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.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

New version of The Canons of the Fellowship of Friends approved

[ed. - On December 12, 2009, The Fellowship of Friends Council and Board of Directors approved a new version of The Canons of the Fellowship of Friends. This document was submitted to the Yuba County Board of Supervisors as part of its 2014 Claim for Refund of Taxes Paid. See also the 1986 version.]

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

"Other people's stories"

"Ames Gilbert" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, December 9, 2009:
I’ve tried to avoid telling other people’s stories, but since this one was told to me and it had a really big effect on me, I’m going to go ahead.
When I started asking people about their sexual experiences with Burton, something unexpected happened. Somehow the word that I was interested got around, and people started approaching me, unbidden and unexpected.
One night, a man called and asked if I would talk with him. I agreed, and expected the conversation to continue over the phone. Instead, he asked if he could come and talk in person, right away. I said okay, and then, just before calling off, he said, “By the way, I want to bring my wife”. I said that was fine, and did he mind if my wife was present; I told him that she was completely trustworthy and would provide balance.
Five minutes later, he was there, with his wife. They were pale and distraught and obviously in turmoil.
The next hours were some of the most amazing of my life. This man told me about his relationship with Burton in detail, and it was revolting from every point of view. The relationship had been going on for four years. One of the more surreal aspects of all this is that this was that most of this was new to his wife. She had only learned of fact of the sexual relationship the previous day, without details. She was processing all this right in front of my eyes, and I could see her reaction to all the details as her husband told them. He was confessing to her and us at the same time, and his grief and shame and agony, and hers, was one of the most powerful experiences I have ever had in my life.
As all this unfolded, I was also conscious that this was a very rare moment, that the unvarnished truth was being told, and I must remember everything.
When the first wave had finished (about twenty minutes), I was aware of the incredible anger building up in his wife. She was boiling with rage and plainly wanted to be elsewhere. I felt I should say something, so I asked him if he minded if I asked him questions. Obviously, I asked how it started. He told me that Burton asked him to stay on after a ‘Symposium’ where everyone had a great deal to drink. Burton took him to a bedroom and told him to get undressed. The man knew enough about Burton to guess what was about to happen, and protested. Burton told him that his reluctance was due to ingrained mechanical morality, and specifically that working against this would aid his evolution. This convinced the man; he for sure agreed that this would be deeply against his nature, so it would indeed be very strong ‘work on his mechanicality’. After oral sex on the man, Burton then told him to lie on the floor. Burton then masturbated to climax over him.
This was the pattern of the relationship. Every time the man had doubts, Burton told him that he was advancing, that he was on the fast track of evolution, that the angels approved, that he was privileged, that his spiritual future was assured. It was also the sexual pattern. As this unfolded, I was conscious that I was hearing a description of pure, unmitigated evil.
So we found out that all this time, his wife had no idea. She was not a follower when they met, and only joined because he was already a member. She liked the people, but did not particularly empathize with what the FoF claimed. She had had a strong (but not fundamendalist) religious upbringing. But she did know she loved her husband. She started talking, her words were of disbelief and betrayal. “How could you have done this?” she asked over and over again. My wife and I were just spectators for the next hour, and we might just as will have been invisible for most of the time as they thrashed with the issues.
When the second wave was over, we tried to comfort them. I could see that now a period of doubt and regret had started. Why on earth did they come to two strangers and spill all this out? After a while I asked. Because the people that they knew, the regular Fellowship folks, could not be trusted. They had no one to turn to. They had to express and confess. The wife felt so stupid. The man felt such shame, felt such a fool. He should have known better, he should have told his wife immediately, but the longer he avoided it, the harder it became.
Then we started talking about conscience. I buried mine, the man said, I can see that now. I knew at the time that this was wrong for me, but I thought that Burton knew better, and that sacrificing mechanicality was what was needed for awakening. Burton assured me over and over again that I was on the road to awakening, that my understanding hadn’t caught up yet.
We talked for another hour about what this meant. What is the nature of betrayal? What can be learned from it? What is the nature of forgiveness? Is there such a thing as volitional forgiveness, or is all one can do is prepare the ground as best as one can and invite forgiveness in when it is time?
The last fifteen minutes we spent hugging and caring, and then they went back home, with at least a temporary peace.
And they did stay together.
From this, I deeply understood why a man would submit to Burton. As I’ve said before, I don’t know what would have happened if Burton had pressed me, had not taken ‘no’ for an answer. DC [Daily Cardiac, blogger] is right in one way, anyone could say ‘no’, and most of us were adults in the technical sense. But DC is very wrong in the most important way. Burton uses his authority and power to get his way. The Fourth Way demands that one give up one’s will to a teacher, and Burton certainly demands that. What do you do when it comes to the crunch? Burton either claims outright or by implication (and it’s a damn strong implication, DC, whatever you say) that this is an excellent way to ‘work against mechanicality’. And the idea that once we’ve turned 18 we are all adults, all competent and able to prevail in the world is nonsense. In some very important ways, many people attracted to the FoF are children who want to be told what to do.

