Leon Paul Wood Christian Mystic

Introduction

Richard Rose frequently recounted his meeting with an enlightened Christian mystic by the name of Paul Wood (1917-1965). Rose said Wood was the most profoundly enlightened man he ever met. The newspaper article below from Eugene, Oregon dated August 28, 1965 sheds further light on the man, as told by his wife less than 3 months after his death.

Events in the article closely parallel the stories Rose told about Wood with a few exceptions. First, Rose said Wood travelled through space and time, without mentioning UFOs or people in them as Mary does in this article. Second are minor differences in the timeline. (1)

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Newspaper Article

Eugene Register-Guard (Eugene, Oregon)
Saturday August 27, 1965 - page 2A

'Mystical Christian' Presents Beliefs

To Eugene Unit of Understanding (2)

By Cornelia Weil of the Register-Guard

For one and a half hours, the attractive dark-haired woman addressed her spellbound audience, her voice rising and falling in carefully modulated tones.

"Do I believe in reincarnation, flying saucers, that Jesus is a man, that Christ is a state of consciousness?" she asked rhetorically. "Yes, yes, yes."

"I believe in reincarnation because I have experienced flashbacks that I cannot deny. I believe Christ is a man because I saw him. I believe in flying saucers because this is Paul's experience and Paul is my husband." [late husband]

The speaker is Mary Wood, a self-styled "mystical Christian" who last week came to Eugene at the invitation of the Eugene unit of Understanding. For seven years, she said she and her late husband Paul expounded a metaphysical program whereby they said persons may prove the existence of God through personal experience rather than through logic and reasoning.

During her lecture, Mrs. Wood said her husband passed into a state of "cosmic consciousness" for ten days, rode in a flying saucer and learned the secrets of reincarnation. She also recounted her experience while under the effects of the hallucinatory cactus called peyote and explained her 14-day mail-order course in mysticism.

"Paul began by meditating on the words of the Lord's Prayer, and he repeated it many times," Mrs. Wood said. "Finally one day he prayed to die and he did die. He heard these words, "Behold, my son, I am the God," and the next ten days he lay in bed in a state of consciousness called cosmic consciousness."

During these ten days, Mrs. Wood said, her husband "remembered" the electrical polarities of the body and how the world began.

"He remembered through the memory of God and this changed him from the son of man to the son of God," she said.

But Paul Wood's time of travail had only begun. His friends called him crazy, his wife divorced him, his children were taken from him and his mother threatened to have him placed in an asylum.

"You may think these feelings are bad. Perhaps they are," Mrs. Wood said. "But Paul had experienced a radical change. If the change had been more gradual, these people would have seen how beautiful it was."

Paul Wood now moved to the country where he lived alone with only a dog, a cat and a canary for company. (3) Mrs. Wood recounted how one day the bird died and her husband prayed for the Lord to take his life instead of that of the canary.

"Then Paul heard a rustle in the cage and, the bird was alive," Mrs. Wood said.

Now, Mrs. Wood said, Paul had only to ask a question and he would experience the answer. Once he told the Lord he had never seen a tornado and one swept through his bean patch the next day. Then he asked to learn yoga and he was taught the exercise through mental telepathy, she said.

In response to requests from her audience [UFO enthusiasts], Mrs. Wood next related how her husband traveled in a "silver-colored, disk-shaped craft" (4) to a mother ship millions of miles above earth. In the larger craft "a perfect" man and woman, "who he sensed had evolved from this earth," told him the secrets of resurrection or "translation" of the living body into a spirit.

"After Paul returned and talked about his experience, we wrote down all he could remember," Mrs. Wood said.

Continuing her monologue, Mrs. Wood spoke of her experiences with peyote. "At first I saw brilliant colors, landscapes, geometric figures and then I saw music as colors," she said.

"Paul came into the room and asked me, 'Who is God?' and I said we are. He asked, 'Is Jesus Christ to be worshipped?' and I said no, but he is to be loved and obeyed. He asked, 'What is God?' and I said whatever you focus your attention on is God."

"From there I began to see past lives," she continued. "By the time I had taken four peyote buttons, I knew that the Mary Wood I know does not exist in the cosmos, but Mary Wood created by God is infinite."

