John H. Drais – A Tribute

We remember John H. Drais (1940 – 2014)

Jan Nicolaas Kind – Brazil

In previous issues of Theosophy Forward we’ve honored Theosophists such as Dr. Richard Brooks, Ianthe Hoskins, Einar Adalsteinsson, Shirley Nicholson, Paul Zwollo and Dora van Gelder. In this issue we will remember John Drais.

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John H. Drais

Goodbye to a friend (written in 2015)

Sometimes, often unexpectedly, you meet people who make a lasting impression. John Drais was such a person. I met him for the first time in Julian during the ITC (International Theosophy Conferences Inc.) in 2011 and one year later, in 2012, at Olcott – Wheaton during the annual ITC event there. In Julian when I was shooting photos for the Julian photo gallery I “caught” him in between two talks sleeping in the grass under a big tree with a huge white hat covering his head and in Wheaton we had to chance to talk.

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John taking a nap in Julian

He was soft-spoken, kind, had a good sense of humor and I was impressed when he explained more about the projects he was involved in. His profound knowledge of H. P. B.’s writings was impressive and his love for Theosophy was evident. Last January, through a friend in Holland, I heard that he had fallen seriously ill and not long after that that he had passed away. I am sorry in a way that I didn’t have the chance to get to know him better. I am sure there will be other opportunities in lives to come, so who knows. In the meantime, I wish his partner in life Monica and all those good people active in the Paracelsian Order strength and wisdom. Although his passing was in January, I feel it is very appropriate to publish this obituary to honor this wonderful human being, celebrating his life.

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Monica Maghiar, Prior and Secretary of the Paracelsian Order and John


On January 15, 2014 Rt. Rev. John H. Drais passed away in Dulzura, CA

John H. Drais was the Abbot of the Paracelsian Order for twenty four years, and a monk of Madre Grande Monastery, its headquarters, since 1975. The Paracelsian Order is a Theosophical monastic order. It is eclectic in its religious expression, accepting all positive paths to spiritual perfection as valid. Mr. Drais was widely experienced in world religious expressions. He studied for several years at Millsaps College, a Methodist College in Jackson, Mississippi, where he received his BS degree, graduating cum laude with honors in chemistry in 1962. While in Mississippi he converted to Judaism and then spent fourteen years in the Jewish world, several of them at the Or Elchonon Yeshiva, an orthodox Jewish college of the Lithuanian Tradition in Los Angeles, as both a teacher and a student.

As a student of H. P. Blavatsky, Rev. Drais published several commentaries and articles on Kabbalah and The Secret Doctrine, and was a recognized scholar in these fields. To round out his eclectic approach he was also an initiate in the Celtic and the Ancient Native peoples Sun Temple traditions, a practitioner of Tibetan Buddhist visualization, and taught meditation and mindfulness techniques since 1975.

In the practical world, as Mr. Drais, he was a licensed California Real estate broker and a Certified Factoring Specialist. He owned and operated his own real estate marketing, management and maintenance companies for many years. After writing his own computer management system he marketed it to national real estate management companies and consulted in computer systems for ten years. He was a Realtor with Prudential California Realty, specializing in residential income properties.

Mr. Drais liked to teach Theosophy and meditation techniques aimed at personality transformation. He believed the keys to a healthy, productive and happy life are within the reach of each of us.

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Sally E. Lee, Abbot of the Paracelsian Order and John

From the monks at Madre Grande the following contribution was received:

In a secluded Southern Californian valley, surrounded by ancient and wise boulders, the Monks, Friars, and guests of Madre Grande Monastery quietly practice and teach a variety of spiritual paths, as they have for over forty years.

It is here that John Drais, one of the founders of Madre Grande, spent almost half his life pursuing the dream of a simple life dedicated to study and service. A non-traditional monk and independent Theosophist with a labyrinthine mind John had the surprising ability to present a plethora of complex subjects in the language of his listeners, sharing his encyclopedic knowledge in a serious and straightforward manner yet with a twinkle of joy and amusement in his eyes.

He taught at West Coast Talmudical Seminary and San Diego Hebrew Day School between 1968-1970. During this period he came across The Secret Doctrine, and a new type of wind caught his sails and guided him to uncharted territories. Madame Blavatsky’s masterpiece inspired him like no other teaching, and dramatically modified his approach to life.

From Hebrew Kabballah he traveled the road of comparative religion and philosophy and Buddhist meditation, and became a devoted lifelong student of Theosophy. Between 1970 and 1982 he worked on the Zohar and The Source of Measures, books that are part of The Secret Doctrine References Series. He contributed to Exordium with footnotes extracted from The Secret Doctrine, and a copious amount on notes in the Zohar; a new Hebrew and numerical index plus J.R. Skinner’s biography in The Source of Measures. In this period he met Emmet Small with Point Loma Publications and worked on the index of Esoteric Instructions by G.D. Purucker.

He wrote numerous articles, essays, and webinars, including but not limited to:

Age of Aquarius – 1981 – The Eclectic Theosophist, Jan/Feb,1981.

What is the Matter with Gravity – presented at the Symposium on H.P. Blavatsky’s Secret Doctrine Proceedings – 1984. The article is a selection of quotations mostly from The Secret Doctrine describing the One Life-Substance, the process of manifestation into the sensory plane, and a comparison with currently accepted theories of relativistic quantum mechanics.

The Paracelsian Order is a Theosophical Organization – Theosophical History: A Quarterly Journal of Research, Vol. 3, No. 6, April 1991, 160-166. An essay on the founding of The Paracelsian Order, its standing as a theosophical organization, and the criteria upon which such a decision is to be based.

From Ancient Wisdom to Modern Spirit: The Roots of Madre Grande – The Philosophers Stone, Vol. 1, No. 2, summer 1991 – By uniting the roots of several traditions a veritable tree of life expressing the unity in all has been envisioned. It has been declared to the world by a group of pioneers willing to put all their being into this religious cause. They feel there is no reasonable alternative and readily dedicate their efforts for the benefit of all beings.

Loving-Kindness All the Time – 2000. An article on how to gain clarity from the continuous transmission of unconditional love with which one can make the correct decision, and know what the outcome of their actions will be.

How to Beat the Cycles and Avoid Nirvana – Point Loma Convivium 2012, San Diego. The article is a theoretical and practical guide for the esoteric accelerated path to unconditional love and service.

The Four Foundations of Mindfulness and our Human Biorhythms – Aids for the Attainment of Dharana – 2012. A continuation of the presentation How to Beat the Cycles and avoid Nirvana.

The Divine Plan, a webinar series in association with the Theosophical Society of America, Wheaton, IL – 2013-2014. An explicit journey that familiarizes the beginner student in Theosophy with the vocabulary and practical applications of Theosophy.*

An eclectic pioneer who opened his heart in the most unexpected situations, a teacher of meditation, loving-kindness, and mindfulness, and most of all a true Wise Fool who had the power to laugh at himself, John Drais is dearly missed on this Earth, but surely stirring things up in the next world.

*Note from the editor: For a review of Barborka’s The Divine Plan by Ralph Hannon, and links to the complete webinar series John Drais presented, click here 


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Thanks John, wherever you are!

The articles by, plus one mini interview with John H. Drais in this issue of Theosophy Forward are:

  1. Mini Interview (2012)

  2. The Paracelsian Order and Its Theosophical Work

  3. The Principles of Man

  4. Yaho or Aia

  5. Things Change – Am Invitation to Meditation


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