A BASIC HISTORY OF THE COPTIC FELLOWSHIP:
The Coptic fellowship is a modern metaphysical organization, but its message and teachings are certainly not new. The lineage of the Coptic Fellowship goes back thousands of years into unrecorded history. Through the ages the wisdom teachings of the ancient masters have been kept and guarded by secret organizations of the chosen few. The secret order called the White Brotherhood was formed in ancient Egypt to preserve the record of Truth. It was called the White Brotherhood because members wore pure white garments symbolic of the purity of their teachings, and met at the time of the full moon which is white in color. The Master Moses was an initiate of the White Brother-hood, and when the time approached for him to leave his physical body, he called together a chosen few to whom he entrusted the guardianship of the Truth. He gave them secret knowledge that was to be kept pure. Thus arose the secret order known as the Essenes, or the Essaioli. It was their duty to preserve the teaching of Moses through the centuries of turmoil and tempestuous times, and to prepare the way for the coming of the Messiah of the Piscean Age, Jesus.
The Essenes near the time of Jesus numbered about four thousand and were divided into two sects. One sect was the contemplative Essenes, who lived outside of towns in isolated communities. These allowed only men in their ranks and were stern monkish type ascetics. The other sect was the practical Essenes, who lived in the same towns and areas as the regular Hebrews and the whole family, father, mother, and children were considered to be Essenes. It was much like people today who belong to the same church in a town. They still live and work with other towns-people who don’t belong to their church. The Essenes were considered strange by their non-Essene neighbors. They would rise every morning before dawn for silent meditation and prayer. They all wore plain white tunics and robes. They ate no meat and were very careful what food they ate in combination. They blessed every bit of food and drink before they took it into their bodies. They refused to work with or make any arrows, swords, helmets, shields or any device of war or killing. They shared all their material goods with each other and with strangers. They preferred to work in their community gardens and grow their own simple food. They lived very peaceful, disciplined and pious lives. These were very strange practices for the customs of the times. The Essenes had found something priceless, the sanctity of all life, which they respected and revered in all of its forms.
It was by this order that Mary was prepared from the age of three to be the mother of Jesus. Jesus himself, Mary, Joseph, John the Baptist and many of Jesus’ disciples were Essenes. When Herod learned of the birth of a great king and sought to destroy him, it was the Essenes that saw to it that the child was safely hidden in Egypt until Herod’s death. Jesus, or Jeshua Ben Joseph, as he was actually called, was trained and educated by the Essene Order. At the age of twelve he was initiated into the Essene order and given the name of Issa, meaning Master of all Masters. At seventeen, Jesus and his cousin, John the Baptist, both went to Egypt for further training and initiation. They studied at Heliopolis, which was close to the Great Pyramid. In the Pyramid, Jesus took the highest of the Brotherhood degrees, and true life mission was revealed to him.
Following this, Jesus, as Issa, traveled throughout the countries of the known world, studying the ways of humanity and current philosophy and religion. His purpose in his extensive travels was to evaluate the consciousness of the masses and how best to reach them. The name Issa, or Saint Issa, is many times recorded in ancient scriptures. It is found in the Koran, Hindu, Brahman, and Tibetan Buddhist writings. Jesus traveled as Issa to Ethiopia, India, Tibet, China, Japan and Persia. There came a time during his Ministry when Jesus knew that people were concentrating on him as a personality instead of seeking the Christ within themselves, so he decided to go into a secret retreat in Egypt and train a few chosen Masters in his Truth. These Masters would preserve the purity of his teachings and take charge of its further teaching to humanity. St. Mark the Elder (who was different from the apostle, Mark) and the apostle, Thomas, accompanied Jesus into Egypt.
To preserve the pure philosophy and to help prepare the way for the Aquarian Age Messiah, Jesus founded the Coptic Order in Egypt. Under his guidance and direction, St. Mark the Elder and Thomas established the Coptic Templar Order in 40 A.D. in Cairo. The members were called Copts. To make the teachings available to the outer world, at least to those who were ready for it, St. Mark and Thomas established an outer temple in 70 A.D. in Alexandria, Egypt. This outer temple is what gradually developed into the Coptic Orthodox Church. In 117 A.D. a Coptic Orthodox Church was established in Cairo.
There is a big difference between the Coptic Templar Order, from which the Coptic Fellowship came, and the Coptic Orthodox Church. The Templar Order is an esoteric organization, which is necessary because throughout their history they have been constantly persecuted. Their temples and places of training are very much hidden from all but the initiated. The oldest temple used by the order, called the Temple of Divine Wisdom, is over nine-thousand years old, and was established by the White Brotherhood. Jesus spent much time in this temple.
In the year 451 A.D., the Ecumenical Church Council of Chalcedon declared that henceforth it would be unalterable Doctrine that Jesus was the only Son of God and that he died for our sins, was resurrected, and ascended bodily into Heaven. This Doctrine is known as the Nicene Creed, and was originally formulated at the First Council of Nicaea in 325 A.D. Upon acceptance of this Creed, the Coptic Orthodox Church became very much like the Eastern Orthodox Church. At the Fifth Ecumenical Church Council at Constantinople in 553 A.D., under the reign of the Emperor Justinian, several books, including those on reincarnation, were removed from the Bible, and many other changes in the text were made. Resisting these distortions, the Coptic Templar Order continued to preserve the pure teachings and records of the life of Jesus through the centuries.
