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.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

A former believer takes on the leader

Robert Earl Burton (R. E. Burton), Fellowship of Friends cult leader at Apollo in Oregon House, CA
Robert Earl Burton at Apollo in Oregon House, CA

Appeal-Democrat

By Ryan McCarthy

August 24, 2008 12:05:00 AM

Critics call the Fellowship of Friends a cult; members say it's a school of spiritual development

It's not that the emperor wears no clothes at the 1,171-acre property in the Sierra foothills with a winery, cemetery and main building meant to resemble a French castle, says Elena Haven.

The old folk tale speaks of adults afraid to say their ruler is naked. But Haven, a former member of the Yuba County-based Fellowship of Friends, said silence surrounded the colorful clothes — the salmon pink silk suit, shiny blue shoes or bright yellow pants — leader Robert Earl Burton, 69, sometimes wore.

"It's the picture of the whole phenomena," Haven, 49, said of the religious group that she calls a cult and that she left in 2007 after 17 years as a member.

That Fellowship members don't comment about Burton's clothing during gatherings at the group's headquarters in the foothills community of Oregon House is a symbol of more serious problems, Haven said.

The 6-foot, 4-inch silver-haired Burton, a one-time elementary school teacher in the San Francisco Bay Area, is the unchallenged ruler of the Fellowship and doesn't face questions, she said.

Not about his living like a king, not about a lifestyle said to rival a ruler in the last days of the Roman empire, not about the nuclear Armageddon that Burton proclaimed would happen in 2006, not about whether the Fellowship is following the "Fourth Way" system of spiritual development taught by two 20th-century Russian philosophers and mystics, Haven said.

"If you challenge him you have to leave the cult," she said. "No one can understand how crazy this can get."

A fresco-style ceiling painting that includes a depiction of a man with an erection is an example of the excesses of the Fellowship, Haven said.

Last month Haven did something other former members said no one had attempted since the Fellowship established its Sierra foothills site in 1971.

The 5-foot, 3-inch dark-haired Haven began picketing in July at the Rices Crossing Road entrance to the Fellowship property 29 miles outside of Marysville. Most members live in a bubble, unaware of what takes place in the Fellowship's inner circle, Haven said. Her protests came as the group said members from around the world — the Fellowship has centers for students in many countries — were gathering.

"How many more boys, Dear?" read one of her signs, a reference to what Haven said are the half-dozen young men constantly in Burton's company and known within the Fellowship as his boys. "Dear" is the term Burton uses to address members.

Read more at the Appeal-Democrat.

[ed. - Perry Bulwer also posted this article on his Religion and Child Abuse News blog, eliciting some interesting responses, including the following four comments:]

"Anonymous" wrote on the Religion and Child Abuse website, February 10, 2012:
I am a 40 year old woman. I was in the Fellowship for 4 years, and then left about 10 years ago. My father was allready [sic] a member of the FF for 7 years when i joined.

3 years after i joined, my father killed himself.....

I can not stress enough how what is written in this article is accurate-

My experience of the FF was that it IS a cult, that you Are going through a very sophisticated and manipulative brain washing.

Most people coming to the cult are have weaknesses that led them to search for answers. The group gently and shrewdly plays on those weaknesses and gradually creates a state of dependence in the member.

Robert "recommends" that if someone leaves it is better to cut ties with them...Robert "recommends" that you be more and more involved in the group...Robert "Recommends" not to expect happiness, and that happiness has nothing to do with self development.

I see all these recommendations (and many more) at [sic] a sophisticated way of developing co dependency.

When i was there, i kept hearing stories about young guys that turned gay after Robert slept with them, or just guys that Robert slept with. This, and the constant demand to contribute more and more money (which had to do with the ruin of my family and my father), led me eventually to my leaving.

I can say allot more, but English is not my native tong [sic].

I'll just tell you this: there are allot of Narcissistic bustards [sic] out there that want to be your spiritual teacher.

Robert Burton is one of them, For sure.

