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.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

On verification and trusting yourself

"Former Long-Time Student" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, December 19, 2006:
Anonymous’ post is a most thoughtless and unnecessary twisting of ‘X’s thoughts and is an excellent example of what Gurdjieff called “formatory thinking”. The fact that ‘X’ is aware of the commonplace that “group think” tends to destabilise one’s own individual perceptions to the point even of delusion (and that this is happening in the Fellowship of Friends) does not automatically mean that his own perception of this well-known fact must be deluded. Having spent years in the Fellowship, I cannot but agree with him.

There is a psychological process that one undergoes in order to adapt to the culture of the Fellowship. One can be either more or less aware of it (the more aware of it one is, the less comfortable one will be, and the more need there will be to suppress it). The human tendency in group situations is towards conformity of thought and behaviour, as in any long-term group dynamic, religious or secular. It is often necessary to buffer the ‘cognitive dissonance’ that arises when one’s own values are different from or even antithetical to those of the group if one wishes to stay or is frightened into believing that one will be thrown out with no where else to go.

This is certainly the case for many in the Fellowship at one time or another. The problem for students is that they are taught categorically, and reinforced socially, that any doubts, criticisms or problems they have with the Teacher or the School are unsound. These perceptions are not only unsound, they are positively diabolical, and said to emanate from that part of the “machine” [the "Lower Self", or "King of Clubs"] which is the enemy to awakening and which seeks to sabotage one’s work. Some students are finally able to regain trust in their own capacity to see the truth (this often takes years of painful soul-searching), and see that what they were believing in or have outgrown is now clearly seen as one’s participation in one’s own self-deception, not to mention that in doing so, one has succumbed to a less than wholesome teaching.

But until students see this they will also be like the person who is at the stage of full indoctrination: they can only have one response to themselves and to others: if one doubts or perceives that something is “evil,” it is their enemy, their “king of clubs” speaking, and that, as yet unawakened beings, they are incapable of determining truth, as such “negative” perceptions are indicative of a lower dualistic level of consciousness (interesting how even people who discover non-dualistic Advaita or Buddhism still recognise when people are behaving badly and how this is directly connected with real spiritual level). In any case, trying to talk to a person fully in the grip of this fundamentalism is like talking to the person who has heard of the psychological term “denial” and uses that concept in order to nullify everyone who disagrees. E.g., “You want to leave because you’ve fallen prey to your own limited ego, but that’s where you’re deluded.” Response: “No, I’m saying that I have seen that I’ve been deluded and now I’ve woken up.” “No, you are in denial. You’re not qualified to say what’s delusional and what isn’t, since you’re not awake.”

That, my friends, is a subtle trap. You must trust yourselves. What you have made into your enemy (your own conscience and your own common sense) is your best and finest friend. This common sense is your integrity, that unity that you have been seeking and which needs to grow. In the pursuit of higher consciousness and mystical states, one must not lose sight of one’s full humanity.

The problem with closed-systems of thought is just that: they are closed. In the Fellowship, as in most, if not all fundamentalist cults or sects, there is never any good reason to leave. This is an assumption underlying the intolerant and ignorant attitude held by some (not all) students, an attitude taught and cultivated by RB. It follows that if there can be no good reason to leave, there can only be bad reasons. The worldview is conceived in black & white. Especially for Fourth Way students, this extreme dualism should be a flag of the chief characteristic of formatory thinking: “either/or”. ‘X’ has clearly ‘verified’ for himself that one is in danger of losing one’s common sense, one’s ability even to perceive truth if one becomes too psychologically, socially, and materially entangled in the Fellowship.

Many students have found that they have had to make significant adjustments to their ideas of good and evil, to the serious detriment of truth and wisdom and the peace of their own consciences. Students will have to reconcile what they see as cruel, arbitrary and aberrant behaviours with grand, artistic, mystical, and psychologically perceptive words. It would be good for them at some point to understand that there is and must be a harmonious connection between mystical ‘states’ and ethical actions. This is what people understand in their heart of hearts when they seek a spiritual teacher; otherwise they will be accepting second best; this pure perception of goodness is what they stand in danger of losing if they put their moral compass in the hands of one who cannot exemplify real ‘higher love’, a higher love which is not disembodied, for that is far too easy, but thoroughly embodied in consistent acts of kindness and humility.

"Traveler" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, March 5, 2007:
Bedouin (117) : Well said.

Somebody (137) Says: ‘Dear Traveler, I am thankful for this description of a “dogma”. I want to hear some more on this subject. What’s wrong with it? Many Christians still believe in Jesus Christ and Paradise-Hell. How do we know? What if it IS true?’

Dear Somebody, I hope you are kidding. But to give you the benefit of the doubt, I will assume this was a serious and sincere question and you really want an answer.
I didn’t actually define dogma in my previous post, so let’s do it now: dogma: a doctrine or code of beliefs accepted as authoritative and true without proof.
As human beings, we have been given the gift of reasoning and critical thinking. For some strange reason in this modern day we feel that employing thinking and reasoning is just not spiritual (this can be a dogma in itself!). This is because we seem to believe that reason and spirit are in fundamental conflict and can’t exist alongside one another, so we make the illogical conclusion that rational judgment is to be abandoned in spiritual pursuits. We become humble sheep in the name of following a shepherd who knows better, and claims that what he says is true, although many of the things he says can’t be verified. Robert Burton specifically solves that dilemma by just stating claims as if they had been verified by all, and speaking on everybody else’s behalf, so people start repeating it and voila, before you know it, they think they really verified it.

“Somebody” asks – how do we know, maybe there is a paradise and hell, what if it is all true? What’s wrong with dogma? Somebody, what if I claimed to be a spiritual authority, a guru, and I told you about the supreme Flying Spaghetti Monster (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flying_Spaghetti_Monster). Since there is no way of proving the non-existence of an invisible and undetectable Flying Spaghetti Monster who created the universe (neither is there an absolutely conclusive way to prove the non-existence of anything), I just might be right. And if you don’t start praying to the Flying Spaghetti Monster right now, you’ll go to hell. Oh wait – but you better start praying to Allah, appeasing Zeus and worshipping Ahura Mazda as well, because any of these religions could be right. Right?

Please, good people, trust yourselves sometimes and turn on your bullshit meters. You do have a spiritual compass even if you are not a completely realized being. A rule of thumb is to turn away when you see a person who believes that his truth is the only true truth in the world and nobody else has a clue. Most of the outlandish claims Robert makes are accepted on the basis of another belief that we try hard to convince ourselves into: that he is a conscious being with insight into higher worlds. Sometimes it’s useful to ask yourself what is the origin of a belief.

The following information is collected from another site.

In 1971, Teacher and a student were riding in a relatively new Dodge Dart along Highway 1 near Carmel. Teacher was 32 years old at the time. They were listening to a baseball game on the car radio. As the odometer of the car hit the mileage number “1954″, they passed a mailbox which had the name Thompson on it. Teacher indicated that this was a shock, as in 1954, Bobby Thompson of the New York Giants had hit a famous home run in a playoff game (which Teacher had apparently heard on the radio). 44 miles later as the odometer hit 1998, the mailbox on the side of the road showed the number 41211. Teacher indicated that THIS was also a shock which meant that California was going to fall into the Pacific Ocean in 1998 on April 12th at 11 am.”

Burton believed that the oil company that used the advertising logo “UNION ’76″ was a sign from C Influence that he, Burton, would “crystallize into a man number six” in 1976.

And this trend continues with ancient Egyptians also leaving messages for him to decode.

OK now, RB may be consciously communicating with gods in this way, but, if you didn’t already know ahead of time that he was conscious, and these interpretations were coming from the guy next door, wouldn’t they strike you as kind of… well… delusional and grandiose?

I have an open question for our readers. Advanced students have always told me that they had verified Robert was conscious. I never quite understood what that meant. And the best explanation I could come up with was that he was so weird and different from other people you knew, that it must have meant he was conscious. That’s my understanding, but I was never close to Robert. So I’d like to hear some others how they understand “verifying that Robert was conscious”.

