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 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.

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 from official Fellowship publications and websites, news archives, court documents, cult education and awareness forums, the Internet Archive, the long-running Fellowship of Friends - Living Presence Discussion, the (former) Fellowship of Friends wikispace project, the (ill-fated 2007) Fellowship of Friends Wikipedia page, 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, April 29, 2008

Apollo's fading glory

"CVB" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, March 16, 2008 at 4:18 p.m.:
More salary lay-offs. Nick S. [Nick Spaulding] and Benjamin Y. {Benjamin Yudin] to name two. It is said to be about 60 this time. More long time supporters leaving. Fellowship is unable to pay the insurance on at least some of it’s vehicles. They can no longer be driven off the property.

"CVB" wrote on the Fellowship fo Friends Discussion blog, March 17, 2008 at 3:13 p.m.:
Fellowship assets are now being sold off. The 100+K Mercedes is going. The tragic thing is that Robert Burton and his few remaining staunch supporters will consider that he is a persecuted martyr. His delusions of grandeur will remain unshaken and he will never realize that his own behavior precipitated the fall of the Fellowship. Talk about profound sleep.

"Associated Press" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, March 18, 2008 at 5:25 p.m.:
CVB said at 30/485 [above], on March 16, 2008 at 4:18 pm:
‘More salary lay-offs. Nick S. and Benjamin Y. to name two. It is said to be about 60 this time. More long time supporters leaving. Fellowship is unable to pay the insurance on at least some of it’s vehicles. They can no longer be driven off the property.’
Yes, salary headcount reductions are inevitable. The Fellowship of Friends does that in a concerted fashion at least twice a year; usually spring and fall are the major episodes. Sometimes it can be rather draconian as to severity.

[see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Draco_(lawgiver)#Draconian ]

Link is to specific place for definition but whole page is worth reading.

According to what Robert Burton had said in the past, there would not be more than 10% of the membership on salary as an ongoing target. So, as the membership numbers decline, it is necessary to reduce the number of salaried positions. If there are/were roughly 180 people on salary, then this is a 33% reduction. Based on this system, if there are 10 followers of Robert Burton, there will be one person on salary, and that would be, you guessed it, Robert Burton.

Certainly, many will return to salary when it is determined that what they were doing was essential. Others will return to salary because their individual circumstances will be reviewed on a case by case basis. Still others will go begging and/or exercise how ‘well connected’ they are to the powers-that-be. By the time the next salary headcount reduction is needed, the numbers will have climbed back to near the former numbers. This is a lesson in how to keep the ‘lower self’ in its place.

Now, I do not want to sound callous in these descriptions. These are just the facts. It is unfortunate that the most unfortunate are often the ones that will be subject to this process. It is also a time where almost everyone will have to justify their existence to those who have the authority to grant them their value. It actually is a very A Influence sort of arrangement. Some job security for those who have devoted a lifetime at a labor of love. Service the head honcho and your life could be different.

During these liquidity crunches, you can be sure that the Academy/Galleria (or whatever it may be called now), the building where Robert Burton has his residence, will still remain lavishly furnished. There will be plenty of cut flower large arrangements and plenty of flowering plants to decorate the interior. The gardens will keep burgeoning forth. The grounds and the multi-thousands of dollars palm trees and the grounds will be kept. The bonsai collection likely will not be sacrificed. Sumptuous meals will continue to be served, often with much of the food discarded. The regular dinners with ‘the boys’ will not come to an end (no pun intended). Travel to local and worldwide locations for Robert and the entourage will be adequately funded. Robert and the entourage will remain luxuriously clothed. Robert’s carpool will be maintained and insured. Mercedes may get sold, if it is not already a rental. Accommodations will be supplied. Medical insurance will likely be maintained for the select few; all others will have to plead poverty to the Yuba County welfare services for public assistance. Many parties on the dole because of their favor with Robert Burton will continue. Everyone will have to suffer to some degree, though. Even Robert will find some demonstrative way to show he will suffer, too. He might give up desserts. As long as semen flows, penis grows and ‘guess who’ blows; it will be business as usual.

"Rear View Mirror" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, April 27, 2008 at 3:47 p.m.:
More history needed? wrote:
Two more “students” leaving Apollo?
I wonder how many are still in and paying…..!
Anybody who can share some numbers, please?
————

Based on reports that I’ve heard, most people are no longer paying the usual $750 to $1,000 per month (which is an average when you include the spring and fall “donations”). If someone is having trouble making payments, all they need to do is ask for a break, and they can lower the payments indefinitely to about $100-$150 per month, and skip the spring and fall.

It’s become very lax in this regard. The intentions are obvious: Keep the membership numbers up so that it doesn’t become too obvious that public opinion is being swayed against Burton. How many people have worked out such a deal, I don’t know, but it’s an obvious effort on the part of “management” to weather the storm of negative opinion, and to keep the facade that nothing has changed, and that everything is fine.

