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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, July 1, 2007

Robert Burton, the Seducer

"Tim Campion" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, July 1, 2007:

[ed. - The term "instinctive" used throughout this post, refers to the innate animalistic drives or nature of humans, as distinct from their more "noble" - as Burton might put it - intellectual or emotional drives.]
“Howard Carter” [blogger and Burton defender, likely Linda Tulisso, now Linda Kaplan] and others have described Robert Burton as a “conscious being” and a conduit for “C-Influence”.
I have come to a different conclusion: Robert Burton is a seducer.
He is a seducer pursuing, first and foremost, his own instinctive gratification. The evidence overwhelmingly points to this simple conclusion.
When I departed the Fellowship of Friends twenty years ago, Robert was, for me, an enigma. I left it at that.
Only since being introduced to this blog several months ago have I been compelled to take up the subject of Robert once again and really consider it.
I am just beginning to realize how indebted I am to all who have contributed – on all sides of the debate (and to the Sheik and the Knight [blog creators and moderators]. Don’t forget the “PayPal”, folks.)
After thousands of comments, documents, exhibits, testimonials, and after reflecting upon my own experience, the above characterization is the only one I can logically arrive at.
Are Robert’s actions motivated by “consciousness”, as he states, something that eludes definition and, according to Robert himself, is beyond our verification?
Or, are they motivated by forces we can all readily recognize and identify? (I cannot allow the common “both are true” retort, since I’m questioning his overriding motivation.)
We must each judge for ourselves, and this is my judgment (helped along by so many of you.)
We all know about seduction and things that seduce. Beauty, power, wealth, fame and knowledge are glorified aspects of our popular culture, aphrodisiacs in a sense. Humans are drawn to pursue these ideals and to associate with those who possess such attributes. And Robert, of course, knows this.
Who here has not witnessed their own psychology manipulated by these influences, and experienced such a seduction? It is likely every one of us has at one time or another succumbed and probably at times knowingly exploited this human weakness. (More importantly, who, knowing the power to seduce, has resisted the temptation to use these influences for one’s self-gratification? What stopped us?)
Robert has surrounded himself by beauty (particularly youth), established his role as an omnipotent spiritual leader, presents himself in the image of one with substantial wealth and travels as few people can. He offers a mysterious system of “knowledge” that only he in his self-proclaimed consciousness and wisdom can fully comprehend and he surrounds himself with adoring “fans”.
It certainly has the appearance of a seduction.
And is there anyone here who does not recognize instinctive self-gratification? Is it not something that can be observed daily? Don’t we all seek instinctive comfort? Aren’t we all, in varying degrees, pursuing life’s instinctive pleasures?
So, I assume that each of us, to some extent understands seduction and self-gratification, and can recognize it when we see it in others.
From everything I have witnessed in this blog over the past four months, and from my own experience around Robert Burton, there is a consistent, dominant theme. It is not self-remembering, which is in effect a distraction. It is instinctive gratification. He is a slave to the very “brain” he derides as awakening’s foe.
Is there any instinctive pleasure Robert denies himself? It has been years since I have been around him, but from accounts herein, little has changed, and he continues to lavish himself with the finest foods, wines, clothing, jewelry, luxurious accommodations and amenities, music, art, and in the evening surrounds himself with his sexual conquests.
Robert remains the first and foremost beneficiary of the Fellowship’s wealth. Only to the extent others support his appetites are they welcome in his house.
Those in the Fellowship who view Robert as a “conscious being” and conduit for “C-Influence” would have us believe that Robert is not motivated by instinctive greed, rather consciousness and the “will of C-Influence”.
Apart from Robert’s personal claims, it is difficult to arrive at this conclusion when we cannot even define consciousness and C-Influence. Still, that does not seem to deter certain individuals.
We “know” (from Robert, of course) that “consciousness is not functions”. But the products of consciousness are transmitted and translated through functions. Thus we read the works of “conscious beings”, view their art, listen to their music, etc.
We talk about the hallmarks of consciousness or enlightenment. Consciousness may not be functions, but there are manifestations we attribute to an “enlightened” individual, if not a “conscious being”: love, conscience, compassion, selflessness, “external consideration”.
Where is the evidence that Robert is operating above and beyond an instinctive self-interest? How does his “consciousness” manifest?
Where are the observations, the testimonials to Robert’s manifestations of love for his fellow man, conscience, compassion, selflessness and “external consideration”?
We might expect there to be many thousands of such testimonials, given the “2,000” current members and over 10,000 former members. Where is the evidence of consciousness guiding his conduct? (Certainly, more than a handful of current students are reading this?)
And if in your search you should find something that might “look like consciousness”, ask yourself “is what I have observed merely an animal instinct in pursuit of its own gratification?”
We are told (by Robert) that “44 Conscious Beings” preceded him, and we have studied their works. Some speak of the path to “salvation” or “enlightenment”. Robert tells us he is the current incarnation of this lineage, and is personally guided by their influence.
Within the enormous body of work represented by these individuals, we might expect to find some hint, some suggestion, that through the indulgence of every instinctive desire, we shall thereby attain enlightenment and salvation.
You might expect some of them to counsel “accrue to yourself all the power, wealth, beauty and instinctive pleasure you can. Surround yourself with dazed and impoverished servants. This is the way to consciousness.” But I have not seen such advice.
The case for Robert’s enlightenment is expressed through Robert’s own words. The supporting evidence consists of Robert’s own words, with a bit of editorializing by such people as “Howard Carter”.
But according to Robert, “Howard Carter’s” personal conclusion that Robert is a “conscious being” guided by “C-Influence” cannot be verified or even understood by any person on earth, save Robert Burton, because, as Robert informs us “the lower cannot see the higher”.
In contrast, I suspect the conclusion I have come to can be understood by almost anyone reading this blog.
In this very public trial (Robert would likely characterize it a “crucifixion”), I feel like a judge who has been on the bench for months, listening to endless testimony, occasionally throwing in my “two cents”. (Abraham [Goldman, the Fellowship attorney] would have long ago had me tossed out for conflict of interest.)
But this is also my trial. I am the accused, the plaintiff, the judge and juror. I was a participant in the scheme, and it is a seduction.
So, what is the consequence of my conclusion? If Robert has misrepresented himself, I think it highly likely he has also misrepresented the product he is peddling, that is his personal path to enlightenment.
“Howard” once said that Robert very publicly made him the brunt of a joke. “Howard” realized later “the reason he did it was precisely because I was ‘mechanically’ devoted to him.”
He was probably correct. For the seducer, it is disconcerting if the seduction is too easy.

