Introduction


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. Additional material comes from the editor's own 13-year experience in the cult.

Monday, June 9, 2014

"A Time for Healing"

[ed. - In response to Greg Holman’s Letter to the Editor concerning the Fellowship’s role in the community, former member Lew Neal wrote this Letter to the Editor titled “A Time for Healing.”]
A moral debt has accrued between our foothills community and the Fellowship of Friends (FOF). This present discourse is voiced by a minority of past members and “life people”, and certainly felt by many who remain voiceless.

We are glad the FOF has decided to join in community affairs. What cannot be ignored, though, is the long shadow cast by the FOF behavior for the past 44 years. There were three large lawsuits documenting the reprehensible behavior perpetrated by Robert Earl Burton, the Fellowship of Friends teacher, which is public knowledge that cannot be disputed or denied. The people of this community have a right to sit across from the FOF and discuss what we feel to be a dark aspect of the FOF’s church. It is not enough for the FOF president to pass out sums of money to our poor community groups and believe “all has been forgiven” now.

T.S. Eliot wrote, “The last temptation is the greatest treason – to do the right deed for the wrong reason.”

For the FOF to have acted religiously superior toward “life people” in this community for 44 years, and now wanting to inject their commerce among us for their economic benefit without a mention of their past ill treatment, displays one tenet FOF holds near and dear – intentional insincerity.

There are many of us past members living in and around the foothills community. We are neither fearful nor distrustful; rather, we are well informed and stalwart in the face of the FOF president’s self-serving and patronizing editorial position. It is true that for most of the “town’s people’', the FOF has been a very poor community member; and 44 years is enough time to wait for healing. We all, on both sides, have hurt long enough with denial as our guide.

We call upon the FOF to heal this rift by sharing a town hall meeting of discussion, within the bounds of mediation/reconciliation. If the FOF feels unjustly “judged”, come forth and communicate with community members. We beseech thee to be brave, be courageous in knowing: “We heal a system by connecting more of it to itself"; that we all do not have to like each other, but our Christian mandate says we MUST forgive each other. We are all mature enough now to accept responsibility for the past; that’s the process. Let’s be more than the past was able to squeeze from us.

Bless us, Everyone,

Ms. Lew Neal

71 years of age; ex-FOF member;Years With The Fellowship of Friends:
1976 to 1984; retired court reporter of 34 years; et al.

"Tim Campion" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion> blog, July 14, 2014:
Ms. Lew Neal [responding to above],

Welcome to the blog. Greg Holman may be ignoring your open letter, but he’s suddenly eager to speak about “community” (at least the Fellowship’s concept of community.) You probably saw this in the (Marysville-Yuba City) Appeal-Democrat:
Grape expectations: North Yuba County is attracting notice for its burgeoning wine industry
…Greg Holman, president of both Renaissance and winery owner Fellowship of Friends, said the actual goal is to “be a really nice regional winery” that can serve as the hub for area agri-tourism.
“We just want to be part of the community,” said Holman. “We want to be part of that. We are part of the history.”
The Fellowship welcomes the public’s dollars but is not so comfortable with the inevitable exposure (unless a message can be carefully controlled, as through a compliant reporter like the Appeal-Democrat’s Eric Vodden.)
Since the 70s, there has been this dynamic at work in Oregon House. The Fellowship relies on mutually-beneficial relations with locals and visitors, while simultaneously seeking insulation from those they characterize as unsophisticated “life people” and “sleeping machines,” those people who are wasting their time on earth (except, of course, when they are purchasing Fellowship products.)
With the “Dambeck-Holman-Vodden triad” in place, we will certainly see more from the Fellowship P.R. campaign.
[ed. - In a Letter to the Editor, Steven Dambeck chimes in, praising the Appeal-Democrat's reporting.]

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Fellowship of Friends President Greg Holman responds

I very much like Gregory of Nissa’s thought: “If evil was presented to us as it really is, unadorned with some semblance of good, we would not fly to it so easily." - Robert Earl Burton
Letter to the Editor, Territorial Dispatch
Fellowship; Part of the Community
by Greg Holman, President, Fellowship of Friends

Over the last few weeks there has been an effort by some to use the Fellowship of Friends to influence the Yuba County 5th District Supervisor’s race. This effort has taken the form of numerous public communications making unsubstantiated claims that the Fellowship is a cult and then trying to tie a candidate to the Fellowship to try and discredit the candidate. Unfortunately, it is not unusual for some to be fearful and distrustful of what is different or what they don’t understand. The Fellowship has dealt with this in the past by trying to work quietly and privately to educate these individuals about the Fellowship and our beliefs. However, the Fellowship is extremely troubled by this recent activity for numerous reasons and believe this public response is necessary.

