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.

Thursday, December 31, 1998

Taking with the Left Hand

William Patrick Patterson's Taking With the Left Hand, on Robert Earl Burton and the Fellowship of Friends cult in Oregon House, CA

[ed. - William Patrick Patterson has long showed contempt for Robert Earl Burton and his followers, whom Patterson labels "People of the Bookmark."]
Taking with the Left Hand: Enneagram Craze, People of the Bookmark, & The Mouravieff 'Phenomenon'

by William Patrick Patterson

The first book to examine the spiritual theft and appropriation that marks our time. A detailed and well-documented study, it illustrates how the enneagram movement commercialized an ancient alchemical symbol, how Robert Burton, founder of The Fellowship of Friends, arrogated The Fourth Way teaching, and how Boris Mouravieff plagiarized and tried to appropriate it.

Excerpt:
Though Burton claimed to be a Fourth Way teacher, he himself never had an authentic Fourth Way teacher. The level of his understanding of the teaching was based on what he could pick up from Fourth Way books and from his one-time teacher, the actor-director Alexander Francis Horn. Horn, himself a faux-Gurdjieffian without any real connection to the Fourth Way, had based his own understanding on books and on that of his first wife Carol, a student of John Bennett's ten month experimental program - an eclectic melding of the Fourth Way with other teachings and practices. Horn first taught in New York and later in San Francisco where he created the Theater of All Possibilities, a theater which purported to double as a Fourth Way school. Horn financially exploited his students, manipulated their lives, often physically brutalizing them - all in the name of the teaching. The thirty-one-year-old Burton, dismissed by Horn for not "staying on task" apparently picked up enough from Horn to start his own teaching.

Alexander Francis Horn: Not much is known about Horn, but, according to the San Francisco Chronicle, his dinner theater "Fourth Way School" operation, known as the Theater of all Possibilities (the name taken from the Herman Hesse novel, Steppenwolf), had an income of $40,000 per month or some $500,000 a year. Of this, $20,000 was from student dues and $20,000 from the sale of theater tickets. Students, required to sell tickets to the weekly productions, were harangued and physically beaten if ticket quotas were not met. At Horn's instigation, all-night drinking marathons culminating in fist fights were common occurrences, all in the name of the teaching. Punishment, in many forms was a feature of Horn's teaching. A local drama critic wrote, after sitting through three hours and leaving at the end of Act II of Horn's three-act play, The Fantastic Arising of Padraic Clancy Muldoon - "In more than ten years of reporting on the local theater scene, I remember no more punishing experience." Burton had long before been dismissed from the group, but this gives a portrait of Horn's psychology and his approach.

Burton never had a genuine Fourth Way teacher. Burton's only teacher was Alex Horn who was never in the Gurdjieff Work. A martial arts expert and actor-director with a dramatic flair, Horn learned of the Fourth Way teaching through his second wife who spent a number of months in J. G. Bennett's International Academy for Continuous Education at Sherbourne, England.  For information on Alex Horn see "Theater Group: Cult or Stage?" by Jack Brooks, San Francisco Progress, December 22, 1978.  Horn is criticized for financially exploiting his students and subjecting them to psychological abuse, even beatings. See also "Real-Life Drama in a S.F. Theater Group," by Michael Taylor and Bernard Weiner, San Francisco Chronicle, December 23, 1978. The story focuses on allegations of "beatings, child neglect and a student fee structure that yielded high revenues."

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

Taking with the Left Hand is by William Patrick Patterson, who was a student of John Pentland’s and supposedly was annointed to lead the Gurdjieff Foundation when Pentland died. The observations he makes about the fof in his book are mild compared to the real deal. His point of view is coming from the “Burton has no legitimate connection to this work and is misleading his students” angle.

Here’s a story:

A couple of years ago, I was in a local book store and saw a poster for one of Patterson’s talks near my home. Just out of curiousity, I went. He talked the fouth way mumbo-jumbo for awhile, had us do some “sensing” exercises, and opened the floor for questions. For fun, I asked a question about self remembering and creating memory. He asked me about my understanding of self remembering and in my answer I used the phrase divided attention. He told me this was a wrong understanding of the idea and then, seemingly out of nowhere, launched into a diatribe about false teachings and corruption of the ideas. On and on it went. At the end, he turns his best Gurdjy steely gaze on me and says, “And this is the story of Robert Burton and the Fellowship of Friends, is it not,” in an incredibly self-satisfied tone. I almost laughed out loud. Judging from his manner, I believe that he thought that I thought, “Wow, how did this guy read my mind?” I came away from the experience thinking, “Same s#@t, different bag.”

Oh, and his students were a hoot, too. They seemed about as uptight as any group of folks I’ve run into. The women who introduced him (one of the inner circle, probably), spoke of him as if he were the second coming. After the event. I asked the two people manning the concession stand how many times a week the group met and how many students were in the local area. They stopped, stared at the ground for a moment, looked at each other with a look I’m sure we are all familiar with, and told me they couldn’t answer my question. So it goes.

[ed. - See also, "A Letter About Robert Burton" posted on the Gurdjieff Club site.]

Friday, September 4, 1998

Tan v. Fellowship Of Friends Inc.

Citing "Professional Negligence," Filesha Tan, who apparently helped broker the sale of the Fellowship's Ming furniture collection at Christie's auction house, files a complaint  against The Fellowship of Friends, Robert Burton, Peter Bishop, Abraham N. Goldman & Associates, and the Law Offices of David Springfield.

Friday, August 21, 1998

Tired of the World Wide Wait? Renaissance Winery Delivers a Speedy Virtual Tasting Room and Museum Tour at www.renaissancewinery.com

[ed. - Sourced from proquest.com.]
Business Wire [New York]
21 Aug 1998

Abstract (summary)

OREGON HOUSE, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Aug. 21, 1998--Wineries have featured virtual tours and tasting notes on their Websites for years, but not virtual tasting rooms or art museums.

Renaissance Vineyard & Winery, the only winery located in California's North Yuba grape-growing area, launched a speedy new website last week at www.renaissancewinery.com that includes a virtual tasting room and virtual tours of their Fine Arts Museum and Vineyard.

They haven't figured out how to ship wine across the phone lines, but for $2.50 per 375ml bottle Renaissance's Virtual Tasting Room will send consumers a sample of selected wines to try at home, and they'll waive the shipping fee.

Full Text

OREGON HOUSE, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Aug. 21, 1998--Wineries have featured virtual tours and tasting notes on their Websites for years, but not virtual tasting rooms or art museums.

Renaissance Vineyard & Winery, the only winery located in California's North Yuba grape-growing area, launched a speedy new website last week at www.renaissancewinery.com that includes a virtual tasting room and virtual tours of their Fine Arts Museum and Vineyard.

They haven't figured out how to ship wine across the phone lines, but for $2.50 per 375ml bottle Renaissance's Virtual Tasting Room will send consumers a sample of selected wines to try at home, and they'll waive the shipping fee.

"The idea is to generate trial and keep people coming back to the site," said sales and marketing director Joseph Granados. "These are regular bottlings of our most popular varietal wines, not just odds and ends we found in the back of the cellar."