"Anonymous" wrote on the Religion and Child Abuse website, December 23, 2012:
If one refers back to P.D. Ouspensky in "the Psychology of Man's Possible Evolution" he clearly states that ANY sexual deviation or perversion immediately renders the Great Work impossible. Ouspensky himself parted company from Gurdjieff for reasons he did not elucidate. I strongly support Elena Haven's discontent over her experience in Burton's cult. During the 8 years that I was a member, I never knew Robert Burton was a homosexual. I did spend time with him and as an attractive female was grateful he did not make sexual advance as other teachers had. When I found out he was gay, it was a shocking wake up call. What I thought was gentlemanly behaviour was simply homosexuality! In truth it is impossible to closely and consistently observe Robert in REALITY as he poses as a subdued presence. Truthfully he distances himself from most Students. Having been in the Arts and living in Europe for many years, I had many gay men friends. But Robert was not transparent about his homosexuality and this is suspicious and deceitful. Only after leaving the fellowship, did I learn of the serious sexual crimes Robert committed against so many young male students. I felt a total sense of betrayal and loss. I realized that during the 8 years I was in the fellowship, I was totally deceived and betrayed by Robert. Again, P.D. Ouspensky was precise and clear about sexual perversion rendering the Great Work impossible. Young men were raped while all of us paid huge sums of money for Robert's facade and his horrific sexual perversions. We "footed the bill" for Robert's lavish pretentious lifestyle; his facade of nobility and dignity a complete sham for his true perversions! He has no ethics nor morality. When one learns the hard truth of his outrageous betrayal and deceit it destroys trust forever. Since leaving the fellowship, I have sought more sincere authentic Spiritual studies in Buddhism and Taoism, where I had originally developed my Magnetic Center. Be aware that though the Fourth Way is a wonderful System, there has an inherent flaw: it discourages students from questioning the teacher. Herein is Robert's manipulation. But Ouspensky also emphasizes to VERIFY EVERYTHING. Do not accept "appearances" as Truth. The fellowship is based on extreme perverted lust and greed in excess. I wish everyone to heal from the masquerade of deceit and betrayal. Do not trust the fellowship of friends: they are not friendly nor do they have your best interests in mind. Run as fast as you can from this cult of deceit.

"Anonymous" wrote on the Religion and Child Abuse website, September 16, 2013:
While I do not want to minimize the trauma of being coerced into unwanted sexual situations, an adult young heterosexual man who submits to sex acts with an older homosexual for gifts of travel, Armani suits, jewelry, restaurant meals and other perks is not being raped. He is prostituting himself. I was associated with the FoF from pre-teen to late teenage years, when I was put out on the street in a big city with literally only the clothes on my back. So I know about survival sex. It was raining, and the smiling student who told me I was out would not even give me my coat, which was hanging in the closet behind him. Robert's entourage knows what's up. Everybody does. But they don't. Everybody wants to be innocent, but nobody is.

"Anonymous" wrote on the Religion and Child Abuse website, July 30, 2014:
Unfortunately by ascribing the actions of the young cult members to nothing more than cunning cupidity, you are in denial about the victimization they have suffered. Whether or not they were raped--and many witnesses are coming forward attesting to the rape of minors--they have suffered severe spiritual abuse by a trusted authority figure that they probably felt it was impossible to say no to, first because nobody else in the community would believe them or could be trusted, and second because they had been indoctrinated in the notion that this leader had all the answers and could be trusted implicitly.

But you should also examine your assumptions. It is quite common for child molesters and the rapists of teens to give their victims gifts, candy, money or privileges, both initially as part of the grooming process (so that the child will trust the perp or be reluctant to be clear with protective adult figures about what is going on (of course these folks often groom the parents as well) but also deeper into the abuse and violence as a way to control the victim by compounding the shame and confusion. It also provides the perp with some sort of internal justification for their actions.

[ed. - The following is a sampling of the discussion that followed Elena's action. Steven Dambeck, Wayne Mott, Robert Mearns, and Abraham Goldman are, or have been, official Fellowship of Friends representatives.]

