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 most recently the October 2018 "Fall of California Redux.")

But according to Burton, Armageddon still looms in our future and when it finally arrives, non-believers shall perish, while through the direct intervention and guidance from 44 angels (recently expanded to 81 angels, including himself and his divine father, Leonardo da Vinci) Burton and his followers shall be spared, founding a new, and more perfect civilization. Read more about the blog.

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

Thursday, July 26, 2007

The Story of Brian Sisler

 "Suicide is nature's way of eliminating weak seed." - Robert Earl Burton

Brian Sisler (detail) by Katherine Ace
[ed. - See also: "Excerpt from Strange Truth: A Horror Story" and "Fellowship link to suicides denied".]

Ames Gilbert posted the following on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, July 26, 2007:
Your call for the ‘Story of Brian Sisler’…
My guess is that no–one knows the ‘whole story’, but I am willing to contribute what I know, and hopefully other[s] will do the same, and between these all, we can make up a composite that is fairly complete.
I first met Brian Sisler in 1978 when I came to Renaissance. He worked in the White Barn down the road from the lodge (a lake covers the site now), part of a group of “King of Spades” [ed. - reference to "center of gravity"] centered people gathered together by Burton in an octave [ed. - "octave" is loosely used as "an area of work"] known as “Antique Restoration”. He was quiet, shy, gentle, and reserved. He worked industriously in the woodworking section (next to the auto repair bay) in the back two rooms of the building. The project was the restoration of the Steinway grand piano, last seen by myself in the Town Hall. My task was the restoration of some metal parts, and the replacement of the missing metal leg ends on the matching stool. My parts had to fit the parts he worked on, so we interacted.
We were kept very busy, many hours a day, and we didn’t get much private time. I found out that he was from the mid–west. I got the impression that he had been in the Fellowship for a couple of years. He enjoyed plays on words, but did not tell jokes; none of us did.
I was put on other octaves; our friendship did not develop. The next significant interaction I had with him was just after I had become married, in 1981. He asked me what it was like to be married. Why I remembered this was because of the wistfulness in his question and in the ensuing conversation. My impression is that some lady had ‘put the move on him’, and he was wondering how to respond. He really wanted to have someone close to hug and love and cherish. I teased him a little about it, and said he should do it (meaning, get married—the ‘no sex outside marriage’ exercise was current then). I had no idea then, nor since that he was supposedly ‘gay’. My wife tells me that her ‘gaydar’ at that time told her that he was.
After I left salary, our paths diverged sharply. In about 1983, my wife told me that she had seen Brian walking down Rice’s Crossing Rd several times, and that his demeanor struck him as odd. She had offered him lifts, but he had strongly refused. Then we heard that Brian had walked to Marysville (28 miles) one day, also refusing lifts, and that his behavior was becoming ‘odder’.
I went to nursing school, and caught TB from a patient. I couldn’t work as a nurse, we got into financial trouble, and moved to Sacramento. During our time there, we were told that Brian had been stabbed and was in hospital. The official story, given by the center director, was that he had been stabbed 44 times, that this was a signal from C-Influence, and that he had been ‘released’ from the Fellowship, and had returned to his family in the mid-west.
A few years later, Leigh M., one of the “King of Spades” in the Antique Restoration octave, and I got talking about Brian. She had been a much closer friend with him, and had stayed in intermittent contact after he left. She told me he had left home and was living on the streets of his hometown. He refused help from his family. She also told me that he had been homeless when he was stabbed in Sacramento. About a year later, she told me that he was applying to re–join the FoF, and that his application was being evaluated by a FoF psychiatrist. He was allowed back.
I went to a private dinner at the Lodge to celebrate his return. When I asked him about his experiences, he looked at me and said very softly and clearly, “Everything that happened in the last ten years was totally unnecessary”. That is all he’d say about it. I found out that the 44 stab wounds were mythological, invented by Burton. There had in fact been five.
I felt at the time he was one of the few people who really needed to be in the Fellowship for his own safety, provided Burton left him alone, which appeared to be the case.
About three years later, I left the FoF, and the next contact was when I saw him in Dobbins, last year (2006). He was staying with Janet M. She told me he had been given ‘leave of absence’ from the FoF, and she had given him a room to stay in behind her house. He was living very marginally, from time to time he was able to find some finish carpentry work and contribute to food and rent. That was the last time I saw him.
About six months ago, I heard the rumors that he was dead. I checked around, and they appeared to be true.
This is what I can piece together, but I stress I have no first–hand information. I hear he went to the FoF gatehouse, and asked to see Burton. Burton refused to see him. He made his way down to Marysville, checked into a motel, and hanged himself.
I have a copy of an unpublished manuscript by a former student, who describes her own journey through the FoF, from infatuated newbie to horrified onlooker and final withdrawal. All the names in the book, except her own and Burton’s, have been changed to protect herself. It is an amazing story, and I wish it could be published. It is titled, “Strange Truth. A Horror Story”*.
One of the central characters of this story is that of “Tristan”—Brian Sisler. She describes their deep friendship and his emotional and physical pain as Burton brutalized him, how he lay groaning on the floor of the Blake Cottage for hours after a session with him. This went on for years. She had first–hand knowledge, her job was to clean the Blake Cottage around the comings and goings of Burton, —and to clean the soiled underwear. She recalls the perfuming of Burton and the air around to cover the sordid smells. I wish she would publish the book, but I can understand her reluctance to endure what Burton and Goldman would throw at her.
She dedicated the book to “Tristan”.
This book is dedicated to dearest “Tristan” who, after years of remorseless effort on the part of the Teacher, was finally destroyed.
At the time of writing, Brian had arrived back home with his father, and so the author could not have known what was to happen. But even at that time, her observation was that he had been destroyed…
My understanding is that Brian was a schizophrenic. The “higher being” that is Burton took ruthless advantage of his weaknesses and used him as his personal property, to do with as he wished. There was no compassion, no love, no understanding, Brian was just an object for his gratification. And when things became too uncomfortable, he was thrown away, like a soiled tissue, and with as much compunction. Compost. I channel my anger about this and other things that have happened as best as I can, right now mainly through the blog, and hopefully in a constructive way. There are many other stories yet to be told, by many, many people; they are slowly being revealed, and Burton will be shown, once and for all, for the horror that he is. That is my hope.

