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 from 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 7, 2007

Dick Moron's Story

"dick moron" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, April 1, 2007:
Hello everyone,

I finally looked at this blog today–and it is quite amazing. Spent most of the day reading posts from the last month. I spent 22 years in the FOF, joining on my 19th birthday in 1974.

Leaving the FOF was a process that probably happened over a period of 5 years. While never very involved in the bureaucracy or missionary aspects of FOF, I was one of Burton’s closest and most trusted friends for many years. While I do credit the man in teaching me quite a bit, ultimately my conscience would no longer allow me to suppress and justify what I saw in him as unbridled greed and selfishness.

For about a year after I left, my wife remained in FOF, sometimes having dinner with RB and coming home to tell me about it. Apparently she was writing a big enough check each month to make it acceptable for her to live with moon food. But that is how it always was in FOF– different rules and standards for everyone. A true aristocracy with a literal peasant class.

Now, I rarely think about FOF, except for occasional surreal dreams, where I find myself at Oregon House, feeling a little uncomfortable because I know I have not made a teaching payment for years.

Today, it is beautiful outside and the air is clear. I have never looked back on my decision to move forward with my quest for truth and leave FOF. My work has only accelerated. Teaching can come in all forms at any time. Spoken words are not always the truth. A liar can be a true teacher and then the teacher can vanish and become a barking seal.

To those friends still in FOF that are holding on to the past, have courage. Free yourself. 

"dick moron" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, May 7, 2007 at 10:42 p.m.:
The post by WhaleRider, #262 shows great courage and humility in confronting a betrayal of trust and hope by a so-called “teacher” who has been motivated in his essence by lust and greed (and mediocre taste in art). My own experience was less fecal, but still was something I tried very hard to suppress for many years, in the FOF and after leaving. After basically failing the first go-round with me, RB managed to get another shot 8 years later, using my failed marriage as a stepping stone. The fact that my wife left me for RB”s current “secretary” at the time, only made me more vulnerable. I later realized that this was often “the way out” for RB’s bed mates, to bag a fine lass that would save them from RB’s “goddess lips”.

The second time around, I finally had the courage to say no after being broken down during a 10 week trip with RB in Europe, where I was subjected to psychological games I cannot begin to describe here. Yes, I was the one who barfed on the tour bus in Greece with Miss Lelli. While I was indeed truly sick and exhausted, it was also a sign to all on that trip of the state of “the teaching”. Few or none on that trip are still in FOF or even alive.

To get back on point: My experiences with being pressured to give in to sexual advances, no matter how unwanted, gave me a profound understanding of what women have no doubt endured though all of time. The testosterone fueled aggression of men, who wage wars, rape and kill and will not consider the wish of another to just be left in peace. Relentless aggression.

Then there is a male’s pride. A loving relationship, gay or straight, is a main cog in the divine clockwork. When there is no love or mutual sexual interest, like most of RB’s escapades, the other guy has a lot of pride to swallow (no pun intended). I think, many of the old guard FOF men who have had their time with RB, but still man the fortifications in his defense, have simply not accepted that they were used as boy candy in their younger and slimmer days. These are the ones with huge egos and much vanity. Several are now the pillars of the FOF leadership. It is a fitting end for them.

To all the women who’s strong voices have been heard in this forum–the world needs more like you. It’s too late for the fellowship. The Queen will only off your heads.

"Daily Cardiac" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, August 1, 2008:
To Traveler 41 – 307

Thanks for the moderate tone of your reply; you seem to be someone who is secure enough in your own skin that you don’t feel compelled to dismiss me, question my sanity, curse me out, or all of the above, simply because I am a member of FOF.

Of the hundreds of words I wrote in 41-211 you seemed “intrigued” with the word “alleged” more than all the others.

I see a little contradiction and a little side-stepping in your reply. First you say you are skeptical whether sex is the most discussed topic on the blog and you say it wasn’t the reason you left, but then you go on to invest a good chunk of your reply alluding to the topic of sex, specifically how I must be buffering the goings on because I used the term “alleged” in regard to the sex stories.

Once again I’ll try to make the point I thought I made. The sex stories, true or not, are not relevant to me; no part of the form of the FoF is relevant in comparison to what is given and received spiritually. I, and I assume many others, stay for the inner life. Ironically, I don’t think the claims of sex, of abuse, of misuse of money, whatever, by ex-members contributes much to those who leave. I think they leave because they didn’t feel they were improving inwardly. I say this in spite of people’s claims to the contrary. (See the section on lying to oneself in my post).

This is what I’ve come to: Men lie all the time. Not too long ago the school talked about false personality a lot. It is called “false” because it is based on a lie. Now that entity is referred to as the lower self. Some here may feel more comfortable with the word “ego.” Call it what you will, it is real and it is one of the chief obstacle to spiritual growth.