First and foremost, the claims and allegations that the Fellowship is a cult and just being associated with the Fellowship should somehow disqualifies a candidate is extremely disrespectful and hurtful to the Fellowship and its many members. The Fellowship is made up of members who care deeply and contribute greatly to the community. These are individuals who donate time, energy and money to schools, libraries, other nonprofits, youth sports teams, (others?) throughout our community. The Fellowship and its Renaissance Winery engage directly with the community through our support of Sutter North Hospice, the TIP program, the Red Cross, the Community Center, the local fire department, the Sheriff’s Department, North Yuba Grown, Good Food Farms, the North Sierra Wine Trail, the Farm Bureau, and the Chamber of Commerce - just to name a few. We do what we can when we can and would wish to do more as we can. We ask nothing in return as this is what community supporters do.

The Fellowship also finds these activities disturbing on a much more fundamental level. The Fellowship is a religious organization based, in part, on the belief that through education, the awareness of the beauty inherent around us and in serving others we improve our souls and our individual paths to immortality. We understand that these beliefs and the way in which we practice them may be different than many established religions. However, labeling the Fellowship a cult based on these differences is neither rational nor justified. One of the central principles upon which the United States of America was formed is freedom of religion. To have one group’s practice of this freedom and the right used in the democratic process (which is another of our great country’s founding principles) should be an affront to everyone in our community that values and cherishes freedom of religion and our democracy.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Appeal-Democrat reports on election issues

[Editorial comments follow]

Excerpted from the Appeal-Democrat:
By Eric Vodden/Appeal-Democrat
the race for 5th District supervisor in Yuba County took an unexpected turn with incumbent Hal Stocker running an ad trying to connect opponent Randy Fletcher to the Fellowship of Friends. That ad included a story published on an Oregon-based website that called the Fellowship, followers of Mystical Fourth-Way Christianity, a "cult."

5th District Y.C. supervisor

A political ad that appeared last week generated some new attention in the five-candidate race for 5th District Yuba County supervisor.

The question is whether the paid ad that ran in the Appeal-Democrat brought to the voters a legitimate issue or is a case of dirty politics.

"It didn't bother me," said incumbent Hal Stocker, who purchased the ad that ran May 18. "As far as I am concerned it was factual. I don't see any reason to criticize it."

The ad links opponent Randy Fletcher with the Fellowship of Friends organization. It includes an article by Eric Salerno of Browns Valley that appeared on the Oregon-based website Salem-News.com.

Salerno, listed as a contributor to the website, said Thursday he received no payment from the Stocker campaign, but that he gave permission for its use. He noted that Fletcher had first agreed to be interviewed and then backed out.

"I had interviewed three of the candidates previously and he was next on the list," Salerno said. "My motivation is to get the candidate's story and print it."

A Marysville insurance agent who lives in Browns Valley, Fletcher is one of four candidates seeking to oust Stocker, who is seeking a sixth term. Others running are former supervisor Don Schrader, Jenny Cavaliere and Kathie Thelen.

Fletcher said he preferred to not respond directly to the ad. However, he emphasized he is not a Fellowship member and that any connections he has with members are through his business or in helping organize community events.

"I don't want to go there," Fletcher said of the ad. "It's not healthy for the community."

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Fellowship members' latest foray into local politics

Fellowship of Friends President Greg Holman, Fellowship investor Charles Sharp with 5th District Candidate Randy Fletcher
Photo accompanying first article below: Yuba County 5th District Supervisor candidate Randy Fletcher,
with Fellowship of Friends President Greg Holman and Fellowship  investor Charles Sharp.

 [ed. - The political activities of Fellowship of Friends members Steven Dambeck, Charles Sharp, Greg Holman, and Nick Spaulding are drawing attention from observers in Yuba County and beyond.

Long-time Fellowship employee and political operative Nicholas Spaulding is actively engaging in negative campaigning against opponents of candidate Randy Fletcher, who is in a business partnership with Sharp and Dambeck. As noted below, Spaulding may be assisting District One Supervisor Andy Vasquez's re-election campaign. Andy recently voted in favor of the Fellowship's claim for a $520,000 tax refund from Yuba County. (Still, the Board voted to deny the request.) If it is found that these efforts are the result of an officially-orchestrated campaign and/or involve church assets, they may be violating 501(c)(3) tax exemption rules. (See below.)]

From YubaFoothills.com, May 14, 2014: New Article Ties Randy Fletcher to Cult


From the Territorial Dispatch, May 5, 2014:

Fellowship Becomes Issue in Political Race
As it has been said many times, “Follow the money trail.” In this case follow the wine trail to Renaissance Vineyard and Winery, a wholly owned subsidiary of the Fellowship of Friends, and there you will find the biggest supporters of Randy Fletcher, candidate for supervisor in the 5th district.