And I hope the pieces of Brian’s life will come together to form a whole with the contributions of other readers.

[ed. - From the Wikipedia page: 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).]

"with malice toward none" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, July 27, 2007:
Ames 438 [above]: ‘This is what I can piece together, but I stress I have no first–hand information. I hear he went to the FoF gatehouse, and asked to see Burton. Burton refused to see him. He made his way down to Marysville, checked into a motel, and hanged himself.”
From my knowllege, a pretty good summary. I have an elaboration to this last bit which is also second or third hand.

This was the latest of several recent requests over the preceding months at the gatehouse to see Robert, all of which were refused. Then sometime later (hours, couple of days??) whoever he was staying with (Janet M.??) was worried and called the authorities. He was picked up and detained somewhere in Marysville for some length of time (48 or 72 hours??). They legally had to let him go at the end of the time. The rest happened immediately after being released.

"James B." wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, May 19, 2007:
To "prior young worker" (9/310)
“I knew Brian S… He was a very gentle person and I saw him wither.”
and "More Rumors & Lies" (9/317)
“Brian S. Many tried to help him in many ways, he was an incurable alcoholic and although was given a task not to drink, simply refused to stop.”
and "Whalerider" (9/308) to exlax (101/243)
“Would you be willing to tell more details of what you know to be true in the sad circumstances of Brian’s passing? The FOF party line is that he was a “hopeless alcoholic”, which you and I both know is false.”
and especially to you good, good friends still in the Fellowship of Friends.

I knew Brian as a sweet, artistic, very vulnerable young man (solar lunar) [ed. - reference to "body type"] who became one of RB’s boys. Over time it was clear to all that he was suffering from very serious mental problems (erratic behavior, withdrawal, etc.) and he was diagnosed as a schizophrenic. I don’t know if he was treated by Fellowship of Friends psychiatrists, but RB eventually sent him away from Oregon House.

According to the unfortunate Fellowship of Friends parlance of the time (current members, has this changed?), Brian was ‘a damaged machine’ – and, after all, ‘some come to eat, and some to be eaten.’
Brian landed homeless in Sacramento, where he was attacked one night on K Street, suffering multiple stab wounds. While he was in the hospital in critical condition, his father came from the midwest to take care of him – and RB sent me and another (now ex-)member to meet with him.

We met Mr. S., a good householder type, at the hospital and then went to a coffee shop. Obviously, it was an emotion-filled scene. After a few minutes of pleasantries, Mr. S., asked us ‘You seem like decent fellows; what are you doing being involved in something like this?’

