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.

Friday, April 23, 1999

"Fellowship of Friends" website

[ed. - This is an April 23, 1999 Internet Archive capture of the current Fellowship of Friends website. (It had been on hiatus, and the domain used by Chancellor and Chancellor.]

the fellowship of friends, a fourth way school with students in over 30 countries, focuses on the practical application of the gurdjieff - ouspensky principles

Worldwide centres
Press archive
Further reading
the fellowship of friends, a fourth way school with students in over 30 countries, focuses on the practical application of the gurdjieff - ouspensky principles


© Copyright Fellowship of Friends 1999
All rights reserved.

“Our fundamental idea shall be that man as we know him is not a completed being; that nature develops him only up to a certain point and then leaves him to develop further by his own efforts and devices, or to live and die such as he was born, or to degenerate and lose capacity for development.”
- P.D. Ouspensky

[ed. - From the above site:]

The Fellowship of Friends is committed to the spiritual evolution of its members, accomplished through a psychological system that has existed, in one form or another, for thousands of years. The center of the Fellowship is at Apollo, California; much of our work involves the social and cultural efforts needed for this community.

The Fellowship has about two thousand members. Roughly a third live near the 1,250-acre property at Apollo, in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada. The Fellowship owns Renaissance Vineyard & Winery at Apollo which produces world-renowned wines on its 365-acre terraced mountain vineyard. The remaining two-thirds of Fellowship members live in centers around the world - from Taipei to Venice, from Moscow to Buenos Aires.

The Fellowship follows the Fourth Way tradition of spiritual development established in the 20th century by George Gurdjieff and P.D. Ouspensky. Central to this tradition is self-remembering, an active form of meditation in which students attempt to become more aware of themselves and their surroundings in each moment of their daily lives. The Fourth Way system includes an esoteric interpretation of religion associated with the teachings of the Old and New Testaments, traceable also in Greek philosophy, and probably originating in ancient Egypt and Asia. The Fourth Way is more than a philosophy or theory, however, it comprises a system of ideas that, when fully embraced, is a way of life. Ouspensky wrote that man, as he is, “is not a completed being; that nature takes him only up to a certain point and then leaves him, to develop further, by his own efforts and devices, or to live and die such as he was born...” According to the Fourth Way, individuality, consciousness, conscience, free will, and an immortal soul are attributes that a man mistakenly believes he already possesses, but must instead be acquired by special work within a group of people who share the same aim.

Real change in a man or woman can only occur under pressure - analogous to the process by which simple carbon becomes a diamond. When the demands made upon a man increase and when he can meet those demands with the disciplined psychological tools of the Fourth Way, it becomes possible for him to induce his own evolution. Apollo is a community designed to aid this process by creating such pressure. Whether in the contrast of the rough terrain, red soil and ponderosa pines that are a backdrop for our formal rose gardens, or the paradoxes inherent when members labor all day in the vineyard and then enjoy a formal dinner in evening dress, we are forced to embrace contradictions in our lives and within ourselves. The work of building Apollo, as well as our work to become more aware and unified, forces us to confront our attitudes and expectations, and hence enlarge our understanding and quicken the work of conscience. Unlike traditional religions that require belief in fixed dogmas, the Fellowship emphasizes the need for our own verification of the ideas.

Clearly, then, the Fellowship way of life is more than theory, philosophy or religion - it incorporates all of those into a practical approach to realizing the highest possibilities in man. Most would agree that it is not an easy path to tread, but Fellowship members - some of whom have been in the organization for more than 25 years - continue to find it immeasurably rewarding and life-giving.

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