"Joseph G" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, July 4, 2008:
I heard there was some kind of confrontation outside the property entrance yesterday that involved law enforcement and Abraham G. Just a rumor. Anyone know more?

"elena" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, July 6, 2008:
Joseph G.
Thursday morning I was there with four signs that said:
How many more boys Dear?
Where did you leave the human?
Second line for idolatry? School for Cult?
For how long in denial?
I brought an old wooden ladder and hammered two of the signs and placed it on the side of the road, another one behind the car which I placed at the very corner turning towards regent way and I was holding one at different times.
The Sheriff came shortly after, told me to move the ladder a few meters and left. Came back shortly after and asked me what the signs said. I explained. He said he had been called many times and that they were saying the signs were defamatory but he did not find them defamatory so I could stay. Then another policeman came in the car with lights on top. He said I could not put any signs on the road, that the roads were the counties and the land, private property so unless I had a friend to put them I had to take away. So I asked what was the public space and the first Sheriff said, from gutter to gutter. So I asked if I put the signs on myself and walk from gutter to gutter can I do so? And the new policeman said yes. They talked with four men from the property for a long time. The President of the FOF, Mr. Mearns, Wayne M. Abraham I couldn’t see, and others who had driven down. Steven D. had driven by and told me I could not sit in the bus stop, it was his property and had called the Sheriff again. Many of the ladies in the ranks drove by. Many members. I drank too much water and my kidneys started hurting badly, I had to leave after three hours. I’ve heard kidneys don’t hurt but mine hurt badly since the surgery.
On Friday, they had parked two cars where I had parked the day before and brought another big trailer and put it on the right side so I parked right next to the gatehouse so that members could see the signs as they turned which I planted inside the car’s trunk with big wooden poles. Mr. Mearns drove down and told me that was Fellowship property and he’d call the Sheriff. The Sheriff took about forty five minutes to get there. I was standing in front of the gatehouse, in the corner with two signs so that I could meet those coming from regent and those from rices crossing and tried to talk to the Sheriff as he arrived but he told me to stay where I was, parked in the side next to the gatehouse, spoke with Mr. Mearns, looked at where my car was parked and explained to Mr. Mearns that I was using the same principle the other three cars were using and he could not ask me to move and that it was freedom of speech, independence day. He walked over to me and told me I was O.K. and left, so I drove my car a little closer to the edge of the turn next to the gatehouse and stayed there for about two hours.
I went again at four thirty on Friday, there was a toast at five thirty and a reception. Hundreds of students drove by. One screamed at me that they weren’t boys, that they were men and that he was one of them. Others looked much concerned. R. laughed. I guess she wasn’t doing the exercise!
Good for her. Many smiled, waved. I made one bad mistake because a lady stopped the traffic coming out of Apollo, asked me what that was all about and I thought she was making fun of me so I said, if you don’t know, Idon’t either. She looked frustrated and said sorry so I understood she was that oblivious of the blog, the boys, everything. I am very sorry with you, whoever you are.
Wayne M. came and took pictures of the signs and me after they realized they couldn’t accomplish anything with the Sheriff. I suppose they’ll sue me eventually. Who knows.
This afternoon someone in a white car with a red line in the front did as though they were going to run me over as I walked alone down the street. They changed their mind. I didn’t move. Just threatening fortunately.
The confrontation was obviously bringing them “down to earth”. I hope some of you in the vicinity feel inspired to do it every so often so that those on the fence can happily fall out knowing life is in the Public Square of towns and cities, were all people can fit.
I will go again and again, for as long as I can. You could come with your own signs and say what you think is worth saying.

"steve lang" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, July 6, 2008:
Elena-
Congratulations! How interesting that Wayne Mo** would bring a camera to document what was sanctioned by the authorities as legal freedom of speech. That other brainwashed follower, Steven “Olive Oil” Damb*** was sounds equally over-protective in his reaction to your presence.
Speaking of olive oil, I don’t know how it is now, but when Steven first opened his oil business, he was using unpaid help (I was one of them) to pick his harvest from the trees that were located on Fellowship property. How did he manage to use Fellowship property to make a private profit?

