Introduction


Presented in reverse chronology, this history stretches from the present back to the Fellowship's 1970 founding, and beyond.
(See "Blog Archive" in the sidebar below.) It draws from many sources, including The Fellowship of Friends - Living Presence Discussion, the Internet Archive, the former Fellowship of Friends wiki project, cult education and awareness sites, news archives, and from the editor's own 13-year experience in the Fellowship.

The portrait that emerges stands in stark contrast to sanitized versions presented on the Fellowship's array of
alluring websites, and on derivative sites created by Burton's now-estranged
disciple, Asaf Braverman.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Find The Fellowship of Friends on Wikipedia (or maybe not)

Entrance to Apollo, the Fellowship of Friends cult headquarters, and Renaissance Winery, in Oregon House, CA
Entrance to "Apollo," Fellowship of Friends compound in Oregon House, California,
and home to Renaissance Vineyard & Winery.

[ed. - In early 2007, there was an effort to create a Wikipedia page for The Fellowship of Friends. Fellowship operatives and ex-members alike struggled to present their messages while diluting their opponents'.

Eventually, Wikipedia administrators grew exasperated with the fighting and decided the differences were irreconcilable, a balanced perspective unattainable, and work on the page was suspended. An example of a Fellowship-preferred working draft can still be seen. It gives criticism of the cult short shrift.

Further evidence of the struggle to control the Wikipedia message could be found on "The Alex Horn Pages" blog, where an anonymous poster preserved a portion of the Wikipedia debate. See below.

After being accused of "aggressive sockpuppetry," Fellowship operative "Ivan Ossokin" was blocked from further editing on Wikipedia. They then reappeared as rickquiroz , (perhaps a play on the name of cult buster Rick Ross), attacking the moderator.

Considering the many controversies clouding The Fellowship of Friends' history, it is probably to their advantage no official Wikipedia page has survived.

The following draft, originally captured on search.com, is a remnant of the Wikipedia battle, and a rather unwelcome version from the perspective of Fellowship editors. Many links in the article no longer function. Though the "Criticism" section is empty, the presentation is a decidedly unflattering (if true) overview of the Fellowship. Note: the formatting probably does not match that of the original article.]
Fellowship of Friends

The Fellowship of Friends is an organization headquartered in California, USA, registered since 1971 as non-profit religious corporation (church) with state and federal authorities. [1] As of 2007, it has approximately 2000 members, about a third of which live around the organization's property in Oregon House, California. The rest of the members live in Europe, Asia, and South America. [2] The stated purpose of the organization is to help members awaken, and to fulfill the aims of higher conscious beings[3] To this end, it originally employed an ideology described under the general term the Fourth Way, and while it still refers to itself as a Fourth Way school [4], it currently incorporates other sources (e.g. [5]). Major influences associated with the Fellowship of Friends from the Fourth Way line of thought include George Gurdjieff, Peter Ouspensky, Rodney Collin-Smith, and Alex Horn, who was the teacher of the organization's leader, Robert Earl Burton [6]
Contents

1 History

2 Beliefs and Practices
2.1 C Influence
2.2 Shocks and Signs
2.3 Self-Remembering
2.4 Consciousness and Functions
2.5 The Many 'I's
2.6 Essence and Personality
2.7 Obstacles to Awakening
2.8 The Need for Efforts
2.9 Schools on Earth
2.10 Higher Centers and States
2.11 Transformation of Suffering
2.12 Exercises and Tasks
2.13 Special Language and Terminology
2.14 Fees
3 Controversies
4 Recruitment and influence techniques
5 References
6 External links
6.1 Material produced by the Fellowship of Friends
6.2 Newspaper reports on the Fellowship of Friends
6.3 Material referencing experiences in the Fellowship of Friends
6.4 Criticism
History

In 1971, the Fellowship organization purchased 1,200 acres of mostly uncleared land in the Sierra foothills and its members spent the next five years developing the property to serve as a central retreat. From 1971 to 1976, the organization established a network of satellite groups or “centers” in California. In the early 1980s the founder directed individual members to move to Europe to found centers in major European cities. Today (2007) the Fellowship has 2,200 members, approximately a third of whom live near the retreat, which changed its name several times over the years and is currently called Isis but was formerly called The Farm, Mount Carmel, the Mount Carmel Monastery, Renaissance Monastery, Renaissance, and Apollo.[citation needed] Former members who left and started their own Fourth Way-type groups include Yorgos Savides [George Ellis Savides, aka Yorgo Wolfe Savides], James V. Randazzo, James Westly, R. Miles Barth, Larry Cramer, Charles D., and Theodore Nottingham.[citation needed]

Beliefs and Practices
C Influence

The Fellowship of Friends refers to itself as a conscious school, meaning a school for spiritual evolution. The word "conscious" is used because its leader, Robert Burton, is said to be conscious - to have attained immortality within the boundaries of the solar system, according to the Fourth Way teaching, and so represents a connection with conscious or "C" influence for members of the organization. Humanity is said to be asleep and not know it, and only few individuals can awaken and escape with the direct help of C influence. "Sleeping" people, in the Fourth Way's teaching, are expected to become "food for the moon" upon dying, eaten by a lower world with a minimal chance of escaping in the eons that ensue. In contrast, it is said that C influence (conscious beings without physical bodies who are working directly to assist people who are trying to awaken [7]) will place the souls of members in limbo until their next rebirth. Burton has stated that an evolving soul moves through nine lifetimes before it finally escapes.[1]

In addition to Burton himself as C influence, 44 other people from the past, including Shakespeare, Marcus Aurelius, Jesus, Buddha, Benjamin Franklin, Abraham Lincoln, Socrates, Plato, Goethe, Rilke, J.S. Bach, Vivaldi, Meher Baba, Lewis Carroll, William Blake, Ouspensky, Gurdjieff, often referred to as "Gods" or "angels", are said to have attained full consciousness within their lifetimes and are understood to be working directly with the organization to help wake up its members. Members are to watch out for meaningful coincidences in their lives as an indication of their connection with these higher forces. Such meaningful coincidences, as well as unexpected or unwanted turns of events, are referred to as "shocks" delivered by C Influence, and are to be used as reminders to become more conscious and self-aware, rather than resentful or negative. Members are encouraged to view everything that happens as designed to promote their evolution.[2][3]

Shocks and Signs

Some unusual events ("shocks"), either happening by themselves or artificially introduced, are believed to induce a higher state of consciousness ("third state") in those who observe them and to "create memory". Examples given are doing jumping jacks in the middle of a busy intersection, or pushing a lawnmower along a living room carpet.[4] Robert Burton is also reported to live his life by interpreting simple events, such as biting into a slice of lemon, as shocks from Influence C communicating to him that he should take a certain course of action. He is reported to have said that interpreting shocks as guidelines for action is something only a conscious man can do.[5]

Self-Remembering

Self-remembering is a central idea in Robert Burton's teaching.[6] It is spoken of as a practice similar to Buddhist mindfulness.[7]

Members are taught that no one is automatically aware of himself, no one is conscious of himself, no one ‘remembers’ himself. People are said to exist in a state of dim awareness and uncontrolled attention, while more consciousness could be attained through purposeful effort. One of the techniques to achieve this higher state, or "divided attention" is described as: to try to be aware of yourself and notice what is around you, to shift your gaze every few seconds so you don't have thoughts about what you see. This is attempted in order to reach "a quiet place within", from where one can experience presence and higher states of consciousness. [8]

Members of the Fellowship of Friends promote self-remembering by using ordinary movements as a catalyst for divided attention. This means moving intentionally and directing their attention to what they are doing. For example, instead of grabbing the phone, to pick it up gently; instead of slamming the door, to close it quietly; instead of washing the dishes in a hurry, to clean them carefully. All of these are seen as ways of using movement to control and then divide attention — to move with presence. [9] Moreover, it is believed that only periodic efforts to divide attention are not enough to reach the quiet place within: that one should sustain divided attention, do it repeatedly, and remember why one is doing it; one should know which are the steps that will bring one back to presence, and connect them in a chain of conscious effort. [10]

This presence is understood to be very fleeting at first, but members are instructed to allow it and sustain it, with the hope that it will become permanent. To do that, one is supposed to be prepared ahead of time and be ready to respond when the stream of one's imagination wants to take one away from presence. This state of presence is understood to be the hidden meaning and purpose of life on Earth. [11]

Consciousness and Functions

According to Robert Burton, consciousness is a wordless state of presence that is simultaneously aware of itself and what it observes and which remains hidden to the usual sense of self created by sensory input, emotion, and thought. Burton teaches that prompting consciousness to be aware of itself is what self-remembering has always been about for conscious schools (defined as “a school headed by a conscious being”)[8] and those possessing knowledge taught by such schools. The stated theory is that consciousness resides above the realm of imagination and has a clarity of perception that is independent of normal human functions, called “lower centers”, in contrast to consciousness, referred to as “higher centers”. Burton believes that, through intensive work on self-remembering, conscious control of “higher centers” is possible. The Fellowship stresses self-remembering as a way to prevent the usual functions – thoughts, movements, emotions - from obscuring the experience of consciousness itself. [12]

The Many 'I's

Many I's is a term from the Fourth Way and it means each feeling of ‘I’: I think, I want, I know best, I prefer, I am happy, hungry, tired. These feelings of ‘I’, however, are understood as small, independent functions of the human machine. It is believed that these I's stem from four independent minds or functions in man, which are called lower centers (instinctive, moving, intellectual and emotional function). The four centers and all the I's they produce are said to be a mechanical reaction to the moment and not conscious of themselves. But something that stands apart from these many I's and simply watches them is called the unified ‘real I’ of consciousness. The work in the Fellowship of Friends revolves around methods to gradually separate consciousness from functions through various efforts of intentional behavior and controlling attention. [13]

Essence and Personality

It is believed that all real development happens in essence, which is a part of one that can be present, all the characteristics, natural interests and tendencies with which one is born - as opposed to personality, which is everything one learns, is taught, and imitates. This artificial personality is said to gradually displace essence and so one loses touch with one's simple nature. The state of young children is thus explained as being very close to third state of consciousness, except that divided attention is absent. Essence in its purest form is said to be a simple state unaware of itself, but it can become present by dividing attention to achieve higher states of consciousness. Some functions of personality need to support essence in the effort to be present by giving essence a push in the desired direction. But if personality indulges mechanical I's, it is called false personality and corrupts essence. When personality promotes presence, it is called true personality. [14]

Obstacles to Awakening

In the Fellowship of Friends teaching, self-remembering - the effort to divide attention - is difficult to sustain because the following psychological obstacles preventing it: [15]
Imagination: Imagination is seen as the most pervasive obstacle to divided attention. This includes daydreaming, random associations, dwelling on the past or future, or imagining things about yourself or about other people — all of which happens at the expense of divided attention in each moment. [16], [17]

Identification: Another major obstacle to divided attention is called identification. Identification is explained as what happens when one becomes fixated on something to the point that one's attention is drawn out of one by a subject that becomes so compelling that it consumes one's attention. It is said that identification readily happens when one talks, eats, watches TV, works at the computer, and performs daily tasks. [18]

Unnecessary Talk: Unnecessary talk is recognized as another obstacle to self-remembering. This means talk that happens by itself without conscious purpose. For instance, talking for its own sake, as a reaction to curiosity, as a way to ease tension, or as a means of justifying or drawing attention to oneself. Talking is seen as unnecessary to the extent that it displaces divided attention. [19]

