Introduction


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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Apollo's broken society

"Old Fish in the Sea" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, November 5, 2008:
56 Veramente

Well said. Yes, Robert has never really respected others – even his own students. Gradually his students take on his attitudes and lose their ability to respect others, particularly those that are not part of the FOF.

Robert once (I was there) spoke about how the “scholars” know so much less about ancient history than the FOF while he pointed out that the 6 poops on a cave drawing were the sequence. He consistently devalues ‘life’ (those outside of the FOF). This is partially what makes people afraid to leave.

It is easy to see the imperfections in people, but Robert’s attitudes are full of hopelessness unless you fully buy into his paradigm. He told my friend at a dinner, “You value life too much.” Only presence is worth valuing and the way he teaches it is somewhat selfish. It involves inward focus and devaluation of all else so as not to lose the state. It even involves devaluation of individual talents. This view takes away from the desire to give (except to Robert and the FOF) and the desire to develop talents and when taken seriously ultimately leads to depression and paranoia. Many students are unable to value life, paranoid that their own weaknesses and lower self will take over, and afraid that they won’t be able to “make it” in life, or that if they can ‘make it’ that this will be worthless. This kind of attitude is not what most of us wanted to develop when we joined.

Perhaps Robert’s approach makes some sense for those that are able to find a nice state where valuation and love are enhanced. I think many of us ultimately observed that this was not really happening, or if it did happen, it happened because of our own being and not because of any “teaching”.

I think the FOF would do better for itself if it could stop the harmful activities from Robert, encourage people to develop their talents, allow students to experiment with other ways, ultimately giving back what they learn, and encourage involvement in, and giving back to society. I left because all of these changes were impossible with the current structure. This was for me a strong indication of a broken society. For many of us, our best contribution to change was to leave.

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