Introduction


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 most recently the October 2018 "Fall of California Redux.")

But according to Burton, Armageddon still looms in our future and when it finally arrives, non-believers shall perish, while through the direct intervention and guidance from 44 angels (recently expanded to 81 angels, including himself and his divine father, Leonardo da Vinci) Burton and his followers shall 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 from official Fellowship publications and websites, news archives, court documents, cult education and awareness forums, the Internet Archive, the long-running Fellowship of Friends - Living Presence Discussion, the (former) Fellowship of Friends wikispace project, the (ill-fated 2007) Fellowship of Friends Wikipedia page, 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, May 31, 2007

Elena Haven scrutinizes Robert Burton's "model of a conscious being"

[ed. - Elena refers to "alchemy," which in the Fellowship of Friends refers to both an innate sense of refinement (or lack thereof) and an acquired or learned sense of refinement. According to Burton's teaching, there are four levels of alchemy, from coarser to finer: lead, copper, silver, gold. And in Burton's view the emulation of "gold alchemy" is the objective (while remembering yourself, of course.) Early on, under the guidance of Sheila Wallace and others, teaching members (and especially Arkansas-born, butcher's son Burton) "refinement" was more akin to attending "finishing school."]

"Elena" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, May 31, 2007:
Here are some questions for Siddiq, Howard Carter [both "officially sanctioned" Fellowship bloggers] and those still in the Fellowship who would wish to consider such things.

Robert Burton’s main activity is finding sattisfaction [sic] for his sexual identification [in this case, "obsession". His secondary activity is keeping the Fellowship of Friends running so that he can support his first activity, or main identification. Here I would like to explore why students cannot see that for what it is, what sort of mental processes have been instilled in us to accept those facts and pretend that Robert is a conscious being that should not be questioned in any way and on the contrary be supported indefinitely.

One of the reasons students accept this situation without confronting it is the fact that many of us had taken homosexuality as an acceptable condition and Robert’s private life as something one did not have a right to interfere with. A friend once wanted to tell me how wild it was at the galleria and I told him not to do so, that Robert was my teacher and I accepted his privacy or right to his own individuality.

I did this because I was at the same time struggling with so much baggage of my own, including my own homosexuality, that I thought it was human enough to simply accept that we were all struggling towards a more conscious life including Robert.

I know I at least believed in Robert’s consciousness because I highly valued the consistent focusing on presence and working with the system as a whole gave worthwhile understandings and results. Having center meetings when abroad was an interesting confrontation with other students and while a director in Colombia the interchange of experiences in the work was so fruitful that most students haven’t even left. But once in Isis Apollo, the consistent contradictions between what I thought a healthy community should be and what actually happened was so powerful that it finally got me out. What I am interested in looking at is the type of ‘Is’ or indoctrination that held me inside for so long. I know hundreds of students have similar friction with what is happening at Isis today but the knowledge of all the different ‘I’s that continue to support it is not widespread enough.

One of the major influence on students is Girard’s indoctrination which has definitely been picked up over time by the spokesmen of the Fellowship. Many have picked and adapted it to their own weaknesses and necessary justifications.

In Girard’s and now Asaf’s exposition, the main emphasis is set on the idea that Robert is so far beyond any one of us that every word he says is law that cannot be questioned. (What is worth observing is that most of this indoctrination is not even something that is said, it is an attitude that is held. Attitudes, that is where the problems are). This is Indoctrination Number One in the Fellowship of Friends. So here are some questions that may be worth considering:

Is Robert really that different from any one else? Do his good clothes make him a better man than you? Are you attracted to the fact that he made it for himself? That he lives all his lust as everybody else should live it? Is this part of the American Dream?

Does he not seem as identified or worse than you with the way he pursues young men?

With the way he spends money?

With the way he avoids you personally? And yet demands that you look at him in the eyes so that you really think he is telling the truth?

With alchemy itself as almost a fixation to have everything look “beautiful” but more than beautiful, up to the standards of a gay man’s conditioning?

Have you ever thought about what it is like to be in a gay man’s conditioning? What is the difference between Robert or another gay man in terms of his behavior?

(It is not casual that many, many, older gay men with money, have this kind of alchemy, so it is worth paying attention to it and not confusing it for consciousness, for it is not.)

Is there not something to say for the fact that Robert in his alchemy, can have no contact with nature, simple organic nature and this has been justified as the ideal of consciousness by implication so that within Isis we have all accepted to live under this conditioning?

If Robert is so badly conditioned by his own mechanics, was not the idea of consciousness that individuals would free themselves from such mechanicality? At what point did you exchange that understanding for the acceptance that Robert could continue being as subject or subjective as you and still be a man number seven?

Do you really want to be under Robert’s all encompassing rules about everything that happens in the Fellowship for the rest of your life? Is that what you call developing your consciousness? If you answer yes to this question, can I ask, Where are you? Where did you leave your alchemy? Your own inclinations? The way you yourself understood things?

What makes you think that you can give them up to someone else? Were there not four alchemys [sic] in the system and all equal? What made you adapt to somebody else’s alchemy as if it was the synonimous [sic] to consciousness? Do you really think dressing up two or three times a day to exchange from your personality to your fellowship personality is a great deal? Do you really think good clothes will do it for you? And if you don’t then why has your life being reduced to wearing good clothes to events that you cannot actively participate in, only accept somebody else’s thinking and ideas? Do you really feel that good about yourself when you go to these events? What do you like about them? Does it not matter to you that you don’t like so many things about them? What implications do you think it has on your being to give up many things that you like and accept many things that you don’t like.

You could answer, it separates me from the emotional centre and its mechanicality, therefore I can see myself more objectively. Good, then why do you think you have to be subject to Robert’s mechanicality if you are so willing to give up your own. Do you really think his mechanicality is better than yours?

If we look at the theories Robert is talking about, is it not a fact that we’ve seen him making them up as he goes along, changing, adding and removing as it suits him?

Have you ever thought that the worst indoctrination comes from simply not allowing yourself to think about anything but what Robert is saying? endlessly?

That most students feel they are not good students when they don’t do it more? That you’ve become used to accepting your self as a failure because you don’t do the sequence all the time and are not trying to remember yourself all the time? And that it is not a failure but actually the little of you that is left without indoctrination? The little of you that you keep trying to destroy so that you become a good student?

The justifications from the inner circle to swallow these very strange behavior of making things up as he goes along, in this, “last conscious being on the planet”, are: that he is exploring higher consciousness, that he is inviting us to explore with him, that he is not formatory [behaving "mechanically"], that it is very exiting to be a part of such a man’s exploration of his consciousness…

and then when you really press the point that, this is supposed to be the last conscious being on the planet then you get the answer that “Oh, nobody believes that!” and, “suppose he is not the last conscious being on the planet but one of a hundred or even a thousand in six billion people, he is still a conscious being on the planet” So there you stand, you against Girard or Asaf or all the other great inner adepts that like to stand up to these reasoning and you settle for it for years adapting to the subtle indoctrination that just happened to you without your ever thinking that you were being indoctrinated. In fact when I confront Girard with these things, he says, “I have never indoctrinated students” but I was deeply indoctrinated by him and by the other many students of his generation, older and younger, who used him, loved him perhaps, accepted him and his role to pull it all together with this very questionable reasoning, one in which, in the end, one adapts to letting go of the disonance [sic] that initiated it and accepting the dogma at the cost of the development of one’s own self and the gradual development of two personalities to put up with the dissonances. It is not just a game, it is a very dangerous game in case you haven’t realized it yet.

Can you really not see two personalities in the private life Robert leads and his teacher role?

