robert Graves, The White Goddess, three times through, I also read classics Theosophical works, and after I left the ashram, I became interested in the history of Western occultism, the personal history of Subramuniya, whose secular name was Dudley Stone, and of his mentor, Mother Christie, who was an active Theosophists.
During my browsing around in a metaphysical bookstore run by John White on Sutter Street, next door to Walt Baptiste's yoga gymnasium, I was trying to discover if there was a significant difference between the six volume edition of the secret doctrine by Mme. Blavatsky and the two volume edition. Mr. White who was a well-known spiritualist, said that he did not know but that just so happened that the current Lodge president of the local Theosophical society branch was in the store. This is how I was introduced to Joe Miller and his wife Guin. Little did I know at the time of that I would know Joe for 45 years. That he became for me an important friend and colleague on the mystical path.
It might seem strange to refer to someone who was 43 years my senior, more as a colleague than a mentor. It is true that when I first began to get to know Joe, I saw him as an older man who shared with me an interest in the mystical. It was more than an interested was a living sense of its knowledge. But what I shared with him was not that he was my guide, so much as he was my friend, who not only had experience himself but who was willing to validate my own inklings of the path as it was slowly becoming clear to me.
I was privileged to get to know the Miller's before they became extremely popular with my cohorts. I tended not to idealized him the way they became idealized later. We were both very close and in another way always very formal. There was a part of me that did not know how to just be friends with somebody. So that I always considered myself a friend of Joe's I never became intimate with them the way other people did.
I met Joe and Gwen about 1968, just as Joe was retiring from his job working for the actors union, and just as he began to move into a as full time retired career as worker for Theosophy and falling awake, as he called it. Wednesday evenings Joe had a studies in Buddhism class which I began to attend, pretty regularly. At first, show mostly read from Buddhist writings that he particularly found instructive and illuminating in his own life. Eventually Joe, read less and began to explain the text more, in fact he said that I was the one that encouraged him to do this.
I joined the San Francisco Theosophical Lodge in 1973. I was active in the lodge for about four years one in 1977-8, I resigned my presidency of the lodge and became a relatively inactive member. The reasons are complex and deserve a telling, but in summary I had discovered that the people attracted to the Miller's lifestyle were not what I needed for myself to grow. I have always suffered from a strong independent mind and curiosity and interest in learning. Even though I did not stay active in the use lodge's work, I remained friends with the Millers until their passing.
One pivotal moment in my becoming friends with Joe was when I shared with him something of my experience and convictions formed through my time with the Himalayan Academy. I said that I wanted to reach enlightenment in this lifetime. I told him of my awakening of bodhicitta in Yosemite in 1967. Joe some years later told me that he was quite impressed with my understanding at the time, and felt that, perhaps I would succeed in my grandiose quest. You share this with his wife when who was always skeptical, and probably more attuned to the deep wounded nature of this young man before her.
My psychotherapist at the time, Dr. James Pearce, who had been my therapist says I was 16, said that getting such encouragement from somebody that I thought highly of helped shape my own slowly emerging identity directions for my adult life.
Joe introduced meto his esoteric cronies, such as Neville Warwick and Sam Lewis, known as Sufi Sam, founder of Sufi dancing and his own Sufi order, Father Earl Paul Blighton, Founder of the Holy Order of MANS, Iru Price, Eugene Wagner, Chinese Buddhist converts and Rev. Tolen, a Chinese Mahayana Buddhist known for his translations of Chinese cannon into English. Doctor Seo of Korea
After this sharing I came to Joe and asked him if he knew of anyone who was teaching tantra. My experience at the Himalayan Academy had left me with an instinctive need for two additional components not found in their training at the time I was with them. I found classic meditation to be too dry. I needed something that was more emotional, more evocative of beauty and feeling, and also dealt with sexual longing in a forthright sense, rather than in a renunciate sense. I needed sex and ritual to accompany my quest for mystical union with the true. Tantra seemed to be what that was.
Joe suggested that I go meet Neville Warwick. He deserves a
extended biographical note, preferably somebody who knew him longer
than I did. In some of his ex-disciples mind Warwick is the classic
crazy false teacher. I did accept him as a teacher, but I withdrew
from his cult, once he began to try to position himself as a guru.
