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, April 13, 2007

Comrade, on predictions

"Comrade" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, April 13, 2007:
Hello everyone,

None of this is breaking news, but I felt someone had to say it.

Today, April 12, 2007, is the 9th Anniversary of an interesting date in the history of the Fellowship: Robert Burton predicted a cataclysmic earthquake would occur on April 12, 1998. He said California would fall into the Pacific Ocean.

Because of this predicted cataclysm, RB stated that Renaissance (Apollo, Isis), which is located approximately 1,500 feet above sea level, would become near ocean-front property. He began making these statements approximately 20 years earlier, and the prediction became an integral part of his idea that the Fellowship would become an “ark” — a safe haven for esoteric knowledge, the sciences, and fine art. A new civilization would spring up from the ashes. RB said the “fall of California” would be a precursor to a much larger event that would have occurred about five months ago on November 11, 2006 — a nuclear war that would destroy civilization.

The date of November 11th, 2006 was such a central part of RB’s comments for so many years, it would have been hard to imagine that the date would pass with barely any mention. But the date has passed, and the predictions are a distant memory.

However, I think it’s very difficult for outside observers to really understand what’s occurring in the Fellowship without emphasizing the significance of these predictions. In 1984, there would be a stock market crash that would lead to a depression. In 1987, there would be a war in the Middle East that would get us out of the depression. In 1998, California would fall. In 2006, nuclear war. The ark, in the meantime, would be built year-by-year in preparation for these big events. The ark would be self-sustaining, and a new civilization would begin where the small town of Oregon House, Calif., now rests.

People have had very different experiences with these predictions. Some may have rolled their eyes. Some may have tolerated it, but really didn’t care. Or maybe they tried not to think of it. When the stock market didn’t crash in 1984 as predicted, RB said that his teaching was always about self-remembering, and that his teaching was still about self-remembering even after the failed prediction. On occasion, he even joked about his poor track record as a prophet.

But his teaching WAS very much about the predictions. For many, many years, it was part of the dogma. Despite the failed prediction in 1984, RB never backed down from his prediction of the fall of California, and for nuclear war in 2006. Many of his comments for several years were focused on these predicted events, and how the Fellowship needed to prepare for it, and how these events were related to the Fellowship’s connection to Higher Forces. Not only was he predicting these events, but these events were to occur to fulfill the destiny of the Fellowship.

As 1998 drew closer, a considerable amount of pressure was placed on members to move away from Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Sacramento, and to start new lives at Apollo. Some resisted and left the Fellowship. Others did not leave but still resisted the idea. Many members quit their jobs along the coastal cities and began new businesses from home offices in Oregon House. Some of them joined the Fellowship or RVW payroll, while some retired prematurely from their careers and simply waited for the event to occur. When it didn’t occur, many people were able to find a new life in Oregon House, while others suffered serious financial consequences. Overall, the prediction contributed to a population increase in the area, and the number of local members grew to over 700.

There’s much more to tell, but that’s the basic history of these predictions as I recall it.

Now for some editorial commentary:

It’s hard for most of us to deny the possibility of nuclear war — it could happen. When or if it will happen, we don’t know. We hope not. We hope there is a growing global consciousness that many of us have been speaking of, and that we can contribute to that in our own ways, and that a catastrophic war with the unimaginable suffering that would accompany it could be avoided. Even then, we know the power of Nature, and the power of the Earth. So we know that cataclysmic earthquakes are not out of the question either — although most geologists would doubt the likelihood of anything on the scale that RB predicted.

I never rolled my eyes, though. I for one, always believed that RB’s predictions were possible, and the anticipation of such events produced an odd sort of presence at times. It reminded me of the precious little time that I have, and the precious little time that I have with the ones I love.

I have always sensed that RB believed what he was predicting. On the other hand, I can’t deny that such predictions are the stuff that cults are made of. It’s typical: see the infamous YouTube videos in earlier posts.
When RB said his teaching was always about self-remembering I took that to heart. I truly believed that, and part of me still does.

But many of us are afraid that another possibility is post 6/112 by Don Juan.

Could both be true? Is the Fellowship suffering from a type of “double crystallization”? On the one hand, we have a beautiful and perfect teaching that has given us so much. On the other hand, we have failed prophecies and destructive cult behavior. Cognitive dissonance indeed.

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