The gift of critical thinking is generally neglected in the Fellowship. That is, there is plenty of self-observation and examining one’s individual unconscious attitudes, replacing them with more useful attitudes (translative spirituality). However, when it comes to the institution as a whole, it seems to have no external realistic perspective on itself and it instead basks in its self-promotion.

The scary thing is, we don’t even realize the slow and gradual process of embracing a dogma is happening within ourselves through social reinforcement. Well, some part notices, but other parts prefer not to know. For example, most of us feel an unease or fear at the thought that one of our friends might leave the school. This I think is because we have tacitly come to accept the proposition promoted by Robert that when you leave the Fellowship you are as good as dead and your lower self will destroy you. There is no life outside the FOF, we believe subconsciously. And that’s what’s wrong with dogma.

"Traveler" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, March 3, 2007:
Here is something else to think about so the discussion doesn’t have to be ‘all about the sex’: :)

There are two kinds of spirituality. One is called translative and another is called transformative.

Translative spirituality is one that gives the separate self a sense of meaning and of being connected to something higher, or larger than itself. The self is given a new way to think and feel about reality. It is given a new belief, perhaps more holistic, or centered on forgiveness instead of blame. This spirituality offers practices that allow the self to make sense of and endure the events of life. It consoles the self, fortifies it, defends it and promotes it. The self learns to translate its world in terms of the new paradigm, new belief or new language. These new enchanting translation acts at least temporarily alleviate the terror in the heart of the separate self. As long as the myths are believed, prayers are mouthed and the dogma is embraced, the separate self will be saved – either now, in the glory of being favored by a deity, or in an eternal after-life. This kind of translation is a necessary and crucial function for the greater part of our lives in order to make sense of the world.

At some point, though, translation simply ceases to console. Not a new belief for the self, but the transcendence of the self altogether, is the only path – another kind of spirituality, which is called transformative. This does not console the separate self but rather shatters it, creates a radical transmutation of the seat of consciousness. The separate self is inquired into and transcended. With transformation, the process of translation itself is challenged, witnessed, undermined and eventually dismantled. Transformative spirituality is not a matter of belief but a death of the believer.

So which is at work here in the Fellowship? Maybe both, depending on who you’re talking to, and it’s wonderfully baffling and unformatory.

On the one hand, we have the following dogmas promoted by Robert and some orthodox students:
  • The FOF is guided by 44 spirits who have become immortal after their life on earth, including Lincoln, Buddha, Vivaldi, Queen Elizabeth, Marcus Aurelius, Leonardo da Vinci.
  • Leonardo da Vinci personally woke up Robert Burton.
  • Robert Burton is the only conscious being alive on Earth today (and by extension, salvation comes only through him).
  • These spirits tend to hover in rooms where we congregate and personally communicate with Robert Burton, telling him in which direction to guide the school.
  • The world was going to end in November 2006 in a nuclear holocaust (this was communicated to RB by the 44 spirits) and FOF members will be the only survivors, left with the task of creating a new human civilization from scratch. (Don’t know of any recent updates to this theory after the non-event.)
  • After completing their tasks on Earth, FOF members will be taken to limbo where they will await their next conscious role, after which they will be taken to the celestial city of Paradise with its 30.000 inhabitants to live forever as gods, presumably.
  • All the rest of humanity that does not make teaching payments to RB will be eaten by the Moon upon dying unconsciously.
Etc. There are a number of students that have found these kinds of dogmas a little embarrassing (myself included).

So, at first you learn to translate the world into these terms: everyone in the world is mechanical and asleep, except a handful of us who are trying to wake up and making efforts to achieve this goal. I must control my mechanical manifestations and not allow them expression. Your identity is supposed to move from observing I, to deputy steward, to steward… to higher centers? Not sure if I got the order right. Anyway, there is always a controller, some type of super ego, behind the machine.

I found it quite enlightening when No person said something like that in the FOF we work on the side effects of consciousness. We control the expression of negative emotions etc. while remaining a separate self who has to control, battle, defeat something. In this way, presence eludes us, it remains an object to be reached.

Many people have been saying how silly the sequence is. I also don’t buy into all the complications and mythology that Robert surrounds the precious sequence with. But I have tried to use it in good faith. What I’ve observed is that people are not getting anywhere with it because of this separateness, this feeling of here I am, making an effort to DO the sequence, which is something else, to produce a state, which is something third. And we get stuck this way. In fact, a change of state can emerge that approaches the feeling of losing this separate self and simply becoming the sequence, and all is well. Not sure yet how to place that into the big picture of things.

I would appreciate points of view on this translative-transformative distinction, and also on the temporary nature of states that are pursued.

"Traveler" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, March 3, 2007:
Happy says: There are no “dogmas promoted by Robert and some orthodox students”. One must verify everything — and, more importantly, remember what you verify.

Dear Happy: there are a number of statements that Robert puts forward that are unverifiable, so students either give him the benefit of the doubt and think of it as a “working theory”, or if they can’t live with themselves in the state of uncertainty, they embrace them as fact because Robert presents them as fact. 
These latter are the people I call “orthodox students”. Don’t tell me you’ve never met any.

Please tell me, did you personally verify for example the following: “Most students are in their eighth lifetime.” “Mother Theresa is going to the moon.” “There are angels in the room right now.” “Ancient Egyptians meant to leave messages for us so we could decode them into the sequence.” “I am a man number seven.”
And if you have verified any such statements, how did you manage to do it?

Something that might serve as an illustrative example of Robert’s attitude to verification:

One of the many young men got invited to travel with Robert, but not yet to have sex with him. During the travels, Robert approached him and asked: “Do you know who I am? I am a goddess in a man’s body.” (Apparently a famous pick-up line of his.) Our young student, suddenly startled by direct communication with the Teacher, comes up with an answer and tries to answer the first part of Robert’s question – do you know who I am – with: “I hope so.” Oooops. It came out as sounding ‘I hope you really are a goddess that you say you are’. You don’t talk that way to your teacher. Robert replies: “Well you’d BETTER BELIEVE it, because it’s TRUE!”

"Anonymous" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, May 14, 2007:

From the guidebook for centres. Sept. 06

“During the last year the Teacher asked that we move away from the system as presented by Gurdjieff-Ouspensky with which the school began, and move towards the “Classical Knowledge” of the ancient schools.” [ed. - A move away from "verification" towards "faith".]

"Opus 111" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, January 22, 2010:
The forum on verifications on Greater Fellowship has pretty much ended.

The way I see the topic in relation to FOF is that ‘verification’ worked to a certain extent in the beginning (roughly prior to 95), but has since become but a word. In those years new members were given a set of ideas (4th way) and ‘invited’ to experiment with them. Yes, the ideas had a strong undercurrent of ideology and its potentially evil authoritarian attributes, but one of the premises was that the ideas were largely empirically derived (from observations). So members could go about their activities and try to observe others and themselves, share and discuss observations with others and have a chance to reflect on it. The leader, REB, was largely invisible to the masses and mostly occupied in developing his money and sex trade, delegating the running of operations, including ‘teaching’, to selected members. Hierarchy was present, at times suffocating, but one could say there was opportunity for ‘verification’, within the provided system of ideas and without (the structural make-up of FOF). Steady outflow of members occurred during these years, from ‘verifying’ that these so-called 4th way ideas lead nowhere, that FOF is a dangerous cult, that REB is a sociopath, or combination of all.