Expression of Negative Emotions: Negative emotions are defined as things like irritation, impatience, boredom, worry, suspicion, jealousy, self-pity, anger, resentment, and fear. The attitude of this teaching is that they are not caused by circumstances or other people, and expressing them is not considered normal and necessary. All negative emotions are understood to be internal, not external, and are seen as caused by the false view that one has about oneself and the world, and particularly about one's suffering which seems unjust, undeserved, and wrong. A key principle in the Fellowship of Friends is that not expressing negative emotions is the first step of an inner transformation of consciousness — of reaching a new perception of things as they are, objectively. [20]
The Need for Efforts

A main idea of the Fourth Way is that awakening results from consistent, prolonged efforts. When something urgent comes up from the many I's, something that is considered important, one is taught to make a conscious effort to choose the present moment instead and put the I's to one side. This kind of effort is understood to result in an immediate heightened sense of awareness. As members understand that it is necessary to make this type of effort, they begin to value it more deeply. Such efforts are expected to produce an inner strength, and one becomes better at resisting a mind that wanders. It is said that when one separates for a moment of eternity from the 4 dimensions of time and space, it is a heroic effort, and this is expected to eventually evoke a response from something higher, a more permanent experience of a higher self. [21]

Schools on Earth

Becoming a member of the Fellowship of Friends is seen as instrumental in one's quest to create consciousness for oneself and escape sleep, the state of not being aware of oneself. A prominent member, Girard Haven, says that by joining the school, one indicates a willingness to participate in the process of having one's life altered and interfered with, to give one's life over to be manipulated by the school and the teacher "so that one's Self can be freed from the prison of that life".[9] One of the central tenets of Robert Burton's teaching is that esoteric schools have existed since the dawn of humanity and that they all used the same system for awakening man from sleep, although the language they used to convey it may have been slightly different. The purpose of all these schools (ancient Egyptians, Jews, Hindus, Christians, Muslims, authors of the Tarot deck, Gothic architects and Sufi tradition) is said to have been to teach people how to be present and prolong presence with the ultimate aim of achieving a permanent state in one's higher centers. They are believed to have all used the same methods and to have been connected to the same objective source. The system presented by Gurdjieff in the 20th century is said to be the first exoteric manifestation of such ancient knowledge that had previously been concealed in symbols, stories and poetic metaphors. For example, according to Robert Burton, the Tarot deck is in fact an objective way of telling how to reach presence, to promote and prolong presence. Burton is quoted as saying "all schools are the same school".[22]

In Robert Burton's teaching, one of the aims of the Fellowship of Friends as a school is also to serve as an ark that will preserve culture and consciousness through a nuclear holocaust in the history of humanity. Some of his predictions were that there would be an economic depression in 1984, that California would fall into the ocean and that later there would be an Armageddon.[10]

Higher Centers and States

All efforts to divide attention and be present in the Fellowship of Friends revolve around one aim: to reach higher centers and experience higher states of consciousness. It is believed that when one divides attention and becomes aware of oneself and one's surroundings at the same time, the veil of imagination is lifted and replaced with presence. Things are seen more vividly, which is interpreted as "higher emotional center" beginning to emerge in the third state of consciousness. Experiences like this are said to never be forgotten because they are a higher state of consciousness that exists outside of time. An even higher state is called the fourth state, which is said to occur in moments of danger and creates an unusual clarity and ability to perceive what is happening in the moment. These perceptions are interpreted as coming from "higher intellectual center". The idea promoted by Robert Burton is that attaining these higher centers, which do not produce I's and are conscious, is the hidden meaning of life on earth. This same division between higher and lower centers is recognized in other ancient texts as the division between the "earth" or "world" and the "Lord" or "God". The highest part of one's personality is called "steward" and it can initiate divided attention to support presence and the arrival of higher centers. [23]

Transformation of Suffering

On the Fourth Way, the idea behind transformation is that suffering creates a pressure which, when used correctly, can dispel imagination and perpetuate self-remembering. Members are told, when suffering comes their way, to make a conscious effort not to identify with it—not resist or resent or blame suffering. Robert Earl Burton calls this "the hidden meaning of suffering." He also says that this effort begins by letting go of imaginary suffering—not displaying irritation and impatience, not complaining or criticizing, not worrying, not blaming, and, above all, not feeling sorry for ourselves–and by replacing it with the effort to divide attention. [24]

Exercises and Tasks

There are requests by the leader that the members are required to adhere to. For example: - Not to smoke, or to quit smoking after one year as a member. - Not to use or deal in drugs. - To refrain from expressing negative emotions. - Not to use physical violence with other members. - To pay membership fees ("teaching payments") on the first of the month. - Not to gossip. - Not to interrupt. - To wear seatbelts. - To dress well for meetings and gatherings inside the organization. - To have teeth cleaned and checked at least once a year. - To have regular mammograms for women over 40. - Not to have interactions with former members (except those that cannot be reasonably avoided). Failure to comply with certain of the exercises or tasks may have material (e.g. fines, termination of membership) or even mortal consequences (higher forces may cause the death of persons who do not comply with exercises).[11] It is believed that by following these exercises, members increase their chance to awaken, and they serve as reminders for self-observation.[12]

Exercises are requests that constitute the "form of the school" and many are periodically changed.[13] At some point all couples who were living together were instructed by Burton to marry within three months or end the relationship. This led to the exercise of refraining from extramarital sex, which was rescinded in 1998.[14] For a time, there was a task to choose a relationship so as to avoid "ethnic pairings".[15] For two years, members were requested to be vegetarians.[16] Another request was to eat with a knife and fork, with the prongs of the fork turned down.[17] Sometimes word exercises are introduced, and members are instructed not to use words such as "I", "okay", "in" or "oh", in order to bring more attention to their speech.[18]

Special Language and Terminology
Angle = point of view that is expressed.

Center Director = member who is put in charge of organizing and guiding the activities of one of the Fellowship outposts for a certain time period.

Influence B = influences indicating some higher level of existence but not carrying conscious energy.

Inner Circle = members who have understood themselves and their situation sufficiently that they do not introduce their own ideas and opinions, but follow the teacher's guidance directly.

Life people = non-members of the Fellowship of Friends; people who are not trying to remember themselves.

Photograph = to indicate to another person something about their behavior that they may not be aware of.

School = the Fellowship of Friends. 

Students = members of the Fellowship of Friends.

Teaching House = a group of members who live together in order to promote their work on themselves. Events and activities in centers are held at teaching houses.

Teaching Payments = required fees in order to maintain membership.

Teaching Events = events where members gather with the purpose of transmission of teaching from an older member or the leader.

Intentional Insincerity = refers to the deliberate deception of nonmembers by members of Fellowship organization. The term is not value neutral but refers to a process whereby a recruit obtains spiritual benefit by lying to outsiders to advance the organization's aims, chiefly the amassment of money.[19][this source's reliability may need verification][neutrality disputed]
Fees

Monthly membership fees are called "teaching payments". Teaching payments are said to be designed to test how serious a person is about participating in the Fellowship, to test their desire to put work on oneself first, and also to test their financial ability to participate in other activities that they will be exposed to once they join (attending dinners, concerts etc.) Members are required to pay them by the 1st of each month. If a member falls 6 weeks behind with their payments, they are asked not to attend meetings, if more than 14 weeks behind, their membership is terminated. Robert Burton is reported to have always instructed members to make teaching payments first and then worry about things like rent and food.[20] According to prominent member G. Haven, before asking for a teaching payment relief, one should be absolutely certain that all possibilities of getting money from life (taking another job, making more money, taking a job one doesn't like, borrowing etc.) had been exhausted. Sometimes fees can be scheduled to be paid over time or postponed, only exceptionally they are waived. If members are unable to make the minimum donations, they are to be encouraged to leave, improve their financial situation, at which point they are welcome to rejoin. If a member leaves and later wants to rejoin, a re-entry fee applies. Sometimes fees are required when a member fails to adhere to a particular exercise. There are also additional "center fund donations", money collected for the needs of each of the Fellowship outposts. These are not obligatory in the sense that one's membership in the Fellowship depends on them. But Robert Burton is reported to have said that they are also donations which Influence C wished, so for members, these contributions are considered an expression of their valuation for the school and for the wishes of higher forces.[21]
Controversies
[No entry]
Recruitment and influence techniques

An article by "A Collective of Women" published in the Cultic Studies Journal refers to the "studied indifference" practiced by members of the organization in respect of the recruitment of new members.[22] This "studied indifference" is a formal policy of the organization repeatedly documented in its internal literature. The "prospective student meetings" are tightly scripted and have been registered as a dramatic work with the United States Register of Copyrights at the Library of Congress.[23] Attendees are not informed that they are attending the performance of a dramatic work and may not understand in retrospect that the meeting they attended was not in fact "spontaneous."[neutrality disputed] The founder at one time directed that persons conducting such meetings "administer a shock to false personality" of potential recruits by declining to accept the recruit's hand offered in greeting.[citation needed]. The "studied indifference" of the member toward the recruit intensifies the recruit's desire for acceptance and offers organizational membership as that acceptance.[neutrality disputed] This phenomenon has been widely discussed in the psychological literature.[24][25]

Prospective members and members alike are urged to refrain from the expression of negative emotions as a tenet of the Fourth Way generally and as a rule of the Fellowship organization particularly. The attempt to refrain from the expression of negative emotions creates a competition within the individual between the desire to express the “negative emotion” and the desire to refrain from its expression.[neutrality disputed] Within the Fellowship organization, this competition is described as “the friction which produces consciousness,” and is lauded[neutrality disputed] generally as evidence of a “deputy steward” and “the condition of Man #4.” The influential theorist of human emotion, Silvan Tompkins, has written that “the learned inner restraint on any affect in competition with the wish to express the original affect. . . constitutes [a] stimulus to shame.”[26]

As a matter of Fellowship culture, the competition between these two desires in individuals is deliberately incited and intensified by a variety of specific and identifiable techniques. These techniques include the injunction to restrict one’s friendships to other Fellowship members; the social stigma attached to “losing the school” which the founder equates with “spiritual suicide”[citation needed]; the hierarchical directives on what constitutes proper dress, or the type of music to which one should listen, or the particular practices one should observe while consuming food; the so-called “gentle art” of “photography” and how one is properly to “receive” a “photograph”[citation needed]; the admonitions to “avoid opposite ‘I’s,” i.e., to avoid refusing or disagreeing when a politically powerful individual requests a recruitee to take or refrain from some action.[neutrality disputed]

Many more examples exist, and they combine to create a culture of behavioral control through shame induction.[neutrality disputed] Shame induction is generally discussed within the literature of “coercive” or “exploitative” persuasion and “thought reform,” esp. in reference to the thought-reform criterion known as the "demand for purity."[27][28][29][30] The product of the Fellowship organization’s culture of shame induction is at first to influence recruitees’ behavior, and later their belief systems, without their concurrent knowledge and informed prior consent.[neutrality disputed] Such influence principally occurs when a recruitee’s distrust in his or her own ability to think critically impairs his or her ability to evaluate information objectively. Within the Fellowship organization, this is achieved by the use of "thought-terminating cliches," another criterion used in describing thought-reform environments. The injunction that "certain 'I's are to be disregarded, especially those that wish to leave the school," and the social taboo against verifying that the "teaching" is wrong create in the recruit a distrust in his or her ability to think critically.[neutrality disputed]

While “verification” purports to be a tenet of the Ouspenskian system generally, and the Fellowship organization claims this tenet as its own, Fellowship recruitees as a rule suffer deficits in their perceptions of reality that impede their ability to leave the organization.[neutrality disputed] Such perceptual deficits accompany the escalating demands made upon new recruits to make a series of financial and behavioral commitments to the Fellowship organization.[neutrality disputed] One induced by others to act in a way dissonant with the way he sees himself will change the way he sees himself to reduce the dissonance.[31] Having complied with each request to escalate his financial and life commitment to the group, the Fellowship recruitee at last sees himself as a committed student who has survived financial and spiritual trials.[neutrality disputed] However, he lacks information crucial to evaluate the wisdom of his decision and the ability to evaluate his decision critically. He is now deeply invested in the Fellowship organization. He has too much invested, both financially, emotionally, socially, and in respect of the way he sees himself, to quit.[32]