Having a Field Day with "Daily Cardiac"

[ed. - As The Fellowship of Friends official blog spokesperson, "Daily Cardiac" was at times subject to vicious and at other times hilarious attacks and challenges. Ever unperturbed, Cardiac performed admirably, especially considering their state of spiritual undress. If "rock that boat's" statement below is correct, "Daily Cardiac" is 40-year-member, former Fellowship of Friends President, and long-time editor of Fellowship publications, Linda Tulliso - now Linda Kaplan. It does seem credible.]

"rock that boat" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, December 9, 2009:
DC ["Daily Cardiac"] must be laughing HER head off! I just got the inside scoop, DC is Linda T-lliso. And it absolutely makes sense, mercurial, dogmatic, loves writing, likes to play games…. pretending, BS-ing.

Time to let her be folks!

This inside information is very reliable!!!

"Daily Cardiac" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, November 24, 2009:
[Quoting the following bloggers:]

“The “spirit world” is a metaphor for the unseen forces and mythic archetypes of the unconscious mind…Apparently, you believe in a literal spirit world.” 
“Neither was I looking for verification of higher forces, because in the 4th way books there are no higher forces.”
James Mclemore:
“DC said,
“This discussion is supposed to be about spiritual matters;”
He is mistaken. Actually he knows better, and he only wishes it was about that. He wishes it was about almost anything other than what it really is, and then tries his best to develop conversation about other topics.”
I guess it was silly of me to propose a spiritual discussion when it appears the spirit part of spiritual is not much believed in or valued by ex members. The big picture is slowly coming into focus.
The FoF professes to be an esoteric school based on spirituality, based on development of the spirit.

So if one does not put much stock into that realm, or as it seems from WhaleRider, does not even believe in it, it’s no wonder there would be a disconnect with an organization that centers it’s teachings on the existence of a spirit world that governs over human kind and closely monitors all man’s dealings. A spirit world that can be and has been verified by hundreds of members.

Now that I think of it I really don’t remember any ex members conversing, long or short, frequently or infrequently, on any level, about a deity, higher forces, gods, angels, creator. It appears they have substituted synchronicity for a deity.

In the mean time I’m including various comments from the core group of ex members who post here, all addressed to me or about me in the span of about a week back on page 85.

Keep in mind that these comments represent complete postings, not excerpts from longer posts. If I would have included excerpts of a similar nature the list would have been three times longer.

Why are these comments significant? They are significant because each of these posts represented a lost opportunity to refute, through force of reason and adhering to basic principles of discussion, the very issues ex members are consumed with but never actually discuss in a reasonable way.

In order for a reasonable discussion to take place any participant first of all would have to recognize when they are stating an opinion and be honest and detached enough to see when a statement consists of an opinion and nothing more – Definition of Opinion : “a belief or judgment that rests on grounds insufficient to produce complete certainty.”

