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.")

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. Read more about the blog.

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

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Former Fellowship of Friends member takes his own life

[ed. - The passing of Thomas Braxton Michael was reported on The Greater Fellowship site and in the West Seattle Herald. Michael was a Fellowship member from May 1976 until April 1982. According to a close friend and former Fellowship member, "Tom was a great friend but one who suffered after his fellowship years (mid/late-1970s into the early '80s). Sadly, he took his own life last month."]
Thomas Braxton Michael, 61

Tom passed away at home in West Seattle Sunday, September 29, 2009 at the age of 61. He was born in Atlanta. GA on January 16, 1948 to Frank and Francis Michael and had one brother, David. They all have now passed on and are survived by cousins in California, South Carolina, and Illinois. First Cousin Pat Davis and her daughter Julie traveled to Seattle already to have a personal time to reflect on this loss of a beloved soul.

Tom will be missed in all of his quirky, delightful, and eccentric charms. He came to Seattle 30 years ago from Georgia and found a place and home to nurture his personality. He was a natural cook and woodworker with a dedication to quality that touched everything he did. His personal bible was the Joy of Cooking and his joy of people extended to a dear sensitivity to helping others, especially underdogs who truly benefited from Tom’s heart felt listening and care. If you ever had the pleasure of tasting any of his BBQ, baked goods, smoked meats, sauces, or roasted vegetables you know you were well fed.

One of the aspects of Tom’s nature was to be a life long learner. He had college degrees in philosophy as well as engineering and later broadened that to include technical drafting. Reading was his personal sanctuary. He worked at many jobs including Boeing, Seabird Electronics, International Submarine Technologies, and KCDA. His real work though was with wood and food, people and animals. Tom was a kind man and he always cared about quality in whatever he pursued. Once he and some friends took apart and rebuilt a mid sized wooden sailboat that actually launched and floated. In 1991 Tom married Camille Crea and together they took on remodeling an old West Seattle home built in 1928 that was the right fit for their hearts.

Tom is missed by his friends for his loving Southern charm, and especially by his ex-wife and best friend, Camille Michael. Their story is remarkable in its honest commitment to support, honor, and cherish the other. There was no one like Tom who could be an uncle to neighborhood animals and dear friend to Whisper, the family cat. His mind was rich and gifted with imagination, love, and respect.

A memorial will be held at Seaview Methodist Church in West Seattle on Saturday, October 24. Service starts at 1:00 pm in the reception area.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

A discussion of criminal activities

"No person" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, May 23, 2007 at 4:24 a.m.:
Dear Howard [Howard Carter], hello!

I have to disagree with your generalization that “The ones who stay do so because the school is the all and everything.”
Certainly for some it is true, and I am actually happy for them – people are having a great time, good for them.
But there are many, many others who are not sure why they are staying in the Fellowship of Friends now. They are not at all happy campers. They are disillusioned and disappointed but stuck. Some start to see the teaching as faulty and are appalled by the lies. But most are not sure, scared, confused and are in lots of emotional pain and suffering.
How do I know? I know. I was recently one myself, and it was hell. And now I am in touch with quite a few. You may be surprised how many are actually now unhappy “fence sitters”. They are not waving any flags, you know.
So for these guys the spell is broken – they know too much to quiet the voice of conscience within. More of exposing truth about Robert and Fellowship of Friends helps them to make a healthy transition. You don’t want them around anyway – right?
I totally agree with Ames that persuading satisfied students to leave is a waste of time and is just silly. I don’t think anyone here is trying to persuade you or Siddiq or any other happy student to leave. Why would we? You guys are satisfied with the teaching and the school is obviously working for you. Keep up a good work, I mean it sincerely.
Most of these postings are for friends who need them to make their decision. Also for new potential members as a fare warning.
It’s nice to let our stuck friends know that here are other wonderful spiritual opportunities, nice friendly people and simply full juicy life outside of the FOF. Amazingly, when you quit judging “life” you may see it as something beautiful. And when you quit obsessing with states and “being present” you may discover that presence had been there all the time… Unnoticed.
And it’s nice to get to know the real face of the FOF too- not the smiley one. This face is kind of ugly. Here’s the latest KGB attempt to control our free discussion:
Our friend V. (professional programmer) amongst others was recently asked by Kevin Brown to do some HACKING on this blog to trace who is writing there and basically spy on friends. He refused to do it and left the school.
Nice going, Kevin! Looks like you really sold your soul together with your conscience… What’s next? Whom are you going to hire – snipers, may be? ;) I already heard some very funny/scary threats coming from “inner circle” towards some bloggers… Not scared, sorry. You guys are simply disgusting… And pathetic.
Dear V., I absolutely admire your noble behavior. You are a hero in my book. Come visit us any time please.

"Rita Penfold" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, May 23, 2007 at 1:36 p.m.:
Dear No Person,

I also know many students who are staying in the Fellowship of Friends for the reasons which are related not to ‘awakening’, but to their job commitments (i.e. working for other students); because they have settled around Isis, having family, land, houses there; their children go to the LC school. Some stay because they love their friends and don’t want to leave as they think they’ll lose contact with them (I was one of those and I think it’s the main reason for staying after disillusionment and seeing things as they are in the school and Robert Burton for who he is). And there is fear of being left alone, without communal support. ‘Where would I go?’ question.

One of my friends from a European centre called me recently saying that his centre is so far removed from the main stream events, that they hardly know all those things which are going on in the school now. Sometimes they don’t have enough English to read the blog.

I am in contact with several students, all of them have their reasons to stay. I don’t hold it against them, they do what they have to do. My only reservation about it is that with their money they support the whole thing rolling on. As far as I understand, Robert Burton will ‘teach’ until he runs out of funds.

Thank you for letting us know of V.’s leaving, I am so glad that he didn’t commit to something so vile. V., you are my hero too!

"Vide" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, August 11, 2007 at 11:27 a.m.:
Dear ……,

Re: abuse

I worked with the FBI for 6 months following my departure from the FoF regarding these and other issues. If you have information regarding sexual abuse I can put you in touch with agents who would probably be interested to investigate.

Eventually they wanted me to return to the FoF and wear a wire; however, I did not feel right about going that far.

One positive change I had hoped would happen was the financial abuse that students on stipend had to endure. The FoF was lying to the government about the wages they were paying them. I was told that after the investigation those people who were here on stipend would begin receiving minimum wage and workmen’s compensation (in the case of being injured).

Please omit my name from any posting but you can share my story if you like. Below you will find the name of one of the special agents that I was working with. Interestingly I had a very nice discussion with the agents at a library here in Chico about consciousness.

They know a great deal about the Fellowship and whether or not she is still working on the case no doubt would direct you to the correct agent.

I hope this will be useful information and that if there is someone who needs help, they will benefit.

I will not return to that land until the evil king has been thrown down and his minions scattered. My own play there involved some deep connections to the inner circle and I saw all that I needed to see to understand that. That is why I refused to become one of RB’s boys, because I could see the corruption there and RB could see in me that I would never accept it….


If you would like the contact information for the agent please contact me on:

"noagenda" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, September 8, 2009:
As center directors my husband and I were given the task of stealing antiquarian books from libraries. This was when Robert was first developing his taste in the handbound art. It created a clear memory for me being asked to do it. At first it clashed against my sense of right and wrong, then there arose a feeling of belonging! ” Doing something for the teacher”, It required Intentional insincerity and conscious acting!…….Besides, life people in libraries aren’t reading Goethe anymore……It was OUR 3rd state that really mattered……

"Laura" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, on June 12, 2007 at 5:53:
I am one of many students who left around the time Troy’s lawsuit. One day at the lodge I saw Michael Goodwin going through all the students’ mailboxes and removing the letters that Richard Buzbee had sent out to inform everybody of what was going on.

I found this attempt at censure outrageous, as we were all adults who should have been allowed to make their own judgment. Even in case the information included was found to be false and slanderous, we didn’t need to be protected from it: didn’t we trust our teacher enough, should he not trust our judgment in return? A more mature and civilized course of action would have been to address the issues openly, and let everyone draw their own conclusions.

So, for the first and only time in my life, I phoned Girard, eager to hear what he had to say about it. I don’t remember the entire conversation, and I wish I had written it all down, but his attitude really struck me and had no small impact on my subsequent leaving. At one point he compared the school to a healthy body and Richard and his accomplices to “bad viruses” who, if allowed to come in touch with it, would infect said body like a dangerous and potentially destructive disease. I like metaphors, but I knew Richard and the other persons involved. They were no viruses for sure, just suffering people trying to get some answers.

Later, when I got a little “emotional” while telling him how I felt about the situation, he threatened to cut short the conversation if I didn’t keep my negativity in check. I regained my composure as best as I could, but when I finally hung up not only was I fuming with repressed anger, I hadn’t received one single humane and reasonable answer as to why things were being handled in this manner.

I had to admit to myself that the number two pillar of the school was buffering big time. He could not bear to look at the simple reality involving people and their problems, he had to make sense of it and find justification for himself by resorting to vaguely Nazi and very abstract conceptualizations. His travesty of work language was used as a neat coat of paint to cover a very ugly emotional truth: Girard did not really care about Richard, or me, or any of the other sincere and dedicated students who were in “deep shit” at the time.

My emotional reaction was dismissed as a nuisance, a mechanical act to be photographed, and not understood and accepted as a sign that I was a sincere student who was feeling upset and concerned about something that at the time really mattered to me, the value of being part of the fellowship.

What real friend would try to make you stop and feel guilty when your conscience is strongly reacting to what it perceives as an injustice and an act of cowardice by those you are supposed to place your faith in?

Please don’t tell me he was doing this for my evolution. Or maybe he did: in fact, his answers really helped my evolution in the sense that they took me right out of the school.

Dear students one the fence, I suggest you try the same experiment: call your center directors, confront them with your issues and see if they can come up with something better than your most esteemed man number five. I sincerely wish you will receive all the understanding and support you so clearly deserve.

And good luck to all!

"Jomo Piñata" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, September 9, 2009:

[ed. - Here, "Jomo", a lawyer, without suggesting the existence of such evidence, suggests what might constitute evidence.]
For example?
Imagine a bookkeeper of a nonprofit organization who comes forward to the IRS to say he was directed by higher-ups in the organization to not account for millions of dollars in cash coming into the United States in the bottom of a suitcase. He has direct knowledge of something which violates the law. He knows who carried the cash, how much cash there was, personally witnessed the transfer of the cash, and was directed not to account for it in the books of the organization. That’s an example of direct evidence of something which is probably criminal wrongdoing. Another example would be someone who heard direct instructions from an official of a church to church members directing them to steal valuable materials from libraries and museums and send the stolen items to the church. Bonus points if the person witnessed someone else who performed the action. A further example would be someone who received specific directions to lie to federal immigration and customs authorities about, say, a fraudulent marriage, or to conceal expensive baubles or artwork or antiquities coming into the United States.

