Introduction


Presented in reverse chronology, this history stretches from the present back to the Fellowship's 1970 founding, and beyond.
(See "Blog Archive" in the sidebar below.) It draws from many sources, including The Fellowship of Friends - Living Presence Discussion, the Internet Archive, the former Fellowship of Friends wiki project, cult education and awareness sites, news archives, and from the editor's own 13-year experience in the Fellowship.

The portrait that emerges stands in stark contrast to sanitized versions presented on the Fellowship's array of
alluring websites, and on derivative sites created by Burton's now-estranged
disciple, Asaf Braverman.

Thursday, March 1, 2007

Damage control by The Fellowship of Friends leadership

[ed. - The following history tells of escalating efforts by Fellowship leadership to control the flow of information. This is from the fellowshipoffriends wiki:]
Blog days

March 1, 2007. The Fellowship [of Friends Discussion] Blog address is emailed to nearly every current member of the FOF. Open communication between current and former students on a large scale begins for the first time. Fellowship officials react by sending cautioning emails to all members, warning them not to read unsolicited materials or emails that are misrepresenting the "school", warning members from anonymous and malicious senders, and claiming that these messages will infect their computers with viruses. Fellowship authorities also ask members to report any such activity so that the sources of adversarial information could be tracked down. Fellowship authorities reassure their members that such activities are illegal and that they will do everything to bring the perpetrators to justice. There are several posts by the Fellowship lawyer, Abraham G., on the blog, disclaiming and twisting what had been written. In the meantime, the blog is getting around 1,000 views, and some 50 new posts per day. Realizing the gravity of the situation, and to contain the damage, an email is sent to all members urging them to discuss issues that they are concerned about, with senior representatives of the FoF administration. Girard Haven, a declared "second conscious being" and role model for many, sends out an email reminding everyone that "we have a task to not communicate with former students"[bolds by ed.], and that while they may be legitimately concerned with what is falsely or truly stated about the School on the blog, they must recognize when curiosity has been satisfied and further involvement would only serve "lower self". He also makes a point of "going on the record" saying that personally, he now has better things to do than reading the blog. Meanwhile, reliable sources indicate that 40-50 new people per month are appearing on the list of people who are no longer to be allowed on Fellowship property because their membership had ended. Many of the people leaving the organization are long-time members, 10, 20 or 30 years "in the school", and many of them live at Oregon House or nearby. There is some attrition in worldwide centers though not as noticeable as in America. Former and current members begin to meet, organize events, picnics, parties, gatherings.


Girard Haven's message to the faithful

Posted by "Somebody" on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog:
Dear Friends,

In response to some confusion among students regarding how they should respond to the “Fellowship blog,” I am writing to offer a few suggestions.

First, I would try to honestly ask myself which parts of my being are attracted to the blog and what are their motives. The higher parts associated with true personality may have a genuine interest in what is occurring within the School and what is being reported — truly or falsely — on the blog, but one must watch carefully to recognize when that need has been satisfied and a lower part of oneself has ascended. In other words, if you feel you need to read the blog, be careful.

The same applies to responding to the blog, only here the questions I would ask myself are what are my aims and what part of me do they come from; what would I hope to accomplish; who do I wish to communicate with, and to what purpose? If one posts something to the blog, no matter what its contents are, one is essentially communicating with former students, and we have a task to minimize that as much as possible. There are many reasons for this task, so before submitting something to the blog, I would ask myself what those reasons are and why I felt it was necessary to override them. Many years ago I went through the process of asking myself exactly those questions. If anyone is interested, the answers I found are recorded in the chapter on “Former Students” in the book “Creating a Soul.”

However, those are my answers, based on my verifications. Some students may find it useful to read them, but it is still necessary for each student who comes into contact with the blog to establish his own relation to it. And although I do not wish to answer those questions for anyone, I do wish to go on record as saying that frankly I now feel that I have better ways to use my time and energy.

Finally, I wish to take this opportunity to reiterate the offer that was made by Elizabeth Blake, the Isis center directors — Michael Golding, Helaine Feivelson and Carla Luccatini — and myself to listen to any concerns any student might have about any aspect of the life and teaching of the Fellowship. And I know that there are many others who would gladly make the same offer.

In friendship,

Girard

"Isiswideshut" posted the following on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, March 2, 2007 at 8:08 pm:
Here is the first Putin like statement from the FOF Council:
Dear Friends:

In recent weeks, some of you have told us that you received unsolicited e-mail and mailings. Apparently mass-mailings and e-mails have been sent to almost everyone listed in the Fellowship’s private membership directories and on Propylaia.  Some emails have pointed to a link appearing to be a Fellowship-sponsored discussion group.

Very strong laws protect the privacy rights of private organizations and their members, especially religious organizations. These laws range from State and Federal laws to the Constitutions of the United States, and California, and international treaties. California has especially strong rights protecting the privacy of members and the organization from unsolicited communications, and the modern version known as “spam.”

