This portrait of the controversial "conscious teacher" Robert Earl Burton, founder of The Fellowship of Friends, stands in stark contrast to the cult's alluring
Living Presence and Ark in Time Network websites.

Much of the material presented here is derived from three primary sources:
The Fellowship of Friends - Living Presence Discussion, the Internet Archive, and the Fellowship of Friends wiki project.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Steve Dambeck is on a mission to promote The Fellowship of Friends

[ed. - Fellowship of Friends member Steven Dambeck has been appointed Yuba-Sutter Chamber of Commerce Director of Visitor Services. It is curious that, despite Dambeck's over 35 years with the Fellowship, the Appeal-Democrat article below makes no mention of the organization, nor of Dambeck's Apollo Olive Oil and Renaissance Vineyard and Winery connections. 

A Fellowship leader, minister, and self-described sexual partner of founder Robert Burton, Dambeck has been tireless in promoting Fellowship businesses, those of its members, and his own ventures, which include North Fork Yuba River, his partnership with Randy Fletcher, current candidate for Yuba County Supervisor. While Dambeck serves to increase Yuba County tourism, it would not be surprising to see attention and resources "coaxed" in the Fellowship's direction.]
Steve Dambeck is on a mission to promote Y-S wineries

By Eric Vodden/

For a longtime wine lover, Steven Dambeck isn't all that concerned about adhering to the strict guidelines of whether a cabernet or chardonnay best satisfies the palate with a particular dish.

He acknowledges it can be intimidating for a wine neophyte to whiff the bouquet or find the hint of blackberry within the complex tastes of a particular vintage.

But it's the culture of wine making that he loves, the aura that a glass brings to a social event and a well-planned meal.

"Food is the catalyst where there are people," said Dambeck, adding that he gained his appreciation for wine and food while spending time in Europe. "Wine is what pulls it all together."

Dambeck is a board member of the North Yuba Grown farmers organization, the Yuba-Sutter Chamber of Commerce's new director of visitor services and is involved with the North Sierra Vintner's Association.

The bottom line through all those associations is to help Yuba-Sutter see itself in a better light and get those from the outside looking in to share that light.


Sunday, April 13, 2014

Beyond the golden veil, a legacy of shame and silence

[ed. - The recent news about tax refunds, non-profits misbehaving, and deceptive recruiting tactics is trifling compared to what has lain at the heart of The Fellowship of Friends for over forty-four years. And that is the psychological and physical abuse of devotees by a sociopathic "religious" leader. Today, despite the "openness" of the internet and all the revelations it has brought, Robert Burton's abuse of power and violation of his followers' trust apparently continues unchallenged. It is important to remind readers of the many testimonies that fill this history of the cult. In the on-line forum linked below, the blogger "Someone," while claiming to be an ex-member, often speaks in support of the Fellowship, encouraging forbearance and even acceptance of the Fellowship's "insignificant" flaws.]

"Someone" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, May 13, 2010:
[In response to blogger "brucelevy," an ex-member who reported having been raped by Robert Burton:]

Still the plain facts are that you haven’t been in the FoF [Fellowship of Friends] in the last 25 years or more so I might be knowing certain things better than you.

While I was a member, I took the trouble to check the facts and RB’s [Robert Burton's] sexual circle around 4-5 years ago included 10-14 students out of which 6-8 were more ‘permanent’ and the rest more casual. He did use to ‘replace’ 5-10 students each year. So altogether it used to be around 20-25 students. Out of ~2000 members at that time, it is around 1 percent.

Statistically it is a ‘small circle’ and that’s what I said.

That is a FACT, not an opinion!!!

Essentially 20 or 25 abused students is terrible especially if one gathers all of them along 40 years.

The context in which I was using the term ‘small circle’ (and almost everyone here is an expert of taking things out of context) was that people are still joining because there are VERY ATTRACTIVE elements in the FoF ideas and 1 percent of abused students is relatively small for most of them to notice unless they are part of the victims or close to them.

One cannot ignore the persistence that RB puts on being present. It is an appealing idea for some people (it used to be appealing for many ex-members here, perhaps for most of them). Stating that God is presence can be a powerful idea in the 21st century. If one chooses not to deal with it for what it is, one is missing the opportunity to approach new seekers.