References
  1. Burton, Robert: "Self-Remembering". Weiser Books, 1995. ISBN 0877288445
  2. Haven, Girard: "Letters to Students", page 14. Ulysses Books, 2001.
  3. Burton, Robert: "Self-Remembering". Weiser Books, 1995. ISBN 0877288445
  4. Mueller, Guinevere: "Bread upon the water" pages 118, 127-128, 131-132. G&G Mueller, 1999.
  5. Mueller, Guinevere: "Bread upon the water" pages 70-71. G&G Mueller, 1999.
  6. Mueller, Guinevere: "Bread Upon the Water", pages 155-156. G&G Mueller, 1999
  7. Burton, Robert: "Self-Remembering". Weiser Books, 1995. ISBN 0877288445
  8. Haven, Girard: "Creating a Soul", page 585. Ulysses Books, 1999.
  9. Haven, Girard: "Letters to Students", pages 4, 7. Ulysses Books, 2001.
  10. Haven, Girard: "Letters to Students", pages 1, 64, 109. Ulysses Books, 2001.
  11. Renaissance Vine, July 1980
  12. Haven, Girard: "Letters to Students", pages 4, 6, 54, 55, 116. Ulysses Books, 2001.
  13. Mueller, Guinevere: "Bread upon the water" page 73. G&G Mueller, 1999.
  14. Mueller, Guinevere: "Bread upon the water" pages 31-32. G&G Mueller, 1999.
  15. Haven, Girard: "Letters to Students", page 7. Ulysses Books, 2001.
  16. Mueller, Guinevere: "Bread upon the water" page 73. G&G Mueller, 1999.
  17. Mueller, Guinevere: "Bread upon the water" page 101. G&G Mueller, 1999.
  18. Mueller, Guinevere: "Bread upon the water" page 149. G&G Mueller, 1999.
  19. "Intentional Insincerity," Renaissance Journal, 1981
  20. Haven, Girard: "Letters to Students", page 27. Ulysses Books, 2001.
  21. Haven, Girard: "Letters to Students", pages 27, 57, 58, 94, 99-101, 106-110. Ulysses Books, 2001.
  22. A Collective of Women, "Sex, Lies, and Grand Schemes of Thought in Closed Groups," Cultic Studies Journal, Vol. 14, No. 1 (1997), pp. 58-84.
  23. The Prospective Student Meetings, Library of Congress Registration No. TX-4-472-455.
  24. Cushman, P., "The Self Besieged: Recruitment/Indoctrination Practices in Restrictive Groups," Journal for the Theory of Social Behaviour, March, 1986
  25. Aronson, E. & Mills, J., "The effect of severity of initiation on liking for a group," Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology, 59, 177-181 (1959).
  26. E.K. Sedgwick, A. Frank, and I.E. Alexander, Shame and Its Sisters: A Silvan Tompkins Reader (Duke Univ. Press, 1995) at p. 162.
  27. R. Lifton, Thought Reform and the Psychology of Totalism: A Study of Brainwashing in China (W.W. Norton & Co., 1961)
  28. L. Festinger, A Theory of Cognitive Dissonance (Stanford University Press, 1957)
  29. L. Festinger, H.W. Riecken, and S. Schachter, When Prophecy Fails: A Social and Psychological Study of a Modern Group That Predicted the Destruction of the World (Harper Collins, 1957)
  30. P. Cushman, “The Self Besieged: Recruitment/Indoctrination Techniques in Restrictive Groups,” Journal for the Theory of Social Behaviour (March 1986).
  31. P. Cushman, op. cit.
  32. Cf. A. Teger, Too Much Invested To Quit, (Pergamon Press, 1980).


[ed. - The following is StateMaster.com "mirror" of the Wikipedia at some stage in its development.]
Encyclopedia > Fellowship of Friends

The Fellowship of Friends is a non-profit religious organization recognized by the state and federal governments. [1] It was founded in 1970 by Robert Earl Burton as a Fourth Way school based on the teachings of P.D. Ouspensky, as well as the teachings of George Gurdjieff, and Rodney Collin.[2] It incorporates additional esoteric knowledge not directly connected with the Fourth Way teaching as presented in the West. Members seek a spiritual awakening leading to the development of an immortal soul. This includes preserving what are seen as the highest forms of beauty, knowledge, and culture.[3] The Fellowship of Friends has approximately 2,000 members, about a third of which live near the organization's retreat in California.[4] Members also reside in South America, Europe and Asia. The organization's connection to Fourth Way teachings is controversial and disputed. Claims of false prophecy and abusive behavior have additionally caused controversy for the Fellowship of Friends.

Contents


Beliefs and practices


Esoteric schools

The Fellowship of Friends claims to use ancient methods practiced by esoteric schools throughout history. Different esoteric traditions are said to have expressed this same teaching in different ways. These methods have the purpose of allowing members to "be present" and achieve a higher spiritual state. The ancient Egyptians, Jews, Hindus, Christians, Muslims, Sufi, creators of the Tarot and Gothic architects are considered examples of such schools. Additional sources include the Fourth Way, Sumerian texts, the schools of Pythagoras and Plato, the Philokalia, and Buddhist teachings. A belief in the continuation of Fourth Way schools through recorded and unrecorded history was also held by Ouspensky: “When I met this system I very soon became convinced that it was connected with schools and in this way had passed through recorded and unrecorded history. During this time methods were invented and perfected.” [5] It is believed that all possessed the same knowledge, methods and source. In the Fellowship of Friends' teaching, all efforts revolve around one aim: to experience higher states of consciousness. [6]

The Fellowship of Friends believes that before Gurdjieff and Ouspensky, schools had to conceal their knowledge in symbols and stories. For example, while it is now possible to speak openly about lower centers and the machine, earlier schools referred to them as the ‘world’ and ‘earth’. Previous schools called higher centers ‘Beloved’, ‘God’, ‘Lord’, or ‘sun’. They knew that "higher centers" are the divinity within: a different order of creation, just as the sun is a different order of creation from the earth. The fourteenth-century Sufi, Shah Nimatullah, wrote: “Indeed, the whole world is imagination while God alone is the true reality.” He was speaking esoterically, of course. His use of the word ‘imagination’, however, shows that with the Sufis the system was beginning to emerge in exoteric form.[7]

One of the central tenets of Robert Burton's teaching is that esoteric schools have existed since the dawn of humanity and that they all used the same system for awakening man, although the language they used to convey it may have been slightly different. George Gurdjieff said: "But speaking of schools, there are only special schools; there are no general schools. Every teacher, or guru, is a specialist in some one thing. One is an astronomer, another a sculptor, a third a musician. And all the pupils of each teacher must first of all study the subject in which he has specialized, then, afterwards, another subject, and so on. It would take a thousand years to study everything." [8]

It was not until the twentieth century that the system appeared for the first time in its exoteric form when Gurdjieff and Ouspensky introduced these ideas as the Fourth Way.

The Fellowship teaches that higher forces have founded the Fellowship, that conscious beings guide and sustain the Fellowship and it's members, and intend it to serve as an ark to survive the collapse of civilization. [9]


Sleep and awakening

The Fellowship of Friends says that when presence is not there, man is in a state of "imagination" or "identification", also called simply "sleep".[10] The work, as practiced in the Fellowship of Friends, revolves around methods to promote presence. Robert Earl Burton states that presence must be found within and that an individual must do everything to sustain it. For example, a person might internally say, "drop imagination - be present, look with presence, listen with presence, move with presence", according to the circumstances of the moment.[11]


Consciousness and presence

According to Robert Burton, consciousness is a wordless state that is simultaneously aware of itself and what it observes. This consciousness resides above the realm of imagination and has a clarity of perception that is independent of normal human functions. Burton teaches that, through intensive work on being present, a permanent state of consciousness can be achieved. According to the organization's teaching, no one is automatically aware of himself, no one is conscious of himself. More consciousness can be attained through purposeful effort: the effort to be present. The organization also teaches that presence is not a point of view, it is not a thought or an emotion, and it is not a palpable energy. It is an invisible, independent, and wordless state of pure consciousness.[12] [13]


Many I's and work 'I's

According to the Fellowship of Friends, people suffer from ego attachment, thinking in terms of "I" and "me". This is represented by such thoughts as "I think", "I feel", "I want" and so forth. According to the Fourth Way, all feelings of "I" are the result of multiple independent parts of the human "machine". None of them are considered to be the "real I" of consciousness. The distinction is believed to be subtle because people are accustomed to that sense of self and unaware of consciousness as a distinct and wordless state. The different "I's" pass continually whereas a "present" consciousness stands apart in observation of the "I's". "Self-remembering" is held as essential to maintaining present consciousness, or "presence".[14] The current teaching of the organization is moving more and more away from this exoteric description of the lower nature of man, focusing on how to promote presence through the use of work 'I's. These "work I's are 'I's which remind a person to make efforts to further his work to awaken. [15]As Robert Earl Burton mentioned recently, the work ‘I’s locate presence, and when they find it they do everything they can to sustain it. They do this by prompting presence with a delicate, urgent plea. For example, work ‘I’s might say internally things like: Drop imagination, Be present, Look with presence, Listen with presence, Move with presence, and so on—according to the circumstances of the moment.[16]


Higher centers and higher states of consciousness

All efforts to divide attention and be present revolve around one aim: to reach higher centers and experience higher states of consciousness. This is represented in esoteric literature as the ‘second birth’ and the ‘mystical inner marriage’. When not dividing attention, an individual exist externally but we are not present internally. Awareness is being drawn out of us and diffused as imagination and identification. [17]

The value of divided attention—where an individual becomes aware of himself and his surroundings at the same time—is that it stops imagination and replaces identification with presence. As a result, the individual starts to see things more vividly. As Robert Burton teaches, this is the higher emotional center beginning to emerge in the third state of consciousness. The third state can happen in flashes when you find yourself in a new place or when something unexpected happens, like suddenly meeting a friend you have not seen for years. The newness or awkwardness of the situation prompts you to be more aware of yourself in your surroundings. According to the beliefs of the Fellowship of friends, this is the third state, and if it is deep enough you never forget it because it is a higher state of consciousness that exists out of time.