Do you remember all of the lawsuits that have been brought against the Fellowship and Robert Earl Burton? Do you remember what they were about? Please take the time to Google them or go to robertearlburton.blogspot.com.

According to this cult, all of us are walking dead people. Why do they want to get involved with us dead folks now, and what is their motivation to get a supervisor in their back pocket?

Is it possibly because of events occurring around 2012 when the Fellowship lost most of their paying members? Prior to this time, their leader forbid them to get involved politically. The word is they had a meeting and decided to start reaching out to the community. Do they have a strategy? Why did they start getting members to register to vote (those who are legal)? We wonder why they began sending certain members out to schmooze with politicians and worm their way into local politics. Some are writing articles to discredit the incumbent candidate and other candidates. Some of these were going to the Republican Party Central Committee meetings and interrupting spouting out their agendas.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

The Elysian Society


In May, another Fellowship of Friends member committed suicide at his Oregon House home. Roger Pugh is memorialized on the Fellowship's Elysian Society website.

The non-profit was founded in 1999, and incorporated May 22, 2006 (CA Secretary of State ID: C2882654.) Among its goals, is assisting those who cannot afford end-of-life services. Left unspoken is the fact that extreme financial demands levied upon Fellowship members usually contribute to the "client's" desperate financial condition.

The Elysian Society website features abundant donation suggestions (in your loved one's memory, of course.) And a variety of services offered stimulate the economy and beautification of Apollo. "Life families," who Robert Burton repeatedly called "dead to you," are now equally encouraged to donate to the cult that took their family member from them.

The funeral service scripts (linked on the memorial pages) are full of bromides promoting Burton, the Fellowship, and presence. (I wonder how many of these services Burton attends?)

Thursday, May 15, 2014

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.]

ARGENTINA
Recuerdo de sí
Fellowship of Friends - Centro de Buenos Aires on Facebook
BRAZIL
Gurdjieff Tornando-se Consciente (Portuguese)
PRESENÇA DIVINA (Portuguese)
 Centro Sao Paolo on Google + (Portuguese)
CANADA
Toronto Friends of Presence (Meetup led by William Scholte of the Fellowship)
CHINA
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

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Apollo, Land of Enchantment

[ed. - For Robert Earl Burton's 75th birthday, a story.]
Long ago, upon introduction to The Fellowship of Friends, the prospective member was solemnly admonished, "Believe nothing. Verify everything."

After three brief, and carefully scripted introductory meetings, the prospective member was presented the opportunity to join The Fellowship of Friends. Collection of monthly financial payments ("donations") began with the new member's first regular meeting.

But from their earliest encounters, the new member faced elements of Robert Burton's teaching that were clearly impossible to verify. And this immediately placed the novice in an untenable position. If they were to remain in this mysterious and alluring group, it was already necessary to ignore a basic tenet of the teaching. In the case of "unverifiable" statements, they would have to grant exceptions, and hope that they would one day be able to verify the information. Eventually, as the indoctrination was completed, this tendency would become a normalized behavior, and exceptions become the rule.

Here is a small sampling of Burton's superstitions or myths the acolyte would have to accept, or risk reproach.
Robert Burton is a "conscious being," directly and personally guided by Leonardo da Vinci and 43 other conscious beings (also known as angels, C Influence, Higher Forces, or The Gods.)

Of the 45 conscious beings (counting Burton,) 44 are men. According to Burton, Elizabeth I of England was the sole woman in history to attain consciousness.

These conscious beings regularly communicate with Burton and his students through "conscious shocks" which are often messages revealed only to the initiated (those conditioned to perceive them) via license plate numbers (at first, anything containing the number 44, but later on, with the advent of personalized plates, any symbolic wording or numbers,) aphorisms, "esoteric" images, etc.

Robert Burton is the Second Coming of Jesus Christ, a Man Number 6 (later claiming even higher levels,) and he alone is the source of divine instruction on earth.

Followers are told, "The lower cannot see the higher." In other words, Burton's true consciousness will never be fully appreciated or recognized by his less conscious followers.