Renaissance wines normally sell for between $10 and $25 per 750ml bottle. Renaissance already receives as much as 40% of its annual revenue from direct marketing to consumers.

Besides the Virtual Tasting Room, another unique reason to bookmark the Renaissance site is the online tour of the winery's Fine Arts Museum. The museum's collection has varied from European Old Masters to the most comprehensive collection of Ming Chinese furniture ever assembled in the world.

The current exhibit is based on French Decorative art. The Internet lets far more people visit the unique works than could ever make the trek to the museum itself.

The Renaissance Winery home page loads extremely fast, is easy to navigate, and contains the requisite winery information along with the Virtual Tasting Room and museum section.

Other Web page features of note include: -- encrypted, secure shopping with a cart that can be filled with wines and other items from the Renaissance tasting room. -- historical background on the Yuba County winegrowing region, made famous during the California Gold Rush and resurrected by Renaissance Winery over the last 20 years. -- virtual tour of the vineyard, called the "most remarkable in California" by wine critic James Halliday.

Aside from being the only winery in Yuba County, Renaissance has a singular history. The vineyards and winery were founded in 1971 by the Fellowship of Friends Church. Church members planted the unique mountain vineyard with 135,000 grape vines, and harvested their first crop in 1979. While the early wines were rough and tannic, winemaking style has evolved under new winemaker Gideon Beinstock into softer, more approachable reds and rich white wines.

Renaissance Winery's website was developed by Allmedia Creative (www.amcreative.com). The site offers a secure environment for online ordering and is hosted by a state-of-the-art provider located in Florida. For more information, contact Felipe Oliveiro at felipe@amcreative.com or call 530.692.0428.

Copyright Business Wire Aug 21, 1998

Sunday, August 9, 1998

Self-Remembering by Robert Burton

Fellowship of Friends "featured" book review:

Review by the Dutch Society of Libraries

The Fellowship of Friends is a worldwide philosophical community and school, founded in 1970 by Burton and following the tradition of Gurdjieff and Ouspensky that is called the “Fourth Way.” Burton has a brilliant and stimulating vision that evokes all kinds of experimenting with the “machine,” with one’s ego structure: “The soul, like any pearl, must be created by transforming irritation. Voluntary suffering can serve this purpose.” Try sitting in an uncomfortable way - for example, on a cassette - for fifteen minutes; then try something else. Turn your heater down. Create friction. Avoid self-pity. Hide your suffering. Burton stresses educating and disciplining the emotions and being permanently alert - i.e., self-remembering. “What one gains, all gain,” he says as he explains personal transformation for his group of pupils. In an equally compelling way, he describes “Influence C” - conscious, immaterial beings who assist man. An extensive glossary describes the specific terminology of the Fourth Way.

Peter den Harin


Alternate universe book review from the Gurdjieff Journal:

Gurdjieff Journal #13 Vol. 4 Issue 1
Fourth Way Reinterpretation or Distortion?

Self-Remembering
by Robert Earl Burton
Weiser, 216 pp.

(#) Parentheses indicate footnote number

[ed. - Links to the original Gurdjieff Journal are deactivated, as the document has been blocked.]

THE CENTRAL IDEA AND PRACTICE OF the ancient teaching of the Fourth Way is self-remembering, yet in his published writings Gurdjieff rarely refers to it. Only twice in his First Series, for example, is it mentioned. Ouspensky's In Search of the Miraculous gives only a preliminary explanation. Now Robert Earl Burton, founder and spiritual leader of the Fellowship of Friends,(1) devotes an entire book to the subject. Given the decisiveness of Mr. Burton's title—Self-Remembering—and its 216-page length, a reader might be justified in expecting a detailed and knowledgeable exploration of the special state of self-remembering. Strangely, that is lacking.

Burton begins by describing self-remembering as "your dormant self is remembering to be awake."(2) Although the formulation sounds good, its usefulness is limited to nil since Burton does not say what he means by the key terms self and awake.(3) Later, he will say, "It's not easy to discuss self-remembering because, in its highest form, it is a non-verbal process."(4) Of course, in their highest forms, all spiritual practices are nonverbal. But as lower forms can be delineated and discussed, it's not clear why Burton isn't more helpful.

Now and then concrete statements are put forward, and this is helpful, although perhaps not as Burton imagines. "Generally, self-remembering must originate in the intellectual part of the emotional center," he says, "because remembering oneself is an emotional experience."(5) Logically, this is consistent, but is it true? As Ouspensky says, emotions do need to be involved to reach higher levels of self-remembering, but the self-remembering needn't originate in the emotional center. For beginners in particular, it first originates in the intellectual part of the intellectual center.

A whole chapter is devoted to divided attention. Here Burton says: "Divided attention is self-remembering: they are synonymous. The state of divided attention encompasses a wide spectrum of emotions."(6) While the division of one's attention is important, it is simply the first of many actions that the process within the state of self-remembering requires. Burton's formulation, as far as it goes, is only preliminary. It's somewhat akin to saying that to drive a car you put a key in the ignition.

About the division of attention itself, only the vaguest, most generalized instruction is given and the explanation, unfortunately, is circular. "When you are in essence,"(7) advises Burton, "you try to divide attention. Try to look at these flowers and, at the same time, be aware that you are looking at them. Dividing attention puts one in essence." This raises a number of questions: Must we be in essence to divide attention? Or does dividing attention put us in essence? How does one come into essence? How does one know it is essence? Gurdjieff quite flatly said the work must begin from personality.(8) We cannot work from essence until we have worked through personality.

Burton's Real I?

As to what attention is divided between, Burton makes only one comment: "Self-remembering means that one is aware both of oneself and of what one is viewing."(9) Is the "one" which Burton speaks of as being aware what he takes to be the real, or permanent I? Interestingly, if one has a strong mind and ego-will, one can resolutely keep the mind relatively clear and, so self-locked in the mind, suppose that is the real I of which Gurdjieff speaks, when in fact one's center of gravity is still located in the head.

There is a tendency for pupils to make the act of observing, or the awareness, into an observer, an entity, thus maintaining the self-image, which now is reinterpreted as the "spiritual I." This objectification of observing into an observer-entity was Gurdjieff's criticism of Orage. One wonders if Burton has fallen into the same trap and, not having a teacher to point out this fundamental error, has unwittingly guided himself (and thereby his students) into a spiritual backwater. In passing, the question occurs, too, as to why Burton does not speak of "I"s, other than making a few references? This is a major psychological tenet of the teaching.

Burton appears to be very much interested in control. "Although we do not meditate in our school," he says, "we do try to control our minds, not under special circumstances, but under all circumstances, and in each waking moment....When one meditates, one tries to control one's mind."(10) [Emphasis added.] What Burton is teaching may be a form of mind control such as one finds in EST, Scientology, and Silva Mind Control. But in reference to the teaching, let three points be made. One, Gurdjieff gave his students a variety of meditative exercises. Two, not only is Burton's belief that meditation is trying to control the mind so elementary as to be odd, it also demonstrates how little he understands its role in Work. Three, the notion that one can exercise control "under all circumstances and in every waking moment" is an impossible ideal. Self-remembering requires energy of a very refined quality and who can manufacture enough energy to remember themselves for 16 consecutive minutes, let alone 16 waking hours? Gurdjieff, himself, admitted that he couldn't do it.(11) One must work for short times. As remembrance becomes more organic, its duration and depth change.