There is also another state, the fourth state, which can occur, for example, in moments of danger. People who have had life-threatening experiences often describe a state of extreme clarity, the perception of time halting, and an unusual ability to perceive what is happening in the moment. These are perceptions from the higher intellectual center in the fourth state of consciousness, according to the beliefs of the Fellowship of Friends. But they, too, are usually very short and cannot be sustained. Although they are called ‘centers’, the higher centers differ from the lower centers in every way. They are a different order of creation, just as the sun is a different order of creation from the earth. Higher centers do not produce ‘I’s. They are wordless and conscious. They are the divinity within the individual. According to Fellowship beliefs, this is why esoteric schools throughout history referred to the lower centers as ‘earth’ and the ‘world’, and referred to higher centers as the Beloved, God, or Lord. Robert Earl Burton says that the presence of higher centers is the hidden meaning of life on earth. Yet most people, not knowing about higher centers, search for meaning in their lower centers. [18]

For example, the intellectual center looks for truth in books while the emotional center looks for faith in religions. The instinctive and moving centers pursue physical achievements and strive for well being through things like diet, yoga, and meditation. Meanwhile, the higher meaning they are all searching for is inside. It is the true Self—the divine presence of higher centers. The purpose of esoteric schools has always been to distinguish higher centers from lower centers and to use lower centers to promote the presence of higher centers. Higher centers gradually become stronger, appear more often, and stay for longer periods of time. [19]


Valuing presence

The Fellowship of Friends believes that presence is not a point of view, not a thought or an emotion, not a palpable energy or an ‘I’. It is an invisible, independent, and wordless state of pure consciousness. This state is so simple and unobtrusive that it is possible to fail to see its significance. It may not be seen at all because, as the Fellowship of Friends teaches, presence usually emerges for just a second or two before it disappears again—before it is swept away by imagination. People are so accustomed to and comfortable with imagination, with the steady stream of ‘I’s from the four lower centers, that wordless presence is a foreign experience. Robert Burton says that man must be taught how to recognize this state, how to allow it, and how to sustain it. It is believed that in comparison to the many ‘I’s, presence appears intangible. It seems to be nothing, to not exist, while the Fellowship believes that it is just the opposite.[20]

It is believed that wordless presence is the most real thing of all and can become permanent, whereas the many ‘I’s are superficial and fleeting. As the ‘I’s keep displacing each other in a repetitive cycle of imagination, presence can remain poised in a state of "divided attention". With conscious awareness, presence consciously observes a person's ‘I’s and his surroundings without analysis, comment, or conclusion. As taught by the Fellowship of Friends, the difficulty of sustained presence is that it can at any moment be lured into the stream of imagination. Unless a person has been prepared in advance with "work ‘I’s", ('I's which remind a person to make efforts to further his work to awaken).[21], presence can stay immersed in imagination for hours, days, weeks, and even months at a time—to the point that virtually all of a person's life is spent in the second state of consciousness. This "second state" of consciousness or "waking sleep" are terms from the Fourth Way. The appeal and pull of imagination are incredibly convincing and strong. To repeatedly break away from imagination and establish wordless presence at the core of a person's being, great sincerity and determination are needed. The Fellowship of Friends believes that the reverse is true. [22]


The principle of payment

As a part of work on oneself, the Fellowship of Friends teaching incorporates what P.D. Ouspensky refers to as “a most important principle in the work”: payment. To join the Fellowship, members are asked to pay a tenth on their gross monthly income, while some members pay more.[23] The membership donation is reduced for the first year to allow time for verifications to occur. Fees are paid from month to month and a member may leave at any time. To rejoin, a re-entry fee applies.[24]

In relation to this, the Fellowship of Friends notes that Gurdjieff and Ouspensky have emphasized payment as an essential principle in the work. They said is not possible to value anything without paying for it personally, but that generally people want to get something for nothing. Ouspenky states that: Generally, paying must be difficult for you and useful for the work. [25] The principle of payment is further understood by these comments from Gurdjieff: “Many people were very indignant at the demand for payment, for money. In this connection it was very characteristic that those who were indignant were not those who could pay only with difficulty, but people of means for whom the sum demanded was a mere trifle. Those who could not pay or who could pay very little always understood that they even if we [the school] needed no money at all it would still be necessary to keep this payment. It rids us at once of many useless people. Nothing shows up people so much as their attitude towards money.” [26]


History

In 1967 Robert Burton began studying the Fourth Way ideas under Alex Horn.[27] In 1970, Burton founded the Fellowship of Friends as a non-profit religious corporation. In 1971, the organization acquired 1,300 acres of land in the Sierra Foothills in Northern California, in order to provide its members with a retreat where they could realize their principles of self-development.[28]

In 1976, Fellowship "centers" were begun across the United States. Approximately 20 centers were founded and the membership increased dramatically. In the early 1980s centers were founded in major European cities. Eventually centers were also established in China, Singapore, Hong Kong, many Central and South American cities, and—after the fall of the Berlin wall—in Russia and Eastern Europe. As international centers were established, members were encouraged to travel around the world, teaching newer students and studying languages and the arts. The retreat hosted an ambitious concert series and developed its own opera, orchestra, chorus, theater, and ballet companies. In 1991 Burton’s book, Self-Remembering, was published, which highlighted the core of his teaching of the Fourth Way: his unwavering emphasis on the disciplines of self-remembering and the transformation of suffering.[29]

Robert Burton stated that he was receiving guidance from higher beings, and that he was told by them that a world-wide depression would occur in 1984, that an earthquake would destroy California in 1998, and that a nuclear war would follow in 2006, and that the Fellowship of Friends would survive these predicted events.[30]

A former member sued Robert Burton and the organization in 1996 for sexual abuse, sex with a minor, and brainwashing.[31] This case and another suit claiming sexual abuse were settled out of court, and the outcomes were sealed from public.[32] The Fellowship of Friends' president stated in a newspaper article that "one suit was dismissed and two others were settled by the organization's insurance companies to save the costs of litigation." She also added that "the suits were filed by former members who failed to produce evidence to support their accusations." [33]


Criticism

A number of former members have criticized Burton for alleged sexual abuse, behavioral control, brainwashing, and some members have left the organization in recent years because of these concerns.[34] Some consider the organization a cult, stating that it attempts to control its follower’s lives.[35] William P. Patterson has gone against the organization's claim to be in the lineage of Gurdjieff and Ouspensky through Alex Horn, as well as their claim to be a Fourth Way school. [36] Robert Burtons's estimated $250,000 annual income, and the Fellowship's estimated 5 million annual income, have been criticized.[37]


See also


References

  1. ^ [1]
  2. ^ The Fellowship Canons as of 2007; document on file with CA State and US Federal Governments
  3. ^ The Fellowship Canons as of 2007; document on file with CA State and US Federal Governments
  4. ^ [2]
  5. ^ "The Fourth Way, A record of Talks and Answers to Questions based on the teachings of G.I. Gurdjieff", P.D. Ouspensky, Alred A. Knopff, Inc., 1957 p. 268.
  6. ^ [[3]]
  7. ^ [[4]]
  8. ^ In Search of the Miraculous, Fragments of an Unknown Teaching, PD Ouspensky,
  9. ^ The Fellowship Canons dated 1986; document on file with CA State and US Federal Governments
  10. ^ Glossary. Retrieved on 2007-06-07.
  11. ^ Being Present (November 2006). Retrieved on 2007-06-07.
  12. ^ [5]
  13. ^ [6]
  14. ^ Being Present (September 2004)
  15. ^ [[7]]
  16. ^ [8]
  17. ^ [9]
  18. ^ [10]
  19. ^ [11]
  20. ^ Being Present (December 2006)
  21. ^ [[12]]
  22. ^ Being Present (December 2006)
  23. ^ "Deadly Cults: The Crimes of True Believers", Robert L. Snow. Praeger Publishers, 2003, page 123
  24. ^ FAQ
  25. ^ "The Fourth Way, A record of Talks and Answers to Questions based on the teachings of G.I. Gurdjieff", P.D. Ouspensky, Alred A. Knopff, Inc., 1957 pp. 280-90.
  26. ^ "In Search of the Miraculous", P.D. Ouspensky, page 172.
  27. ^ Robert Burton
  28. ^ "Our Story, Part 2"
    Dunne on Wine
  29. ^ Robert Burton
  30. ^ "Taking with the Left Hand: Enneagram Craze, People of the Bookmark, & the Mouravieff Phenomenon" Written by William Patrick Patterson, Edited by Barbara Allen Patterson, Arete Communications, Publishers, 1998, ISBN 1-879514-10-9 pg. 58
    LA Times 1996 Article. Retrieved on 2007-06-07.
    "Creating a Soul: Insights from a Fourth Way School", Girard Haven, Publisher: Ulysses Books, ISBN 0-9645782-2-0, Library of Congress CCN 99-070784, page 581
    "Deadly Cults: The Crimes of True Believers", Robert L. Snow. Praeger Publishers, 2003, pages 121/122
  31. ^ LA Times 1996 Article. Retrieved on 2007-06-07.
  32. ^ Deadly Cults: The Crimes of True Believers, Robert L. Snow. Praeger Publishers, 2003, page 123
  33. ^ [13]
  34. ^ "Deadly Cults: The Crimes of True Believers", Robert L. Snow. Praeger Publishers, 2003, page 123
  35. ^ Anti-cult profile of the Fellowship
  36. ^ FAQ
    "Taking with the Left Hand: Enneagram Craze, People of the Bookmark, & the Mouravieff Phenomenon" Written by William Patrick Patterson, Edited by Barbara Allen Patterson, Arete Communications, Publishers, 1998, ISBN 1-879514-10-9 pgs. 49,55,57,59,60
    "Gurdjieff, The Anatomy of a Myth", James Moore, Element Inc.,1991. pg. 370
  37. ^ LA Times 1996 Article. Retrieved on 2007-06-07.

Further reading

  • Self-Remembering by Robert E. Burton, Weiser Books, ISBN 0-877-28844-5
  • Creating a Soul: Insights from a Fourth Way School By Girard Haven, Ulysses Books, ISBN 0-964-57822-0
  • The Prize is Eternity: Foundations of Inner Work in the Fourth Way by Girard Haven, Ulysses Books, ISBN 0-964-57824-7
  • Dear Friend: Letters Based on the Teachings of G.I. Gurdjieff and P.D. Ouspensky by Girard Haven, Ulysses Books, ISBN 0-964-57827-1

External links


Criticism


[ed. - Along with Mario Fantoni ("Love-in-ark") and Jason Woods, "Baby Dove" was one of the Fellowship's Wikipedia editors. On "Baby Dove's" Wikipedia page, some glimpses of  "intentional insincerity" can be seen, especially once they've been cited for a Conflict of Interest (COI). "Aeuio" was an antagonist defending their understanding of Gurdjieff's teaching. The following are comments from participants in the Wikipedia battle.] 