I think that a more balanced discussion would have made this Blog a much better source for new seekers. A balanced approach is more appealing. It has more reasoning and it can be much more convincing.

"Old FOF" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, May 15, 2010:
In the interests of prospective and current students who may come here for information, I personally don’t want the recent comments by the contributor known as Someone about the scope of the sexual abuse in the Fellowship of Friends by Robert Burton to stand without further comment.

The following has all been brought out in this blog very well (and in much more and better detail) – in the past years. It is so central to the issue regarding the Fellowship of Friends cult and abuse – that it is sort of pathetic that it has to be addressed again (and to an ex-student) – but here goes.

When I left in the mid-1990s I estimate that by that time Robert Burton had likely had sex with over 1,000 of his male students. This was not just a made up figure but an estimate based on serious inquiry.

For example (in retrospect on discovering that this practice was occurring), through various means I was able find that about 40% of the male students in each of the two main centers in which I had been living were seduced by Robert Burton – some very soon (weeks) after they joined.

Still later, I learned of the almost conveyor belt system that was established for young men to travel with Robert – it appeared somewhat coordinated by his “secretaries” – whereby I learned that on balance about two new students were seduced each week, in this manner.

His “symposium” drinking bouts were also a means of seduction for inebriated students.

Finally, for a while I was in a position to know about a number of students who one would never have dreamed would have fallen to Robert – who also at one time or another had been seduced.

These were almost all heterosexual students – and many of them carried large shame and silence.

It’s possible that this has been toned down in recent years, but based on comments by those who seem to be sincere students and ex-students over the past two to three years (on this blog), it seems likely that this pace of sexual abuse if ameliorated at all – has not been by much.

I suspect that Someone is (somewhat) sincere. But I would maintain that her research was / is incomplete at best. And I would ask her to consider that she may be wrong in her numbers by orders of magnitude (add zeros) – that the true story is hidden very well by a master at using student shame and embarrassment to keep such things in the dark.

And I would ask her to consider the effect that her words may have on vulnerable people – if you are wrong (you are). You ought to think about what minimizing does, Someone. In your mind, you are just being honest, but consider that there are others that know more than you do. At the least, you ought to make room for other views, if only to not be a possible accomplice in the whitewash. To join in the whitewash is to be an accomplice – and to accrue terrible karma.

In passing please note again that this debate is not “esoteric.” One of Robert’s conquests hanged himself, one either died or nearly died from anorexia, and at least three had psychotic breakdowns. And these are just the ones that I knew about. Was Robert Burton responsible? In my mind he is, but maybe there were contributing factors. Nevertheless, why is a “conscious” teacher having sex with hundreds and perhaps thousands of his own male students – some of whom are vulnerable, and nearly all of whom were naïve sincere seekers?

The idea that Robert Burton’s sexual abuse is more or less confined to a select few would be laughable – if it was not so hideously tragic.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

The Fellowship scores in Manhattan

[ed. - Lest readers feel too sorry for The Fellowship of Friends owing to the harsh treatment it recently received at the hands of Yuba County Supervisors, below The Fellowship boasts in a memo of placing its wine in some of Manhattan's finest establishments.

Let's look at a sampling of wines from The Fellowship's Renaissance Vineyard and Winery now available in Manhattan:

From Morrell & Company, a retail wine seller:
Renaissance Cabernet Sauvignon Vin de Terroir Sierra Foothills 1999 750ml - $95.00/750ml
Renaissance Cabernet Sauvignon Vin de Terroir Sierra Foothills 1997 750ml - $100.00/750ml
Renaissance Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve Sierra Foothills 1984 750ml - $110.00/750ml
How many Yuba County residents can afford such luxuries?]

"J.D." posted on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, March 22, 2014
More news from the FOF media channel.
Dear Friends,

We want to share with you that we are working with a new distributor in New York who placed a very large order with us at the first of this year. So far, they have placed our wines in 12 top-rated restaurants and 5 wine shops in the New York City area. A list of the restaurants and wine shops is attached and includes website links and addresses.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Is the non-profit North Yuba Grown engaging in political activism?

[ed. - In the race for Yuba County's 5th District Supervisor post, it appears North Yuba Grown member Jenny Cavaliere has shown the audacity to challenge Randy Fletcher, a candidate being groomed by Fellowship of Friends members through proxies such as North Yuba Grown and North Fork Yuba River.