After 95 and after REB dodged the second major sex scandal of his tenure, he (REB) must have realized that he probably could get away with much more than what he was trying to some extent to hide until then: multiple sexual partners and funneling of funds for his private rewards. After 1995, he seems emboldened to do more, to become more visible. Playing on the adulation of his members, he sells dinners, artistic ‘events’, videos of dinners and events, recycled at auctions artifacts that were acquired with membership money, etc… In 2000, he starts leading meetings again (he had stopped in 78), for a fee, a large fee. His intellectual limitations become rapidly evident (evident but rarely discussed, if at all), as he tries to expand on the ideas of the 4th way from his own, supposedly that of an enlightened being. In 2004, he moves to obscurantism, first with ‘keys’ to interpret the bible, then to an ever more obscure distillation of the world wisdom, all for the benefit of the chosen few, at a very large fee. During these later years, the narrative goes from 4th way ideas to a new, wacky brand of religion, where verification has no place (by definition) but when used, meant as alignment to the dogma, to the spoken word and the authority (REB and his flying monkeys as aptly named by Bruce). Members are no longer allowed to speak at meetings, they are basically asked not to eat during dinners and to study the spoken word, all the while the leader is piling up sexual partners and spending lavish amount of money to travel to exotic locations. By then, the FOF has moved from a group concerned with personal, empirical, spiritual search to a devotional organization where the retention of the revealed word is the only allowed ‘intellectual’ activity.
One could say that the recent wave of member departure was largely, and literally from ‘disbelief’.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Hanns Michael Heick's Bubalus Bubalis, Inc.

Photo: Associated Press
[ed. - A glaring omission in this article is the failure to mention Heick's past and present roles in Fellowship of Friends and Renaissance Vineyard and Winery management, and the contributions the Fellowship receives from Heick's business profits. It is reported that, following the failure of Heick's venture, the buffalo are now pastured on Fellowship property in nearby Oregon House.]

"nigel" posted on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, January 22, 2011:
Dairy Owner Combats Mozzarella Monopoly

By PAUL ELIAS
The Associated Press

Friday, November 24, 2006; 4:14 AM

BANGOR, Calif. — Think fresh mozzarella and buffalo tomatoes are more likely to come to mind than water buffalos. But true mozzarella can only be made from the rich, fatty milk of the water buffalo. For years, chefs and gourmands in the United States would settle for nothing less than the smooth, white balls of mozzarella di bufala, airlifted from Italy.

Hanns Michael Heick is hoping to crack Italy’s mozzarella monopoly in a quixotic quest to produce the finest mozzarella this side of Naples.
[ed. - Caption for above photo] "Hanns Michael Heick, owner of Bubalus Bubalis, Inc., samples mozzarella cheese at his ranch in Bangor, Calif., Sept. 30, 2006. The buffalo are the main ingredient in Heick’s quest to produce the finest mozzarella cheese this side of Naples."
“There was a point in my life where I didn’t even know water buffalo existed,” said Heick, who was born in Vienna and spent much of his adult life as a wine exporter. “Now I’m an expert.”

His water buffalo, about 200 head, roam a 50-acre spread in the remote foothills of the northern Sierra Nevada mountains.

Fresh mozzarella has become a $48 billion specialty food trend in the United States. Heick and his Italian-born wife, Grazia Perrella, whose family has produced mozzarella for three generations, operate the larger of two mozzarella-producing water buffalo dairies in the country.

The average American ate a record 10 pounds of mozzarella last year, twice the rate of a decade ago, according to data compiled by the University of Wisconsin. But nearly all of it was made from cow’s milk and manufactured by a handful of large, industrial dairies.

For centuries, Italian cheese makers dominated the gourmet mozzarella market, due largely to the domestication of large herds of imported water buffalo during Da Vinci’s lifetime. How and when the water buffalo, a common beast of burden that originated in Asia, got to Italy is a mystery.

Unlike other cheeses that improve with age, mozzarella is best served as soon as it is made. Airlifting fresh mozzarella from Italy is costly. The freight charges can exceed the cost of the cheese of itself, which fetches upward of $20 a pound.

Many argue it is worth the expense. Fresh buffalo mozzarella is silkier and tastier than the leathery, plastic-wrapped cow milk mozzarella lining grocery store shelves and grated onto millions of pizzas.

So far, Heick is managing to squeeze out $1 million in annual sales, an increase from the $350,000 the dairy took in four years ago.

“If we had more milk, we could sell much more cheese,” said Heick, who plans to expand his water buffalo herd in the next few years.

Still, the dairy is a long way from profitability, held down by the expenses of an operation that is spread across California at three locations. The herd lives in Bangor. Buffalo ready for milking are shipped to San Bernadino [Bernardino] and the cheese is made in Gardenia [Gardena].

By this time next year, Heick said the entire operation will be located at the Bangor site, which is now being outfitted with new refrigerators, pasteurizing machines and all the other equipment needed for a dairy. He’ll then work to improve on the annual mozzarella output of 150,000 pounds a year, a pittance compared to the 2.14 billion pounds of various cheeses California churns out annually.

In the meantime, he is attracting a small but growing following at farmers markets, high-end grocers and restaurants across the country that order direct.

“Customers can’t believe the quality of it,” said David Gilbert, co-owner of the Old Yellowstone Garage restaurant in Jackson Hole, Wyo. He orders 15 to 30 pounds of Heick’s cheese a week and uses it on lasagna, pizza and other dishes. “It’s comparable to what’s shipped from Italy.”
[ed. - See also: Mozzarella gone wild! California farm tames exotic animal with gourmet results]

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Where has the Fellowship gone?

[ed. - Showing concern that his article "Fellowship of Friends - a school for intellectuals" has gone unnoticed, Pavel, the Esoteric Sheik of Inner Confusion, posts the following on Animam Recro.]
Where has the Fellowship gone?

Posted by Pavel under Random

The first article I ever posted on this blog was a report of my visit to the Fellowship of Friends in London. I still find this entry very meaningful and both the writing of the report and its consequences fill me full of joy to this day.

The reason is simple – Fellowship of Friends is a cult. It has destroyed people’s lives, taken their money, alienated people from their friends and family. All of this for the vague promise of spiritual fulfillment and the possibility of ‘awakening’, not to mention the terror technique of scaring people by informing them that the only after-life that exists is achievable through joining the cult. Read the report and see for yourself how it all went.

Now, since writing that report months ago I have had a lot of comments and discussions about it. I believe that by writing this report I have helped some people become less naive and watch their backs where no one else can do it for them. I have also been a target of a fair amount of verbal and digital attacks from the defenders of the Fellowship, which was interesting.

What I don’t understand is this: my article was 10th or 11th on google after searching for the Fellowship of Friends (hence a lot of people got to read it) but now it is nowhere to be found – I searched for a while but it was as if my article vanished from the google database. Luckily enough the first entry in google is still an anti-cult informative website and not the Fellowship website (as it has been before) there is some fairness in the world. But what has happened to the animamrecro report? I offer sweets and soft hugs to anyone who can offer me an answer.

Saturday, September 9, 2006

Robert Burton humiliated by Higher Forces' failure to trigger World War III

[ed. - For decades, Robert Burton has been preparing his followers for this event. This was to be the really big one, Armageddon, a nuclear holocaust, with Burton and his followers safely sheltered inside the Fellowship's winery bunker. One can only imagine his disappointment that the vast sea of sleeping humanity will survive to see another day. See also, "Our ark will be composed of ten thousand people in the year 2006, and then the doors will close." NOTE: The wikispaces Fellowship of Friends page linked below is no longer fully accessible, as the site subscription has expired. It's possible it will be reinstated in the future.]

"Ollie" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, May 17, 2008:
Dozens of things Robert Burton had to say during the 1980s about the nuclear holocaust he predicted for September 2006 (and the role the Fellowship of Friends would have in building a new civilization after crawling out of the fallout shelter) can be found at

http://fellowshipoffriends.wikispaces.com/in-their-own-words [Archived website]

(scroll down to the bottom half of the page)

It makes for a sickening read, I guess so much is fair to say.

