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.")

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. Read more about the blog.

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

Monday, December 31, 1979

December 1979 Notes

Robert Earl Burton's Fellowship of Friends cult bus at Renaissance Apollo California
Fellowship of Friends bus at the Lincoln Lodge, November 1979 (Photo: T. Campion)

"Renaissance Vine" newsletter [summarized]
105 acres are to be planted this winter, bringing the total vineyard acreage to 225
No bicycles or motorcycles
Seeking candidates for Tokyo Center, to open in June
Members who have been in school 18 months or longer: stop smoking
December 29 and 30 concerts: Menahem Pressler
Other concerts: Bach's Brandenburg Concertos
Recommend members visit Point Lobos State Park (Carmel, CA)
The 44 Conscious Beings [purportedly assisting the Fellowship of Friends] are listed:
Jesus Christ
Da Vinci
Lao Tzu
The Fellowship will assist members in dental education
1,342 members
Photos: bath house at The Court of the Caravans, Renaissance bus (“Renaissance Not-So-Rapid Transit”)

Friday, November 30, 1979

November 1979 Notes

Fellowship of Friends Chateau Juliette, Blake Cottage, Goethe Acedemy,Galleria October 1979
"Chateau Juliette" (later, Goethe Academy, then Galleria) arises from the Blake Cottage, October 1979

"Renaissance Vine" newsletter [summarized]
September 16: Cabernet harvest totaled 9-1/4 tons
December 1 and 2 concerts: American String Quartet
Christmas concert: Telluride Octet
1,315 members
Photos: construction at "Chateau Juliette" [former Blake Cottage, future Goethe Academy and Galleria.], and at the winery

Other Notes

November 4 and 5:
Performances of Schubert’s “Trout Quintet"
November 14:
The winter working hours have gone into effect at Renaissance. Work begins at 7:00 a.m. and concludes at 6:00 p.m., with dinner commencing at 7:30 when there is not a concert, meeting, or cinema.

Extensive clearing is underway in the area of "Chateau Juliette." The stands of Ponderosa Pine are being eliminated to make way for French landscaping.
November 17 and 18:
 Performances of the Beethoven’s “Spring Sonata”

From the Fellowship of Friends Wiki Page [Defunct]:

[ed. - Thoughts from "The Teacher," Robert Burton, with apparent index number shown.]
The condition of our main accumulator considerably influences the nature of our perceptions and our behaviour. (111279.82)
Fellowship of Friends Renaissance Winery construction October 1979 Oregon House
Winery construction, October 1979 (Photo: T. Campion)

Wednesday, October 31, 1979

October 1979 Notes

Fellowship of Friends treasures on display inside Lincoln Lodge September 1979
Fellowship treasures on display inside Lincoln lodge, September 1979 (Photo: T. Campion)

"Renaissance Vine" newsletter [summarized]
Send photos of fine French architecture to Renaissance
Only English and French should be spoken – other languages will die
Phase out soft drinks in favor of wine
October 27 and 28 concerts: Menahem Pressler
1,313 members
October 31: Member Joseph Moreno died
Photo: chandelier over cruciform cabinet

Other Notes

October 25:
From an ex-member's notes, an example of Burton's need to micro-manage:
"Robert sent Edward B. and myself to San Francisco for the Rolls Royce and instructed us to have coffee and a hamburger at the Coffee Tree, dinner at Trader Vic's, attend the opera, and have coffee and "cherry-berry pie" at the Coffee Tree on the way home. I imagine we will look back and wonder at these strange times."
October 31:
Fellowship member Joseph Moreno is killed in an airplane crash in Mexico City. He was sent to help open the new Mexico City Center.

Early days of youthful industry and naive optimism

Early crush at the Fellowship of Friends' Renaissance Winery (Photo: T. Campion)

"Wouldn't you like to know" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, March 11, 2007:
The Fellowship of Friends began on January 1, 1970 in Lafayette, California, where the Teacher was residing at the time. It began to grow as the first member of the Fellowship introduced other interested persons to the Teacher. In the beginning, there was no organized advertising effort: contact with the Fellowship was by word-of-mouth only, and exposure was limited to the Bay Area of California.

By December of 1970, the Fellowship consisted of 25 members. During that Christmas, the Teacher decided to begin the search for property that would serve as the Fellowship retreat, where efforts on all three lines of work could be pursued. Each member (including the Teacher) contributed a sum of money equal to one month’s gross earnings, or $200, whichever was greater. It was the desire of the Teacher that this property not belong to any one member, NOR TO HIMSELF, but that it be a joint ownership. HE WISHED ALL MEMBERS TO FEEL THAT THE FELLOWSHIP WAS THEIR OWN. ‘You must feel it is your own work. A School can exist only when people feel not outside but inside, when they think of it as their own house.’ (The Fourth Way)

Property was found in the Sierra foothills and purchased six months later. By this time, the Fellowship had grown to approximately seventy members, most of whom resided in Northern California cities such as Vallejo, Vacaville, Sacramento, Walnut Creek, Berkeley, and San Francisco. Although two members had joined from Los Angeles and one from Seattle, the Fellowship had yet to begin its national and international expansion. Work began immediately on the property, which was formally called Via Del Sol (i.e., The Way of the Sun) and informally referred to as The Ranch. While certain members chose to leave their occupations and move to The Ranch to assist in its development, others remained in the Bay Area to hold prospective student meetings.

By Christmas, 1971, the efforts of these members had resulted in a membership of 100. In addition to meetings in the Bay Area, prospective student meetings were also conducted in Lake Tahoe and Carmel. Contact with the Fellowship at this time was still by word-of-mouth. A core of new members began to form in Lake Tahoe and Carmel. Soon, these two locations were referred to as the Lake Tahoe and Carmel ‘centers,’ and the decision was made to reach other interested persons who had no direct connection to current members. Because it had always been the Fellowship’s policy NOT TO PROSELYTIZE, the Teacher chose a method to make the Fellowship available to those who were searching for a real School: bookmarks. Bookmarks were placed in relevant books in bookstores throughout California. This advertising method proved so successful that members were encouraged to place bookmarks in stores wherever they traveled.

By Christmas, 1972, centers were established in Carmel, Lake Tahoe, Los Angeles, and Hawaii. Within six months, the list of centers would include San Diego, Santa Barbara, and Sacramento. Two to three members were chosen to ‘direct’ each center. Sometimes additional members were also asked to move to help start a center. These people became known as ‘supporting students.’

