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.")

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. Read more about the blog.

Presented in a reverse chronology, the Fellowship's history may be navigated via the "Blog Archive" located in the sidebar below.

Saturday, July 10, 2004

First issue of The Fellowship Newsletter on the internet

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

Presence • Awakening • Consciousness • Self-knowledge • Evolution
Vol 1, No 1 · JUNE 2004
Being Present

A publication of the Fellowship of Friends

Welcome to the first issue of this newsletter
This issue marks the beginning of our efforts to make major Fourth Way principles accessible worldwide via the internet. We appreciate so many subscribers being patient as we put the newsletter together and we look forward to getting your feedback as we go forward. Please let us hear from you.

Self-remembering "Self-remembering is by far the most important concept ever released on the earth. To be or not to be present, that is the question." Robert Burton
The central principle behind the Fourth Way is that no one is automatically aware of himself, no one is conscious of himself, no one ‘remembers’ himself. The seemingly simple fact of being aware of one’s own existence goes unnoticed. Even when a person is told about it and sincerely tries to be more conscious, they soon forget to remember to do it, to be aware of their own existence. Their consciousness unknowingly falls asleep again and everything goes on as before—in a state of dim awareness and uncontrolled attention.
Of course, everyone is aware of their existence to some degree, but it is small compared to what is possible through conscious effort. For the most part, everyone takes their existence, and awareness of their existence, for granted. No one remembers about his existence on purpose. Quite the contrary: everyone is always forgetting himself and losing himself in the task at hand, the people he is with, the troubles he is having, the plans he is making, and so on.
To remember yourself means to intentionally divide your attention and be aware of yourself in your surroundings. Through the divided attention of self-remembering you become aware of whatever you are observing in the moment while remaining aware of yourself as the observer. For instance, right now it is possible to be aware of these words on the page while also being aware of yourself reading them. It sounds simple, yet this double awareness, this divided attention, never happens by itself. It requires conscious effort every moment. Without effort, awareness always slips back into ordinary, one-way attention.
Divided attention is the chief characteristic of a higher state of consciousness—called the third state—and the effort to divide attention through self-remembering is a way of inducing the third state. This attempt to reach the third state is the main method taught in a Fourth Way school. Everything else about the school revolves around the discipline of learning to remember oneself—to be consciously present to each moment of each activity during the day.
How to practice self-remembering
Here’s a way to practice and verify the divided attention of self-remembering: As you walk down the hall or along the street, as you talk to people, as you eat, as you get dressed, and as you go about your daily work, try to see what is right in front of you. Try to notice the details. At the same time, try to be aware of yourself making this effort. In other words, be aware of the fact that you are trying to divide your attention. Then notice how the presence of divided attention imperceptibly slips away as you lapse into mental associations, daydreaming, retrospection, and planning—into what the Fourth Way calls imagination. When you suddenly ‘come back’ to the clarity of divided attention, you will see that self-remembering is the key to being more awake. Self-remembering is subtle and simple, yet hard to sustain because it always requires a conscious effort. As Johann Goethe, the German author, said, “That is most difficult which seems easiest: to be present to what is before one."

Topic for next issue
Imagination as the chief barrier to being present.

Upcoming events
Future issues will include announcements for upcoming events worldwide.

Links of interest on our web site
• See video clips of Robert Burton teaching
• Read Foundations of Real Work by Girard Haven
• Review suggested reading about the Fourth Way

Introductory lectures — monthly
We offer a series of free introductory lectures on a regular basis in cities around the world. To register for the series, call our USA information line (1-800-642-0212) or find a center nearest you.
1—The Foundation of the Fourth Way
• Self-knowledge · Levels of consciousness
• Man as a machine · Consciousness, will, and unity
• Obstacles to awakening · Three lines of work

2—The Theory of Centers (requires lecture 1)
• The 4 lower centers
• The sex center
• Higher centers
• The soul, the spirit

3—Practical Ways to Seize and Prolong Presence
(requires lecture 1 and 2)
• How to introduce and sustain self-remembering

Membership information
The Fellowship of Friends is a Fourth Way school with centers worldwide. Membership is on a monthly basis. For details: find a center nearest you, or email, or call

Thoughts on self-remembering 

Not one of you has noticed the most important thing that I have pointed out to you, that is to say, not one of you has noticed that you do not remember yourselves… Remember yourselves always and everywhere. George Gurdjieff 

Self-remembering is the beginning and the center of the system and the most important thing to understand. You cannot describe it as an intellectual action or intellectual idea. You have to begin studying what self-remembering means intellectually, but in actual fact it is not intellectual because it is a moment of will. Peter Ouspensky

Self-remembering, or the practice of divided attention—though the first glimpse of it may seem extraordinarily simple, easy and obvious—in reality requires a complete reconstruction of ones’ whole life and point of view, both towards oneself and other people… The practice of self-remembering is connected with the attempt to produce a certain phenomenon, the birth of consciousness in oneself. Rodney Collin

Self-remembering is its own reward. It is an unheralded, unsensational, immortal process. Each time you remember yourself, you have produced a flash of eternity that will not perish. We are foolish when we value the tangible above the intangible. Self-remembering must incessantly recommence throughout your life. What does the term self-remembering mean? It means that your dormant self is remembering to be awake.
Robert Burton

The present is the only reality of which a man can truly be deprived. Marcus Aurelius

It is enough to pay attention to what is before one’s eyes, that is, to the present. Dante Alighieri

As you eat, walk, or travel be there where you are, otherwise you will miss most of your life. Buddha

Man’s head and feet are rarely in the same place at the same time. Elizabeth I
Man lacks an understanding of how to know the present. Blaise Pascal
Recognize what is before you and what is hidden will be revealed. Gospel of Thomas
Blessed is the life in which there is no past, no future, in which everything belongs to the present.
Francesco Petrarca

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