But things have changed. And everything is not fine.

My guess is that the FOF 1) has some money set aside for such times, and 2) some of the more wealthy sycophants are helping to keep things afloat right now.

I’ve also heard that certain “assets” are currently being sold to help out.

By the way, something that I don’t believe has been mentioned on the blog yet… Robert Burton frequently would make statements such as [paraphrasing]: Make your teaching payments first, and Influence C will take care of the rest.

In other words: Sure, you may be a month behind on your rent, and a few weeks from being evicted from your apartment, but write that check for $1,545 (or thereabouts) for that Spring donation and April “teaching payment,” and everything will be fine.

Everything won’t be fine. This is one of the most underreported aspects of this cult — People do leave because of the heavy financial burden (in addition to everything else). However, people rarely will admit this because of the stigma attached to it. Rarely do we want to admit that we’re not independently wealthy and capable of buying whatever the hell we want, including a measly donation of approximately $1,500 to the Fellowship of Friends.

You hear about the people who visit Las Vegas and win $1,000 over the weekend. They share their story with everyone on Monday morning. We hear how they had a great time, and how Las Vegas is GREAT!

What you don’t hear on Monday morning is the story from that OTHER guy who LOST $1,000. The Fellowship of Friends is much like a casino. They know how to take your money. If you keep playing at the casino, eventually they will take back everything you won — if you ever did win something.

"somebody" wrote on the Fellowship fo Friends Discussion blog, April 29, 2008 at 6:26 p.m.:
263 Rear View Mirror, 268 Vena

After saying and reading everything about FOF I must admit I still have doubts sometimes.

Therefore this blog is very helpful for me. I need to be reminded about Robert’s twisted nature not to fall into imagination again that he is a Conscious Teacher and teaches us how to be present. I believe there are many – both in and out – who are in a similar situation.

I also talk to the current members and their opinions still confuse me. “Things look bad from the point of view of the blog, but – it is a very subjective, judgmental point of view”, “don’t believe the I’s”, “Robert never did anything wrong to me personally” “Robert is a great lover” “Robert loves you consciously” “Robert’s energy is very unique” “don’t be formatory about the form of the school” etc.

Apollo is not the Apollo it once was. A lot of people are laid off salary, religious visa’s folks are back to their countries, Apollo d’Oro is open for dinner only one or two times a week. But the events at the Galleria go on as if nothing have changed – Sunday meetings, pottage lunches, receptions, margarita dinners, rose gardens.

One might feel that one is frozen in the “event horizon” (the point of no return where escape from the black hole is impossible due to the immense gravity)

"Associated Press" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, April 28, 2008 at 3:51 a.m.:
Concerning: "More history needed?" and the numbers in the Fellowship of Friends.

Several pages back, there were posted graphic images of the statistics for the FoF covering several decades. One of the things it showed was that for more than a decade now the numbers leaving FoF averaged over 30 per month, consistently. This trend depended, to some degree, on the other statistics of there being an average of 30 or more joining per month; that lasted roughly from 1992 to 2002. Thus the number in FoF over that period was roughly flat. Since 2002, however, the numbers joining have dropped off rather radically with a trend toward less than 20 joining per month in 2005. This curve was moving toward zero rapidly. This means that the numbers in FoF is declining in an accelerating fashion, as a function of the flat to increasing departures and the declining joiners. The departures of 30 per month, if it continues at that pace, means a loss of 300+ per year. It will take about six years, then, until there is only Robert Burton left. Practically speaking, that will not likely happen because at a certain point there will only be the hardcore members who will not leave under any circumstance(s) and the 30 departures per month will level off somewhere above zero or at zero. This inner circle will sustain the illusion that everything is just fine. So, before there is a total collapse to a super nova or black hole, there will be a stage at which a dwarf star* state exists – notwithstanding that there would be a black hole type energy condition at the very center of it sucking in any matter that comes anywhere near to it. Beware the event horizon and don’t get sucked in your self.

Robert Burton's purported advice to a pedophile

"Draco" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog:
Here’s a story that hasn’t received enough attention and which I heard last year from the medical professional.
A Fellowship student went to another Fellowship student who worked in the medical profession and described his problem. The first student told the medical professional that he was a pedophile and he was attracted to little girls. (I have no idea to what extent this was put into practice, but it was definitely a problem for him.) At some point he had gone to Robert and confessed this to him and asked advice. Robert’s only advice was to wait until 2006 (the supposed year of nuclear Armageddon) after which there would be no restrictions on sexual behavior. So the pedophile student waited and 2006 came and went and then he didn’t know what to do. After all, he had just been postponing the fulfillment of his sexual desires. Luckily he had the sense to go to the medical professional who was arranging to get professional help for him.
But what a piece of “teaching” from Robert!
1. Robert approved the student’s pedophilia by just telling him to wait until the moment is right.
2. Robert therefore put the children of Fellowship students at risk.
3. It was completely useless advice for someone who at that time sincerely admitted that he had a problem..
4. Robert was obviously looking forward to 2006 so that he would have no restrictions on his own sexual behavior. Whether he might desire some underage liaisons himself is anyone’s guess, but I would advise any FOF students to keep their children away from him.
It reminds me of the story of the wife of an important student in the Fellowship who contacted Robert to tell him that her husband was spending hours watching porn on the Internet. Robert responded that after 2006 there won’t be any Internet.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Anna's reminiscences on truthfulness and procedure in the Fellowship

