Introduction


Presented in reverse chronology, this history stretches from the present back to the Fellowship's 1970 founding, and beyond.
(See "Blog Archive" in the sidebar below.) It draws from many sources, including The Fellowship of Friends - Living Presence Discussion, the Internet Archive, the former Fellowship of Friends wiki project, cult education and awareness sites, news archives, and from the editor's own 13-year experience in the Fellowship.

The portrait that emerges stands in stark contrast to sanitized versions presented on the Fellowship's array of
alluring websites, and on derivative sites created by Burton's now-estranged
disciple, Asaf Braverman.

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.

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