Interestingly, Burton says nothing about a practitioner's realization that we do not remember ourselves but are remembered. That is, there is no person to remember. It is grace, a gift. When one's attention is not subtle enough to see this, the work unavoidably is for the ego-I, the "spiritual doer." As Mme de Salzmann once said: "We do not do it. But without us it cannot be done."

Concerning being, Burton says, "The highest dimension of being occurs when one's self remembers to be."(12) Again, which self? If he's referring to self-remembering initiated by the organism, this is only the second plateau of self-remembering, certainly not its highest level. Gurdjieff persistently spoke of our sleep, our mechanicalness, our lack of real being. Oddly, Burton rarely mentions sleep or Gurdjieff's many negations of our ordinary beliefs about ourselves, such as individuality, will, and the ability to do. Gurdjieff often made clear why this "negative" approach is necessary. It is not pleasant but it is fundamental to Fourth Way teaching. Burton presents instead a "feel good" approach which, interestingly, he buttresses by telling his students that he loves them.(13) This is totally antithetical to Gurdjieff's teaching. And strangely, for all his proclamations of "love," Burton's prose gives the opposite impression. It is guarded, flat, and lacking not only in originality but in warmth and generosity.

So elementary is the overall discussion that the question begins to arise—as inconceivable as it seems—as to the actual quality and depth of Burton's experience. So much could have been said about self-remembering that he does not say. Anyone truly experienced in the practice of self-remembering, for example, knows it is a dynamic and fluid term which is world-specific; that is, the vibration of self-remembering in World 96 is not what it is in World 48, 24, or 12. One wishes Burton would have made similar distinctions, as it would be supportive, at least in part, of his claim to have experienced what self-remembering means in "its highest form."(14)

Burton's Bookmarks

Burton's primary readership, one supposes, would be members of his Fellowship of Friends. But the book could only be useful, if at all, to someone who has never practiced self-remembering. Perhaps it is a promotional tool for attracting new members; like, for example, the four-color bookmarks promoting the Fellowship's "Gurdjieff-Ouspensky Centers" which he has students place in the pages of Fourth Way literature (thus suggesting an association to the unsuspecting reader when, in fact, there is none).

In the book's introduction, a Burton student speaks of the ideas of verification, understanding, and personal transmission. The juxtaposition is worth a close look because it's one currently in vogue, often proclaimed by many who use it to justify their personal preferences and avoidances. "Because the Fourth Way is based on individual verification and understanding, as well as on personal transmission, each teacher reinterprets it anew. Robert Burton's teaching, while based on the knowledge transmitted by Gurdjieff and Ouspensky, has expanded to embrace...."(15) This is an implicit admission that Burton has received no 'personal' transmission, but has only read books.(16) (Most novice readers may miss this qualification.)

There is what is termed an "oral transmission" between teacher and student. Here the fundamental principle is passed. There is no interpretation because it is wordless. What is and what is reflected is the truth. Interpretation occurs only when one reduces experience to thoughts and words. Reinterpretation suggests that the teaching is given a new form. Man number seven is the only one capable of taking such a responsibility. Burton, in fact, claims to have the understanding of a man number seven. "You all do very well just to hear me. It is the discrepancy between a man number four and a man number seven, the discrepancy between your understanding and mine."(17) That such a reinterpretation would be needed only a generation after Gurdjieff's death is dubious at best.

And even were it needful, that Burton's 'interpretation' would be legitimate is strongly suspect for two reasons. One, Burton never had a genuine Fourth Way teacher. And two, he has never submitted to the discipline and training of the Work.(19) Burton finesses the question of legitimacy and lineage by positioning himself as a kind of Work-Gnostic who is in contact with a school on a 'higher plane' with astral teachers, and so, of course, he has had no need to study in a lesser, earthly school, under a merely human teacher. Embarrassing questions involving core issues of esoteric transmission are thus deflected. Given the level of his recitations in Self-Remembering and his lack of genuine connection with Gurdjieff's Fourth Way, one wonders whether Burton is actually teaching "Burton" under the guise of Gurdjieff?(20)

Higher Centers and Art

Art and art collecting plays a very large role in his "reinterpretation." Asked why he encourages art collecting, Burton explains that "Beauty produces its likeness in those who pursue it. This wonderful system stresses raising the level of impressions around one. Our school invests in art to strengthen the impressions octave."(21) He also believes that "True art is founded upon transforming suffering, and a true artist is a world unto himself. Art is synonymous with one's self and there is no higher art form than one's own individual soul."(22) This too is at odds with Gurdjieff who devotes a whole chapter in the First Series to art. Nowhere does he indicate that art "is founded upon transforming suffering" or that an artist is "a world unto himself." These are commonplace contemporary notions which stem from the post-renaissance secularization of art and artists. Instead, Gurdjieff describes the deliberate, conscious process of creating objective art by the members of the club of the "Adherents of Legominism."(23) Referring to the place of the arts in the life of the Fellowship of Friends, Burton says "It is interesting how we develop the habit of saturating ourselves with culture: the concert, this room, the music, the impressions, all these hydrogens are higher hydrogens. From this we try to create self-remembering."(24) Contrast this with Gurdjieff, who said, "Culture creates personality and is at the same time the product and the result of personality. We do not realize that the whole of our life, all we call civilization, all we call science, philosophy, art, and politics, is created by people's personality, that is, by what is 'not their own' in them."(25) Also, work conditions at the Prieuré were harsh. The chateau was often not heated, food was meager, and conditions were intentionally made uncomfortable. Compare this with Burton's penchant for lavish dinner parties, art collecting, opera-going, and the like.

Rewriting History & Grandiose Claims

The book's introduction positions Robert Burton as a central figure in the spiritual world. Nearly every sentence has been carefully crafted for deniability. Ingenuously, it presents Gurdjieff ("a Greek-Armenian mystic and teacher of sacred dances"(26) and Ouspensky as equals, with Gurdjieff having cobbled together a teaching from various Eastern sources and taught it to Ouspensky. Gurdjieff, we are told, was master of the physical. Ouspensky was master of the intellectual; and now Burton is introduced as master of the emotional.

Anyone familiar with what is known of the history of Gurdjieff's teaching will recognize this interpretation's untruthfulness. Gurdjieff brought an ancient teaching, complete and carefully reformulated for our time.(27) Ouspensky, despite his assimilation of part of what Gurdjieff brought, and his recording that part as faithfully as he could, did not. Just as it can be seen that St. Paul, despite his illumination and labors, was not on a level with Jesus, so Ouspensky is not on the same level with Gurdjieff. Once this is recognized as the fact it is, the argument for Burton and his place alongside Gurdjieff and Ouspensky falls to pieces.