I understand Robert Burton is gay. I understand he is a sexually active individual and that his partners are FoF students. I think he would or has admitted to those things as you pointed out. What is “alleged” from my viewpoint are the claims of “innocent victims” strewn in his wake, the claims that people are being forced to do something against their free will. I’m with these potential “victims” day in and day out and I have not encountered anyone that fits the description of a victim. Maybe they are all Academy Award level actors and hide their pain well. Perhaps bloggers think that if the stories are true there should be many victims. I encounter many people like myself in the FoF; people who are exactly where they want to be. But to digress a moment I’d like to stay with the “alleged” theme.

If someone printed out all the posts on this blog related to RB’s private sex life and brought them to a judge with the intent to file charges the judge would have no choice but to show that individual the door. He would say “you need proof.” If someone accuses me of coming into their house and taking their TV set away, even if I not only did it, but unplugged it while they are watching a show, they still would need to prove it. No one will arrest me or charge me with anything until they can establish proof – an eye witness besides themselves, the TV in my possession, etc.

It’s called Due Process and it’s been adopted by most of the world’s democracies. Due Process does not exist on blogs.

Two points here are worth noting. 1) Robert Burton, like all citizens, is entitled to a private life. He does not forfeit his right to privacy just because someone believes he abused his power. And 2) proving RB had sex with a member or members does not prove abuse of power. That is much more difficult to prove, in many cases impossible to prove, as you would have to know a person’s thoughts in order to prove intent (not just Robert’s intent but the intent of the person he was reported to have had sex with.). Stating something happened is not proof it has happened. I saw a UFO yesterday, I’m sure of it.

Telling someone Influence C wanted them to have sex with him (if RB ever said that) does not prove sexual abuse, because that might be a true statement. You would first have to prove that the statement was not true, and who could disprove that statement? You would also possibly have to delve into the argument of proving the existence or non-existence of Influence C, as I see it. And people have been trying to prove or disprove the existence of “God” for as long as man has existed without any definitive success.

The bottom line is: To prove sexual abuse in Robert’s case one would first have to prove he is not conscious, as consciousness implies a direct link to the divine. And to prove he is not conscious one would be forced to prove the existence of consciousness as the Fourth Way describes it. Because if consciousness exists it’s within the realm of possibilities that he is telling the truth if he says, as people claim, that he is relaying Influence C’s wishes. If he is conscious he would only be doing his job as a teacher in relaying influence C’s wishes to a student.

So, getting back to allegations, if someone is a seeker of truth why would they settle for less proof than Due Process? Why would they not refer to these reports and claims as being alleged, which is what they are? Why would they assume anything said about RB is true just because it was stated? If I state my belief that RB is an enlightened individual would you also believe it simply because it was said? You would not in all likelihood.

Do you believe what was written about the Prophet Muhammad in the last part of 41-211? If you do believe those statements are true is it enough to cause you to re-evaluate your distrustful attitudes about Robert’s lifestyle? After all Muhammad is a Son of God equivalent and his actions in the area of sex appear to make RB seem like an Eagle Scout. If you don’t believe what’s written about the Prophet, why do you not believe it? It’s all composed of black pixels in white space, the same as the stories of Robert? Why believe one story and not another, one source and not another?

The reason is that you choose to believe the sex stories about RB because it fits into your personal agenda. We all have an agenda as someone correctly pointed out recently. Those who claim not to have one have the biggest ones. My agenda is to make it known that the FoF, with RB as its leader, has been a very positive force in my life and the lives of many of my friends and acquaintances. That is a reasonable agenda. If your agenda is to say the FoF did not live up to your expectations or that it was a negative influence on your life that also is a reasonable agenda.

If you say your agenda is to close down the FoF that is also a reasonable agenda.

But if you support untruths, half truths, truths by omission, or unsubstantiated claims, just to further along your agenda it is not reasonable and it is detrimental to you because you would have sold out an opportunity to arrive at the real truth in return for a supposed or wished for truth.

So, when someone assumes all the unsubstantiated sex stories are true they do so because they want them to be true, because that truth serves them better than another truth.

All the while an objective truth about RB/FoF does exist and some are closer to it and some are farther from it. As much as I or anyone else might praise the school or the teacher, their objective status is not elevated one iota. And as much as you or anyone else admonishes/diminishes them, their objective status is not decreased one iota. It is what it is, there to see for anyone able to rise up to the level of objective observer.
I brought up the sex in my last post merely to illustrate my only point; that most former students on this blog, by their own admission, dismiss the principles the FoF states are necessary for any work on oneself to be effective, and then turn around and blame the FoF because it did not deliver on its claims.

If an architect draws up plans for a house and the owner decides to change the size of the structural beams, he cannot blame the architect if the house caves in on him. He can only look to his own actions. If he does otherwise he does so at the price of giving up his own reasonableness.

People cannot (not unless they abandon all reason) take the FoF out of its rightful context and then judge it for being a fraud within their own imposed and arbitrary context.

The FoF only made one claim to you and to me; if we followed the principles laid out (I mentioned most of them in 41-211) we would be closer to our stated goals of wanting to be more awake and to know ourselves better.

That coincided with my wishes and was the reason I joined and all my other desires were subordinated to what the FoF said it could offer to help me realize my aim. All other things were considered distractions or diversions by me. Maybe that’s why I stayed and why it still works for me. I cannot worry about someone else’s inner work. I try to do my work and assume they do theirs. We are all adults and on our own throughout this singular journey. If another friend tells me they are struggling with something I’m happy to lend an ear, or give my opinions on how to solve it. That’s all I can do. No one can do another’s work for them.