Don’t say this was then but now is now. Even with all the six and four talk of sequence and wordless breaths Robert Burton hasn’t let go of the idea that Armageddon is just around the corner and that all good students will be saved from destruction, huddled together in a fallout shelter (yes, the winery). Never mind that 2006 has come and gone. Influence C has informed Robert that it’s coming, so he must stick to it, although more privately. It has simply been postponed to 2011 [actually 2012], in tune with the Mayan calendar. He has a curious and strange attraction for large disasters (earthquakes, floods, hurricanes, fires, terror attacks, “hydrogen warfare” etc.) and has always liked to suddenly rouse emotions at his events by talking about any such disaster.

I remember, as recently as 15 months ago, after an overcrowded teaching event, he mentioned to a small group of students that it “might have been preparation for when we all live together in a nuclear fallout shelter”.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Journey Forth by Day 2006

[ed. - The Journey Forth by Day is the annual gathering of the Fellowship faithful at Isis (aka Apollo). It is a major fundraising event for the Fellowship. Pressure to attend is relentless, as exemplified in the solicitations below. One must not let their "lower self" find excuses to avoid attending.]

Fellowship of Friends cult Journey Forth by Day fundraising event

Fellowship of Friends cult Journey Froth by Day fundraising event

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Thirty-day term for triple fatal

[ed. - This accident involved a Fellowship of Friends member on a business trip for Renaissance Vineyard and Winery, Inc.]

From the Appeal-Democrat
July 19, 2006 09:00:00 AM

An Oregon House man was sentenced Wednesday to 30 days in jail in connection with a November 2004 truck cash that left three Yuba City residents dead.

Daniel A. Highland pleaded no contest in Sutter County Superior Court to three misdemeanor vehicular manslaughter charges in the deaths of Kamla D. Lally, Balwinder Kaur and Balwinder Singh.

Judge Robert Damron accepted a plea agreement between Highland's attorneys and prosecutors and ruled that Highland, 55, acted without malice or gross negligence.

Highland will be able to serve his jail time on work release, then will be on summary probation for three years, Damron ruled.

Highland lost control of a Renaissance Vineyard & Winery truck on Highway 113 in south Sutter County. In the multi-vehicle collision that followed, the victims' car was struck by a Humvee that was following the truck. All the victims died instantly.

Abraham Goldman, one of Highland's attorneys, said Highland swerved onto the right shoulder to avoid a head-on collision with a vehicle approaching in the wrong lane, then lost control of the truck and entered the opposite lane.

Instead of wine, the truck was carrying five tons of concrete curbing, which would have crushed Highland if he had slammed on the brakes, said Goldman.

Assistant District Attorney Fred Schroeder said it is “certainly possible” that Highland swerved to avoid the approaching vehicle.

“We don't know why it happened, but we don't see gross negligence,” said Schroeder. “But it was wrong, and there needs to be some sanction.”

“It could happen to anyone who drives,” he said.

Two lawsuits and one claim brought by the families of Lally, Kaur and Singh have been resolved, said Goldman, who declined to discuss the terms.

Two of the families thought it was pointless to send Highland to jail. The third wanted maximum jail time, said Schroeder.

“I regret the whole thing. It was tragic,” Highland said in an interview.

Highland attorney David Springfield said the Fellowship of Friends, the Oregon House organization that owns the Renaissance Vineyard & Winery, has done “whatever it can to fill the cups of justice” for families of the victims.

No family members of the victims attended the plea hearing and sentencing, which was scheduled on short notice. Highland had been scheduled for a Sept. 12 jury trial.

Appeal-Democrat reporter Rob Young can be reached at 749-4710. You may e-mail him at ryoung@appeal-democrat.com.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Animam Recro blog moves to WordPress

Fellowship of Friends, a cult for intellectuals blog banner
Background banner from Animam Recro WordPress blog

[ed. - Ten weeks after its founding, the Animam Recro blog was moved from Google Blogger to WordPress. The Blogger posts were carried over to the WordPress blog, however the article "The Fellowship of Friends - a cult for intellectuals" contains numerous changes. Sheik's statement, "
My visit to the Fellowship of Friends (written a year ago and not changed since)" was added at a much later date, and is somewhat misleading. The updated version follows. The original version can be found here.]
My visit to the Fellowship of Friends (written a year ago and not changed since)
Fellowship of Friends - a cult for intellectuals
I have had a very interesting experience today, I visited an informal presentation of the Fellowship of Friends to listen to their take on the Fourth Way teachings – teachings of Gurdjieff and his disciple Ouspensky. I am full of mixed feelings, I have just finished doing some rather extensive research on the Fellowship and the results were not happy, thus meeting some of my fears and intensifying my distrust of this cult.

I will structure this entry in the following manner: section 1) will deal with my visit to the Fellowship as it happened, with no added judgements; section 2) will try to put things into context using my additional research; section 3) will include my personal opinions on the visit, on the Fellowship etc.
1) The Fellowship headquarters in London are suited in a rather nice part of northern London, in an area that is much more beautiful and green than most, one that offers a rather enchanting landscape view of a small part of London which is otherwise hidden from sight.

The day of my visit to the Fellowship was a nice sunny day and many times was I forced to stop and take in the magnificent view. When I was nearing the house where the presentation was supposed to take place, I was overtaken by an old red car, most of it brightly painted over with psychedelic imagery, esoteric symbolism and pictures of tribal people drumming and dancing. I knew I was going in the right direction. And as I arrived at the end of my journey, there stood the inhabitants of the car – a large bald man with a green sweather and 3 massive crystal necklaces, a lady with hair the colours of the rainbow, and another lady who was slightly less outgoing and whose appearance therefore slipped my mind. I wrongly took them for the presenters at first, for they were just humble visitors, same as me.

I knocked on the door of a fairly large suburban house and was let in by a man of Eastern looks – a mixture of Russian and Arab features. He was dressed in a very expensive pastel suit, his looks could not have been any more perfect. He was the doorman – so you can imagine what the rest of the troupe who were to entertain us looked like. I went through to the living room and into the meeting chamber. There were smartly dressed people everywhere – most of them in their late 30s or 40s, all of them with easy manners, slight charm but also arrogance. I was seated on a chair and had a second to properly take in my surroundings. The house was beautiful – very tasteful, beautiful paintings, statues and other art, all in perfect position – everything looked very stylish and upper-class.

There were 3 men – or rather one 30+ years old man and two young men in their twenties, both of them with great expectations and slight naivity [sic] easily readable on their faces. I was to find out that the young men were brothers from Poland who came to find out more about the esoteric knowledge that this group had to offer. The older man was a new member of the Fellowship, his acting skills were not yet as highly developed as his colleagues’ therefore he came across as a rather down-to-earth kind of man. We briefly talked and I was happy to see some common interests between us, yet slightly disappointed by the two young men (who seemed intelligent but far too naive and unguarded not to be easily manipulated). We were later joined by a beautiful young woman either from Italy or Spain, also smartly dressed, who kept our company for a minute or two and fueled many sexual fantasies and desires for the two boys just by her presence. I was, of course, untouched. As long as falling in love on the first sight does not count.

Then came time for the presentation itself. We were seated by the man who was to chair the event – he moved us several times until he was certain that the ‘energy in the room was properly distributed’. This was a pretty funny event – adults were told to sit at other places, move their chairs, swap places and such – all of this I believe was meant to put us at ease. Then came the time for introductions.

The presenters were numerous and picked so that as many different types were represented – the main presenter was an English man, aristocrat appearance and an old-school beige suit, he had piercing eyes and a deep enchanting voice, he was the most charismatic manipulator I have ever met. His entourage consisted of an intellectual American (not an oxymoron), scruffy yet perfectly dressed Scottsman [sic], the beautiful south-western European woman, 2 pretty older women (one English, one foreign) and about 3 other British men. All of them perfectly dressed, if in a rather eighteenth century kind of way.

The visitors were as follows: me, the 3 inhabitants of the psychedelic car, an unhealthy fat English lady interested in lucid dreaming, the two Poles, an uneasy scared Brit and possibly one or two others.