"Dr. Pangloss" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, September 9, 2009:
Another example would be the use of the California resale number of the FOF gift store to avoid paying sales tax on items purchased by Bob that never were resold at the gift shop.

"Intercontinentia Buttocks" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, May 21, 2007 at 5:12 p.m.:
Forgive my anonymity, but what I am about to write concerns my friends, to whom I don’t wish any troubles with the authorities.
Some 4 years ago two of Robert’s boyfriends, both Russians, were rejected visas to the US. Robert then came to the aid of students (then in Rome) to acquire forged Czechoslovakian passports through Italian mafia with which they tried to enter the country.
Immigration officers discovered the forgery and the two boys spent some time with police at the airport.
Decision was made to send them back to the country from which they came from, i.e. France. They spent about 3 months in prison there, after which time they were sent back to Russia.
Being in the prison did some good to one of them, as he had time to ‘come to his senses’ and finally decided to leave Robert and the school.
The other, however, is still ‘serving’ Robert, although hating it, but such is the price of staying in the country of his choice.
The one who was leaving told Robert about his decision, to which he said that if he does leave him, his wife is going to leave him and he’s going to loose some attractive things offered to him by his teacher. Still, he left and after a while his wife left him.
After a while, he decided to blackmail Robert by writing an article about his experiences with him in American papers. I told him to get a good lawyer if he were to do so, but he went ahead alone and had to deal with Mr. Lawyer A.G., who blackmailed him back, using his knowledge of certain circumstances of the boy’s life. The whole thing was settled for a pitiful $3.000 in exchange for a signature on a paper stating that the information about Robert should not be disclosed to anyone.

"Secret keeper" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, May 22, 2007 at 2:22 a.m.:
I. Buttocks – this story is true. I heard it too from the guys themselves and from many other students. I’ll never mention any names here for the same reason – I don’t wish any trouble for the guys, both of whom I like very much and wish them well. Funny how an illegal thing could be almost glorified in the Fellowship of Friends because Robert went against feminine dominance. So many things that are immoral and simply wrong or criminal can be justified and glorified based on a belief that the teacher can do no wrong. I only wonder if Department of Homeland Security thinks that crossing US or European border under fake name using a forged passport is OK and is no wrong doing… Especially in post-2001 era. What shocking is that RB went to such risky extreme only with a purpose to get personal sexual pleasure out of these 2 young males. He would have never done a similar thing for a female student or an older male student from a different country. Many students knew about this story, news spread quickly in Isis. Friends would secretly tell each other: Robert got him a fake passport so he can come here to be with him under different name, but – psst! – don’t tell anybody it’s a secret… I guess as long as Robert goes against feminine dominance, doesn’t inner consider and uses intentional insincerity he can do whatever he wants. He can even bend the US law if he wishes and students will have to faithfully keep his secrets.

"Susan Zannos" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, September 8, 2009:
Well, alrighty then, Bruce. (207) That would be me in the “enabling” category. Travelling teacher, center director, both on a fairly regular basis for a disgustingly long time. Whatthehell, man, I was creating a soul and about to save humanity by the somewhat circuitous method of becoming conscious and joining the 200 conscious beings who could save the earth, so obviously the ends justified the means. No doubt in terms of legalities the most interesting activity was international smuggling. Whenever going back and forth from foreign climes to command central in Northern California, there would inevitably be a little something or other to squirrel away in the bottom of a suitcase: usually fairly large sums of money from accumulated foreign teaching payments (sometimes it would have been a year since a willing courier had been to a particular center), occasionally small antiques or pieces of jewelry that Robert wanted brought to him (without paying duty, of course), a couple of times even a supply of his favorite European yogurt. I can’t claim to be all bent out of shape with remorse about this activity, since I do not hold the laws of my native country in particularly high regard, although they have certainly edged into a higher status than the practices of the Fellowship. The stories of betrayal–and I’ll recount a couple of them perhaps–in which I was a willing part of Robert’s white slave operation, those are quite another matter. I really hope those fire and brimstone and burning lakes tales are not accurate. Fuel purchased free of highway taxes for "farm use" was routinely used for on-highway vehicles, and even sold to members who commuted to jobs in the area. One of the upstairs dining rooms at the Lincoln Lodge, at the time called "The American Room", seating 24 to 36 members for up to three meals a day, on the occasion of health & safety inspections was converted to what members jokingly called "The Imitation Meditation Room". It was illegally used to serve meals. Another little deception: the Blake Cottage Press Room was labeled a "chapel", rather than an income-producing industrial printing facility (with its inherent health risks.) Volumes could be written in this category, and hopefully more stories will surface.

"Panorea" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, December 7, 2008:
When the IRS (could be another organization, I am not familiar with the American government) visited the property either last year or two years ago, there were students preparing to show to the authorities that they were really part of a Church. There were meetings to memorize what to say about their religious order and of course there were only a few selected ones who could play this game. Why hide if you know you are doing the right thing? Conscience? Being aware of oneself? Being present? To what? To your own self lying and manipulating? And we call this Conscious School and Conscious Life?

"Purchasing awakening" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, October 19, 2007 at 3:29 p.m.:
Meet our new Teachers, the same young Romanians who not so long ago were totally abusing their position of power by exchanging vouchers for sex with married female students and organizing orgies in the Galleria while RB was away…
Women who agreed to have sex with them were rewarded with front seats at the meetings (for free so to speak) and invited to the Journeys and cruises with the Teacher… While others were guessing: how in the world those poor girls can afford all this?

These 2 men showed their true colors by misusing FOF funds and abuse of power. Did we forget already?

One of them is still in a fake paper marriage to E [Elisabetta Da Ros] in hopes to get a green card.

Proved to be corrupted and dishonest thieves, now these people “teach”!

Teach… what?

How deluded and brainwashed one must be to follow “teachers” like these two!


Friday, October 12th, Meeting led by Mihai [Mihai Algiu, aka Algiu Mihai] at the Galleria at 7:00 PM. The topic of the meeting will be “This Moment.”
Sunday, October 14th, Meeting led by Dorian [Matei] at the Galleria Salon at 10:00 AM. The topic of the meeting will be “Creating Oneself.”


Friday, October 19th at 7:00 PM – Dinner at the Galleria, hosted by Dorian and Mihai, on “The Inner Citadel.”
Saturday, October 20th at 8:30 AM – Breakfast at the Goethe Room, hosted by Dorian, on “Where Are You?”
Sunday, October 21st at 7:00 PM – Informal dinner at the Wine Cellar, hosted by Dorian and

"Just the Facts Ma'am" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, October 4, 2011:
Found on The Fellowship of Friends Investigation Petition [ed. - Petition website was deactivated in 2014. A copy may be viewed here:]
Petition Online at
Entry #205. JOHN ESAM
Missing US$40,000 possibly more out of John’s estate. He died ill and destitute on 24th June 2011. The Fellowship took control of his savings and his pension money and gifted it back to themselves. Theft/fraud/deceit/corecion/duress etc. When will law authorities enforce criminal charges against this cult?How many more people must be robbed and coerced by this cult? Also they write fraudulent Wills and Power of Attorney documents. The Fellowship attorney – David Springfield is definitely dodgy.

"steve lang" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, July 6, 2008:
Congratulations! How interesting that Wayne Mo** [ed. - Wayne Mott] 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*** 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? 

"dandelion" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, July 6, 2008:
One of the biggest coverups by the FOF was the purchasing of fake Italian passports for 3 Russians in a Naples train station by Judith Grace - cost thousands of $$$.

"dandelion" added:

Also just one of Robert's velvet suits cost $20,000 and he bought at least 4.

"Richard M." wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, July 6, 2008:
[Quoting] steve lang (above)
“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?”
Here is an interesting quote from the Apollo Olive Oil web site (capital letters added by me for emphasis):
Steven planted HIS first 600 olive trees in 1979, on steep slopes adjacent to HIS fruit orchard. And, after traveling extensively through the Mediterranean during the 1980’s, he knew he wanted to make olive oil.
So every FOF member who contributed their personal time laboring in the orchard/olive grove at Apollo since 1979, thinking they were working for THEIR church’s orchard and olive grove, were apparently working free for Mr. Dumb**k and HIS for-profit olive oil company. Guess who paid for his extensive travel through the Mediterranean during the 1980s. This certainly poses legal and, at least, ethical questions about personal inurement from a non-profit organization. By the way, if any olive oilers are reading this, the use of “1980′s” in your text is a grammatical error.

"Associated Press" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, July 7, 2008:
[Quoting] 35. steve lang – July 6, 2008 (above)[ed. - Referring to Steven Dambeck, who started Apollo Olive Oil on Fellowship land, using Fellowship trees, labor, and facilities]:
How did he [Steven D*mb*ck] manage to use Fellowship property to make a private profit?
Answer: Private inurement. According to the U.S. Internal Revenue Service: ‘Churches and religious organizations, like all exempt organizations under IRC [Internal Revenue Code] section 501(c)(3), are prohibited from engaging in activities that result in inurement of the church’s or organization’s income or assets to insiders (i.e., persons having a personal and private interest in the activities of the organization). Insiders could include the minister, church board members, officers, and in certain circumstances, employees. Examples of prohibited inurement include the payment of dividends, the payment of unreasonable compensation to insiders, and transferring property to insiders for less than fair market value. The prohibition against inurement to insiders is absolute; therefore, any amount of inurement is, potentially, grounds for loss of tax-exempt status.’ [Steven D*mb*ck possibly is, or possibly was, a minister of the Fellowship of Friends church. Steven D*mb*ck possibly was the recipient of the gift of real property from the assets of the Fellowship of Friends church. That would be the property where his home now stands. Steven D*mb*ck, according to Elena in her recent account above, possibly claims to own property that belongs to an homeowners' association and is owned as 'community property.' Steven D*mb*ck possibly is, or possibly was, the recipient of favourable, no-bid, business arrangements with the Fellowship of Friends church (likely directed by the head hauncho himself). The Ap*ll* Ol*v* O*l company may be likewise favourably treated. Benefits may extend beyond just the olives - i.e. to other agricultural areas and materials. Steven D*mb*ck possibly is 'person having a personal and private interest in the activities of the organization.' The practices of Steven D*mb*ck and Ap*ll* Ol*v* O*l may be worthy of investigation for exploitation of workers (both legal and illegal workers, as well as possibly using Fellowship of Friends' religious workers for the benefit of these private interests; both in the past and possibly now.] ‘An IRC section 501(c)(3) organization’s activities must be directed exclusively toward charitable, educational, religious, or other exempt purposes. Such an organization’s activities may not serve the private interests of any individual or organization. Rather, beneficiaries of an organization’s activities must be recognized objects of charity (such as the poor or the distressed) or the community at large (for example, through the conduct of religious services or the promotion of religion). Private benefit is different from inurement to insiders. Private benefit may occur even if the persons benefited are not insiders. Also, private benefit must be substantial in order to jeopardize tax-exempt status.’ [Perhaps Steven D*mb*ck is a charity case. But to single one out in that manner may constitute 'private benefit.' And, likely, 'substantial' at that.] - – - – - - To all: The lessons of love taught by the Fellowship of Friends are primarily ‘tough love.’ That is what abusers primarily understand and that is why they deliver it upon others. 

