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.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

WhaleRider's Story

Posted to the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog:
Reading this blog has been a very visceral and emotional experience for me, which I am grateful to transform into presence, for I live the work every day of my existence. When reading it I perspire heavily. In the past week since I was informed of it and dived in, I have had many instances of energy shooting down my sides, and I am moved to tears several times a day when I reflect upon what I experienced in the FOF [ed. - Fellowship of Friends]. Yet the sheer energy contained in this blog, both raw and refined is quite impressive as I am sure the venerable sheik and knight will agree, and I cannot stop reading it. I find myself hoping of recognize my story, only to realize that it is not there because I have not told it. 
I want to be clear that I do not wish to be part of any lawsuit against RB [Robert Burton] or the FOF. I am not motivated by any hope of financial gain, nor am I willing to join a crusade to end the FOF. It will undoubtedly collapse under its own excesses, or not, I could care less. Each person, in or out, must choose for themselves, which I believe is one of the reasons this blog is so valuable. I have built a comfortable, happy life and successful business post-FOF for myself and my family which I wish to protect. I ask anyone whom may recognize my identity to please respect my privacy and keep my name anonymous. Although current FOF members may wish to argue that in divulging my story I have violated the personal privacy of RB, that his public life is distinctly separate from his private life. My response is this: when a teacher brings his student into his private life and uses “work” language in his seduction, that distinction is gone. For each of us, no matter how long we have contact with the FOF; it is and will be a deeply moving and personal experience, not because of the man, but of the possibilites of growth within each of us.

To Golb: [blogger]

Now that your tail is out of your mouth, you glibly strike at this blog - my air, at the children, and at me? You have no idea who I am and what I have been through, Golb, whatever the heck that name is supposed to mean. I am WhaleRider. I have ridden the BIG FISH into the deepest, darkest, coldest depths until my lungs have screamed for air, my soul choking in my throat, and I have survived. I let myself be swallowed whole, have kept myself intact, had my semen drained nightly by a sex maniac who gave the most wondrous, intentional, conscious blowjobs, had my essence gouged open as I lay resting on the Goethe Academy floor as a human shield for the precious artwork, the lights left on the LeBrun all night to keep my exhausted body in first-state deprivation, my king of clubs bound and gagged, unable to protect me from this terrible angel who would rouse me and lead me secretly, stealthily into the dark of his gilded bed-chamber to service his need for the good of us all, in this school of “shut up and be present”, this silk-lined labyrinth of luxury complete with the matching salt and pepper shakers, where I puke out his semen in the imported porcelain toilet along with the fine wine and pepper steak from the teaching dinner earlier that night and wipe my face on the Egyptian cotton towel just before I’d retire until dawn cracks open another day and he slumbers peacefully until lunch dreaming of sugar plums because they remind him of testicles…while the rest of us toiled in the searing hot sun the next day still weary from our lunatic efforts the day and night before…not once was I told that I was loved in this school of love, but he loved when I returned the favor-only to have to excrete myself one year later, quietly leaving in a gentleman-like fashion, not making a splash, barely a ripple, so as not to disturb anyone else who might be sleeping…to remain alive, and carry out my prophesized soul death sentence as a life-person-oh yeah, that’s right, there was no gun to my head…but thankfully his predictions don’t come true either, do they?
And Howard [blogger], Girard [Haven], Golden Fleecer, the brave-new-man and miscellaneous moon angels…with your eloquent tongues and trite, text-book explanations for our suffering…I have seen 50 like you dis-“membered” by the insatiable Minotaur at the center of this perpetual labyrinth you call haven, home, Isis… do you have the balls to hear the truth?…the graphic truth?… the painful truth? The truth I paid for with my own hydrogen 12? Do know why he calls himself a goddess? You think an angel told him. Did you know the prostrate gland is the male G-spot? He would orgasm from anal sex without any penal stimulus, and think he had awakened his female side, just as a woman does during anal sex without ever touching the clitoris… He taught me that, he’s such an elevated and exalted teacher! Look it up on the internet, or better yet, try it for yourself sometime…
And can you even FATHOM the nauseating, soul imploding disgust I felt the night he did “rimming” on me, without my consent, and then brought his fecal coated lips to mine and kissed me? Try separating from that. The Darvons he used to hand out were not enough to quench the pain, for this pain is exquisite and it leaves no visible marks! Think of me the next time he kisses your forehead…once those lips had been planted firmly on my asshole and probably countless others from all corners of the planet. And that’s the ultimate of all ironies; he kisses your third eye with those lips, coating the seat of your very soul with fecal matter from the seat of his inner circle. Please, by all means, stay in the Fellowship as long as you like! Stand by him! Support him! Bring him fresh new, exotic meat, he’s HUNGRY! Or if you like, have a look down the escape hatch he had installed in his closet just in case C-influence happened to be on vacation and he read the tea leaves wrong. Then you will know the darkness that resides under that silk suit. You might want to have your own plan B just in case the Earl has run out of man number five party hats that you have been so patiently waiting for him to bestow upon you…