In addition to placing bookmarks, the directors began to advertise in local papers. Centers were opened in Seattle, Washington (October, 1973) and Portland, Oregon (February, 1974). The Hawaii, Portland and Seattle centers proved so successful that the Teacher began to consider opening centers throughout the United States. By Christmas, 1975, about sixty members were chosen to open ten centers throughout the United States: New York, Pittsburgh, Miami, Washington D.C., Chicago, Atlanta, Detroit, Philadelphia, Denver, and Phoenix. On January 1, 1976 these members, who had celebrated the Fellowship’s sixth anniversary the night before at Mount Carmel (which was the name now given to The Ranch), assembled en masse to set out for their respective cities. It was an exciting time in the Fellowship’s history. These members had willingly relinquished their jobs to move to a city where they knew no one and where no job awaited them. In some cases, one member in the center had gone ahead of the others to locate a large house which could serve as a Teaching House. Teaching houses served as lodging not only for the center directors and supporting members, but also for members traveling to the city. Teaching houses provided members with the opportunity to do intensive second line of work since it was not uncommon for members of different body types, features, centers of gravity, and alchemy to be placed together.

Once the Fellowship had planted seeds throughout the United States, it ventured across the Atlantic to England, France, and Germany. Centers spread rapidly throughout Europe. Paralleling the growth of centers was the growth of Mt. Carmel (then Apollo; now Isis), which began in earnest late in 1973. At that time, Karl Werner was introduced to the Fellowship and agreed to help with the construction of the vineyard and winery. Clearing (which at first was done mostly by hand) began in April 1974; in the spring of 1975 a nursery was started; and in 1976 the first vines were planted (slopes 1 and 2). Work on the winery began in 1977 with the construction of the cement pad for the fermentation room and the raising of an inflated dome to cover it. The first tiny harvest (a few tons) occurred in 1978. Other facilities were also being developed. The Lincoln Lodge, originally a rickety log cabin, underwent almost continual modification and finally became Apollo d’Oro. The Town Hall (now known as the Prytaneion), originally conceived as a book bindery, was completed in 1978, and in 1979, the Blake Cottage [Robert Burton's residence] began its conversion into what is now the Galeria Apollo.

Today, the Fellowship has extended itself into Asia, and South America. Isis continues to grow, and students from all over the world participate in the development of the community. The methods of expansion remain the same: one or more members move to a city, place bookmarks in designated books, await the phone calls of prospective members, and hold meetings to introduce the System to these persons.

Contributed by "Wouldn’t You Like To Know"

Monday, October 1, 1979

Life in the Chicago "teaching house"

[ed. - These reminiscences have been inserted in the timeline approximately when the events described took place.]

"Cathie L." wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, May 31, 2015:
Re: #28 “Denial of Death” article

In the fall of 1979, I was asked to move from Santa Barbara to the Chicago center, located in the small town of Ravinia, on the shore of Lake Michigan. I still remember that time in vivid flashes, now and again.

The house was spectacular, a grand old midwestern mansion with a formal dining room, gigantic kitchen, a grand staircase, library, servant’s quarters and attic. There was a vast basement with ancient plumbing and a decrepit heater that barely kept the place warm, consuming oil by the truckload (steam heat). One poor student’s sleeping quarters were down there, near the noisy beast!

The rest of us were crammed into every habitable nook and cranny of the house, from the attic to the servant’s quarters. My assigned room when I arrived was an upstairs “sun porch,” no doubt fine in summer, but a barren icebox in winter. After toughing it out for a few weeks, I begged for another room, and was offered the floor of a very large closet in the master suite’s dressing area. I gratefully unrolled my sleeping bag there each night for the duration of my stay.

Not that any of us had much time for sleeping. Most of us were working two jobs to meet the rent, utilities, food and teaching payments, as well as paying for elaborate “traveling teacher” dinners and other incidentals that arose. In the cold early mornings, some of us would walk to the train station and ride into Chicago together, often meeting up again late that night for the trip home.

I remember one train ride in particular, at the end of a long day’s work at my two jobs, as a proofreader at Ernst & Whinney, followed by a part-time night job at Northern Trust Bank, typing crop reports. I had brought a book to read with me on the train, probably inspired by one of the little “daily cards,” bearing a quotation from a “conscious being,” that were given out each week.

My book was Plato’s Five Great Dialogues, and I was reading “Phaedo.” I remember having the sensation of my mind being drawn up into a higher plane of thought, feeling the clarity and power of the ancient philosopher’s words reaching me across time and space. The existence of the soul was assumed. The light of the mind was self-evident. I felt the connection. At the time I considered it a “higher state,” and I still do.

So there’s a little gratitude story here, one of the finer moments in my life that happened as a result of the efforts of my fellow friends in the ‘ship…the ones who typeset and printed those daily cards on the hand presses, the ones who established the far-flung teaching houses and worked to “create memory” for each other, who walked with me along the snow covered streets of Ravinia in the deep winter nights….a reminiscence sing.

"Cathie L." added, June 1, 2015:
"I don’t remember doing much else in Chicago besides work and sleep. Museum trips? Socializing with my fellow “slaving overpaying cult members”? Sure, probably. I was only there for one winter, then it was back to California to join the slaving, practically unpaid cult members in the Renaissance office."

"Pastor Yorick" replied on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, June 1, 2015:
32. Kathie L. [sic](above) I guess I just missed meeting you. I moved from the Chicago Centre to CA in the summer of 1979 at the same time the Centre moved from the Glencoe house to the mansion you describe. At the Glencoe house, which was right next to Lake Michigan, several of the men had to stay on a porch on the Lake side of the house through the winter, including me. We had to buy cardboard “wardrobes” to hang up our clothing. It was freezing! Though such things weren’t shared with most of the students living there, I suppose that we were evicted from the Glencoe house once the owner/landlord discovered that something was “fishy” there. (I don’t know this for certain.) Abe G. [Abraham Goldman] and the female centre director, pretending to be a wealthy couple, met the prospective new landlords and arranged for the new rental. Intentional insincerity. I don’t know why I put up with so many things that went against so completely my grain and my upbringing for as long as I did. I think it was due to the quite sophisticated brainwashing that was going on.

"Parson Yorick" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, June 27, 2015:
When I left, first I moved out of the “Teaching House” where I was living, and then I stopped making “Teaching Payments.” I kept my job with Pacific Bell and moved into an apartment with a co-worker whose wife had recently left him. Soon the reason for her leaving him became pretty clear; this co-worker of mine was a gun buff and an alcoholic. Not a real good combo, but at least he had no connection with the FOF. A FOF “student” whom I respected and trusted arranged to meet me at a coffehouse in the Pruneyard shopping center and we discussed my intention to “leave the school.” That was about 4 1/2 years after I’d joined and it was my last official contact with the FOF. A few months later I was promoted at work and got a hefty (50%) raise. The new problem became what to do with all the extra time and money. For a while my solution was to spend more of both in various Los Gatos bars. I had a few interesting chance encounters with other former students and attended one “reunion” type gathering. Then I mostly ignored the FOF until a couple of years ago. I noticed that Abe Goldman (whom I’d known in the Chicago Centre) was listed as deceased on the State Bar website, so that aroused my curiosity. I also learned from a musicians’ website that Michael Goodwin had died in an auto accident. I began looking around on the internet to find out what the hell was going on. That is when I found this and other blogs. I feel quite fortunate that I never went on staff at Renaissance. I don’t think I ever realized how bad conditions were for the people there.