Fletcher is a partner in Steven Dambeck's North Fork Yuba River and owner of Chestnut Grove, a venue that Dambeck and North Yuba Grown promote and rent for special events. Dambeck, of course, is associated with Apollo Olive Oil and Renaissance Vineyard & Winery. Renaissance is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Fellowship of Friends, and Apollo Olive Oil derives much of its fruit from Fellowship lands while the owners provide tax-deductible financial support to the Fellowship of Friends.

The Fellowship of Friends has long sought to exploit public funding channels, and in this endeavor, a sympathetic district supervisor would be an important ally and valuable asset. 

Charles Sharp, a Fellowship member, North Yuba Grown co-founder, and partner in North Fork Yuba River, wrote the following Letter to the Editor.]

"Barbara" posted the following on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, April 6, 2014:
THE TERRITORIAL DISPATCH ~ April 2, 2014 ~ Yuba County CA

North Yuba Grown Is Neutral 

North Yuba Grown is a grass roots California non-profit organization promoting local agriculture in and around the foothills of Yuba County.

As such, it must remain politically neutral and cannot endorse any political candidacy.

Recently, Jenny Cavaliere, a candidate for supervisor of the 5th district, issued a press release to the Territorial Dispatch, apparently on behalf of North Yuba Grown.

As a founding member and part of the publicity committee of North Yuba Grown, I can state that this self serving release was not authorized or sanctioned by the membership, nor does it represent an endorsement by the organization in any way.

Might this be an indication of how Ms. Cavaliere, as supervisor, would put her own self interests before the people of Yuba County?

In closing, I would like to commend John Mistler, editor of the Territorial Dispatch, for giving all the candidates fair and equal treatment.
Charles Sharp
Oregon House, Ca.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Group’s tax refund request shot down

[ed. - The Fellowship of Friends' claim that the Galleria, founder Robert Burton's residence and focal point of the Fellowship's Apollo headquarters, is used exclusively for religious worship is laughable. Burton's residence (and any member would be remiss in regarding it otherwise) has for four decades been the site of sexual escapades described in these pages. Believing he is above mere mortal laws, Burton has fostered a culture of "gentle" disregard for society's rules. From the earliest days, his organization largely ignored Federal laws prohibiting private inurement in tax-exempt religious organizations. Burton has always been the chief beneficiary of his "congregation's" largess. It is interesting to note that the Fellowship is endeavoring to elect a more sympathetic supervisor to replace Mr. Stocker, who voted to deny the request. See also, this 116-page document submitted to Yuba County Board of Supervisors on behalf of The Fellowship of Friends.]

From the Appeal-Democrat:
By Eric Vodden/

For the second time in 2 1⁄2 years, Yuba County has rejected a property tax refund request from the Fellowship of Friends.

County supervisors voted 3-1 Tuesday to deny the group's request for refunds for each of the past four years and part of 2009-10. The group claims it is entitled to religious and welfare exemptions.

The Fellowship's claim does not specify an amount. But based on estimates of $30,000 a year for real property and $100,000 a year on personal property, the refund would total about $520,000, said Assessor Bruce Stottlemeyer.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Living Presence Amsterdam Open Meeting, April 2014

[ed. - In April, Living Presence Amsterdam, otherwise known as the Fellowship of Friends, is holding an open meeting. To anyone seeking an introduction to Robert Earl Burton's version of  "Divine, Wordless Presence...the greatest miracle in the universe," I strongly encourage you to review this blog and be prepared to ask direct and meaningful questions. See Ames Gilbert's list of questions.]

Friday, January 31, 2014

Why bother?

[ed. - This sincere conversation took place recently on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog. I think it provides an insight into why some former Fellowship members feel obliged to warn potential victims of the cult and encourage current members to break free. "Someone" has posed their question on numerous occasions, each time eliciting an interesting dialogue.]

"Tempus Fugit" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, January 2, 2014:
Happy New Year to one and all! I hope the new year finds you healthy, optimistic, and, above all, free.

Since I escaped the FOF [Fellowship of Friends] cult thirty years ago I have had good days and bad days but everyone one of them has been a day lived free of the delusional madness of the Fellowship of Friends.

If you are a member of the FOF looking for new information and other perspectives you have found a great resource in this blog [Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog].