"Veronicapoe" commented on Wikipedia, April 8, 2007:
regarding edit war at Fellowship of Friends [draft Wikipedia entry] Leebo [a Wikipedia administrator], my perception of edit war at Fellowship of Friends is as follows: This is a page about a controversial organization surrounding by a charismatic individual who claims to offer members of his extremely money-hungry organization the chance to become immortal. Mr. Fantoni [Mario Fantoni] is a member of the organization and a professional marketing executive whose goal, so far as I can ascertain from his actions, is to minimize publicity about controversies concerning the organization. He is not concerned so much with writing material as with deleting the writing I have done [below]. I have added sections on history, recruitment and influence techniques, the organizational policy on suicide and the suicides of then-current and former members. I have been diligent about citing to reliable sources. Mr. Fantoni attacks my sources, but he does not indicate having read these sources or any interest in reading them. I suspect that scholarship is less his concern than advocacy. I bear him no ill will and would urge him to become familiar with the materials to which I refer. Veronicapoe 17:20, 8 April 2007 (UTC)
"Veronicapoe" posted this capture of the in-progress Wikipedia page on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, April 1, 2007:
from the present Wikipedia entry on the Fellowship
History
Objective statement of the history of the organization is problematic, because the organization ostracizes ex-members and prohibits current members from contact with ex-members. This creates a situation in which the organization’s institutional history is mostly unknown to its current membership. Objective sourcing is also problematic because of an institutional policy that promotes the destruction of papers documenting the organization’s early history, and is further complicated by misrepresentations of fact in official documents which the written and oral accounts of contemporaneous observers no longer within the organization contradict. These, taken together with the individual caches of old papers which have survived, as well as early photographs, drawings, and handwritten documents, together permit the delineation of a sourced, detailed history.
An essay written by the organization’s first member, Bonita Guido, a woman expelled from the organization in the early 1970s who now resides in Denmark, recounts that the Fellowship began after she met the founder at a New Year’s Eve party on December 31, 1969 in Lafayette, California. At the time, she was married for the second time with children in school, while he was a single man of 30 living at home with his mother. The essay, titled “History of the Fellowship of Friends: From January 1970 to December 1973″ was privately published in 1997 to an electronic mailing list of ex-members and has since been circulated privately.
While Ms. Guido does not recount the entire conversation between founder and recruit on December 31, 1969 and January 1, 1970, she does indicate that at the time she and the founder met, he said to her, “I know a God who has no clay feet.” Mrs. Guido indicates that she was under the influence of a psychedelic drug, probably mescaline, while the founder was under the influence of alcohol. She also indicates that she attended the party somehow knowing beforehand that she was going to meet someone significant.
On July 4, 1971, the Fellowship organization purchased 1,200 acres of mostly uncleared land in the Sierra foothills and spent the next five years developing the property to serve as a central retreat for Fellowship members. From 1971 to 1976, the organization established a network of satellite groups or “centers” in California. In the early 1980s the founder directed individual members to move to Europe to found centers in major European cities. Today (2007) the Fellowship has 2,200 members, approximately a third of whom live near the retreat, which changes its name every few years and is now called Isis but has previously been called Apollo, Renaissance, the Mount Carmel Monastery, Via Del Sol, and the Farm. Others live in approximately 65 centers around the world.
Recruitment and Influence Techniques
An article by “A Collective of Women” published in the Cultic Studies Journal refers to the “studied indifference” practiced by members of the organization in respect of the recruitment of new members. See A Collective of Women, “Sex, Lies, and Grand Schemes of Thought in Closed Groups,” Cultic Studies Journal, Vol. 14, No. 1 (1997), pp. 58-84. This “studied indifference” is a formal policy of the organization repeatedly documented in its internal literature. The “prospective student meetings” are tightly scripted and have been registered as a dramatic work with the United States Register of Copyrights at the Library of Congress. See LOC Registration No. TX-4-472-455. Attendees are not informed that they are attending the performance of a dramatic work and may not understand in retrospect that the meeting they attended was not in fact “spontaneous.”
The founder at one time directed that persons conducting such meetings “administer a shock to false personality” of potential recruits by declining to accept the recruit’s hand offered in greeting. The “studied indifference” of the member toward the recruit intensifies the recruit’s desire for acceptance and offers organizational membership as that acceptance. This phenomenon has been widely discussed in the psychological literature. See Cushman, P., “The Self Besieged: Recruitment/Indoctrination Practices in Restrictive Groups,” Journal for the Theory of Social Behaviour, March, 1986; Aronson, E. & Mills, J., “The effect of severity of initiation on liking for a group,” Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology, 59, 177-181 (1959).
Prospective members and members alike are urged to refrain from the expression of negative emotions as a tenet of the Fourth Way generally and as a rule of the Fellowship organization particularly. The attempt to refrain from the expression of negative emotions creates a competition within the individual between the desire to express the “negative emotion” and the desire to refrain from its expression. Within the Fellowship organization, this competition is described as “the friction which produces consciousness,” and is lauded generally as evidence of a “deputy steward” and “the condition of Man #4.”
The influential theorist of human emotion, Silvan Tompkins, has written that “the learned inner restraint on any affect in competition with the wish to express the original affect. . . constitutes [a] stimulus to shame.” E.K. Sedgwick, A. Frank, and I.E. Alexander, Shame and Its Sisters: A Silvan Tompkins Reader (Duke Univ. Press, 1995) at p. 162. As a matter of Fellowship culture, the competition between these two desires in individuals is deliberately incited and intensified by a variety of specific and identifiable techniques. These include the injunction to restrict one’s friendships to other Fellowship members; the social stigma attached to “losing the school” which the founder equates with “spiritual suicide”; the hierarchical directives on what constitutes proper dress, or the type of music to which one should listen, or the particular practices one should observe while consuming food; the so-called “gentle art” of “photography” and how one is properly to “receive” a “photograph”; the admonitions to “avoid opposite ‘I’s,” i.e., to avoid refusing or disagreeing when a politically powerful individual requests a recruitee to take or refrain from some action. Many more examples exist, and they combine to create a culture of behavioral control through shame induction.
Shame induction is generally discussed within the literature of “coercive” or “exploitative” persuasion and “thought reform.” See L. Festinger, A Theory of Cognitive Dissonance (Stanford University Press, 1957); L. Festinger, H.W. Riecken, and S. Schachter, When Prophecy Fails: A Social and Psychological Study of a Modern Group That Predicted the Destruction of the World (Harper Collins, 1957); R. Lifton, Thought Reform and the Psychology of Totalism: A Study of Brainwashing in China (W.W. Norton & Co., 1961); P. Cushman, “The Self Besieged: Recruitment/Indoctrination Techniques in Restrictive Groups,” Journal for the Theory of Social Behaviour (March 1986). The product of the Fellowship organization’s culture of shame induction is at first to influence recruitees’ behavior, and later their belief systems, without their concurrent knowledge and informed prior consent. Such influence principally occurs when a recruitee’s distrust in his or her own ability to think critically impairs his or her ability to evaluate information objectively. While “verification” purports to be a tenet of the Ouspenskian system generally, and the Fellowship organization claims this tenet as its own, Fellowship recruitees induced to distrust their ability to think critically suffer deficits in their perceptions of reality.
Such perceptual deficits attend demands made upon new recruits for an escalating series of financial and behavioral commitments to the Fellowship organization. As the literature of cognitive dissonance demonstrates, one induced by others to act in a way dissonant with the way he sees himself will change the way he sees himself to reduce the dissonance. See P. Cushman, Op. Cit. Having complied with each step of an escalating financial commitment, the Fellowship recruitee at last sees himself as a committed student who has survived financial and spiritual trials, although he may be lacking information crucial to evaluate the wisdom of his decision, or the ability to evaluate his decision critically, even if he had such information. He is now deeply invested in the Fellowship organization. See Allan Teger, Too Much Invested To Quit, (Pergamon Press, 1980).
Material referencing experiences in the Fellowship
Strange Truth: A Horror Story (1983), by Marlane Dasmann, Library of Congress Registration No. TXu-149-031 (88-page account of author’s ten years in Fellowship and what she observed while acting as the founder’s housemaid)
Case Studies of Voluntary Defectors from Intensive Religious Groups, by Ursula Hilde Sack, Ph.D. dissertation, University of Southern California, 1985 (includes accounts of defectors from Fellowship of Friends)
Cults and consequences: The definitive handbook (1988) by R. Andres & J.R. Lane, Commission on Cults and Missionaries, Jewish Federation Council of Greater Los Angeles (includes account by former Fellowship member Barbara Bruno Lancaster)
Vena wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, June 4, 2007:
I have a question for the FOF members who have the responsibility of contributing to Wikipedia. I would sincerely like to know why there is an attempt to hide the failure of Robert’s predictions by suggesting that they were symbolic and not to be taken literally. As a long time member, I know, you yourself know and many, many others also know that these predictions were never presented as symbolic. Hundreds of quotes can probably be found to substantiate this.
What are you telling yourself when you write these things? It seems that you must have somehow found justification for complying with the notion that truth and honesty are much less important than new recruits. Is the continued existence of the FOF in its current form more important to you than the integrity and moral health of the organization and its members? My sense is that you are damaging yourself by taking on this role.
I would appreciate honest and personal explanations from Peter I., Mario F. and anyone else who is contributing to the information on Wikipedia. Maybe the attempt to think about and answer this question will help you see how you are being used in a way that is most likely inconsistent with your original impulse to live a decent and spiritual life.
I sincerely hope you will find your way to the truth. It is a tragedy to start out in one direction and find yourself later only going deeper into the darkness you had hoped to avoid. I am afraid this is happening to many members of the FOF. This may be the biggest pitfall on “the Way” and the longer you stay and support lies masquerading as truth the harder it will be to leave. If you really value your self you will find the courage to do the right thing and you will know what that is in your own heart if you listen.
Good luck, thanks for reading and for having the courage, I hope, of answering.
p.s. If you do find your way out there are people who will support you and help you through the process of understanding how something that once appeared so beautiful, that you gave so much to and trusted so completely, has now become so corrupt.

[ed. - Below, a glimpse into the behind-the-scenes skirmishes that challenged Wikipedia administrators. It is odd to see the Esoteric Sheik of Inner Confusion referenced. Could it be the same who started the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog? For a listing of further editorial discussions see  this page, and the Articles for Deletion page.]
Help with sockpupettry

An Administrator (REDVERS), left the message below on my Talk page 2 days ago:

Hi Mario, on the talk page of Fellowship of Friends, I offered Wikipedia's best way for how to resolve these disputes (basically WP:RS); sadly, this was basically ignored and very obvious sockpuppetry was resorted to instead, by people who held the high ground in the dispute. This led to the page being unprotected at your request and the edit war kicking off again, as it would when underhand methods are being used.  REDVERS 21:13, 9 April 2007 (UTC)

After that, I wrote to REDVERS twice asking for a clarification but he didn't respond to me. Can somebody help me understand who is the sockpupeteer at the Fellowship of Friends Talk page using the diffs that REDVERS lists above? This user is creating a lot of disruption. Thank you. Mario Fantoni 22:14, 11 April 2007 (UTC)

I don't understand? Are you saying that REDVERS is causing lots of trouble? --KZTalkContribs 22:31, 11 April 2007 (UTC)

After a closer look, Im pretty sure that User:Esoteric Sheik of Inner Confusion and User:Babycondor are both sockpuppets of other people, or possibly one person, due to their lack of contributions other than on the talk page. I am also pretty suspicious of User:Veronicapoe and User:Wine-in-ark because their account seem to be made on the same day as some of the other users in the argument. So far all the accounts in the discussion, with a exception of Redvers, have been made in the same 7 day period, which although not incriminating evidence, is very strange. --KZTalkContribs 22:41, 11 April 2007 (UTC)

Which was my point exactly and why (in the full quote User:Mario Fantoni has chosen not to copy across) I said I was unable to help out any more on policing the edit war they're all having - both side are obviously using socks and my interest wained rapidly.

As an aside, the above messages are worded very badly and leave a suggestion that I have been involved in sockpuppeting and edit warring. I haven't. I'm just the admin who protected the wrong version and tried to bang heads on the talk page. People are welcome to look for contributions I have made to the article (none).   REDVERS  SЯEVDEЯ  07:47, 12 April 2007 (UTC)

Sorry if it came out that way, but I didn't mean that you were a sockpuppeteer. I was saying that they were socks of other people and that you were the only guy in the discussion who I am not suspicious of. Again, sorry if it came across differently... --KZTalkContribs 11:36, 12 April 2007 (UTC)

Doesn't appear the original AN/I question was calling Redvers a disruptive user. He's calling the sockpuppeteer disruptive, and he's asking what Redvers meant. SWATJester On Belay! 18:31, 12 April 2007 (UTC)


[ed. - Below are some of the discussions and debates surrounding the Wikipedia entry for Alex Horn, in which Fellowship of Friends operatives struggle to sanitize the connection between Robert Burton and Alex Horn.]
Wikipedia discussion from The "Alex Horn" pages blog [link now dead]:
Anonymous Anonymous said...
 