"elena" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, July 6, 2008:
Many people driving to the meeting this morning. Two more signs, one said:
“Life” 4th Way
the other one said:
Fem. Dom. (Family, friends, life) Cult Dominance (Robert, Robert, Robert)
Steven D. came again and told me the video camera was in his property. I placed it next to the public pole, the yuba foothills sign, the yard sale ad and the traffic sign. He was angry. My legs were shaky! Another guy took pictures of it and the other signs.
Some locals stopped and asked me if I was against the Fellowship. I said yes, they said, that is brave and put their thumbs up. Yesterday too. Blair stopped at the gatehouse for a while, spoke with the gatekeeper, then he met me at the Oregon House Store and asked me if I still had the house here.
There’s the journey forth by day from July 18th to 27th, they say the aim is to have as many followers as possible come to the events. It would be good if others joined the picketing. Please consider it. Maybe a big one that weekend?

[ed. - In a December 3, 2011 post to her blog The Public Square, Elena reflects on the events of this period and her evolution since.]

Saturday, August 23, 2008

A minister and a member praise Fellowship

[From AppealDemocrat.com:]

By Ryan McCarthy/Appeal-Democrat

A Fellowship of Friends member says he divides his life into the years before he joined — and the time since then.

"It's lived up to every claim," said the long-time member. "It answered a lot of my questions. It gave me the tools to help arrive at those answers."

The man, during a two-hour interview in Marysville conducted on the condition that he would not be named, defended the group critics label a cult — and the man who leads it.

"Robert Burton is a homosexual," the member said. "The last time I checked that was not against the law." "He's never asked anyone to do anything illegal," the member said. "I have not seen where Robert Burton has crossed the line."

A Web site critical of the Fellowship — fofdiscussion.wordpress.com — posts the writings of the same 100 to 200 people and often makes unsupported claims about what people say has happened at its Oregon House headquarters, the member said.

"There are people who want these kinds of things to be believed," he said. "Everything is exaggerated."

He likened Burton to the Greek philosopher Socrates and said the school seeks to develop the higher center in people, a kind of spiritual muscle that is a bridge between the earthly and divine.

"That's what the Fellowship is about," the member said.

The school, he said, draws on what is known as the "Fourth Way" teaching intended to provide the West with a system of spiritual development that develops the body, mind and the emotions.

"Robert has made the Fourth Way his own," the member said. "It's a very personal interpretation of the Fourth Way."

"I see him as a person who got it right spiritually," the member said. "He's in a position to be a guide for other people."

Robert Earl Burton, 69, did not respond to requests for an interview.

Senior minister Girard Haven said Burton does not grant interviews and prefers to devote his time to the Fellowship.

Haven, 63, moved to the Oregon House headquarters in 1975 after he found life as a computer programmer living in a Southern California beach community unsatisfying.

Haven said differences over the Fellowship caused difficulties in his marriage to Elena Haven, who left the group last year and who has said the two are divorcing.

"I understand her point of view," he said of Elena Haven's criticisms. "I don't agree with it."

Of her picketing in front of the Fellowship headquarters, Girard Haven said, "Most people really didn't pay attention." For members it was a nonevent, he said.

Girard Haven said of Burton's predictions about a 1998 earthquake in California and a world Armageddon in 2006 that, "No one has ever joined the Fellowship because of the predictions."

"The predictions for me were always a side issue," the senior minister said. "It was never the center of what we were doing."

"I am quite relieved there wasn't an earthquake," Haven said. "I'm very happy the civilization we know has not collapsed."

Burton's predictions proved to be wrong, but the Fellowship leader "has never claimed to be perfect," Haven said.

Asked if Burton is divine, Haven answered: "He belongs to a higher order."

"He has a much higher level of spiritual consciousness," Haven said. "Relative to us it is divine. Relative to powers higher than himself he is not."

The Fellowship Web site — beingpresent.org — states that Burton "has come to understand the esoteric nature of all spiritual teachings throughout recorded time."

