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.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

It's all about the money, silly!

"X" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, January 24, 2007:
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 10-plus years! You defend it, and attack anyone who comes near.

Whatever the teacher does – he charges a lot for it. Breakfast, lunch, dinner, reception, meeting, picture taken with him – each of this will cost you from a $100 to $1,000. 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 “questionnaire 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 aggressive 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 million 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!

Friday, January 5, 2007

Our Mortal Enemy: "The Lower Self", or "King of Clubs"

[ed. - The Lower Self, formerly known in the Fellowship as The King of Clubs (symbolized by the playing card in "esoteric teachings") is according to Burton the "brain behind the machine," the unconscious but ever-vigilant mind that sustains our body's defenses against all threats, including efforts to "awaken".]

"Glad2bGone" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, January 5, 2007:
From above, “And you can add to fear of loss of friendship, the many other vested interests…”
Such interests include maintenance of authority, position and status, stability & security, material comforts, and avoidance of the inconvenience of changing the comfortable status quo. All these factors – and many more subtler psychological motives – serve to imprison people in the FOF. Such UNextraordinary motives are couched in language that attempts to mystify and ennoble the humble reality.

Often, members resolve the discomfort that arises when a departure challenges their own basis for remaining, by concluding that “the King of Clubs took them out of the school”. The implication here is always one of a personal failure of the departing student. (A departure must not be interpreted as a failure of the methods of the school.) This definition of failure stimulates in the remaining students a sense of superior virtue, as – in the contrast – their own work appears to have greater integrity. I have seen this play of attitudes repeatedly. The irony here is that the (instinctively entrenched) members would employ the King of Clubs explanation to denounce departing students even where the departure necessarily includes the loss of all the comforts of the status quo: friends, home, community, spouse – every single aspect of their life that has for many years constituted their entire world. Departing is much rougher than staying.

The teaching cautions against the “King of Clubs” as the enemy of awakening. The concept of the evil King of Clubs is a simple device (well documented in cult research ) that alienates common sense and all practical and intellectual discrimination: any idea or action inimical to the aims of the teacher is labeled the action of the King of Clubs, and is in this way invalidated. This device neutralizes any threat posed by questioning or doubt. With this device integrated into Fellowship thinking, no real verification or informed acceptance of principles is possible. No valid way out of the fellowship exists for a member that internalizes the FOF concept of the King of Clubs: a departure is by definition a failure and can never be rational: a powerful and dangerous device, and one of many, MANY instances of faulty thinking that are endemic to Fellowship culture. The many similar trite formulae and all the pseudo-logic (although, more recently, outright nonsense) manufactured by the Teacher and swallowed by the many, support the mechanism of brain washing in the fellowship. That mechanism is all the more effective for the continuous infusion of pageantry, grandiosity, and all the affectation of refinement that so characterizes public life in the FOF.