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.

Thursday, March 1, 2007

On Narcissistic Personality Disorder

"Vena" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, March 1, 2007:
Dear Courageous Friends,

I agree with a recent observation that the move away from Gurdjieff and Ouspensky has coincided with a great awakening for many. Probably not because O and G and the Fourth Way are not valid ways but because when Robert Burton began to desperately try and concoct a system of his own by cobbling together bits and pieces of other great systems it became obvious that he doesn’t know what he is talking about.
It truly seems to be the “Fellowsheep of Friends” or perhaps the “Fellowship of Fools.”

Every whim of his has been justified by explanations like, “We are doing this for the Ark” or “This is the will of C Influence.” Some of these whims have included collections of Meissen Porcelain, Steinway pianos, rare books, Eighteen Century French Furniture, An Art Library (when he was trying to reinvent himself as Bernard Berenson), Eighteenth Century European Painting, and Ming Furniture. Many of these collections contained costly fakes and forgeries and the cost to the members has almost been incalculable. During these phases he attempted to build a book bindery which was aborted and now serves as a “Town Hall”, a grandiose winery which also was aborted, a French Chateau (full of gaudy antiques, full length portraits of himself and grotesque murals), a Greek Theatron when he was fashioning his empire after a Greek city state, which was also never finished. Literally millions of dollars have been poured into these aborted projects and yet as he moves on to the next phase no one mentions the abandoned, costly and failed projects but the fund raising just continues as before. What greater proof of sleep of the members could one ask for?

The whole show has been so fantastic that no one could have made it up as a piece of fiction.

I personally wonder if this school and all its manifestations are the result of a serious disorder which I mentioned in an earlier posting. I have enclosed a list of the major characteristics of this disorder. After reading them I felt that I recognized the cause and reason for the existence of the Fellowship and all its attitudes. I also wished, in spite of the damage he has done, that Robert Burton could be helped. Does anyone in or out think there is any possibility of this or any reason or obligation to try?

Warm regards to All, Vena

p.s. I feel sick at my stomach after reading the posting from “Inner Circle Facts” but I thank him for revealing these things. Perhaps it will help some to wake up to the truth.
Proposed Amended Criteria for the Narcissistic Personality Disorder

Feels grandiose and self-important (e.g., exaggerates accomplishments, talents, skills, contacts, and personality traits to the point of lying, demands to be recognized as superior without commensurate achievements);

Is obsessed with fantasies of unlimited success, fame, fearsome power or omnipotence, unequalled brilliance (the cerebral narcissist), bodily beauty or sexual performance (the somatic narcissist), or ideal, everlasting, all-conquering love or passion;

Firmly convinced that he or she is unique and, being special, can only be understood by, should only be treated by, or associate with, other special or unique, or high-status people (or institutions);

Requires excessive admiration, adulation, attention and affirmation – or, failing that, wishes to be feared and to be notorious (Narcissistic Supply);

Feels entitled. Demands automatic and full compliance with his or her unreasonable expectations for special and favorable priority treatment;

Is “interpersonally exploitative”, i.e., uses others to achieve his or her own ends;
Devoid of empathy. Is unable or unwilling to identify with, acknowledge, or accept the feelings, needs, preferences, priorities, and choices of others;

Constantly envious of others and seeks to hurt or destroy the objects of his or her frustration. Suffers from persecutory (paranoid) delusions as he or she believes that they feel the same about him or her and are likely to act similarly;

Behaves arrogantly and haughtily. Feels superior, omnipotent, omniscient, invincible, immune, “above the law”, and omnipresent (magical thinking). Rages when frustrated, contradicted, or confronted by people he or she considers inferior to him or her and unworthy.

By: Dr. Sam Vaknin
Author of “Malignant Self Love – Narcissism Revisited”
“You are after something your entire life, some goal. Enlightenment is giving it up.” Zen Master

“Be quiet, stay unattached to your thoughts and don’t make efforts.” Papaji

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