Sunday, September 30, 1979

September 1979 Notes

Robert Earl Burton's Fellowship of Friends cult Renaissance Winery Zinfandel grapes
Renaissance Vineyards Zinfandel grapes,
August 1979 (Photo: T. Campion)

"Renaissance Vine" newsletter [summarized]
A bronze sculpture of Poseidon has recently arrived.
Those members with talents should take lessons.
1,295 members
Photos: Zinfandel grapes, Poseidon sculpture (with pansies)

Other Notes

September 9:
The Press Room has been moved from the Blake Cottage to the Socrates Cottage, and major remodeling is occurring at the Blake Cottage, to include a large fireplace and the Tiffany window. [ed. - It's unclear what became of that Tiffany window! Fellowship craftsmen had worked for years, it seems, restoring it.]
September 15:
While he drives on Rice's Crossing Road in Oregon House, a window on Karl's Mercedes is smashed, probably by a thrown rock. The same evening, another man's van was hit by a pellet from a gun. The Fellowship has had an at times "rocky" relationship with the community, largely arising from fears surrounding the Fellowship's secrecy.
September 16:
Harvest begins with the Cabernet slope. It is a late harvest, and there were many raisins. Karl said these were the best. [ed. - That's a bit crazy.] Meanwhile, tractors work through the evening spraying the white varietal vines with water in an attempt to propagate the botrytis cinerea mold.
September 17:
The work force at Renaissance is to be cut by about 35 members.

Robert Earl Burton's Fellowship of Friends cult Renaissance Vineyards & Winery Sauvignon Blanc grapes
Renaissance Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc grapes,
September 1979 (Photo: T. Campion)

Wednesday, August 1, 1979

August 1979 Notes

Fellowship of Friends cult leader Robert Earl Burton's Louis XV writing desk
Robert Burton's Louis XV writing desk inside the Blake Cottage, June 1979 (Photo: T. Campion)

"Renaissance Vine" newsletter [summarized]
Preparations have begun for an orchestra. A conductor [Michael Goodwin] has joined the Fellowship and plans to move to Renaissance by 1981

Married couples are to wait five years before having children, and should train them to be right-handed

1,262 members

Other Notes:

August 16:
At the Nut Tree, Robert asked David H. to count how many floor coverings were used on the sales and restaurant floors. David counted ten. Robert felt that a single floor covering  throughout would be more desirable and he made a note to discuss this matter with Don Birrell.
(As Nut Tree Art Director, Don was instrumental in helping establish the aesthetic at both the popular Vacaville destination and at Renaissance. Sparing little expense, the Fellowship closely followed the upscale Nut Tree's example in its selection of furnishings, fixtures, tableware, and artwork.)
August 29:
Trees are being cleared from the recently-purchased Snipes' property.

Tuesday, July 31, 1979

July 1979 Notes

Fellowship of Friends Renaissance Winery construction June 1979
A scraper, pushed by the Fellowship's D-8 Caterpillar, cuts ground for Renaissance Winery's barrel cellar, June 1979
 (Photo: T. Campion)

"Renaissance Vine" newsletter [summarized]
It is now okay to purchase Oriental carpets (!)

August 11 and 12 concerts: Menahem Pressler, piano

1,244 members

Photos: scraper working on the Winery Knoll, the Teacher’s antique writing desk (Louis XIV?)

Other Notes

July 1:
The word exercise, to avoid "so" is discontinued.
July 5:
A new word exercise begins: avoid "nice."
July 6:
Slab is poured  for the Butler Building (future carpentry shop.)
July 10:
Scrapers have completed work on the winery knoll.
July 13:
Recent events:
An old bus has been purchased for Renaissance.

On-site concrete production has begun.

Robert posed for photographs and portraits (a change in policy.)
July 24:
Renaissance meeting. Robert suggested Miles divide the attendees into small groups for the second half (a practice from an earlier time, that now had largely been abandoned.)

Saturday, June 30, 1979

June 1979 Notes

Poppies at Fellowship of Friends Renaissance cult Lincoln Lodge (Apollo de Oro), April 1979
Poppies at Lincoln Lodge, April 1979 (Photo: T. Campion)

"Renaissance Vine" newsletter [summarized]
Scraping has begun on Winery Knoll
Aggregate is being brought in (from Yuba River tailings piles, for concrete)
No bookmarking is to be done at Dutton bookstores
June 9 and 10 concerts: Beaux Arts Trio
1,231 members
Photos: California poppies on vineyard slope, marble bust of Mozart

Other Notes

June 1:
Antique Austrian vitrine is delivered to Renaissance.
June 2:
Scrapers begin moving soil on winery knoll for future barrel storage and bottling warehouse levels.
June 5:
A manufacturing project for Kopa Engineering is completed. Finished oak wood products, produced at "Wygal Manufacturing" (the Town Hall) for an office building in Saudi Arabia are loaded for shipment. Workers are given three days off and a $50 bonus.
June 9:
The Quarterly Concert features the Beaux Arts Trio.
Meetings with Remarkable Men is showing in San Francisco.
June 16:
Truckload of air-conditioning equipment donated to Renaissance by Phoenix member.
June 18:
Monday night Bay Area meetings resume at Skyline Church.
June 21:
Concrete batch plant is moved to winery knoll.
June 22:
Footings for Butler Building are poured.

Monday, June 11, 1979

My Dinner With Robert

Robert Earl Burton's Fellowship of Friends cult Renaissance Vineyard and Winery
Winery site from vineyard slope, Spring 1979 (Photo: T. Campion)

[ed. - When Robert Burton dined in the evenings with eleven invited guests from the membership, it was customary that a scribe be assigned to capture any comments "the teacher" made. These dinners would be held in "The Meissen Room" or outside on "The Mozart Deck." The following are scribe's notes from one such evening.]

From the Fellowship of Friends Discussion Blog:
Student: Is it true that the theory of ladders is more useful for you than us?

Teacher: It is useful for both if we can both verify it.

One can hear the stars in this music. (Tchaikovsky’s “Swan Lake”)

This was a wonderful weekend. (The Beaux Arts Trio’s first visit to Renaissance), yet I am glad it is over. The Beaux Arts Trio is quite interesting. They perform a great deal. They are beginning to be at home here now.

London is our most successful foreign center. Munich is in a mi-fa interval which Helga is overcoming. Soon Stella and Harold will go to Amsterdam and Dale and Pamela to Copenhagen.

I marvel that we consistently enjoy food. Yet as enjoyable as it is, it is nothing compared to the self. Few people on earth can rise above food. As simple as it seems, it is quite rare.

It is interesting that we can surprise people like Zara Nelsova and the Beaux Arts Trio, who have traveled all over the world.

I am never concerned that we might be laughed at, for I know the nature of our ark. It is said that Noah was laughed at when he built his ark. I have no ill feelings toward people who cannot understand us; I pity them.

