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, Burton and his followers, through the direct intervention and guidance from 44 angels (including Burton's divine father, Leonardo da Vinci) 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, October 5, 1989

Burton's understanding of "influence C" is questioned

[ed. - The video was also posted to Vimeo, with a slightly different introduction.]

"Shard of Oblivion" posted the following on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, May 20, 2012:
I found this interesting recording, purporting to be a student questioning Burton in a phone conversation in 1989, about how Burton can be sure that Influence C isn’t just the product of his fevered imagination.

[ed. - I have transcribed the text of the video below, making some minor edits.] 
[Author's Introduction] This a tape recording of an "exit interview" between a disgruntled student of The Fellowship of Friends and the leader of that cult, a man named Robert Burton.(rb)
What follows is the second part of that recording. In the first part he was asked how many of his students he had had sex with - he declined to give a figure.
One of his main claims was/is to be in direct communications with 44 disembodied spirits of significant cultural figures from the past.
The student (jh) noticed that he appeared to be suffering from "ideas of reference" and doubted this as a procedure to authenticate the claimed origin of these spooky advisors.
Burton (rb) called his imaginary friends Influence C.
jh wanted to probe Burton as to what method, if any, he used to convince himself that the messages are not the products of his own mind.
This the very coinage of your brain:
This bodiless creation ecstasy
 Is very cunning in.  
Hamlet act 3 scene IV (Oh, yes. Shakespeare was one of Burton's cosmic buddies.)
The recording (which dates from 1989) is poor, an old Walkman with a sucker microphone stuck to the phone. Text is provided to assist the listener to catch all the words of wisdom.
jh: The uh, other thing I'd like to know is what method you use to convince yourself that the messages that you think you're getting from C influence are from the source that you say they are rather than perhaps for example your own mind?
rb: Well...well the Gods reveal themselves to me. I...uh...I do not uh...It's not my station....uh I have to say they reveal themselves (by faith?)....They are forming an ark using me...and uh...they—they use a variety of—a variety of means to communicate they—they actually...um...they have somewhat of a physical-metaphysical presence that they use to communicate. This is a relationship of a man number seven to higher school.
jh: Yes. And did you ever wonder if they might be just something in your own mind?
rb: No of course not. Like my mother's name was Shock. My—my mother's maiden name was Thelma [or Velma?] Shock.
jh: Yes.
rb: So it's a—it's a very kind of brutal experience verifying influence C (because) they have a heavy hand—it's so long as though they carry a wand in one hand and a club in the other, you are touched by both.
jh: Yes. I mean if you know how easy it is for people to um become convinced of—of mistaken ideas?
rb: No—no I'm quite aware of it John. In search of the miraculous and I have found the miraculous. Something-something we are given...not—not a right apparently you've forgotten but I—I'm not in imagination at all about influence C. It's very—it's a real burden...to carry them, but it's a dear burden and one I would never drop.
jh: I mean you're aware that many people think they are getting messages from strange places.
rb: Oh, I—I know that. Influence C pressures people into reality. You know they...they take people beyond allurement and uh...it's no uh easy thing to bear them. Well dear I guess that's...my time for now. I mean give my love to Barbara and my love to you.
jh: OK. thank you for answering the questions.
rb (or jh): Bye, bye.

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