When we joined the FoF it did not promise us we would like the teacher, or his methods, or his lifestyle. It did not claim we would be comfortable with or agreeable to everything we experienced; in fact it told us to prepare not to be comfortable or agreeable to everything and that if we were comfortable or agreeable it probably meant it was not a real school.

Traveler, if you can, please answer these questions honestly? What’s your relationship to the idea the “play is written”? Have you verified it? Have you tried to verify it? What does it imply? And if you believe it, who’s doing the writing? Have you verified Influence C?

If you did not verify these things while you were in the FoF then you had a conditional experience which was bound to eventually wind down because these are two cornerstones of esoteric work. You don’t have to take my word for it. These principles are mentioned in every esoteric tradition, albeit under different names/terminologies.

Even if all the sex stories are true (which I most seriously doubt) it would not invalidate RB as a conscious teacher and the FoF as a school in my opinion. It would most certainly suggest a different system of morals were involved from the very subjective and puritanical set of morals America was founded under. Now if someone cannot separate the subjective morality they were programmed under from birth, from real conscience/consciousness, then they are bound to reject anything outside of that morality.

Conscience and Consciousness contain all moralities.

In India at this very moment there are millions of girls who have been married since the age of 13. These girls had little say about who they married or when. It was all arranged by the parents or the groom. The men who marry these underage girls are rarely under 21 and are commonly much older than that.

If a parent in America would give their 13 year old female child to an adult man for marriage and sex the parents and the groom would be arrested and charged with statutory rape or contributing to the crime. These girls are clearly “innocent victims” of sexual abuse by many standards. There are actually man made laws in place in India to prohibit underage marriage. It is the ancient religious laws that are in favor of under aged marriages. By the way, India is one of the most spiritual countries in the world, if not the most spiritual, steeped in the esoteric traditions of Hindus, Buddhists and Muslims alike.

In truth Robert Burton is an abuser. What he abuses is the lower self, and he is relentless in that pursuit. This is why the FoF puts so much study into the lower self: because one needs to know it well before one can separate it from anything higher in us. When one begins the difficult task of separating from the machine/lower self one gets a sense of what is higher in us from what is lower, what is real from what is “learned” or mechanical. Then many things can come into a clearer light.

It is not my intention to defend the FoF; that’s not why I’m writing. It’s also not my intention to disrespect anyone else’s lifestyle or life choices. It is not my intention to recruit any former members back into the FoF. My feelings are it’s right for those who want to leave to do so, and equally right for those who want to stay to do so. There can be no better justice than that.

I am writing for the same reasons as you probably; to express my individual reality in as truthful a manner as possible. I believe that’s all anyone can do in this medium.

"Richard M." [aka "Dick Moron"] wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, August 1, 2008:
[Quoting from the above] 146. Daily Cardiac
Even if all the sex stories are true (which I most seriously doubt) it would not invalidate RB as a conscious teacher and the FoF as a school in my opinion. It would most certainly suggest a different system of morals were involved from the very subjective and puritanical set of morals America was founded under. Now if someone cannot separate the subjective morality they were programmed under from birth, from real conscience/consciousness, then they are bound to reject anything outside of that morality
Do you realize how truly absurd this statement is? In fact, the twisted rationalizations you have peppered throughout your post, left me in a jaw-dropping state of disbelief that anyone could be so desperate to hide from truth.

Here is a fact:

For a period of five months, while an employee of the Fellowship of Friends in the capacity of secretary to the head minister, Mr. Burton, I was regularly pressured to engage in sexual activities by him, which I started to refuse after initially submitting. After candid, seemingly rational discussions with Mr. Burton, where I explained why I did not wish to participate in sexual activities, I felt we had reached an understanding that I would not be a sex partner with him. I have never had any personal interest in homosexual relations. This was not part of the official job description. Later, while traveling with Burton, I had to once physically resist Burton’s aggressive advances. I have described this event in a previous post on this blog. A short time after this, I was transferred to a new job on construction of the Academy. While this was clearly sexual harassment by a church official for whom I was working, I did not file a civil suit against the Fellowship of Friends Church. I said nothing.

Why? Because I was brainwashed, like you, into rationalizing this behavior with the same intellectual justifications you use throughout your post. In fact I remained a member of the FOF for another 13 years and a personal friend of Burton.

I had or have no interest in legal or civil action, but I will defend the accounts I have made to no end.
When I left the FOF, the sexual habits of Burton was not the main reason. It was the result of 20 years of close observation of Burton’s insatiable greed and need for material possessions and sensual pleasures of the most basic human nature. I believed these selfish traits to be his core being. My conscience knew that these were not qualities of a conscious teacher or spiritually evolved being. I emerged from the opiate haze of blind faith masquerading as verification.

Yes, the play is written and you are living a reality of words, which do not amount to much in the end.
I wish you luck with your “individual reality”.

No comments:

Post a Comment