Please read the stories and comments here as much as you can, old ones and new ones, thousands of posts going back for years. Listen to the voice of your inner self as you read and look for the truth.

Don’t be distracted by irrelevant comments and bad writing (some of which is certainly mine) but pay attention to the stories that speak directly to you and your situation.

In my experience and in my opinion Robert Burton is a fraud and a criminal. Do you truly believe he is a good man? Do you truly believe he is enlightened?

If you decide the writers here are wrong you will only lose a little of your time and have your faith in Robert Burton and the FOF strengthened.

If you decide the writers here are correct you may discover the courage and will to choose a new life.

My sincere hope that 2014 is the year that brings you freedom!

"Someone" responded on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, January 7, 2014:
Tempus Fugit,

You left the FoF in the early 80′s and you still have them in your mind. Why carry them inside for so long? They are not worth it.

The FoF are ~1500 people worldwide – they always have been around 2000 or less. Their average age in OH [Oregon House] is probably 60.

RB [Robert Burton] is an old man and the number of member isn’t going to grow.

After I left I heard rumors that many young people are joining in other countries. Now I think they were mere rumors. Why waste time, thoughts, emotions and energy on the FoF? I am entering this Blog once or twice a year because I care about those who are wasting vital energy on the FoF. Though they are harshly against the FoF, it’s still a waste of life energy. I lived in OH for many many years and now I rarely think of it. This Blog [the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog] was opened 7 years ago during the big leaving. Since then the FoF size stayed almost the same.

Perhaps they managed to bring in 50-100 new members, yet more members died of old age. Taking into account Nature’s course, in 10 years time the FoF will be left with perhaps 500-600 members worldwide.

Why bother?

Thursday, November 28, 2013

The Fellowship of Friends/Living Presence/Fourth Way/Divine Presence/Gurdjieff-Ouspensky/Esoteric/(Whatever) School on the internet

Robert Earl Burton's Fellowship of Friends Living Presence cult bookmark, Apollo, Oregon House, CA

[ed. -
To lure seekers from other traditions, and to also mitigate the effects of negative publicity, the Fellowship of Friends continually re-brands itself. Recruiting sites proliferate under a myriad of titles and themes. The websites below are generally grouped according to their primary target market. The "unofficial" sites are mostly critical of Robert Burton and the Fellowship of Friends.]

Recuerdo de sí
Fellowship of Friends - Centro de Buenos Aires on Facebook
Gurdjieff Tornando-se Consciente (Portuguese)
 Centro Sao Paolo on Google + (Portuguese)
The Fourth Way and Esoteric Traditions (Chinese)
The Fourth Way and Esoteric Traditions (English)
The Great Way: Journey to the West
The Secret of the Golden Flower
The Taoist I Ching

Friday, November 15, 2013

The student-teacher relationship

"Ames Gilbert" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, November 15, 2013:
Men in White Coats (#139-22 or thereabouts) [blogger and post number], the ‘Be Present First’ website you linked to is operated by William Page, a member of the cult of Robert Burton since 1976, and who still lives in Oregon House. I can tell you from personal experience that he is quite terrified of ex-members like myself and my wife, and when we happen to meet him, he will not look at or acknowledge us. I point this out because it implies that his theories about consciousness and fear of death are just that, theories.
Separately, he devotes a whole page to the Student/Teacher relationship. There is nothing to indicate that he is aware of the gross inequality of power in such a relationship, and in fact he seems to put the onus on the follower to take all responsibility:
The teacher’s responsibility, and essentially his only responsibility, is to bring out, or feed, the student’s higher possibilities. But teachers are also human, and very few are beyond the need for human relationships. What this means for the student is that he or she must, if it is his or her privilege to have personal relationship with a teacher, to be able to distinguish the man or the woman from the teacher. The student must be able to recognize when he is required to act as a personal friend and when he is required to act as a student. If the student has trouble distinguishing between the two, it is probably better for him to ask to be removed from the teacher’s circle of personal friends and confine himself to a strictly student/teacher relationship.”
And so on.
The whole website is rather sad, and very much in the style of that leading Fellowship of Friends luminary and apologist for Burton, Girard Haven. In other words, intellectual masturbation. Then, with ‘teachers’ like Burton and Haven, what other form could it take?
IMHO, judging solely by his own words, he hasn’t realized much of his potential in the last thirty-seven years.

