Introduction


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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

"Life Person's" story

"Life Person" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, August 21, 2007:
In my experience, there is very little of Burton to “access.” From what I read on this blog, things have gotten far more extreme and bureaucratic and conveyor-belt-like in recent decades, but I doubt Burton’s become a lot more intelligent and articulate.

I lived for a while at the Blake cottage ["parsonage," Burton's residence]. When Burton was interested in me, he was pretty attentive, and we drove around in the back seat of his Rolls. If I wanted to see him, there were no major barriers; we lived in the same little house, and I could just walk up to him and ask him a question. He would usually try to respond. I wasn’t under the illusion that I saw all sides of his personality, but I did get the impression that I saw what there was to see of his teaching style. He was definitely observant. But there wasn’t much substance. Believe me, I wanted to find profundity, but it was very difficult. He offered canned angles [thoughts, perspectives] to one and all, over and over again. His seduction routine, which Uno [blogger "unoanimo"] described so well, sounds essentially the same as decades ago. It’s all tapes, and his “teaching” was similar. He would sit at the dinner table and say something like “The universe is unimaginably enormous” (he had a certain phrasing for it, which he would repeat every so often, that I can’t remember exactly–I’m sure someone out there will remember it, since he said it every couple of weeks, for the benefit of those who weren’t aware that the universe is really big). Much of what he said was unverifiable, along the lines of “We are embarking upon blah, blah, blah,” or “The gods have asked that we blah, blah, blah.”

He once told me how long I would live. That was pretty cool. I felt special! A month or two later he gave me a different number. When I pointed that out to him, he seemed surprised and amused, as if to say “Well, what did you expect?”

He told me whose ladder I was on. I later realized that the ladder concept meant that if he thought you physically resembled a person who joined before you, you might be on that person’s ladder, but you weren’t supposed to believe it, because it was a “teacher’s tool,” which I gather meant it was a head trip designed to establish that he knew something you couldn’t possibly know.

He told me which lifetime I was in, and since it wasn’t ninth, I was in stunned and mopey silence for days–after all, it was the first time it had occurred to me that, as far as this lifetime was concerned, there was absolutely nothing I could do to “become conscious.” It took me a while to get rid of that bit of meaningless propaganda.

When I got into a relationship with a woman, he took me off salary, but I would stay at the Blake cottage on weekends when I visited. It was only after months of this that I was summoned into his bedroom. Although I had been living in a harem with several other young men, no one talked about it (at least to me), except in the most vague, inscrutable, smirking way, to suggest that they knew something but weren’t going to say exactly what it was. Why would I suppose my teacher was a sexual predator unless I had seen it with my own eyes, or at least heard it described plainly by someone I trusted? Without that, things that in hindsight seem obvious clues could be explained away. One young man I knew had been asked to move into the Blake cottage before me and within a day or two left Renaissance, freaked out. I later understood what had happened, but at the time, even he couldn’t bring himself to say straightforwardly what the problem was, I believe because he was frightened of revealing Burton’s secret. Strange as it may seem to some, I really didn’t know what Burton was up to until I was standing there, being asked if he could “receive me,” along with the routine about being a goddess, Walt Whitman being gay, etc. When I said no, he began masturbating me, uninvited. I pulled away. No, he didn’t wrestle me to the floor. He just gave me the silent treatment for the remainder of my time in the Fellowship. From which I learned at least as much as from all of the things he told me.

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