I think the Fellowship is destined to have a good relationship with life. The people of Thebes said they could never defeat Athens as long as it had its beauty to defend it. The beauty here will serve us well, as life appreciates it.

There are many things I do not bother to explain, for there is not time to explain everything. I also know I do not have to explain to students of the inner circle, for they have their own working relationship to Influence C, and attempt to remember themselves. There would be no school if one had to explain everything, if there were no inner circle.

C Influence produces bogus and charlatan B Influence teachings in order to produce an environment in which a C Influence school can flourish. B Influence serves to produce magnetic centers fit for a C Influence school. This is the esoteric meaning of Christ’s words, “many are called, but few are chosen.”

The knowledge of the Old and New Testaments is essentially the same. In the story of Samson and Delilah, Samson being blinded means that he was identified with Delilah, and thus blind. The removal of Samson’s eyes means the extinguishing of his “I’s”, rather than merely the physical organs of sight.

One of the pleasant aspects of our school is that we can draw from Mr. Gurdjieff, Mr. Ouspensky, and Mr. Collin.

There are many obscure personages we have drawn from for the engraving octave; nevertheless they each had one profound thought which will enrich our lives.

One excellent “I” to use, if one could remember it before, rather than after the friction, is “this negative state is not permanent.” The Queen of Hearts becomes identified and one forgets that a negative state will pass. It is odd that such work “I’s” often elude us in the heat of the struggle and reappear when the friction is past.

It is impossible for the Queen of Hearts to have relativity because the hydrogens are not there.

Time and effort yield results.

One thing I have tried in my life is not to change something that has proved successful – especially friends. Our machines will seek to change something successful merely out of boredom.

When I am speaking with a student who loses the “I” he wishes to express, I open my mouth as if I am about to speak and that usually is enough to evoke his lost “I”. This is because all of our machines have a desire to be the active force and occupy space.

As I said, all our machines desire to be the active force. I notice that my own machine, when listening to another, will produce an ache in my shoulder in order that I can twitch my neck. At other times the machine may produce an itch or burp to buffer being the passive force. Initially, I found it difficult to believe that the machine buffers in this manner, yet I have since verified it. The instinctive center feigns a clumsy ignorance in order to mask its deceit. It is alright, for the King of Hearts far surpasses it. We are obviously governed by the King of Hearts, for otherwise students would not be out in the world struggling to support the school as they do.

In 1998 [the predicted Fall of California] we will have to live by nature’s candle.

I was raised by a woman who worked and raised four children; I am quite accustomed to the idea of women working.

Richard Kim is a positive third force C Influence is applying to our school. He is on Karl Werner’s ladder and is philanthropic like him. He is eager to assist in building the school. Karl is quite frugal and quite generous, and one cannot be generous without being frugal.

Stella does not tire of the system. I am not tired of it either, yet I could not go on with Monday meetings. This may be because we reached the end of a nine year gestation period for the school. Rodney Collin speaks of such a gestation period for a school.

One cannot speak of the future with certainty, for one’s level of being changes and a new being is there. I do not think that I will teach in meetings again, yet one cannot be sure, as I said. Yet this keeps us from becoming formatory, and I have never dreaded coming here.

Life becomes a lot more interesting when one ceases to talk about oneself.

The Beaux Arts Trio enjoyed performing here, despite the fact that they perform in the great cities of the world. They appreciated the beauty of the stage and the level of the audience. Mr. Pressler is coming back to give us a solo performance, and the Trio is coming next March, although they said they have more offers than they can accept. They have chosen to come here above life engagements.

If any man wishes the truth, it must be from here.

We are one people, we are the new chosen people, and of course that means suffering, which means immortal states.

Mr. Pressler said that Felix Mendelssohn was born with a silver spoon in his mouth, as he was born into a wealthy family. I was thinking that people who enter the way are born with golden spoons in their mouths.

It is amazing how many people one must pass to enter the way. I introduced two of my former teachers to my conscious teacher, and although they did not join his school, I felt I had repaid my debt to them.

Truth is not of any age; that is, one can find it when one is 20, 40, or 60.

There are many people who wish the truth in our age compared to other ages. Seeking the truth is a buffer for many people, for finding it means the beginning of real work.

I do not think that anyone who enters the way has a real problem; however the verification of that is reserved for higher school than this, never to be seen on earth.

One positive aspect about the completion of my role, that is, the dissolution of this body, is that I feel I will be able to communicate to students information I could not give them here, particularly about their next roles. Mr. Ouspensky was able to communicate with his students after his passing; this information is in Rodney Collin’s Theory of Eternal Life

I was only three days off in the prediction of my crystallization, which over a period of ten years is quite good, and I consider that prediction accurate. If a depression occurs in 1984, if California falls in 1998, if Armageddon occurs in 2006, then I was correct regarding the other information I have been speaking about.

Actually, most of what I speak about is facts.

I think that the depression will be a source of suffering which we will transform. As Mars will be close to the Earth, I think it will be a violent depression. However, California will be the best state to be in, due to the mild climate and long growing season. Probably one out of every three students will be unemployed and will come here to build the school. Higher forces has indicated that the depression will last 3-1/2 years, and it will probably be ended by a war somewhere which will reactivate the economy. [Bolds added]

It is interesting that the moon is quite large and we are quite small, yet there is something in us which far surpasses it. It seems to have no way of civilizing itself. The Absolute seems to have produced a forest of galaxies in which there may be pockets of life; we know there is one here.

The higher conversation we have had this evening has not been poetic fantasy but reality. The truth is too real to be believable. Byron said that “the truth is stranger than fiction”, which is more true than he knew.

When I traveled to the Middle East, I had no respect for persons like Alexander the Great who conquered those people who desperately need help. To slay those people was an act devoid of compassion.

It is difficult to have a real experience like this apart from Renaissance; to remember that one is in a universe when one is in life struggling to support a school.

Life, with due respect, is quite childish; the law of accident in motion. Life does also produce some remarkable achievements.

One reason I like cameos is that they remind me of self-remembering, as one has to carve one’s self out of the stone of one’s life. When people’s roles are ended they will perhaps will their cameos to a Fellowship museum, and the cameos will serve as a remembrance of them.

Thursday, June 7, 1979

People of the Bookmark*

Early Fellowship of Friends Bookmarks

 [ed. - This comes from the Cult Education Institute site. As part of their "third line of work" (work to support the school,) Fellowship of Friends members were assigned to secretly place bookmarks in all new and used books that were on the Fellowship's "workbook" list. This was often the first step in recruiting new members.]

Agreement Regarding Bookmarks

This letter is from Fellowship Of Friends (FOF) dated June 7, 1979 explaining that an agreement seems to exist between E. P. Dutton & Co. and Triangle Publications (copyright holders or publishers) and the group that (as listed) certain books are not to have bookmarks left in them by members of the FOF. A request that seems to have originated with the publishers and copyright holders.


Typical bookmark surreptitiously placed in "work books" by FOF members.
The reverse side would list center locations and their telephone numbers

 [*From William Patrick Patterson's Taking With the Left Hand. This is his alternate name for The Fellowship of Friends cult.]

