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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, October 19, 2008

William and the four conscious beings

[ed. - These four mysterious comments appeared in sequence on The Fellowship of Friends SketchBook, a separate blog established by Pavel, "the Esoteric Sheik," "For those who while participating in the FoF discussion felt the need to move elsewhere and concentrate on other projects." It appears "william" may have been a bit lost.]

"william" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends SketchBook, October 19, 2008:
There were four people I knew who had become conscious. They were all very close to the same age, early to mid twenties. All this occured [sic] in the middle to late 70’s. Those four people were the inner circle of the school. The only ones who knew they were in the circle were themselves and the teacher. All the other fellow students assumed that the inner circle was comprised of people who sat at the front of the meetings with Robert. Not so. Ironically, the LAST person to wake up in the four was the only one who ever sat at the front with Robert, on several occasions.

"william" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends SketchBook, October 19, 2008:

I’d like to mention something else, now that I have just read through every single missive on this site. Someone remarked that no one ever left the fellowship for good reasons, just bad. That’s not correct. I left for good reasons. I left in 79, after having been in the school for 5 years. This wasn’t a snap decision, it was something I realized was being communicated to me. It was time for me to work on my own. I wasn’t really crazy about leaving my real friends. And I only heard about the alleged change in Robert many years later. And it made absolutely ZERO sense to me. The only way I can reconcile it is to realize that Robert was intentionally disbanding the school because his work was complete. What he put up in it’s place was so transparently a cliche of the eventual demise of all cults that I assumed it was significant. Some kind of fraud was being played out, to make him look like a predator, the purpose of which I probably will never know. But everything I’ve been reading about him for the last 10 years is simply NOT the person I knew. I witnessed magic almost EVERY DAY for five long years. And I intuitively knew that because it started out hidden, it had to remain hidden.

I knew many of the people mentioned. I haven’t thought of Richard, the hairdresser for years. A rather aloof saturn, in his way. I didn’t know at the time he was gay, but there was an odd thing he said once, in a casual moment, that made me realize that there was something psychologically off with him.

Robert was a joy to be around in those days. To hear that he is virtually inaccessible…well, for anyone else, I would think that his alleged behavior indicated an advanced stage of syphilus [sic] that was slowly destroying his brain. But personally, I think it’s all some act. At the same time, I can’t imagine why any of these people dissing him would lie. There’s no profit in it whatsoever.

I remember Girard from back then too. He was ALWAYS a self deluded individual. We would often laugh at him, secretly, behind our hands. Nevertheless, he was a nice enough fellow in his own way. Just a clueless true believer, in the Eric Hoffer sense. And one of the four people in the real inner circle was in fact a woman.

"william" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends SketchBook October 19, 2008:
I just remembered something else. Suppose these alleged sexual tryst’s did take place. If I had been asked, I would have simply declined. We once had an exercise to break a glass in a restaurant to work on inner considering. That was each student’s task. [ed. - Only selected individuals were given the "exercise."] But I simply refused to do that. So WHAT that the teacher asked us to do it? It wasn’t HIS property. What, I’m supposed to willfully just destroy someone’s personal possessions because someone tells me to? I don’t care if he was the teacher. That had nothing to do with the teaching. My work on inner considering was about ME going against the masses of the fellowship and doing what I already KNEW was right.

Robert once asked me to call out to someone who was leaving the house. I suppose he didn’t want to shout himself. But I couldn’t DO IT! Shouting was no longer something I did. Instead, I ran after the person and caught up with him and told him the teacher wanted to speak to him. Nothing “bad” ever happened to me. Why should it?

Any bad experiences I had in the school always came from student robots, people trying to whip me into line. Which I simply refused to do because I was there for me, not them. Most of these robots had dead eyes. Especially that Linda [Linda Kaplan] character. Good Lord. When that place in San Francisco burned to the ground [Kaplan's fire - January 4, 1979], I took it as an omen for her, since her last name was the same as the store. She was such a fraud. And she had the eyes of a swine.

"william" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends SketchBook October 19, 2008:
For reasons that surpass understanding, my earlier comment on the real inner circle of the school, which existed in the mid to late 70’s only, has been removed. I’m not sure why. But I’ll reiterate. There were four such people, one of whom was a woman. Of the four, only one of them ever sat at the front during large meetings. The other three NEVER did. And NONE of the regulars who sat at the front were ever part of the inner circle. The inner circle is something one gets into because of SOMETHING THEY KNOW that no one else knows. And once you know this something, it’s absolutely transparent to you who else also knows it. Nothing needs to be said at all. One look and it’s quite apparent.

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