Robert Earl Burton founded The Fellowship of Friends in the San Francisco Bay Area in 1970.

Burton modeled his own group after that of Alex Horn, loosely borrowing from the Fourth Way teachings of Gurdjieff and Ouspensky. In recent years, the Fellowship has cast its net more broadly, embracing any spiritual tradition that includes (or can be interpreted to include) the notion of "presence."

The Fellowship of Friends exhibits the hallmarks of a "doomsday religious cult," wherein Burton exercises absolute authority, and demands loyalty and obedience. He warns that his is the only path to consciousness and eternal life. Invoking his gift of prophecy, he has over the years prepared his flock for great calamities (e.g. a depression in 1984, the fall of California in 1998, nuclear holocaust in 2006, and an ominous, yet unspecified new threat late in 2018.) While non-believers shall perish, through the direct intervention and guidance from 44 angels (including his divine father, Leonardo da Vinci) Burton and his followers will be spared, founding a new, and more perfect civilization.

Many regard Robert Earl Burton a narcissist and sociopath, surrounded by a largely greed- and power-driven inner circle. The following pages offer abundant evidence supporting that conclusion.

This archive draws
on official Fellowship publications and websites,
news archives, court documents, cult education and awareness forums, the (former) Fellowship Wikipedia page, the long-running Fellowship of Friends - Living Presence Discussion, the Internet Archive, the (former) Fellowship of Friends wiki project, and the editor's own 13-year experience in the Fellowship.

Presented in a reverse chronology, the Fellowship's history may be navigated via the "Blog Archive" located in the sidebar below.

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.

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