"Anna" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog:
(X and Y are best friends and staying at The Academy [aka The Galleria])
You know says X, “Sometimes Y and I talk about mental illness together, Y is studying Psychology you know, he tries to figure out which mental illnesses describe Robert best.
And then we both pray that Robert will do something to prove that he is conscious. We pray for a small sign, anything…”
There’s a pause, as it enlarges we both divide attention… and change the subject.
X hangs up the phone.
“That was Y. You know that he was going back home next month to finish university, well Robert has told him that he may not, or he will be asked to leave”.
We are quiet. This is big. Y will be deeply bonded through this sacrifice.
~

Later (X & Y are now Robert’s right hand men)
“We don’t feel that G is really ‘with the program'” says X (he is in his twenties - G is a powerful deeply caring woman who has been with Robert since before he was born.)

“Why?” I ask;
“She questions everything, It takes too long to get anything done, Robert is operating very quickly at the moment… she’s not up to speed, she will be retired” he says dryly; “I have found someone else.”
I feel sorry for G but understand: Robert’s sphere is unformatory. Many things happen which seem unfair or illogical, things that most students could not accept.
~

Later a scandal breaks in which it is revealed that X & Y have set up their own sex ring. They have convinced a surprisingly large number of amenable females to take part in ‘orgies’, and given them access to Roberts otherwise inordinately expensive events.
X admitted “I would have sex with anyone, any woman, it didn’t matter what she looked like; I was obsessed. Robert asked me if I was using the same techniques to persuade women to have sex with me as I had used in my job of persuading men to have sex with him. When I told him I was, he looked thoughtful and decided to take me off that particular duty.”
~
Asaf [Asaf Braverman] asks “Would you tell me what you know about Z’s harassment of female students whilst on traveling teacher trips? This is something we take very seriously”
I interject “I know this isn’t really the point, but Z’s behaviour seems oddly similar to Robert’s doesn’t it?"
“Well that’s a totally different conversation” he replies quickly.
“ Yes, yes of course” I stutter knowing that Asaf is very busy; perhaps he will have a chance to explain this later…

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

The Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog's premature post mortem

[ed. - "Just Another voice Out Here" offers their closing arguments. Over four years later, "Just Another Voice Out Here" would return, this time as "Life Person," and express their incredulity that the discussion continues. See below.]

"Just Another Voice Out Here" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, April 23, 2008:
The blog bears almost no resemblance to what it was a year ago, and the circumstances surrounding it, even less. Then, there was an enormous pent-up need to discuss, divulge, and unburden about matters for which many had had no meaningful outlet, in some cases for thirty years or more. There were many former and existing members who knew a lot less than they know now. There were members who knew, but lacked sufficient motivation to leave. There was a public that had no means to learn the truth about an organization they might consider joining.

All of that has changed. The stories have been told; any left untold are unlikely to reveal anything radically different, although they may well be therapeutic for the teller. No one within the Fellowship can any longer claim convincingly he or she doesn’t know. Many then-members who were on the fence have either left, or made their peace. Many former members who had held their pain or outrage inside had an opportunity to get it out and start healing.

Much of this occurred within the first six months, and although there remain people who are just discovering the blog, presumably their numbers have dwindled. There may remain members on the fence, but they are not likely looking to the blog for impetus to leave.

The blog itself morphed from a forum where anyone could learn new information, post a story or impression, stay a while, interact, get their bearings, make things uncomfortable for the Fellowship power structure, and move on, into a social club consisting of a handful of people who seem to read and post almost daily about any subject that appeals to them, recycling the same material like a cow chewing its cud. The transition took place as individuals, one by one, saw the blog as a place where they could satisfy their personal emotional needs, without regard for whether the satisfaction of those needs served any other purpose. Originally, everyone was welcome, since there were no “insiders”—it was a completely open forum. Over time, some were more welcome than others; anyone thought to be spouting the Fellowship party line were indignantly shouted down, and eventually others who weren’t considered one of the gang were given little energy, so they had little reason to stay unless they were willing to make a project out of being accepted.