[ed. - The following is an interview excerpt from The Gurdjieff Journal, featuring William Patrick Patterson. The subject is Patterson's book Taking With The Left Hand.]
TGJ: It's so different from either of your previous two books. 

WPP: Yes, Eating The "I" was a memoir and evocation of my teacher and the ancient teaching of the Fourth Way. And Struggle of the Magicians was a history and, in a certain sense, an inner exploration of the teaching. This latest book is a cautionary tale, an example of how people bite into power and lead others to do the same. 

TGJ: Can you give an example? 

WPP: Take Burton [Robert Burton]. He never had a legitimate Gurdjieff teacher, and the one "teacher" he did have expelled him. So what did he do? He invented his own version of the teaching. Since that would have no appeal, he disguised it by appropriating the title "Gurdjieff-Ouspensky Centres." Though he advertises Gurdjieff he doesn't teach Gurdjieff, only Ouspensky. Stella Wirk, a close student of his from the beginning, said Burton could never read All and Everything, didn't know what Gurdjieff was saying. 

TGJ: There were a lot of mismatches from the beginning. 

Fellowship of Friends Gurdjieff Ouspensky Centres bookmark (redacted)
WPP: These mismatches are clues. He has students put bookmarks advertising his brand of the teaching in Fourth Way books, thus giving the unsuspecting reader the impression-suggestion that the bookmark comes from the same source as the content of the book. That's a clue. Then, there's the constant demand for money. Another clue. Then, though he speaks of himself as "master of the emotional center," he seduces young boys and married men, telling them that he is "an angel in a man's body." One could go on.

"Laura" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, October 4, 2007:

Yesterday I was in one of my city’s major bookstores. As I was waiting for some books I had requested, I wandered through the esoteric book section. The shelves held one or two copies of Gurdjieff and Ouspenski’s main titles and, surprisingly for me, three copies of obscure teacher Robert Burton’s “Self remembering”. Italy is one of the countries (maybe the only one?) where Robert’s book was translated and published by a local editor.

All the fourth way books had been bookmarked. There were two kinds: the “before makeover” G-O-style ones and the “new look” divine presence ones (“reaching wordless divine presence is the greatest miracle of the universe”!!!!!!!!!!!!!).

Anyway, before I even thought about it, I found myself pulling all the Fellowship bookmarks out of the books. My understanding is that the Gurdjieff foundation is not happy about them bookmarks either. So it occurred to me that this is a quite easy way to boycott the Fellowship of Friends: take those bookmarks out, again and again, till they get tired or find a better advertising tool. It’s a little considerate gesture that any of us located in a city where there’s a centre can do!

A little addition: as I was researching info for this post, I ran into an Amazon review of a book called “Taking With the Left Hand: Enneagram Craze, People of the Bookmark, & The Mouravieff “Phenomenon”, was this mentioned already on the blog? It looks like an interesting read. The “People of the Bookmark” are us, just in case that was not clear.

Ames Gilbert's anti-bookmark

"Ames Gilbert" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, October 5, 2007:
Dear all,

The suggestion of putting ‘anti–bookmarks’ (Laura #22-133 or thereabouts) where the FoF puts bookmarks seems an idea whose time has come, and certainly protected as free speech. Is it necessary to have a special design? I would think that a few choice words from any computer printer would do, the message would be clear enough. I’ve already done mine:

Bookmarks (in this book or other 4th Way books) coming from The Fellowship of Friends (, are actually invitations to join a religion based on the ideas of Robert Earl Burton.

This leader makes extravagant claims such as, he is “the most conscious being on the planet, second only in history to Jesus Christ”, and also that it is necessary for him to have sex with numerous of his good–looking, male, heterosexual followers. Know that payments start at 10% of gross income, and rise after two years to as much as 30% of gross income. You will receive ‘special attention’ if you are rich, or a talented artist.

This card is put in place by ex-members who are warning you to find out all you can about the Fellowship of Friends. For example, an ongoing blog discussing the Fellowship exists:
For those who are really busy, I’ve put these words in a slightly fancier setting (warning triangles and such), in color, six bookmarks to a page. You can find it at: [ed. - Link no longer functional]

Thanks, Laura!

[ed. - The following anecdote about the "People of the Bookmark" comes from Ashala Gabriel's book, Remembering: Being with My Teacher, in a chapter titled, "bookmark-re-marks" (pp. 57-60). Gabriel was a student of Lord John Pentland, leader of The Gurdjieff Foundation in North America.]


Self-promotion has never been a "marker" of Mr. Gurdjieff's teachings, in fact, much the opposite, which is why, even inching-up on a full century since his "followers of origin" were attracted to this charismatic master of cosmic laws. Work groups continue to remain relatively intimate in size and populated only by those who felt a "clarion call" to his ideas.

My teacher. Lord Pentland, originally a student of P.D. Ouspensky, was profoundly drawn to G.l. Gurdjieff's Work and, in the final period of Mr. G's life, was, himself, deeply immersed in practicing these teachings in his direct presence.

LP often said "You don't find this Work, this Work finds you."

In the 70s, however, when many bookstores in San Francisco, Marin County and the East Bay areas of Northern California were well-stocked with the published writings of both Ouspensky and Gurdjieff to give the searching "book-worms'" amongst us access to some well-seasoned and carefully-prepared food to meet this calling towards a three-brain-balanced Work sometimes referenced as The Fourth Way, a promotional-anomaly occurred.

Certain individuals with an affiliation to these Work ideas but who did not acquire their "group training credentials" from long years of practice and under the experienced-oversight of group leaders within the authentic Gurdjieff Foundation were inserting self-promotional advertising inside the printed pages of Mr. G's unadvertised teachings.

Several of us, having discovered what these "bookmark people" were up to were quite upset by this unsanctioned intrusion into the approved Gurdjieff literature, and we made an equally unsanctioned - okay, a reflex-reactive-decision - to go around and remove every such bookmark we could find and bring all of these to Lord Pentland's direct attention. "Mission Bookmark" took place tandem with one of my several house-guest stays under LP's roof, so I was naturally amongst those self-appointed students to show him the results of our self-initiated "Work." I remember how calmly he read the contents of the "bookmark people" bookmark, how quietly he reflected on the situation we had just presented him with and I anticipated his "Well done" comment as we had "saved" the day (or, at least, the books] from outside influences.

Lord Pentland lifted his head up from the bookmark and spoke as much to wake-up our beings as our headbrains. "I think it would be best to return these bookmarks inside the books they came out from, as the ideas which have been selected to promote our teaching are reasonable and helpful. But before doing that, we'd better, perhaps, make one small alteration to the content."

Then, wide-eyed and in full-startle-wonder, I watched my teacher take up his pen and proceed to cross-out the phone number which appeared on each and every bookmark — there must have been well-over a hundred — and in his beautiful penmanship, to substitute a phone number which would put whoever called immediately and directly in contact with the head of the Gurdjieff Work in America!