The story of Our Founder takes us to just before the turn of the last century, when on a certain March 15th, a little boy named Hamid Bey was born in Cairo, Egypt. Hamid’s family belonged to the Coptic Christian Church, and the reason for this has an interesting history. Hamid’s grandfather was a devoted Muslim. While a young man, he was stricken with crippling rheumatoid arthritis. His condition was so bad that he would scream in pain if moved even slightly. He despaired of life and prayed for death to release him. One day, a Master from an EgyptianCopticTemple, traveling incognito, came into the grandfather’s village. He convinced Hamid’s grandfather to be secretly carried to the temple for healing. The temple was only eighteen miles from the village, yet no one in the village even knew it existed. Hamid’s grandfather was completely cured. He walked home and was converted to Christianity. From that time on, his family was raised in the Christian faith.
When Hamid was five years old, he had a remarkable experience. He was playing in an Egyptian street, when a strange man walked up to him and smiled down at him. Hamid felt something wonderful was happening, and felt a very strong bond with this man he had never seen before. They talked together for a few minutes, and then the man left, promising that he would return soon. This man was actually a Master from a CopticTemple, and after much discussion with Hamid’s parents upon the Master’s return, it was agreed that Hamid was to go into temple training. In Coptic temple training, Hamid was taught spiritual disciplines in emotional and mental control, meditation, and the futility of fear. One lesson that made a great impression on him occurred when he was sent by his Master out in the countryside to beg for food for the temple. His Master had told him to thank the people whether or not they gave him anything. One day, young Hamid came upon a rather grouchy old man outside his farmhouse. When Hamid timidly asked him for food, the man bellowed and tried to give Hamid a swift kick in the rear. In response, Hamid merely bowed courteously and said humbly, “You have offered me more than I get most places, so thank you kind father, for your contribution.” At these words, the old man was so surprised, he started laughing and took Hamid into his house and filled his baskets to the top with food. Hamid that day learned that the quality of a person’s emotional attitude determines largely how the world receives him.
As Hamid grew in years, so did the advanced pace of his training. He was taught to place his body at the complete command of his will and to enter into a state of suspended animation. There were six preparatory Temples of learning that Hamid passed through before he could enter the final temple, the Temple of Divine Wisdom. In order to get to this temple, it is necessary to swim the Nile and enter through a tunnel. The big test here is that the Nile is infested in this area with vast numbers of crocodiles. The only way to know whether crocodiles are in the murky water, is to locate them by mind power. This is something Hamid and his classmates were taught in their previous years of intensive training. Out of Hamid’s classmates, only one did not make it across the river to the temple.
In this temple, Hamid passed through the greatest and final test. In the temple a flower is cultivated which does not grow anywhere in the world except deepest central Africa. It is a beautiful white flower that gradually opens and closes. When open, the perfume of the flower is very pleasant, but is a deadly poison to humans. It is used to prove an initiate’s physical and mental control. The flower is placed in the center of a series of concentric circles. There are eleven circles in all; the eleventh one closest to the flower. The initiate must keep his body independent of the poison, and sit for one hour in a circle, beginning with the outermost circle. Each circle moves the initiate closer to the flower, gives him one more ring. Hamid Bey made it to the seventh circle, which made him a seven-ring Master. The rings were symbolically worn on his headdress. When he attained the seventh degree, Hamid felt that he should leave the temple and go out into the world.
Upon his graduation from training, Hamid was given the privilege of a personal meeting with the great Master of the temple. The hour he spent with him gave Hamid guiding inspiration throughout his life. At the age of eighteen, he returned home to his family in Cairo. He soon joined the armed forces that were being sent out from Egypt to do service in World War I. He spent the next few years in the air force. There was one occasion during the war when his ability to place himself into trance saved his life. He found himself behind the lines with the enemy fast upon him. He put himself into trance and the enemy soldiers completely ignored him, being certain that he was already dead.
After W.W.I, Hamid decided to go to Italy and publicly demonstrate the powers he had learned in the temple training. He wanted to convince a skeptical world that there is much more to a man than the outer form. His intention was to place himself in a state of suspended animation and be buried alive six feet underground for three days. His younger brother accompanied him to Brindisi, Italy and did such a great job of advertising that the entire city turned out for him and had a tremendous banquet ready upon his arrival. The Italians were not pleased when Hamid told them that he had to fast before the demonstration. They kept forcing spaghetti on him and insisted that he eat. Finally, to keep them happy, Hamid did eat some spaghetti. But, when he was buried, the spaghetti began to disturb his trance, and he woke out of it, six feet underground and with no air. He pulled the emergency cord that was attached to a bell above ground, but by the time he was exhumed, he was so far gone, that several doctors on the scene pronounced him dead, and he was taken to the morgue. Hamid was out of his body several hours until he finally managed to “get back in.” He felt the effects of this for several days, and suffered some heart damage as a result, although he was able to regenerate most of the damage done to his body. He continued to tour Europe and demonstrate his power by being buried alive and by sticking large pins through his flesh with no blood or pain whatsoever.