From the Fellowship of Friends Wikispace:
"In particular, if he [Robert Earl Burton] knows what he is doing and we don’t, we have no basis for judging or doubting him. Instead, we simply have to trust him, as a child trusts his parents, or dog trusts its master. If he asks us to do things which seem to have no connection to awakening – or even to be ‘wrong’ – we have no choice but to do them anyway.” Girard Haven, Creating a Soul, page 576

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

"Lies, deceit, control: an outsider’s Fellowship of Friends experience, 2011 - 2013"

[ed. - Brian Flynn's video above is a product of the Fellowship's "Ark in Time" network.]

"Tracey Ash" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, August 19, 2013:
I have never been a member of the Fellowship of Friends. For twenty years exploring spirituality, I have never encountered a cult, so it was alien to my spirituality experiences when the Fellowship took an interest in me and especially in my spiritual work. This cult interest – I only discovered in July 2013. Here is the story.

In July 2011, I was with clients, on a crop circle field visit to a tiny village near Alton Barnes, in the UK. That day I was working with my friend, a Brazilian crop circle investigator and a group of clients from London. We were working with transformation and meditation at the site. It was midday, there were rain storms, so the site was ours. As we moved into our final crop circle, we noticed a woman watching us. Wiltshire is ‘super-safe’ – our spiritual community ‘super-friendly’ in that area. Crop circles, the serpent temples of Avebury and Stonehenge, Glastonbury, all attract spiritual explorers, so conversations are spontaneous. It was a very easy setting for Lynne Sanders (of the Fellowship of Friends) to make contact without any suspicion.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

All & Everything in Diagrams

All & Everything in Diagrams, by Fellowship of Friends member Mohan Vaishnav is published.

(It is published by Fellowship of Friends member Martin Dace's Narrow Gate Press.)

Saturday, July 27, 2013

S. Milton's story

"Wondering Who's Watching" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, July 27, 2013:
If you want to get acquainted with Asaf Braverman, and the Asaf Braverman type person the Fellowship of Friends fosters, read this:
From: Res Ipsa Loquitur
Post #142 unoanimo writes
on 01 Aug 2007 at 7:34 am

“Fraud, Fraudulent Misrepresentation, Wrongful Discharge. . .

Fellowship of Friends indeed.

Banishes its own when they become an unpleasant impression. . .

This ‘wrongful discharge’ relates to the deeper picture of such lines as “Banishes its own when they become an unpleasant impression.”

For instance ~

Take the S. Milton situation; here’s a guy who has a legally classified ‘eye disease’, had been working outside for a large part of the day, went to one of Robert Burton’s lunches the same day, was facing the hot sun and had the need to close his eyes from time to time in order to rest them from the strain of looking with bright sunlight in his face…

Later, he was asked to leave the Fellowship of Friends for ‘sleeping’ or ‘dozing off’…

I believe you can thank Asaf or some ‘boy’ for that hawk-eyed, un-conscience-able perception of S. Milton…

Who brought it to Robert Burton’s ‘attention’ is hearsay, yet, the fact of his dismissal on these grounds is not… stay tuned for the REST OF THE STORY; on a train coming to your neighborhood soon.

And, no, Steven D., your part won’t be left out of this story…stay tuned for a conscience near you.”

Matthew [KJV] 6:22-24: ‘. . . if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light. But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great [is] that darkness! No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other.’

Saturday, June 29, 2013

The Fellowship of Friends' Apollo Arts seeks donations

[ed. - In this video, Ansley Braverman (wife of Asaf Braverman) invites the public to attend Apollo Arts summer performances, and appeals for donations. It must be remembered that The Fellowship of Friends, through tax-deductible "charitable donations," (a euphemism for mandatory payments from its membership) has lavished the cult's leader and his inner circle with a luxurious lifestyle few in Yuba County (or for that matter, almost anywhere) could imagine. It takes chutzpah for this organization to seek public donations to furnish Apollo Arts. From those who have traveled with him, it is well known that,
in a single day, Robert Burton can easily spend the $5,000 Apollo Arts is currently seeking. This is the same organization that has battled Yuba County over paying its share of taxes. Experience points to the most likely outcome: public donations will assure a higher balance in Burton's expense account.