1979-1985 [membership in Fellowship of Friends]

WhaleRider's letter to Nancy on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog:

Dear Nancy:

I sincerely appreciate your response. I apologize to you if you felt personally attacked. Please forgive me for any unnecessary suffering I may have caused you. My response to your post was not flippant or based on a bad mood; it took many hours to compose.

If you or anyone reading this blog is unclear about the concept and practice of the transformation of negative emotions, then yes, they should say, “to hell with it and never post again”. May they sleep in peace.

I felt completely “flabbergasted” and in shock to be having sex with Robert Burton, my supposed teacher. And all I did to you was challenge your thinking.

Your post asks the warriors among us to step back and consider the consequences of ending the Fellowship of Fiends. Nancy, I speak as one of the consequences of keeping that Fellowship going. I refuse to evaporate or be regarded simply as ‘collateral damage’. You say that you are “aware” of the pain we bear…now you can taste it. Now you can feel it in your dreams as I do. Robert Burton continues to inflict such pain upon his ‘boys’ and husbands of women like you. The dilemma is that the pain is not felt until years later because everyone at the time is so frickin’ anesthetized in a ‘higher state’ and then ashamed to talk about it!

I was first herded into Robert Burton’s bedroom in the middle of the night after an exhausting 12 hour workday in the hot sun when my king of clubs and will was weakest-under the pretense of doing some ‘cuddling’. I understand only now, years later how numb and disempowered I was from the layers of paralyzing psychological double binds systematically instilled in me by Robert Burton and the ‘form’ of the ‘school’. When I lay down next to him, he put his leg across my groin area in direct contact with my penis. If you are a woman of ‘experience’ shall we say, you know that it doesn’t take too much direct contact to make a man’s penis erect. That’s when I was reassured that I was “with an angel”, and that when I climaxed, he would, “receive me”. That’s when he literally descended and my anguish began. A few drops at a time.

I repeat. The way is clear: we must fly from evil behavior. What will motivate us to take action to stop him? Horror? Tragedy? Will some poor soul need to choke to death on Robert Burton’s Viagra-enhanced penis before we take action? Will it be a STD inadvertently passed on to someone’s child from the ‘inner circle’? I willingly choose anger. Individuals standing up alone will not make a difference! Donald McD, Thomas E., Samuel S., Troy B., Miles B….. Only collectively will we make a difference. As Unoanimo [blogger] says, it just takes one toothpick, not an suicide bomber!

That is the value of this blog. The Fellowship of Friends has survived this long by dividing and conquering its dissenters one at a time because we were so conditioned to SELF remember, thinking only about our self preservation for fear of being booted out. I am in a position now to work on a much larger scale. Elena also speaks from that scale. I do not possess a shred of sentimentality about the Fellowship of Friends or anyone still stuck in its web of lies.

You have been immersed in ‘other’ symbols. Let me explain: the sword of Allah is the sword of truth. The raw truth cuts through mendacity, apathy, and ignorance. Sometimes it hurts. So does resetting a dislocated shoulder or broken bone. Either way, it hurts. Does not the king of hearts card have a raised sword, too? Is supposed to be all smiles? You must be brave to speak and stand up for truth, without the need for personal gain. I will not stand for any more ‘collateral damage’ from Robert Burton. I am a father. I have a son and daughter, and I want them to be proud of me.

I deeply thank you for feeling and responding to my feelings. That is the greatest gift we can give each other, to share each other’s pain.

WhaleRider continues his story on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog:
Whew, more tears, more sweat…I tossed and turned all last night…In the spirit of sharing and completely divesting myself of the FOF brand of personal improvement, cuz’ I’m feeing a distinct Hawaiian vibe here, thanks Arthur, Charles R (I remember you well), Jeannette, Vena, and everyone else for your kind thoughts…what made up my mind to take Morpheus’s little truth pill and flush myself from the Matrix 22 years ago was this: (for which I paid dearly) being close to RB [Robert Burton] afforded me the chance to see and understand first hand that his relationship and use of the concept “C-influence” was actually in fact ‘magical thinking’ (angels are hovering over the table right now) and ‘ideas of reference’ (the number 44 appearing somewhere just for you), which are two neuroses that function as defense mechanisms for individuals with ego deficits. I am deeply thankful to Miles Barth, who introduced these to me when he followed his conscience out of the school; it awakened mine. I left the FOF five months later.