For those who are now in the blog Inner Circle, the blog appears to fulfill a deep-seated need for validation and company, for an identity as someone who sees the truth and isn’t afraid to express it, or to feel special, exchanging one form of group membership for another. Some see themselves in a new, improved spiritual enterprise—a school without dues, hierarchy, or responsibilities, but informed by a greater understanding of what’s really important. Some seemingly are as yet unable to get on with their lives; as Gurdjieff used to say, some people will give up anything except their suffering. The blog was a halfway house that became much more comfortable than either life in the Fellowship, or life entirely without the Fellowship—an endless limbo of unresolved feelings. Some continue to want to destroy the Fellowship, and for lack of alternatives view the blog as an effort in that direction.

The end result is a fishbowl in which the self-selected residents swim and circle, waiting for the next bit of food, and the rest glance at it every once in a while to relieve the tedium, and occasionally toss in a few morsels just to see what happens.

"Rear View Mirror" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, April 23, 2008:
It’s quite interesting to note… Oh, crud, excuse me… Must have been reverting there….
Ok, let me start over…

I personally believe that some of the actions we take don’t have any initial, obvious positive impact on anyone, but over time they may. And we may never even know it, or we may know it, but those results may be completely invisible to most others, or even to all others. (which makes our pitiful little egos wonder, “Uh, why did I bother with that? What glory in that?”)

I personally believe that the blog, to this day, continues to be a positive influence overall, and I’m glad it’s been here for as long as it’s been here. Meanwhile, I see the fof as a continued and persistent journey toward the edge of a very high and steep cliff, and eventually all the way over and onto the rocks, and into the ocean. (And I’m not going to insult sheep by using the typical analogy, because at least sheep are true to their nature unlike we pathetic chosen ones… “I think I could turn and live with animals.”)

Whatever the blog is, here it is. It keeps going.

I agree with much of what you wrote JAVOH in 14 [post at top of page], but other people keep saying (offline and online) that this blog has “run its course” and doesn’t serve a useful purpose anymore. But I still imagine just one person — just one more person — by chance, taking a glance at this one day, and combined with many other experiences in the fof, finally realizing that it’s time to leave.

Not in good time, not after the full moon, not when they find a new job, not after they get divorced, and not when the triad is right — but right now.

THAT is “divine presence” — to find your “divine presence” within yourself, and not in the approving glances of a very dysfunctional society led by a very sick man.
Barely a word of what’s written here will ever — EVER — be uttered at a Fellowship meeting. That, in and of itself, is something to value about this blog.

Valuation is what you want? (speaking to you Robert)

Well, I have never valued anything you have said, or anything that your former cult members have ever written or said, any more than right here… in this little box, right here on the internet. Imagine that. Not one page of finely printed materials from countless Town Hall meetings, with beautiful four-color printed photos of fine art dazzling us on the cover… Not one “Renaissance Journal” has the “higher hydrogens” that could come even close to the “higher hydrogens” — the finer energy — that you find right here.

Not one candlelight dinner with Puccini playing in the background, accompanied by poetry readings, and fine wine, and fine food, and fine china, and seemingly thoughtful glances across the room. None of that comes even close to this blog. None of it has touched my soul as much as anything written here.

THIS is Love.

———————–

Alright, everyone. Onto another topic, or onto no topic. Have fun. It’s ok. I am very glad that all of you are here. Even you in your lashing out. ALL of this is infinitely better than the finest the Fellowship ever had to offer, or ever will.

"WhaleRider" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, April 23, 2008:
just another voice out there [responding to post at top]:

Hey, despite what you say, even though it is largely true, the blog is better than watching television, that’s for sure! (I am dyslexic, reading is difficult for me.)

As far as chewing cud, well, that’s the process of digestion, isn’t it? For many, sometimes it takes a while. Understanding comes two years after experience, right? And what’s the problem with recycling? Near as I can tell, life is suffering, so to give up on that would be to give up on living. (Keep posting Zoecan1, hang in there sock monkey!!!)[bloggers] Everyone has needs, too, some more than others, but that’s human, just like you have the need to reflect back to us what you perceive about us on the blog, for which I am grateful. Really. I saw a lot of myself in your post. That’s cool. I can work with that.

To me the blog is whatever you need it to be or BEEEE, as the case may be…or not to be….or Auntie Bea…or whatever.

But you are right, the stories have been told…many, many people have posted so much useful and not so useful information, creative insights, quotes, gripes, pain, flames, etc….yet the Fellowship still continues business as usual. That’s an unresolved dilemma for me. I care about my community. You and I have supported (some say pimped for) a sexual predator in the guise of a spiritual leader, and much harm as occurred and is still occurring. So who is responsible? The Pope? We are!

I recommend anyone just tuning in to also spend time reading from the beginning of the blog, too. I can’t see how anyone in their right mind would want to stay a follower after reading all this. But that may not be enough to wake every follower up to the fact that Robert is a cult leader, not a teacher in any real sense of the word. We need to show them that we are just as, if not more evolved than them. How do we do that? Do we crawl under a rock to do that? Or do we accept our humanity as perfectly flawed (like they do) and stand up for ourselves and our community? I don’t plan on going quietly into the night as I did when I was younger and left ranks.