Elena on how people accept Robert Burton's sexual activity

"Elena" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, May 31, 2007 at 3:26 a.m.:
Here are some questions for Siddiq, Howard Carter [bloggers] and those still in the Fellowship who would wish to consider such things.
Robert Burton’s main activity is finding satisfaction for his sexual identification. His secondary activity is keeping the Fellowship of Friends running so that he can support his first activity, or main identification. Here I would like to explore why students cannot see that for what it is, what sort of mental processes have been instilled in us to accept those facts and pretend that Robert is a conscious being that should not be questioned in any way and on the contrary be supported indefinitely.
One of the reasons students accept this situation without confronting it is the fact that many of us had taken homosexuality as an acceptable condition and Robert’s private life as something one did not have a right to interfere with. A friend once wanted to tell me how wild it was at the galleria and I told him not to do so, that Robert was my teacher and I accepted his privacy or right to his own individuality.
I did this because I was at the same time struggling with so much baggage of my own, including my own homosexuality, that I thought it was human enough to simply accept that we were all struggling towards a more conscious life including Robert.
I know I at least believed in Robert’s consciousness because I highly valued the consistent focusing on presence and working with the system as a whole gave worthwhile understandings and results. Having center meetings when abroad was an interesting confrontation with other students and while a director in Colombia the interchange of experiences in the work was so fruitful that most students haven’t even left. But once in Isis, the consistent contradictions between what I thought a healthy community should be and what actually happened was so powerful that it finally got me out. What I am interested in looking at is the type of ‘Is’ or indoctrination that held me inside for so long. I know hundreds of students have similar friction with what is happening at Isis today but the knowledge of all the different ‘I’s that continue to support it is not widespread enough.
One of the major influence on students is Girard’s [Girard Haven's] indoctrination which has definitely been picked up over time by the spokesmen of the Fellowship. Many have picked and adapted it to their own weaknesses and necessary justifications.
In Girard’s and now Asaf’s [Asaf Braverman's] exposition, the main emphasis is set on the idea that Robert is so far beyond any one of us that every word he says is law that cannot be questioned. (What is worth observing is that most of this indoctrination is not even something that is said, it is an attitude that is held. Attitudes, that is where the problems are). This is Indoctrination Number One in the Fellowship of Friends. So here are some questions that may be worth considering:
Is Robert really that different from any one else? Do his good clothes make him a better man than you? Are you attracted to the fact that he made it for himself? That he lives all his lust as everybody else should live it? Is this part of the American Dream?
Does he not seem as identified or worse than you with the way he pursues young men?
With the way he spends money?
With the way he avoids you personally? And yet demands that you look at him in the eyes so that you really think he is telling the truth?
With alchemy itself as almost a fixation to have everything look “beautiful” but more than beautiful, up to the standards of a gay man’s conditioning?
Have you ever thought about what it is like to be in a gay man’s conditioning? What is the difference between Robert or another gay man in terms of his behavior?
(It is not casual that many, many, older gay men with money, have this kind of alchemy, so it is worth paying attention to it and not confusing it for consciousness, for it is not.)
Is there not something to say for the fact that Robert in his alchemy, can have no contact with nature, simple organic nature and this has been justified as the ideal of consciousness by implication so that within Isis we have all accepted to live under this conditioning?
If Robert is so badly conditioned by his own mechanics, was not the idea of consciousness that individuals would free themselves from such mechanicality? At what point did you exchange that understanding for the acceptance that Robert could continue being as subject or subjective as you and still be a man number seven?
Do you really want to be under Robert’s all encompassing rules about everything that happens in the Fellowship for the rest of your life? Is that what you call developing your consciousness? If you answer yes to this question, can I ask, Where are you? Where did you leave your alchemy? Your own inclinations? The way you yourself understood things? What makes you think that you can give them up to someone else? Were there not four alchemys in the system and all equal?
What made you adapt to somebody else’s alchemy as if it was the synonimous to consciousness? Do you really think dressing up two or three times a day to exchange from your personality to your fellowship personality is a great deal? Do you really think good clothes will do it for you? And if you don’t then why has your life being reduced to wearing good clothes to events that you cannot actively participate in, only accept somebody else’s thinking and ideas?
Do you really feel that good about yourself when you go to these events? What do you like about them? Does it not matter to you that you don’t like so many things about them? What implications do you think it has on your being to give up many things that you like and accept many things that you don’t like.
You could answer, it separates me from the emotional centre and its mechanicality, therefore I can see myself more objectively. Good, then why do you think you have to be subject to Robert’s mechanicality if you are so willing to give up your own. Do you really think his mechanicality is better than yours?
If we look at the theories Robert is talking about, is it not a fact that we’ve seen him making them up as he goes along, changing, adding and removing as it suits him?
Have you ever thought that the worst indoctrination comes from simply not allowing yourself to think about anything but what Robert is saying? endlessly?
That most students feel they are not good students when they don’t do it more? That you’ve become used to accepting your self as a failure because you don’t do the sequence all the time and are not trying to remember yourself all the time? And that it is not a failure but actually the little of you that is left without indoctrination? The little of you that you keep trying to destroy so that you become a good student?
The justifications from the inner circle to swallow these very strange behavior of making things up as he goes along, in this, “last conscious being on the planet”, are: that he is exploring higher consciousness, that he is inviting us to explore with him, that he is not formatory, that it is very exiting to be a part of such a man’s exploration of his consciousness…..
and then when you really press the point that, this is supposed to be the last conscious being on the planet then you get the answer that “Oh, nobody believes that!” and, “suppose he is not the last conscious being on the planet but one of a hundred or even a thousand in six billion people, he is still a conscious being on the planet” So there you stand, you against Girard or Asaf or all the other great inner adepts that like to stand up to these reasoning and you settle for it for years adapting to the subtle indoctrination that just happened to you without your ever thinking that you were being indoctrinated. In fact when I confront Girard with these things, he says, “I have never indoctrinated students” but I was deeply indoctrinated by him and by the other many students of his generation, older and younger, who used him, loved him perhaps, accepted him and his role to pull it all together with this very questionable reasoning, one in which, in the end, one adapts to letting go of the disonance that initiated it and accepting the dogma at the cost of the development of one’s own self and the gradual development of two personalities to put up with the dissonances. It is not just a game, it is a very dangerous game in case you haven’t realized it yet.
Can you really not see two personalities in the private life Robert leads and his teacher role?

Monday, May 28, 2007

Fellowship of Friends videos removed from YouTube

"begorra" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, May 28, 2007:
Hi All,

I had another clip that might tickle some memories of Robert. Incidently [sic], I got these two clips from the FOF website a while back, when I happened to look at it for what ever reason. I was so amazed that they would published clips like these that I saved them. Needless to say they were removed from the site a few days later. … I wonder why.

Fellowship of Friends cult leader Robert Earl Burton leads Galleria meeting
Robert Burton leading Fellowship of Friends meeting at The Galleria (screen capture)

Any psychologists out there want to say some thing about this body language???? Does he even beleive this himself … no he doesn’t and he’s telling the whole world.
Best of luck.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

The Greater Fellowship Reunion

"Ames Gilbert" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, May 10, 2007:
Dear all,

The Greater Fellowship in northern California is happy to announce a great event! We are getting together in North San Juan, outside Nevada City, to celebrate and strengthen our old friendships, make new ones, and deepen our presence together. So, IT’S PARTY TIME, and we invite you all to come make it the best ever!

The party starts Saturday May 26th at 2 p.m. at the North Columbia Cultural Center (see https://web.archive.org/web/20071005232910/http://www.sierrastorytellingfestival.org/maps.html for directions).

The steering committee is providing the venue and the minimum organization to keep things flowing with ease. With this in mind, please RSVP to Ames’ e-mail (below) to help us plan things as best we can.

You bring:

• Your sweet presence
• Food for a potluck beginning about 7 p.m.
• Beverages to your taste
• $15 per adult (to help pay for renting the space, clean-up and insurance)
• Musical instruments if you have them
• Stories to tell, memories to share
• Flexibility and willingness to go with the flow.

There will be something organized for Sunday morning, to be announced during Saturday evening.
There are no camping or other accommodations, but see below.

The party is open to all in the Greater Fellowship (you know who you are!) and their families and children. If you bring children, you are responsible for them (you may want to organize activities for them, as was done successfully in 1995). The weather is likely to be great (80 degree days), but come prepared for cold or wet (we have an indoor venue if needed).

Finally—the event is a guru-free zone!

With love to all,

Ames Gilbert (on behalf of the steering committee)

P.S. don’t worry about any emanations from a small dissident splinter group of the Greater Fellowship based in Oregon House…

[ed. - In the following post, I've taken the liberty of correcting the spelling of several names.]

"In Memoriam" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, June 6, 2007:

Dear Friends,

At the Memorial Day reunion, a little remembrance altar was set up to honor the memory of friends who had been in the Fellowship of Friends, for however long or short a time, and who had passed away. Several of us put together a list of all of those that we could remember, but memory being imperfect, we’re certain that we are missing names. I was recently saddened to have had to add Dorothy Beaulieu’s name to the list.

Our list is posted below, and we would like to ask that, if you know of anyone who should be remembered and has been omitted, please post their name to this discussion. If we’ve misspelled any names, please let us know that, too.

With gratitude,

JonathanF.
“For some we loved, the loveliest and the best
That from his Vintage rolling Time hath prest,
Have drunk their Cup a Round or two before,
And one by one crept silently to rest.”
+——————–+

In Memoriam

Dorothy Beaulieu (Fielding)
Kimo Beech
Ilan Beth
Christopher Billings
Don Birrell
Doris Birrell
Peter Bishop
Charles Boetschi
Diana Bolton
Daryl Bowden
William Burns
Robert Calvillo
Roger Cavanna
Kenneth Clelland
Renato Confalonieri
Ronald Coyle
Stephen Detmold
Adrianna Diaz
Doris Elizabeth
Michael Fleming
Lori Fisher-Smith
Richard Focazio
Charles Forline
Jim Freeman
Christopher Frew
Randolph Giddings
Edward Greaves
Roger Greene
Anna Gold
Howard Hildebrand
Richard Hocking (Hart)
Dianna Ivasko
Gary James
Virginia Jenkins
Francis Kalnay
Joanne Keahey
Susan Kearns
Kevin Kelly
Raymond Kennedy
Cynthia Kingston
Dennis Kocjan
Agnes Kuchuk
Jessica Lee
Matthias McDonald
Rosemary MacDonald
Janet Male
Sharole Manering
Joseph Monteleone
Joseph Moreno
Klair Morris
Thomas Nicholson
David Nikhazy
Kristina Nielsen
Frances Ninemire (Barrett)
Neal O’Brien
Nette Ornbak
Ronald Payton
Maria Rosa Perelli
Joanne Munger Pontecorvo
Alberto Rizzardi
Stanley Robertson
Cassandra (Marianne) Schmidt
Marbin Schmitt
Bill Serrao
Brian Sisler
Mildred Smith
Maxine Topik
Paul Tschirley
Daniella Voss
Karl Werner
Susan Willoughby
Stella Wirk

+——————–+

Friday, May 25, 2007

"P's" story

[ed. - At the writer's request, I have concealed their name throughout this post.]

