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.

Friday, July 22, 2011

The Fellowship of Friends caught misrepresenting the "church"

The Fellowship of Friends falsely claims membership in California Council of Churches (Source:  Internet Archive.)

Tim Campion posted the following on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog:
On the Lam?
The Fellowship of Friends has changed its on-line identity so many times, you’d think they were running from the law!

The Wikipedia page for Fellowship of Friends was taken down. Apparently it could not withstand a mediated, collaborative community discussion that gave voice to both boosters and detractors.
I suspect the name Fellowship of Friends is a cross Robert Burton would rather not bear, but perhaps the name is inextricably tied to that precious 501(c)(3) tax exemption granted to “churches”.
The  “Who We Are” section of the “Living Presence” website tells us:
The Fellowship of Friends is registered as a 501(c)(3) California non-profit church organization and is a member of the International Council of Community Churches (ICCC) and the California Council of Churches.

[ed. - Well, since the above comment was posted, the Fellowship has cleaned up the "Who We Are" page. It's encouraging to see Burton's foot soldiers monitor the blogs. Membership in those two groups appears to be nothing but a cynical attempt to portray legitimacy. Other than tax-exempt status, what do these organizations have in common? The following letter - or similar ones - were apparently sent by various individuals to the below-mentioned organizations.]

Posted by "WhaleRider" to the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog:
Dear Board Members of the International Council of Community Churches (ICCC) and the California Council of Churches:

As you may or may not be aware, your organization has within its ranks a quasi-church known most recently as “Living Presence” and formally known as “Pathway to Presence” and as the “Fellowship of Friends”. The group displays its affiliation with your organization in its online advertising here:

What you do not know is that the founder and pastor of this corrupt, hedonistic cult, Mr. Robert E. Burton, regularly has sex with multiple male members of his flock, uses his position of power to live a lavish and expensive lifestyle, and has had a civil law suit filed against him for having sex with an under-aged boy infecting him with the herpes virus, which settled out of court for an undisclosed sum of money whereby all are sworn to secrecy. The details of the suit, a matter of public record are here:

(insert B[uzbee] vs. B[urton] [lawsuit information])

We trust that upon closer scrutiny, you will find the above mentioned group does not meet your high standards of moral decency and has absolutely nothing in common with the Christian faith. In fact, Mr. Robert E. Burton claims to be the second coming of Christ.

We pray you will take this matter as seriously as we do and take the appropriate action.


Former Follower of Robert E. Burton

[ed. - The following is one reply, received via e-mail and posted on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog. The bolds are mine:]
Dear Tim,

Thank you for your email. The Fellowship of Friends is not now, nor has it ever been, a member of the California Council of Churches. Our member denominations are listed on our website at

I have written to them in the past to request they remove any reference to the California Council of Churches, but have to admit I never followed up on it. So thanks for reminding me of this. I will ask a member of our board of directors who is an attorney to send them a cease and desist letter. And I will also send an email to the International Council of Community Churches (ICCC) to alert them to do the same.

Thanks again for bringing this to my attention.



The Rev. Dr. Rick Schlosser
Executive Director
California Council of Churches
California Council of Churches IMPACT

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Rumors of Robert Burton's failing health, AIDS, and other STDs

Years ago someone asked Robert Burton ~ “Robert do you have AIDS?”
 Robert Earl Burton, the second conscious Christ, answered ~
“If I do, I don’t want to know.”  - unoanimo

[ed. - This "conversation" may in fact be an attempt at rumor-mongering, but the topic is relevant. Several of the voices sound suspiciously like a single person with an agenda.]

From Fellowship of Friends Discussion Blog - Part 102

"chasworks" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, May 29, 2011:
I recently heard that RB is very ill. Can any of you confirm this? I left about five years ago and lost interest in the FoF after a couple of years, but I was a member for a long time before seeing the absurdity of it all, and now I’m very interested to follow what happens in the FoF endgame, ie when RB kicks the bucket. Does anyone know if he’s appointed a successor? If poss, I’d appreciate hard facts rather than speculation. Thanks!

"qwertyuiop" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, May 29, 2011:
I do believe, by the way, that the FBI and other agencies are watching very closely, and have been watching for a long time. I disagree with some of the comments that the FBI won’t take the cult seriously unless enough former members raise their voices. Let’s see — a doomsday cult with hundreds of members, many of whom are from outside the country, and entering under dubious circumstances. They’re taking it seriously. What would need to occur for them to take action? Who knows, but it’s not outside the realm of possibility with this cult.