"ton" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, July 7 2008:
i’ll state it a little differently — to anyone and all who read this: stop sitting on your thumbs and start tapping your keyboards, it will only take a few minutes and ‘stuffing the ballot box’ at the chronicle might draw some attention, it doesn’t hurt to try… it might help if someone in the area with a digital camera would get their ass to the next picket line and attach photos in their mail to Marshall… 

"ton" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, July 9, 2008:
[Quoting] vinnie the shill 186
I don’t manipulate followers into having sex do I? Conscience means MY conscience, not judging others. I never said RB has a conscience did I? If he has one it might be very atrophied.
earth to vinnie… by continuing to support the con, you help perpetuate the manipulation. i guess your glib attitude is an attempt to feel and appear to be ‘above it all’ or somehow ‘superior’ and more ‘evolved’ — i’ve got news for you, you’re not. you and the dues paying members are part of the problem and the reason why it still persists…. wake up dude! a person (such as yourself) who appears to realize the abuses and yet continues with their support, is MORE culpable than the sheep who may not have a clue or insight into the depravity… you know what vinnie, here’s a clue for you, you need your ‘judgment’ in order to have a functioning conscience… part of the brainwash you’ve been subjected to is the silly notion of ‘not judging others’ — consider this: it may be you with the ‘atrophied’ conscience… (i hear it’s contagious).

"Joseph G" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, December 3, 2007:
Across The River #499 [blogger and  post number - regarding the Investigation Petition]

Nice work. I made a few tweaks on paragraphs #2 and 3 to improve accuracy:

There are about 15,000 former members worldwide, and current membership is estimated at 1600. The influence of this church is documented to have had damaging results on the lives of many members, leaving them in a state of poor physical or mental health, financial ruin and moral confusion.

Over the last 37 years, the property belonging to the Fellowship of Friends, including the vineyard and commercial winery producing Renaissance wines, has in part been developed and maintained by the labor of members who are in this country with religious visas. This fact has been intentionally hidden from authorities. Workers are required to donate back to the church the largest portion of their salary, leaving an average monthly living wage of about $460.00.

Old Fellowship wrote in the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog:
Re: financial impropriety

I’m not even sure if it is literally legal in California to REQUIRE church members to meet certain “donation” minimums. It may even go against 501-c-3 Federal regulations? And, of course, we all know that if those minimums are not met the members are ejected from the church – and shunned. This alone may be a big point – and may go to the heart of the Fellowship of Friends non-profit status.

As to private inurement (and fraud) – on information and belief – there may have been and seems likely that there were a number of strange real estate transactions beginning perhaps in the late 80s / early 90s – possibly reversed recently – whereby members (some or all who could not afford this) “bought” houses in their own names essentially for Robert Burton’s private use. In at least one case, a student on salary was offered to have his salary raised to pay for the cost of the monthly mortgage. The down payments were to come from somewhere else – but I believe from the Fellowship somehow.

In other words, non-profit non-taxed donation revenues being diverted in a hidden manner for the private use by Robert Burton – as he would take his boys to these spots for “relaxation and recreation.”

By the way, this model (in the abstract) is ONE of the main kinds of ways that Robert Burton oversaw and directed the fraudulent schemes that literally permeate the financial landscape of the Fellowship of Friends. I’m wondering if RICO statutes apply given the systemic nature of the various frauds including likely immigration violations, sham marriages, financial frauds – all operating across national boundaries – and with likely money stashes outside of the U.S.

In any case, back to the real estate, the two geographical areas where this may have occurred (that I heard about) in California were Graeagle (Plumas County – county seat Quincy) and Palm Springs area (Riverside County – county seat Riverside). And there may have been others, including outside of California – I would think Europe (but have no knowledge, perhaps others do).

It might be a little difficult to verify – as one would have to know the names of students and do the sleuthing, but these transactions and possible reversals would be a matter of public record. There may collective memory – meaning some of the students here may know more about this and might shed more light on the blog or to the Reporter ? It would also be interesting and characteristic that if the transactions related to these houses essentially purchased with non-profit monies were later reversed (or sold) for profit with the proceeds including profit finding their way quietly back to Robert Burton. The fraud squared.

At one point, a church member made a big score on a drug deal ($1M?) and was hiding from other drug dealers who apparently wanted to kill him. He hid on one of the properties near the Fellowship Property. To my memory, Robert allowed this – but asked for a donation based on the a percentage of the score.

Also, at one point – again on information and belief – Abraham Goldman – the person who became and may still be the main Fellowship of Friend’s lawyer (and who at one point for a time lost his ability to practice in California due to ethical infractions I believe) – administered a secret off-the-books fund from solicited student donations – whose primary role was to buy Robert Burton gifts or otherwise go to Robert Burton-directed projects. This was a long way back – does it still exist?

"J. D." wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, May 31, 2011:

Among the many others [enablers for Burton] don’t forget Judith Grace, who, during her royal days as first lady in Italy, received direct orders from ‘above’ to buy fake passports for a couple of Russian pages from the able Neapolitan counterfeiters. This type of illegal activity soon proved to be decisive for the ban sanctioned on Mr. Burton by the French government when later on another couple of pageboys tried to sneak in Europe by train.

I believe that Mr. Burton is still not welcome in Europe.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Vignettes of a "Conscious Being"

Robert Earl Burton, Fellowship of Friends cult leader and dandy, in a very serious pose
"ManNumberSeven" posted the following on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, May 21, 2007 at 1:07 p.m.:
Rita [blog poster], people enter a school or cult because that is where they are supposed to be, not because they are fooled initially or later trapped. A person being a Yes Man or Woman in a cult, out of a cult would be a manager or a 2nd in command – in a position where they would get stuff done. Many people were lost before they entered the FOF and were lost afterward.
I wasn’t trapped in the school, I was having the time of my life. It was heaven on Earth. I was busting my butt with people I liked, traveling, learning new skills. And after a time (7 or 8 years) whatever seemed to be there for me was no longer there and I moved on. There was no trap. Leaving was exciting as entering.
I’m so sick about hearing about the rape stuff – really. I lived at the Blake cottage on and off and traveled with Robert a lot. From what I could see – people that went behind closed doors with Robert went there because they wanted to. And if you remember, many of them ended up with the hot chicks. Robert made it worthwhile to get dumped. Many of these fellows were mindless believers, and while they were tripping with Robert they were on cloud 9. They loved the attention, they loved being close to Robert, and they loved how others looked upon them.
As I said I spent many a night staying at the Blake Cottage and I slept with Robert alone in the same room in other cities and never once did he put the moves on me. People are simply a bunch of crybabies.
The point I’m making is that a criminal in the school would have been a criminal anywhere. People are predisposed to be good at certain things, and one thing Robert was very good at was assigning people to jobs they were good at. Look at Roger as the ranch manager. He was born to do that, as were the young ladies that worked in the laundry and those who worked in the vineyard. He knew how to peg people’s weaknesses and strengths.

"Foolofit" posted the following on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, on June 12, 2007 at 7:06 a.m.:
Siddiq [blog poster],

great comparison between Robert and a porn star. It might give him the idea that he should be paid for his performance. Next thing His Highness is going to ask that the poor russians to pay for their privilege(they may leave at that point tough). Matter of fact I’m surprised He hasn’t done it yet.
Great thinking!
Of course the fact that the present teaching revolve around controlling the passions (a.k.a. the lower self-instinctive center). So how do you justify Him having sex with 15-20 guy(for free right now) a day (conservative estimate, believe me, no more proof please) and the students not showing their teeth as an indication of the lower self! Students are supposed to control their smiles and He can do what He wants.
I forgot, He so high above us, doesn’t need to do what He says. He never did, but at least once functions and conscience were separated, now they are the same thing. It seems to me that He should control his passions first.
To Isis fencesitter [blog poster],
first of all, how big is this fence and how many people are there? Are you your own group?
Anyway, I’m not sure why you want to know my reason to do or not do something with His Highness, it doesn’t matter what my personal reasons were. The only thing you need to know is the R. does what he does and definetely doesn’t care if the student can actually digest or process the experience. Some of the guys that went with him were at their first experience with a man or a woman! R. was the first experience for them.
Many of the young people left the school because it was the only way for them to stop traveling with R. I know the fof’ers will say that it was their choice. But then try to be a young solar-lunar(sorry for the language!) and resist your super-dominant teacher, very experienced in bending (figuratevely) people will …..
As he said to someone (still traveling with him now) 13 years ago, that was trying to stop traveling after I stopped: “You are a gift from Influence C to me, don’t ever ask me again to stop, take a week off and come back”. His choice of course, but with a lot of manipulation. This guy was at the time specialized in counting 44 things of everything, it’s easier for him now, just 6 and 4, thank god that guy finally had a break!

"SandraC" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, June 14, 2007 at 3:24 a.m.:
Here is another story on the Man #5 question (12/5)[blog page and post number]:

The first time I met RB was in Hawaii in January 1973. My first impression of him — head bowed, hands-folded, wearing a loose fitting, short-sleeved, large print shirt, khaki pants and those funny brown soft-leathered tie shoes he used to wear, and carrying a brown brief case by the handle– confounded me.

Here was the great ‘the teacher’ whom Bonita (his first student and leader of new HI center) revered, and he looked to me like a door-to-door insurance salesman. An oddly apt metaphor, I think now, considering what he does.

Anyway, at the break of the meeting he came over to me and said he wanted to show me something private. In a hushed, conspiratorial voice, he showed me his driver’s license. He told me that he only weighed 140 (or something like that) pounds in the picture, that it was taken shortly after he had been in a car accident, requiring 144 stitches. The picture was rather grim.

He did not mind the terrible suffering though, he said, because the accident had awakened him to becoming a Man #5. He went on, in that gravely serious way he sometimes adopted about how C influence uses difficult methods to awaken us, and so forth…
He proceeded to rub ‘the third eye’ spot on my forehead, and I recall him telling me I would soon enough learn about “their methods” because I was “definitely on the way.” I had been in the FoF only about one month at the time. I left that night (at the ripe old age of 24) both flattered and weirded out by the entire episode.

"James B." wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, May 17, 2007 at 8:34 p.m.:
For many years I had almost daily interactions with RB [Robert Burton], and was mightily impressed with his ability to look at situations in creative ways. Over time, I became increasingly troubled by what I saw, and by several young men asking what they should do about his unwanted advances.
Ironically, as my commitment diminished, I was to spend more and more time around him, which proved problematical for continuing as a member. I could not avoid the conclusion that he spent most of his days simply ‘screwing around’ (Charles R. used to refer to it as ‘a permanent vacation’).
Finally, after 20 years, I left just as I had joined – because I had no choice. Neither decision was intellectual – I simply could not stay any longer.
What’s life like post-FoF? Much like before… full, with daily joys and struggles and rewards and uncertainties. Unlike for many on this blog, the Fourth Way remains the most powerful tool for living that I have yet to encounter. And while I believe that my “decision” to leave the FoF was the right one, I don’t regret my years there at all; my life was enriched and I became a man. My best friends to this day are former members.
Originally I did not intend to go to the big shindig on the 26th, but Mary and I will be there – how could we not! And thanks again for this forum, Sheik [blog moderator]… will we meet you there?
James B.