Flabbergasted doesn't begin to express the level of the shock waves we who witnessed this "bookmark-signing" were experiencing. I, personally, felt the color drain from my face and a definite wobble in my ankles.

Lord Pentland continued his Work until every last digit and dash was properly corrected and infused with the energy of his own "calling hand", then divided these bookmarks into smaller stacks which amazingly also looked to be perfectly right-sized for precise number of us standing there to receive them, and passed them back to each of us, individually.

"Now, don't get caught," he chortled with a definite twinkle under those bushy brows, "and don't let any of the others at the Foundation know what we're doing."

I'd give my eye-teeth to know some of those who were fortunate enough to find the real Work and a real teacher in this unorthodox intentional way, but I can't imagine, almost 40 years after-the-bookmark-task and coming up on 27 years since my teacher's excursion to the Higher Bookstores, how that will ever happen.

Thursday, May 31, 1979

May 1979 Notes

Robert Earl Burton's Fellowship of Friends cult Renaissance Vineyard May 1979 Oregon House
Vineyards, Lincoln Lodge, and vehicle maintenance barn, May 1979 (Photo: T. Campion)

"Renaissance Vine" newsletter [summarized]
"The Court of the Caravans" is cleared of oak and manzanita.
Send photos to Mildred Smith for inclusion in slide presentations.
In five to seven years, the Fellowship will form its own philharmonic orchestra. (Students are now taking up instruments.)
1,230 members

Other Notes

May 1:
Robert and Karl depart for Tokyo, Hong Kong and Europe.
May 6:
The three-panel, wall length Tiffany window is removed from the Magic Flute Room and crated up. It will later be installed in the new winery.
May 11:
Clearing begins for Shop 2 (metal shop for wine tank production.)
May 21 through 24:
197 loads of aggregate hauled from the Yuba River to Renaissance for concrete production.
May 24:
The D-8 begins cut for winery barrel storage and bottling warehouse levels.
May 27:
There is talk of new centers again: Copenhagen, Amsterdam, Tokyo, Mexico City, Tel Aviv, Sydney, and Kansas City (???)
Vine cuttings are being prepared for planting in the vineyard nursery.
Tonight's concert features the Telluride Octet.
May 30:
25 tons of concrete reinforcing bar (re-bar) are delivered for the new winery.
May 31:
Robert returns to Renaissance

Monday, April 30, 1979

April 1979 Notes

Fellowship of Friends Lincoln Lodge and Renaissance Vineyard March 1979
The Lincoln Lodge viewed from the Winery Knoll, March 1979 (Photo: T. Campion)

April 7:
1974 Rolls Royce "Silver Shadow" is purchased for $49,000. The Mercedes 600 was taken in trade, fetching $20,000.
April 11:
The D-4 and D-8 are removing brush, manzanita and tree stumps around "The Court of the Caravans."
The Equipment Room is being framed at the Town Hall.
April 19:
The D-8 is clearing above the Zinfandel slope.
April 20:
The Butler Building (Shop 1, carpentry shop) is delivered.
Oak lumber arrives for the KOPA manufacturing project.
April 26:
During tonight's cinema, Robert started asking members to resume playing musical instruments, or learn to play one if they never have. See: Apollo Orchestra Octave
April 27(?):
Tonight's concert features sisters Zara Nelsova and Anna Gold.

Saturday, April 7, 1979

The Teacher's next car

Fellowship of Friends cult leader Robert Earl Burton traveled in a 1974 Rolls Royce Silver like this
Fellowship of Friends leader Robert Earl Burton was chauffeured in a 1974 Rolls Royce Silver Shadow,
costing $49,000 (over $157,000 in 2013 Dollars.) The Fellowship received $20,000 ($80,000 in 2013 dollars)
trade-in credit for the Mercedes-Benz 600 limousine. Burton requested the personalized license plate, "Oracle."

From the Gurdjieff-Ouspensky Centers (Fellowship of Friends) website:
How is the donation income spent?

The donation income is spent on the costs associated with supporting the worldwide centers, maintaining the Fellowship’s headquarters at Apollo, and administrative costs. It does not accrue to any one person.

Saturday, March 31, 1979

Paul Shabram, on his departure from the Fellowship

[ed. - This post is dated to roughly correspond with Paul Shabram's departure from the Fellowship of Friends.]

"paulshabram" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, May 29, 2008:
RB was manipulative, persistent but patient with me in trying to get me to have sex with him. He finally gave up saying something like “some people’s instinctive center won’t allow certain things” to which I replied “No, it won’t”, but I was thinking “neither will any other of my centers.” He knew he wouldn’t get anywhere with me. He never attempted to punish me nor did he pitch a fit for my non-compliance.

At the time he was implying to the membership that he was heterosexual and was celibate. But he had confirmed what other older (female) members had warned me about… he was homosexual and “he likes boys you know”.

I have never been ‘homophobic’, that is other peoples sexual preference do not matter to me, but that tolerance was occasional misunderstood. I thought this was just another case of that. The lie, however, indicated problems with Robert being conscious and I concentrated on dealing with that conundrum for a couple of years. The “final straw” for me was that after making such a big deal out of “casting out a soul” (making somebody leave the FOF) for only the worst “criminal” activity, Robert kicked a male student out for no other reason other than being gay. He seem to regard gay relationships as criminal. Taking together all I had seen and experienced along with this episode, there simply was no way that RB was the real thing. I had verified. So I left (it felt like escaping). I guess I was lucky to leave with mostly good memories.

I realize now that RB was probably getting results with other young heterosexual males (I don’t think he liked gay men, but maybe that changed). It is clear that his behavior has degraded and degraded. Once you recognize a person as sociopathic, it’s hard to have any compassion for that individual. I am utterly mortified by what I’ve read in this blog.

I personally witnessed critical moments when the FOF could have gone the way of Jonestown or Waco. I was there when a member came to the Blake Cottage suggesting that he do violence on somebody troublesome. Robert said no as part of the non-violence stance, but nobody should underestimate the potential. It’s a very dangerous situation. With complete moral corruption coupled with the “everybody will die but us” doomsday belief, that danger increases.

March 1979 Notes

The Fellowship of Friends Town Hall aka Festival Hall, Prytaneion
The Fellowship of Friends Town Hall (later Prytaneion, Festival Hall), February 1979 (Photo: T. Campion)

"Renaissance Vine" newsletter [summarized]
March 3: Christiane Edinger
March 17: American String Quartet

Other Notes

February 27 - March 1:
Mercedes 600 is disabled in Redding and must be hauled to Carmel for repairs
Ken W. is in the market for a "hound dog" to keep deer out of the vineyard
The Renaissance Bindery is taking orders for  leather-bound "Renaissance Journal" collections.
March 9 and 19th:
Film series at Town Hall: Hamlet and Macbeth
March 20:
After the last vineyard plantings of season, vineyard workers were given two days off, a $25 bonus, and invited to join Robert in Carmel.
March 22:
New word exercise is introduced: avoid using "night" and "hi."