"Ames Gilbert" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, July 18, 2012:
So Burton persuades sincere but na├»ve, immature and inexperienced young (mostly heterosexual) men to put their trust in someone who then abuses that trust, persuades them that ‘breaking patterns’ will help their spiritual evolution, and that he is replacing conventional morality with a superior kind. And his primary means is to use overwhelming psychological force to convince them to have sex with him. And this happens, by strange coincidence, to be his own favorite method of gratification.

Robert Burton said on Feb 02, 2003: “Only I can love all of my students. What parent does not love all of his children?”

That makes him not just a pedophile in deed, but an incestuous pedophile in spirit . . .

Welcome to Burton’s new civilization with its new morality, where the strong prey on the defenseless, where rape is fully sanctioned, where there is no minimum age of consent, and where Beloved Teacher indulges every appetite without boundaries or accountability.

I think of the young Bruce, the young Whalerider, the young Brian Sisler, and so many other hopeful young selves, trying to find the answers to the big questions. I think of the greedy, grasping lecherous sex addicted Burton ruthlessly taking advantage of them to satisfy his immediate and unquenchable lusts, which have only grown over the years, and I feel a huge wave of pity, as any normal person would. Present members, not so much; in fact, what used to be secret is now quite public and accepted:

The reality is, Burton preys on kids, folks! Think of how malleable and suggestible you were at seventeen (like Troy), or eighteen, or twenty, or twenty-two. People this age may think they are grown up, and certainly the law treats them as grown up enough to join the army and kill others, or (depending on jurisdiction and era), vote, drink, get married, etc, but absent any warning and proper training against predators, they are just inexperienced kids. Think back on when you were the same age . . . Ghastly though this is, some parents who are members of the Fellowship of Friends still go further. They groom their own sons to accept Burton’s lustful advances. Some, like Troy Buzbee’s father, merely tell their young, impressionable sons that he is a god, though they knew and know full well about Burton’s sexual preferences and methods. Other followers actually pimp for Burton, looking out for likely young men in distant centers, forwarding information to Burton, and then grooming them. “Grooming” is another technique of thought reform; the gradual normalizing, over a period of time, of what was formerly unnatural, unthinkable or unspeakable.

Some apologists for the Fellowship of Friends presently claim that Burton no longer has to use force, that the eastern European youngsters who form the majority of his present harem willingly accept their fate as sexual slaves or prostitutes. Maybe they do appear more accepting, I don’t know, but it is only on the surface, it is still rape. One explanation as to why it is only the appearance that may have changed is here: which makes the coercion and slavery (inability to leave) quite clear . . .

As the writer of this post says at the end, “Don’t buffer this!” (a message to Burton’s followers—recognize and face up to the cognitive dissonance and your inescapable part of these crimes; other crimes, detailed by an attorney who used to represent the FoF, can be downloaded via:

 "We Were There" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, December 2, 2007:
According to recent comments, Robert Burton thinks that those who have left the Fellowship of Friends behind ‘hate’ him.

The fact is, most of us pity – or abhor – him (or a combination of both), an old man who is a slave to his desires and appetites.

In olden days, when sincere members had the courage to confront him about his self-destructive behavior, his response was “Don’t worry, if I am wrong, C Influence will take care of me.”

More and more it appears he was right…

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