From Fellowship of Friends Discussion Blog - Part 103

"qwertyuiop" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, May 29, 2011:
168. chasworks – May 29, 2011 (re-posting from previous page)
“I recently heard that RB is very ill. Can any of you confirm this? I left about five years ago and lost interest in the FoF after a couple of years, but I was a member for a long time before seeing the absurdity of it all, and now I’m very interested to follow what happens in the FoF endgame, ie when RB kicks the bucket. Does anyone know if he’s appointed a successor? If poss, I’d appreciate hard facts rather than speculation. Thanks!”

I can’t comment about whether Burton is ill or not. But I do have a viewpoint about the idea of Burton appointing a ‘successor.’

The other thing that open discussion about the fof accomplishes is the exposure of Burton’s enablers, who have watched all of this happen for years, and decades in some cases, without saying a word, without offering a warning to those who join. Should they also be held accountable? That question enters into some gray area for many people (it may be hard to pinpoint exactly how much people knew, and when). But yes, it’s definitely not just Burton who qualifies as a sociopath in this cult.

Regarding a “successor,” it’s hard for me to imagine that Burton has seriously considered appointing a “successor.” His ego is so wrapped up in the fof that he probably cannot imagine anyone else taking over. He may talk about a successor, just to keep people happy and dangle some incentive for his closest enablers, but does he really care? If we assume he does want a successor, this also assumes that he truly sees the group as having longevity beyond him. Does he really see it that way? I wonder about that.

From everything I’ve seen, Burton sees the Fellowship of Friends as a place for him to have fun, and that’s it.

Nothing wrong with having fun, but he has little care regarding how his “fun” has any consequences for others. If he becomes seriously ill, and if he knows he has little time left, then what happens to the fof in the long run becomes irrelevant to him. Part of him may worry about his legacy, but then again, he certainly hasn’t cared about his legacy or his reputation for the past 40+ years. For Burton, people can think what they like, as long as he’s having his fun and maintaining control over the followers he remain in the cult.

"silentpurr" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, June 13, 2011:
I heard from a reliable source that Robert has AIDS.

"Wendy" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, June 14, 2011:
Is there any attempt to protect the men he is involved with?

"Wendy" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, June 14, 2011:
#85 silentpurr [above]

Could you please give us any details you have, so we can determine whether this is just a rumor? Why is this source reliable? How many people know this already?
Any idea when he contracted it, so we can possibly determine who and how many people might have been exposed?

"qwertyuiop" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, June 15, 2011:
J.D. [blogger], You know what… if only cult members would bring that same sort of questioning and skepticism to ALL things FOF… Picture for a moment how that would change things.

If Burton does have AIDS… honestly, is there any reason to be surprised? Hundreds, if not thousands of different partners over a few decades. By all accounts, largely with unprotected sex. At least two FOF followers that I know of dying of AIDS. And the cause of their deaths swept under the rug, of course.

The bigger question is not “whether this is just a rumor”. It’s whether the so-called rumor is gentler than the reality. silentpurr, thanks for sharing that information.

"Wendy" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, June 15, 2011:
@85 [To Silentpurr, above]

Okay, silentpurr, you picked a good moniker.

If this is true and provable – not a whisper or a rumor from anonymous sources – then it should go to the local and regional press.

But first it should go to whatever local agencies deal with AIDS (I have heard that they are already alerted to the potential danger in the 95962 community.) A Peruvian student married to an American, P1lar [HIV/AIDS Program Coordinator, Yuba County Health Department in 2003], was at one time working with AIDS in Yuba County, but I don’t know what her circumstances are now, and whether she might be under pressure to be silent.

This could affect potentially hundreds of lives.
That said, this looks suspiciously like a rumor. A few years back an STD purportedly crawled through the Galleria network, and there were a lot of angry and surprised spouses, embarrassed men, and health service tests. Nothing like that appears to be taking place now, under a much greater risk.

Whenever the whiff of a rumor sets off a series of blog lectures, speculation, and sermonizing, it undermines the credibility of this venue. We all know that AIDS and other STDs are an ongoing risk at Apollo, and it’s good to warn people – but not in a rumor-driven avalanche. That just convinces the potential audience – that is, the current FOFers – that the blog hyperbolizes and promotes lies.

And that makes it harder to get through to them.

"Wendy" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, June 15, 2011:
Golden Veil [blogger],

Of course you’re right. But because of the ramifications for hundreds of individuals, it might spark another cult update article with the new information as a possible news hook – which would serve the same purpose of getting people to get a checkup.