We had no answer, and a deep sense of shame came over me, a feeling that I could never buffer by calling it ‘mechanical goodness’ or ‘feminine dominance’ or ‘the play’ (I believe at that moment my conscience was jolted awake).

Eventually Brian recovered enough for Mr. S. to take him back home to recuperate and to receive psychiatric care. Several months later, he was much better and asked to return to OH, which RB allowed him to do. Fairly soon, it was clear that his mental state began to deteriorate… Perhaps someone else can pick up his sad story here.

By the way, I never saw Brian under the influence of alcohol, and calling him a drunk with moral failings is a vile slander.

As I said in my previous post, over time, I became increasingly troubled by what I saw in RB and the Fellowship of Friends, and I could not buffer how heartless our group had become.

Just one small example that stands out for me were the many times RB would speak about someone who ‘had lost the school’ and then laugh. Each time I heard him laugh I would ask myself ‘how can he think it is funny that someone has been sentenced to eternal damnation? Isn’t that the saddest, most serious tragedy that could ever befall someone?’

I’ll close with a few other questions I struggled with:
Why would RB have sex with a vulnerable and troubled young person?

Why would RB allow someone with serious mental illness into a Fourth Way school?

Why doesn’t RB own up to his own personal mistakes in these matters?
And just one from today:
Why would RB allow his representatives to besmirch sweet Brian’s memory on this blog?
I can still hear Mr. S. – ‘You seem like decent fellows; what are you doing being involved in something like this?’

"More Rumors & Lies" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, May 17, 2007 at 6:56 p.m.:
Sheik, thanks for deleting my previous postings–seems hard to get through these days if you want to balance the rumor mill with some truth.

Brian S.: Many tried to help him in many ways, he was an incurable alcoholic and although was given a task not to drink, simply refused to stop. This may not explain all that happened to him, but many tried to counsel him, tell him to stop drinking, etc.
 "coot" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, April 16, 2007 at 6:20 p.m.:
coot notes subjective and partial of this stories. If others have better understandings (as could be wrong), so fill in blanks please add. But from perspective:

Brian seem “RB boy” who later have serious psychological breakdown maybe like schizophrenia. (guess maybe have late 20s years of age and very sweet solar type) Walk up and down Rice Crossing Road day and night, can’t stop. Finally taken to Marysville by FOF and just dropped off. Lived in tent by river. Homeless. Later live on street in Sacramento city and stabbed in stomack (chest?) by the other homeless?, loose much blood, university hospital, almost die. Older students help get Brian back to “life” family. Later to all shock RB let Brian back in school. (maybe top rung of ladder of bad decision – non responsible action). Saw on wikipedia until remove Brian Sisler found dead in Marysville hotel, believe thought suicide.

Kevin was brave quadriplegic went to Berkeley university on own, eventually live in Roseville? work for HP? Uneasy balance in hard life like many of us will never know but basic stable. When California to fall in ocean – RB put out word that all must come to high ground. Kevin came to high ground, lost stability. Fell out of wheelchair and drownd in small amount of water – felt to be suicide by many. Later, heard RB put out another of his famous ugly epigram on Kevin – not sure but something like play of crime. Ugly words for brave man. No humility from second after Jesus. Sad joke.

Let them who have ears to hear and eyes to see.

And for noble Kevin: trouble not the epigram of small man, dear friend, they are as payment for God’s delivery of Israel, “Ye mountains, that ye skipped like rams; and ye little hills, like lambs”

To both – in peace

"Ni_k Spa_ldi_g" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, July 27, 2007:
From AMES #438 [above]

‘Story of Brian Sisler’…

Ames wrote:
“This is what I can piece together, but I stress I have no first–hand information. I hear he went to the FoF gatehouse, and asked to see Burton. Burton refused to see him.”
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

To those who knew Brian, and gave him their love:

Please know that Robert did not “refuse” to see
him. . . .

A message was sent to Robert that Brian wanted to
talk to him…..Brian left the gatehouse…….

Before the message got through, the play was
apparently over.

"Critical Mass" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, July 28, 2007:

I didn’t know that Brian Sisler was schizophrenic until he left the Fellowship, but he did have a pathetic quality to him. He was a heavy drinker, an attempt at self-medication I suppose, and he sometimes got into trouble because of his drinking. He said that he didn’t feel able attend any Robert events or FOF concerts without drinking first. After one accident too many, Brian was told to take valium before attending any of Robert’s events, helpfully prescribed by Dr EH. I didn’t have the feeling that Brian was exclusively gay, he seemed to develop crushes on women, so maybe he was bisexual.