"He has concluded that all religious traditions are the same and that the basis of all great spiritual work is the same — to escape from imagination and the lower self and to awaken and recognize one's Higher Self," the Web site states.

In a 1995 collection of short statements called "Self-Remembering" on a range of topics, Burton wrote "Jesus said when he was 12 that he must be about his father's business. This does not refer to his age but to world 12 within him."

Girard Haven said the Fellowship is "for people who are not satisfied with the traditional religions."

"It's here for the people who want it," said Haven.

The Fellowship and its methods for greater spiritual awareness inspire passions among members and others, he said.

"The techniques that are used are powerful," said the senior minister. "It elicits strong feelings."

"It becomes hard to remain neutral," Haven said. "When people leave there's still strong feelings about it."

Read more: Appealdemocrat.com

Monday, August 18, 2008

"New K-8 Public School Opens in Yuba Foothills"

[ed. - Despite the involvement of many Fellowship of Friends members, the direction appears to be much more grounded in reality than Robert Earl Burton's "esoteric teachings." YESCA rents its building from the Fellowship's Lewis Carroll School Association, paying the Fellowship from $50,000 to $70,000 annually.]
Yuba Environmental Science (YES) Charter Academy Opens

North Yuba Grown partners to provide food for the Academy:

School's food farm-fresh

"CVB" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, February 26, 2008:
There is talk about the Lewis Carroll School becoming a charter school which would be open to the community at large. Some people think this would be a good thing. I have some serious doubts. Not because a charter school would not benefit the area but because this one will carry the legacy of it’s origin in the Fellowship. The influence from Robert Burton on the existing administration and faculty has a long and perverse history and I can’t see how something new and healthy can arise from this sordid past.

"CVB" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, February 26, 2008:
Re# 201 (Lewis Carroll School)

That sordid past includes the fact that Robert Burton asked women to have abortions and to give away their children. And this man is revered as a spiritual guide by the current administration and faculty.

"Opus111" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, February 26, 2008:
CVB [responding to above]

In relation to LCS:

I hear your concerns but do not fully agree with them. There are many youngsters who have been through that school and seem to have done well for themselves (gone on to college and away from OH). One may be horrified by the belief system and allegiance of Faculty and Administration, but I do not think those permeate very far into actual teaching, from what I could see. It is not like pupils were taught or asked to endorse 4th way ideas or count angels in the room (unlike creationism or fear of Shakespeare in other areas of deep America).

In general, teachers care very much for the kids and provide a safe environment for them to learn. Kids learn tolerance through an unusual ethnic diversity, and go through a curriculum which, although far from perfect, seems to prepare them more than adequately for High School and higher education elsewhere.

So, while not perfect and yes, endorsed/supported by FOF, LCS has provided a true service to the OH (FOF) community.

"brucelevy" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, February 26, 2008:
207 Opus111 [above]

I’d have to agree. I can’t speak about the faculty and administration per se, but my ex-wife is a teacher there. While I have several issues around our years together, and the fact that she “re-joined” I have absolutely no misgivings about her capacity to be an excellent teacher, and I’m confident that she doesn’t inject the ideas that we all fear may be fucking up the children of FOF members. She’s not a dummy, and I’d trust her judgment as to what’s appropriate within a school environment (that’s “school” and not “School”). Actually, in my opinion, they’re fucking lucky to have her.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Robert Burton reveals Leonardo's intentions

[ed. - Leonardo Da Vinci and Sandro Botticelli had Robert Burton and Asaf Braverman's "Sequence" and "Four Wordless Breaths" in mind when working on the Mona Lisa all those years. The quotes below, apparently from Robert Burton, confirm this "fact." Asterisks, I assume, indicate where the images in the presentation change.]