There were also some other Fellowship members who were not presenting and two Russians/Arabs in incredibly expensive summer suits who looked like bodyguards. The member:non-member ratio was roughly 2:1.

The presentation started and the basic ideas were put forward:

there are 4 levels of consciousness going from the lowest to the highest: sleep, being awake (still asleep), awareness of oneself, and the final 4th state. The first state is experienced while dreaming, the second state is experienced while we are awake, yet it is like a dream in that we behave like robots – there is no self, no will and we react to outside influences in pre-programmed ways. These first two states are the only states experiencable [sic] without some heavy work on one-self. The third state usually happens once in one’s life and can be accessed again through techniques taught by the school. Through being in the third state continuosly [sic] one can access the fourth state and awaken. The only truly awakened is Robert Burton, the founder of the Fellowship;

you can not achieve awakening on your own – you need a teacher who is farther down the road than yourself;

awakening is the only way to keep on living after death – the only way to an after-life;

psychology, psychotherapy and psychoanalysis are useless and wrong – they are a false science – the only way to cure oneself is through awakening oneself.

There were more ideas put through but I forgot what they consisted of. Something about turning negative feelings and emotions into positive energy (and self-awareness) and similar. The main speaker also made us do a short simple exercise on attention – the idea was that through being attentive (through ‘being in the room’) one can experience oneself experiencing his surroundings – what he sees, hears,… Through this split-awareness one can train oneself to fully experience everything and by prolonging this state one can enter the 3rd state of consciousness. – Readers who are aware of the concept of mindfulness or the teachings of Gurdjieff will understand.

Overall, a very interesting presentation – some things made sense, others were slightly absurd(such as that angels exist and talk with certain special individuals). I don’t know how much of it was taken from Gurdjieff or Ouspensky since I never read them. I suppose that much was added by Burton – probably a fair amount.

Then came time for questions which were answered in such a way as to create more interest in the subject, a genuine wish to find out more about the teachings. Manipulator galore. The idea that these teachings (and this school) were the only way to salvation were very quietly and with great skill fed to the listeners – mainly the idea that only the awakened will be given after-life. I asked why this school was more relevant than the other esoteric schools and before I even finished the last syllable I was answered that this school wasn’t more relevant – the only thing that was relevant was that at that moment I was in the Fourth Way school. All questions were treated as if they were trivial and did not deserve any time from the presenters.

Then came time for snacks, tea, coffee and informal conversation. I tried to talk to the guy who chaired the meeting but he quickly threw me in the direction of other members – he wasn’t wishing to talk to any non-members any more. So I found the American presenter and started a conversation with him, this is what I found:

- my personal mystical experiences were unknown to him, he did not understand them when I tried to explain them to him; that in itself is strange since most people who dabble in this area usually know what I am talking about;

- psychedelic drugs are not allowed in the Fellowship, they are viewed as a means to attaining higher states of consciousness in the short-term but they have negative effect in the long-term;

- there are supposedly 2 people in Britain who attained a permanent 3rd state of consciousness (he called it ‘crystallization’ I think), they were not present at the presentation;

- he said that he joined the Fellowship when he was 22 and that it’s a good time to start studying at a school and that the Fellowship changed his life. To that I replied that I have already had my life-changing experience and that I don’t think that my road is the same as that of the Fellowship, and that I did not agree with the Fellowship policy to take 10% of one’s annual revenue as membership payment each year since attainement [sic] of higher states of consciousness should be taught for free. To that he replied that I am not the only one to think that but that there were reasons for that fee (to show people’s willingness to suffer in order to prosper spiritually, and to use the fees to fund the school) and that if I choose not to join I should just keep on following the coincidences that have been happenin to me. Sound advice.

So I left without saying my goodbyes. It was a strange experience, god knows if it was positive or negative.

2) You might have gathered on your own that the Fellowship is a bit of a cult. Just how bad it is can be gathered from here:

[ed.- links updated]

https://freedomofmind.com/Info/infoDet.php?id=55&title=Fellowship_of_Friends

http://www.culteducation.com/group/927-fellowship-of-friends.html

The leader is quite definitely insane, a paedophile, brainwasher and manipulator. And he’s good. He likes people to dress up nice and smart, he doesn’t like people to joke, he hates smoking and, just for good measure, he dislikes pre-marital sex and homosexuality. That’s coming from a man who has had several lawsuits filed against him for forced homosexual acts. He also believes that he talks with 44 angels – including Jesus, Franklin and Goethe. Rock on Burton!!! Sadly enough this madman has managed to attract around 2000 followers.

3) This is the hard part. I hate to say it but some of the people I met in the Fellowship were incredibly inteligent [sic], well-versed in esoteric studies, knowledgable [sic] and possibly quite far on the self-exploration path. They seemed to have that ‘it’ that serious students of alternate states of consciousness, the inner and outer realities, acquire after time. Doesn’t bode well with the cultist reality of the Fellowship but that’s what I was getting from them. After reading some more on these things I have to say that most of it was probably an act. The arrogance felt from the members of the Fellowship towards the listeners can be explained by the belief of these people that whoever is not a member is a worthless robot who deserves nothing from the superior members. This is a belief that is taught as a part of the teachings of the Fellowship of Friends, it always results in alienation from one’s family, friends, partner – you name it. [ed. - Burton reportedly asked that members not possess photos of their "life family" members.]

So be warned – there are better Gurdjieff organisations, other schools and other teachers. Cults should never be trifled with! I believe that an integral part of a personal journey is the (sub-conscious) search for a teacher, it would be a mistake to learn from false prophets. So don’t be attracted by easy gains, it’s better to wait for the real deal than to join a cult that offers the ‘perfect’ self-betterment practices. I have come across most of the techniques that were briefly talked about in the presentation at other places. One of the techniques that the Fellowship uses to attract new members is by putting Fellowship bookmarks into books in esoteric bookstores and libraries. Coincidence? – hardly.

So what is the lesson of the day? Always be sceptical, don’t trust or believe anything and let things happen as they wish. Your mission is to deal with it afterwards, integrate it and learn from it. Don’t let people manipulate you! And if you ever run out of money start a cult and put your esoteric knowledge to good use (as Burton did).

[ed. - The first published comment came over two months after Animam, from a person named "Barbara." Some have speculated this was former member Barbara Bruno Lancaster.]

Barbara Says:
June 24, 2006 at 11:05 pm

Just a note to let you know that this well-mannered, well-dressed, country club cult, destroyed my life. The leader, Robert Burton, has destroyed many lives. Lawsuits brought against him are always settled with a clause that the petitioner not be able to discuss the cult. If you stay alert on line, you are sometimes able to communicate with those who have become litigious prior to the settlement. Stella Wirk and her husband have amusing and horrifying information about this cult, having been two of the original six members (including Robert Burton) who started the Fellowship of Friends. There are supposedly other Gurdjieff Ouspensky groups who are not as cultish and pyramid scheming financially as the Fellowship of Friends. Best of luck with your enlightenment.

[ed. - a couple comments later came this exchange.]

Someone of over 30 years Says:
August 5, 2006 at 6:16 am

I have been part of the fellowship for over 30 years, and have heard of many things that the “teacher” may have done.

I only know, that he promotes the pursuit of awakening for me. He has never approached me for anything claimed here. Have I heard of others that do get approached – yes. Is it rampant- no.

I read these comments, that question the idea that you cannot work alone – and recoil. To anyone who has seriously tried to awaken there has to be a recognition that by your self, you fall back to old patterns – to your old patterns of sleep.

Does the Fellowship offer something that cannot be found on your own — yes!

However, it is highly likely that it will take years to realize this.

Awakening – in its real meaning – is something that you cannot put into words.

Awakening is a state that is beyond words, your body, your idea of what your existance [sic] is. Once you begin to get a taste, a glimpse of its true and real meaning, then your life gets a focus that will never be turned back – unless your preference is to sleep.

the Esoteric Sheik of Inner Confusion Says:
August 5, 2006 at 10:41 am

First things first, I am happy that you felt the need to comment on my article and on what other people had to say about the cult. The fact that you did not disclose your name, e-mail or any other information will work against you.