"P" posted the following on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, May 25, 2007:
Hello everybody,
I have been a consistently grateful spectator of this blog since March and I decided I was not going to write anything before I was able to do so under my own name: ‘thank you’ Kiran for giving me the third force to finally open my story to the public, as I believe it does belong to everybody.
I guess I should start from the simple facts that have been molded and changed and distorted, partly because the reality was unknown to many, who never bothered to question the accuracy of the voices spreading out. It took me one day to write this: I am sorry about its length, but I wanted to be thorough and to convey at least part of my experience.
Well: I joined the school on September 17, 2000 in New York City – that was the day when Girard had his stroke. A couple of years later I moved to Apollo, following a growing desire to plunge into the very heart of what I had found.
Once in Apollo I started – after ending my relationship with A. – a little fling with a Russian guy V., back then part of Robert’s entourage: I was – and still am – very naïve and had no idea about the rules and the dangers of getting close to R. in that sense – even after being warned. In that occasion R. seemed not to mind and to actually approve of what was happening.
During a trip to NYC for a ballet with Robert, Asaf [Asaf Braverman] gently approached me and we became friends; he seemed not preoccupied about my current relationship. Back in Apollo, during the first Russian ballet at the Theatron, V. started to court M. Alexandrova (one of the prima ballerinas in the Bolshoi) before my very eyes and completely forgot about me… R. seemed to approve of his change of mind, as he was very happy to build a strong bound with Masha and the Bolshoi; at the same time Asaf ‘s friendship was growing deeper and stronger; we met, he told me about his feelings and that he wanted to start a relationship with me: he went and asked Robert’s permission. That’s when it all started.
Robert said: NO, Asaf said: YES and for the first time they disagreed and had an argument. RT [Rowena (Renée) Taylor] invited me for tea where she asked me if my relationship with V. was over (well, he went off with Masha!) and then told me Robert was giving me 6 months non-dating exercise. Asaf was asked not to contact me and I was asked to refuse his calls.
During these 6 months (which are still a precious memory), distance made our feelings for one another grow, but we both agreed that we were going to transform them for a higher right … I was not to know until much later that Robert had presented another suggestion to Asaf: given the magnitude of his role, C Influence was preparing a woman for him, who was probably going to be X [ed. - assumed to be Ansley, now Asaf's wife] – who at that time was 13 years old. X and I happened to be very close and actually quite similar (she still is one of my best friends). Asaf took this suggestion very seriously and obviously he felt flattered to have such a special role. We kept crossing each others at X’s house and I started to notice an unusual change in Asaf’s behavior… I kicked that thought aside as it seemed just coming from my Q of hearts [ed. - "queen of hearts", part of the "emotional center"].
My task ended and our friendship continued: A. would come over often for tea and we would just share our Work. One night (it was his birthday) everything changed: we became lovers … what to do now? We knew it could not come out! And then he told me about X, but she was only 13… and Asaf (who was then still Robert’s lover) needed desperately some support and love to be able to continue leaving at the Galleria and fulfill his duties; the internal conflict was overwhelming in us both: we couldn’t lie to the teacher, we couldn’t go against his will, but C Influence was weaving us closer and closer; I felt like Joan of Arc – sort of – and vainly and naively I thought: I can do it! I can serve the school and C Influence by offering my support, even knowing that he is destined to somebody else. I will even help him in his pursue of X. That was what the moment required. It all made perfect sense.
I had to fight my Q of hearts (for whoever is not familiar with the term: jealousy, envy, insecurity, anger…) as it was extremely hard to live the – most of the times partial – intimacy with him and seeing him the next day flirting with X in the agora. Plus we both were heavy, carrying the burden of secrecy and of hiding from the teacher on our conscience; we tried many times to stop our intimacy and just pursue our friendship. The Work was strong, though, and was drawing us closer; we both knew that the play was giving us an amazing opportunity to transform all the friction into higher states: we were both very passionate about the school and sincerely wanted to do our best to serve a higher right. Slowly Asaf’s role was changing: he was no longer Robert’s lover, he started to be involved in the preparation of events and had the responsibility to record all Robert’s thoughts during travels, breakfasts, afternoons… His name was even indicative of this: it means ‘the collector’ in Hebrew. Again, everything made perfect sense: the play was unfolding as expected; Asaf was slowly walking toward his ‘seat’. His need for emotional support and warmth – at least until X would become of age and join the school and finally be his girlfriend – was covered by me.
Our ‘companionship’ lasted two and half years, during which the love and support and understanding we shared, despite or because of the circumstances, was completely unformatory [unconventional] and without equal to this day. It was totally worth it, even though extremely hard at times and emotionally painful: as a result of this during the first year my period stopped altogether, partly due to the stress of living a forbidden love, trying to fight it all the time; I became almost sexually numb. Many times I hoped to find somebody else whom I could have a normal and open relationship with, breaking this triangle in which I was stuck; I also could not bear anymore lying to X, too young and unaware of it all. I was not strong enough to face my buffers and take responsibility for what was happening – I was not ready – and the shock I was meant to receive had to be of a different magnitude and much later.
I moved to the Ming House next door to Benjamin [Benjamin Yudin], right when the Bible Keys began to appear: it was the beginning of the transformation of the form of the school. It was an exciting time and Asaf and I and Benjamin shared the steps toward it. There was our chance: we finally understood why we were brought so close, even thou ‘illegally’ … working together for the teaching was finally going to stop our intimacy for good, which was going to be transformed into what it had always meant to be; Asaf was finally able to declare his love to X and fulfill Robert’s and C Influence plan. What a relief we felt! Filled with new energy, happy about not having to hide anymore and with a renovated purpose as a student I start using my – limited – savings to travel to be close to Robert and the developing of the new teaching; I always paid for my trips and events, thanks also to the generosity of E. who, involved with another student around Robert, was at times inviting me to share hotel rooms; sometimes Asaf would invite me standing at events – together with other researchers and/or friends – but when I sat it was always with my own money – I still have the receipts. When my ‘role’ became more public as one of Asaf’s assistants, the Fellowship sponsored me in Egypt and Turkey.
And here we get to the core of the story, which led to the explosion: during one of the times in which Asaf and I had stopped our intimacy (for two/three months) M and D [Mihai Algiu, aka Algiu Mihai, and Dorian Matei] – both Asaf’s roommates – approach me with the idea of a ménage a trois … my hormonal balance had just gone back to fairly normal and I was ‘free’; they (M and D) were also ‘free’ at that point – which is not a good excuse for what happened next – so D went to Asaf to ask him if he minded if he were to ‘spend time’ with me. Asaf’s answer was: no, I don’t mind; I am just worried for her to get hurt. When I was reported the answer I thought: well, then if HE does not care why should I? It means it is meant to be!
On a side note: this blog thoroughly painted the level of sexual freedom which was and is present in the Fellowship of Friends; starting from Robert’s entourage outward, the encounters and parties are innumerable, and absolutely boundless, inclusive of people of all ages. There was a whole group of Robert’s Russian guys who were having parties with a good number of friends of mine, we were all living in a surreal atmosphere where everything was possible and where the voice of our conscience had been overruled and buffered by ‘work I’s’; I know now that my emotional center was so anesthetized that I had no idea of what I was doing, neither of the consequences of my actions. I did not believe in suffering, nor in emotional pain: I thought it was just ‘the machine’, and therefore not worth of attention. I thought transformation was about being ‘above’ the machine, identifications were to be despised. I don’t hold anybody else but myself responsible for my lack of conscience. My play was about to teach me that.
Back to the explosion: my encounters with the two ended fairly quickly (btw, Kiran: I never had sex in Robert’s bedroom – ! – that was somebody else; and I never organized any orgy for anybody), but they found the experience worth expanding and started to look for other ladies who could have been interested: they obviously found a few. I honestly do not know about the voucher deal in exchange for sexual encounters, they never mentioned it to me; plus, there were plenty of ladies who did not need that incentive to accept the offer. I warned them to be careful, but they were too naïve themselves and too powerful to be aware of it.
Plus, as I said before, they were not the only ones and definitely not the first ones! Once M told me that the experience they were having with Robert showed them how formatorily life people were seeing sex in general …
Anyways, at a certain point people were starting to talk about them, but nobody had the courage to speak up; some ladies hypocritically pretended to be offended by the request, right after being flattered. A few people asked me if I knew anything about it: I said yes, I did, but then lied and denied my personal involvement… again, no courage to take responsibility.
Well, finally it came out: I will never forget it, it was during the first or second ballet of the season (in July) when M called me and told me that Asaf knew … with me, two other ladies were exposed, and I smiled thinking about all the rest of the community who stayed quietly silent … apparently my role was to be the scapegoat – and I was not without guilt. As I am writing I feel shot back to re-live the state I was filled with that night: I told M: we will take responsibility for our actions – this is the play. Robert did not know yet, and I was sitting right in front of him in the Theatron, helping Frederick to film the show. Robert told me how beautiful the level of the dancers was and that interestingly enough the machine would try to slip into imagination even in front of such an impression. I answered – filled with third state – that C Influence designs amazing plays to keep us out of imagination.
Then I thought: this is the last time I will ever speak to him. X was sitting next to me.
Then Asaf told Robert, who gave me and the other two ladies a 2 weeks out of the property sentence. A warning round of phone calls by the high quarters was made to some of the people not yet exposed; all the others were trembling, afraid to be discovered.
M and D were secluded into a house in the property, waiting for the big smoke to die out.
Last chapter: during the two and half years of ["P"] and Asaf, Robert was unaware, or better did not want to acknowledge, the fact that we were close. Actually, many times if he spotted a wink or a look between us, he would react quite extremely; that’s why with time Asaf learned to calm him down, reassuring him that he kept pursuing X and giving him accounts of their growing friendship. That maintained our guilt alive and well. We could not be seen together in front of Robert, even though sometimes we did show up together at Apollo d’Oro, especially after we started to work together in the octave.
This is why when the explosion went off, Robert seemed quite surprised at Asaf’s reaction: he asked him, why are you so upset? Asaf answered, because I finally understand how much she means to me… When I was told this, my heart fell apart (remember, Benjamin?) I realized that for all that time I was buffering, buffering, buffering my emotions because I was afraid, under the constant menace of being excommunicated, of offending and disobeying Robert. I felt like my whole being was melting, after a long time of refrigeration. I cried and cried. Asaf called me and we spoke at length and explained ourselves, I thought another era was about to begin, without lies, without hiding… So I asked him what Robert said when he told him about us … Asaf said he did not tell him … what? He did not? … … … Well, I thought, I cannot keep this secret anymore: if A was not ready to speak, then I had to do it. It was my chance: I was already completely covered with mud, my reputation was pretty damn low, I have nothing to lose: if I miss this one there would be no other…So I took pen and paper and write the following:
7/7/05
Dear Robert,
This is the first time that I have the courage to write to you openly, as if the play of the last few months occurred just to make this moment possible.
I have been Asaf’s lover and friend for the last two years, during which time I knew about X and your wish to one day see them together.
Not a day has passed without my gratitude for being close to such a friend, growing through and with him.
My queen of hearts has eaten several times the beauty of our unusual friendship; this happened also few months ago, when we agreed again to keep the intimacy out of the doors and to concentrate on a Work-based relationship: my king of clubs decided to burn down the whole house, just to cover a scar; this showed the self-destructive nature of this terrible brain, it thinks that freedom means being able to do whatever it wants, where instead real freedom is the courage not to lie.
What an opportunity to be real this is.
I was not able to take responsibility for my feelings and actions, not able to be direct and sincere with you, beloved Teacher, with Asaf and with myself.
I realize we are only ponds [pawns?], moved by the loving hands of the Gods: you once said that a man number four silently agrees to be crucified several times in his life: the play had to go on until this point.
I apologize for having kept all of this hidden from you, and I am now ready to accept the consequences.
I love Asaf dearly, I am sorry for the pain I caused him.
Next time we meet there will be more of Us,
My deepest gratitude and love to you, dear Teacher/Influence C.
When the words stop and you can endure the silence, that is the moment to listen to what the Eye of the Beloved most wants to say. - Hafiz
I mail it. It was, to this day, the highest moment of my life: the first time I was true to myself.
Up to that point my sentence was pretty mild: I was to take off for three months, go to Egypt with Cassandra and Kiran to help them open the center and then come back to Isis when everything quieted down.
It was a Saturday and I was in Sacramento to with Kiran and H and T and others to help out during one of the inergetix [Kiran's business] seminar. I get a phone call from Brian: Robert received my letter, he was really upset: he wanted me to take a leave of absence for one year, and then if I managed not to have sex with anybody he might reconsider, that I was worse than alcohol and I had 4 days to get out of the way.
….
So much for my highest moment.
Well, the world span and span [sic] … in four days I bought my one way ticket to NY, gathered my stuff, some friends helped me (thank you for that) and I was history.
I had no contacts anymore ‘in life’; all I knew at that point was linked to the Fellowship. There are no words to describe what that felt like. It took a year just to digest the shock itself. I remember Judith saying once: C Influence took 35 years to build up and give me this shock. I understood a little better what she had meant.
My deepest regret and the heaviest burden was and is the betrayal of two of my dearest friends: I am deeply sorry for my behavior and for the pain my complete lack of conscience caused. I hope at some point we will be able to meet again: I think of you every day.
I already took a lot of space here, but please allow me a couple more words.
The wildest aspect of all this is that … it worked! I do not know if outside of the school I would have had an experience of this intensity, but surely I would not have had the tools to deal with it. I am grateful to the Fellowship for being the theater for how much of myself it allowed me to see.
A year after my leave of absence was over, I wrote a letter to Robert: it took him 4 months to reply that he is not sure about what to do with me. To try back in a while. I could not find any other word for him so far, although I know that it is not over yet. Just before leaving for Buenos Aires Linda [Linda Kaplan] approached X saying that Robert is evaluating my situation and how was I doing: I found that quite inappropriate as she is not even a student. This is the first time I expose myself publicly (I did share my story with a few students, the other’s q of hearts were just too busy with the scandal).
Siddiq [blog poster]: I agree with you –  “Some people incur debt they are not able to pay for–that is probably the case here–their time to pay is probably still coming… But not one of us is spotless, probably far from it…”
Kiran [blog poster]: that evening with you Cassandra and Benjamin [Benjamin Yudin] was lovely, there was no sex, just cuddling and it was to me an unusual way to get close to her – even though you wanted more.
Your accident happened on my 30th birthday. I was speechless.