"somebody" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, August 8, 2008:
Be gentle and don’t be too harsh on Daily Cardiac [Fellowship member and blogger] and other students, they are listening to these things a few times a week. Poor things :(
*Here we see the Mona Lisa with four fingers draped over the edge of the chair, outside of time, and four dowels beneath the arm of the chair. Rembrandt used the same shadowy technique. She also shows four fingers on the other hand, with the thumb out. Behind the Mona Lisa is an aqueduct with four aches, representing the four wordless breaths. The sequence is the water of life flowing through the four arches. 
Botticelli used this same motif in his painting of the Adoration of the Magi, having heard about Leonardo’s painting from Raphael. Here Botticelli is the steward, with his red hair combusting. His hands are hidden, like Moses not touching God with his hands. Behind him is a bridge with four arches, representing the four wordless breaths. He looks shrewd because the steward has gotten the victory – he has finished the sequence and is supporting the four wordless breaths.

"somebody" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, August 7, 2008:
more brainwashing?
The ability to portray the message well does not necessary translate into the capacity to be it, to transcend it into presence.

Many people have had the message, but it is uncertain whether they had the presence to back it up. *Here, in our age, we see the Dali Lama holding a sequential bow with six arrows. He is quite a prominent public figure, but this message is for very few people. Influence C are here in this Pavilion.

The sequence is a divine magic flute; its music dissolves imagination. We are the breath needed to play it. (A student)

Our sequential breathing. *A wonderful statue from Cyprus depicts a steward with two flutes, representing short Be on the left, and long Be, which is slightly larger, on the right. He holds four fingers on each flute, representing the inhalation and exhalation of the four wordless breaths. In fact, the opera The Magic Flute by Mozart, who was connected with the Freemasons, is a school work.

Inconspicuous presence means there is nothing but presence, and no one else can detect that.

The Hindu texts say, “The wise man lives happily. Just seeing when seeing, just hearing when hearing, just feeling when feeling, just smelling when smelling, and just tasting when tasting.” Presence is its own imperishable reward. *Here is a photograph of me taken in Oaxaca, Mexico.

Influence C are asking a lot from all of us, but we must remember that what they want for us is the state they are in.

Unbelievably, we are in the same state as Influence C who are in this Pavilion now. However, this state is permanent for them, while we are subject to losing it to imagination. They are asking a lot from us, but they are giving us even more. *Last week I stayed in Modesto, California. It was the fortieth anniversary of my automobile accident (1968-2008), which occurred in Modesto. My car was hit sideways, and I woke up with a hundred stitches in my head. *I was driving this same model Volkswagen “bug” in the same tan color. Shortly after Konstanze Murr completed her task, we stepped out of a restaurant in Sacramento, and we observed a car, which was the same model and color as Konstanze’s, with a license plate saying “Sung and Danced”. It did not say, “Sing and Dance”, because Kostanze had sung and danced – she has finished her role.

“The lower self is insatiable for many things, and above all for imagination.”

He cannot get enough of imagination. I was watching two people in life conversing, and both were speaking in imagination, talking and looking up, with a veil on their faces. *An illuminated manuscript depicts an angel sealing Satan and his devils in a bottomless pit. Here we see how the lower self craves imagination with his ten thousand ‘I’s. In this case, however, the angel –long Be – has locked them up in the red narrow gate.

Pavel (aka "the Esoteric Sheik of Inner Confusion") hands off blog moderation

[ed. - After founding the Animam Recro blog in April 2006, and continuing to moderate the thousands of comments that followed a single post on that blog, and in the Fellowship of Friends Discussion in its subsequent forms, Pavel announced, in bolds, his decision to hand off blog duties.]

"Pavel" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, August 8, 2008:

I have come back from my holiday yesterday with a clear answer to whether I will stay here as a moderator or not. I don’t feel that the blog is my calling at the moment, it appears that we have both given each other what we were ready to take and it’s time for me to move on and for the blog to evolve further without me (I absolutely love what has happened with it in the past 2/3 months). It would be unnecessarily arrogant for me to believe that the blog requires me for its running or maintenance, yet it does require a moderator.

I will be passing the moderation duty and responsibility to Steve, I do not know yet when the actual giving over will take place (I will be moderating for a while longer) but it will be in the near future. I am extremely confident that Steve will do a great job.

