Introduction


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.

Thursday, January 2, 1975

The price of fatigue

January 2 – Driving from The Farm to Los Angeles at night, following the holiday festivities,  Helga B. [Guinevere Ruth M.] and Jim M. were involved in a very serious accident on Interstate 5. Apparently both had fallen asleep, and their Volkswagen veered out of control and was crushed under a semi truck trailer. Helga suffered severe head injuries and Jim equally severe internal injuries.

[This would give rise to the "exercise" requiring front seat passengers to remain awake, and assist the driver in doing so. But it would not be that last incident involving Fellowship members falling asleep behind the wheel of a vehicle. In the Fellowship, especially in the early days, there was a fine line between pushing one's limits, and what was termed "lunatic efforts," which exposed members to the risk of illness, injury and psychological harm.]

[ed. - Other examples of fatigue from this period, from members' notes:]
March 17, 1975: On a shopping mission, I fell asleep standing in a phone booth outside Terrell’s Plastics. A passerby's comment woke me.
April 19, 1975:  An example of a common state in the school: Anthony S. was actually falling asleep between bites at dinner. His head eventually dropped into his plate of food, much to the amusement of others at the table.
May 27, 1975: Riding to the Bay Area meeting later in the day, I was on I-80 west of Davis. I awoke as the motorcycle drifted off the pavement, and into the gravel shoulder. Fortunately, I firmly held course, rather than make any abrupt change, and gradually slowed to a stop.
[ed. - This note recalls the "legend" of Bernard G. riding the same motorcycle home from the Bay Area meeting to The Farm. A car carrying Fellowship members passed Bernie on the highway. A short time later, the motorcycle passed the car - without Bernard on it. He had fallen asleep and tumbled from the motorcycle.]
July 13, 1976: I was so tired that when I inquired of the Coffee Tree waitress “can you make pot high?” I didn’t even notice. I intended to ask if she could heat up the pie for my pie a la mode.
August 30, 1977: At work both Saturday and Sunday mornings, I observed some interesting behavior, the result of fatigue and "disconnection of centers." I actually fell asleep while serving customers, waking to the strange, incredulous expression on their faces. I even fell asleep counting out change, awaking to find I had given too much change, the body continuing the counting motions after my brain had shut down. I would have liked to have been an outside observer. On the way home, I found myself "sleep-walking," walking right off the curb.

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