I am afraid that not only is awakening a very subjective experience, it is also something that is always a little bit out of reach, am I right? – it scares me to see someone who has been with the fellowship for 30 years, yet hasn’t achieved much and is still searching. If this is proof of the effectiveness of the Fellowship then I must say that I am not impressed. I know of numerous individuals outside the fourth way structure who have achieved more than you can possibly dream of in less time and without the need to join restrictive, freedom-destroying cults.

You also seem to think that the main reason for my dislike of the cult is what Robert Burton, the leader, did to some of his pupils (rape). That is quite incorrect – I have a problem with organisations that steal the freedom and money of gullible individuals with empty promises and well-planned social games. As far as I know, Fellowship members are not allowed to read other books than 4th way books, they are not allowed to listen to any other music than classical music hand-picked by the ‘master’, have to dress smart at all occassions [sic], and have to pay extra money to the 10% of their income in order to help the school. The ‘master’ can dictate whatever nonsensical rules he wants, and there is no room for discussion. This goes against everything that Gurdjieff stood for – wasn’t he for never-ending questioning and finding out for yourself? Wasn’t he against blind belief? That, my friend, is the true reason I dislike the Fellowship of Friends.

You, my friend, have been subjected to 30 years of very very precise and targetted [sic] brainwashing. Subsequently your comment follows the Fellowship line so closely that it makes me retch – is there no freedom of thought in the cult? Are you not able to offer me any of your own thoughts on the subject? If you wish to defend the Fellowship, and I will give you the chance, I would like to interview you or any other member of the Fellowship to see whether you really are as content and enlightened as you say.

[ed. - I'll offer a couple more, then leave you to investigate further, if you wish. It is apparent that English is not "X"'s first language. "X" is likely the same poster known as "X-ray" later in the blog's history.]

X Says:

November 30, 2006 at 8:14 am

Well,

I am a member of FOF for over 15 years, and my sincere advise to all seekers: RUN!!! Because if you join, you’ll subject yourself to the influence which will INEVITABLY twist your understanding and ability to think and make decisions, infuse you with fear of life outside the Fellowship, and develop protective mechanisms (or what we call buffers) to justify your new beliefs. Just like the member who posted above, you’ll learn about the lies, corruption and abuse, but you’ll prefer to “not notice”. Yes, that’s what happens. Because if you say something – you’re out!

Regardless if you were there for 30 years faithfully paying your 10% – you’ll get a boot, and no one will talk to you, all your “friends” wil turn away. Because they are told so, and they are afraid. Cold, cruel policy with no conscience or compassion. Well, I guess, slaves don’t get compassion – and members are slaves!

Essentially, the school is like a drug – a psychological one – you’ll get dependent and will not be able to quit. You’ll hallucinate too, and will see things twisted and colored the way your teacher wants them to be. Please trust me, I speak from personal (withdrawal) experience.

As for awakening, we are told in the school that it will take life-times, and endless efforts (read the member above) and as of today NOT A SINGLE PERSON in our school achieved awakening or even got close. Even all those 30-year members – none except for one devoted party-liner whom teacher announced as an enlightened being, I guess to make things look good for others.

Long-term members become so affected by this “teaching” that they cannot adapt to regular life anymore. To many the teacher became a father figure. (Often a sex-father-figure).

By the way, it’s not 4th way school. It’s just on the cover. 4th way is long gone. It’s “Robert’s teaching”, and what it really means is total obedience, trained behaviour, manners and dress code, huge monthly payments, and crazy ideas. They are not even ideas, they are some codes and his “keys” to the Bible and ancient texts, short prayers and symbols – not rational, not meaningful, not even funny. No questions allowed, no verifications, no doubts. Very religious. Does it look like 4th way to you?

People in the group often act like police – watch, listen and then – report. It is so corrupted, there is so much money squeezed out of students – just to create a very, very high lifestyle for the Teacher. Oh, he is actually Beloved Teacher.
This School will not bring you to awakening. It will enslave you.

But to be fare – in first 2 -3 years you’ll get to know some very cool people, learn some basic Ouspensky terminology and will actually be able to observe more of yourself and others. You’ll even have some fun! Probably travel to different places and meet people from other countries. You’ll experience fine dining (very expensive though), high class events in rose gardens with fountains (again -it ain’t free), learn some manners and get some class. You’ll look good in tuxedo! Women are not allowed to wear pants or jeans, so buy some nice dresses, ladies.

But fun will end, the longer you stay the deeper you sink. And just like the animal who was caged his whole life, you’ll lose sense of freedom and will start defending your cage.

Why i don’t list my name? For the fear of prosecution of course. Why I don’t leave the group? I think the time hasn’t come yet, and there are people in the group in need of support and help. I have dear friends who are stuck and I fell it’s my duty to try helping them. If I get kicked out they may not be able to communicate with me.

AGAIN, I BEG YOU – DO NOT JOIN THIS GROUP. DON’T. AND TELL OTHERS TOO.

If you really feel “spiritual” – check out some Advaita teachers, like Sailor Bob Adamson, Tony Parsons or Adyashanti – much cooler! Don’t pay Robert, he’s already making 5 mil a year from his students (not kidding).

[ed. - "X" continues a short while later:]


"X" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, January 24, 2007 at 3:32 a.m.:
Many of us have joined this group because we had hopes to “know thyself”. Or – to be liberated, or – to achieve awakening. Some joined out of boredom to meet new friends, spouses, some were in need for a father figure. Some just wanted a visa to America! As time went by, some of us got visas, some got married and met friends. Lots of young insecure males (kind of like our friend Alexis) got their “daddy” feeding them and buying them clothes, and puling their pants down… Did anyone awake? Did someone got to know himself? I mean, honestly. Anyone liberated? No! No one! In almost 12,000 people that went through this school for over 30 years – no one got liberated. And if you think mister Girard got liberated – why don’t you ask him, or even better – go visit him at his house and see how (and what) he is doing … The reality is that lots of people got damaged emotionally and financially, got totally lost, entangled in themselves, broke down. Lots of people are so scared of the world that they are incapable to live their lives outside the Fellowship. Sounds really liberating, on all levels. Does it tell you something?
FOF is a great business, and the ONLY goal is – to make money. You are promised something you’ll never get, (well, not this lifetime, dear) and you asked to pay through the nose for it.
Because you don’t know any better, or just get “hooked” on high states (just like a drug addict) – you get sucked in, brainwashed, and actually don’t mind paying. You start liking your cage after 10plus years! You defend it, and attack anyone who comes near.
Whatever the teacher does – he charges a lot for it. Breakfast, lunch, dinner, reception, meeing [sic], picture taken with him – each of this will cost you from a 100 to 1000. The guy is simply raking it in. It’s all about the money.
Do you know for example, what is the main “task” for center directors? Help you to wake up? Assist you on your path? Not really. It is – To attract more members, recruit, catch, trap. Get the money! Get them to join! The “questionnare [sic] for directors” says: (I actually copy the original here)
Did you have activities to advertise the school? Please indicate yes or no in the list below.
Ads in Newspapers
Bookmarking
Brochures
Flyers
Newsletters
Open meeting
Others
Posters
Web site
Word of mouth
Please use the list below to indicate how many prospective students found us
Through Ads in Newspapers
Through Bookmarking
Through Brochures
Through Flyers
Through Newsletters
Through Open meeting
Through Others
Through Posters
Through Web site
Through Word of mouth
How many prospective students did you have participating in a first meeting?
How many students joined after the first meeting?
Did someone bring friends to the second meeting, if yes, how many?
How many prospective students did you have participating in a second meeting?
How many students joined after the second meeting?
You see for yourself – NOT A WORD ABOUT WAKING UP. NOT A WORD ABOUT LIBERATION. I wish I can send you a link so you can read it yourself – but it’s password protected site.
What does it tell you? Isn’t it just an agressive recruiting campaign? Why there is such a burning desire to attract members, may be to “wake people up”?
Well, because it brings 5 million a year in teaching payments, plus another 4-5 mil in additional charges for dinners, photos and such. IT’S ALL ABOUT THE MONEY. Again, It’s all about the money.
And that would be almost fine, if the teacher gives you back. If he actually teaches you to wake up. Or -cares about your progress. Then – who care what it costs! But the truth us – HE DOESN’T CARE! AND HE HAS NO CLUE!!! He really has no idea how to be present, he cannot communicate a thing to his students. The bullshit he is saying lately is so absurd – even the “followers” are starting to loose faith. This is from “Anatomy of the Sequence”: However, Christ is behind Judas, and the nine of hearts is behind Christ, so Judas’ failure is ultimately the failure of the nine of hearts. – Huh?
Or read this: “His name was Gilgamesh from the very day of his birth”—from short Be—the birth of the steward. “He was two-thirds god, one-third man.” “One-third man” refers to short Be; “two-thirds god” refers to middle Be and long BE. Schools assume that if you successfully pass through middle Be, you will complete your sequence. – Sounds so 4th way! You joined the 4th way school, remember?
Or – this one: Following Robert’s recent comment that “behind the steward is the nine of hearts, and behind the nine of hearts is divine presence, and behind divine presence are Influence C, and behind Influence C is the Absolute,” we will aim at better understanding the responsibility of the nine of hearts in this divine equation and how to ensure its proper work.
If this is not MADNESS, then – what is?
Sadly, many students are so conditioned, addicted and stuck, that they have no other way but listen, obey and believe. And, most importantly – PAY!
Again – if any of you for some crazy reason have a thought about joining this group – please don’t! Do yourself a favour and go elsewhere. This man, RB, has no clue about awakening, he has no clue about the nature of things – all he does is squeezes out money and sperm from people.
I am so happy to finally be out of it!

