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.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

The Thirty Imperishable Stars send a 30-year veteran packing

[ed. - "The Thirty Imperishable Stars" refers to one of the tools in Burton's "new teaching." Some claim the introduction of new concepts, including The Sequence, The Bible Keys, and the Imperishable Stars, along with the move away from the writings of Gurdjieff and Ouspensky, precipitated the mass exodus beginning in late 2006 or early 2007. Others claim "the Sheik's blog" was the primary cause. Below, "birdsong" offers their reasons for departing.]

"birdsong" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, March 28, 2007:
I’ve been looking at the blog weekly for a couple of weeks now and thought I would try participating. I’m not a blogger so the form and sometimes the adversarial tone that it takes seem foreign, but I’ve been told that can happen in cyberspace. Thank you, Sheik, for making this communication possible.

I left the FOF about two months ago after almost 30 years. I tried the new form and found it intrusive to the presence that was already there. For years RB would tell us his tennis teacher told him “Don’t change a winning game out of novelty or boredom.” In my opinion, he changed a winning game by changing the form of the school so drastically.

I love RB but cannot deny that there seems to be sexual misconduct that is not congruent with being a spiritual teacher. I had to come to terms with this and my best thinking on this matter was that staying in the FOF not only condoned the sexual misconduct but enabled it.

RB taught me so much over the 30 years and he was always so very kind and so there with whatever was happening. Early in the 80’s there were occasional dinners at Anna G’s house for RB, Anna, and six other students. I was at one of the dinners and at the end of the dinner it was raining very hard. As we were leaving and he was kissing us good bye, he realized that no one else had a car, so he offered us all a ride home. We all got into his car, and he drove us to our homes in the Court of the Caravans. It was touching, and the love I have for him continues.

"SURE THING!" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, March 29, 2007:

Re Post 254 [above]–very sweet story about the dinner –thank you.

…rain is still falling and the teacher is still taking people for a ride…

so what has really changed? is it inside or outside?

Have you tried to embrace the change in direction of the school/teaching with the being you have build for so many years? Why would Robert not go in the direction he feels has been shown to him? (and of course, you too are doing that–can it be any different?).

I do not believe that by being a member we are necessarily condoning any wrong behavior, just as Catholics donating to their church are not supporting the many priests gone bad…

the FOF is on a smaller scale but really so far from this blog, we should recognize that all of this is just rumour mill, gossip and so far there is no one daring to come forward that says there is anything not consented to occurring anywhere. is all of this really worth this loss to you that you are clearly feeling?

Reading your post, I can almost feel your pain–remember you are not alone, wherever you go. Thank you again.

Once again, a contribution from

Sure Thing!

"member" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, March 29, 2007:

I am a member. Are there frictions and injustices with FOF, of course. That is the nature of living on planet earth. I do not think it will be possible to find a perfect School and have it run the way we want it. Schools are not meant to be a democracy, “thank God”.

From my stand point I am in a real School that helps me to awaken and I have not seen anything out there that comes close to it. I also have a Real Teacher, who happens to be a human and likes sex and is open on some level about it. (Consciousness is not functions, Ouspensky 101)[ed. - Yet Burton is quite obsessed with the control of others' "functions"!]

There are elements of truth and sincerity all over this blog, but there is also alot of judgement, opinions, and sarcasm. I sincerely feel that it is fine for former members to have a forum to express their grievences [sic], thoughts and even criticisms; somehow I think it should be more private, I say this for their sake for I think they would go further internally in gaining insight into questions, and problems they have had with the FOF in the past.

FOF members and others were “lured” for lack of a better word into this blog, and got spammed an email from someone saying they were from the FOF administration with this link. So on some level I would consider this improper, deceptive and juvenile, and then all this blogging that follows seems to focus on how the FOF has deceived and lured them. A little ironic! [ed. - We will not talk about how prospective members were lured...]

One other note is that most of the things written is nothing new under the sun. There is nothing sinister or cultish about the FOF [bolds added]; but it is a controlled environment, which is needed in any “School” if one wishes to “know oneself” and be more “awake” (my opinion). One is free to leave FOF at anytime.

[ed. - A postscript. The phrase, "One is free to leave FOF at anytime" has been written and spoken since the beginning of the Fellowship. Yet, everyone knows how difficult it is to walk away from your family, your friends, your investment of time, energy, and money in something you believed was genuine. Hard for you, but somehow easy for the Fellowship to let you go (unless, that is, you have considerable wealth, or are a young, naive, and attractive heterosexual male.)]

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