"Walter Tanner" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, September 8, 2009:
Dr. Pangloss [blog poster] says:
In other words, it is the “lower self”, the “king of clubs” that keeps so many members in. Can’t quite leave the watering hole, even if the water is polluted and infected. I’m not judging, I just find it ironic that this is what it comes to after all those years of working to guided by the “steward” and “king of hearts”.
 Your judging faculties are right on, it is why Robert had to move away from the system–too many contradictions with the Gurdjieff-Ouspensky tradition.
It was amazing my last time at Apollo, when I first clearly saw that Robert was using the system for control, not liberation. There were a number of people that I considered friends, and it didn’t seem right to leave Oregon House without speaking with them about my “new verifications” (I had resigned as regional coordinator because I did not feel Robert was any longer teaching the 4th Way). All of them, Goodwin, Mott, Ben Mami–all said, like a mechanical recording, that it was my instinctive center taking me out of the Fellowship. I was about to lose my entire social and employment network, and be kicked out of the Manhattan teaching house, effectively homeless, and these people, all more or less dependent upon Robert for their lifestyle, dared to say that I was in thrall of the King of Clubs. They were grasping at straws, surely sensing my determination and so using the harshest language available to them to make me reconsider. It was funny that they not only were repeating “tapes” that they had obviously heard and said before, but that the “tape” itself was a willful reversal of the Fourth Way’s theory of the lower centers.
As far as stories of the “third kind” (that of previous collaborators), that is not going to happen. The kind of person who would criminally collaborate with Robert would either still be a member, benefiting from the Fellowship, or using the criminal acts as blackmail if they did leave (or be on to the next con). I knew more than a few followers (the Hienrichs, others out now who need not be named) who paid minimal teaching payments and no winery donations, but were considered full members. Those folks knew where the bodies were buried, so to speak, and would never have been asked to leave just because they weren’t paying: they were providing legitimacy, as “older students.”
I was only regional coordinator for a few months and the numbers on the East Coast were declining anyway…I wish I had some good stories but nothing controversial, besides a chair-defenestration in a domestic spat, ever really developed. Thank you Susan for reminding us of all the petty crimes Robert asked us to commit, if you multiply them across all the centers they really add up.
[ed. - Walter Tanner apparently also claims enlightenment. (Link at is now defunct.)]

"411" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, September 6, 2009:
Here’s another fairly recent memory: A person joined in the L.A. center about 7 years ago. He was a younger guy probably about 24. Although when I joined in ’94 you were told to wait a year in the FOF before you could visit Apollo or have much face time with Robert, this guy was invited up to dine with Conscious Bob within the first month or so. I was always curious how the center higher-ups knew which ones were worthy of the special treatment. So this guy goes up to have dinner with Bob and when he returns to L.A. he sends out a mass email to all the L.A. students saying that while having dinner with Bob, he suddenly saw not a conscious being, but a very evil man. This guy advised us all to run away as quickly as possible. We all thought he must of had some kind of breakdown while visiting Apollo. That was last we ever heard of him. It’s funny how some people just get it right away.

"noagenda" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, September 7, 2009:
Listen everyone! Robert Burton is not the Goddess he claims to be! I was with Robert and a group of students one time when he decided that we’d lunch at this very formal restaurant in downtown Boston.RB was wearing his beautiful Camel sports jacket with an open collar shirt. The maitre d’ patiently explained that indeed, Robert would need choose from the ‘house ties’ in order to comply with their dress code. It seemed like a major decision for him, picking through…Finally, he chose and we sat down to eat. This was fully humiliating for him and he likened it to Christ’s Play. The suffering, that is, of being made to wear a grubby silk necktie stained with a drop of mustard sauce! Poor RB, pouting like my 7 year old at home!

"Dr. Pangloss" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, September 5, 2009:
Bob's rules. 120. [blog poster and blog post number] Old FOF Oh yes. Those stupid little note pads. Everyone had to have one. You had to leave the top page blank. One of dirty Bob’s little “high alchemy” rules. What were some of the others? - Run water in sink while pissing so Bob doesn’t hear the sound (I wonder if he has the current golden shower boys do that these days) - Walk with toes pointed straight ahead. - No eating onions because of breath. - Buy an expensive leather briefcase and put an ugly plastic black cover over it. - Wear those Johnston & Murphy shoes designed for leisure wear around the house, that were quickly destroyed by all the gravel roads and rocks around Oregon House. - Over priced Hermes ties for men, scarfs for women. - Horrible Victorian cameos for all the women - worn-out used tuxedos bought in bulk from a formal wear rental company sold to all men at the barn. … and on and on. This Gomer Pyle doppelganger saw himself as Henry Higgins to all the young Eliza Doolittles under his wing. And all this was all before Bob came out of the closet.


"flying free" posted the following on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, July 3, 2007 at 5:39 p.m.:
Haven’t been on for a while, so much living to do. This TRUE story is for those who are still very attached and hang on to the idea of Robert Burton being a unique and conscious being. Here is the story that actually happened and was the final understanding and closure for me.
There we were, the two of us sitting in a charming little coffee shop in the Bay area about 6 months ago. Both of us had exited the FoF, just 5 months earlier after serving a 20+ year term. It was chilly outside, people bundled up, coming and going. The atmosphere was warm and friendly inside, the tables were full, and the constant hum of voices put a smile on my face – life expressing itself all around me. We were sitting at the entrance door (the only table available) watching the comings and goings.
I was halfway through a sentence when I noticed that my partner’s attention had straying in a fixed kind of way to a new arrival that was just entering. A finely dressed, handsome, youngish gentleman (Asaf type, with a broad smile) opened the door –and who should enter, but A LOOK-A-LIKE , a DUPLICATE TO ROBERT BURTON. We both became fixated! The older gentleman was finely turned out, with an overcoat that was of the finest imported cashmere, a pair of Italian shoes that probably ran into the multiple hundreds, an ebony cane with a finely carved ivory handle, an exquisitely trimmed white beard, a broad smile , and a posture that had a slight stoop that said ‘this is what humility looks like’.
The young man moved ahead to secure a chair for the RB Look-a-like, pulled it out for him, seated him and then moved back and forth between the order counter and him with espressos, and croissants. The two remained in the coffee shop for about 15 minutes. During that time the older gentleman would look around the room from time to time with ‘attention’, smile, and lean over to his younger acolyte and point out something of interest or to teach him something of great importance.
Then it was time for them to leave. As the older gentleman approached the door which was slightly ajar, he used his cane to gently but ‘intentionally’ push it closed (after all it was an incomplete octave, and someone had strayed out without realizing that folly of their ways). This in itself was even stranger, as the two where about to exit from the same door. My partner could no longer contain himself. He had to speak!
For purposes of this dialogue, we will call my Partner ‘K’ and myself ‘C’ and the older gentleman, the look-alike to Robert Burton as RB ².
K: “ That looks like a useful tool. Beautiful cane!’
RB ²: “ Thank you, yes it comes in handy’
K: “ If you don’t mind me asking – you remind me of an old acquaintance- where are you from?”
RB ²: “ From the ABSOLUTE”
K: “ Nice to meet you, and I am B. C: “ Nice to meet you , I am C. What is your name?
RB ²: “ I am MANOUSH ” ( said with a long soft extended sound , more like Maaannnooossshhh., and accompanied by a broad smile).
K. “ Are you a teacher?’
RB ²: “ Yes I am” (he beamed , with a humble tilt of the head)
K. “ What do you teach”?
RB ²: Turns to his well dressed , handsome acolyte and says “ DEAR, please give them a card ”.
Acolyte fumbles in his wallet, and produces a card. Immediately under the name of the ‘school/institution !!!’ a statement in bright parentheses says
‘ the divine art of being present’
Hands were extended in goodbye. Manoush clasps his hands together in ‘that humble, I respect you fashion accompanied by a slight dip of the head and shoulders,’. The acolyte leaps forward to hold the door open for his ‘ TEACHER – MANOUSH ’.
If anyone wants to switch, we have the card . It is duplicating universe, isn’t it ?
And a final quote from RB himself (daily card), August 11, 2006:
“When you wake up from imagination, you realize that you have been wasting your time” - Love RB

"(Not his real name)" posted the following on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, April 10, 2007 at 4:58 a.m.:
For the fence-sitters:

When many students left the FOF twenty-four years ago (when Sam Sanders stirred the pot a bit), Miles pointed out that people were upset to the extent their vanity was disturbed by the realization that they had invested so much in something that had such a seamy underbelly.

In other words, you got snookered, accept it, and get on with your life.
I never idolized Miles any more than I idolized Robert, but I had a lot more respect for him.
I remember when I first saw a photo of Robert in the 70′s (in those days his identity and appearance were closely guarded), I couldn’t help but feel a bit … disappointed. But of course, I told myself appearances had nothing to do with it, and he did have a far-away look in his eyes (what another student used to call Robert’s “Sphinx look”), so I thought, well, who knows. Then I went to my first meeting at which Robert “taught.” The way the meeting was set up was very, very impressive to me, but Robert’s teaching? I’m sorry, but I didn’t come to the Fellowship from a cabbage patch, and he didn’t have a whole lot to say. Pabulum. But I told myself it was actually quite brilliant. When I first went to Renaissance, and he immediately started coming on to me, I thought “Kind of odd for a teacher, but what do I know?” When he showed me his personal notebook of teaching angles, I thought, “Wow, these are so… simple-minded. But what do I know?” (Not simple; simplistic. Unoriginal, inarticulate. Kinda … dumb.)
When I saw him push people into spending what little money they had to buy him shiney trinkets, I thought, “I didn’t think teachers would be so attached to baubles, but it’s probably not how it seems. It’s to help me not identify.” When a friend of mine got completely freaked out after Robert had propositioned him, I thought “Poor guy. He doesn’t understand. I guess he doesn’t have what it takes.” When he got around to propositioning me, I thought, “Whoa. But I won’t fail this test and lose the School.” When at dinner I listened to Robert say, “The Jews finally paid for the crucifixion of Christ through the Holocaust,” I thought, “Not so sure I agree, but, um, the lower cannot see the higher.”
I learned, little by little, that some things really are the way they seem. Robert is just what he seems: a very intriguing con man. The same as any con man? No, not the same. But very similar to quite a few others, some of whom actually have done it a little better. Check it out for yourself:
Robert has a certain talent, but in twenty years he’ll be nothing; no one will even bother to make a cheesy docudrama about him. He isn’t even that significant. My vanity wishes it weren’t so.