The version I heard about Brian’s attempt to contact Robert was that he was turned away by the gatehouse attendant. Robert subsequently sent a message to the gatehouse that any current or former member who asked to speak to Robert should be put through to someone close to Robert, Dorien or Asaf. I wonder if this would really work. The Fellowship # is 692-2244. Don’t all phone up at once.

Ph_lip L_cas can be lunatic about security. He likes guns a lot and regularly goes hunting deer illegally on the property along with M_hai. Others do it to, becase Robert wants to thin down the deer population because of his roses. He also gave Ph_lip permission to shoot any dogs that get onto the property. I’m told that PL took a course in a particular kind of shooting in case Robert is ever involved in a hostage situation. He is paranoid about ex-students getting onto the property, and so gatehouse keepers would be unlikely to be sympathetic to anyone who asks to see Robert.

"Critical Mass" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, July 29, 2007:

Hi Another Name (post 41 at the moment),

Please don’t react negatively to my message either. (I can play that game too.) Yes, there’s more to individuals who are diagnosed “schizophrenic” than just the medical diagnosis, and I have spent time with schizophrenics. There are techniques that can help people to not be put out of balance by their perceptions, and that can help them to distinguish helpful voices from destructive voices. And, yes, I have spent time with schizophrenic individuals. But the medical diagnosis and treatment is useful and even essential because the schizophrenic experience is usually very destructive to the person’s ordinary life. Brian Sisler killed himself, remember. He lived in squalor in a hut. When I tried to use his bathroom once, it was filthy and I had to leave after a few seconds because I was about to vomit.

The FOF has no idea how to deal with students who are mentally ill. The only recommendation is “keep taking the pills” which isn’t bad advice, but is somewhat limited, especially as most mentally ill people stop taking their medication from time to time. If a student has a psychotic episode, the FOF treatment is a leave of absence, i.e. temporary expulsion, come back when you’re better. If the student is in Isis, he or she is either sent home, or sent to Eth_n to get more pills. Once the student is put on leave, Ph_l_p L_c_s says, “Yep, the guy’s crazy alright” and everyone involved with security or legality becomes very concerned about not letting the poor guy onto the property in case he wants to visit Robert. There are at least a couple of breakdowns each year at Isis, and additional ones in the centers. Worst of all, Robert has had sex and continues to have sex with men who have mental illness problems—vulnerable men with bipolar disorders, schitzophrenia, or histories of depression. The FOF culture which encourages conscious spiritual ambition, reading of shocks, work against feminine dominance, can easily be used to justify objectification of psychotic states. Br_an T_mn_y was a good example of this.

[ed. - I attach the following comments directed at Nicholas Spaulding (Nick Spaulding), as his comment above demonstrates the remarkable absence of conscience so characteristic of many in the Fellowship of Friends leadership, and originating with its supreme leader, Robert Burton.]

"unoanimo" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, July 27, 2007:
Hello ~ ‘with malice toward none’ (455) [above]~

You wrote ~

“This was the latest of several recent requests over the preceding months at the gatehouse to see Robert, all of which were refused.”

Nick Spaulding wrote ~

“A message was sent to Robert that Brian wanted to
talk to him…..Brian left the gatehouse…….

Before the message got through, the play was
apparently over.”

Nickolas [sic],

I truly cannot find the appropriate words to describe the utter heartless-ness of this posting; I have yet to find a more cold hearted, malicious, ruthless and soul-less demonstration of the possibility for human compassion and external consideration on this blog (BTW, these are still not the words I feel will only be given to you in time by certain (non-FoF wiseacred) ‘external influences’)…

May Brian Sisler’s spirit have patience with you.

Surely, even prayers can go in two different directions, i.e., ascending and descending…

The story of Robert Burton’s refusal to see Brain Sisler in his moment of need is notoriously consistent; your role of monitoring this blog site has come to an end, for such a “the play was apparently over” comment truly shows that the monitoring of yourself is not priority, which annuls anything you ‘think’ you’re attending to…

If the gatehouse guard on duty that night wishes to state otherwise, use his or her real name, say it to the face of Brain’s father in a court of law, then, let that be your proof… (although, even that would not mean much to me personally, I know Robert Burton; I sense (and have read) that he lied about Brian’s stabbing to obtain a stronger erection for his ‘I got C-Influence’ rape of student’s naively open essences.

