Robert Earl Burton founded The Fellowship of Friends in the San Francisco Bay Area in 1970.

Burton modeled his own group after that of Alex Horn, loosely borrowing from the Fourth Way teachings of Gurdjieff and Ouspensky. In recent years, the Fellowship has cast its net more broadly, embracing any spiritual tradition that includes (or can be interpreted to include) the notion of "presence."

The Fellowship of Friends exhibits the hallmarks of a "doomsday religious cult," wherein Burton exercises absolute authority, and demands loyalty and obedience. He warns that his is the only path to consciousness and eternal life. Invoking his gift of prophecy, he has over the years prepared his flock for great calamities (e.g. a depression in 1984, the fall of California in 1998, nuclear holocaust in 2006, and an ominous, yet unspecified new threat late in 2018.) While non-believers shall perish, through the direct intervention and guidance from 44 angels (including his divine father, Leonardo da Vinci) Burton and his followers will be spared, founding a new, and more perfect civilization.

Many regard Robert Earl Burton a narcissist and sociopath, surrounded by a largely greed- and power-driven inner circle. The following pages offer abundant evidence supporting that conclusion.

This archive draws on official Fellowship publications and websites, news archives, court documents, cult education and awareness forums, the (former) Fellowship Wikipedia page, the long-running Fellowship of Friends - Living Presence Discussion, the Internet Archive, the (former) Fellowship of Friends wiki project, and the editor's own 13-year experience in the Fellowship.

Presented in a reverse chronology, the Fellowship's history may be navigated via the "Blog Archive" located in the sidebar below.

Monday, July 15, 1974

"Playing the Fool"

"Playing the Fool" was a common "exercise" practiced by Burton and his followers.

These are acts designed to create an altered state of consciousness in oneself, and in others. According to Burton, these occasions "create memory" and could entail anything that might "stop time" for the the person partaking in the exercise (and for anyone who might be observing.)

An example of Burton "Playing the Fool" took place before a crowded Bay Area meeting. Robert “borrowed” a dollar from Joel F., then took off his shoe [likely a Gucci], placed the dollar inside and set it afire. When the dollar had been consumed, Robert poured the ashes back into Joel’s wallet.

Another early example occurred when Burton and his entourage were walking in San Francisco, and Burton was observed doing "jumping jacks" in the crosswalk of a busy downtown intersection.

"The Glass-Breaking Exercise" was yet another example of "Playing the Fool." Occasionally, students were given an assignment to intentionally drop and break a glass at a restaurant to create a "higher state."

At the farm/ranch, Burton took obvious delight in wandering the kitchen and swatting flies, much to the amusement of those around him. The incongruity of a "conscious being" swatting flies could be seen as "Playing the Fool."

The exercise was eventually phased out.

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