Does this mean that one can’t learn a great deal in the FOF? That it’s a waste of time, and the basic teachings are wrong? That all the wonderful things students feel about the FOF are baloney? Of course not, and don’t kid yourself that those of us who left just somehow missed what you see so clearly. I was there for years, and believe it or not, you aren’t the first to see all those wonderful things. Or the second. Sure, I know it’s speculation, but I’ll wager stronger, more perceptive students than you have seen it all, and more, before walking away. Miles was just one of those. I knew a lot of amazing people in the Fellowship. It’s not any condemnation of you for me to suggest that you might not yet have fully recognized something that others eventually did.
So, regarding all the hand-wringing on this blog, all the byzantine angles, and counter-angles, and counter-counter-angles, in an effort to justify staying, or to appear to be one sort of student, or to be another sort of student, invoking this principle of awakening, or that one: At a certain point, you really have to cut the crap. You have to, sooner or later, stop kidding yourself.
Don’t want to do that just now? Fine. Don’t. There, relax. Wait until you’re older, until you just can’t stand it any more, the hypocrisy, the holier-than-thou, the sad, ludicrous pretense of being a member of an elite. Until it’s your son, your friend–you– who has been treated so shabbily that you finally have the simple humility to accept that you’ve been conned. Until your parents have died while you were in a cult and had cut them out of your life as not useful to your evolution. It’s OK–Robert didn’t talk to his mommy on her death bed. (Mehere Baba didn’t talk for decades, yet somehow he managed to avoid being despised as a silly old chickenhawk.)

"Ames Gilbert" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, May 11, 2007 at 9:16 p.m.:
Regarding friendship with Burton. I have personally seen him many times in a ‘snit’, (which describes the flavor but is totally inadequate to describe the power of his emotions—if he hadn’t told me himself that he is conscious, I’d have thought that he was extremely identified) when he is crossed by his former ‘friends’, ranging from the rants (going on for months) about betrayal when folks of the caliber of Miles B. left, to pronouncements of criminality when less important persons such as myself leave, to petty acts of revenge when some woman takes affection or sperm from one of his boys. I would call him a fair-weather friend at best, certainly no conduit for unconditional love. I’d advise you to read up on “narcissistic personality disorder’ as quick as you can, and see if the shoe fits, then study the typical behavior of a narcissist when someone in his circle withdraws support. The value of a friend is not only when the going is good, in my opinion, but when disagreements come up; when ‘push comes to shove’, a true friend tells you what you need to know, not what makes you comfortable. To me, a measure of one’s valuation for such a true friend is how one accepts the information, and how much gratitude one can bring to the situation, if not immediately, at least upon reflection. I have never heard Burton express simple gratitude for the work and being of anyone who crossed him or left the FOF.

"WhaleRider" posted on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, June 14, 2007 at 5:42 a.m.:
BTW, this is the story I was told on how ‘c-influence’ indicated to Robert that Miles was going to become a man number five. When Robert first saw him, Miles was wearing a V-neck sweater, with the V in gold trim, signifying the number 5 as the Roman numeral V. Later the prediction was correlated I believe in Shakespeare’s sonnet #44 with the line … “miles when thou are gone”. This is a another good example of Robert’s ‘ideas of reference’, like ‘Union 76′. Also the high tech spy plane ‘SR-71′ which flew from an air force base near Renaissance was ‘self-remembering 1971′ or when self-remembering came to the area in 1971.

"Graduates" posted on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, June 13, 2007 at 5:32 p.m.:
I had a friend in S.F., an Israeli who went by the name of J. B. (can’t use his name) and one day he told me an interesting story: he had visited an Israeli friend who was working as a psychiatrist in Los Angeles and during his visit he told this old friend who shared an interest in various spiritual ideas that he was a student in a school with a conscious teacher. In point of fact J. B. went to meet with this old friend to “introduce him to the school.” The psychiatrist asked for the name of the conscious teacher and when J. B. said Robert Burton the psychiatrist said sorry but your teacher is not conscious. Being as superstitious and we all once were J. B. was of course rather taken aback. Gathering some composure he asked his friend why he would say such a thing. Without disclosing the name of the client, of course, the psychiatrist told J. B. a story of a young man (barely 20 or so) who was in the FoF for just a few months who was allegedly sexually put upon by Robert Burton during a lengthy encounter while visiting the FoF property. He then left the organization with severe psychological problems. J. B. reported this meeting to Miles Barth forthwith and Miles requested that the psychiatrist ask his client to meet with Miles and tell his story, which then took place. One month or so later Miles Barth left the school without informing the rest of us why he had done so. What if we had all known, I mean all of us, way back then?

"More history needed?" posted on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, June 7, 2007 at 12:40 p.m.:
Dear All,
About predictions: The day that “the 6 students”, were released in November on a Tuesday…”That was the day that California or The world would fall in the Ocean”. This was said by Robert Burton of the fellowship of friends in Egypt and was heard by Mrs T who was on the trip with him. So he seems to still “predict” for the fellowship of friends in a smaller circle but if you read the above details, it seems not to be taken to serious..6 people leaving the fellowship of friends, or the fall of California or the world…?
Robert’s tendencies do not disappear obviously.
Last year, around his birthday there was a gossip: Robert had given 100 people a blow job on that day. I thought this was not possible and discarded the idea. This year the same story appears, with a slight variation he did not reach the 100….? Can anybody give us more confirmation about this issue or is it only “gossip”? People who were part of it, or were called to come and join the 15 minute line?
Thanks to all of you.

"Walter J. Tanner" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, December 2, 2008:
Fellow Travelers,
While I was telling a story the other day, a family member noted that I had already told it, earlier in the day.
She caught me sleeping–the story had unwound on its own–and I felt remorse because I do preach the whole awareness/presence shtick, and my hypocrisy was in full view: if one is truly awake and aware of one’s experiences, how do you go and tell the same story to the same person within one day?
My remorse was catalyzed by memories of the Fellowship. I remembered the moment when I first got the courage to ask an older student about Robert: I asked the Maestro of the Apollo Orchestra if he really believed Robert was awake (or “in the third state”) most of his waking hours. The student answered that he did believe Robert was awake most all of the time, and in fact Robert had reported at teaching dinners that he can be in the third state all day long.
I was confused because, as anyone who spends time with him would know, Robert repeats himself endlessly, makes identical requests to the same student, tells the same stories and jokes over and over.
(My social radar is well tuned, and I realized without verbal instruction that if Robert asked me the same thing twice, I should just whip out the little notepad we all carry and write it down again, and make no mention that it had already been said. Prominent Robert-protégées are all experts at this.)
You can imagine the angle given: Robert, the conscious being, is consciously telling the same story, request, etc., to shock you into the third state, jam your lower functions, etc.
Except, problem: it never did. It just made me think that Robert is as hopelessly clinging to the “present” as all of us. But I didn’t have the courage then to accept this truth and instead adopted the devotional attitude and just assumed everything Robert says or does is for the greater good of his students (this is a venerable spiritual practice, BTW, and one reason why I don’t harsh so much on current students).
I’ll put my faith in those I’m surrounded with, who see me as I am, not as I tell them I am.
A harder “way” but more sure.

"WhaleRider" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, December 8, 2008:
Nigel [blogger]:
“Also, I see no point in having to live this life if there were not others to live further along.”
Your words struck a chord in me. This is why I appreciate the gift of my two children. I’d like to leave the world a safer place for them, free of at least one sexual predator of whom I have personal knowledge and experience. I consider it my moral duty to speak out in any manner I deem appropriate in an effort to drain his victim pool.
Daily Bread [blogger]:
“The Spiritual Warrior has no outside enemies.”
The part of me inside that has kept me a silent victim for 23 years has been my enemy: fear.
I do not consider a person suffering from a disabling mental disorder a foe, just a poor soul in need of intervention.
About 2 weeks ago I was walking to work and whom do you think I should cross paths with that fine morning? None other than Robert E. Burton and his current harem of short little men!
It was a brief and telling encounter.
As I walked toward the street corner, our eyes met for a moment. I believe he recognized me; I certainly recognized him, although I did not let on that I had. He sported a closely trimmed beard that was mostly grey and towered above those around him.
Once our eyes met, he abruptly turned to his right to cross the street, seemingly to avoid me, but the light had changed, and he had to wait at the corner. The sudden change in direction seemed to befuddle his minions. One glared at me as I walked right by them less than five feet away. The light was in my favor.
I caught the look on his face, and instantly I was reminded of what it felt like to travel with and be near him. He had a look of disdain on his face with a slack jaw that struck me as the exact same feeling of puerile dissatisfaction he exuded way back when I traveled with him. It was like how a shark swims with its mouth slightly ajar, always avoiding conflict and looking for easy prey.
I could tell that his demeanor fed the same feeling of anxiety in those around him as it had in me, of wanting to please him, to constantly dote upon him like a spoiled child who would not be appeased by anything you offered him. It was hardly the feeling one would expect from a fully enlightened, transcendent, radiant, glowing, conscious being, man number 7.3, the brightest light in 2000 years. There was no warmth there or light there. He felt like the cold moon pulling at the attention of those around him.
Afterward, I felt sick to my stomach.
So DC…the hungry moon awaits you and your unfortunate FOF companions.
Robert E. Burton is waiting for you to be his next meal or meal ticket.
The night is fine, the Walrus said, do you admire the view?

"Panorea" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, December 8, 2008:

What a chilling story Whalerider…I do not know what others will do with it. It seem you had your chance to face your monster and you will only grow from having done this. The other day I was talking with a friend who is on the way out and we were both reminded of that thorn in our hearts; when we would see Robert with the boys. All of them locked in a world of no possibilities; unable to make contact. About a year and a half ago I saw Robert for the last time at a dinner in Europe. My heart sunk again when he just entered the location and talked again to a few of us (yes, we were sooooo lucky). For the first time it became so clear to me that he had no shame. All those students around him had paid a lot to be there, had traveled overnight, had slept on a mattress on the floor to just be with him and he would just start talking about his new jewelry, the ring he had seen, that nice shirt for X, the tie he sent to Y. He really reminded me an autistic child. He then sat on the table and started talking for about an hour, checking his watch from time to time. I called a friend afterwards and told her that Robert has something perverse, could not be otherwise.