Saturday, June 24, 2006

First published comment on "Fellowship of Friends - a cult for intellectuals"

[ed. - As an indication of how slowly awareness of the blog developed, the first published comment came over two months after "Fellowship of Friends - a cult for intellectuals" was posted on Animam Recro. The commenter, "Barbara" was believed by some to be former member Barbara Bruno Lancaster.]

"Barbara" commented on Fellowship of Friends - a cult for intellectuals June 24, 2006:
Just a note to let you know that this well-mannered, well-dressed, country club cult, destroyed my life. The leader, Robert Burton, has destroyed many lives. Lawsuits brought against him are always settled with a clause that the petitioner not be able to discuss the cult. If you stay alert on line, you are sometimes able to communicate with those who have become litigious prior to the settlement. Stella Wirk and her husband have amusing and horrifying information about this cult, having been two of the original six members (including Robert Burton) who started the Fellowship of Friends. There are supposedly other Gurdjieff Ouspensky groups who are not as cultish and pyramid scheming financially as the Fellowship of Friends. Best of luck with your enlightenment.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

"Fellowship of Friends – a cult for intellectuals"

[ed. - In the third post of the (Google Blogger) Animam Recro blog, Pavel, the Esoteric Sheik of Inner Confusion, reports that he attended a Fellowship of Friends introductory (or "prospective student") meeting in the London suburbs. Later that same day, he submitted the following. Note: there are a number of differences between this account and the version that would later appear in the WordPress Animam Recro blog.]

Fellowship of Friends - a cult for intellectuals

Published Sunday, April 16, 2006 by the Esoteric Sheik of Inner Confusion | E-mail this post

Pavel, aka the Esoteric Sheik
of Inner Confusion
I have had a very interesting experience today, I visited an informal presentation of the Fellowship of Friends (http://www.apollo.org/) on their take on the Fourth Way teachings - teachings of Gurdjieff, later followed by Ouspensky. I am full of mixed feelings, I have just finished doing some rather extensive research on the Fellowship and the results were not good, my many fears were met and intensified.

I will structure this entry in the following manner: section 1) will deal with my visit to the Fellowship as it happened, with no added judgements; section 2) will try to put things into context using my additional research; section 3) will include my personal opinions on the visit, on the Fellowship etc.

1) The Fellowship headquarters in London are suited in a rather nice part of northern London, in an area that is much more beautiful and green than most, one that offers a rather enchanting landscape view of a small part of London. It was a nice sunny day and many times was I forced to stop and take in the magnificent view. When I was nearing the house where the presentation was supposed to take place, I was overtaken by an old red car, most of it brightly painted over with psychedelic imagery, esoteric symbolism and pictures of tribal people drumming and dancing. I knew I was going in the right direction. And as I arrived at the end of my journey, there stood the inhabitants of the car - a large bald man with a green sweather and 3 massive crystal necklaces, a lady with hair the colours of the rainbow, and another lady who was slightly less outgoing and whose appearance therefore slipped my mind. I wrongly took them for the presenters at first, for they were just humble visitors, same as me.

I knocked on the door of a fairly large suburban house and was let in by a man of Eastern looks - a mixture of Russian and Arab features. He was dressed in a very expensive pastel suit, his looks could not have been any more perfect. He was the doorman - so you can imagine what the rest of the troupe who were to entertain us looked like. I went through to the living room and into the meeting chamber. There were smartly dressed people everywhere - most of them in their late 30s or 40s, all of them with easy manners, slight charm but also arrogance. I was seated on a chair and had a second to properly take in my surroundings. The house was beautiful - very tasteful, beautiful paintings, statues and other art, all in perfect position - everything looked very stylish and upper-class.

There were 3 men (or rather one 30+ years old man and 2 boys around my age (I am 22), both of them with great expectations and slight naivity easily readable on their faces). I was to find out that the boys were brothers from Poland who came to find out 'what it was all about' and the man was a new member of the Fellowship. We briefly talked and I was happy to see some common interests between us, yet slightly disappointed by the two boys (who seemed intelligent but far too naive and unguarded not to be easily manipulated). We were later joined by a beautiful young woman either from Italy or Spain, also smartly dressed, who kept our company for a minute or two and fueled many sexual fantasies and desires for the two boys just by her presence. I was, of course, untouched.

Then came time for the presentation itself. We were seated by the man who was to chair the event - he moved us several times until he was certain that the 'energy in the room was properly distributed'. This was a pretty funny event - adults were told to sit at other places, move their chairs, swap places and such - all of this I believe was meant to put us at ease. Then came the time for introductions.

The presenters were numerous and picked so that as many different types were represented - the main presenter was an English man, aristocrat appearance and a an old-school beige suit, he had piercing eyes and a deep enchanting voice (I usually judge how far people have gotten in their personal journeys by their eyes and voice and this man seemed to be on par in these two criteria with big shots like Steiner, Gurdjieff himself, Groff, or McKenna - was he just playing it?). His entourage consisted of an intellectual American (not an oxymorom), scruffy yet perfectly dressed Scottsman, the beautiful south-western European woman, 2 pretty older women (one English, one foreign) and about 3 other British men. All of them perfectly dressed, if in a slightly old-school way.

The visitors were as follows: me, the 3 inhabitants of the psychedelic car, an unhealthy fat English lady interested in lucid dreaming, the two Poles, an uneasy scared Brit and possibly one or two others.
There were also some other Fellowship members who were not presenting and two Russians/Arabs in incredibly expensive summer suits who looked like bodyguards. The member:non-member ratio was roughly 2:1.