You are not just another voice out there. You are more than that!

People evolve and change for the better by taking a good long honest look at themselves, which is what you, Vena and others are doing for us right now, and what the Fellowship and Robert are unable to do. So rock on, my friend. Sure the blog has changed, because people change…and grow. It’s an inevitable organic process, and thankfully so. I am all for change. Change is good. Even my spell check has a ‘change’ button, for which I am grateful. I am certainly experiencing lots of change in my personal life, and I am beginning to feel better for it, too (thanks to match.com). The sheik tells me that WordPress has changed their overall format which is why this page is all messed up…now that’s synchronicity for you.

Time for change. Let’s do it…together.

"lauralupa" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, April 23, 2008:
I personally like to view the blog as a river, and I find that, although trying to define and discuss its flux may be an interesting exercise now and then, generally by the time we are done, it’s already changed once again. IMO the best remedy against pollution and stagnation is pouring fresh water in it, come on rain, come on new feeders!

Just another voice, maybe I am missing something, but I write here quite often, and I am not aware of an inner circle either excluding or including me (or unaware of me?). I see separate people, I can hear their different voices; some over time sound repetitive, others refreshingly unpredictable. I am not happy about the fact that at periods only a handful of people are posting, but that’s when I feel even more compelled to keep writing. IMO this blog still serves a purpose as an interface between “innies” and “outies”, and as an informal meeting ground for us “outies”, and it would be silly to let it dry up until at least one of our common aims is reached. Personally, I am not going to let go until I see the petition off the ground.

The introduction of this concept of “Inner Circle” goes in the direction of creating even more division amongst us, do we really want to do that to ourselves?

"veramente" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, April 23, 2008:
This is a sort of a miracle indeed this blog continues to exist.

There is no moderator and hardly any rules, the Sheik has been hosting us without interference.

Regardless of the dissonant voices, the fights, the high and the lows, we do have a common wish, yes?

"ouspensky question" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, April 23, 2008:

Thank You Ralph B for 7.

Blog's main theme was FOF. Now main theme is half a dozen active Personalities that have FOF in common. Becoming soap opera of offended people and self indulgence reinforcement network (just look at wierdo poetry ).

Nothing new. This is normal. Few needy and unhealthy people take much space, others keep quiet or go away.

"arthur" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog April 23, 2008:

The Greater Fellowship site is always available for chatting or serious discussion. However, it’s not for public viewing, therefore the “Inner Circle” of the Robert Burton Church cannot participate. Or, can they?

Anyway, for me and my kind, one day (all of us-I’s) will sit under a Kopeck, Banyan, Bodhi or whatever tree Buddha sat under, and drink a cup of ayahuasca to celebrate endings and beginnings.

Actually, I think the Buddha sat under a Mesquite tree.

"Rear View Mirror" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussionblog, April 23, 2008:

“weird poetry”? Hmm. I’ll take any of this poetry over the most beautifully read Whitman or Shakespeare at the Academy.

Yes, lots of “personality” here as you said. A lot of fighting. A lot of unleashing of anger. Seriously, did you expect anything else given the history of this cult? And is that so bad? Or are you still holding to the notion that any contention or disagreement is “bad for your work”? :)

“Needy and unhealthy”? Remember, you’re talking about people who once languished in the fof prison. This is pretty bad sometimes, but it’s fresh air and powerful healing compared to that. Not always healthy, but even the most abrasive comments here are head-and-shoulders above the poisonous ideas of the fof.

I still find it interesting that people come here and feel the need to defend their past in the FOF, or their past in studying Fourth Way ideas. This is typical of former cult members, myself included, who do not want to face the pain that they made a mistake. It’s a sign that we’re still mired in the same patterns of thinking that we learned in the fof, and that we’re still healing from it. We made a mistake in joining this cult, and remaining in it, and it takes time to see that.

By the way, it’s a cult, it’s a cult, it’s a cult. The extent that we debate this fact, is the extent that we’re not escaping from the “cult think.” It’s not a group. It’s not an organization. It’s a cult. And you and I joined it.

"veramente" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, April 24, 2008:
37 WR [responding to WhaleRider]

“Student: Why is it that the soul takes only one female body during the course of its nine lives?