"WonderingWhosWatching" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, December 8, 2008:
21. whalerider [post number and blogger]
Thanks for the telling of your recent episode of close encounters of a fourth kind with REB. I am sure it was anything but kind. (Yes, it was more likely ‘butt kind.’) That reminds me of the last time I saw the medieval lord. We had known each other well; up close and personal for many years. But on this occasion our meeting was post an acute abusive play devised by the master abuser himself and visited upon me as a vindictive treatment for one who did not obey his every whim. Like 2 gunslingers at high noon, we looked at each other across the landscape of the Galleria gardens. He saw me, and I saw him, looking at each other as never could happen in decades. I felt just how much of an emotional cripple he is/was; experiencing and mirroring his psychopathic character right back at him so he could see himself thoroughly. Kind of like this scene in Shakespeare’s Hamlet: Come, come, and sit you down; you shall not budge; You go not till I set you up a glass Where you may see the inmost part of you. Act 3, Scene 4 The Queen’s closet. That’s the one where Hamlet’s mother thinks Hamlet is going to try to kill her; after hearing those lines. But it is the furtherest thing from his mind. And, Lord Polonius is hiding behind the arras to spy on them with the Queen’s full knowledge. Yes, my distinct awareness at that moment was: 1) How pathetic, 2) Only a scared little being was there (revealing his true chief feature: fear (I’d be scared, too, if I had that much karma weighing upon me), and 3) Heart Chakra closed. There went a person who was/is emotionally a cripple all the while believing themselves the most elevated emotional being on the planet.

"Draco" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, December 8, 2008:
At the last dinner I had with Robert I was seated three places away from him. Throughout the dinner he held the hand of the young Russian seated on his right and at one point moved the guy’s hand onto Robert’s inner thigh and rubbed it up and down. Later that dinner Robert showed an image of an Indian sculpture with a face covering the groin area. Robert commented that this was an example of the lower self consuming the sex center. I was staring in disbelief…

"Tim Campion" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, October 4, 2007 at 9:14 p.m.:
The energy of autumn seems to be coloring posts lately. Rich, reflective, and a touch of melancholy.
A few nights ago, I was unable to sleep, my mind churning with memories and images evoked by this blog.
I recalled a large Bay Area meeting Robert led at “Hiller Highlands” (or perhaps it was Skyline). The topic of relationships was brought up, and Robert’s “angles” produced a stir. We went to break.
Returning, Robert said (paraphrasing a bit) “what positive can be said about something that keeps one asleep?”
His disdain for relationships, and his insecurity should have been apparent at the time, but for me it was not.
I recall, the lines at the Lincoln Lodge, waiting to have a moment to ask Robert our burning questions. (For me, it often seemed connected to relationships.)
He was typically indifferent on the topic. “Let my love for you exist,” he would say.
Many of us actively sought his direction in our personal lives, willing puppets of his make-believe play.
Though I was around Robert often during my eight years at Renaissance, and occasionally chauffeured him, I had absolutely no awareness of his personal sexual appetites. After all, he was celibate!
“Good students” of course, would go to great lengths to avoid gossip. And those who knew better, knew it was a waste of energy to speak to “good students” of the brutal realities. Only many years after leaving did I learn about the sinister world that had surrounded me.
It began to explain the apparition-like facial expressions of certain “sensitive” students, like Thomas E., Brian S., Thomas P. and so many others who, before my very eyes, were silently enduring their personal hells.
Some have suggested contacting newspapers to investigate the Fellowship. With drastic reductions of editorial staffs at most major newspapers, that may be a difficult task.
What about cutting edge magazines such as “Mother Jones,” or New Age/Spirituality journals? Anyone have a sense if this might be an appropriate special interest story for them? Does anyone have any inside connections with such a publication?
If one picked up the story, others may follow.
Laura: great suggestion about bookmarks. (All the hours I spent riding my motorcycle around L.A. placing those damn things!)

"Allan S" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, October 16, 2007 at 8:15 a.m.:
Picture this…

Bobbie has a number of students clearing some land for some new decking at a newly purchased lodge not far from Reno. Physical labouring is not really my thing, would much rather be reading a book or working in the office at the winery. But hey, the teachers invited me there and it changes my relationship to this rather tedious task.

I’m aware that someone has their attention on me, I look round and its Bobbie. He smiles and moves his attention towards some students involved in the bigger decking plan. The thought arises that getting such attention from my teacher must mean something, right? After all I had just started traveling with him.

A few hours later Bobbie announces that he is going to head back to Renaissance and that I should drive him in the Lexus. I think to myself, who me? This really must mean something, mustn’t it?

We start driving the winding roads along some of the most beautiful countryside in the area listening to Dvorjack [sic - Dvorak]. We talk about various things; including 1998 when unbeknown to me Bobbie is about to give me the gift of consciousness, a genuine gift that only a teacher could impart to his cherished students, quite selfless really. He places his hands on my crotch and starts massaging. He continues this for what seemed to me to be quite a prolonged period of time. Silence…he removes his hand and continues talking, as if nothing happened. I guess I just wasn’t up to the task!

Where was he, this conscious man? Indeed where had he been up until this moment?

 "Joseph G" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, October 15, 2007 at 7:55 p.m.:
Hi Fat Boy [Fellowship blogger],
I have not been able to keep up with the blog this last week or so, and missed your #551 when you posted it.
Your sexual relationship with Robert is in my view not open to criticism. To a much greater degree 20 years ago than now, Robert Burton has mostly been considered an attractive man, even by his detractors, and especially by his own students. Some but not all of his male students had sex with him. Some but not all of these actually came to accept and enjoy this sex, at least to a degree. I do not doubt the truth of your feelings about your own sexual experiences with Robert. 50 times sounds like a lot, but only averages out to 2.5 times per year for an older student like you. Not that much really. The first year or two probably accounted for the majority of the episodes. And only the very first time or two was likely to have been coerced. Afterwards, if you WERE coerced in the beginning, you would probably have become very eager to define the relationship as consensual, and your attitudes and buffers would have colored any lingering memory of awkward moments during that first time, i.e. when you were surprised (or not) and had to go against your inherent sexual orientation. Also, this sexual orientation of yours may in fact have been bi-sexual all along, which does not mean you are out trying to score with any other guys besides RB, but only that you are capable of enjoying the experience with either a man or a woman, if not equally at least sufficiently to do it again when the opportunity presents itself.
Nothing about your having sex with Robert Burton your spiritual teacher was in my view wrong, immoral or stupid, and much about it may well have been both physically and emotionally satisfying to you.
You seem to be someone with a lot of relativity. You can see things from lots of perspectives, and only strongly disagree with someone else when they are too intolerant to respect the sincere opinions of others. So you admit that Robert may not be conscious. You accept that some may have good reasons to feel that Robert abused them, and you even concede that one day you yourself may agree with these self-proclaimed victims that what Robert does is in fact abusive; but you cannot agree that this gives anyone the right to be intolerant of those like you who still find value in the Fellowship of Friends and/or still hold affection for Robert Burton, albeit with all his human frailties. So you take exception for now, mildly anyway, to labeling Robert’s actions as “abuse,” and think this is at least subjective and exaggerated, if not malicious. You also concede there is much you do not know or understand fully; but what you know with certainty is that the Fellowship of Friends and your relationship to Robert is a good thing for you, and for many others that remain loyal students. Again, IMO this shows a remarkable amount of relativity to be able to permit in yourself these disparate perspectives without an internal combustion being ignited by so many blatant contradictions knocking against one another. Is this a sign of maturity, or is there such a thing as too much relativity?
Maybe with you Robert was just a powerfully attractive man. You fell for him. He seduced you…and why not? You were there in the room, serving his dinner or ushering his meeting and the chemistry kicked in. Suddenly, overwhelmingly, even though minutes before you could only think about scoring some pussy, you realized that his was the mouth you really craved. And you were not alone! So many young men had no preparation for Robert’s homosexual magnetism. His PRESENCE. His BEING IN THE MOMENT is such a turn-on that just a gentle nudge was all it took, is all it takes. You were not coerced or conned; you were consciously loved, possibly for the first (and only) time.
If you think I am making fun of you now, I’m not. The magnetism is real; it’s the magnet that seems a little suspect. Or the magnetic center as the case may be.
Here’s the bigger question for me, Fat Boy: if he’s conscious and you verified he’s conscious and you gave up your “homosexual virginity” to him, knowingly, consensually, because that meant you were going to receive his higher energies and profit from them…well, okay. But if he’s not conscious and never was, even though he really really REALLY cares a lot about BEING PRESENT, and even though he himself may believe he is conscious (the goddess thing) and has been sent all these boys by his angelic posse, and if even ONE boy who he talked into having sex with him was not sure at all about whether he was really conscious, but went along with it mostly because he was scared and had taken such a huge risk to move to the officially recognized middle of nowhere, beautiful downtown Oregon House CA, so that boy reluctantly lets his cock get sucked — even though YOU were of course much smarter and were never abused or let the power thing bother you — if this one boy was intimidated by Robert’s powers and his implied keys to heaven and hell, with a straight face can you really defend this as anything other than coercion and abuse of power?
And back to the first “if”: if Robert IS conscious, and that scared young man-child wandered into his boudoir without an iota of desire to have sex with him, and being conscious Robert could SEE all this with his higher centers all PRESENT and alert, why would he knowingly convince his student to do something he did not want to do, something that might cause long-term emotional damage? What kind of conscious being would intentionally, knowingly (and he DID know, if only by the visible negative after-effects in Thomas E and so many others), harm the essence of even ONE of his beloved students?
Many have pointed to apt comparisons: a priest / school teacher / boss / parent / therapist…can never have truly consensual sex with their altar boy / student / employee / son or daughter / patient who is subordinate to them and/or dependent upon them.
How many incest victims might easily repeat your own words: “I have had sex with (my father) at least 50 times but I was not sexually abused; I accepted this and was glad to share this intimate experience with him. I am not gay, and it was odd at first but there was no threats are overt coercion but only a gentle push at times to be with him. I have no resentments or anger in regards to this.”
I am not saying it is necessary for you to condemn Robert’s intentions or your own actions, though many here have said exactly this. Nor in my opinion do you ever have to label your own sexual relationship with Robert as ugly or wrong or shameful. It was part of your play so you were meant to experience it and learn from it. But if you have truly “made the school your own” how can you condone Robert’s actions with even that one boy more innocent and vulnerable than you? In my view this is simply Tramp. Too much (mechanical) relativity equates to the absence of conviction: a lack of valuation for one’s self and others.
The Fellowship of Friends is YOUR school. Everything that happens in it reflects on you and affects your karma. Whether you admit it or not, you will never be able to fully disown your personal accountability for any harm that is done in your school…at least to the extent you know what’s going on.
And Fat Boy, I have a funny feeling you know everything.
Joseph G

"Allan S" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, November 22, 2007:
Another story, although compared to some of the stories I have heard here, this particular one is quite tame…

I was traveling down LA way and sharing a car with C and M. We had traveled a bit through the desert and finally stopped off at this restaurant for what was essentially a piss break. C and M started to talk to me about Robert and his like for sleeping with people who traveled with him. In my naiveté, I thought nothing of the remarks or indeed why they were telling me about it. This was my first “traveling” trip and I was trying hard to overcome a recent split with my wife. We arrived at a hotel just outside Palm Springs (if I remember rightly) and basically relaxed at the hotel while Robert went shopping with some others. If memory serves me rightly he was shopping for stuff for the small condo in La Chintta [ed. - La Quinta?].