Thursday, March 15, 1979

John's North's escape

[ed. - John North's story below is reprinted with the author's permission. I've placed this in two locations on the timeline: March 15, 1979, when John escaped from the Fellowship, and July 10, 2018, when "Golden Veil" shared and commented on John's story.]

"Golden Veil" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, July 10, 2018:
Can a man be a member of the #MeToo movement?

You betcha!

Below, a personal history from Fellowship of Friends former student John [ed. - John North], who posted about his experience being placed in the Blake Cottage and serving as Robert Burton’s “attaché” on the Miles Barth In Memoriam page, Greater Fellowship, on July 6, 2017. [ed. - Greater Fellowship requires membership to access site.]
Reflecting on my time in the Fellowship still provides an opportunity for work.

It is not my wish to speak ill of the dead – only to relay my memories as best I can. Who knows the truth?

My first visit to Renaissance was in the summer of ’78. Even back then, it was like walking into Rivendell (Lord of the Rings) or Hogwarts -for you younger escapees…

I was quite literally spell bound by the elegance of the Meissen Room, the beauty and scope of the vineyard, the excellence of the antique octave, the concerts, the intellectual and emotional depth of the students, their sophistication, refinement, their level of commitment, and the efforts they made …
And many if not most of them were spell bound like me. Naïve, innocent, dreaming – imagining a perfect world created and directed by a deity.

I should have “smelled the coffee burning”.

If I remember right, I was helping Brian Sisler paint Dorothy Beaulieu’s  cottage on my weekend visits to Renaissance. I did not know Brian well but came to understand that he was being sent away for “spreading rumors” about RB and that I would be taking his place at the Blake Cottage. Dorothy turned to me and said something to the effect of  “…such a sweet young man – how could he say such terrible things about Robert?” This I remember very clearly.

Of course discussing rumors about the teacher was strictly verboten – so I did not ask. I wish I had.

If Dorothy – who was not even on the fringes of the inner circle – suspected something was (as the saying goes) “rotten in Denmark”, does anyone think the older students were unaware? Again I emphasize – I was not the first “9 month wonder”. My suspicion is that most of them (if not all) at first refused to believe (like me), then justified the behavior (like me), and then went into denial – a luxury I could not afford.

I cannot imagine many experiences that would equal or surpass visiting this magical place for months – hearing the words “crown prince”, “conscious role”, “Lord North”, and then… the first night in the Blake Cottage… having the curtain pulled back and the dark side exposed.

At first, I tried to rationalize RB’s behavior as a test but that didn’t last long. I found myself looking up references to double/incorrect crystallization, hasnamuss, and so on… I still don’t know what went wrong.

In any case – the “wine, dine & travel” octave had begun… “The Magic Flute” in L.A., Baryshnikov in San Francisco, Tavern on the Green in New York, two trips to Europe – Amsterdam (to bid on a roll top desk), London, Munich, Paris… (I don’t remember the exact order). I was Robert’s “attaché” on the first trip and the “motor” for Kevin Kelly’s wheelchair on the second. (Sadly, Kevin became ill in Paris and we spent most of the trip there).

I found the opportunity to observe myself was profound. I did my best to recall Gurdjieff’s advice – “The worse the conditions of life, the more productive the work, always provided you remember the work”.

I cannot express how productive those difficult days were. I had a very new and different perspective on “The Teacher” and the ideas. Imagination, identification, considering, expressing negative emotions, lying…

It was confusing and enlightening at the same time. I verified the usefulness and validity of The Work in ways that would have taken years by any other route. In a way I suppose I should be thankful. Many have labored and suffered for decades under his spell. My eyes were opened and I began to look for an exit.

It was not easy. No money. No car. In addition, Louis told me that I was considered a “flight risk” and would be watched quite carefully.

Late at night on the Ides of March in 1979, I gathered what was left of my worldly possessions into a back pack and tip-toed out of the Blake Cottage and on to the road. Fortunately, a newer student was driving the first car that came along. I told him Robert had granted me a three day vacation. He had no idea I was running. I was so thankful. Who knows what might have happened if I had been caught trying to escape. Probably transferred to the London Center for reprogramming. Ha!

Unfortunately, I did not escape undamaged. I have not and do not think I will ever fully trust another teacher, school or human being. That’s had an impact on every relationship I’ve had since leaving the Fellowship.

And as many here probably know – working alone is only so productive.
~ ~ ~

If there is someone out there that was or is a former or current “boy” of Robert Burton, there are agencies for help – and reporting.

“You are not alone.
It was not your fault.
It is possible to heal.
It is not too late.”


See also:

Wednesday, February 28, 1979

February 1979 Notes

"Renaissance Vine" newsletter [summarized]
Gerhard Puchelt, piano
Robin Sutherland and Roy Malan
Telluride Chamber Players
Diane Gilfether
Christiane Edinger, violin
January 13: William Serrao passed away, the second member to die in nine years.
1,221 members
[ed. - In the following excerpt from her Learn about CULTS page, Stella Wirk writes about how Robert Burton reacted to William's illness. As a point of fact, member Gary James died in an automobile accident on December 16, 1976. I assume he was the first member to die.] 
We harkened back to the memory of the first FOF death (not a suicide). This was Bill Serrao, in the 1970s, when he developed cancer of the pancreas. He lived near Sacramento, and we expected Robert to go see him. When Robert heard that Bill had cancer, he said, "Oh, he'll be all right." And it looked that way, as often pancreatic cancer patients seem to "rally" as if they are coming out of the difficulty.

This happened to Bill, and Robert never did go see him, although passing by frequently and close enough it would not have been THAT much trouble to stop by to see him. [ed. - Burton also failed to attend his mother's funeral or visit her gravesite.]

He demonstrated his first lie, although we didn't even realize it at the time, being so "busy" with FOF activities, tasks, and other distractions. Over the years re-examining things like this, at a more advanced age at each examination, we discovered our subjectivity growing more mature and wishing we had done differently at an earlier age, and realized everything happened in the only way it could happen at the time.

Burton told us right from the beginning that he would be with his students when they were about to die. We did not interpret this to mean "in spirit" but in physical fact. He allowed us to think he meant he would hold our hands on the way out of this world.

Wednesday, January 31, 1979

January 1979 Notes

"Renaissance Vine" newsletter [summarized]
January concerts: American String Quartet; Nancy Allen, harp

Other Notes

January 3:
An estimated 400 members attended the Quarterly Concerts December 31st and January 1st.
Robert and Karl Werner are traveling to New Orleans and the East Coast.
Stella and Harold are moving from Renaissance to the Bay Area.
January 15:
Fellowship member James G. is "released" from the school. A former member who was in a relationship with James stated that Robert Burton was "in love" with James, and even proposed running away with him and abandoning the Fellowship. [See below.]
January 29:
Robert extending his trip to include Athens, Cairo, New Delhi and Hong Kong. While he’s away, a fireplace is being built in the Blake Cottage.
January 31:
Karl is acting as traveling minister. Taking the model of the new winery model on the road with him.