In 1969 through 1972 Paul was a member and participant of Kailash Shungedo, a Russian, Tibetan, Japanese inspired Tantric Buddhist cult that practiced Goma (fire ceremony) hiwatari (firewalking) and took extensive retreats into the mountains, circumambulating and reciting jappa, (repetition of mantras) and other Tantric visualization exercises and crafts such as sewing and painting mandalas. The cult was founded by Neville Penchova Warwick, he was usually known by his title, Ajari. (Kailash Shungedo eventually became a Russian orthodox cult, with Warwick as bishop) He died in the early 1990s.
Paul received an undergraduate degree in social anthropology, San Francisco State University, 1973. He did some graduate study in cultural anthropology, San Francisco State University 1978. The focus of his study was new religions in the San Francisco Bay Area. Beside surveys of current nonchristian, eastern inspired religious groups that emphasized meditation as core practice. Paul did extensive life history interviews with participants of various non-Christian religions movements all through the 1970s and into the early 1980s, emphasis was on meditation and ritual to alter affect and cognition. Primary research methods were participant observation and life history interviews with members and participants. Groups that Paul developed some personal knowledge include some Sufi groups in the Bay Area, Subud, Theosophical Society, Wicca and neopagan groups, some New Age and UFO contactee groups, Anthroposophy, some classical Yoga groups and Buddhist meditation groups and lifestyle sadomasochists.
Paul was awarded an internship to the Olcott Library and Research Center, The Theosophical Society in America, Wheaton, Illinois, 1973, to study library research methods where he researched the nature and extent of Theosophical movement activity on the Pacific West Coast in the 1890s through 1910.
In 1978 he worked with Starhawk and was initiated into Wicca. parts of his initiation were described in Starhawk's now classic Wiccan primier, The Spiral Dance. In the 1980s he participated in and helped found several Wiccan covens, introductory magick classes and the San Francisco Bay Area chapter of CUUPS (Covenant of the Unitarian Universalist Pagans).
In 1979-80 Paul was given, through the initiative Bulent Rauf, a fellowship to attend the Chisholm Institute, Beshara Foundation program study of the works of Muhyiddin Ibn 'Arabi. His time at the Chisholm also included classic sufi retreats and pilgrimage in Turkey to visit the maquams of...,... and Jaul’uddin Rumi. Paul is an active member in the Muhyiddin Ibn 'Arabi Society.
Paul has also been a member of the International Society for Neoplatonic Studies.
Besides having a keen interest in the Sufism of Muhyiddin Ibn 'Arabi, Paul organized a 10 year study esoteric text reading group that met weekly to discuss in depth esoteric works. Trika mysticism, also known as Kashmir Shavism, including such works as the Shiva Sutras and the Spanda Karikas were repeatedly read and discussed. Also works of Theosophy,(HPB) Vedanta,(Sankara), Sufism, (Jaul’uddin Rumi and Muhyiddin Ibn 'Arabi) Varjayana Buddhism, (Tsong Khapa) were also read. The participants were about six people at any one time.
Paul received a Masters of Divinity degree from the Pacific School of Religion, Graduate Theological Union, Berkeley California, 1991.
Currently Paul is the managing editor of wordtrade.com, an Internet business that reviews scholarly books in religious studies and philosophy as well as other academic areas. Paul is a co-host and producer of Carrboro Book Beat, a WCOM-FM literary radio show that features local North Carolina writers.
Paul is also an associate researcher and webmaster to the Washington think tank, The Center for Islamic Pluralism.
Paul is a frequent contributor to tarot discussion lists.
Currently Paul is re-cultivating an interest in the new tarot and remains somewhat active in neopagan circles around the Triangle in North Carolina.
Paul maintains a esoteric practice of meditation daily. His own religious references are multiple because of his cross-cultural experiences with many groups, practices, and ideologies.
He has no desire to contribute serious academic research in Western esotericism, but likes to be kept informed of developments in this area and because of his personal experience with many esoteric groups he might be a resource for some projects.
Paul’s academic groups include: The Muhyiddin Ibn 'Arabi Society, the International Society of Neoplatonic Studies, the American Academy of Religion, and the The Society for the Study of Western Esotericism.
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