One would also have to recognize the difference between the written word, i. e. testimony, facts*(sometimes the facts lie) and verifiable truth. One would have to acknowledge that the one thing no one can know for sure is someone else’s motivations as to why they did or said something – especially in spiritual matters – as motivation often runs counter to appearance; just as the spirit’s needs often run counter to the physical body’s needs.

It goes without saying that no spiritual truth can be arrived at through negativity – anger, hatred, revenge, etc. because that is all part of the lower realm and is exactly what must be transcended if spiritual truth is to be known.

You (any open minded readers) will notice immediately the nature of the comments being quoted below: mean spirited, vulgar, sarcastic, condescending, dismissive and generally of a negative and demeaning quality.

I ask you then – are these the words of individuals you would want to cast your spiritual well being with?
These authors will respond with their reasons why it was necessary or important to respond to me in this way, so beforehand I’ll say it again – anyone can write anything, pass anything off as truth for no other reason than because it issued forth from their keyboard. Of course that’s not a reason.

They are revealing their real nature in spite of their efforts to insinuate the opposite. It’s here for all to consider and anyone with a beating heart and the slightest inkling to touch the divine will see it for what it is. I certainly don’t have to label it.

Any open minded individual reading this, do yourself a favor. Leave this posting open on your monitor (the part where ex members comments are listed) and then go to “Pathways to Presence” [PTP] and view both pages together – scroll down this posting, read a few comments of ex members, and then read the contents of “Pathways to Presence” and judge for yourself who the bearers of spiritual truth are.

An ex member recently called the PTP site “alluring.” You will find it to be much more than alluring, much more than compelling. If you are searching for spiritual truth you will find it irresistible, like finding a long lost friend.

But for now, please judge the following statements according to your own sense of worth and reason:
“Pure excrement, DC. What are you eating?”

“Give me a break. You don’t need to spend quality time with dog shit to know it stinks.”

“Ok. I’m an ex-member. The FOF is not a “rape factory”. However the Fellowship of Friends is a Doofus factory. And a factory for sleazy lawyers, psychiatrists and psycho olive oilers.”

“You know DC there is another experience that I sometimes have when I read your posts…” Yeah, me too, but it is a little different. It is kinda like there is a gaggle of maggots in the center of my brain which begin wiggling and gobbling their way out until they get to the neural pathways controlling the jaw muscles causing it to fall slack.”

“I do not read DC’s posts. However, I read them about 1.5 years ago and his completely messed up mind propelled me to take the decision and leave the cult.’

“Daily Thumbtack, DC – Aristotle said “Man is a political animal.” He could have also said that “Man is a lying animal.” He could also have said, “You’re a smug jackass”. But more likely, had he read the above, could have said, “Holy Zeus, what an intolerably pretentious pinhead”.

“His way of thinking really helps to see how screwed up you can become in the Fellowship of Friends (check Pathway to Presence too, because they are re-doing their image…).”

“I mentioned this to you before, but I’ll say it again. Your posts are nothing more than pre-adolescent intellectual masturbation. What’s astounding is your lack of conscience and complete lack of self-awareness in that you have no shame or hesitation about whipping it out and doing it here in front of all of us. You are the fool of the farce. You are, as I mentioned before, the guy on the subway who exposes himself for a reaction yet doesn’t perceive the disgust he elicits.”

“disingenuous?!?!? you have no clue… you’re truly an absurd ass…” 

“I think it is good he talks here. But he is not well. And he needs help. And he will not get it as long as he stays in the cult. Have a nice day! :-0″

“Come on, have a heart. After all, DC has nowhere to go that he is not openly or secretly reviled. At least some of us are honest. He is a fine example of what the FoF stands for.”

“To talk to Daily Crap it’s like playing tennis with the wall, there is nobody there.”