"Hava Nagillah" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, May 27, 2007:
P.,

I know that what I am about to write here might be unpleasant to your lower self and in particular to your Seven of Hearts. Yet, it might be of help if the part in you that is interested in the work can listen clearly.

Your post is an expression of the Seven of Hearts and so is your letter to Robert.

The Seven of Hearts emotions resemble in content to the Nine of Hearts emotions. I think you do not fully realize that it in yourself, therefore your Seven of Hearts is taking over.

The Seven of Hearts is selfish in the sense that it wants to satisfy its passions and it wants an emotional reward. In your lower self’s psychology the reward the Seven of Hearts is eager to receive is emotional attention and affection. It can be regarded as what we used to call a Feature.

If you read the reactions here in the forum you can see how it worked: you got responses like “Oh, P.” with lots of sympathy. This is what that part in you wished for and it is a pattern.

I am not saying that you do not have parts in you, who used to work on consciousness, I am sure you did. Yet, the lower self is ambushing those precious moments in various ways, and that is how your lower self has tricked you. That is how it eventually managed to take you out of the school.

It is very much related to imagination. Your imaginary picture of yourself is that close intimacy and romantic emotions, including romantic “sacrifices” are good substitutes for the real emotions required for engaging presence. Even the letter you wrote to Robert is carrying the same kind of emotional energy.

That is the difference between the Seven of Hearts and the Nine of Hearts. The Nine of Hearts emotions are derived from presence itself and not from anything else, not even from beautiful impressions. The Nine of Hearts is firm in its eagerness to reach prolonged presence, yet it is not selfish and it does not have this “I, I, I” thing the Seven of Hearts has.

The Seven of Hearts can often have ‘I’s to be present, but it has a Queeny taste and it cannot engage presence.

This is the level of the school has reach nowadays; the entire focus is on prolonging presence.

I assume Robert wanted to give you time to become mature enough so you are able to realize that you cannot be in the school and base your work on the Seven of Hearts as you used to.

If you can take that in, and you want your work to start again on a new level, you can find a way to return to the school.

You do not owe anything to your lower self, nor do you need to consider you post here. It is feminine dominance. If you are sincere to return as a different person you will find your way to do it.

And finally! You and/or I might get some reactions here after this post. Some might be, as usual, slandering the school and its members. It is your choice where to put your attention.

I wish you good luck.

"Traveler" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, May 27, 2007:
Dear Siddiq (10/89), since you seem like a reasonable person who is able to have an intelligent conversation, I would like to take this discussion of P’s play a little further, if you agree. Sorry P. for “dissecting” you, nothing personal, you are just a good example in a larger picture.

Siddiq, I’m trying to understand your response to my statement: “He does not express an opinion about Robert’s other actions, such as scripting the personal lives of his followers and even the future of non-students. I can only guess that Siddiq sees this as just action and totally necessary to fulfill the “wishes of Influence C”, to be part of a great glorious play that is more important than our individual lives.” You respond that this is absolutely not how you see it but that you like to remember that each of us needs to go through different experiences.

Each of us having to go through different experiences in our lives sounds like a convenient truism. But could you please address the issue here, namely, how do you personally feel about Robert deciding who is to marry who? Do you see it as his prerogative of a conscious being? Or do you see Robert’s directions to students as some impersonal force majeure acting on us, not as the actions of a human but as some inevitable consequence, like a building collapsing if it is not structurally sound? It seems you view it in these impersonal terms when you use the passive voice: “a leave of absence is given to a student… coming from the Gods”. You say that a lot of human involvement does lead to it but again you seem to restrict human involvement to P. and Asaf and other students, as if Robert were not a human factor at all.

The rest of your letter, summarized, basically says: if P. and Asaf hadn’t tried to keep their relationship secret, it wouldn’t have turned out as such a big deal. If people had only acted differently, Robert wouldn’t have responded the way he did. People need to stand up for their principles and not let Robert interfere beyond suggestions and advice.

You don’t have a naivete feature by any chance? Out there in “life”, in the 21st century, things do work the way you describe. The US, at least in principle, is founded on the belief that all people are equal, and this can be legally enforced. However, this is the Fellowship of Friends and Robert is king. Not only king, he is a conscious being and he knows the will of the Gods. The Gods! That is what you believe if you are a sincere student. Why do you think P. and Asaf felt so bad about their love and suffered in honestly trying to mold their plays the way Robert wanted? Was it just their weird misunderstanding of how things really are, when everyone else around them knew that things would be OK if they had just came forward and announced that they had decided to go against the will of the teacher? Do you remember what happened when it first started: Asaf told Robert, and Robert disagreed because he had other plans for Asaf. They were told not to have any contact with each other for 6 months, and that she should not date anybody. But this is just Robert’s suggestion and advice, right Siddiq? We don’t need to let Robert interfere in our personal lives. What he really meant to say was, give it a try, but if you realize that you actually want to stand up for your own principles, you’re always welcome to do that. That’s the Robert we know and love, isn’t it? Nothing serious here, just that immortal Gods have indicated that because of the magnitude of Asaf’s role he should eventually marry X when she comes of age. But you know, if Asaf decided to follow his own heart instead, Robert would be, like, totally cool with that.

