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, June 11, 1979

My Dinner With Robert

[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.

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