At times Burton departs so diametrically from Gurdjieff's teaching, making any connection whatsoever is difficult. When asked, "Is our ability to self-remember controlled by the gods?" he replies, "Yes. One is paced through nine lifetimes, and each life is all that one can bear. Each person who enters the way will become immortal—that is why the way exists."(28) Burton makes much of the gods, even changing the name of the town in which the Fellowship is located from Renaissance to Apollo. It would seem, given his references, that his orientation is pagan. This would be in high contradistinction to Gurdjieff who never spoke about gods as such and had a high regard for Christianity (of which he speaks as having the purest of all teachings before it was corrupted). Burton goes on to prophesy that "Our school will produce seven conscious beings. Apollo [his school] will not reach its peak for centuries or millennia. Our school is one of the greatest schools in recorded history, and that is why suffering is so abundant."(29) [Emphasis added.] If his assertions are not vague, they usually are not verifiable. However, with apparent candor, Burton admits that "I still have considerable difficulty transforming negative emotions, primarily due to the violence of the suffering I must absorb to lift a school and humanity out of the chaos of impending hydrogen warfare."(30) He warns of impending disasters, hydrogen warfare, which, of course, only members of his school will survive.

Who Is Burton?

At times, Burton's tone is wise, kind, patient, gentle, and somewhat feminine. It is an amalgam of the conventional seriousness of the plaster saint with the intellectual appreciator of art and nature who believes in his feelings. He perhaps hasn't read what Gurdjieff says about feelings—Faith of feeling is weakness... Love of feeling evokes its opposite... Hope of feeling is slavery(31)—much less Objective Reason.

Burton seems never to have had a messy moment in his life. Speaking of having "a little difficulty hearing the music tonight," he says, "A work 'I' advised me, 'You cannot speak if you cannot listen.' in a gentle, non-judgmental tone of voice. It was a third line of force for helping me to listen."(32) Self-remembering begins with the shock of the realization that one has forgotten. Is "a little difficulty" a euphemism for forgetting himself? What was it that replaced listening? Contrast this with any of Gurdjieff's books, particularly the Third Series. In it, Gurdjieff reveals the depths of his despair at his failures to remember himself or convey his teaching, contemplates suicide, and realizes what he must sacrifice to remember himself and to have the energy to continue. It's not pretty.

In a defining passage, Burton confesses, "During, September, 1967, I met Influence C through my first teacher. I have never been so impressed with anything else."(33) Although Burton makes reference to his first "teacher," there's no need to mention the teacher's name since he was merely the instrument for contacting "Influence C." Burton makes much of his relationship with "Influence C," which he reifies into angels and gods with whom he is in direct contact [see footnote 38]. All of this, he carries forward in a severely distorted form of Ouspensky's diagram of influences (which few people realize was invented by Ouspensky, not given by Gurdjieff, who dismissed it without comment).(34)

The only living "teacher" Burton has had, and this only for a short time, was Alex Horn. And Horn was a faux-Gurdjieffian. Burton, then, has made himself in his own image. Having a strong mind and ego-will, Burton seems to have reduced and misrepresented the teaching as a Norman Vincent Peale mentalism by which all experience is interpreted through the medium of mind and imagination.(35) By not working with and through the body, one intuits that Burton has unwittingly imprisoned himself within what he takes to be 'higher mind,' which is really the psyche, and so put himself at the mercy of its 'gods.'(36)

The teaching is nothing to toy with. As represented by Ouspensky, the teaching may seem simple enough but this is deceiving. Gurdjieff often warned that taking the teaching wrongly or only in part(37) would make one "a candidate for the lunatic asylum."

Having denied the body and controlled the mind, not surprisingly, Burton's sexual center appears to be controlling him. Plagued with a series of lawsuits over the years by former students—young boys and married men—only costly out-of-court settlements kept his name out of the papers. That ended, however, when Burton and Apollo were featured last November in a Los Angeles Times front-page article.(38)

The question now moves from Robert Burton and his level of understanding to a much more serious and significant one. Namely, is his teaching a reinterpretation or a distortion of Gurdjieff's Fourth Way? Or worse, is it a deviation? In his The Reign of Quantity and The Signs of the Times, the esotericist René Guénon speaks of the destruction of a teaching beginning with its distortion, which is a preparation for later deviation. The deviation, in turn, prepares for a "counter-initiation" whose effect will be, wrote Guénon, "the reign of what has been called 'inverted spirituality'...a parody of spirituality, imitating it so to speak in an inverse sense, so as to appear to be its opposite."(39)

We do not presume to know who Burton is. Obviously, he is an unusual and powerful personality with a special gift for promotion and organization. Whoever he is, a careful reading of his book and study of his life makes clear one thing: Burton is not—and never has been—in the Gurdjieff line. Thus, the 'reinterpretation' of the ancient teaching of the Fourth Way by Robert Earl Burton is, at the very least, a decided distortion.

Notes

(1)In 1971 Burton incorporated the Fellowship of Friends, which set up "Gurdjieff-Ouspensky Centers" in major cities around the world. The Fellowship has some two thousand students world-wide, an annual income from tithes and other sources of $48 million, and owns and operates its own large ranch-vineyard and winery in Apollo, California.

(2)SR, p. 1.

(3)When a student later asks, “Do the higher emotional and higher intellectual centers constitute the self?” Burton replies, "Yes." But Gurdjieff and Ouspensky rarely refer to the self. The Guide and Index to All and Everything gives one listing of the word "self," unhyphenated; it appears only three times in Search. Almost always the word is the first part of a compound such as self-remembering, self-observation, self-will, or self-love. It's used to refer generally to the whole of a person, whatever their level of knowledge or being, not just to the two higher centers.

(4)SR, p. 10.

(5)SR, p. 17.

(6)SR, p. 28.

(7)SR, p. 26.

(8)P. D. Ouspensky, In Search of the Miraculous, p. 248. See also p. 163, and the discussion of chief feature.

(9)SR, p. 28.

(10)SR, p. 14.

(11)G. I. Gurdjieff, Third Series, p. 19.

(12)SR, p. 6.

(13)SR, pp. v and 192.

(14)As long as something remains within a form, even at its highest expression, it remains within the world of form. But true experiencing begins in the formless. Otherwise it remains in the subject-object world with a dualism of form and that which experiences the form.

(15)SR, p. ix.

(16)Burton's use of the word "personal" is another indication he hasn't had a teacher. What is transmitted is experienced as impersonal.

(17)SR, p. 181.

(18)For example, Burton has invented a deck of cards metaphor to represent centers and parts of centers by which he "reinterprets" Gurdjieff's teaching. It boils down to a shorthand labeling formula which, like other work-derived personality or body typologies, lends itself well to "solidification" and abusive usage by individuals obsessed with power and control.

Gurdjieff, although he wrote and spoke of types in many different contexts, refrained from codifying them in a system which could be exploited indiscriminately by people at lower levels of being. The only exception to this rule was his toasts to the "Idiots." But by enshrining the types as "idiots," he made sure the typology wouldn't be abused—referring to someone else as an idiot puts them on guard and makes it difficult to convince them of one's noble motives.