"Life Person" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, May 24, 2007:
#78–I’m not aware of Burton having brought anything to the table that he didn’t find somewhere else. According to Rick Ross’s site, Burton adopted the term “feminine influence” from Horn’s group and turned it into “feminine dominance.”

By using the term, which has no basis in fact for being gender-specific, not to mention by trumpeting how he supposedly severed feminine dominance by treating his mother to stony silence on her death bed, Burton demonstrates his continuing weakness in that area. “Overcompensation,” I believe, is the term. Protesting too much. (Kind of like saying about the Fellowship of Friends “Actually it is fast-going and solid more than ever.”)

But I agree with your basic assessment of Burton and his sexual, um, issues. It’s so mundane when seen without the trappings of Fellowship propaganda. I’d be interested in hearing from somone with some experience in the area some theories about why Burton feels driven to have sex obsessively, yet finds so little pleasure in having sex with men who actually prefer the type of sex Burton enjoys. I can only suppose it’s more about power than anything a more normal person would associate with pleasurable sex–if it isn’t to some degree against the other person’s will, it isn’t any fun.

Your point is well-put that “Because this is so far away from normal behaviour, we imagine it could be possibl[e] that he is ‘conscious’.” Precisely. No sane person generally familiar with his behavior, sexual and otherwise, would ever imagine that Burton is anything other than a very sick individual. Most people come to that conclusion sooner or later. But there are always some (and apparently, having run out of recruits in the U.S., the gullible are increasingly found in third world countries) who will choose to take the approach, opposite to that offered by Occam’s Razor, that Burton must be anything but sick–in fact, he is god-like.

Anyone remember James Godbe? I’d been told back in the olden days (I think by Richard Focazio, R.I.P.) that Burton had a genuine crush on James, and urged him to run away with him and leave behind the tiresome students, and James declined. I wonder whether Burton ever found anyone else he truly cared for. In my own experience, his reaction when spurned was indistinguishable from that of a petulent child deprived of a toy.

"if memory serves" posted the following on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, July 26, 2007:
Despite life’s busyness, I repeatedly come out to my office to read some more of the blog, uncomfortable at spending so much time doing so, but realizing on a deeper level its healing potential. It when I catch up to the current postings that I most strongly feel all of you out there in the world thinking about and contributing to this amazing thing and send my heartfelt thanks to all contributors, silent or vocal. Much of the time, the memories feel like they are from a long time ago, happening to someone else. Today, I am startled by how immediate the feelings are, you who are writing today words that evoke feelings today felt now by me.

Whalerider, at the end of your post 417, I cried deeply and to those who know me, know I am usually more reserved and cry rarely. An internalized phrase from my occasional therapist ”follow the feelings” helped overcome my immediate impulse to just move along to something else. Most days, I’ve felt so detached, like I can relate, but it isn’t really MY story. Today, I felt like “that girl”.

I loved James G. my first boyfriend in the fof, mid-70’s. We lived in a teepee up the hill with a red couch and carpets. James was a poet, a sweet gentle man who went head to head with Robert. I remember my confusion when I realized I was competing with my teacher for the affection of my boyfriend. Confusion, sadness, anger, uncomprehending shock. James left the group and I regret that I cannot access more clearly what happened. There is so much shame mixed in with the excitement of having found a “school of evolution”. I’m sure I did not talk about the shameful parts and just moved on with the “evolution” parts.

Being a female “second class citizen”, I settled for “second-best” closeness to rb, by getting involved with Thomas E. There was a big triangular struggle going on there, too, but again, the shame shrouding the situation did not allow us to talk openly about it and I remember just being very confused. Thomas and I fought often about it and eventually moved farther and farther apart. I remember calling him from the pay phone in the Lodge while he was traveling with rb to tell him I was pregnant and him telling me to just take care of it. I knew it wasn’t wanted, by him, by me, by Robert, so was shortly thereafter driven to Yuba City by Fran for an abortion. I know I’m leaving out the next chapter, but one step at a time.

I had permission to play the piano in the Goethe Academy during lunch when no one was there. It was one of the happiest hours of my days. When Robert would come smilingly back after lunch in the company of those from his entourage, his face would fall upon seeing me, and although it is not exactly the reptilian conversion Cyclops referred to in his powerful post above, that look of revulsion, disappointment, annoyance was one that I and many other women were on the receiving end on many occasions.

One other memory from my days of a woman in the company of men around the Blake Cottage/Goethe Academy was sadly watching while RB walked around and around the outside perimeter of the lawn trying to convince one of his wonderful young men that he and his lovely girlfriend/or wife, can’t remember the timing, must not have a child, and that in fact they must have an abortion. I had an opportunity to see this sad childless couple years later (when I was “out” and they still “in” thus we didn’t converse) and my heart has always gone out to them.

My tears are for you, Whalerider, Cyclops, THAT GIRL, Joseph G., Richard M, Elena, and many others who lost faith in themselves, were deceived, coerced, had abortions, gave their children away, shared their husbands with another, for all the suffering you experienced. They are for me, for the teenager I once was, for the world I’m leaving to my children. May tears of joy fall once again on us all.


Sunday, January 7, 1979

The Fellowship of Friends Articles of Incorporation are amended

The Farm/Mt. Carmel/Renaissance in Winter. (Photo; T. Campion)

[ed. - The Fellowship of Friends Articles of Incorporation, first executed June 11, 1978, are amended as discussed below. The following Directors signed the amendment: R. Miles Barth, Don Birrell, Ethan G. Harris, Rosemary MacDonald, Linda Lee Rockwood (Kaplan), Neal O'Brien, Pamela O'Brien, Samuel L. Sanders, and Walter Scheer.]

From the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog:
On January 7, 1979 the Fellowship of Friends Board of Directors voted to amend the Articles of Incorporation to read:

II [excerpt]

The purposes for which this corporation is formed are

a) The specific and primary purpose is as a religion;


The Property of this corporation is irrevocably dedicated to religious purposes and no part of the net income or assets of the organization shall ever inure to the benefit, of any director, officer, or member thereof or to the benefit of any private persons.

Upon the dissolution or winding up of the corporation, the assets remaining after payment of all debts and liabilities of this corporation shall be distributed to a non-profit fund, foundation or corporation which is organized and operated exclusively for exempt purposes and which has established its tax exempt status under Section 501(d) (3) of the Internal Revenue Code.

See also "The Fellowship of Friends Articles of Incorporation."

The Articles of Incorporation may be viewed on the Internet Archive.

"Jomo Piñata" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, June 25, 2014:
The specific purpose [of The Fellowship of Friends] was as a “church” in the original Articles, but they [the articles] were later amended to provide that the purpose was as a “religion.” Some people equate these, but I see the second purpose as much more grandiose than the first.