Introduction


Presented in reverse chronology, this history stretches from the present back to the Fellowship's 1970 founding, and beyond.
(See "Blog Archive" in the sidebar below.) It draws from many sources, including The Fellowship of Friends - Living Presence Discussion, the Internet Archive, the former Fellowship of Friends wiki project, cult education and awareness sites, news archives, and from the editor's own 13-year experience in the Fellowship.

The portrait that emerges stands in stark contrast to sanitized versions presented on the Fellowship's array of
alluring websites, and on derivative sites created by Burton's now-estranged
disciple, Asaf Braverman.

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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