Do you see any pattern here, Siddiq? This is a tough one, but I’ll ask you to try and lay aside for just a few moments the belief that Robert is an immortal conscious being and a pure instrument of influence C. Try to just see him as a human being, observe neutrally, you know, like we were taught in the fourth way. Try to let go of the belief that he is an angel in his actions and a god in his apprehension. Just for a few moments, try to see his actions as the actions of a human, the way you would see any other human being on this planet if you did not already have a preconceived notion of their magnanimity.

Now, where is the pattern? This human being tells young men who glorify him: You are to have sex with me because Influence C want us to be together. Then he tells his former lover: You are to marry X because the gods are preparing her to be your wife. Then he tells his students: You are to use the sequence because all ancient civilizations before us have used it.

Question for discussion: Without judgment, what does that tell us about the human being making these statements, and about the people who consider them true?

"Rabbi Burns" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, May 27, 2007:
I guess there’ll be several responses to Hava Nagillah (193) [above] and Howard Carter (199).

P.’s posting (141) [above] clearly described the weird, corrupt world created by Robert Burton, where lying to one’s friends and “teacher” is commonplace, and all is justified by the meaningless jargon exemplified by HN in #193. Rather than responding to the content of P.’s posting, HN gives her a lecture on “the seven of hearts”, thus deflecting attention from what is actually being said, a common Fellowship of Friends method for quashing inconvenient truths.

So what can we deduce from P.’s posting? She describes some personal events in her own life, but they are significant in that they display the way Robert Burton behaves most of the time. P.’s story is typical, not unusual. We can see that Robert Burton is obsessed with controlling the behaviour of those around him, from the minutest details to the major events in their lives. As a result he surrounds himself with fear and deception.

What was behind his decision to throw P. out of the school after reading her positive, indeed worshipful, letter describing her relationship with Asaf? Clearly he was upset because he wanted Asaf to be with X, and he viewed P. as interfering with his plans. OK, so I’ve written that down, and it looks somewhat logical. But think about it – it’s actually completely insane. Why do these people submit to this interference, even regard it as “helping their evolution”? And why on earth is Robert Burton concerned about these things? Why does he get viciously upset when one of his boys chooses to be with one girl rather than another? And what’s even more amazing is that HN and HC actually think this is normal, a sign of higher consciousness, true connection with “influence C”, etc!!!
So why is Robert Burton so controlling? Most likely because he’s afraid. He knows he’s a fraud and he’s terrified of being seen as he really is. So he surrounds himself with people who would not dream of questioning his behaviour in any way. Then, with all restraints removed, naturally enough he starts behaving more and more strangely.

HC: “The real Robert is hidden from all of life, I would deduce, as well as from a good many current students.”

Thankfully this blog is making him a good deal less hidden.

cheers, RB

Susan's story

"if memory serves" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, May 25, 2007:
People have been so brave and generous with their posts that I’m inspired to try to put myself a little bit more out there. Often, I just feel that if you wait long enough, it all gets said, but that is feeling a wee bit passive now at this most unusual juncture of Fellowship of Friends meets blog.

I was very young, lonely and quite sad about the condition of the world in the early 70’s when I was introduced to the fof by a much older man who introduced me to the workbooks. The intellectual stimulation of, what was to me, a whole new way of looking at things really pushed the right buttons. I was introduced to things I knew very little about but again, the receptors were there: fine art, good food, the craft of labor, classical music and a comforting connection to the past. I was comfortable in the large family-like atmosphere, complete with a cold, distant father-figure. Initially, I experienced an emotional setback when it became obvious he was competing with me for the nice boy I met, and then, soon thereafter, when I was told that no female would become conscious in the group. I was dejected and angry for a long time, wanting to succeed in this new milieu, but being “held back” by my conscience (that earlier in my life had saved me from another organized religion). I remember the day I had a strong talk with myself and “decided” that I wasn’t going to evolve if my old parts kept getting in my way. Placing Jiminy Cricket on hold (the willing suspension of disbelief) while I checked out this new and seductive potential seemed my only alternative to leaving and going back to, to what?

After that, things sailed along much more smoothly and, I would have to say, those years were very happy for many parts of me, with less frequent disturbances from my moribund conscience. I’m not proud of many of my actions during that time: my need to be important, the subliminal expression of my negative emotions that had no natural outlet, my selfishness and cruelty. I’d longed for, and bought at the expense of conscience, a feeling of certainty of being on the right path, a “signs and wonders verification” that there was a god (or many gods) that were in control even if I wasn’t, and the feeling (however imaginary) that I was safe. Leaving ten years later was a painful choice between my love for my husband and the “security” of the group. I was like an angry child who was forced to awaken too soon from peaceful slumber and while appreciative, eventually, of having my life back, was in the same pickle as before. Then the work to grow up began.

I wouldn’t say to anyone who is still in the Fellowship of Friends that things will be easier out than in. They might be, then again, they might be much more difficult in some ways. Different for different people. What I’m trying to do now is just love my family and friends, ask hard questions, face my fears, choose uncomfortable truths over convenient lies, do no harm, do more good (and not get too depressed about all the stuff that’s way, way outside my control.)

It’s apparent to me that I still have some processing to do since I keep putting off other things I need and want to take care of, to read this blog. Thanks to the Sheik for maintaining this vehicle for communication that seems to be serving so many different purposes for different people.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Facing the dilemma: to stay or go?

"Deeply Disillusioned" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, February 18, 2007 at 11:18 p.m.:
David,

Funny, your question...sounds like so many students, who, when you ask painful questions they can’t answer, burst out, “Why don’t you just leave!”

It’s a particularly cruel and heartless question — even if blurted when they are cornered — because the sad truth is, most of us CAN’T leave, at least not immediately. So it’s a bit like jeering at a cripple because he can’t dance.

Every time we have had questions in the past, we were told that the answer was to invest more heavily in the Fellowship: make a bigger donation, remarry, build a big house near the property, direct a center, serve at the Galleria, wash dishes for the fundraising dinner — et cetera, et cetera.

So now when the questions have hit a critical mass, we find we are enmeshed in the nets we have created. All our friends are Fellowship students. We work for a Fellowship student or employ Fellowship students, we have children in the Fellowship school who are deeply embedded in their friendships and community, we have a husband or wife who doesn’t (yet) share our thinking, or our children have joined the Fellowship. It takes time and care to disentangle oneself without ripping up our lives yet again (most of us have done it several times already in the name of the “Work”), and ripping up the lives of people we care for, many of whom (i.e., the children) are the victims of our decision-making.

Our cars are repaired by students, our hair is cut by students, our plumbing is fixed by students, often at discount rates we couldn’t afford if we had to leave this charmed circle. Our houses are built by students, or rented from students. For many, that makes it hard to leave without leaving the community, and many can’t afford the deposit on an apartment in Sacramento, or even Grass Valley.

Oh yes, a huge sub-category is those who gave it all up to move to Isis, especially for the 1998 prediction, who no longer have any resources to leave. Interestingly, the wave of recent departures consisted largely of people who own their own homes and have some financial independence. For the most part, the people “on salary” aren’t leaving. They can’t afford to ask questions. They are living on substandard wages, stringing out their existence month to month. Many of them count on the Fellowship for their visas.

It takes years, in many cases, to untwist all this stuff from your DNA. So it’s a bit odd when someone says, as a friend did recently, “They just drift away!” As if they became vaporous or hypnotized, and wander into the woods, never to be seen again.

No. They are rebuilding their lives so that they can HAVE choices again. They are reconnecting with old business acquaintances, sending out resumes, househunting, renewing old friendships. After offending and alienating their “life” families for many years, they are making amends, hat in hand. They are building bridges before they saw off the one they are currently standing on. That takes time, attention, and effort. You have no idea how much — especially for people in their 40s, 50s, and 60s who are having to admit they made a big mistake and start over.

If we could “just leave,” of course, people would accuse us of being “in the queens.” So they have us both ways. But if we have spent 10, 20, or 30 years in the Fellowship, it stands to reason it will take a few years to get out. After all, this is the philosophy we had subscribed to heavily. “Leaving” is a slow intellectual process as well, of asking questions, initially resisting the obvious answers, and then coming to see what we had buffered was, in fact, the truth. It was in front of our faces lo these many years.

There’s remorse, too, for the cold way we treated those who said, years ago, the same things we are saying now. Were they (gulp) right all along? We remember the people we cut off, whose phone calls we no longer returned. In many cases, we criticized or defamed them. They were in their “king of clubs”, we said — not like us! (And whose side was the king of clubs on — those who were risking everything to start over, or those who chose to squelch the uncomfortable questions so they can maintain a comfortable, if colorful, inertia?)

The ex-students have a joke, you know:

Q: What is the difference between a student and an ex-student?

A: Time.

You’ll find that the exit from the Fellowship isn’t a door — it’s a journey.

"Vide" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, August 11, 2007 at 11:27 a.m.:
Dear ……,

Re: abuse

I worked with the FBI for 6 months following my departure from the FoF regarding these and other issues. If you have information regarding sexual abuse I can put you in touch with agents who would probably be interested to investigate.