Again, I’m not sure that silentpurr, or his/her informant, isn’t simply stirring the pot. It’s usually a bad idea to cry wolf.

"2011" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, June 15, 2011:
I think it would be wise to get more confirmation than just the one posting that Robert indeed is either HIV positive or has AIDS. it would also be useful to know if it is HIV versus AIDS because of the ramifications involved.

"Wendy" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, June 15, 2011:
@104 [to "2011" above]

Agreed. And that is my point. This is not a trivial charge to be bandied about as a recreation. It would impact many, many lives. It would require urgent, responsible action from anyone who is a party to the truth.

To imply the FOF of suppressing this information – information vital to the very lives of so many – is a very big deal, too.

I, for one, do not believe that, say, FOF doctors and those in the know would hide this information at the cost of so many lives. That’s why I suspect this is only a rumor.

But hey, I was a member of the FOF for years. I could be naive about that, as well as so many other things.

"qwertyuiop" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, June 16, 2011:

[Quoting "Wendy"] “A Peruvian student married to an American, P1lar, was at one time working with AIDS in Yuba County,..”

Wendy, that is not English. It’s cult speak. It’s FOF speak. People don’t “work with” AIDS. They struggle with it, suffer from it, and eventually they die from it. But no one “works with it.”


“I, for one, do not believe that, say, FOF doctors and those in the know would hide this information at the cost of so many lives. That’s why I suspect this is only a rumor.

“But hey, I was a member of the FOF for years. I could be naive about that, as well as so many other things.”

Yes, you absolutely are naive, not “could be.” … just as most of us were.

When you find yourself thinking, “No, this can’t be true,” try to listen to that thought very carefully, and remember that it’s the same thought that prevented all of us from seeing the obvious truth about Burton. Again, the question is, why would it surprise you that he may have AIDS? People are indoctrinated in cults. They see what they want to see, and believe what they want to believe — doctors included. So many people — including me — have ignored the POTENTIAL physical and mental health consequences of a reckless guru having sex with so many of his followers. It would be no great leap to also ignore direct evidence.


“Whenever the whiff of a rumor sets off a series of blog lectures, speculation, and sermonizing, it undermines the credibility of this venue.”

What undermines credibility is the inability to talk about this issue AT ALL.
Quick question: Let’s say Burton having AIDS actually is “just a rumor” and he actually does not have AIDS (and not even herpes, or chlamydia, or any other STD):
Would it make you feel any more comfortable?

Would all of us walk away from our computers right now, and have a big sigh of relief — “Whew, I’m glad Burton’s reckless behavior hasn’t yet led to an AIDS epidemic… Maybe he’s only caused Herpes, or maybe only one or two have died. That’s not so bad.”

Whether the time bomb has exploded already, or is ready to explode, or is just waiting for the right moment: Those are really the only pertinent questions.
But again, if you and other cult members and all of us could somehow direct the same skepticism you’re showing here with equal ferocity toward Burton and the FOF…

"Wendy" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, June 16, 2011:
@115 [to "qwertyuiop" above]

You are working hard to misunderstand me, qwertyuiop, and you have succeeded.
P1lar did indeed “work with” AIDS. She is or was some sort of health and social services administrator.

I would not at all be surprised at Robert having AIDS, and I didn’t say I would be. The rumor is believable because we all anticipated this. But “believable” does not mean “true.”

Of course, I don’t know that the FOF doctors, nurses, medical staff could not be pressured into silence. But given the reaction to a recent STD outbreak, I would have expected better.

To accuse people of being complicit in the death, or the potential death, of others is a serious thing. It may be true, but it’s not a charge I would level without facts.

To do that with a reckless disregard for whether it is true or not is malicious.
Don’t let your hatred turn you into your enemy.


"qwertyuiop" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, June 16, 2011:

I understood exactly what she meant in her post.

Wendy, I have never meet a health care practitioner (not in the cult) who says, “I’m working with cancer.” Have you?

But it’s odd (although not surprising) that you would focus on that one comment, and ignore the rest.

"qwertyuiop" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, June 16, 2011:

Wendy: “To accuse people of being complicit in the death, or the potential death, of others is a serious thing. It may be true, but it’s not a charge I would level without facts. To do that with a reckless disregard for whether it is true or not is malicious. Don’t let your hatred turn you into your enemy.”

Let’s say I’m a young man in the FOF and Robert Burton approaches me to have sex. I’m going over the Academy tomorrow night to have dinner with him and a small group of other guys. His intent is pretty clear.