An easy way to understand how ‘ideas of reference’ works is to assign strong personal meaning to a number other than 44, which I did, and voila, there are just as many shocks out there for those willing shed their FOF blinders and look for them. Don’t take my word for it, do it yourself.

When I began the work, I understood that Gurdjieff’s original definition of C-influence was this: it originates from the lips of a living, breathing, conscious teacher to the student, directed specifically to them, for furthering the student’s evolution. B-Influence was whatever the conscious being produced and left behind when they pass over. (After all that effort, who’d want to hang around on this plane, anyway?) Everything else was A-Influence. Ergo, you do whatever you can to be close to a conscious being to get what you need to evolve. But that was not RB’s brand of “C-Influence”, and it irked me.

My direct experience was that RB was not intellectually sophisticated enough for the task of focusing that much attention (and love) on any one student, he likes to play the field so to speak. So he merely projected his own defense mechanisms into the group to mask his inadequacies. (If shit happens, it is God’s will, not mine.) He diverted our ingrained religious beliefs to the 44, and we bought it. He’s a master of spin.

After posing the question at a meeting in Renaissance, “how does one prolong a higher state?” after much silence and one helpful angle, I received a photograph for vanity feature from Belinda and the subject was changed. Undaunted, I asked Robert the same question during a discrete lunch, with only two others attending so as not to put him too much pressure on him. His answer was to place a wine cork under his French sleeve cuff and to show me how a person in his position could create a memorable state in others who look up to him, but that would not be enough for awakening, the rest is left up to the individual. In other words, he didn’t have the answer. (The thought of doing the sequence 24/7 doesn’t seem to be the answer either.) It then became clear to me that Robert’s self-assigned role as teacher was how he kept himself dialed in and relatively present, but not fully awake in his higher intellect. He wasn’t one for “long thoughts”. All the emphasis on being present seem to inhibit critical thinking, lofty or not. We students were his reminders to pay attention, and he was feeding on us because he had a role to play.

A good example of “ideas of reference” is RB claiming the detention at the airport being a grand play designed by higher forces specifically for him and his entourage to transform into a higher state. (Jeeze, I get that friction every day just riding the bus!) The detention at the airport was a indirect result of his actions, in that he created and maintains the FOF, and it’s always been an odd bunch, to say the least. They raised the suspicions of the airline workers. That’s pretty understandable post-911. “C-Influence” providing friction just for him…I don’t believe so, that’s the snake biting his own tail, he doesn’t know himself. Robert caused this friction on himself and the others by virtue of surrounding himself with a “school” of entitled odd ducks that behave strangely. The idea of not losing your temper and going off at some underpaid, over-zealous republican homeland security dude with an attitude because you have ballet tickets… well, that’s common sense, unless you are looking for a full body cavity search or something.

True C-influence is designed for you (customization- 5/318-innernaut) based on direct observation and means you actually get to evolve, eventually becoming equal or surpassing your teacher (which I don’t claim to be)…but wait…evolving students? That presents a dilemma for the teacher who happens to have developed narcissistic personality disorder (not a disorder that would meet the legal definition of insanity, by the way). Here’s the rub, the nature of that disorder would instinctively compel that teacher to undermine anyone’s evolution if they were to get anywhere close to his level because that teacher always has to be top of the heap, maintaining an unreachable status. (First people RB clears from the playing field, women, no WOMAN will awaken in HIS school, by God. He personally prefers men.)

In groupthink the commonly held myths (i.e. beliefs that cannot be verified) function as an adhesive, binding the group together. Most of us have the need to belong, to feel part of a bigger identity than our small subjective one (a school is for those who know they need one) and the fear of abandonment (shunning) is so strong it keeps the members in line, censoring themselves and putting up with more and more cognitive dissonance. Fear manipulates the members into making excuses for any shortcomings or glossing over the glaring contradictions in order to maintain the status quo and retain membership. And by fear, what could be more frightening than losing your most prized possession, your soul? (In other less materialistic times, it was the fear of everlasting pain.)

So how can you debate the belief that “C-influence” had its hand in creating this school and will determine its fate? (Howard espouses Robert’s beliefs the best.) Or angels guard the gates? Or that God made the world in a matter of days? Or that Allah is the ONE and ONLY prophet. You cannot. Religion is not subject to debate, it is based on faith. You either buy into because you need the eggs, or you don’t.