(19) Burton's only teacher was Alex Horn who was never in the Gurdjieff Work. An actor with a dramatic flair, Horn learned of the Work through his second wife, who spent a number of months in J.G. Bennett's International Academy of Continuous Education at Sherbourne, England. After a short period with Horn, Burton was expelled from the group.

(20)According to former students, little mention is made of Gurdjieff. Ouspensky and Nicoll are emphasized because their level of development and logical discourse make little esoteric demand on the reader.

(21)SR, p. 164.

(22)SR, p. 165.

(23)G. I. Gurdjieff, First Series, pp. 449–523.

(24)SR, p. 33.

(25)P. D. Ouspensky, Search, p. 162.

(26)SR, p. ix.

(27)"The teaching whose theory is here being set out is completely self-supporting and independent of other lines and it has been completely unknown up to the present time." Search, p. 286.

(28)SR, p. 153.

(29)SR, p. 185.

(30)SR, p. 176.

(31)G. I. Gurdjieff, First Series, p. 361.

(32)SR, p. 76.

(33)SR, p. 151.

(34)P. D. Ouspensky, Search, p. 204.

(35)"But in consequence of the wrong work of centers it often happens that the sex center unites with the negative part of the emotional center or with the negative part of the instinctive center. And then, stimulation of a certain kind of the sex center, or even any stimulation at all of the sex center, calls forth unpleasant feelings and unpleasant sensations. People who experience unpleasant feelings and sensations which have been evoked in them through ideas and imagination connected with sex are inclined to regard them as a great virtue or as something original; in actual fact it is simply disease." P. D. Ouspensky, Search, p. 258.

(36)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."

(37)We see this with the so-called enneagram movement of Helen Palmer who believes the "oral tradition" of the enneagram was passed on to her by Claudio Naranjo, who Oscar Ichazo exiled for grandiosity. Using the enneagram as a personality tool is akin to taking confession from Catholicism and thinking you have something. Though the enneagram first appeared in the West through Gurdjieff, his role has been diminished and both Ichazo and Naranjo are now held, according to their clique, to be the "father of the enneagram." Former Gurdjieffian Kathy Speeth, who left her teacher Lord Pentland for the arms of Naranjo in the 1970s, now disowns the enneagram movement she helped to create. Naranjo, too. But with scores of books and newsletters and the 1994 First International Enneagram Conference at Stanford (complete with T-shirts) having drawn 1500 people, the popularization and debasement of the esoteric symbol continues unabated.

(38)"Trouble Taints a Cerebral Sanctuary" by Jennifer Warren, Los Angeles Times, November 11, 1966. Besides mentioning the financial exploitation of members, the article speaks of the young boys and married men whom Burton seduced under the guise of being an angel, representing Influence C, who wished to have sex with them. (This is a very refined vibration which the body may initially register as sexual energy. But this is only one of its colorings. Any identification or imagination in regard to such an influence immediately aborts the elaboration.) The article also speaks of the bitter irony that Burton under the pressure of lawsuits, and having long denied homosexuals membership in his Fellowship, is now forced to admit his homosexuality.

(39)René Guénon, The Reign of Quantity and The Signs of the Times, p. 321.


"The King of Clubs" posted the following excerpts on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, May 21, 2007 at 6:51 pm:
From Burton’s book “Self-Remembering.”
[The following is posted as a review of the content of the book and comes under fair use provisions.]
“A cataclysmic disaster may be imminent that could be a prelude to hydrogen warfare. If California fell, there would be no major population center near Renaissance and so the coast would be clear.” (page 53)
“Almost all of Christ’s disciples died an unnatural death. We must talk of these things to prepare us for what is to come. Enduring suffering, one takes up one’s own cross. We are chosen to play these roles.” (page 87)
“They [C Influence] have given us some prophecies that are facts for them but, until they turn into facts for us, they must be called prophecies.” (page 142)
“Influence C ushers us to Heaven’s gate.” (page 151)
“We have been chosen by Influence C to awaken, while almost all others have an indifferent fate. That is, they are left alone to a great extent by higher forces. Influence C wants something for us: an astral body. And they want something from us: an ark to survive hydrogen warfare.” (page 155)
“Hydrogen warfare seems inevitable, and one no longer has to be a prophet to predict it. Incredible events may happen in our lives, and I will be very surprised if anything but us survives.” (page 156)
“We are truly involved in tremendous events, such as hydrogen warfare, and yet these events favor us because they have evoked a school on earth from higher forces.” (page 161)
“I still have considerable difficulty transforming negative emotions, primarily due to the violence of the suffering I must absorb to lift a school and humanity out of the chaos of impending hydrogen warfare.” (page 176)
“Our school will produce seven conscious beings. Apollo will not reach its peak for centuries or millennia. Our school is one of the greatest schools in recorded history, and that is why suffering is so abundant.” (page 185)


[ed. - Some reviews of Self-Remembering from Amazon.com. It should be noted, Peter Ingle was, at the time a Fellowship member, and has written on similar topics. "Ivan Osokin" is likely long-time Fellowship antagonist G. Goodwin.]
1 of 22 people found the following review helpful:

A teacher conveying his understanding to students, June 11, 2000
Reviewer: Peter Ingle from California
Being intimately familiar with the writings of Mr. Gurdjieff and Mr. Ouspensky, I can say that Robert Burton's teaching is a direct extension of everything those two men practiced and taught. Also, as a 25-year student of Robert Burton's, I know that nothing is easier to misunderstand than a teacher and a school. Mr. Burton's book, Self-Remembering, is a pure encapsulation of how he teaches and how he himself works, and the fact that self-remembering is the hub of practicing the Fourth Way. But, more importantly, this book offers readers an emotional--not just an intellectual--handle for determining whether they see something unique in the idea of self-remembering, and in the idea that an individual cannot work or evolve alone; that a school is necessary for establishing a correct foundation of knowledge, methods, and guidance. Readers may also want to keep in mind that this book was not written originally for publication, but for Mr. Burton's students. It was not intended to persuade anyone of anything, but rather to convey the understanding of a conscious teacher to his students, largely as a reminder to them of how to re-connect emotionally to their own need to make efforts to actually awaken.

All Customer Reviews
Teaching Through the Backdoor, February 14, 2002
Reviewer: Ivan Osokin from Moscow, Russia
After carefully reading Burton's book and searching the internet for further information it seems more than clear that Burton's teaching enters the student through the backdoor. No doubt many have experienced the painful entry. Once the student is nailed I'm sure casual walking becomes difficult. This is not the kind of teaching followers can take standing up, it appears necessary to bend over to receive the full thrust of this kind of blunt message. The news in the esoteric world is that Burton has slammed the meat of his teaching into hundreds of surprised "gentlemen".
This book has nothing to do with self remembering, November 26, 2001
Reviewer: A reader from Maryland, United States
Burton is confused. He thinks he is conscious. He operates a cult that labels itself a "Fourth Way" school. This group has nothing to do with Gurdjieff or Ouspenski's work other than being an excellent example of how one can misinterpret the work through lunatic. Burton and all of the Fellowship of Friends / Apollo followers are strictly A type influence. There is no support of Burton or this group by C influence.

