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 an ominous, yet unspecified new threat late in 2018.) While non-believers shall perish, through the direct intervention and guidance from 44 angels (including his divine father, Leonardo da Vinci) Burton and his followers will be spared, founding a new, and more perfect civilization.

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

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

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

Friday, May 25, 2007

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.

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