Man only becomes important, she said, when he is in complete "at-one-ment" with the universe or with God.

Her peyote experience is similar to those experiences she has had while meditating, Mrs. Wood said. She asserted that she once asked to see the Crucifixion and she saw it. She also said that she has heard the Sermon on the Mount, although in "a different way" than it is recorded in the Bible.

"You'll probably want to know if the people in these visions speak in English," she said with a laugh. "They do."

At this point there were several interruptions from the audience. One elderly woman fretted about the possibility that children could buy peyote from a drug store although she said she would like to take the drug herself. Another woman, who identified herself only as an anthroposophist (5) questioned whether it was "morally correct" to use drugs to induce visions.

Following her speech, Mrs. Wood asked for "love donations" for the Inasmuch Retreat Center. (6) The Center is both a site in Oklahoma City and a culmination of all the miscellaneous beliefs of the speaker and her late husband. At the Center believers may walk the path of Christian mysticism assisted by prayer, meditation, diet, exercise and "new-age songs and art."

For those persons who cannot attend the Center, Mrs. Wood pointed out that she operates a School of Mysticism in San Antonio, Tex., (7)  which offers a 14-day mail-order course.

Mrs. Wood's cult of mystical Christianity can be related through the Inasmuch Retreat Center to other mystical movements in the world. All these movements seek to lead their followers through a series of stages that will ultimately unite them with a supreme power or God.

Although this brand of religion is somewhat strange to Eugene, mysticism may be seen as the mainstay of the Native American Church founded by the American Indians, of numerous African cults and of the "whirling" dervishes of Islam.

Certain characteristics are common to these mystical movements and to the brand of Christianity offered by Mrs. Wood.

Most begin as a form of social protest against the difficulties of the world or the discipline of their religious belief. Most are begun by the economically or politically poor who cannot directly change whatever it is they dislike.

It is not surprising to learn, therefore, that the Inasmuch Retreat Center was created in an economically poor area of the southeastern [sic] part of the United States or to hear Mary Wood speak of living on oatmeal three times a day for over a year because she had no money.

Many mystical movements are hierarchically organized, with a leader and his disciples at the top and followers below. If this leader dies he tends to become a quasi-deity. Thus Paul Wood was said to have changed from the "son of man to the son of God."

Almost all mystical groups repeat certain physical acts and verbal exercises to achieve a state of euphoria. In this state they are susceptible to visions and can become "one" with their deity.

Muslims repeat the 100 names of Allah and Paul Wood was said to have repeated the Lord's Prayer many times until he passed into a state of "cosmic consciousness."

Ultimately, each mystical movement gathers around it individuals searching for a spiritual home devoid of discipline. These persons seek to escape from an imperfect world and the cult serves as a club or a means of social interaction with similar fugitives.

Because these movements defy the norms of most modern societies, they have never become overly influential. However, as long as there are those whose spirits rebel against the letter of a belief, there will be mystical cults that seek to experience God rather than simply know of Him.

Mary Wood expressed this attitude when she said, "There are some things I know are true and I don't even have to understand them. And until you too live and feel the things you hear, you will never really know them."

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Footnotes:

  • (1)  Timeline: Rose said the cosmic consciousness experience came after Wood's first wife left him and his separation from his children (R: "his wife left him, his children left him"). But the article says that the divorce, etc. came after the cosmic consciousness experience. However, the reporter then quotes the new wife Mary as saying, "After Paul returned and could talk about his experience WE wrote down all he could remember." So it's possible that Wood became involved with Mary after his first wife left him but before he had the experience, if this quote is accurate. Bob Martin's account also has differences.
  • (2)  Understanding, Inc., a UFO research group. See en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Daniel_Fry
    Wood was an officer in "Unit #44", the chapter in Oklahoma City (the location of Wood's Inasmuch Retreat Center), according to their newsletter dated April 1964 (search site on Paul Wood): danielfry.com/?1203
  • (3)  Re timeline, no mention of Mary living with him there.
  • (4)  Vision imagery consistent with Wood's experience as an aviator in WWII.
  • (5)  Rudolph Steiner.
  • (6)  Formed March, 1962 and still in existence after 50 years (as of 4/12/2012). See business directory listing here and a photo here.
  • (7)  No information.

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