Friday, July 24, 1998

A Night at the Opera

[ed. - This is an Internet Archive capture of the Fellowship's webpage.]

The Fellowship of Friends
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Appeal-Democrat July 1998
Stephen Simmonds has a lot on his mind.
He’s got less than three days before the team of actors, musicians and stagehands under his direction take the stage. Entrances, lights, costumes, the small army on stage and behind the scenes - all have his attention. They’ve got to be sharp, they’ve got to be on.
The dress rehearsal, the company’s first in costume, will be the first true glimpse Simmonds and the other members of the company will have into what the public will see later on.
Apollo Opera took the stage in the first of two preview performances last Saturday evening in its production of Mozart’s “The Marriage of Figaro” at Renaissance Vineyard. The company will also perform Saturday and Sunday at the Fred Forsman Amphitheater at the Nevada County Fairgrounds in Grass Valley.
“Now it’s crunch time,” Simmonds said while preparing for last weekend’s opening. “It’s a bit like organizing an army, but tonight I feel like a corporal.”
His laugh shows that he’s been there, done that. A stage veteran of nearly 25 years, including stints with the Royal Shakespeare Company and the Royal National Theatre, not much seems to faze him.
He’s not alone. Michael Goodwin, the company’s musical director, has conducted every Apollo Opera production since its first, 14 years ago. Artistic director Zoila Munoz has performed in Europe’s major opera houses and is renowned both there and in America.
“For four weeks, it’s extremely hectic, difficult, but very exciting,” Munoz said before the rehearsal. “If one doesn’t lose one’s head, then it’s all right.”
Other members of the company also have performed professionally or are formally trained. It’s a multitalented, multilingual group with a reputation that has continued to grow in recent years with its productions of “Carmen,” “Don Giovanni” and last year’s “Madame Butterfly.” Even in rehearsal, the chemistry of the married couple, soprano Camilla Pistilli and baritone Stefano Capaccioli, as the soon-to-be-wed Susanna and Figaro, is evident.
On this night, the rehearsal focuses on the little things, polishing cues, sound effects, costume and set changes before they have a chance to grow into problems in performance.
“Often you find things are running fine, then... it all falls apart, then it comes together again,” Simmonds said. “But we have to get it together and, when that happens, it all clicks.”
From behind his piano and a score the size of the San Francisco Yellow Pages, musical director Michael Goodwin waves off the chorus’ entrance into the scene. Something’s wrong. A couple of singers are dragging behind the tempo. The line must be perfect, or it jeopardizes the entire scene. Then he says what becomes a recurring theme through the rehearsal: “We can’t stop tomorrow night.”
The cast quickly regroups and runs through the scene without a hitch.
Later, when guest soloist Hope Briggs enters as Countess Almaviva, her talents are immediately obvious, her regal presence on the open-air stage.
Just nine years out of university - she didn’t even sing opera until she became a student at California State University, Fullerton - Briggs was a Metropolitan Opera National Council finalist last year and already has become someone to watch, performing with the Houston Grand, San Francisco, Dallas and Los Angeles operas.
“Who’d have thought all this was here?” said guest soloist and baritone Andrew Eisenmann backstage. He will perform the role of Count Almaviva. “They’ve got their arts down,” he said of Apollo. “It’s great to sing to an audience that knows.”
The performance is also a watershed for the company based in the foothill community or Oregon House.
Apollo Opera will not only use the popular Mozart classic to debut its artists-in-residence, Pistilli and Capaccioli, but also to illuminate the strengths of the balance of the cast.
It couldn’t have chosen a better opera to spotlight its talents, Simmonds said.
It’s accessible. It’s fun. It’s funny. This opera has played somewhere every month for the last 200 years,” he said, letting the sentence hang in the air for emphasis. “It’s fun. People like it.”
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Appeal-Democrat, July 24, 1998
Appeal-Democrat Entertainment Guide, July 24, 1998
Front page Linda Kaplan puts the finishing touches on her makeup
Linda Kaplan puts the finishing touches on her makeup before going on stage as Marcellina during a dress rehearsal for Apollo Opera’s production of “The Marriage of Figaro.”
Photos by Craig Kohlruss

Wednesday, April 29, 1998

"Italian Government Report on Cults in Italy - a preliminary investigation"

[ed. - The following comes from the Cult Education Institute site. It is an extract from the larger government report:]
The Fellowship of Friends

The Fellowship of Friends (FOF) has been officially acknowledged by local and federal government as a religious and non-profit organization since 1971 (in the USA, the only requirement that must be satisfied to have this status is to organize regular meetings and have a religious statute).

The founder and leader is Robert Burton, [58] years old, a former primary schools teacher, and a former attendee of the Quaker Church in Berkeley (this experience may have inspired Burton the name of the cult).

In 1968, Burton was fascinated by the books of George Gurdjieff and Peter Ouspensky, two esoteric types and founders of a religious-philosophic teaching - that include various influences from Christian mysticism, Sufism, Hinduism, Buddhism, Taoism. The ultimate aim [of this philosophic teaching] is to reach the "Fourth Way" - that is the "liberation and full consciousness of the being".

In 1970 Burton convinced some friends of Contra Costa county he was a the "fifth man", referred to by Ouspensky defined as "a conscious being with a higher knowledge and emotions [than] the majority of people".

In 1971 the group bought some estates in the Yuba county, near the small community of Oregon House, and in 1973, following the esoteric idea - that observance of specific traditions helps one reach spiritual enlightenment. The group turned the soil, planted vines and started an agricultural concern - called "Renaissance". The Products of this enterprise won international prizes and supposedly were tasted by the Prince of Wales, former president George Bush and other international figures.

The community grew more and more and became known as "Apollo" - now 600 of the 2,000 members of FOF live there. They contribute directly to the organization working in many activities - from administration to the cultivation. These people receive a salary of about [$500 dollars per month] (meals are provided by the association) - but Burton himself reportedly receives an annual salary of $250,000.00 plus additional benefits.

Other followers of the FOF operate about 40 "centers" - usually, rented houses occupied by a half dozen or so members. These centers are scattered in cities within the United States, Europe and South America.

To recruit new members FOF devotees often have inserted a bookmark within specific volumes at bookstores regarding metaphysics - around the world. On the bookmarks there are, along with pictures of Gurdjieff and Ouspensky, the phone numbers of the nearest centers operated by the FOF.

People who respond to these bookmarks are then invited to attend group meetings - where the leaders of the center present some of Gurdjieff and Ouspensky's theories. Also - they may receive some information about the seven fundamental "Body Types" that seem to help broad psychological research within the human soul.

Subsequently, if the new comer is considered "suitable", he may become part of the organization. Due to this original technique of recruitment - it seems that the foreign membership has continuously grown. Today membership outside the United States may now form the majority of FOF.

All the members must give to the organization 10% of their income every month. Also special donations are often required to buy sculptures, paintings, and other art works, considered useful tools to enrich the soul and stimulate "self-remembering".

The group's leader Robert Burton spends much of his time on trips, in order to teach at the various centers scattered around the world and to look for new artworks to collect. As a consequence, the Association owns many fine porcelains, European Renaissance paintings, and Chinese furniture.