I also know his deep fear of his ‘image’ as ‘Gold plated sugar daddy #1′ being tarnished by mingling with ‘the dirty and in four lower center need’ likes of students, who, in their hours of nervous breakdowns, psychotic breaks, the viscous-ness of death’s fluids being upon their bodies, severe alcoholic desperatenesses, that he has nothing substantial to offer them; a quizzical glance, a ‘Know that I love you dear… click.’

So, Nicholas, you’ve done no one a positive or fair service by your carrion eater treatment of the dead, the ceasing of roles that are unto themselves holy relics, never to be keyed by none other than the god who inhabited it, other than giving to this audience of thousands more brutal proof that your organization is chaos, lie, manipulation on all levels of human and spiritual decency…
As far as the message not getting through in time to catch Brian before he left, I understand and know otherwise;

anyone who has been either ‘used up’ by Robert Burton or has said ‘no’ to his advances, who later request a private and urgent meeting with him is refused (usually by a second party, not even Robert Burton’s voice itself) …

And BTW, my old friend, you know and I know that all urgent messages to Robert Burton take less than 5 minutes to make it to him; (unless he’s in the ‘War Room’)…

albeit Asaf likes to try and milk as much ‘juice’ from your glossy lips before the words make it to Robert’s private ear (which may add another 2-3 minutes of maneuvering around his sparkling ferret nose and KGB demeanor)…

Asaf likes to imagine that he has already thought about whatever it is that you’ve concluded; tending to have the air of an underage butler whose always one step ahead of you concerning the services of Robert Burton, Asaf is just a few shiny buckles away from joining you in “One Flew Over The Coo-coo’s Nest’…

I pray for you Nickolas Spalding, truly I do; anyone who could produce such ruthlessness of viewing, such utter carelessness and pitiful self aggrandizement, using another spirit’s role’s death to pump up your “apparently the play was over’ limp organ of perception, placing it upon such an entity as it was playing Brian; you must certainly be in a sort of hell, that this Planet Purgatory is in no way an undergraduate in producing, though not altogether foolproof is keeping inmates indefinitely…

May Meher Baba have mercy on your ‘soul’…

"unoanimo" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, July 27, 2007:

Perhaps your ‘conscious teacher’ was doing something ‘more important’ than tending to his past karma, like post 294/part 1, unconsciously maintaining it’s unpaid debt; his ‘students of the fourth way’ being his unconscious creditors (?) School of Awakening? To what? As what? This?

"More history needed" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, July 27, 2007:
Dear Nick and others

Please do not take Nick serious. He himself as I heard had a real difficult upbringing. Has often looked for surrogate parents. Ask M.

Nick is not able to make two way contact with you. He will talk more then you, will not ask you a question in a two way communication way. He takes more then 80% of the communication pie. (And maybe other pies?)

He is not friends with anybody because he can only be friends if their is a gain? Never learned to exchange love …he probably never got it himself, early on in his childhood…

I feel pitty for this man….

No need to take him serious, use your time in a more constructive way?

Sorry Nick, maybe time for therapy?

"Ames Gilbert" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, July 27, 2007:
Hello Ni_k Spa_ldi_g,

I appreciate your input. To me, your reply tells much more than you apparently realize to those who have actually experienced and studied the Fellowship, and particularly the flow of information and power, up and down the hierarchy.

Still, tell us what you think (but preferably know) of the contents of Burton’s reply to Brian’s message that presumably ‘arrived too late’ back at the gatehouse. Or if Burton replied at all.

And what you know of the previous interactions (both requests and replies) when Brian visited the gatehouse, as mentioned above.


Thank you,


"Vena" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, July 27, 2007:

To Unoanimo #465 [above]:

Thank you for responding to Nick Spaulding’s horrific and heartless post #457. It represents the typical damage control, lack of conscience and lying that is so characteristic of the Fellowship.

"SAM.1" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, July 27, 2007:

[Quoting above] RE: 465

~I truly cannot find the appropriate words to describe the ~utter heartless-ness of this posting; …
Dear unoanimo,

You give _ick S. too much credit. He, like those others at the ‘top’, have lost the ability for independent thought and are slaves to the master.

‘One Ring to rule them all, …… and in the darkness bind them’

No comments:

Post a Comment