The Fellowship of Friends now sees crowdfunding as an opportunity to reach beyond the cult for gullible donors.

Before we take too much pity on this humble acting troupe, let's look at an inventory of some of the real estate The Fellowship of Friends "church" owns. Keep in mind, the list below does not include assets such as the classical art collection, antique furnishings, jewelry, luxury cars, library collections, musical instruments, wine inventory, various vacation homes, off-shore bank accounts, investments, livestock, etc.]

"Mick Danger" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, August 22, 2008:
FOF owns 9 Parcels totaling 1,259 Acres Tax Value: $15,733,885

Monday, June 17, 2013

"North Yuba Grown" serves to promote Fellowship of Friends cult

[ed. - North Yuba Grown was ostensibly created "to Promote and Support Local Agriculture," but some members and supporters may be unaware that the non-profit organization also serves to advance the interests of an Oregon House-based cult called The Fellowship of Friends, directly benefiting its leader Robert Earl Burton, who is regarded a psychopath by many former members. A significant contingent of North Yuba Grown's founders and members pay tax-deductible earnings-based tithes directly to the Fellowship of Friends, a registered 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation.

While pursuing the commendable goal of strengthening and promoting local ranches and farms, North Yuba Grown, wittingly or unwittingly provides a marketing service to the Fellowship of Friends. The positive, wholesome image masks a concerted and desperate underlying campaign to replenish the Fellowship's depleted coffers. When many of its members must turn to social welfare for essential services, the Fellowship of Friends continues to nourish the legendary greed and ambition of cult founder and self-appointed monarch Robert Burton.

It is noteworthy that The Fellowship and Burton are absent from North Yuba Grown's promotions. They remain the unacknowledged "elephant in the room." While presumed to be independent of The Fellowship, Apollo Olive Oil, Renaissance Vineyard and Winery, Sierra d'Oro, and Grant-Eddie are operated by Fellowship members and each helps sustain Burton's kingdom.

I would suggest North Yuba Grown members be queried about their affiliation with the Fellowship of Friends. Though the Fellowship has contributed to the community in many ways, it has a long and sordid history of both documented and alleged criminal activity including sexual abuse of a minor, rape, narcotics violations, money-laundering, fraud, tax avoidance and evasion, legal intimidation, intentional disregard for government ordinances, private inurement from church assets, misrepresentation, and many other charges. A well-executed public relations campaign cannot expunge the record.]

North Yuba Grown

North Yuba Grown on Facebook
Steven Dambeck, ex-Fellowship of Friends minister, co-founder of Apollo Olive Oil, and self-described former lover of Robert Burton, speaks on behalf of North Yuba Grown at the Yuba County "Perspectives 2013" business luncheon, April 26, 2013:
Part 1:

Part 2:

Friday, June 14, 2013

Living Presence - Amsterdam Open Meeting

[ed. - On June 29th, Living Presence Amsterdam, otherwise known as the Fellowship of Friends, is holding an open meeting. Before you are introduced to Robert Earl Burton's version of  "Divine, Wordless Presence...the greatest miracle in the universe," I would strongly encourage prospective members to review this blog, and then ask some very direct questions about the cult. See Ames Gilbert's list of questions in the post below. You have been warned.]

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Parallels with the People's Temple?

Robert Earl Burton, Fellowship of Friends Living Presence cult leader, Apollo, Oregon House, CA
"Tempus Fugit" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, March 20, 2013:
All statements in this post are my own opinions only.

This post is a refinement of one I made not too long ago. I repeat it as a warning to active members of the FOF who may be reading this blog. How many of you do and how often is unknown, but certainly some do and this warning, in various forms and from various writers, needs to be posted frequently. So please read on, this message may save your life.

A bit dramatic, you say? Maybe, but the stakes are high.

Perhaps you feel strong in your commitment to Robert Burton and the Fellowship of Friends. Perhaps you also feel safe; after all, your life is in the hands of a conscious being led by angels – what could be safer than that? Doesn’t Burton devote his time and energy to your evolution and spiritual welfare, isn’t that what he has told you, isn’t that what older students and those all around you believe?

I once believed all those things until the truth opened my eyes.