We are taking the invasion of your privacy rights very seriously. We are investigating the unauthorized use of Propylaia and the Fellowship’s private membership lists and are reporting these matters to all responsible government agencies.
Even if this invasion of privacy continues, rest assured that we are aware of the situation. Remember that you are free not to become involved.

"Edward" posted the following on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, March 2, 2007 at 9:57 pm: 
Response to Kevin Brown and Linda Tulisso [Linda Kaplan], authors of letter that appears in #40.
I am relieved to hear that the Fellowship Council is concerned at last about the invasion of my privacy!
Does this mean that you will no longer send out spies to collect information about me if I attend Adyashanti meetings in the Bay Area? Does this mean you will not consult third parties about my reading, my plans, my activities? Does this mean you will no longer “research” the sexual activities of my friends, as occurred in some of the posts above?
A dozen years ago, a Fellowship member was sent to REMOVE fliers from mailboxes at the (then) Lincoln Lodge. Am I now to understand that, respecting my privacy, you will now assume that I can sort my own unsolicited mail, and throw away what I do not wish to read?
I receive lots of spam every day, and had no idea that it was illegal. Usually, I just delete my junk mail without reading, and do not need any recourse to the law. We all know that “mailing lists” are regularly bought and sold. I had no idea that this was illegal.
I have read the U.S. Constitution a number of times over the years. Can you please tell me where I am protected from unsolicited mail and spam in it? Not only in the U.S. Constitution, but in “international treaties,” etc.? I am eager to know my rights.
I will sleep easier tonight knowing that the Fellowship Council is ever-vigilant about the invasion of my privacy. Reminding me of what I have a “right” not to become involved with – especially coupled with Yoad’s recent email informing me of how to spend my time, what is wasting it, etc. – I feel deeply guided by a conscious organization with my best interests at heart.

"Traveler" posted the following on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, March 7, 2007 at 7:21 a.m." 
Who’s afraid of the big bad blog:
Dear Friends:
Thank you for the many supportive responses to our recent message about invasion of our rights of privacy.
At this time, when the most powerful teachings from Influence C are being revealed and shared, there are a number of anonymous people who use the Internet to harass the Teacher, the School and its members.
The people involved in these activities use false names, stolen identities, copyright violations, defamation, and tactics of negativity. Among other instances, Asaf’s name has been misappropriated and used for false e-mails containing vulgar profanities. Yesterday Linda Tulisso’s [Linda Kaplan] name and picture were falsely used to cast her and Fellowship Management in a negative, false light and to provide a link for unauthorized access to copyrighted materials on Propylaia. It is currently known that this has now gone beyond students with visible roles, such as Asaf and Linda. It now includes stealing names of other students for use in false cyber communications because of their national origin so as to falsely deceive friends in other countries into thinking that one of their fellow student countrymen, be it from Japan, Russia, etc., is actually sponsoring negative attacks against the Teacher and the School.
As with other recent privacy rights violations, the Fellowship takes these matters seriously and reports all such matters to governmental agencies at State and Federal levels as well as in other countries and the European Community for investigation and prosecution. In recent years, the U.S. government, every State, and country have passed strong criminal laws against cyber tactics of identity theft, false representation, and anonymous annoyances and harassment of private individuals and organizations. Law enforcement agencies can trace anonymous or false messages to its source.
If you wish to help, you may forward to the Fellowship’s office any such e-mails, web pages, blogs, CDs or MP3 files you have received, either directly or indirectly, electronically, or by regular mail. Please include a brief factual description including your name, address where it was received, the date of receipt of the communication, and the source, if known. If you have received communications via mail, we would appreciate your including the envelope and/or packaging when you forward this to the Fellowship’s office.
These laws exist to protect all people in all countries. The people involved in the current harassment have openly stated their intent to violate these laws to destroy the School, to injure students and the Teacher. These invasive tactics are not innocent nor can they remain hidden.
The School and our Teacher and friends have been attacked before but we have become stronger and deeper through the transformation of this friction. It is therefore before us to address these matters with presence and with vigilance.
All students should feel free to discuss any of these matters or concerns with their center directors, regional coordinators, the Council, Fellowship Ministers, and Fellowship management.
Thank you for your help, diligence, and presence.
Kevin Brown, Council Dean
Linda Tulisso [Linda Kaplan], Fellowship President

"Tim Campion" posted the following on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, March 7, 2007 at 7:44 pm:
Shock and awe.
It took some time for the forces of freedom to arrive (as presented in posts by Cry Baby and Laughing). It is now safe to speak freely.
In the school, I often heard the expression “as above, so below.” But, “as without, so within?” This “damage control” indeed sounds much like the Bush Administration’s all-encompassing “War on Terror”.
Intimidation can muzzle conscience, but it does not necessarily stop it.
“All students should feel free to discuss any of these matters or concerns with their center directors, regional coordinators, the Council, Fellowship Ministers, and Fellowship management.”
If you should NOT feel free, then this extraordinary forum, might offer an alternate means of expression.
Thanks, Sheik, for your moderation.

