Robert Earl Burton founded The Fellowship of Friends in the San Francisco Bay Area in 1970.

Burton modeled his own group after that of Alex Horn, loosely borrowing from the Fourth Way teachings of Gurdjieff and Ouspensky. In recent years, the Fellowship has cast its net more broadly, embracing any spiritual tradition that includes (or can be interpreted to include) the notion of "presence."

The Fellowship of Friends exhibits the hallmarks of a "doomsday religious cult," wherein Burton exercises absolute authority, and demands loyalty and obedience. He warns that his is the only path to consciousness and eternal life. Invoking his gift of prophecy, he has over the years prepared his flock for great calamities (e.g. a depression in 1984, the fall of California in 1998, nuclear holocaust in 2006, and an ominous, yet unspecified new threat late in 2018.) While non-believers shall perish, through the direct intervention and guidance from 44 angels (including his divine father, Leonardo da Vinci) Burton and his followers will be spared, founding a new, and more perfect civilization.

Many regard Robert Earl Burton a narcissist and sociopath, surrounded by a largely greed- and power-driven inner circle. The following pages offer abundant evidence supporting that conclusion.

This archive draws
on official Fellowship publications and websites,
news archives, court documents, cult education and awareness forums, the (former) Fellowship Wikipedia page, the long-running Fellowship of Friends - Living Presence Discussion, the Internet Archive, the (former) Fellowship of Friends wiki project, and the editor's own 13-year experience in the Fellowship.

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

Friday, 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.

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