Consider this post from shardofoblivion on page 135:
74. shardofoblivion – January 25, 2013

A metaphysical Ark? I can just imagine his [Shard is referring to Asaf Braverman] inner glow because he is privy to the secret knowledge that in actual fact “C influence” have invited him aboard their very physical Ark, currently moored miles from the sea at Oregon House, in order that he should survive armageddon. O lucky him.
A metaphysical Ark?

Exactly. This is the dangerous vision members of the FOF should hope Robert Burton never has.

I have no contact with active FOF members so anything I surmise about the current status of the group is mainly gleaned from this blog and other internet resources...

Apparently Burton is continuing to promote his long term “vision” that the FOF is meant to serve as a literal, physical Ark to preserve the best of human culture for the survivors of a post apocalyptic world.

But what if real world failure and the stresses of illness and aging prompt a different conclusion?

Previously I noted the horrible possibility that Burton could decide to destroy himself and take others with him (Tempus Fugit – June 22, 2012, page 121, post 96).

Does this still sound far fetched? I again recall Jim Jones and the People’s Temple cult. For a full version (although only one) of the People’s Temple story, see:

In the middle 1960′s the People’s temple was based in Indiana, but Jones got the idea that the group needed to move to Northern California to find a safe place to survive an imminent nuclear holocaust (FOF oldtimers will note a familiar refrain).

Monday, March 18, 2013

Forsake verification: The Fellowship of Friends as religion

[ed. - The following was originally posted by Ames Gilbert. The posters "I in the Sky" and "Daily Cardiac" referred to in Ames' post are purportedly former Fellowship of Friends President Linda K.]
"fofblogmoderator" posted on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, March 18, 2013:
From an earlier page
“Any explorer coming to this page should be easily able to see what happens so often if one joins the Fellowship of Friends and takes the ever-changing whims of Robert Earl Burton, the psychotic leader, to heart. So, I’m speaking to you.

You have the opportunity right here that is hidden from you if you attend the “introductory meetings”, the opportunity to peek behind the scripted theatrical performance put on to you by actors who have rehearsed the scene times beyond counting.

You have the opportunity to meet and learn from one of the finest minds in the Fellowship, a representative sent out to battle with the forces of evil who manifest on this blog. You have the opportunity to engage, yourself, right here, if you are reading this while the page is current. I personally don’t know anything about the entity called, “I in the Sky”. But I can assure you, dear explorer, that I know a great deal in general, and I can give you some guidance about her motivations. This is because I was once an explorer just like you, seeking to find some answers to life’s Big Questions, just as you are. I was hoping for guidance on how to live my life more fully, how to bring some meaning to it that was missing. I was looking for some explanations that did not demand blind faith, that would engage much more of me than was required by conventional religions, that would be more practical than the output of western philosophy, no matter how closely argued.
Perhaps you are like I was, drawn to the Fourth Way, and hoping, like I did, that somehow there was a branch of it that yet still lived and that I would come to meet it.

So, I was ripe when I found a Fellowship of Friends bookmark in London in 1978. I was thrilled to go to the introductory meetings and engage with people who had apparently found some of the answers. And I felt lucky beyond measure when it seemed that I had stumbled upon a living branch of the Fourth Way, an heir and descendant of the System propounded by Gurdjieff and Ouspensky.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

The Fellowship of Friends Compound at Apollo (Oregon House, CA)

View Larger Map

An aerial view of the roughly 1,200-acre Fellowship of Friends compound, known as Apollo, in Oregon House, California. (This same property was formerly known as The Farm, The Ranch, Mt. Carmel Monastery, Renaissance, and Isis.)

The Fellowship's uncompleted Renaissance Winery is the white structure in the bottom center of the image. To the right of the winery are olive orchards which supply Apollo Olive Oil, and to the left, across a small lake is the Theatron, and to the left of that, the Galleria where Robert Earl Burton resides. Many of the 365 acres originally planted to grapes now lie fallow, the vines uprooted.(Click on the Google navigation buttons to zoom or pan the image.)

Thursday, December 13, 2012

"The Cult Leader as Psychopath"

"Don Juan" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, April 12, 2007:
Someone asked about how one might “diagnose” the possible personality disorders on display in the person of Robert Burton.

Back in 1994, a couple of books on cults were making the rounds in the Fellowship (“The Guru Papers” by Kramer and Alstad, and “Captive Hearts, Captive Minds” by Tobias and Lalich) (OK, the rounds of some in the Fellowship). The writers of the latter book suggested that many cult leaders could properly be described as “psychopaths,” and provided a fifteen-point profile of a psychopath.