Burton's preaching (he is called "the Teacher") is almost nonsense.

He supposedly maintains contact with the "C influence" formed by 44 angels. Among these are Jesus, Plato, Goethe, Benjamin Franklin and Abraham Lincoln.

Moreover, Burton predicted that a earthquake would destroy California in 1998, and that in 2006 there will be a world nuclear holocaust. Only Apollo Community and FOF members will survive these disasters.

Daily life within the sect is regulated by very rigid rules: it is forbidden to swim, joke, smoke and all the given teachings must be kept. All those outside the association are considered "enemies", especially the police, doctors, priests and institutions in general. That is--whatever is seen as an obstacle to spiritual enlightenment must be removed.

Until 1993 homosexuality too was banned, though Burton himself is a homosexual and has often had sexual encounters with his followers. Some ex-members have accused Burton of exploiting his charisma and power within the FOF to satisfy himself. This was the basis for some judicial proceedings that caused many members to leave the group (i.e. Burton was sued in United States for abuse of trust, sexual abuse of minors, and psychological suffering intentionally caused).

There are FOF Centers in Florence, Rome, Venice, and Palermo. The total number of Italian members seems to be about 50.

[End of FOF section within report]

Tuesday, April 14, 1998

Judge's Order to Dismiss Lawsuit filed by Fellowship of Friends

[ed. - It's quite a distraction to be pursuing a lawsuit when your "church" should be totally focused on preparing for the Fall of California, which Burton had predicted would occur April 12, 1998. This diversion of conscious attention no doubt led to the dismissal of the Fellowship's lawsuit against the Los Angeles Times, Jennifer Warren, Margaret Singer, Janja Lalich, and John Does 1 through 500. From Cult Education Institute here and here. The lawsuit was brought after the Times published "Trouble at a Cerebral Sanctuary". ]






Sunday, April 12, 1998

Robert Burton feels humiliated when California fails to fall, and millions do not perish

[ed. - I took the liberty of inserting this recollection at the "Fall of California's" appointed hour. The following comes from Cult Education Institute:]
Apparently influenced by Warren [sic - Walter] Miller's best-selling book of the time, Canticle for Liebowitz [sic], depicting a ravaged world after the world catastrophe, Burton made a number of prophecies, one of which was that California would fall into the sea on April 12, 1998 at 11 A.M. Those with him, being the elect of Christianity, would not perish. Like Liebowitz in the book, eight years after starting his school and now known as "The Teacher," Burton stopped teaching to travel the globe to amass - he would no doubt say "salvage" - a large collection of art work as a kind of cultural ark in the coming Armageddon. (A recent auction of Burton's collection of rare antique Chinese furniture at Christie's in New York City brought in $11.2 million.). When the day passed for California to fall into the sea, Burton explained it with, "The Higher Powers (he claims to speak to 44 discarnate beings) have humiliated me."

"No person" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, June 8, 2007 at 8:24 p.m.:
On the day of the earthquake in 1998 a large portion of our center in Moscow went to a cafe where the TV news were on, and sat there staring at the TV for many long hours, waiting to hear the news about the earthquake. I don’t remember if it was official “task” or if it was center directors initiative to do this. Earthquake didn’t happen, and we went home in awkward silence. We felt very confused.

I wouldn’t say that most people didn’t believe in predictions. To my observation most of us had mixed feelings – kind of not believing and also thinking: What if he’s right? Some truly believed, and some people I personally know did get hurt by it financially very badly… Robert said that he is “saving student’s lives” when he very strictly demanded that all students from Bay area take few weeks off their jobs and move to Isis, which for many resulted in loss of their jobs. It was for real, not metaphorical. I never heard Robert ever apologize for causing so much suffering and difficulty to his students and I was actually hoping that he would. He blamed it on c-influence, and didn’t take any responsibility at all.

Also, he hasn’t given up on this predictions stuff. Just in case you don’t remember, there were many, many “quake alerts” after 1998 in years to follow, when similar suggestions were made – not to fly to Bay area, get out of there during certain dates etc. Ask guys who lived in Galleria for a while how many times since 1998 they were preparing for the predicted quake, taking pictures off the walls, wrapping fragile stuff to avoid breakage… This was not symbolic – this was very literal! Ask them – they may share some stories with you.

Last time I personally heard of another California earthquake warning was as recent as December 2006, I think the dates were 26 or 27 but I don’t recall exactly. It was delivered to me by a devoted “inner circle” student, and he said this news were intended for inner circle only… (Thanks for including me, by the way!)
So as you can see, RB’s obsession with prophecies is still going on. May be it’s incurable. I have a feeling he is fascinated with disasters and death, somehow he tends to predict only “bad” stuff… How about some positive prediction, some good news for a change?

"Flying Free" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, on April 27, 2007 at 8:41 p.m.:
To #349 Somebody [post number and blogger]
You may not have been around for the earlier years (late 80′s and 90′s), but Roger Cavanna dropped out of sight of the FoF (while remaining a member), and stayed in the Bay area. During the 1998 prediction, he refused and had nothing to do with the directive ‘leave your home and business and move up to the foothills, so you don’t drown”. For most of us he was an ‘old time‘ student who had a carpet company in the Bay area. Never seen. I was really surprised to see him show up one day at Apollo, and then more of him, until he and Pamela ended up building a house at OH. During that time he became very ill and as you know died shortly after completing his dream house.
I have always been curious as to ‘why’ he returned, got active, and then Pamela rejoined. She seemed such an intelligent lady, and very independent. And he was no slouch either.
I guess one could not know what went on behind the scenes unless you were to sit down with Pamela and have a chat.

"KathrynF" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, April 26, 2007 at 11:42 p.m.:
FOF Member for 32 years
1971-2003
Having been disillusioned by the mass of lies, criminal behavior, lust, greed, and so on, hidden deep in the FOF underbelly, which remains well-veiled from — well-buffered by — members, looking back we may forget why we joined, and why we stayed. Talking to Ramona recently, we agreed what an exquisite pleasure it was to be an “ordinary” member – the long, deep talks with friends; hugs and smiles; expansive intellectual discussions; emotional and physical beauty; incredible concerts; dances; dinners, wine, poetry; deep and poignant insights; lofty studies; adventures. How many times were we transported to other dimensions? Many…many…

But at some point, you can no longer condone, support, or buffer RB’s abusive lifestyle.

My husband and I got kicked out briefly in 1998 because we didn’t quit our jobs, sell our house, and move to the property during the “fall of California”. Relieved at being released, it also shoved me deeply into rumination on my many years as a member, and for six hours I hovered in a “long, slow, near-death experience” — retrospection of 27 years of membership at that point. Each person I had encountered in the FOF surfaced one by one, and the essence of our relationship permeated my understanding. Thousands of people known and loved, struggled with, appreciated! Toward the end of the cycle I realized, “What a fabulous place to have spent my life.” Unfortunately, we were given a dispensation, despite our lack of trust, and were reinstated as FOF members. Arrrggghhh. I would have to actually leave of my own volition, and that took another five years.