Anyway to cut a long story short, after dinner that evening Robert deliberated over who was going to be the lucky boy to share his bedroom. Well chucks, that first night was to be my lucky night. I remember going to retrieve my luggage from the room I was sharing with M, feeling quite nervous. What on earth was I going to talk about?

I remember going into the room and Robert saying, “You can ask me anything you want dear”. After a moment or two I asked him why he had asked me to stay in his room. Something along the lines of “I was so aware of how much you were in essence at dinner dear”. What a bedside manner, I mean…

Next thing I knew it was bedtime. I get changed and into bed, fully expecting my teacher to go into the other bed. Of course not, he slides in beside me with TV remote in hand, puts his free arm round me and starts flicking through the channels. I’m now starting to feel very uncomfortable trying to concentrate on the channels passing me bye. Next thing I know is his face is in mine trying to stick his tongue down my throat! I freeze in absolute shock.

He stops realising, presumably from experience, that this is going to go nowhere. He gets out of my bed and into his own and then says, in a somewhat disappointed tone “I hope you don’t snore, if you do you’ll have to change with someone else later”…quite a “normal” reaction don’t you think?

"Purchasing awakening" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, August 12, 2007:

Our Beloved Slave Driver is having fun,

or how the brainwashed slaves glorify Robert’s cruelty and worship their abuser…


From Julian b.

Greetings from the Council!

This is the second in a series of bulletins that will be sent worldwide on the Journey Forth by Day events in August.

At one of the recent Wednesday meeting at the Prytaneion [Town Hall], there was a discussion on using the work under pressure.

A student described his experience of building Robert’s new oasis at the Galleria. Robert would visit the oasis everyday and, for an hour or so, sit observing students at work. Then Robert would often ask for changes—right after the workers thought they were finished!—for example, extending the lawn another 10 feet, moving the fountain from the garden to the center of the table, moving a road, relocating newly planted palm trees! The weather was hot, the days long and work continued through the weekend.

At the height of intensity in the octave, Robert then said that he wanted his students to learn how to use the system under pressure….

…To finish with another anecdote from the building of the oasis— a student asked one of those working what was Robert trying to achieve with the octave. “He’s taking us with him,” the student replied.

[ed. - The following comes from a webcache of Stella Wirk's old Geocities website:]
The beginning... 
We met Robert Burton in July 1970, after having attended several talks by J. Krishnamurti, and Stella having spent time with Alex Horn (whom Burton had studied with for a short while, claiming to have "passed his teacher"), and of course having read a few good books.
Left: Harold's more formal portrait. Typical look, very casual, very friendly - the frown is squinting in the sun, not anger, wearing a valour shirt, open collar, living in a Volkswagon van and "house sitting" in Berkeley. Formerly a 4th grade teacher in a nearby grammar school. Right: One of Harold's early caricatures of Burton.

At the beginning, when everything is new (and the group is very small), one becomes "friends" with the people who meet every week or every few days around a kitchen table. How young we looked (in our mid-30s at the time)! Burton is just a few years younger than we are.
(All those pictured above are NOT in the FOF today.)
Usually the expression is that cult members are "brainwashed." This is a wrong term for it! At the beginning we mostly "wash our own brains." We want to believe we have found something special. Isn't this Camelot? Eutopia? The "safe haven" we want? If not, maybe we can imagine it is. (The Work says imagination can satisfy all parts of us.)
We observed the phenomenon like this: A small compromise here, and little compromise there, saying "Oh, that's all right," when it is not really "all right," but too small to fuss about. This activity seems to take on a life of its own, mostly from the inattention to details as one goes along.
An analogy that comes to mind that gives a good example of this phenomenon is the story of the boiling frog. I have read that if you put a frog into a pot of boiling water, he will jump out immediately. If you put him in cold water and s-l-o-w-l-y bring it to a boil, the frog will stay in the pot and boil to death! Sounds right (I didn't really want to try this, so will take it with a grain of salt from wherever it was I read it!)
The small start-up group gathered a few more members around them, and then it was decided that a non-profit organization should be established, a name given the group, and that it should be registered as a "church."
Those of us who were at the meetings to establish all this knew the group was not intended to really be a church per se. The Fourth Way is not a "religion" and has nothing of the sort to be "followed," as it is without "faith" or "belief." The Fourth Way is not the way of the monk.
The Fourth Way is a "finger, pointing." Each person has to know this kind of work is an internal effort, not an external display, and not "pray in the street." The work is practical only when actualized individually and personally for oneself.
In a few years, however, a majority of the members liked the idea of a church, although there is no "worship" or "prayers" or hymn singing, for that matter (unless one counts the blind worship of the teacher, and praying one has enough money to keep up with the tithes)!
Being a "church" encompassed the group as a group, and "belonging to something." The members, then, become more and more separated from people who are not in the group (such as other family members, parents, and old friends "outside"). The teacher discouraged mingling with people who were not members (soon with rules against it), and certainly do not mingle with former members!
In 1980, the teacher decided that he should be obeyed completely. He was ticked off because he told everyone to stop smoking, and quite a few people didn't do as he asked. So he started levying fines on people caught smoking (or "turned in" by fellow members). (The fines were rather costly -- $1,500 and up). Another way to control people is to keep them financially strapped. It is hard to be independent and individual if one's attention is held on the next required donation, as well as not having enough money to leave the group, or too embarrassed to ask family for help.
After the no smoking task, students, as usual, hugged one another when they met, with one added activity: they "sniffed" each other to see if they could smell smoke! (One person we knew actually went into someone's car late at night and checked the ashtrays!) The group was divided quickly into to camps with this idea, suddenly nobody knew who they could trust.
This turn of events made Harold rather testy. He telephoned the leader and asked about necessity for obedience and many other things.
The leader said that from now on members would have to OBEY him without question.
Harold remarked, "The Gurdjieff teaching does not have faith, belief or obedience in it". This is one of the aspects we liked about the ideas. We had heard about "cults" before and erroneously thought this basic admonition would protect everyone. We should have read a book written many years before, "Words to the Wise," by Manly P. Hall!
The teacher was not happy to hear Harold's challenge, and said in an even tone of growl, "This is not Mr. Gurdjieff's school. This is not Mr. Ouspensky's school. This is Mr. Burton's school." Harold said that last sentence sounded as if it came through clenched teeth.
Oh. Well, in that case not much could be discussed about the ideas we had studied, as the leader kept changing them! He had made it quite clear he wanted total obedience from students, which seemed ridiculous to us. Of course, when we commented about this, the more loyal members would tell us we were in a "willfulness feature" and our "false personality" was controlling us! If one is susceptible to peer pressure, this is a very strong aspect of a blossoming cult.
At one point, Guinivere (Helga Fenn when joined) admonished me to take a trip to the farm and stay a while so as to have my "thinking realigned."

It seemed to us that common sense turned out to not be very common.
The demand for obedience made Harold so angry, he used the energy of the anger to create the "Task/Exercise/Suggestion" list you will find at the link below, using actual information! What is on the "WirkSheet" is not invented by Harold!
Some of the things on the list are totally ridiculous, of course, and yet these are *exactly* what the tasks, suggestions and exercises were in 1980. Most of the members *believed* and agreed with them, as well as followed them!
We did not "agree" or "disagree" openly, and rather went around with like-minded students trying to keep each other sane. We also knew Burton was capable of lying and had lied to us several times (proved out later, and too long a story for here at this time). One thing Gurdjieff had said about this kind of work was "You cannot work with anybody who lies."
The one thing that holds "true believers" together was and is that they believe Burton to be "sent" by "higher forces" -- a "man of God." They believe he is what he says he is ("second only to Jesus Christ"). As long as they hold this belief, they cannot be persuaded that something is definitely amiss. People *want* to believe this so much, they will imagine it is true and think their imagination is real. Thus, for them, Burton can "do no wrong."
If he lies to them, "it is for my own good," and so everything is justified because "the lower cannot understand the higher." Somehow they forgot "By their fruits ye shall know them."
Also, the group provides nearly "everything" for a good life, although frugal by comparison to the teacher's standard of living. Concerts, museum trips, and various highly cultural activities are encouraged, as well as some of these things being presented at the California headquarters (the 'farm') in the Town Hall there.
Thus, what one reads, the music one listens to, the weekly meetings, offer activities aplenty decreed by an outside source among people who have become close friends. There is no need to go into "life" and mingle with non-members. For some people, the group becomes a "safe house."
Peter Ouspensky had written about this also, when he remarked that many a group begins with the basic principles and starts in the right direction, but that at a certain stage the original aim is forgotten (self discovery, etc.) and the aim that unconsciously replaces it is the preservation of the group. This is when students "work on each other" to keep everyone in the group. Ouspensky said that this is when the group has a collective imagination they are scaling the heights when, in fact, they are falling into a pit. [His remarks about this are in the Preface of his book "New Model of the Universe."]
Leaders of other groups, more closely working with original ideas and referred to as "legitimate schools," have a different view of the Fellowship. The late Lord John Pentland of the Gurdjieff Foundation, one of the largest schools, told Stella and Harold in the mid-1980s that Burton is "making his students into children." That is, making them dependent on him (the "father figure").
Therefore, nobody has to "grow up." Pentland thought of the situation as very unfortunate.

In discussion one time with other members, the ranch manager was asked to define what he thought Burton meant by "total obedience," and he replied, "If Robert asked me to set fire to the Lincoln Lodge (student dining room) during dinner hour, I would do it."
FOF is externally different from "Jonestown," or "Heaven's Gate" cults but the influence and establishment of cult-like behavior in members is the same.
Burton did say in about 1979, "There are 200 members now who would go with me to the death." We assumed at that time he meant there were that many students who would stay with him until he or they died. Maybe that is what he meant.
We think that FOF will not end up as a "suicide cult." At least we hope not! Actually, we think the leader enjoys his comforts too much; he lives like a potentate, enjoys the best of fine dining, and creature comforts -- not usually the combination of a suicidal type. Ah, and there are no guarantees.
(On September 25, 1981, Stella wrote a sincere four-page letter to Robert Burton about these matters. See link for "Letter to Burton" and follow-up comments at that time, select link at bottom of page for this item.)
The WirkSheet says a lot about what people will actually do! For instance, in the upper right hand corner of the sheet are things said about pets. Some people actually had their non-pedigree pets of several years destroyed in order to purchase thoroughbred animals, as they easily accepted the idea that Burton should be obeyed without question.
Well, we did it, too. We had two little dogs, one was a Hungarian Puli sheep dog named "Banjo," and the other was a scruffy little guy named "Bill" (breed unknown). Naturally, Burton put the pressure on, and reminded us that we would have to end the "dog octave." One day when we came home, we discovered the dogs had gotten out through the fence. We didn't look for them.