‘Mark Twain might have said – “Daily Cardiac’s posts were written by Girard Haven or by someone calling himself Daily Cardiac”. The fact is, it is the same, slowed down, formatory, convoluted, not making sense, CRAP!”

“My apologies for the mistake. Who cares who It is? Inanity thy name don’t matter.”

“why do I get the feeling someone does not receive enough attention in the cult?”

“Daily trash, you either conscienceless fof worker, who paid to do what you are doing, or you truly are believing in your daily crap.In any case, your efforts fruitless, because your teacher’s actions speaking for themselves.”

“I don’t know how you guys make it thru DC’s posts. I can’t make it thru one paragraph, it stinks like shit.”

"Yes, Daily Crap is a real idiot, but if he the best they have, imagine how stupid others?”

“As the blog continually engages in conversation with this fucking moron I’m beginning to believe the blog and DC deserve each other.”

“Instead, I’m going to have some real fun and find someone to give me a root canal without anesthetic.”

“Daily Crap, You are one sick motherfucker, who deserves the worse, like your pathetic Robert Burton. I wish you both to share a jail cell.”

“Daily Crap, Your aim is to mislead and to distract. You are a Burton’s whore, who getting paid for doing what you do.”

“Your robot logic is coming unglued. You are like HAL in 2001 a Space Odyssey. Open the pod bay doors Dave…. Dave…..Daisy, Daisy……Goodbye robot.”

“And don’t forget, dear friends, that the staggering level of idiocy that DC has achieved can only be accomplished after decades of mind-numbing & emotionally castrating toadying.”

“You, my friend, are a child. You ask for reason while living in a mythic world of fantasy.”

“DC-ism -Banal FOF witch hunt of fueled fears, accusations of disloyalty and unsubstantiated accusations to justify and protect it’s Cult leader Robert Burton”

“Don’t fall in this trap of wasting energy on this guy/woman”

“I agree with that. Talking to DC reasonably is useless because he lack of just about every thing to have this type of conversation with him. He proved his idiocy over and over again.. He is a true reflection of the FoF, and to have him here is good, so people can listen to him and make their own conclusions.”

“Thank you Opus for your reasonable post, but I’m afraid you will be disappointed by Daily Crap’s response, if there will be any.”

“No, please stay there. Keep being complete with oneself and suck up all the joy and salvation you can get. You deserve it. I wish you the best of luck.’

“My guess is “he” is a non-suckee. RB doesn’t really like his type, except for money. Apologists and defenders are frequently those who have to create their own imaginary worth in lieu of sexual attention by defending the indefensible (flying monkey).”

“DC must have claimed the position of talking asshole for the FOF, especially if he is behind the bullshit PR on their site. Fits nicely. Whether he wrote it or not I don’t think I could hold him in lower esteem than I do already. He the perfect mouthpiece. There’s a special ring in hell for him (within his cosmology, not mine).”

“How strange……..All of those words that he uses and yet it appears he can no longer ‘think’.”

“You are such a douche”

“Fuck you you fucking motherfucking fuck.”

"Ames Gilbert" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, November 24, 2009:
You are setting up a false argument when you ask readers to compare the collected comments of your detractors you’ve collected together to the blandishments of the FoF website. First, I don’t recall any of those who made comments setting themselves up as objective spiritual authorities or even ‘bearers of spiritual truth’; the FoF/PTP and Burton (and you yourself) clearly do. Commentators are not inviting readers to join their organizations; the FoF is clearly doing so. Sure, some of the comments you have collected are reactive and probably don’t advance the conversation very much, but IMO you don’t contribute much yourself, whatever your claims to the contrary.