Robert: To strengthen and soften the higher emotional center.”

~~~

How did I miss this one from mister misogynous? only one female body during the course of nine lives to develop a soul? (lies anyway…)

The “guy” is really confusing, was he a “goddess” in a man’s body atone point?

[ed. - Appearing at intervals, the person behind "Psychic," Someone," "Samson" and other pseudonyms can be counted upon to bring a curious, often shrill voice to the blog. Always virulently anti-Ex-Fellowship and anti-blog, yet speaking as if concerned for the former members. The posts offer little substance, but I thought I should include a few examples.]

"Psychic" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, November 23, 2007:
This message is addressed to those visitors who are now reading this blog while searching for inner work on themselves.

Dear visitor,

The Fellowship of Friends is a school for reaching Divine Presence within one. It is led by Robert Burton, the spiritual teacher and founder of the Fellowship of Friends.

The art of reaching Divine Presence is the highest art on earth. Man in his ordinary state of consciousness cannot even imagine what it is and what is possible for him.

In order to reach Divine Presence and prolong it one would need reaching a much higher place in oneself.

However, one has another part in oneself that dominates one’s life and that is the Lower Self. This part is not interested in the art of reaching Divine Presence and if one attempts to seriously work in order to reach it, the Lower Self would do anything in order to ruin such work.

This blog is presenting posts of many former members of the Fellowship of Friends who left the school and started slandering it. This is a sheer example of how the Lower Self works after it takes over and crowns sleep to rule, sometimes forever.

Our Teacher has asked his students not to enter this blog in order not to give even more space to the Lower Self beyond what it takes anyway.

I am writing these lines in order to create a small spark of opportunity for you if you are interested.

So you are invited to visit the Fellowship of Friends web-site:

http://www.beingpresent.org

"Samson" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, November 18, 2008:
Haven’t been here for over a year now. What the fucking shit are you still doing here? I see here almost the same poor Ex-FOF addicted rewriting themselves to death. Get out of here, have a life. Why spending the rest of your lives on this shit you left & hate. Don’t give me that bull that you care about those who stayed. Give me a break, you are here because you are addicted. Nothing will pule you out of this shit hole but yourselves. I see a student who’s daily shitting on your heads and like good communist party members you all say that it’s raining. Yeh, Yeh, your tender souls are hurt by Robert’s prick…poor souls… A bunch of moron losers, that’s what you are.

"Someone" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, January 7, 2014:
Tempus Fugit,

You left the FoF in the early 80’s and you still have them in your mind. Why carry them inside for so long? They are not worth it.

The FoF are ~1500 people worldwide – they always have been around 2000 or less. Their average age in OH is probably 60.

RB is an old man and the number of member isn’t going to grow.

After I left I heard rumors that many young people are joining in other countries. Now I think they were mere rumors. Why waste time, thoughts, emotions and energy on the FoF? I am entering this Blog once or twice a year because I care about those who are wasting vital energy on the FoF.

Though they are harshly against the FoF, it’s still a waste of life energy. I lived in OH for many many years and now I rarely think of it. This Blog was opened 7 years ago during the big leaving. Since then the FoF size stayed almost the same. Perhaps they managed to bring in 50-100 new members, yet more members died of old age. Taking into account Nature’s course, in 10 years time the FoF will be left with perhaps 500-600 members worldwide.

Why bother?

"Life Person" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, August 31, 2012:
I haven’t checked out the blog for several years, but a friend mentioned to me that one of my earlier posts had been reposted recently, so I checked in to find out the context.

I’m amazed that, in this day and age, there remain people who continue to believe the Fellowship narrative–Burton as Conscious Being, the organization as Vessel of “C Influence,” members as the Earth’s Elect, the whole thing. Back when I joined in the 70s, cults were sprouting up like mushrooms everywhere, and I for one hadn’t heard very much about how common it was for leaders of such cults to be outright frauds, how abusive they could be, etc. I didn’t even know there were other “Fourth Way” groups out there. Burton was completely unknown–his image was never shown until after a person had joined the cult. But that was decades ago.

Now, anyone can easily find out that Burton’s been sued up his well-traveled wazoo; that he’s a compulsive sex addict who preys on heterosexual men in his thrall; that the Fellowship as an organization has essentially failed–the vineyard, into which I and thousands of others poured effort and cash, left as a fire hazard and symbol of the founder’s folly covering the hillsides; membership slowly sinking; predictions exposed as pretentious twaddle. Anyone who wants to can discover that there exist countless reputable groups practicing “presence,” as well as other practices, using methods that have been taught for centuries, but without the culty baggage–the abusive butt-fucking; the endless “donations” to have your picture taken next to the Great Man (what next? a smaller donation to rent a blow-up Burton doll for photo-ops?); the vain self-regard of the pseudo-Elect peacocks sipping their wine; the pathetic sun-scorched compound with its faggy Apollo-topped columns and ejaculating palm trees; the paranoid delusions about the End of the World; the sad spectacle of aging, impoverished, disappointed hippies slowly discovering they’ve wasted their lives and now are impoverished and have been kicked to curb by their cherished Leader; the embarrassment of chasing members by trying to hitch its wagon to passing fads like Eckert Tolle [sic], or waving green cards at third-world seekers, or changing its name and the name of its Exclusive Compound every few years; and most ludicrous of all, the outright stupidity of what now passes for “teachings.”