Eventually they wanted me to return to the FoF and wear a wire; however, I did not feel right about going that far.

One positive change I had hoped would happen was the financial abuse that students on stipend had to endure. The FoF was lying to the government about the wages they were paying them. I was told that after the investigation those people who were here on stipend would begin receiving minimum wage and workmen’s compensation (in the case of being injured).

Please omit my name from any posting but you can share my story if you like. Below you will find the name of one of the special agents that I was working with. Interestingly I had a very nice discussion with the agents at a library here in Chico about consciousness.

They know a great deal about the Fellowship and whether or not she is still working on the case no doubt would direct you to the correct agent.

I hope this will be useful information and that if there is someone who needs help, they will benefit.

I will not return to that land until the evil king has been thrown down and his minions scattered. My own play there involved some deep connections to the inner circle and I saw all that I needed to see to understand that. That is why I refused to become one of RB’s boys, because I could see the corruption there and RB could see in me that I would never accept it….

***

If you would like the contact information for the agent please contact me on:

videsuprainfra@gmail.com

"No person" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, May 23, 2007 at 4:24 a.m.:
Dear Howard [blogger], hello!
I have to disagree with your generalization that “The ones who stay do so because the school is the all and everything.”
Certainly for some it is true, and I am actually happy for them – people are having a great time, good for them.
But there are many, many others who are not sure why they are staying in the Fellowship of Friends now. They are not at all happy campers. They are disillusioned and disappointed but stuck. Some start to see the teaching as faulty and are appalled by the lies. But most are not sure, scared, confused and are in lots of emotional pain and suffering.
How do I know? I know. I was recently one myself, and it was hell. And now I am in touch with quite a few. You may be surprised how many are actually now unhappy “fence sitters”. They are not waving any flags, you know.
So for these guys the spell is broken – they know too much to quiet the voice of conscience within. More of exposing truth about Robert and Fellowship of Friends helps them to make a healthy transition. You don’t want them around anyway – right?
I totally agree with Ames that persuading satisfied students to leave is a waste of time and is just silly. I don’t think anyone here is trying to persuade you or Siddiq [blogger] or any other happy student to leave. Why would we? You guys are satisfied with the teaching and the school is obviously working for you. Keep up a good work, I mean it sincerely.
Most of these postings are for friends who need them to make their decision. Also for new potential members as a fare warning.
It’s nice to let our stuck friends know that here are other wonderful spiritual opportunities, nice friendly people and simply full juicy life outside of the FOF. Amazingly, when you quit judging “life” you may see it as something beautiful. And when you quit obsessing with states and “being present” you may discover that presence had been there all the time… Unnoticed.
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.

"Rita Penfold" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, May 23, 2007 at 1:36 p.m.:
Dear No Person [blogger above],

I also know many students who are staying in the Fellowship of Friends for the reasons which are related not to ‘awakening’, but to their job commitments (i.e. working for other students); because they have settled around Isis [Apollo, Renaissance, etc.], having family, land, houses there; their children go to the LC [Lewis Carroll] school. Some stay because they love their friends and don’t want to leave as they think they’ll lose contact with them (I was one of those and I think it’s the main reason for staying after disillusionment and seeing things as they are in the school and Robert Burton for who he is). And there is fear of being left alone, without communal support. ‘Where would I go?’ question.

One of my friends from a European centre called me recently saying that his centre is so far removed from the main stream events, that they hardly know all those things which are going on in the school now. Sometimes they don’t have enough English to read the blog.

I am in contact with several students, all of them have their reasons to stay. I don’t hold it against them, they do what they have to do. My only reservation about it is that with their money they support the whole thing rolling on. As far as I understand, Robert Burton will ‘teach’ until he runs out of funds.

Thank you for letting us know of V.’s leaving, I am so glad that he didn’t commit to something so vile. V., you are my hero too!

"Luke" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, January 4, 2007 at 4:22 a.m.:
All
I’d like to share a theme which has become prevalent in many recent conversations with members, though not always made explicit. This theme deals with one of the primary difficulties in leaving the group: the fear of isolation.
To give some background: in the fellowship, we have an ongoing exercise (or task) to cease contact with members that have left the group. The more fundamentlist members of our group have deep-seated negative beliefs about ex-members, and attendant fear and discomfort at even crossing paths with these individuals. At another end of a wide spectrum of beliefs are members that have little regard to the task, albeit in most cases, maintaining their friendships with ex-members very privately. Members maintaining contact with ex-members are subject to warnings and are ultimately asked to leave the group if they are openly non compliant.
Regardless of a member’s position on this or other tasks, one underwrites the view, promoted by those in charge, that ex-members have lost the “most precious gift in the universe – the opportunity to awaken”. In general the outsider or non-member is devalued; in spiritual terms, he or she is considered only a possibility, whose true potential is dependent upon living in the fellowship. Fellowship rhetoric does, after all, frequently imply the group’s spiritual hegemony over all other groups in relation to the divine. The ex-member, then, is considered someone whose possibilities have ended. The ex-member is assigned the very particular status of being cursed. Again, it is important to mention that this is not representative of the deep-seated beliefs of all, but it is the view promoted by the leaders and is publicly accepted by many.
That said, many of us are at a turning point after 15, 23, or 30 years in the group. For a variety of reasons, the least of which may be the aforementioned dillema, we want to move on. Having arrived at this point, which may involve the undoing of financial or practical ties, we are left with one very large fear – that we will lose most of our friends.
Traditionally, long-time members leaving the group have moved away to some place where they could start a new life, especially if they have hitherto lived in or close to the community. There are however, those ex-members that have remained in the area, and to a greater or lesser
extent, they exist with the stigma of being outsiders. It seems now that this is changing.
Now many members associate with the growing number of ex-members living nearby – these are after all, old friends that may have shared a good part of their lives. Beliefs are challenged by simple human facts; that members care for, and are inspired by their friends. In the recent words of one member, toward an ex-member and friend, “love and friendship are beyond all that”.
Some members have remade friendships after years of – at best – cordial hellos at the post office. Others are unable to revive lost relationships. Emotional breakdown sometimes occurs in cases where, having seen through their divisive attitudes, members are unable to repair historic divisions within friendships, marriages or family.
Five years ago, my good friend left the group, and in his case, I have privately maintained contact. For five years I have watched him flourish spiritually and emotionally, and this has subtly challenged my beliefs every step of the way. The belief that by following the task I protect my self and my ‘work’ from lower influences and deviations is melting down. An alternate view of the task is that of a device, that helps solidify the fellowship beliefs that are promulgated by the leaders. Moreover, the fear that is a product of such beliefs might mitigate the unthinkable – that I may someday find it not only acceptable, but even desirable, to leave the group.
If we reach out, we find that the concepts of inside and outside are dualistic in nature, limit understanding, and in many of us, engender fear. This serves the instinctive needs of the group while compromising the individual. To put a different spin on a oft-quoted fellowship jingle: the King of Clubs is keeping us in the school.
For many years I privately held the view that only formatory mind was capable of alienating ex-students. While underwriting the central beliefs of the group, I espoused a value system of my own. Now I am forced to consider a whole framework of school beliefs, which encompasses those aspects I still value, as well as those which I find reprehensible. I no longer enjoy the luxury of compartmentalizing concepts to make them fit inside my head. It is my good fortune that the remorse is not causing emotional breakdown, as I have seen in some cases; After all, I shared a special language and mentors – to whom I would now refer as The Great Explainers – that gave me permission. We spun contradictions variously as ‘work on attitudes’ and ‘feeding the higher self, not the lower’ and when the buffer succeeded, we called it ‘separation’. Clearly the Work ideas have practical and useful applications in our group, especially when second line and first line are healthy. What cannot be ignored however, is the growing tendency to use ideas without reference to context in the present moment. Good ideas become degraded by misapplication and by self-serving use. Self-reinforcing logic becomes the only frame of reference for many members, effectively disconnecting them from broader and deeper thought.
The so-called work in this paradigm is in many cases defined not only by superficial, but deeply psychological forms of exclusion and exclusivity. When we realize this, we are forced to confront, and perhaps to reconcile the contradiction; well-learned dissociative behavior has become the seedbed for misconception.
One of the many outcomes of this illusory construct, which develops over many years, is the fear of isolation. The cornerstone of that construct, to playfully misquote Gurdjieff, would read something like this: “Life is only real, then, when I am – in the fellowship – “.
If we are prepared and willing to bring more of what we can plainly see to bear on our psychology, a disquieting storm starts to gather, and what we thought was solid ground begins to fall away from under us.
In the words of Mark Twain:
“It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know for sure, that just ain’t so.”

Radames Pera

Radames Pera by Carol Chambers. Photo source.

[ed. - A celebrity of sorts, Eugene R. Pera, The Father of Spin Art, joined the Fellowship of Friends in Hawaii in 1973. He was known to fellow members as Ram Pera (and later, Robert Claremont and Radames Pera.) In 1986, Robert Burton "gave RP the boot," but granted Radames permission to return in the early 2000s. Background notes on one of his portraits state his wife was
actress Lisa Pera, (who was in some 60's movies like "Do Not Disturb" with Doris Day and "A Dream of Kings" with Anthony Quinn).