The presentation started and the basic ideas were put forward:

a) there are 4 levels of consciousness going from the lowest to the highest: sleep, being awake (still asleep), awareness of oneself, and the final 4th state. The first state is experienced while dreaming, the second state is experienced while we are awake, yet it is like a dream in that we behave like robots - there is no self, no will and we react to outside influences in pre-programmed ways. These first two states are the only states experiencable without some heavy work on one-self. The third state usually happens once in one's life and can be accessed again through techniques taught by the school. Through being in the third state continuosly one can access the fourth state and awaken. The only truly awakened is Robert Burton, the founder of the Fellowship.

b) you can not achieve awakening on your own - you need a techer who is farther down the road than yourself

c) awakening is the only way to keep on living after death - the only way to an after-life

d) psychology, psychotherapy and psychoanalysis are useless and wrong - they are a false science - the only way to cure oneself is through awakening oneself

There were more ideas put through but I forgot what they consisted of. Something about turning negative feelings and emotions into positive energy (and self-awareness) and similar. The main speaker also made us do a short simple exercise on attention - the idea was that through being attentative (through 'being in the room') one can experience oneself experiencing his surroundings - what he sees, hears,... Through this split-awareness one can train oneself to fully experience everything and by prolonging this state one can enter the 3rd state of consciousness. - It all sounded vaguely familiar to the ideas of ego-death or Mindfulness in zen Buddhism.

Overall, a very interesting presentation - some things made sense, others were nutty (such as that angels exist and talk with certain special individuals). I don't know how much of it was taken from Gurdjieff or Ouspensky since I never read them. I suppose that much was added by Burton - probably a fair amount. Then came time for questions which were answered in such a way as to create more interest in the subject, a genuine wish to find out more about the teachings. Manipulator galore. The idea that these teachings (and this school) were the only way to salvation were very quietly and with great skill fed to the listeners - mainly the idea that only the awakened will be given after-life. I asked why this school was more relevant than the other esoteric schools and before I even finished the last syllable I was answered that this school wasn't more relevant - the only thing that was relevant was that at that moment I was in the Fourth Way school.

Then came time for snacks, tea, coffee and informal conversation. I tried to talk to the guy who chaired the meeting but he quickly threw me in the direction of other members - he wasn't wishing to talk to any non-members any more. So I found the American presenter and started a conversation with him, this is what I found:

- my personal mystical experiences were unknown to him, he did not understand them when I tried to explain them to him; that in itself is strange since most people who dabble in this area usually know what I am talking about;

- psychedelic drugs are not allowed in the Fellowship, they are viewed as a means to attaining higher states of consciousness in the short-term but they have negative effect in the long-term;

- there are supposedly 2 people in Britain who attained a permanent 3rd state of consciousness (he called it 'crystallization' I think), they were not present at the presentation;

- he said that he joined the Fellowship when he was 22 (after he asked me how old I was and I told him that I was 22 years old) and that it's a good time to start studying at a school and that the Fellowship changed his life. To that I replied that I have already had my life-changing experience and that I don't think that my road is the same as that of the Fellowship, and that I did not agree with the Fellowship policy to take 10% of one's annual revenue as membership payment each year since attainement of higher states of consciousness should be taught for free. To that he replied that I am not the only one to think that but that there were reasons for that fee (to show people's willingness to suffer in order prosper spiritually, and to use the fees to fund the school) and that if I choose not to join I should just keep on following the coincidences that have been happenin to me. Sound advice.

So I left without saying my goodbyes. It was a strange experience, god knows if it was positive or negative.

2) You might have gathered on your own that the Fellowship is a bit of a cult. Just how bad it is can be gathered from here:

[ed.- links updated]

http://old.freedomofmind.com/Info/infoDet.php?id=55

http://www.culteducation.com/group/927-fellowship-of-friends.html

The leader is quite possibly bonkers, a paedophile, brainwasher and manipulator. And he's good. He likes people to dress up nice and smart, he doesn't like people to joke, he hates smoking and, just for good measure, he dislikes pre-marital sex and homosexuality. That's coming from a man who has had several lawsuits filed against him for forced homosexual acts. He also believes that he talks with 44 angels - including Jesus, Franklin and Goethe. Rock on Burton!!! Sadly enough this madman has managed to attract around 2000 followers.

3) This is the hard part. I hate to say it but some of the people I met in the Fellowship were incredibly inteligent, well-versed in esoteric studies, knowledgable and possibly quite far on the self-exploration path. They seemed to have that 'it' that serious students of alternate states of consciousness, the inner and outer realities, acquire after time. Doesn't bode well with the cultist reality of the Fellowship but that's what I was getting from them.

But be warned - there are better Gurdjieff organisations, other schools and other teachers. Cults should never be trifled with! I believe that an integral part of a personal journey is the (sub-conscious) search for a teacher, it would be a mistake to learn from false prophets. So don't be attracted by easy gains, it's better to wait for the real deal than to join a cult that offers the 'perfect' self-betterment practices. I have come across most of the techniques that were briefly talked about in the presentation at other places. Some I've read from Crowley, some are Buddhist, other Yogi, Sufi, Esoteric Christian,... Look for yourselves, read, experiment, travel,...

So what is the lesson of the day? Always be sceptical, don't trust or believe anything and let things happen as they wish. Your mission is to deal with it afterwards, integrate it and learn from it. Don't let people manipulate you! And if you ever run out of money start a cult and put your esoteric knowledge to good use.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Animam Recro blog is created

"Buddha7.2" from Animam Recro

[ed. - In April 2006, someone calling themselves The Monochromatic Knight established a profile on Google Blogger. They then created a blog called “Animam Recro” (the predecessor to the “Animam Recro” WordPress blog). The blog claims two authors: “The Monochromatic Knight” and “The Esoteric Sheik.” The Esoteric Sheik is also known as Pavel. No other name is provided for the Knight. Pavel later reports that he is a 22-year-old, Czech-born but living in London for three years. The following is the first post on Animam Recro.]

Warm Welcomes

Okay folks, I am very sad to inform you that you have arrived at a 'work in progress' blog. It's sad because you might very well be the only visitors to our blog this century and there isn't enough eye candy to make you stay.

But nevermind, The American side of this blog has gone on vacation to Holland to see a pretty lady (and just generally have a good time) so wish him a good time and safe return!

In the meantime check out our Links section (some of those websites are worth it and, you know, they just might open your eyes a little bit more to cruel cruel surreality). In the future there will be many more exciting stories from our action-packed lives, theories on the nature of reality and the non-existence of sanity in modern society and culture (always a crowd pleaser), real stuff, fictious stuff and... well, other lies.

Just to make you a little bit interested, I'll be visiting an informal presentation of Gurdjieff's Fourth Way on Sunday (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fourth_Way), await a report and hopefully some amusing stories.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Though shalt not laugh

[ed. - It can't get much more bizarre than this. Or can it?]

From: Linda Tulisso
Sent: Tuesday, March 28, 2006 6:18 PM
To: students@beingpresent.org
Subject: [Students] Message from the Teacher: When taking photos...




Dear Friends,

The Teacher requests that when a picture is being taken of us, we should try to be moderate in our smile and not show our teeth. Robert points out that the instinctive center, being animal intelligence in human form, likes to display its teeth.

The poster below illustrates the point.

In friendship,

Linda Tulisso, Isis


Monday, March 6, 2006

The 30th Anniversary of Robert's "crystallization"

Fellowship of Friends leader and dandy Robert Earl Burton in Apollo Galleria
Fellowship dandy, Robert Earl Burton (Source: Fellowship of Friends)

[ed. - The following is an e-mail message from Robert Burton, and reminds this writer of two songs from Burton's "magnetic center" days: More and In My Life (though Burton would certainly not quote such "ignoble" sources.) Burton loves the aphorism, "What one gains, we all gain." Anyone "with eyes to see" knows this is a lie. Burton has always been, by orders of magnitude, the primary beneficiary of The Fellowship of Friends religion. Also see Quotations from Robert Earl Burton - 2003.]
My dears, the thirtieth anniversary of my crystallization is upon us. I woke up at 4:05 this morning, remembering the event. On that day we broke through time and death as a school. The school proved itself as a school; what one gains, we all gain. More than the pyramids along the Nile, more than the Taj Mahal in India, more than the Forbidden City in Beijing - in my life, I loved you more.