I remember being shocked at how closely the description of the psychopath fit; everything from self-serving manipulation based upon charm, to a grandiose sense of self and feelings of entitlement, to a complete lack of remorse, shame or guilt, to an incapacity for true love or empathy, to indifference to the harm they inflict on others . . . and on and on. If you haven’t seen it, check it out for yourself; it’s quite remarkable. I’ve quoted it below (parts of the book are available on the web).

What I’ve always found fascinating is that the qualities of seeming “strength” that many people are attracted to in a leader, whether of a cult or a nation, may merely be the pathological absence of normal human capacities for love, empathy, remorse, and concern for others. It is easy to manipulate someone who seeks relief from his own insecurities and uncertainties in the leader’s absolute lack of doubt in himself or his actions.

Anyway, here goes.

From “Captive Hearts, Captive Minds,” by Madeline Landau Tobias and Janja Lalich, pp. 67-79:
The Cult Leader as Psychopath

Cultic groups and relationships are formed primarily to meet specific emotional needs of the leader, many of whom suffer from one or another emotional or character disorder. Few, if any, cult leaders subject themselves to the psychological tests or prolonged clinical interviews that allow for an accurate diagnosis. However, researchers and clinicians who have observed these individuals describe them variously as neurotic, psychotic, on a spectrum exhibiting neurotic, sociopathic, and psychotic characteristics, or suffering from a diagnosed personality disorder.
It is not our intent here to make an overarching diagnosis, nor do we intend to imply that all cult leaders or the leaders of any of the groups mentioned here are psychopaths. In reviewing the data, however, we can surmise that there is significant psychological dysfunctioning in some cult leaders and that their behavior demonstrates features rather consistent with the disorder known as psychopathy.

Dr. Robert Hare, one of the world’s foremost experts in the field, estimates that there are at least two million psychopaths in North America. He writes, “Psychopaths are social predators who charm, manipulate, and ruthlessly plow their way through life, leaving a broad trail of broken hearts, shattered expectations, and empty wallets. Completely lacking in conscience and in feelings for others, they selfishly take what they want and do as they please, violating social norms and expectations without the slightest sense of guilt or regret.”

The Profile of a Psychopath

In reading the profile, bear in mind the three characteristics that Robert Lifton sees as common to a cultic situation:
  1. A charismatic leader who…increasingly becomes the object of worship
  2. A series of processes that can be associated with “coercive persuasion” or “thought reform”
  3. The tendency toward manipulation from above … with exploitation — economic, sexual, or other — of often genuine seekers who bring idealism from below.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

A cult of male rape?

Burton, engaged in second favorite activity
Some enchanted evening you will meet a stranger – the appearance of your own divine Soul. - Robert Earl Burton
Back in the mid 70′s the people who knew about it were the people that it was happening to, and the people who aided and abetted it. That’s pretty much it. Of the people who it was happening to, we didn’t even acknowledge it to each other, even though most of us were frequently in each other’s proximity. People didn’t know what to say, nor to whom. And we were pretty much walking around shell shocked. - Bruce Levy on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog

"Joseph G" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, August 12, 2007:
I saw an ad on a Muni bus the other day that said: “I thought he was a great guy until he raped me.”

Following is copied from a gay-and-lesbian website. Sorry it’s so long but the whole thing just seems incredibly pertinent. If you don’t have time to read it, I suggest at least scanning through “Gay Rape Myths” at the end… 
Male Rape: When Mr. Nice Turns Nasty
By Brian Van De Mark
Published Thursday, 12-Jul-2007 in issue 1020

Joseph’s date seemed to be going well enough. After meeting “Frank” online, with whom he’d chatted for a number of weeks, he’d agreed to meet for dinner at Joseph’s favorite Indian restaurant. Conversation was pleasant and flowed easily enough, so they decided to take a casual walk around Hillcrest. Frank even offered to walk Joseph back to his apartment. It was about 9:30 on a Thursday evening in March. The sun had long gone down, and the cool San Diego weather lent itself well to a few warm goodnight kisses at the doorstep. It didn’t seem unusual to Joseph that Frank asked if he could use the restroom before he made the drive home. After all, they had both had several cocktails that night at dinner.