From Wikkipedia- (Don't want it to get lost...) [edit] Alex Horn page created (and tagged for speedy deletion) (and deleted) I just created a page for Alex Horn here. Please feel free to edit it. Love-in-ark 01:33, 3 October 2007 (UTC) The Alex Horn page was tagged for speedy deletion. I can't remove the tag because I am the creator of the page, but any other editor can. If any of you thinks the page has to exist, please remove the tag. Your call. Love-in-ark 01:59, 3 October 2007 (UTC)

There is already an article on Sharon Gans. It makes sense to me to combine the 2, if that can be done. Do you know if that's possible? --Moon Rising 10:50, 3 October 2007 (UTC)

P.S.: The Horn page has been deleted.--Moon Rising 11:15, 3 October 2007 (UTC)

I just left a message for the Administrator that deleted the article to see if there is a way for the article to be up for, let's say, 24 hours to give the baby a chance to survive. Let's see. If the article has no importance according to Wikipedia's standards, that's another reason to remove Alex Horn's information from this article, don't you think Want? Love-in-ark 18:10, 3 October 2007 (UTC)

Love - No, I don't think your deduction has any meritWantthetruth? 20:42, 3 October 2007 (UTC)

That's what I thought, but it doesn't hurt to ask. :-) Love-in-ark 05:58, 4 October 2007 (UTC)

Alex Horn is a published playwright and theatre leader and an esoteric teacher. That's enough to get him into Wikipedia. Waspidistra 16:29, 4 October 2007 (UTC)

Love - have you heard back from the administrator's about allowing a Horn article? Moon Rising 18:08, 4 October 2007 (UTC)

I just got this message from him: Hi, how are you? The reason I deleted the page was because a google search showed up none of the information in the page, besides the site that you referenced, so the reliability is in doubt if it is not backed up by more sources. However, if you could find more sources and establish notability, and maybe focusing on a biography of Alex Horn rather than the Theatre of Possibilities, you could recreate the page. I hoped that helped you, if not, feel free to ask- CattleGirl talk 02:49, 5 October 2007 (UTC)

Looks like a lost cause to me, but if anybody has a suggestion it is welcome. Love-in-ark 04:05, 5 October 2007 (UTC)

This is really the inner confusion... Baby Dove 23:59, 4 October 2007 (UTC)

Baby, what do you mean? Now I am confused. Love-in-ark 04:40, 5 October 2007 (UTC)

Forget Alex Horn, the article is never going to make it to Wikipedia. As CattleGirl said, there aren't enough Google hits. Robertozz 15:00, 5 October 2007 (UTC)

the bickering on this page is, quite frankly, beautiful.--132.61.176.6 18:14, 5 October 2007 (UTC)

Yes, if you do not want us to see that you use an Air Force server, please create a log in for you and be welcome... Baby Dove 22:26, 5 October 2007 (UTC)

Sir, I would like to welcome you to the Fellowship of Friends page. Remember to login, sign your posts, assume good faith, be polite, and change your IP address when you change your ID. I wish you a rewarding editing, sir. Love-in-ark 23:15, 5 October 2007 (UTC)

Welcome from me too. Please remember to be civil, and make sure that you always call in the mediators before the opposition does, that you regularly make baseless accusations of sockpuppetry, that you submit strawman Wiki articles to prevent information being added to this one, and that you revert every edit while reminding other editors that reverting is rude. Oh, and don't include any information that isn't on the official FOF site, even when that site changes suddenly in response to government investigations. Waspidistra 21:05, 6 October 2007 (UTC)

Wasp, you forgot to tell our friend that if he is not a former member of the FoF seeking revenge (or a refund) or a current member defending the organisation, he is wasting his time here. The Paris Hilton article is much more appropriate, believe me, to mitigate the monotony of a military life in peaceful times. Love-in-ark 21:31, 6 October 2007 (UTC)

Good point, Love. Also, if he is neither a current nor a former member, but a government investigator, he should remember that under the Patriot Act he is able to access all IP addresses of contributors and then obtain personal details from the relevant ISPs. Waspidistra 00:00, 7 October 2007 (UTC)

As a point of solidarity, Love, I don't think that you will be in the FOF either within the year. The jokes about changing IP address before changing ID were excellent. Waspidistra 00:04, 7 October 2007 (UTC)

Thanks, I am glad you like my sense of humor. Wasp, may be you will re-join within the year, since you spend so much time thinking about the FoF. Love-in-ark 02:11, 7 October 2007 (UTC)

I successfully created a page for Alexander Francis Horn. Waspidistra 23:41, 15 October 2007 (UTC)

Looking for a summary What's the crux of the dispute that had the page locked from editing? What is everyone trying to achieve with "their" version of the article? Are there changes that everyone can agree with? Cheers! Vassyana 17:48, 7 October 2007 (UTC)

Dear Vassyana, the page was blocked because there were frequent reversions of the addition of information about the church leader's teacher, Alex Horn. It appears that one editor will accept only the addition of information on Horn, while other editors (both sides of the discussion) do not see the point. Discussions are going in circles and are contentious. In my opinion, there is an absence of good faith and civility amongst some editors. Overall, editors appear to be members of the FOF or negative ex-members. The picture each side has of the church is akin to 3 blind men touching and describing an elephant: you would not know that they speak of the same organization. The article as it stands is mostly drawn from the organization's website and as such is more positive than neutral. Understandably, current members have done nothing to add negative information, and the only significant article modification since you last visited us was the addition of information on Alex Horn, which led to a stalemate. There have been interim minor modifications. One or more of the editors has expressed a desire to warn others of the dire consequences of membership. My personal bias is to have an article that leans towards the positive, though I understand the need for balance and hope that I would be receptive to reasonable changes to bring this about. Hope this helps and thanks for being here.--Moon Rising 19:02, 7 October 2007 (UTC)

Vassyana - Hi! Here is my version of the crux; I'm trying to establish a link within the current "Teacher" section of the Wikipedia Fellowship of Friends entry to Robert Burton's teacher Alex Horn. The section as is references Horn as Burton's teacher and further states that ".....the course of Robert Burton's life as a spiritual teacher is indistinguishable from the growth and development of the Fellowship of Friends". You can find the reference in question @ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sharon_Gans and http://www.rickross.com/reference/theater/theater1.html. Horn was by all accounts I've read and heard, abusive, violent and manipulative you can access first hand accounts of this by some of his former students @ http://www.esotericfreedom.com/. The article as it currently stands largely comprises information from the Fellowship's own web-site, it is IMO to say the least one-sided. The Fellowship would like the article to stand as a recruiting tool, "free advertising" is how I personally heard it couched by one of the fellowship's hierarchy. You can access first hand accounts of Burton's predation, abuse and manipulation @ http://fellowshipoffriends.wordpress.com/2007/09/14/res-ipsa-loquitur/. That the reference should be included strikes me as a no brainer regardless of my personal opinions, that it serves the public interest by offering a balancing view of FOF history and development seems equally valid. You are hopefully aware of Burton's checkered past in light of lawsuits by former members claiming sexual abuse? There are links to this information on the current FOF page. Burton had an abusive teacher and went on to abuse his own students. I've offered alternatives to pro Fellowship editors in terms of the length of the edit, these included an offer to only place a link to the Horn reference without any change to the current text. I've offered to move the reference to the History section within the article -again no takers. I've also suggested that we begin an entirely new section working title; Cycle of Abuse linking Horn, Burton and James Randazzo, an early Burton student who went on to start his own group, "spiral of friends" in many ways similar to the FOF and also the subject of rampant sexual abuse, not surprisingly, no takers. Pro- FOF editors tried to move the reference to a straw man page for Alex Horn and offered an alternative which they themselves admitted was unworkable, there appear to be no changes that everyone can agree with and here we remain stuck. ThanksWantthetruth? 19:34, 7 October 2007 (UTC)

Vassyana, in my opinion the crux of the dispute is that Wantthetruth keeps adding negative information about Alex Horn, one of Robert Burton's spiritual teachers, extracted from anti-cult sites. Five other editors, namely Moon Rising, Baby Dove, Robertoz, Aeuio and myself, disagree with Wantthetruth Alex Horn's additions. Thanks for coming back, your presence is welcome to resolve the standoff. Love-in-ark 20:06, 7 October 2007 (UTC)

Let's rememeber Waspidistra (who is generally not positive towards the FOF) and our new editor, StillWorking, do not favor adding info on Horn to the article. Most of these editors would favor a link to an article on Horn. Since Horn is not sufficiently notable for his own article, some have suggested using the existing article about his wife, Sharon Gans, for the link. There is considerable info on Horn taken from an anti-cult website in that article. Wanthetruth did not agree to this.--Moon Rising 20:21, 7 October 2007 (UTC)

Vassyana - Let's remember why the pro Fellowship editors don't want a reference to Horn and let's also remember the many people who joined the FOF in good faith unaware that their "teacher" believes he's a goddess in a man's body who will share an apartment with Leonardo Da Vinci on the sun upon his expiration! Wantthetruth? 20:53, 7 October 2007 (UTC)

Want, calm down. Remember you are talking to a Wikipedia Administrator. Love-in-ark 21:45, 7 October 2007 (UTC)

Hey Mario, look we know you're on a paid salary from the fellowship to block anyone trying to edit, but constant claims that the other guy needs to calm down are below the belt even for you!Wantthetruth? 23:43, 7 October 2007 (UTC)

Want, here is Mario. You are wrong. I am not paid by the FoF to work on Wikipedia, I actually pay them. Love-in-ark 06:34, 8 October 2007 (UTC)

Dear Vassyana -- I am a novice editor and so cannot speak about the reason(s) for blocking. I would be satisfied with a balanced article but feel that efforts to assert "cycles of abuse" and insert "public service warnings" are both biased and outside the scope of Wikipedia articles. For example, approximately 10,000 people have passed through the Fellowship of Friends (FoF). We do not know much about these 10,000 since most of them have not contributed material that can be referenced. They are likely more positive than Want, though he leaves a lot of room in that regard. The internet has been a good forum for the verbal minority of the 10,000 that are adversely disposed to the FoF. Likewise, we have a biased sample of Horn's group and, in addition, the time distance (37 years since FoF began) makes it very difficult to conduct any detailed assessment of it. It is my position that it is therefore difficult, if not impossible, to provide a balanced account of either Horn's group or those 10,000 that have left FoF. -----I propose two specific solutions. First, simply state that Robert Burton was a member of Horn's group; the interested reader can do their own search on Horn, which will lead them to the information Want would like to include. Any more is truly outside the scope of the article, in my opinion. Secondly, insert a small section on the impact of the work. I believe material that can be referenced covers both potential benefits as well as cautions to potential members that the work is not for everyone. References to material that Want proposes to include are elsewhere in the article. In addition, the internet contains a biased sampling of the 10,000 former members of FoF; I am not sure if anyone can reliably summarize that 10,000 to present a balanced account.StillWorking 01:43, 8 October 2007 (UTC)

StillWorking I haven’t been much of an active participant, but I have been following some of the the dialogue. Don’t have much to add…except my support against including Horn. It seems that StillWorking said it best. Printed media/blogs/anti-cult activists’ websites are the small but noisy and visible voice…everyone knows it is easy to criticize. Those persons happy with or neutral about the FoF are mostly silent; not being the ‘newsworthy’ majority, they are not quoted in the press or books…and they don’t need to waste time on blogs.9Passions 02:39, 8 October 2007 (UTC)

Vassyana, I would like the article to be more neutral. As it stands today, it's a copy of the current website of the FoF with the addition of 'the FoF believes that' at the beginning of each sentence. The problem is that Wantthetruth?, an anti-FoF editor, and the current pro-FoF editors keep engaging in petty edit wars about issues that are not critical to the article (this is good for the pro-FoF editors since it produces a 'smoke curtain' that keeps the article as it is, so Wantthetruth? is actually helping them). The postings above on this section will give you a very accurate picture of the situation. If you can help balance the article and stop the edit wars you will do a great service to this article. Thank you. Robertozz 04:39, 8 October 2007 (UTC)