This painting belonged to Hollywood actress Lisa Pera, mother of actor Radames Pera [of Kung Fu fame]. The painter, Eugene Pera invented "Spin Art" that created paintings to look like Jackson Pollack art. Eugene Pera was part of the Paris modern art movement in the late 50's and early [60s?], and was referred to as "The South American".
As Ram told the editor, he also worked for the "adult pornographic magazine" Oui. Radames Pera died on July 25, 2016. His memorial page may be viewed on the Fellowship's Elysian Society site.]


"Joe Average" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, May 23, 2007:
Re: Cimarron 9/356 and Be Hold Everything 9/439

Yes, the Fellowship of Friends has attracted and proved fertile ground, either for training or as an easily reaped harvest, for many budding psychopaths #5. If you study the lives of the more flamboyant and famous psychopaths, you will usually find something like a mentor who showed by example how best to ruthlessly take advantage of the naive. Robert Burton had his own twisted family (yes BB 10/1, RB has stated this more than once), but more to the point, he had Alex Horn as a brilliant teacher. Robert attended Horn’s 18 month seminar, “How to get people to believe anything you say and do anything for you” and was, seemingly, the star pupil. The Fellowship of Friends in turn, nurtured James Vincent Randazzo and his “Spiral of Friends”, whose escapades with his “students” and sexual abuse of teen boys, international flight and eventual imprisonment are easily researched. His group in turn gave birth to the “New American Wing” cult, very similar to the Fellowship of Friends in its first 10 years etc.

But apart from these more dramatic examples, the Fellowship has always been a fertile ground of trusting souls. It is inevitable that those with opportunistic moral flexibility would be attracted to it. One such was RP [Radames "Ram" Pera]. I met him in the mid 80’s, when he was going by the name of Robert. He was an interesting person, somewhat charismatic. I found it inordinately swell that his son [Radames Pera] played the little boy I had so identified with in my own childhood – the 12 year old “Grasshopper” of the Kung-Fu TV series. Yes, I am easily impressed. Yet, though I could never state exactly why, he made my skin crawl. Something was definitely off with him, insincere, calculating. Years later, it finally surfaced that he had a talent for spotting women with affection/self-confidence deficits and money surpluses and wooed them (in whatever manner necessary) to get them to “invest” in some vaguely defined wondrous new invention he was developing. He had essentially lived this way, leeching from vulnerable women for many years in the school before one of them finally confided in a friend, who in turn brought it to Robert’s attention, who gave RP the boot when the extent and duration of the fleecing came to light. Whether Burton did this out of concern for his students or to get rid of a competitor in the fleecing game is anyone’s guess. By some strange twist of fate, RP returned to the school a few years ago, and I had the (mis)fortune to spend time with him on a few occasions. 20 years later, he still made my skin crawl.

Some question why so few of the young men Robert Burton drew into his intimate web openly complained of it. Here, the fleeced were women and the fleecer no “conscious being”, no god, just another student, yet it took years before the story came out. Judging by what I gleaned from the woman who told me about this – one of his victims – the same mechanics, in many respects, operated – fear, shame, regret, self-blaming etc. This is not an isolated example. I am not inviting a new list of “meetings with remarkably twisted men”, just responding to Cimarron’s question.

This also addresses a concern of another poster who, looking at how much the Fellowship of Friends accomplished with a psycho at the helm, wondered how much could have been accomplished with someone less radically damaged leading it. I suspect the answer, in terms of some of the more external achievements, is: less.

What is charisma? What gives such people such a power to move others? Often, it is the kind of clarity and unwavering purpose that is only possible once one is relieved of this nagging “conscience” thingy. People who doubt themselves, sincerely assert themselves to be no more that those around them, may inspire love and admiration, but never blind, obsessive obedience. As Traveler 9/444 expressed it “why do you think people are so insecure all the time? Because deep down they know they are faking it!”

Wasn’t it much of the thrill people experienced in the presence of Pol Pots, Stalins, Hitlers, Jim Joneses, Adi Das and Burtons the sheer wonder at people who seemed to have no doubts at all of their role and their superiority? No-one could equate the suffering orchestrated by those first three with that orchestrated by the last two, yet it may be more a question of luck/fate/timing than culpability and potential for destruction that separates them. One of the buffers I used for years in order to live with “my teacher’s” more obvious weaknesses was to reflect that he had the right mechanics to achieve something on the scale of the Fellowship. Neither Miles, nor Girard could have played that role. I suspect Miles is grateful for that and hope that Girard can come to it also in a way that is liberating rather than humiliating.

"Shelley M." wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, May 22, 2007:
To: Elena #421

...A month or so after I joined an older older student named Ram came to visit his son and ex wife in LA. We met at a meeting and he immediately latched onto me filling my ears with basic body type information and RB style spinning of esoteric knowledge as if he owned it to make himself seem interesting and powerful to my spiritual seeker side. I immediately got knocked up (this was before AIDS) and told Girard [Haven] about the encounter and that I needed some help keeping Ram out of my life and resolving the problem of the pregnancy. Of course Girard’s answer to my dilemma was going to Mt. Carmel and meeting the teacher! ( I think I was Girard’s first crisis as center director. )

I rode up in the back of Blair’s truck. During my first half hour at Mt. Carmel while walking on a dusty road towards the Lodge I met Linda Kaplan/ Rockwood and we introduced ourselves to each other. She asked me what I did in ‘life’. I told her I was an actress and she said that I would probably have to quit if I was going to be a student in the fof because, as she put it, “real artists don’t stay in the School”. I was devastated and continued walking along the dusty road by myself towards the Lodge. A few minutes later I ran into Ram. He asked me why I was crying. I told him what Linda had just said to me. He immediately turned me around and walked me to the Blake cottage where RB was getting a coke or something out of a fridge in the garage. Ram told me to walk up and introduce myself and tell him what Linda had just said. I did. RB gave me a big hug and told me that I could do both, i.e. be a student and an actress. This became my mantra anytime anyone repeated Linda’s edict to me. Since that time, thanks to Ram, I always walked straight up to RB and said what I had to say.

(A few months later Linda went on to try to get me involved in a multi level marketing scheme hoping I would get on her down line and sell Royal Jelly to all my actress friends. I was horrified at her proposal because she had invited me to her caravan for tea out of the blue and I was very emotional about connecting with her as a person. Being hit on as a potential client broke my heart as much as anything that else that transpired after that. She also foamed at the mouth asking me about movie stars I’d worked with.)

Anyway, I returned to LA in Blair’s truck and thanks to the bumpy ride up and down, had a miscarriage the day after I returned. (I think Ram got a slap on the wrist for knocking up a new student.)

Monday, May 21, 2007

"The Cuff Link Scene"

"No person" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog:
It was mentioned before that it takes time to “open your eyes”. Something has to happen, something very personal and strong, a sobering shock of some kind to shake you up. It eventually happens to most students sooner or later – and they suddenly see what they buffered before. But until then – it’s like a closed shell – nothing penetrates and all one produces is buffers and canned phrases. Dear Siddiq, I know where you’re coming from. I completely understand – been there myself.
I was under a happy spell for many years, until this big RB event at our house…This when I suddenly got the first glimpse of an uncomfortable feeling that may be we all are being d[u]ped. Strangely, but before this event I saw nothing wrong, heard nothing wrong and would defend the school like it was my own home – just like you do now.
Our center had to prepare for big Tea. Our center didn’t have money to rent a large space in the city so we were asked if our house could be used. At that time it was a total construction zone, but we agreed – and gladly so! And we went nuts, preparing for this event and spent thousands of dollars just to make it nice doing temporary improvements just for this event. We even built a temporary wooden fence to disguise the dumpster in front of the house… Of course we never even asked for reimbursement – there wasn’t even a thought about it! All was done from our heart, sincerely, and we didn’t care how much it costs us… We were good students.
And Robert arrived, and briefly gave his usual keys performance with Asaf [Braverman], and everyone stared in silence with smiles and glossy eyes. No one haven’t even touched the fine French pastries or tea… I was seated on the couch next to my Teacher and I was in total heaven, listening to his voice so close to me, smelling his fine cologne and feeling the flavor of pastries in my mouth… Yes, I was actually eating the whole time. Love those pastries, can’t help it! It was caught on camera, and later quite few of my friends called me to tell how shocked they were to see me eat and drink at Teaching Tea.
The event was over, and Robert rushed to the door. And then the ugly “cuff link scene” occurred. Robert was rushing his boys to run get the car, to get to the city quickly, before the jeweler closes…
One of them asked: "Robert, do you really want these cuff links?”
“Yes, yes! I told you. I want them! Hurry up, get the car, let’s go. Now. Quickly. Call him, now, make sure he is still open…” His face was tense, he sounded… just like an identified angry guy.
Yes, he was very identified. I have never seen my teacher like that, although I heard stories before.
My boyfriend and I were allowed to stand nearby and so we heard every word. Suddenly he turned to us and gave us one of those peaceful loving smiles… The smile we know and love so much… That makes you feel OK…
But I felt so bad. I felt deception. I felt like this was all fake and we were just taken, used by this powerful man… He just used us, our friends and our house to make good money on his brief performance and now is done with us and rushing to get what he wants. And doesn’t give a damn about this huge crowd of devoted students, who love him and made huge efforts to travel to our place from all over just to spend time with him… A stupid piece of jewelry was – obviously – so much more important to him than all of us.
I had mixed thoughts in my head, I couldn’t understand, justify, explain all this. And it only got worse, when I returned to the kitchen. I saw that all these polite good students, who were just nobly “preferring presence over food” in front of the Teacher, were now devouring pastries right from the plates by the sink, using their hands, stuffing their mouths like hungry beasts! This was just hysterical. The falseness and hypocrisy of the whole thing was unbearable.
I suddenly saw things in a different light.
This event was a first wake-up call for me. I still needed few more like this, and I had them soon after that. I guess everybody has to have theirs to pry open their shell.
Question to Siddiq and Howard Carter (or anyone who wishes to answer) – do you ever see any hypocrisy and falseness in Robert, in Council actions, students behavior, in teaching events? Ever?
If yes – what do you say to yourself about it? I am really curious.

