1. What’s your name, where are you from and how long have you been a member of the TS?
John H. Drais. I am a Californian and joined the TS in 1973. I am not currently a member of any of the Theosophical Societies, but am active in Theosophical work through The Paracelsian Order, a Theosophical monastic order.
2. Are you active in your Lodge/Section and if so, what do you do?
I am Abbot of The Paracelsian Order and a monk of Madre Grande Monastery. I teach all levels of Theosophy, loving-kindness and mindfulness meditation, Reiki, and Kabbalah. I also help others to adjust to communal life and work to set up Theosophical monasteries in the United States and other countries. My life revolves around making Theosophy practical so that it becomes a living power in my life and the life of those I come in contact with.
3. How did you first learn about Theosophy or come in contact with the Society?
I first heard of HPB in a small paperback primer of magic. It mentioned her as the "priestess of the occult". Naturally I looked her up and found Isis Unveiled in the San Diego library. Then I started attending the local Adyar lodge, joined the society, opened a Quest Bookshop and incorporated the Theosophical Society in San Diego. From the membership of this lodge The Paracelsian Order was formed and a large piece of property was purchased in the hills east of San Diego to set up a Theosophical community. We moved onto the property in December 1975 and continue to pursue our Theosophical goals there today.
4. What does Theosophy mean to you?
Theosophy is the universal key to understanding world religions and religious philosophy. Through Theosophy respect and tolerance for all religious, cultural expressions are gained. Freedom from dogma, creeds, and religious authority allows all individuals to be responsible for their own spiritual growth. The doctrines of the modern theosophical movement give a clear expression of the path to adeptship and the reason to pursue it.
5. What is your favourite Theosophical book and why?
The Voice of the Silence. This little book speaks to the heart and soul and contains the essence of Raja Yoga. While there are many great books in the theosophical world that develop the Theosophical philosophy, they are mostly applied to the Eye Doctrine. This includes The Secret Doctrine, HPBs magnum opus, and as great as it is it still does not develop heart light and "only that can guide".
6. What in your opinion is the biggest challenge the TS Adyar (as an organization) is facing at the moment?
The challenge, I think, for Adyar, as for all the Theosophical organizations, is to formulate a code of life that is meaningful for all, that instills the principles of brotherhood and compassion into our daily lives, and that provides a reasonable alternative to the philosophy materialism as well as to the religion of humanistic materialism.
7. Is there anything you would wish for the future of the Theosophical Movement?
One of the reasons for establishing the Theosophical Society was to make religion more Theosophical. That is the purpose of The Paracelsian Order, also. Rather than publishing houses espousing their particular versions of Theosophy, I would like to see all Theosophical Societies doing more practical Theosophical work to alleviate the burden of the great orphan humanity. The work of Vicente Hao Chin in the Philippines is a great example of such work. A broader membership should be sought by making the teachings practical and meaningful without distortions or simplifications and still adhering to the original program.