You mention the reference to the PTP site being “alluring”, and claim that any open seeker will find it irresistible. You forget that the Silentpurr [blogger], like the rest of us who have left, was allured by the claims of the Fellowship of Friends, and after spending considerable time, effort, and money, found no substance behind the allure. There was a lure, but we found it was ‘bait and switch’. The bait was the Fourth Way, and we were switched to the Second Way, a religion based on the worship of Burton and his collection of conveniently invisible helpers, the theoretical 44 astral bodies of supposedly ‘conscious’ beings. A religion like any other in that it uses fear or infatuation to bind the followers. A religion like any other that claims it is the only true one, that it has an exclusive pathway to salvation, that all other religions are false, that followers are singularly blessed, that to leave is damnation. A religion like any other that demands faith, credulity and childlike (and permanent) dependence. A religion like any other that necessitates intermediaries between the supplicant and God.

You advocate for the Pathways to Presence website. Is it because it is so pretty? Is the language so refined? Sure it’s pretty; the Fellowship of Friends has recruited some talented designers and writers in its time. We are here to tell readers that the prettiness hides something awful, that behind the facade there is rottenness, lies and corruption. That Burton is a charlatan and a liar, and has been from the start. That the man in the meeting who spouts pre-digested platitudes about presence in a soft, hypnotic voice with compelling aura of self-certainty has most likely just come from a sexual encounter with heterosexual men, where he once more promised that acting against their inclinations would ‘advance their spiritual evolution’. We are here to say that the soft voice is likely because his throat is still clogged with sperm, the calm assurance is perhaps the result of tranquilizers, and his monologs have a dreamy quality because he is musing on his last sexual conquest or planning the next one. We are here to tell readers, not that your personal subjective experiences have no value to you, but that your arguments that Burton is a legitimate teacher are demonstrably false and spurious.

Daily Cardiac, ask yourself why you defend the Fellowship of Friends and Robert Earl Burton. If you have verified that he is a ‘conscious teacher’, and that agents of the ‘spirit world’ exist and are helping you and other co–dependents, then that knowledge should be unassailable. Ditto the ‘hundreds of members’ who you claim have also verified this stuff. Take comfort in the sure knowledge that we are the equivalent of doomed ants about to be crushed by incomprehensible forces who have it in for unbelievers and traitors. Why should ‘C-Influence’, as you conceive it, need a bunch of little helpers like you anyway?

You attract comments from exasperated readers who show their exasperation openly. You concentrate on the language but not the message. What is the message for you, Daily Cardiac, and can you learn to recognize and value it?

[ed. - More from the irrepressible Ames Gilbert.] 

"Ames Gilbert" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, August 6, 2008:
It’s apparent that Daily Cardiac (#42-1) is getting uppity and doesn’t know his place. Not here on the blog, I mean, here he’s triply welcome; as a foil, an object lesson, and a sad reminder of where so many of us were. Thank you, Cardiac!

No, what I mean is, within the Fellowship of Friends hierarchy. Ex-followers, obviously, already know what I mean, so this introduction to the structure and ranking within the Fellowship is for the intrepid explorer, who has googled his or her way here and is looking for objective information.

The two broad categories of membership in the Fellowship are obvious: Burton, and then ‘other’. It is within this category that the subtlety and nuances of the organization manifest so richly.

It is not easy to explain to the lay mind the extremely intricate ramifications of the personnel of an up–and–coming new religion like the Church of Burton. I’ll be as brief as possible. Cardiac is a Nodder. A Nodder is like a Yes-man, only lower in the social scale. A Yes–Man’s duty is to attend social interactions where senior followers or Burton are present and say, ‘Yes’. A Nodder’s, as the name subtly implies, is to nod. Whoever is the most senior member present throws out some statement or opinion, such as “As we all know, the play is written”, and looks about him expectantly. This is the cue for the senior Yes–Man to say yes. He is followed, in order of precedence, by the second Yes-Man—or Vice Yesser, as he is sometimes called—and the junior Yes–Man. Only when all the Yes–Men have yessed (yussed in the southern states), do the Nodders begin to function. They nod.