A few days later, I received a call from the dog pound, describing the dogs, both Banjo and Bill, and (alas, I still get choked up when I remind myself of this) my response was to say I didn't know what the guy was talking about! Ack! I felt so guilty about it, I could not even tell any of my friends that I had done this, and to this day I still feel remorse for having done it.
Interference into people's sex lives began early on. When speaking with us, Burton frequently mentioned how women can "drain" a man's energy by wishing too much sex, and would ask Harold if I was demanding too much! (Hardly, Burton kept people much too busy for that. haha) He did hint around this subject a lot.
We spent time at Lake Tahoe and Reno with Robert, because Harold worked there a lot. One time when I was there, too, Robert looked at one of the scantily clad cocktail waitresses and mused, "Such a pretty woman, and yet just under her skin are blood vessels, a heart beating, a liver, kidneys, and several feet of intestines, filled with..." You get the idea.
When occasionally denouncing the human sex act as a waste of precious psychic energy, he also remarked one time, "It is interesting that the sex organs are or are near to the organs of elimination." (Uh, thanks a lot for the image, Bob.)
On one visit to our home, he asked to see the bedroom and while looking around he muttered under his breath but loud enough for us to hear, "Hmmm. Smells organic in here." What he actually meant we didn't ask, but it added to other odd comments he made about sex.
In the first year or so the group gained a reputation for wrecking marriages. Of the first batch of couples who joined 37 of them split up within a few months!
Rules about children caused a lot of emotional trouble. Burton's suggestion was to wait 5 years after marriage to have children, and sometimes that's a nice idea that doesn't work. Burton told the hierarcy of the group to tell these people to have abortions if the "timing" was wrong! They did, and women had abortions!
Linda who worked closely with the teacher told us in Amsterdam in 1980 that she was "only following orders" when she told women members to have abortions! (She was a member since the early 1970s, and still is as far as we know.)
Burton wanted children to be a certain age at Armageddon, for which he claimed, "I will bridge the gap for humanity at Armageddon." Ack! People were believing this! If one *believes* this, one MUST obey. Fear of "higher forces" was instilled in members, and most easily introduced into people who did not actualize the Work ideas within themselves by personal observation so they could see what was going on and avoid the pitfalls.
Children were frequently spoken of as being a considerable waste of "higher energies," and some women were convinced to give their children away!
The "no wit" exercise (a new task) was awful. One old timer (Girard Haven) when asked at a meeting, "What is wit?" seriously replied, "If I hear laughter, I consider it suspect."
Arraauugghh. In a short time, the atmosphere among members was lugubrious.
The "highest students" were considered to be those who were the most serious acting and stern. New people to join the group quickly learned to imitate this behavior, thinking they were "being good students."
As early as the mid-1970s student acts began to take on what Ouspensky described as "artificially somber meeting faces." Being serious was at the top of the unwritten list. Perhaps this stems from the influences of our Puritan ethic in our heritage. "If one is having fun, it must be a sin."
One huge masterstroke of division among members was when the teacher told everyone they would have to change their names!
He said he wanted no "ethnic sounding names" in the "New Civilization" that the group would be founding at Armageddon.
This served to effectively split apart everyone, as weekly journals of USA meetings became emotional "duds" when we didn't know anybody's name in them anymore. At a distance in Holland, there was no way to recognize anybody, and have that emotional "tweak" - "Oh, so-and-so still is in the group!"
Having gotten out in 1982, we also are aware that a possibility exists that the "poisonous atmosphere at Renaissance" (old phrase for FOF HQ and vineyard/winery complex by the more liberal students) has been alleviated somewhat. We hope so. Still, it holds on tightly to members.
In 1980 Burton said at a dinner in Paris that the group was second only to the teachings of Christ. In a published interview in the San Francisco Chronicle (April 1980), the article finished with the reporter asking Burton if he thought HE was Christ, and Burton humbly replied, "Thou sayest it."

"We Were There" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, December 2, 2007:
According to recent comments, Robert Burton thinks that those who have left the Fellowship of Friends behind ‘hate’ him.

The fact is, most of us pity – or abhor – him (or a combination of both), an old man who is a slave to his desires and appetites.

In olden days, when sincere members had the courage to confront him about his self-destructive behavior, his response was “Don’t worry, if I am wrong, C Influence will take care of me.”

More and more it appears he was right…

"WhaleRider" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, August 21, 2007:
I remembered something today about my first trip to Europe with Robert Earl Burton. We arrived at our destination city, booked rooms, and were all having lunch, the five or six of us. Robert seated me next to him….subtle, no? What a control freak, always deciding where to ‘put’ you and when you eat. We never had snacks or anything while we were with him, so I can remember being hungry most of the time. We always ate with him, when he ate (and drank). Actually, I welcomed the few glasses of wine we had a lunch to break some of the tension between many of us traveling as a group.

At the end of the meal, Robert began toying with a toothpick. He wasn’t particularly chatty most of the time, and we were supposed to be attentive and take notes with our trusty notebooks and fancy pens should he actually say something noteworthy. I did manage to take down of few of his wiseacres, and now that I think of it, I was requested to turn my notebook in when I returned to Renaissance to be…. reviewed…? There were no new angles (or reflections of a personal nature in my notebook), so I guess it passed censorship and was returned to me.

Anyway, his royalness was toyingly dipping the very tip of his toothpick in some mayonnaise left on his plate, putting into his mouth and grinning. I was impressed at how he could scoop out such a tiny speck. I intently watched him do this a few times. I had the thought that maybe in a supreme act of consciousness, he was displaying his great will over food, his power over his passions, since at one time he was very overweight and was no longer so. (I guess the high protein diet really does work.)

I’m thinking, maybe mayonnaise was one of his downfalls and he had to be very careful with it, but now and then he allowed himself to taste it, to test himself, like a long recovered alcoholic might to prove something to themselves. I ‘projected’ all that ‘consciousness’ onto him. I was, as Sponge Bob would say, in “i-ma-gi-naaaaa-tion!”

At one moment, as all my attention was concentrated on the little speck of mayonnaise (with a little bit of attention directed back at myself, otherwise I wouldn’t have remembered this); he leaned in, smiled, and asked me, “(my name), could I have some of YOUR mayonnaise?” I don’t remember my exact response, I probably nodded slightly, but I do remember thinking, “Sure Robert, whatever that’s supposed to mean.”
I was focused on the speck.

He reached over, took a speck of some mayonnaise from my plate, put it into his mouth and smiled.
Not more than 15 minutes later, I am in his hotel room; he pushes me onto the bed, aggressively unzips my pants, and performs fellatio on me. There are no words exchanged, only actions. The phone rings. He stops as I am mid-stream. I stain my pants.

[ed. - The following took place at a time when exposure to popular film, TV, radio, newspapers and other media was strongly discouraged by Burton.]

"RobertC" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, October 12, 2007:
Fat Boy, Vinnie, and the rest of you apologists who are supporting or defending or apologizing for the Fellowship: you seem to be assuming that what you really need to defend against are the gross sexual transgressions and improprieties. Well, certainly they are horrendous. But the real problem with the Fellowship is that it is not a functioning school – the rot extends much further than the bedroom. Time for me to tell another story to make of what you will.

Sometime during the early 80s my wife and I were at Renaissance for the weekend, as was our custom, and on Sunday morning we had breakfast at what was then the Lincoln Lodge with dear friends of ours, a couple who were on salary at Renaissance, and who had been recently married. They were in the process of trying to establish a household for themselves, and although they were trying not to complain about their situation, it became very clear to us that they were having great difficulty with their project because they worked hugely long hours, and thus had little time to do extra things outside work, and because they barely had enough money to do anything. It was on the edge of heartrending for me.

Because my wife and I had a commitment back in the Bay Area later on Sunday, we decided to head for home soon after breakfast. We talked about our friends’ situation all the way to our car, as it had affected both of us so much.

On the way off the property we stopped at the Goethe Academy, which I wanted to see in more detail. I think I had a little bit of an ‘inappropriate’ sense that since I was part of the FoF and had paid a huge amount of money towards it’s construction over the years, that I should be able to at least see it. So we walked in to the main central room, which was breathtaking in its somewhat overdone way, and then I headed into the library, being a lover of books.

Well my goodness……… Robert and about six of his boys were in the library watching a football game on a huge TV. I was so taken aback that I was literally stopped in my tracks. The boys all looked like they felt guilty – as though they had been ‘caught’. Robert immediately leaped up and came over close to me as though to block my view, told me that I should not be there without permission, told me that if I wanted to borrow a book I could see someone in the office, and made it clear through his tone and manner that the conversation was now over and that I should leave. My wife was standing in the doorway and also saw all this occur.

So we left and headed for home. Neither of us could see any way that the scene in the library could be right. It was wrong in *so* many ways.

A few weeks later I got a call from someone in the office who was canvassing for donations for the new Chinese furniture for the Goethe Academy. I told them that I was not willing to make a donation for the furniture, but that if they wanted donations for better housing for the salaried workers at Renaissance I would be happy to contribute. And I said I didn’t want them to just record no donation from me, I said I want you to pass on why I am not willing to make it. I was enervated by the experience of a few weeks before and was speaking a bit forcefully.

The person who had called me was quiet for a few seconds after my diatribe, and I was thinking ‘oh great, I’ve done it now’. And then they said ‘Thank you for saying that. I think everyone I am calling wants to say it but they just don’t feel they can.’

How could a true school arrive at such a low point? And that was just the early 80s ……….

So, believers and supporters and apologists, has all this sort of thing been cleared up by now? Is there now a sense of free and open inquiry in the Fellowship? A sense that you can ask whatever you need to ask without any fear of retribution or reprisal?

Oh, sorry, I forgot …. no personal questions at meetings anymore. Hmmm. Well I guess the good thing about that is that you no longer need to fear that your question might be judged inappropriate.

"swhite44" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, September 3, 2013:
Has anyone commented in this long epic about how Robert and his boyz would go to a restaurant after the formal dinners and pig out? I saw it once or twice – they all frantically passed dishes around and gutsed down the food like there was no tomorrow, No meal tomorrow anyway. Wasn’t that a strange phenomenon?

"dick moron" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, April 4, 2007:

On a lighter note to many of the heartfelt and serious post, here’s an old story.

The Egyptological nature of the current version of FOF brought to mind a memory of my early days as a member. I think it was 1976 when the first USA showing of the Tutankhamun treasures was exhibited at the National Gallery of Art in Washington DC. I happened to be there with Mr. Burton and his entourage at the time. I remember dutifully getting to the Gallery entrance way before opening and standing at the front of the line in sub-freezing temperatures with dear Peter Bishop for 2 or 3 hours in order to hold a choice position before the hoards arrived. Just before the doors opened, RB waltzed to the front of the line and we went in. There was quite an array of artifacts and inscribed tablets etc., but all I can remember is RB’s fascination by all the gold and jewelry. Of course this was the period when Meissen porcelain figurines of chubby cherubs was thought to release higher hydrogens in students.

I guess the main shock of the Tutankhaman show was the discovery that the photographer on the expedition was one Harry Burton.

For anyone interested, H. Burton’s photographs of the opening of the tomb are presently on display at the Metropolitan Museum in NY.

Now back to more serious topics. Watchout!