The Fellowship of Friends: creating a psychological "Catch 22" or "double bind"

"WhaleRider" posted the following on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog:

[ed. - The post is a bit confusing. Here, "WhaleRider" is both paraphrasing Wikipedia and parenthetically inserting their own comments, so I've highlighted WhaleRider's comments.]
[Quoting] Howard Carter #379:
“The ones who stay do so because to them there is no point in leaving.”
Prime example of a psychological double bind.

[Quoting] from Wikipedia:

Explanation

“The (psychological) double bind is often misunderstood to be a simple Catch-22 situation, where the victim is trapped by two conflicting demands. While it is true that at the core of the double bind are two conflicting demands, the difference lies in how they are imposed upon the victim, what the victim’s understanding of the situation is, and who imposes these demands upon the victim.

(You must give up your will to the teacher or school to be free. There is only one real school on earth.)

Unlike the usual no-win situation, the victim is largely unaware of the exact nature of the paradoxical situation he or she is in. (new student or young student vs older student) This is because a demand is imposed upon them by someone they regard with respect, and the demand itself is inherently impossible to fulfill.

(To make a machine conscious and immortal that is the ultimate task. Be a conscious toaster oven!)

(Gregory) Bateson defines the double bind as follows:
"The situation involves two or more persons, (FOF) one of whom is designated, for the purposes of definition, as the “victim” (student). The others are people who are in some way in a higher position to the victim, for example a figure of authority such as a parent whom the victim respects."
(Teacher, man number 7.3, brightest light in 2,000 years, older student, take your pick)

Repeated experience. The double bind is a recurrent theme (fourth way work language) in the experience of the victim and as such cannot be constituted as a single traumatic experience.

A primary injunction is imposed upon the victim by the other person in one of two forms: (a) Do “X”, or I will punish you. (b) Do not do “X”, or I will punish you. The punishment is assumed to be either the withdrawing of love, the expression of hate and anger, or abandonment resulting from the authority figure’s expression of extreme helplessness.

(If you leave the school, I/we will shun you. Do not confront me or question me or you will be asked to leave the school.)

A secondary injunction is imposed upon the victim that conflicts with the first at a higher and more abstract level. For example, “Do what I told you but only do it because you want to.” However, it is not necessary that this injunction be expressed verbally.

(I am a conscious being. No matter what I do, no matter how you feel about it, you must obey me. I am your direct link to influence c. Do not trust yourself, it is your king of clubs wanting you to leave.)

If necessary, a tertiary injunction is imposed upon the victim to prevent them from escaping the dilemma.

(If you leave the school, you lose your soul and wander among the multitudes of sleeping life people. You must stay and pay.)

Finally, Bateson states that the complete list of the previous requirements may be unnecessary in the event that the victim is already viewing their world in double bind patterns.

(Magnetic center angst makes a nice prerequisite.)

Bateson goes on to give the general characteristics of such a relationship: When the victim is involved in an intense relationship; that is, a relationship in which he feels it is vitally important that he discriminate accurately what sort of message is being communicated so that he may respond appropriately.

(If I don’t play along with the number game (ideas of reference) and “verify” influence-c I could lose the school. To be a good student, I must read the signs, too.)

And, the victim is caught in a situation in which the other person in the relationship is expressing two orders of message and one of these denies the other.

(Be more conscious AND put up with my pervison [sic] and greed.)

And, the victim is unable to comment on the messages being expressed to correct his discrimination of what order of message to respond to, i.e., he cannot make a metacommunicative statement.

(The lower cannot see the higher, duh.)

Thus the essence of a double-bind is two conflicting demands, neither of which can be ignored, which leave the victim torn both ways in such a way that whichever demand they try to meet, the other demand cannot be met. “I must do it but I can’t do it” is a typical description of the double-bind experience.

(I must be more present and conscious, but I am unable to sustain it for any length of time. I must stay in the school and ingest my feelings no matter how much new INSANITY Robert spews out.)

For a double bind to be effective, the victim cannot plainly see that the demand placed on them by the primary injunction is in direct conflict with the secondary injunction.

In this sense the double bind differentiates itself from a simple contradictory Catch-22 to a more inexpressible internal conflict where the victim vigorously wants to meet the demands of the primary injunction but fails each time because the victim fails to see that the situation is completely incompatible with the demands of the secondary injunction. Thus victims may express feelings of extreme anxiety in such a situation (or take wine, antidepressants or both)as they attempt to fulfill the demands of the primary injunction, but are met with obvious contradictions in their actions.

For example, a common double bind in western culture are the marriage vows taken by the bride and groom when they make an oath to love each other until death (HC:People come to a school to know themselves and that is a lifetime endeavor).[HC = Howard Carter] In this situation, the primary injunction is the oath itself, and the secondary injunction is that which is imposed onto them by their society, that their love must be true. Thus a conflict arises in their relationship if either party falls out of love with the other(or realizes they have been deluded), but attempts to fulfill their obligation to the oath (I must make more efforts!). The more he or she tries to love the other, the less genuine their love is. (the FOF ultimately undermines your evolution the longer you stay.)

The double bind was originally presented as a situation that could possibly lead to schizophrenia if imposed upon young children, or simply those with unstable and weak personalities (Hmmm, now who could that be?). Creating a situation where the victim could not make any comment or “metacommunicative statement” about their dilemma (the lower cannot see the higher) would, in theory, escalate their state of mental anxiety. (Brian S. perhaps?)[Brian Sisler]

The solution to a double-bind is to place the problem in a larger context….(THE BLOG!!)(otherwise the victim will) create an escape from the conflicting logical demands of the double bind into the world of the delusional system (RB’s FOF, sequence, etc).”

I rest my case.

WhaleRider
1979-1985

[ed. - "Just the Facts Ma'am" takes a shot at explaining the Catch 22 - Catch 44 linkage.]

"Just the Facts Ma'am" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, October 26, 2015:

[Quoting] 71. Cristalclear
‘The more you stay ,the more confused you become and you can’t really express your doubts because,if you do you will be shunned… so you stay longer…

It’s like a mind trap’
What you describe is what some of us, once in Fellowship of Friends (FoF), at one time called ‘Catch 44.’ This is a play on the phrase: ‘Catch 22.’ Here, copied/excerpted from Wikipedia, is explanation of: ‘Catch 22’ [especially good for non-english as primary language readers]:
“Catch-22 is a satirical novel by the American author Joseph Heller. He began writing it in 1953; the novel was first published in 1961. It is frequently cited as one of the greatest literary works of the twentieth century. It uses a distinctive non-chronological third-person omniscient narration, describing events from the points of view of different characters. The separate storylines are out of sequence so that the timeline develops along with the plot.

The novel is set during World War II, from 1942 to 1944. It mainly follows the life of Captain John Yossarian, a U.S. Army Air Forces B-25 bombardier. Most of the events in the book occur while the fictional 256th Squadron is based on the island of Pianosa, in the Mediterranean Sea, west of Italy. The novel looks into the experiences of Yossarian and the other airmen in the camp, who attempt to maintain their sanity while fulfilling their service requirements so that they may return home.

The novel’s title refers to a plot device that is repeatedly invoked in the story. Catch-22 starts as a set of paradoxical requirements whereby airmen mentally unfit to fly did not have to, but could not actually be excused. By the end of the novel it is invoked as the explanation for many unreasonable restrictions. The phrase “Catch-22″ has since entered the English language, referring to a type of unsolvable logic puzzle sometimes called a double bind. According to the novel, people who were crazy were not obliged to fly missions; but anyone who applied to stop flying was showing a rational concern for their safety, and was sane.”
So, in this regard, ‘Catch 44’ means a double bind double bind. (That is not a typo, nor are you seeing double.) ‘Catch 44′ means you are caught coming and going by your circumstances. There is no escape from the mind trap. And, in FoF, you are double bound twice over, hence the 2 x 22 = 44. But, as additional meaning, the ’44’ of the conscious beings are holding you in your place in FoF and on the ladder of evilution as practiced by conscious Bob’s school. Even the term Catch 44 has, at least, a double meaning in it.

Get out while you can, or die trying. Otherwise, you are damned if you do, and, damned if you don’t, stay associated with the Fellowship of Friends, Robert Earl Burton, Asaf Braverman, and company; the evilution rape factory in Oregon House, California, and its associated centers throughout the world.

A bit Kafkaesque, no?

Explanation of: ‘Kafkaesque’ [especially good for non-English as primary language readers] copied/excerpted from Wikipedia:
“Kafka’s writing has inspired the term “Kafkaesque,” used to describe concepts and situations reminiscent of his work, particularly Der Process (The Trial) and “Die Verwandlung.” Examples include instances in which bureaucracies overpower people, often in a surreal, nightmarish milieu which evokes feelings of senselessness, disorientation, and helplessness. Characters in a Kafkaesque setting often lack a clear course of action to escape a labyrinthine situation. Kafkaesque elements often appear in existential works, but the term has transcended the literary realm to apply to real-life occurrences and situations that are incomprehensibly complex, bizarre, or illogical.”