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.

Thursday, April 30, 1981

Gurdjieff/Ouspensky Followers Controversial

[ed. - From ICSA website. Link no longer functional]
A community called Renaissance, headquarters for Fellowship of Friends, a monastic group of well-educated men and women devoted to the teachings of two Russian spiritualists of the early 20th century, Georges Gurdjieff and Peter Ouspensky, has recently become an object of much controversy.

The group, which is located in Yuba County, California, is led by 42-year-old Robert Burton, known as “The Teacher” and revered for his self-control and ability to explain and understand the two philosophers as well as to teach others that life can be enhanced through worship of beauty and materialism. [ed. - It should be noted that, by all accounts, Burton has little familiarity with Gurdjieff's work, save what has been passed along by Ouspensky.]

According to the San Francisco Chronicle (March 20), a few ex-members and parents of members have become concerned with the way followers are treated.

One ex-member, Randall Moffett, says “The trouble with the Fellowship, is that they take advantage of people’s imagination.

"The people who are into it now are so hypnotized. This is a very sophisticated operation.”

An anonymous parent expressed his concern this way: “It’s the kind of discipline that blocks out any kind of thought,” he said. “It’s so far detached from reality—it’s not like you and I know life to be—and I don’t believe those kids are there of their own free will.”

The community owns more than $1 million worth of European paintings, Meissen china, Baccarat crystal and Wedgewood plates. Its income is nearly 4 million tax-exempt dollars per year. James Trattner, a 41-year-old psychologist who spent 4 years in the Fellowship of Friends, told the Chronicle that members have no money of their own and in that sense are prisoners, working up to 17 or 18 hours a day.

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