Discussing these realities to others within a groupthink structure though, would be the equivalent of attempting to describe water to a fish. Besides, I was in my mid-twenties when this was happening, who would listen to me? I’d just get the boot on the spot. Given all I had experienced with RB and that at the very core I disagreed with his definition of “C-Influence” but could buffer that no longer, there was no choice but for me to walk. I did it on my terms, without fanfare. I went out, made a life for myself, and created a family with someone who had no relationship with the FOF. I love them deeply. I am eternally grateful to have accomplished this and worked hard not implode.

I still do believe in synchronicity IN MODERATION. Would I stake my children’s life on it? Hell, no! I use for personal validation purposes only, not to divine the future for others. Remember, the house always wins, as long as you choose to play.

Now I can have some peace.


More from WhaleRider

WhaleRider wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, May 15, 2007 at 9:10 a.m.:
Like others how mentioned, I also dreaded when I was “on duty” at the academy. I couldn’t get behind the symbolic way RB was feeding on our sex energy at night, in the dark. I made the effort to give up my will, but the sex was just so not me. I felt something in me shift to the side, not open up, and that made me feel gross. I think the tipping point in my ‘relationship’ with RB was when he told me late one night that the school would be mine. It felt like he was playing up to my vanity. It just gave me the creeps when he said that. He took me for a fool. I also had reason to suspect he was arranging a relationship for me with a loyal female student, so that he could maintain access to me. I had to take my destiny into my own hands.

Thanks to JoelF [blog poster], for your disclosure about what RB said to you on the drive to LA. about being the next man number 5. I really appreciate that you shared that tidbit! A pattern is beginning to emerge. I wonder to whom else RB told that? I remember you, BTW. I attended a meeting you lead at Renaissance once, you’d filter the angles for everyone by playing umpire, calling this angle a slider, this one is a curve ball. Some people were entertained. Were you a Yankees fan? In your post #107 I realize you were making a point to someone else. Please don’t lump me with the others and shed doubt on my story when I poured my soul out on this blog. I was the eyes and ears for the rest of us in there. Working together, we can sort through the bits and pieces to get a clearer picture of the deception that RB foisted upon us. That’s how he keeps the FOF going for so many years; he only reveals himself a little at a time, keeping people at a distance. I am not hiding behind my anonymity. It is for my protection; it’s not a ruse. I don’t care what you think about anyone else, I’ll stand up for myself. I want you to know I’m am being sincere and telling the truth. Can you feel that?
I remember the first gift RB gave me, before the funny business started. It was a gold plated watch. Now in some traditional eastern spiritual circles, a present from a teacher has great meaning. It is endowed with the teacher’s energy. I was sincerely thankful, and gave RB a nice, warm, big hug. He said, “It’s only a cheap watch, dear.” I suddenly felt cheapened, too. It was a jab to the pit of my stomach, like something else would be expected from me to get a better gift. He was right, though, the watch fell apart about a year later.

"WhaleRider" wrote in the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, July 14, 2012:
I remember the “tipping point” in time when I was still living at the Goethe Academy, as it was called back then, and began to realize burton had other young men besides myself he was sexually and psychologically manipulating and abusing.
That realization made me no longer feel “specially chosen”, and I began to dread being “on duty,” servicing his insatiable sexual desires in the middle of the night like a zombie sex slave.
These memories still haunt me to this day.
We’d all sleep on tri-fold foam futons under the paintings in different rooms, and he’d tap us “awake” to silently follow him into his room for sex, one at a time. There was nothing “conscious” about it; I felt grossed out, washing the fecal matter off my penis in the scallop shell sink in his bathroom. I remember once how irritated he was when some of it stained his sheets, acting like it was my fault.
I soon began making myself unavailable to him by spending nights at my girlfriend’s house and sneaking back into the Academy in the early morning.
I was at a cross roads, and he knew it.
It became clear to me that he was leveraging my attraction (my shadow side…the social/power climbing moron in me) to the money, power, and furlough from working in the blazing heat that came from being in his entourage against letting him suck my dick whenever he wanted or having to have unprotected anal sex with him.
I could also sense in the background that burton was maneuvering me into a marriage of convenience to a wealthy and dedicated female follower, who was the maximum attraction to my so-called, “body type”.
This is the exact kind of ungratifying, empty relationship that would enable him to have access to me for his own future sexual gratification.
But embedded in the future he was planning for me (as he had for so many others) was missionary work in outlying centers.
I was baited with being sent to a European Center.
This was the line I was not willing to cross with a clear conscience: promoting the FOF and burton as a conscious being.
I decided to take my fate into my own hands instead, went off salary and moved away with nothing more than a suitcase and a head full of bad memories.

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