It doesn’t sound like much of a job, and frankly it isn’t much of a job, but there is a certain glory in it, because one has to have been in the Fellowship for at least three years before one qualifies. And, experienced Nodders are said to have as skilled a sense of timing as the best comedians delivering a punch line. Socially, it lies below the Writer of Daily Cards and the person who produces Photoshopped license plates, and of course well below someone like the Keyer of Museum Photographs. Nodders are not automatically ‘given the nod’ at the three–year mark. To qualify, one must have memorized at least four angles given by Kevin B., and to have quoted them, in his hearing, to other students without outwardly displaying the slightest sign of being overheard by him. If he is convinced that the tribute to his advanced being is truly from the heart, then it is only a matter of time before he confers this mark of his high esteem. Remember, he was one of the best Nodders in the business, in his time. He Knows.

This is how one is drawn out of the teeming masses of ordinary followers and deposited on the first rung of the ladder. (The concept of ‘ladders’ is ascribed to Burton, who received commentary concerning the hierarchy from Leonardo; apparently an interpretation of the sounds of gas after overindulging in Cheese Blintzes—Little Swiss Cafe, Carmel, CA circa 1974).

What comes above Yes–Man? The next rung is that rare and lofty office, Keyer, followed by Photoshopper, and Writer of Daily Cards, in that order (perhaps I will have more to say about them at another time). Above that, Official Angle Giver and Chief Angle Giver. Beyond that, it is not possible to go, unless one has been anointed as Next Conscious Being by Burton himself.

Official Angle Givers differ greatly from ordinary angle givers. Anyone, however lowly, can give an angle, but it subject to mauling and changes by Censors—a lateral branch on the same level and with the same authority as Chief Angle Givers, or by Burton himself. Official Angle Givers are extraordinary because they can be quoted, and any angles they give are not subject to change.

Ordinary angles, as I have mentioned before, can be freely changed, and often are, by the laity themselves, or by higher officials to suit their various purposes. Ordinary angles are recognized as a valid way of letting off steam. After all, it is hard to have memorized huge chunks of the Fourth Way, or obscure passages from commentaries on the Koran or Philokalia, and not be able to show off one’s discipline or RAM capacity, so no umbrage is taken if an ordinary follower does seize the rare opportunity to do so in private situations.
Official Angle Givers, however, have to have demonstrated the ability to give angles, pithy quotes, or appropriate hagiography on demand, and not only on demand but in alignment with the Founding Principles (Present Version 38.5c) of the organization. Not only must they possess expensive suits, clear diction, and penetrating voices, they must proclaim angles without faltering and project a deep belief in what they are talking about. Perfect examples are Kevin B. or Ethan H.

After many years of unremitting toil and service to the cause, Official Angle Givers may hope to be elevated to Chief Angle Givers, equal with Girard H. himself. It is from this lofty space that Official Books and Sonorous Sayings come to be written, and the holders of the office can expect to attract admirers and groupies of their own.

Cardiac has sinned in that he has tried to elevate himself to Official Angle Giver, an impossibly high goal within the hierarchy, and far beyond his capabilities, though not temperament. And the only reason, and opportunity, for doing so is this blog; he can hide behind the anonymity of a blog name. But I recognize him for what he is, heart and soul a Nodder, and call him on it. And I bet that Nick S. and others are seeking clues about his identity as I write.

By the way, it is not possible for mere females to aspire to becoming even Nodders. Although many try, it is a hollow gesture, because it has been decreed that they must wait for a future lifetime when they will ‘play a male role’. There are exceptions (as noted above), however, for those who, according to Burton, are to reprise the role of Elizabeth I in a future lifetime. Stay tuned.

I hope this necessarily brief guide to the Fellowship of Friends hierarchy will be helpful to anyone who has just joined the Fellowship, and will give pause to anyone thinking about joining. Readers should know that I never even became a Nodder myself, though I did aspire to that for a time. I tried to jump straight to Official Angle Giver a couple of times in 1994, and was immediately terminated for my pains; serves me right, my presumption was exceeded only by my naivité.

Watch out, Daily Cardiac, I’m warning you for your own good!