Ames Gilbert wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, August 10, 2008:
Daily Cardiac (#294 or thereabouts) [blogger and post number],

You’ve just answered the question about how seriously Burton took his own predictions, despite your attempt to excuse Burton by claiming he qualified them (he never did so in my presence, and he must have talked about the various predictions at least fifty times in my hearing over many years). The answer was that he took them very seriously, because he told people to move to Apollo, buy food for the 1984 depression, and so on. As for your example, I’d say that there were 100 people who bet that California would fall. They took out loans predicated on the assumption that they would not have to repay them. Hence the many stunning McMansions in the most dubious taste. Many people took out lines of credit, as did Burton and the Fellowship of Friends, presuming that these debts would not have to be repaid. Some people even bet on a stock market crash. And, what is your explanation for the fleet of brand-new quarter-million dollar RVs, tractors and so on parked at the south end of the property a couple of weeks before the Big One was predicted? And that was just what I could see with my own eyes, since I lived right there and passed them every day. I also noticed that they disappeared soon after the abject failure of the prophecy. Anyone else smell greed and fraud here?

I had some things to say about Burton’s prophecies before, especially as to their purpose—to engender fear or infatuation in the followers. I won’t bore everyone by repeating them here, but in case you missed them, one was to was to Hava Nagillah (# 11-2) and another was to Golb (# 11-114) [bloggers, page and post numbers].

"Walter Tanner" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, June 7, 2007:
Fellow Travelers,

If it is true that Fellowship officials are trying to re-cast Robert’s failed prophecies as somehow metaphorical, then they are truly the hypocritical cronies some make them out to be.

I was living at Apollo Spring-Summer 1998 when California was to fall into the Sea. Most students who could stored up food, installed water tanks, bought generators…the guy I lived with even got a hydraulic jack in case his house (on a hill) collapsed! I personally knew one individual who nearly bankrupted his family with his “preparations.” Luckily his wife had a good job.

Students in Sacramento, San Francisco and Los Angeles got “out of town” for a particular two-week period–I don’t recall the exact dates–that Robert said were the most likely times. At the company where I worked (in Oregon House), sales trips were also cancelled at this time.

It was a level of madness, but hey, there are earthquakes in California and it never hurts to have some food stored away. So I contributed to the house food fund, but the only other “preparation” I made was to buy a nice combo mountain-touring bike.

When it didn’t happen Robert was just confused as to why C influence would trick him in this manner. The most sophisticated Fellowship theologians (I consider myself in the category) said it was obviously some divinely given “suffering” for Robert’s higher centers to transform.

So no more talk that anything was taken metaphorical. Maybe privately by certain folks, but everyone’s public face was making “preparations.”

Friday, February 6, 1998

Fellowship of Friends Inc. v. Chen

Complaint For Breach Of Promissory Note
Defendants: Johnnie Chen, Felisha Tan, Felisha Ke-jun Tan, Hsiang-hsuan Tan, Ko-lin Tan, Tenth Union International Inc.
The Fellowship of Friends was represented by Cook Perkiss & Lew.
[ed. - Tenth Union International Inc. was publisher of Masterpieces from the Museum of Classical Chinese Furniture. It appears the company was established solely for this purpose.]

Wednesday, February 4, 1998

"C Influence cut her down just like that"

"unoanimo" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, August 1, 2007:
Adriana Diaz.
Born: October 4, 1959.
Place: Buenos Aires, Argentina.
Died: February 4, 1998.
Place: Oregon House, California.
Age: 38.

"Critical Mass" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, August 1, 2007:

When Adriana D died suddenly at the Mad Hatter [special event?], Robert commented that she had been dancing to jazz, “which we have been told not to do, so C Influence cut her down just like that.”

"Veronicapoe" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, August 2, 2007:

215/Critical Mass [above]

This is exactly like the claim that Raymond Kennedy’s death in 1980 was caused by his disobeying the swimming exercise. Deliberate fear induction to increase obedience.

Friday, January 9, 1998

Advice for those preparing for The Fall of California

"Stella Wirk" wrote on alt.consciousness.4th-way, January 9, 1998:
You are right about *most* FOF members not reading this newsgroup (and right about them having "no world outside of FOF"). Most of 'em can't afford anything else.

There are *some* who do read it, just to see what is said about FOF, maybe to just keep up with the gossip and other complaints that come along.

The thought occurred to me to post the link below for current FOF members who are being asked to move east (out of California) in preparation for California to fall into the ocean - let me see, Burton has given his prophesy that California is going to fall into the Pacific Ocean in 1998 on April 12th at 11 am.

(Give or take a few minutes, no doubt. <G>)

In any case, the woman who predicted accurately the big blow up of Mt. St. Helens in Washington State, Charlotte King, has a web site which may be of interest particularly to FOF members, especially if they are choosing NOT to move from California:

http://www.viser.net/~charking/  At this site one may subscribe to volcanic and earthquake "alerts" from her page.

I hasten to add that I am not making fun of Ms. King, as after reading "Charlotte's Story" on her page, methinks she is quite sincere, and is indeed tuning in somehow to cataclysmic events. (Scientists 'testing' her abilities found that she is 75-80% accurate, and with Mt. St. Helens, she was right on the button (100%).

Thursday, January 1, 1998

Selfish spritualism

"Bares Reposting" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, May 5, 2009:
“having one’s own spiritual advancement as the focus of one’s life is totally self-absorbed, and hence self-centered at a more hidden level.”
I remember, back in about [or] just before 1998, there were these crisis meetings at the Fellowship of Friends headquarters in Oregon House, California, because there was a resource shortage and a Ming furniture collection that was not selling, worth tens of millions of dollars, supposedly. Ming rich, cash poor. (Ming ming ming ming ming ming ming ming ming!) Lincoln Lodge/Apollo d’Oro was closed. (How were people going to eat?) And other problems, like lawsuit(s) settled out-of-court for millions of dollars. Apollo Operations Group (AOG) meetings trying to find ways to combat the Olivehurst Gospel Assembly (OGA. Read more here: http://www.culteducation.com/group/927-fellowship-of-friends.html) actions – was one way to look at it. California’s fall was imminent. There were these meetings to get prepared, where people talked about how we would pull through helping each other and being generous, etc. (More of the usual ‘supercelestial thoughts; subterranean actions.’ In all honesty, there were some well meaning and acting folks.) We were not a selfish bunch of people that, when really bad times came, it would not be a ‘me-first’ (a play on the mi-fa) interval. So, one truth speaking quiet person got a chance to chime in, as suggestions from all and anyone were sought. Seldom did that person say anything. They said something like: Pretty much everyone in the Fellowship of Friends came there with the primary purpose of getting consciousness for themselves. (Little did they know what that meant!) At least that was the way it was for the speaker (honestly), and in many many years, the way for almost everyone that they had met there. These people did not come to give consciousness from themselves (as if they could) to others. In other words, first line of work [personal work] was paramount, and second and third lines [work for others, and for the "school"] were subject to falling by the WAYside, so to speak. Prime directive: selfish purpose ‘at a more hidden level.’