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 most recently the October 2018 "Fall of California Redux.")

But according to Burton, Armageddon still looms in our future and when it finally arrives, non-believers shall perish, while through the direct intervention and guidance from 44 angels (recently expanded to 81 angels, including himself and his divine father, Leonardo da Vinci) Burton and his followers shall 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 from official Fellowship publications and websites, news archives, court documents, cult education and awareness forums, the Internet Archive, the long-running Fellowship of Friends - Living Presence Discussion, the (former) Fellowship of Friends wikispace project, the (ill-fated 2007) Fellowship of Friends Wikipedia page, 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, January 31, 1977

Private inurement

During the late 1970s, one example of Robert Burton's violation of IRS rules for tax-exempt 501(c)(3) non-profit organizations was his regular use of Fellowship salaried employees, equipment and vehicles, and supplies in providing housekeeping and yard-maintenance services for his mother at her home in Sacramento.

Saturday, January 1, 1977

January 1977 Notes

Lord Pentland [Henry John Sinclair, 2nd Baron Pentland] of The Gurdjieff Foundation visited Robert Burton at Mount Carmel.

[ed. - Exact date is unknown. As reported by Stella Wirk, Lord Pentland, accompanied by Jacob Needleman, came seeking contributions for the production of a new film based upon Gurdjieff's book, Meetings With Remarkable Men. It is reported that instead of money, Burton presented Pentland with a fancy embroidered pillow, an inside joke alluding to Pentland being a "sleeping machine," not an awakened, conscious being like Burton. The following account of the visit is from the Gurdjieff Journal.]
"In the late 1970s Lord Pentland, the man Gurdjieff appointed to lead the Work in America, visited Burton's mansion to interest him in financially supporting the film, Meetings with Remarkable Men. Burton believed, however, that Pentland was coming to hand over all his students because he had realized Burton's higher development. As a gift, Burton gave Pentland a beautiful and expensive sleeping pillow. Seated with them at dinner were a number of Burton's top students. The next day one of them left Burton to study with Pentland saying, 'There was just no question of which man was awake and which asleep.'"

"brucelevy" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, March 5, 2019:
I was there then.
If I remember correctly Pentland brought a few people, notably writer Jacob Needleman, who was a pompous ass with his cigarette holder. Also, as I remember from the Meissen Room dinner, Pentland was not impressed with RB [Robert Burton]. But he was there to solicit money so he was somewhat courteous. Robert did his pseudo-humble nodding at the solicitation but stated that he needed all the funds to “build his school”. Also Pentland, when being exposed to the pomp of the Meissen Room, stated that he’s spent much of his adult life getting away from such pretension. And RB gave him a gift…a hand embroidered little pillow. After Pentland left RB told everyone that he gave the pillow to him to indicate to Pentland that he knew he was actually asleep and didn’t posses the level of being that RB had. It was a meeting of assholes and egomaniacs at best.