A "copy of the current web site of the FoF"? I don't think the last part of the history section ("A former member sued Burton and the organization...") and the entire "Criticism" section are there. Besides, how are you going to explain the current teachings of the FoF without using the official web site? Any suggestions? Love-in-ark 06:45, 8 October 2007 (UTC)

Good point. And even the parts that are from the website are condensed from the much longer website. I just went into the article history, and since the article changed with the publication of the FOF's new website back in June, there has been very little sustained disagreement between editors. Want's insistence of on including Horn is the first stumbling block, and also the first time both the pro and anti FOF editors are largely in agreement (except for Want). This isn't to say that the article can't be improved with Vass' unbiased third party review, but we (all the editors) have been working together well. --Moon Rising 06:54, 8 October 2007 (UTC)

To continue this train of thought, there was much discussion with Waspidistra, an editor with strong anti-FOF leanings who wanted to make the article more neutral, believing it to be emotive and promotional and tried to work on it to make it less of a mouthpiece for the FOF. After spending some time trying to "fix" it, he felt that all the words added to attempt making it more neutral (claims, states, believes, etc.) did not show the FOF in such a positive light after all (if I am paraphrasing him correctly), and the he can’t imagin anyone being satisfied with the article as is. He said that after re-reading, he felt the tone was not as pro-FOF as he had originally thought. I think this clearly speaks to the tone of the article and the editors prior to the recent upset. My apologies, Vas, for giving you way more info than you probably wanted. I tried not to, but my fingers, fueled by coffee, could not be stopped. A thousand lashes for me. Mea Culpa.--Moon Rising 07:07, 8 October 2007 (UTC)

Moon's summary of my view is essentially correct. The information on the teaching is mainly FOF promotional material, but the continual interjections of 'the organization states' etc. considerably reduce the success of it as such. In my view, the section on the teaching could be summarized neutrally in a quarter of the space and we need to do something with the payment section. I would prefer a non-specific 'Membership of the Fellowship required monthly payments.' to the misleading information currently in the article. Waspidistra 09:39, 8 October 2007 (UTC)

I agree with Waspidistra regarding condensing the section on the teaching and modifying the payment section to be more general (we can use a draft if necessary). Love-in-ark 12:49, 8 October 2007 (UTC)

Love-Ark what the hell are you doing? Here are some pointers if you are going to use a meat puppet such as Robertozz: 1)Don't create him 5 min after you write a long section about suspected meat puppetry. 2)Don't have "I am a former member" as your first comment. 3) The only thing that Robertozz did on the fof article was revert another editor who is anti - fof. 4) This comment might as well have Lover-Ark at the end (your first slip) because Robertozz didn't put the info back, you (LA) did. 5) And most recently you made the same mistake of commenting from the wrong username. Obviously you are not cut out to use meat puppets and I don't know why you do. (O, and as Ozz in an email you said "FoF members are claiming again that there is a lot of sock puppetry in order to blur the whole editing picture. Love-in-ark and Moon Rising are playing again the old game of chitchat, gossips, etc." - That is, you said your true purpose as Love-Ark) I knew that Ozz is a fof sock from long ago, but for some reason I listened to the advise to try and use him for an advantage. (Although it was amusing - it didn't get anywhere). And Vass, another problem with Love Ark is that he uses stupid sarcastic jokes such as saying that he is MR and so on in order to make this page idiotic and hard to follow. There can't be any serious consensus when dealing with this crap. I hope you tell him to stop. I am not sure why LA and Ozz (or more accurately just LA) wants me on this page. I don't have the current interest nor do I get paid for this. (It's funny that everyone from anti-fof side including me has assumed that LA is Mario.) (Now, not counting if Vass comments, there could be three possible upcoming comments. 1)What I call a "Mario one liner". 2. LA or Ozz, in spite of clear proof that they are the same person, write in bold or capital letters "I AM NOT HIM". Or, our friendly neighborhood editor who is trying to come out as good spirited wikipedian who follows the wiki rules (whom I am telling now not to touch my cm) will say something about formating or something other to change the direction of things. It all depends on who gets to work early today....) Aeuio 12:56, 8 October 2007 (UTC)

It's true: I am Moon Rising, and Mario, and Robertoz. When I edit from home I am Moon Rising, when I edit from work I am Love-in-ark and when I want to look like a former member I use Robertoz (I use NetConceal to hide my IP addresses). Since I didn't do any vandalism, can I stay here if I promise that I will use only those 3 ID's? Please! Love-in-ark 14:06, 8 October 2007 (UTC)

Love, you're just reaping what you have sown. On September 27, you posted "Sock puppetry galore, again. Oh, well, let's move on" following an exchange between me, Moon Rising and yourself. When you answered the message addressed to Mario I assumed that you were genuinely admitting to be him. You are hoist by your own petard. Waspidistra 14:54, 8 October 2007 (UTC)

Why is Aeuio so obsessed with sock puppetry? I understand why Love-in-ark does it: all this sock puppetry melodrama helps the pro-FoF editors since nobody is going to be blocked because there is no vandalism and meanwhile the pro-FoF article remains untouched. What I don't get is why Aeuio, an anti-FoF editor, does it. May be he has a secret pleasure imagining who is a sock of whom (remember the false tip about Moon Rising and Baby Dove that he provided to me, forced me to post and afterwards deleted from my comment?) Why don't we concentrate on the article just for a change? By the way, now is a good time to do some real work: I just noticed that the article is now unprotected. Robertozz 18:09, 8 October 2007 (UTC)

Is that supposed to be a response? You are not even gonna bother trying to prove my accusations wrong? (In fact you won't even mention whether or not you are LA)... It seems like the old story - realize you got nothing, throw a joke in there, some wrong info (because as you know MR admitted to sharing an ip with 9P) and say "lets move on" - Which I am sure someone will repeat soon. With people like you (LA) arguing for the fof, I can't even imagine the stupidity of people who read all the comments here and on the fof blog and still feel that everything is justified and right. (But then again, RB probably banned these sites...with his advertising team being the exception that is). Aeuio 18:44, 8 October 2007 (UTC)

Mario [Fantoni] is; Moon Rising, Love in ark, Robertozz, stillworking, Baby Dove and 9passions. He has conversations with himself, backs up his own arguments, reaches consensus with himself and stymies anyone seriously attempting to edit from a standpoint that is not pro-FOF, actually now I think about it, there's nobody pro-fof but Mario. Wantthetruth? 18:28, 8 October 2007 (UTC)

Wow, that's probably a record. Should we tell Jimbo? Love-in-ark 19:47, 8 October 2007 (UTC)

Vassyana asked 3 simple questions: 1) what's the crux of the dispute? 2) what do you want to achieve? and 3) can we use WP guidelines for consensus to get there? Most editors have answered 1 and 2 directly. The rest of the posts above indirectly answer the third question. I think he has more than enough to work with. I only hope we haven't scared him away. Please keep going if you have more to say. --Moon Rising 19:06, 8 October 2007 (UTC)

Hello Vassyana! Sorry you were required again! As you can see, I was not active editing this article the last couple of months or so, and I was frankly not pleased by all the chat and all the mutual accusations of sockpuppetry within the article. At the same time, a new editor started insisting in connecting the Leader of the Fellowship with information about Alex Horn, who is said to have been his teacher 40 years ago, for a yerar and a half, until Mr. Burton left him. This information about Mr. Horn was maily taken from the Rick Ross site, a person with an impressive criminal record according to Rick Ross'felonies. While any other information on Mr. Horn is rare, I was ready to support the creation of a separate article on Alex Horn, but it was deleted before I could even see it. Were any of the things Rick Ross says about Mr. Horn and his wife Sharon Gans, I do not really think they have any value here, considering that Mr. Burton seems to have taken due distance from him 40 years ago. This is a long time, and I do not think it has anything to do with the Fellowship of Friends at this time. Of course, if others think they have reasons to justify mentioning Mr. Horn here, they can show these reasons. But it would help if they limit their comments to verifyable (and respectable) sources, not to old copies of deleted pages that anybody can easily rewrite at their convenience, or records from someone who makes his living out of selling his gossipping on whatever organization he considers a cult (even WP was included as such once within its own articles)! Baby Dove 07:40, 9 October 2007 (UTC)

Baby Glove - "Students, required to sell tickets to the weekly productions (theater presentations by Horn's group), were harangued and physically beaten if ticket quotas were not met. At Horn's instigation, all-night drinking marathons culminating in fist fights were common occurences, all in the name of the teaching. Punishment, in many forms, was a feature of Horn's teaching." could be sourced to "Taking with the Left Hand: Enneagram Craze, People of the Bookmark, & the Mouravieff Phenomenon" Written by William Patrick Patterson, Edited by Barbara Allen Patterson, Arete Communications, Publishers, 1998, ISBN 1-879514-10-9 pg. 110" Would you prefer this reference to Horn? Wantthetruth? 18:53, 9 October 2007 (UTC)

The appropriateness of the information is the crux of the question. This information, IMO, belongs to a Horn/Gans article. It was nice of Aeuio to send you this information to post here for him, but it doesn't justify inclusion. --Moon Rising 19:49, 9 October 2007 (UTC)

If you are referring to Baby Dove, I already said I see no point in mentioning Horn as a teacher who Mr. Burton left 40 years ago. The book you quote is also part of a disgusting discussion between Patterson, Laura Knight Jadczyk and maybe more people who have written books critizicing [sic]each other, probably to disqualify competitors. In it, Patterson also disqualifies Boris Mouravieff, Burton and Horn. Since this is not a blog, I do not want to be part of a chat full of accusations and disqualifications such as calling people under names. I even saw that you were trying to make telephone numbers not taken from any official site, for anybody to call to ask what they want to. I do not think this would be appropriate, and I do not know where did you get those numbers. If you want to contribute in the article, you are always welcome, but please do not display you bad manners when you do not agree with other editors and do not call them names. Baby Dove 00:23, 10 October 2007 (UTC)

Baby - Still waiting for a good reason not to include Horn, Rumi had Shams, Laurel had Hardy, Burton had Horn, Randazzo had Burton.Wantthetruth? 18:38, 10 October 2007 (UTC)

Do whatever you want, and do not complain if others do not share your ideas... Who is Randazzo? This is not a blog to discuss your likes and dislikes. Baby Dove 07:33, 11 October 2007 (UTC)

Baby - since you asked, this is Randazzo; "J&C studied under a man named James Vincent Randazzo, who ran a Fourth Way school called "The Spiral of Friends". Randazzo, in turn, learned about The System from Robert Burton and his international "Fellowship of Friends". Randazzo's legal troubles are well documented. In 1985, he was fined for poaching, and several automatic weapons were removed from his home by police. In 1989, Randazzo and his wife Colleen were convicted of sexually abusing and exploiting children. Four teenagers (two boys and two girls) were given cocaine and videotaped having sex with the couple. The Randazzos claimed the sex was done in the children's own good, as treatment for depression and to boost their self-esteem. The court found otherwise. James was sentenced to seventeen and a half years in prison, and Colleen received ninety days in jail followed by a period of probation. In 1994, the Colorado courts refused Randazzo’s bid for an appeal." http://fourthwaycult.net/lineage.html Wantthetruth? 17:41, 11 October 2007 (UTC)

Babydove said: "Were any of the things Rick Ross says about Mr. Horn and his wife Sharon Gans, I do not really think they have any value here, considering that Mr. Burton seems to have taken due distance from him 40 years ago. This is a long time, and I do not think it has anything to do with the Fellowship of Friends at this time. Of course, if others think they have reasons to justify mentioning Mr. Horn here, they can show these reasons. But it would help if they limit their comments to verifyable [sic] (and respectable) sources, not to old copies of deleted pages that anybody can easily rewrite at their convenience" Shame on you Babydove. You know as I know that Burton has claimed throughout these 40 years that Alex Horn was his conscious teacher, to whom he is eternally grateful. Are you saying that the archived webpage of the old FoF website, which claims direct lineage to Gurdjieff through Ouspensky-Pentland-Horn-Burton, has been rewritten at someone's convenience? Look at the lengths you are willing to go to hide something. Are you ashamed? I think the source of many of the editing problems and disputes here on this site is a certain Fellowship belief seen in action: the belief that "only the present moment is real" - which interferes with giving due acknowledgment to past actions or events: history tends to be erased. Wine-in-ark 01:06, 22 October 2007 (UTC)

August 18, 2008 at 2:27 PM

[ed. - Mario Fantoni, Fellowship of Friends Wikipedia editor, continues his solo struggle.]