In 1927 the magician, Houdini, was attracting world wide attention and announced that he could duplicate by mechanical means any so-called spiritual phenomenon ever produced. So Hamid Bey was sent to the United States in 1927 to challenge Houdini. Three weeks after Hamid arrived, Houdini died. Hamid, not knowing any English or any of the customs, signed up as a vaudeville act under a binding two year contract. He spent the next two years, much to his disdain, doing his “act” on stage three times a day for sometimes heckling audiences. After that experience, he became great friends with Paramahansa Yogananda and traveled with him doing shows and lectures together. To maintain his temple rank of Seven Ring Master, Hamid had to return to Egypt every seven years and go through additional tests and examinations by his Master. In 1936, Hamid returned to Egypt and had a great spiritual experience. He was taken astrally by his Master to the secret Archive Chamber of the Great Pyramid. Hamid’s true mission in the United States was revealed to him. The United States was to become the new Holy Land, and the Coptic Order would be established here. In 1937 Master Hamid Bey founded the Coptic Fellowship in Los AngelesCalifornia.
In the following years Hamid dedicated his life to teaching the Universal Principles of right living throughout the United States. Helping him was a pure, humble man from Switzerland, whom we called Master Stanley. Little is known of Master Stanley’s background, because he would seldom speak of himself or his past, but a few details are known.
As a young boy in Switzerland, Master Stanley had a spiritual experience that led him to become a teacher of Truth. One hot day he rode his bicycle up a very steep hill and when he reached the top, he was totally exhausted. He went into a state of “suspended consciousness” and, in his words, ‘the Christ’ came to him and spoke. He never revealed what the Christ said to him, but the experience served as a guiding inspiration all his life. Master Stanley often spoke of the Christ’s message of Love which he wanted to get to as many people as possible.
Master Stanley was also a research scientist. When he was a young man he and three others were conducting an experiment when something went wrong. An explosion occurred in the laboratory, and all four men received severe chemical burns on their faces. The other men died, but Master Stanley was given a choice to leave, or stay and continue his service to Spirit on this plane. He chose to stay and was able to regenerate his facial tissue so that his skin became clear and only a trace of a scar remained.
Master Stanley first came in contact with Coptic Philosophy when he attended a lecture by Hamid Bey in Detroit, Michigan. A deep spiritual bond was immediately recognized between them. Master Stanley set about helping to spread the Coptic Teachings throughout the Midwest. He was ordained by Master Hamid Bey in 1937. He founded the DetroitCopticTemple and established and taught at centers in Milwaukee, Toledo and Chicago, and went on to open 10 more centers throughout the Midwest.
In the next twenty three years Hamid Bey, aided by Master Stanley, continued to teach and establish Coptic Centers. Master Stanley reached the point of transition from his life in 1972. Because he had so often given so much of him-self to others, he neglected taking the proper amount of time to renew himself and eventually the damage done in the laboratory accident 40 years before surfaced again. Rather than devote his efforts to healing himself again, he chose to go through transition. John Davis, who was ordained by Master Stanley in 1969, became the Midwest Coptic director after Master Stanley’s passing in 1972. In 1974 the Coptic Fellowship held their first National Convention in Kalamazoo, Michigan.
On July 16, 1976 Coptic Founder Hamid Bey left his physical body. This happened for three reasons: First, he realized that people were not concentrating on learning the truth for themselves. Secondly, they were concentrating on his dynamic personality; and thirdly, the physical heart damage he suffered in Italy when he did his famous “spaghetti demonstration” was becoming increasingly difficult for him to keep up the demanding pace of being the National Head of the Coptics - so he decided to leave. He passed over in a hospital in Los Angeles of cardiac arrest. He simply stopped his heart from beating. Before his death, he chose John Davis to take over as National Director. Hamid’s body was cremated according to his wishes, and his ashes were scattered over the Pacific Ocean.
Today, Coptics not only exist, we are growing, We no longer stand on the threshold of the New Age, we have proven ourselves and have stepped through it. We are still a small group, relatively speaking, but like the Essenes and the White Brotherhood before them, we are mighty in purpose. The modern Coptics feel the New Messiah is a Group Avatar consciousness. Any soul can become an avatar by paying the pearl of great price. By following the laws of balanced living (physical, emotional, mental and spiritual balance) and loving unconditionally to the greatest of our ability, we can achieve Group Avatar status.
We alone determine our level of service. The very purpose for which we came here is upon us. Every one of us is needed. The Group Avatar symbol is the Diamond. Nothing transmits Light with such purity and clarity; nothing is stronger. We all have the Diamond within us, though it may need a bit of polishing. Within us we have the strength to make our diamonds glow like the spiritual SUNS we truly are. As we lift ourselves up and join together, we take the rest of humanity with us! The Aquarian Messiah consciousness, in spiritual truth, is the birth of the Christ Consciousness within each of us. It is to this Divine Purpose that the Teachings of the Coptic Fellowship are dedicated.