Burton's Fellowship of Friends is the latest (and only current) manifestation in the unbroken lineage of "higher" or "conscious" school upon earth.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Dördüncü Yol Okulu - Fourth Way School introductory meeting in Istanbul


The Fellowship of Friends Istanbul Center (Dördüncü Yol Okulu - Fourth Way School) is holding an introductory meeting on May 31st. (See Facebook announcement for details.) In an earlier post, Ames Gilbert provided a List of Questions a spiritual seeker should be prepared to ask before joining a group.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

"Sex, Lies, and Grand Schemes of Thought in Closed Groups"

Robert Earl Burton, founder of Fellowship of Friends cult
Robert Earl Burton, the "vessel through which
Higher Forces reveal their will"

"Jomo Piñata" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, May 13, 2010:

For those interested, the 1997 Cultic Studies Journal article about the Fellowship of Friends, authored by “A Collective of Women” and titled “Sex, Lies, and Grand Schemes of Thought in Closed Groups” is now available to read without charge, by clicking on the following link: http://bit.ly/bBlcty [ed. - Once at the site, you may need to click "make a copy."]
This article is an electronic version of an article originally published in Cultic Studies Journal, 1997, Volume 14, Number 1, pages 58-84.

Sex, Lies, and Grand Schemes of Thought
in Closed Groups

A Collective of Women

Abstract
This article explores the invisible dynamics of control and submission in a closed group with which the authors were affiliated for many years. Relying on Herman’s (1992) model of psychological captivity, the article illustrates the psychological dynamics of the “courtship” of recruits and the covert coercive control through which individual identity is dismantled and the worldview of the group’s leader introduced. Three methods of control are discussed: fear induction, destruction of autonomy, and breaking of personality. The last part of the article explores how cultural issues related to sexism enhance the power of high-demand groups.

We write as women who spent an average of 20 years involved in a philosophically oriented, religious community based on the teachings of George Gurdjieff and Peter Ouspensky. All of us have now left the group, most within the past 5 years. Yet, we are still dealing with the aftereffects of what we have come to see was a destructive world permeated with the dynamics of hidden control.

Some of us are still wondering what happened to our lives. How were we willingly entrapped in a destructive world for so long? No one forced us to join the group or to stay, or so it would appear. Rather, we were attracted to the group and its leader. We became passionately involved, even zealous in our apparent commitment, loyal and dedicated to our own undoing. Over time, we undermined our capacities for free thought, for hearing our own conscience, for mutuality in relationship, and for finding our own way in the world. How did this happen to us?

We write anonymously and disguise the identity of the group because we fear that harassment may follow exposure. We acknowledge that our perspective on how our group functioned is personal and that others may disagree with part or all of what we say, although we are confident that many would agree. Our goal is not to “expose” a particular group, or to “define” it through the articulation of our personal experience. Our goal is to alert others to the elements of influence that can unwittingly bind people to what ultimately harms them, and, especially, to the dangers of involvement with seemingly benevolent, self-appointed leaders. In addition to mastering our own legacy of confusion, betrayal, anger, and fear, we hope to shed light on the largely invisible dynamics of control and submission that sustain such groups and the culture at large. Also we want to offer a view of what it was like--how silent and unobtrusive the soul-killing can be.

Tuesday, April 22, 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.

Monday, April 14, 2014

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

[ed. - 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 5th District Supervisor. Fletcher, who also sits on the Board of Education, recently helped the Fellowship-backed Yuba Environmental Science Charter Academy (YESCA) gain renewal of its charter.

While Dambeck serves to increase Yuba County tourism, it would not be surprising to see attention and resources "coaxed" in the Fellowship's direction, and towards his, Greg Holman, and Charles Sharp's brand new Yuba Harvest tasting room in Oregon House. (It's not clear if Randy Fletcher is participating in that venture.) 

June 16, 2014 update: Dambeck's Yuba Harvest tasting room was shut down for lack of a proper alcoholic beverage permit. How could an experienced wine professional commit such an amateurish misstep?]
Steve Dambeck is on a mission to promote Y-S wineries

Appeal-Democrat
By Eric Vodden/evodden@appealdemocrat.com

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.

Read more at Appeal-Democrat.com

 [ed. - May 20, 2014: Getting right down to business, the Chamber announced a new TV show in which "Dambeck will be featured on the show talking about local wineries." Of course, the largest, most well-known of those wineries is the Fellowship's Renaissance Vineyard and Winery. And there are two others owned by Fellowship members.]

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. Until recently, Steven's name and phone number appeared on Chestnut Grove's website. 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. Charles registered Randy's Chestnut Grove domain under North Fork Yuba River's name.]

"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. Supervisor Vasquez, who is comfortably on board with the Fellowship, voted to approve the refund. See also, this 116-page document submitted to Yuba County Board of Supervisors on behalf of The Fellowship of Friends. See also Ames Gilbert's earlier post. See also, a 1991 court ruling on the Fellowship's attempt to have the Galleria, then the Goethe Academy, exempted.]

From the Appeal-Democrat:
By Eric Vodden/ evodden@appealdemocrat.com

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?

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), 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.’