"Pavel" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, August 10, 2008:
Well, this will be the final farewell as a moderator of the blog.

My best wishes and gratitude to Steve for taking over and all my love to all of you. Thank you and keep the boat rocking.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

More brainwashing?

[ed. - The following are apparently notes from a meeting at Apollo. While images are projected (denoted by *), Burton or other members read "angles of thought," upon which Burton then comments. This is reportedly the current meeting format.]

"somebody" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, August 7, 2008:
more brainwashing?

“The ability to portray the message well does not necessary translate into the capacity to be it, to transcend it into presence.”

Many people have had the message, but it is uncertain whether they had the presence to back it up. *Here, in our age, we see the Dali Lama holding a sequential bow with six arrows. He is quite a prominent public figure, but this message is for very few people. Influence C are here in this Pavilion.

“The sequence is a divine magic flute; its music dissolves imagination. We are the breath needed to play it.” (A student)

Our sequential breathing. *A wonderful statue from Cyprus depicts a steward with two flutes, representing short Be on the left, and long Be, which is slightly larger, on the right. He holds four fingers on each flute, representing the inhalation and exhalation of the four wordless breaths. In fact, the opera The Magic Flute by Mozart, who was connected with the Freemasons, is a school work.

“Inconspicuous presence means there is nothing but presence, and no one else can detect that.”

The Hindu texts say, “The wise man lives happily. Just seeing when seeing, just hearing when hearing, just feeling when feeling, just smelling when smelling, and just tasting when tasting.” Presence is its own imperishable reward. *Here is a photograph of me taken in Oaxaca, Mexico.

“Influence C are asking a lot from all of us, but we must remember that what they want for us is the state they are in.”

Unbelievably, we are in the same state as Influence C who are in this Pavilion now. However, this state is permanent for them, while we are subject to losing it to imagination. They are asking a lot from us, but they are giving us even more. *Last week I stayed in Modesto, California. It was the fortieth anniversary of my automobile accident (1968-2008), which occurred in Modesto. My car was hit sideways, and I woke up with a hundred stitches in my head. *I was driving this same model Volkswagen “bug” in the same tan color. Shortly after Konstanze Murr completed her task, we stepped out of a restaurant in Sacramento, and we observed a car, which was the same model and color as Konstanze’s, with a license plate saying “Sung and Danced”. It did not say, “Sing and Dance”, because Kostanze had sung and danced – she has finished her role.

“The lower self is insatiable for many things, and above all for imagination.”

He cannot get enough of imagination. I was watching two people in life conversing, and both were speaking in imagination, talking and looking up, with a veil on their faces. *An illuminated manuscript depicts an angel sealing Satan and his devils in a bottomless pit. Here we see how the lower self craves imagination with his ten thousand ‘I’s. In this case, however, the angel –long Be – has locked them up in the red narrow gate.

Lessons learned in the Fellowship of Friends

"Ames Gilbert" wrote on the - Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, August 7, 2008:
Daily Cardiac [Fellowship member and blogger], I will now join you in pointing out just some of the good things that happened to me, or rather, that I learned and earned, in the Fellowship. You say you have come to expect brickbats if folks speak well of the experience; I don’t. But if they do, let them fly, and lie, where they may!

I got what I came for, and left. It took me a long while to recognize that what I came for was imaginary, and that which I had been looking at for a long time was exactly what I needed and failed to recognize as such. I thank the experience of the Fellowship for providing the milieu and such amazing obstacles, unnecessary as many of them were. I hasten to say that the unnecessary obstacles taught me much, nevertheless. For example, they taught me that Burton is no true teacher, only by accident, that he had no particular aim in setting up many of the obstacles, and that when he did, they were designed to hide and obfuscate the truth. That is, they helped sleep rather than awakening, hindered rather than helped.

I learned that the ends never justify the means, that they shape the ends. I saw before my very eyes this truth, and because the Fellowship of Friends is a small, isolated group, I saw this truth playing out from beginning to end many times.