If a person who’s actually heard those “teachings” can’t recognize them as bullshit, who’s seen Burton up close but still can’t see him for what he is (or isn’t), with the benefit of forty years of easily-available history, just accept that the person is a self-deluding fool. In my experience, most people stick around the Fellowship for long periods of time not because they’ve been duped, but because it feeds their “features.” They like feeling special. They like–or aspire to–the relative power of being more senior to someone else. They’re afraid of life on its own terms, afraid that the C Influence Boogeyman will take away their evolutionary chances, afraid to admit they’ve been duped, afraid of having to support themselves. And so on.

Don’t you remember how it was when you were a member? No one could tell you squat. You’d found the One Conscious School. Everyone else was sleeping, food for the moon. Your former friends, your family, other spiritual teachers–all idiots, now that you’d found the Fellowship. Criticizing the Fellowship was the unassailable proof that a person didn’t Get It.

Until, eventually, you realized just how ridiculous the whole thing was, and were willing to deal with all of the propaganda in your head designed to keep you making teaching payments. Until you were willing to admit to yourself that you’d made a mistake, willing to grow up.

You can’t force a person to grow up, you have to trust that they will, or accept that maybe they won’t.

"Tempus Fugit" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, January 9, 2014:
191. Someone [quoting above]
Tempus Fugit,

You left the FoF in the early 80′s and you still have them in your mind. Why carry them inside for so long? They are not worth it.

….. Why bother?
 Thanks for posing this question, although myself and others have addressed this topic before I feel it is an important one.

In some ways I think my FOF experience will always be on my mind. My experience was serious, lengthy, and traumatic. My psychological understanding of those years is still yielding important insights into who I am. After all, it’s not so much “them” that I carry inside, rather it’s “me,” and understanding myself is worth everything.

Why was I taken in by a charlatan? How could I deny and lie to myself for so long and stay in the cult for years and years? How do I learn to trust myself and my judgment after such brutal mistakes? How do I understand the truth of the FOF and Burton without being stuck in an anger and hatred which will only poison me? How do I take responsibility for my own decisions and choices and at the same time give proper responsibility to Burton and others who took advantage of my ignorance and naivete?

My understanding of that time has changed a lot over the decades, and the FOF is by no means the most important time of my life. Still the tree of suffering bears fruit, and I choose to pick it.

This blog has been very helpful in my recovery, and my thanks to all of you. The time I spend thinking and writing here is certainly well compensated in the knowledge that I gain about myself and my life. I hope my contributions have helped you in return.

And finally, again, I love the fact that this blog is a light to those still trapped in this horrible cult or even just in danger of the spider’s web, helping some to leave, and others not to join.

To think that relatively small efforts here may spare others from years of abuse is pretty cool. Really damn cool!

Saturday, April 5, 2008

"Kelly worker wins $6.5 million in suit"

[ed. - This article is re-posted from Cult Education Institute website.]
She says she was held back for not practicing other workers' religion.

Sacramento Bee/April 5, 2008
By Denny Walsh
A former employee of Kelly Services, a worldwide provider of temporary workers, was awarded more than $6.5 million in damages Friday by a Sacramento federal jury on her claim that the company failed to promote her because she is not a member of a religious group that other employees belong to.
Lynn Noyes, who worked nearly 10 years for Kelly in Nevada City as a software developer, sued her employer in December 2002, and 17 months later she was laid off.
She claimed that a less qualified employee was promoted to software development manager in April 2001 because he is a member of the Fellowship of Friends and she is not.
Noyes claimed that the Fellowship of Friends is a religious group and that denying her the promotion was intentional reverse religious discrimination.
With approximately 2,000 members, Fellowship of Friends is a church organization founded in the esoteric Christian tradition of Fourth Way, according to its Web site.
Noyes' lawyers, M. Catherine Jones and Robert Burch, presented evidence to the jury that, between 1997 and 2001, there were five promotions to management positions in Nevada City for which she was qualified. Four of those positions went to members of the Fellowship of Friends.
An anonymous letter sent to Kelly's Michigan headquarters in 1999 complained of "unfair practices with respect to hiring, promotions and salaries," such as "promoting employees with lesser qualifications and seniority" because of their religious affiliation.
But, according to evidence presented by Noyes' lawyers, Kelly's subsequent investigation of Nevada City chief William Heinz's hiring and promotion practices failed to result in significant changes.
Evidence presented on her behalf showed fellowship numbers continued to climb until nine of the 15 full-time employees on the floor where Noyes worked were members at the time she filed her suit.
The jury deliberated barely 3 1/2 hours Thursday afternoon and Friday morning before delivering its verdict.
