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 21, 2007

The Keys, The Sequence, and The Thirty Imperishable Stars. Oh, my!

Fellowship of Friends Living Presence Thirty Imperishable Stars
Photo source

"Traveler" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, March 21, 2007:
Warning! The following may be construed as Wit, but is meant to be taken quite seriously (at least in the Fellowship).


Fill in the blanks:

When you see … of something, it means …

2 = first and second work i of the sequence, be and hold

3 = one half of the sequence; (also occurs as a triangle) – means pyramid or thirty sacred work i’s

4 = the middle of the sequence, the fourth step, the interval, the lower self trying to take away our presence – but can also mean prolonged presence, four wordless breaths, after the end of the sequence

5 = the sequence, the first five i’s of it, with the sixth one standing apart from them

6 = the sequence, obviously

7 = prolonged presence or seventh heaven, after a sequence is finished

8 = prolonged presence, four wordless breaths (in + out = 8)

9 = nine of hearts promoting presence, of course

10 = the sequence (6 + 4 = 10); but it can also mean 30 (see 30)

11 = we don’t have a key yet

12 = see 6

15 = see 30

30 (or approximately 30) = thirty sacred work i’s, the imperishable stars that all schools in the past have used

44 = not a part of the new teaching, but it used to mean influence C

more than 44, many = the ten thousand idiots, many i’s unrelated to promoting presence

These are messages for schools from C influence. All schools in the past have known this. Life is not able to see schools because it is artificially complex. We are so different from life.

Also, 12 may acquire another meaning soon. Robert has been heard dropping gleeful remarks about how a cataclysmic event may strike in 2012. (Claim is corroborated by the Mayans.) Watch another prediction in the making.

[ed. - The following exchange shows a set-up used by Fellowship members on the blog. A "seeker" or "life person" (actually, a member) expresses shock at the blog's accusations. Then a Fellowship member, possibly the very same person, steps in to assure the "seeker" of the Fellowship's legitimacy. This particular example may or may not be such a case, but there have been many on the blog, especially in its early days.

Below, a "softball" is offered up, and a long-term member, possibly Peter I., provides a lesson in applying the Sequence.]

"Seeker" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, March 3, 2007:
My understanding is that FOF is a Fourth Way School. I am not a member but I have read books by G and O and I found them to be difficult, challenging and yet, quite engaging. I would think that a forum on FOF would be a place where like-minded people (friends) could chat (fellowship) about how the writings of G and O have affected their thinking and how the writings of RB compare, e.g., does RB add or detract from the knowledge contained in the books of his predecessors? What knowledge has RB advanced that has enabled members to acheive [sic] higher states of self-remembering for themselves? In other words, are you getting your money’s worth…literally and figuratively? And if so, in what ways has that made your life different?

If, if fact RB is a criminal, then he should (and most likely will) be dealt with accordingly. However, I am disappointed that this forum, rather than discussing awakening, is instead become a clearing house for individual rants that border on libel at worst and emcompass [sic] the realm of self-indulgence to a point where some posters seem to sense they have become omnipotent and thereby capable of rendering final judgement on any and all who express an opinion at best.

So, if this forum is for RB bashing, then I have wasted my time, but if someone wants to submit how their membership has led them to achieve higher states, I am interested.

"almost 30" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, March 3, 2007:
re [63] [above] I have been a member for almost three decades. Self-remembering, along with the non-expression of negativity, have been the cornerstones of the teaching since the beginning. All the other tantalizing knowledge about types, center of gravity, alchemy, chief feature, identification pale in comparison to these two with Self-remembering being the greater.

I have used many techniques to try to remember myself and the biggest obstacle has always been imagination. It is very seldom one even remembers to make the effort because of imagination and then the effort is soon squashed by more imagination. This may seem silly but try it and see.

The techniques with which I have had the most success are the looking and listening exercises in conjunction with stopping thoughts. I’ve generally used the listening exercise while at a concert or out in nature where there is pleasant background (white) noise. The effort is to stop thoughts, hear the noise in all its complexity, and be present. The looking exercise can be used almost anytime one is not doing anything in particular and would normally be in prolonged imagination (driving a car, walking on the street, in a waiting room). You would be surprised after doing some analysis how much of one’s time is spent in prolonged imagination. The effort is to stop thoughts and then intentionally look at different objects or the scenery, shifting ones gaze every three seconds or so to thwart any associations with what one is looking at which inevitably send one back into imagination.

Although sincere efforts to remember myself always raises my state at least a little bit, prolonged presence occurs more rarely. But it *DOES* occur sometimes. I can produce a higher state at will at least sometimes and for a little while, and I’m getting better at it.

The form of the teaching started to change a couple of years ago. The emphasis on G and O was diminished, although that system is still used with newer students as that background is still incredibly important. Robert started following clues here and there from the esoteric literature where he was able to consolidate the ideas of the forth way into 30 one syllable work I’s. Each of these work I’s represent a larger idea of the system. So instead of using a phrase “I’m in imagination again, try to do the looking exercise”, one would intone internally the syllable “look”. The one syllable part makes it more clear if you are actually self remembering or just thinking about self remembering. The one syllable helps promote the stopping of thoughts better than a whole thought does. These work I’s do not replace anything. The background with the fourth way knowledge is indispensable.

Robert has finally arrived at the sequence, which has been refined through his and others use over the last several months. In its current iteration, one intones internally six of the thirty in this sequence with a space of about one breath, followed by four wordless breaths for a total of ten:


The theme is selected from a small subset of the thirty, other than the four that are fixed. The idea is to try to do as many sequences as possible in series. One would only use sequences at times when one would normally be in prolonged imagination, usually when alone or with someone you are not talking to but enjoying each others presence instead. This is why the theme comes from just a subset of the thirty. In other situations, such as a conversation, the work I talk (speak with presence) could be used individually to remind one where it would be silly in a situation where one would use a sequence. The theme I use the most is look:


Of course if you just try to do sequences, nothing will happen. It will not work as has been pointed out. And yet for me, this somewhat superficial reconfiguration of my efforts to remember myself, especially in conjunction with the looking and listening exercises, has been miraculous. My efforts produce more experiences with prolonged presence and I remember to make the effort more often. I can honestly say that the sequence has increased the effectiveness of my efforts by at least a magnitude. Very exciting times!

So, as you have intuitively already figured out, the omnipotent pundants [sic] do not actually speak for everyone.

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