"No person" posted on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog,  on May 23, 2007 at 4:24 a.m.:
And it’s nice to get to know the real face of the FOF too- not the smiley one. This face is kind of ugly. Here’s the latest KGB attempt to control our free discussion: 
Our friend V. (professional programmer) amongst others was recently asked by Kevin Brown to do some HACKING on this blog to trace who is writing there and basically spy on friends. He refused to do it and left the school.
Nice going, Kevin! Looks like you really sold your soul together with your conscience… What’s next? Whom are you going to hire – snipers, may be? ;) I already heard some very funny/scary threats coming from “inner circle” towards some bloggers… Not scared, sorry. You guys are simply disgusting… And pathetic.
Dear V., I absolutely admire your noble behavior. You are a hero in my book. Come visit us any time please.

"Vladimir Strugatsky" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, May 25, 2007 at 3:57 am:
Assuming that I am the “friend V.” referred to in post #14, the story is completely untrue. I was not asked by Kevin or anyone else to do anything illegal or even questionable.

- Vladimir Strugatsky
"Pensate un attimo" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, October 24, 2007:
This morning message from ‘the teacher’:
wow!!
Dear Students,

Although you may have read or heard something different, all students are reminded that the exercise of not spending unnecessary time with former members has not been changed. All members are also requested to refrain from reading and participating on what is known as the “Blog” and the “greater fellowship” or similar websites. [ed. - Emphasis added]


Robert stated: “This exercise comes from Influence C. You can support Influence C and not be a denying force to Influence C.”

The Fellowship of Friends

"Traveler" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, March 23, 2007:
Re Girard’s letter to all students. I find that addressing public letters, written in a negative tone, personally to him, telling him what he should or should not do, is also a rather cheap shot. Let’s not lash out at him personally, from a position of anonymity or otherwise. Let’s instead look at what he has written.

“In response to some confusion among students regarding how they should respond to the “Fellowship blog,” I am writing to offer a few suggestions.”

In other words, assuming that he is telling the truth, there were people inside the Fellowship who came to him saying: Girard, there is this blog on the internet that’s making me feel funny and I don’t know how I should respond. Can you make up my mind?

So clearly, his letter is not addressed to those of you who have already decided that reading and writing to the blog is a good idea. It is addressed to those who are feeling confused and seeking an authority to tell them what is right action. You are free to stop reading it now, before it makes you righteously indignant. But for the sake of analysis, I will continue. :)

“The higher parts associated with true personality may have a genuine interest in what is occurring within the School and what is being reported — truly or falsely — on the blog, but one must watch carefully to recognize when that need has been satisfied and a lower part of oneself has ascended.”

See, here’s an actual attempt to not paint the blog in an entirely negative light, as did previous Fellowship communiques to students. I guess it has become something we can no longer turn a blind eye to.

“The same applies to responding to the blog, only here the questions I would ask myself are what are my aims and what part of me do they come from; what would I hope to accomplish; who do I wish to communicate with, and to what purpose?”

I find Girard’s suggestion quite a reasonable one. Yes, let’s try to write our contributions from a more neutral, observing part of ourselves, and let’s recognize when we’re writing not in order to share information and understanding, but in order to be hurtful and get back at someone, before we click submit. This will keep the blog at a high level.

In other words: if we resort to personal attacks, the Fellowship will have every right to point a finger and say “see how negative and identified they are”. Now does that motivate you?

“If one posts something to the blog, no matter what its contents are, one is essentially communicating with former students, and we have a task to minimize that as much as possible. There are many reasons for this task, so before submitting something to the blog, I would ask myself what those reasons are and why I felt it was necessary to override them.”

My regret here is that Girard does not inform us what those reasons for the task are, though he does stress that there are many. And I don’t have a copy of “Creating a Soul” handy to refer to it and find out the reasons. Traditionally it has been explained that not communicating with former students would give them a better chance of coming back. This sounds very noble and selfless. We are doing the former students a favor by ignoring them.

So based on this, one can proceed to ask oneself if one’s aim is to cause former students to rejoin. If yes, and assuming one believes RB that the best way to get them to rejoin is to leave them alone, one would be justified in staying away from the blog. And all parties will be happy. Those who only wish to follow don’t need saving.

But Girard, perhaps intentionally, does not touch on another important topic that is more icky to consider. The blog has become a place for current students to meet and talk about issues that they would not feel comfortable expressing publicly inside the school, particularly not to those persons in power listed as the ones who can help. That in itself is a commentary on what’s rotten in the land of Isis. People are afraid to speak their mind.

“However, those are my answers, based on my verifications. Some students may find it useful to read them, but it is still necessary for each student who comes into contact with the blog to establish his own relation to it.”

See, again he is using relativity. He could have stopped there. But he complements it with…

“And although I do not wish to answer those questions for anyone, I do wish to go on record as saying that frankly I now feel that I have better ways to use my time and energy.”

… an answer for those who still feel confused, what they could perhaps model themselves on, and what they could use as a canned response, next time. (“Girard says…”)

In the Fellowship you will get guidance on how to behave. That’s just the way it is, and that’s what you signed up for. So the reactions from authority figures are hardly surprising. If you can’t stand the control, don’t rant and rave about it, just get out of the strait jacket.

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