A prepared statement issued after the verdict by Kelly general counsel Daniel T. Lis says: "We believe today's decision was made in error with respect to both the law and the facts in this case.
"We are confident that there are a significant number of grounds on which we will appeal, which we intend to do."
The company's trial lawyers argued that Heinz, who is a Fellowship of Friends member, did not unilaterally promote fellow member Joep Jilesen into the job sought by Noyes. Rather, they argued, the decision was made "through consensus of the Nevada City management and employees."
"Significantly, Kelly first offered the position to Donna Walker, who was not a member of the fellowship, but she declined," the lawyers wrote in a trial brief. "Equally important, Mr. Heinz was initially opposed to - Mr. Jilesen because he was concerned about the appearance of favoritism.
"Ms. Noyes, on the other hand, was not perceived as the best choice to boost the morale of the software development group."
Kelly lawyers insisted the Fellowship of Friends is not a religion, but rather a "philosophical group" that could not be used to sustain a religious discrimination claim.
But the fellowship describes itself as focusing on "an esoteric interpretation of religion associated with teachings of the Old and New Testaments, traceable also in Greek philosophy, and probably originating in Egypt and Asia."
About a third of its members live near or on a fellowship-owned compound in Apollo, a hamlet in San Bernardino County about 40 miles northeast of Barstow. Members are required to donate at least 10 percent of their monthly gross income to the fellowship.
After four days of listening to testimony and viewing the evidence, the jury found that Noyes' "lack of certain religious beliefs was a motivating factor for why she was not selected."
The panel awarded her $647,174 for economic losses, including past and future lost earnings and benefits, and noneconomic losses, including emotional distress.
It awarded her $5.9 million in punitive damages to hold Kelly up as an example and deter it and other companies from discriminatory employment practices.
Kelly pioneered the temporary staffing industry in 1946 and now operates in 37 countries and territories. Its revenue in 2007 was $5.7 billion. To see more documents/articles regarding this group/organization/subject click here.

Court Appeal: Lynn Noyes v. Kelly Services

http://www.culteducation.com/reference/fof/fof18.pdf

[ed. - Sourced from proquest.com.]
Huge award in job bias case: Plaintiff's lawyer: $6.5 million ruling against Kelly
By Ryan McCarthy
McClatchy - Tribune Business News [Washington]
05 Apr 2008

Abstract (summary)

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, in a 2007 ruling reversing a Sacramento federal court's dismissal of the case, describes the Fellowship as "a small religious group," and notes the Fellowship characterizes itself as a "way of life."

Full Text

Apr. 5--Lynn Noyes, who said the Nevada City office of Kelly Services denied her a promotion because she wasn't a member of the Yuba County-based Fellowship of Friends, was awarded $6.5 million Friday in her employment discrimination lawsuit against Kelly, Noyes' attorney said.

Noyes, 59, had wept Thursday after her attorney M. Catherine Jones told jurors in federal court in Sacramento during closing arguments about promotions, pay raises and jobs said to have gone to Fellowship members. Noyes did not want to comment immediately on the Friday verdict, Jones said.

"She's too emotional," the attorney said of Noyes.

Noyes had said about 90 minutes before the verdict that she wished she'd settled the case rather than gone to trial, Jones recounted.

"She just thought, 'This is too hard,'" Jones said of Noyes seven-year legal fight. "She had to go up against a big corporation."

Before trial, Noyes had sought $1.2 million to settle the case -- involving her losing a promotion to software development manager in 2001 -- but Jones said the most Kelly offered was $300,000.

Kelly Services provides temporary workers.

Jones said the jury in the U.S. District Court case deliberated for about three hours before returning with the multimillion dollar verdict.

Jones had told jurors that Michigan-based Kelly Services "needs to be punished" for its indifference to Noyes workplace rights in Nevada City. The office manager, along with the person named to the software manager job, and many of Noyes' co-workers in Nevada City were Fellowship members, Jones said.

"Maybe now Kelly Services will finally pay attention," Jones said after the verdict.

Daniel T. Lis, general counsel for Kelly Services, said in a written statement Friday that the "decision was made in error with respect to both the law and facts in this case. Kelly Services has a policy and history of not discriminating against its employees, and Kelly did not discriminate against Lynn Noyes."

The case includes a significant number of grounds for appeal and Kelly will do so, Lis said. Kelly employs more than 750,000 people and hires and promotes individuals of many backgrounds and beliefs, the attorney said.

Noyes did not name the Fellowship was in her case.

Abraham Goldman, the attorney for the Fellowship, said of the case, "It didn't involve us. We never even got a subpoena."

Goldman said Jones "must have done a hell of a job to get a verdict that size."

Jones said that Noyes "never had anything against Fellowship members."

"Many of them are quite nice," Jones said. "Generally, I don't think people know of the group."

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, in a 2007 ruling reversing a Sacramento federal court's dismissal of the case, describes the Fellowship as "a small religious group," and notes the Fellowship characterizes itself as a "way of life."

About 2,000 people are members, according to the federal court ruling, and about one-third live on Fellowship-owned property in the Oregon House area.

Contact Appeal reporter Ryan McCarthy at 749-4707 or rmccarthy@appeal-democrat.com
Credit: Appeal-Democrat, Marysville, Calif.