I learned that I am connected to everyone. In a larger pond, this might not have been so clear, but in the Fellowship I learned some of the consequences of my actions—and inactions. I learned the rewards of my efforts, and the price of my complicity.

I learned to work hard, physically and mentally. I learned the limits of my cleverness with my hands, and was forced, in self–defense, to learn to use my intellect better. And I learned the limit of my intellect and learned about the wisdom—and stupidity—of groups. I learned to get on with people who I’d normally have avoided, and was forced to realize I had a lot more in common with them than I’d anticipated. All the interactions, good and bad, made me more emotional, and I needed and profited from that.

I am grateful for the new experiences, and for learning the value—and the pitfalls—of working as part of a group pursuing larger goals and ambitions. I helped plant a beautiful vineyard, I helped harvest grapes from the first to the sixteenth, and I tasted the results of my labors, sweeter for knowing how those results came to be. I’m sorry that Burton never realized that when planning any endeavor, one must assign more resources to maintenance than to building. He has never learned that lesson, despite hundreds of opportunities.

Of course, I missed many experiences I would surely have had if I’d not joined, but one can’t be in two places or times simultaneously!

I stopped smoking. In my first year and a half ‘on salary’, working up to eighteen hours a day, and once five days without sleep at all, I had learned to consume three packs of unfiltered cigarettes a day. This was a tremendous gift, and I am forever grateful. I am grateful to have borrowed Burton’s will and used it for my own purpose, and to the many people who went through the initial sufferings with me. I am sorry that success went to Burton’s head and made him more imperiously bold, demanding and unaccountable.

I made new, unusual and interesting friends. This partly makes up for the unusual and interesting friends I gave up when I joined. The good news is that many of the latter were willing to take things up where we left them, and forgive me my trespasses. The bad news is that the former gave me up for good, which is as well, since I had grown to be suspicious and distrustful that they sincerely and unconditionally supported my spiritual welfare.

I saw a flawed and tragic man set himself up as something more than human, and collect others around him to support his fantasy. I saw and engaged in a macabre dance of reflecting masks and personalities that were in no way real or worthwhile. I saw this up close, and consider myself privileged to have studied egoic structures being built where reduction of the ego was preached. I saw the results of a house being built upon the sand. I could not have hoped for such an education, and am truly grateful.

"Just Another Voice Out Here" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, August 7, 2008:
97 Ames [above]

…thanks, and to add a few lessons my membership in the Fellowship of Friends helped me learn:

1) that I was unhappy because I could not accept myself as I was, so I was attracted to a situation in which I could more easily imagine that I was not only acceptable, but superior to almost everyone else on the planet, and that this was childish;

2) that I had issues with my father, and it was easier for me to adopt a seemingly kindly, seemingly accepting, seemingly perfect father-figure than do the difficult work of relating to the father I had–who I later realized was far more mature, courageous, and loving than the self-serving fop I’d tried to replace him with;

3) that Truth is instantly accessible, but there are no shortcuts;

4) that adopting the attitude that all that matters is my own “evolution,” and that what happens to others is their problem, when properly understood leads to compassion for others demonstrated through action and a loss of concern for one’s “self,” and when improperly understood leads to a grotesque perversion of “spirituality”–in fact, its opposite;

5) that it actually does matter whether a person, in his private as well as public behavior, tries to be scrupulously honest, refuses to take advantage of those who are gullible or vulnerable, and tries to serve the interests of others without thought for personal gain of any kind;

6) that absolute power really does corrupt absolutely;

7) that there is no connection between artistic taste and emotional maturity or any other desirable quality;

8) that when a person consistently acts in a way that appears to lack character, such as being greedy, it’s because he’s greedy, and not because he is trying to teach me something;

9) that the belief that all that ultimately matters is being present comes from the ego and strengthens it;

10) that the belief, hope, or expectation that I will awaken is a hoax perpetrated by the ego in order to strengthen itself;

11) that no amount of money, physical labor, emotional suffering, or struggling to be present will ever be sufficient.