Fellowship of Friends IP range block - reopening
I am reopenig [sic] this case because no decision has been made. At this point, I suspect that Yamla's IP range block on 10/11/07 for a supposed COI at the Fellowship of Friends article was a mistake. Because of the IP range block, 70 people at the organization's building are not able to edit any Wikipedia page from their offices. Note that the building rents offices to businesses that are not related to the organization. Please take a look at the exchange below and tell me what you think. Thanks. Mfantoni 05:17, 23 October 2007 (UTC)
This is related to the IP range block at the Fellowship of Friends page. I am an editor of that page and my company rents an office at a building owned by the Fellowship of Friends. Sometimes I do edits from the office, but since last Thursday I am not able to edit any Wikipedia page if I connect to the interned through the internet connection that I have at the office. Note that besides me there are more than 70 people working in this building that can’t edit any Wikipedia page at the moment. The reason that was used for blocking the building's connection is COI. I can’t understand this. Why is it that a person editing Wikipedia from this building is a case of COI but the same person editing from anywhere else is not? Wikipedia should block editors, not IP ranges, so I am asking for the IP block to be released. I am copying several administrators in this message. Mfantoni 17:16, 16 October 2007 (UTC)
I am concerned that rather a lot of people who work on a building and are supplied with Internet by the Fellowship of Friends are actually editing that page. Could you please let me know exactly how you, for example, are related to the Fellowship of Friends. Perhaps you are entirely unconnected except that you are employed by a company which rents office space from them. Perhaps you are employed by a company owned by the parent company (if one exists). Perhaps you are employed by a company that has a closer relationship to the Fellowship of Friends than simply being a tenant. Anyway, if you could please let me know. There are some seriously troublesome issues at work here but please understand that I am not accusing you of anything. The problem is simply that a significant number of people using the IP addresses belonging to the Fellowship of Friends is editing the Fellowship of Friends article. --Yamla 17:28, 16 October 2007 (UTC)
Note that WP:COI applies regardless of where a person is editing from. If a person is associated with the Fellowship of Friends and is violating WP:COI, they would be violating this guideline regardless of whether they edited from an IP address owned by the Fellowship of Friends or edited from a home address. The IP address range is blocked because of the substantial undisclosed conflict of interest problems with that article. However, this should not be taken to mean that it would be appropriate for people with a conflict of interest to continue editing from other addresses. Nothing could be further from the truth. --Yamla 17:54, 16 October 2007 (UTC)
OK, let me try to clarify the situation. I am a current member of the Fellowship of Friends, and that is my only connection with the organization. I am not paid by the Fellowship of Friends to edit Wikipedia, or to do any type of PR for the organization. My company rents an office at the Fellowship of Friends building, and I share a Fellowship of Friends internet connection with other 70 people. Mfantoni 17:56, 16 October 2007 (UTC)
In that case, I believe it inappropriate for you to edit the article on Fellowship of Friends. It would still be appropriate for you to discuss the article on that page's talk page, however. Are you aware of anyone on that IP address range who is not associated with Fellowship of Friends (not a member, not employed by them, not employed by a related company) who is currently blocked from editing as a result of the IP address range block? --Yamla 17:58, 16 October 2007 (UTC)
Why is it that being a member of the Fellowship of Friends is a reason for me not to edit the article? Are members of the Catholic church forbidden to edit the article on the Catholic church? Are French people not appropriate to edit the article about France? This looks like discrimination to me. Mfantoni 18:06, 16 October 2007 (UTC)
You are a member of the Fellowship of Friends. You are editing from an IP block owned by the Fellowship of Friends. Do you seriously not see why someone would not think this is a conflict of interest? In fact, it appears that you have a management position in the Fellowship of Friends, at least according to this source. Please reread WP:COI. --Yamla 18:12, 16 October 2007 (UTC)
May be you are not familiar with religious articles. Vassyana, an administrator with experience with religious articles that worked as a mediator in the past, mentioned that any page about a religious organization has editors that are current members of the organization, former members, and people that never belonged to the organization (I can find the diff if you wish). Finally, the link you mentioned above states that I was part of the management team of Kelly Services, not the Fellowship of Friends. Mfantoni 18:22, 16 October 2007 (UTC)
If you wish, I can bring this matter up on the conflict of interest noticeboard, WP:COIN. Do you believe this would be an appropriate forum? If not, I can come up with some other suggestions. --Yamla 18:41, 16 October 2007 (UTC)
I also without reservation apologise for claiming that you were in a management position with the Followship [sic!] of Friends. You are correct, the link I provide indicates that you are part of the management team of Kelly Services. I want to also reiterate that I am concerned about COI on Fellowship of Friends but even if you are "guilty" of violating this guideline, please understand that I am not claiming you have been acting in bad faith. It's easy enough to violate one of Wikipedia's numerous policies and guidelines while having nothing but honest intentions, as I believe to be the case here. --Yamla 18:55, 16 October 2007 (UTC)
No need to apologize - this case is not easy and you are trying to collect as much information as you can. Thanks anyway. Mfantoni 00:12, 17 October 2007 (UTC)
Mfantoni, members of a faith may edit pages about their group. However, this is a case of members of a group editing from internet access owned by the group. If an employee of Ford Motors were editing from a company IP, or a member of the Community of Christ were editing from a church IP, there would be similar concerns about a conflict of interest. It is not purely membership which is a concern, but also editing from a Fellowship owned site. It is difficult in this instance, to say the least, to distinguish between edits from official Fellowship offices and those originating from leased offices in the same location. Please consider the situation and understand how outside sysops may view the matter. Vassyana 19:27, 16 October 2007 (UTC)
In my understanding the difference between somebody editing from a company owned IP (or site) and somebody editing from a church owned IP (or site) is that in the first case the editor is probably being paid by the company (he is probably an employee or a contractor) but in the second case the editor may be a member of the church with no financial compensation. I examined WP:COI in depth and couldn't find anything mentioning that affiliation to a religious organization and editing from that organization's IP (or site) is a case of COI. Mfantoni 22:07, 16 October 2007 (UTC)
Blocking the IP address range for Fellowship of Friends clearly did not resolve the COI as editors with possible conflicts have continued to edit, presumably via other addresses. This is why I have protected the page. My offer to take this issue to WP:COIN still stands. My concern is that this article is being edited repeatedly by people who either work for the Fellowship of Friends or at least work in the same building and in many cases, are members of the Fellowship of Friends. This does not necessarily violate WP:COI but I am more than a little concerned that a significant proportion of the edits are coming from the Fellowship of Friends IP address range. I'm not singling out individual editors here. --Yamla 17:52, 17 October 2007 (UTC)
I have been unable to find any evidence that anyone not related to the Fellowship of Friends has been editing this article from the Fellowship of Friends IP address. Can you please provide evidence of this? And please note that I have blocked all edits to this article due to COI concerns. I am not taking sides here. --Yamla 17:49, 17 October 2007 (UTC)
Dear Yamla, what sort of evidence? How do you know you are not talking to a non member of the Fellowship of Friends right now? You have to prove what you say, not claim for evidence on the contrary! Baby Dove 07:19, 18 October 2007 (UTC)
Yamla, why is it necessary to find an editor of the FOF page that works in the Fellowship building and is not related to the Fellowship? This implies that somebody should go to each office in the building and ask everybody (that's 70 people), "Are you editing the FOF page in Wikipedia? If yes, are you related to the FOF?" I think that you will agree that that would be a violation of people's privacy. And if somebody finds a person editing the FOF page from the FOF building that claims that he or she is not related to the FOF, will you then unblock the IP range? How can we be certain that he or she is not related to the FOF? I would appreciate if you could explain to me the rationale behind your request. Thank you. Mfantoni 09:47, 18 October 2007 (UTC) Without going into details, there's clearly a substantial conflict of interest going on here. The current position of WP:COIN appears to be disallowing anyone working in the Fellowship of Friends building from editing the Fellowship of Friends article, as per WP:COI. If you truly do not see why it is a conflict of interest for a person to edit the Fellowship of Friends from an IP address range owned by the Fellowship of Friends when we also have no reason to believe anyone who has done so is not also a member of the Fellowship of Friends then I would dispair of explaining things further because it clearly would not do any good. Yes, there's a possibility that we may hit some non-members but there's no reason to believe this has been the case so far. --Yamla 14:44, 18 October 2007 (UTC)
Please, tell me where in WP:COI is the text that says that members of an organization can't edit articles about that organization if the internet connection they use is owned by the organization. I read WP:COI several times and couldn't find it. Thanks. Mfantoni 05:17, 23 October 2007 (UTC) If an editor edits a page on an organization (religion, theatre group, store, whatever) that they are involved with, they need to be *exceptionally* careful with their edits in order to avoid conflict of interest and NPOV. I work for a store that absolutely should have a Wikipedia page (it has several unique features and a 20-year history, as well as having articles about it in the papers constantly and mentions on BoingBoing by Cory Doctorow). However, I would not be able to edit a page on it; I would not be able to do so without bias. Someone else who works at the store might well be able to. I cannot. Now, take a look at this edit of yours[100]. Your summary reads: "removed the word "heterosexual" because it is editor's interpretation (not present in the quoted source". However, I was easily able to find this line in the cite: "Sanders claimed he felt betrayed when he discovered that Burton made a habit of having sex with rank-and-file members, most of them heterosexual males and many of them married.". So the cite is there, and you removed it, despite the fact the quoted source did indeed state that. You've mentioned being a member. You've removed things that may reflect negatively on the organization. You're editing from work at a marketing company, on an IP address registered to the Fellowship of Friends, and you're their tenant. This sends up a huge COI flag. WP:COI reads, in part: Note that if you only correct bias against your company and its interests, and not bias in its favour, your editing will be different from that of a regular Wikipedian, who would be expected to do both. I do not see that you have much of a history with that page of allowing what is good, and what is bad, as long as it is cited. --Thespian 06:48, 23 October 2007 (UTC)
Thespian, even there is a "huge COI flag", as you put it, what you are saying applies only to me, not to the other 70+ people that have been banned with the FOF IP block. That doesn't sound fair, does it? Mfantoni 05:30, 28 October 2007 (UTC) This is going to sound unduly harsh, but, having not seen a complaint from any other editor on that IP address that they can't edit the FoF page is an indication that the only person who wants to edit the page in question is you, with your clear COI. Either other editors who would be editing the page are avoiding it because they understand the COI rules and that by being on an FoF-controlled IP, they would be violating them, or no one else is actually interested in editing the page, so they don't trip the block. I have to go to work, or this would be longer, but I do believe this case is fairly clear cut. --Thespian 15:49, 28 October 2007 (UTC)
It doesn't sound harsh because it is incorrect. Editors Baby Dove and Love-in-ark declared that they are being affected by the IP block. There are 6 active editors at the FOF article at the moment and the IP block is affecting 3. Mfantoni 07:29, 30 October 2007 (UTC)

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