One friend tells me to disregard the rumors that Robert has AIDS. “It’s just malicious and hateful gossip on the blog. We have to be careful because this is a serious accusation.” She’s obviously very loyal to Robert and values him as a teacher. She doesn’t believe he’s a sociopath. She probably means well, but is misguided and still mired in cult thinking.

Another friend walks up to me and says, “You know what, Robert very easily COULD have AIDS, and I happen to believe he does. I would not go anywhere near him.” This same friend tells another and another and another, until word spreads around the FOF that Robert Burton may have AIDS. One person even calmly suggests that she has heard from a good source that he does.

I decide not to go the Academy tomorrow night.

Judge for yourself which of these friends is truly there to help me. Malicious? Hateful? No, not at all. Very concerned for me, yes.

"qwertyuiop" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, June 16, 2011:
It sounds a bit like a small group of debunkers, but I think it’s more that the topic has struck some sort of nerve. If it’s true that Burton has had HIV for years while continuing to have sex with his students, it’s probably not easy to stomach for a lot of people. That’s scary. We just don’t want to hear it. Shout it down. Photograph it. Make fun of it. Hammer the people who brings up the topic. If they don’t show you the medical records, or if you can’t talk directly to his doctor, then doubt them or even ignore them.

There was a time when any talk about Burton at all was considered a “rumor” and one should keep quiet and not talk about those things. It’s hateful, it’s malicious, it’s negative. It shows your lack of valuation. People who did must be talked down, and they were even chuckled at a bit for their obviously low level of being.
Keep quiet. Don’t express your opinion. Someone may not think well of you. You won’t be accepted by the group. And boy, heaven forbid that someone might make fun of you. Gotta make sure you don’t express what you actually think about this. It’ll look bad.

But wait, you’re not at Apollo d’Oro anymore. No center director looking over your shoulder. No worry about being ostracized for expressing your opinion. Not getting kicked out. Not losing your spot in the inner circle. Open discussion is welcome here

Robert Burton may have AIDS. And what’s more, if he does have AIDS, he will not let that stop him.

"Bryan" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, June 19, 2011:
Medical records are private. Providing evidence here won’t happen. The topic is pertinent, however, and not off-limits. Whatever someones knows or does not know about REB having HIV/AIDS, there’s plenty of reason to avoid intimate contact with him or anyone who may have. A lot of people have left the group because of rumours. Thank the heavens for rumours. If there is a pocket of AIDS in Oregon House, a prime suspect would be REB. Common sense. Beware.

"silentpurr" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, June 23, 2011:
Friends, I wish I could be more helpful regarding the details of my message. I only know that it came from a trusted friend who learned the news from someone deep and long within the Fellowship. That is all I can say presently.

"Wendy" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, June 23, 2011:
#150. [to Silentpurr above] Thank you, silent, for the clarification.

"Wendy" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, June 23, 2011:
Of course, this is still the case of an anonymous person (silentpurr) reporting on something said by an unnamed source. (No offense, silentpurr, almost all of us are anonymous here.)

If it is not true, it is a serious enough charge, affecting such a huge number of people, that the FOF leadership should repudiate it publicly – especially since it appears to be a rumor within the FOF. Given Robert’s behavior and current ill health, it is certainly a credible charge.

If, however, it is true, then doesn’t some government agency kick in to inform all people who have had sexual contact with Robert? And don’t all those people have to be tested? And then don’t they have to inform all the people they have had contact with? This widening circle of notification would include not only current members but a large number of former members, especially since the disease would appear to be longstanding, going back years, given that he is obviously ill now.
If that is the case, why did I never get a letter?

My ex is still an FOF member. He said he never had contact with Robert, and certainly he’s not Robert’s “type.” But if Robert’s “parties” are as claimed – and I have heard this from enough different sources to believe it – Robert hardly confined himself to his “type.” The sheer numbers on his birthdays and VD day make it plain he had to bring in supernumeraries, like an MGM film. My ex could easily have lied to me.

In fact, I know that Robert did in fact tell the men around him to lie to their wives and lovers. And this encouraged them to lie more generally.

I certainly have good reason to believe one of the women my ex lied about had been in contact with Robert’s young men.

The fact that I didn’t get a letter – and no one I know got such a letter (and I know people who are far more likely candidates than I am) – suggests that this either not true or not being reported to the authorities.

I had friends among the FOF doctors. If this is true, surely they must know. If they are not telling the authorities and the FOFers – does that make them criminally negligent?

Again, that’s one reason I have trouble believing these rumors. Of the doctors I knew, I cannot easily believe that one, in particular, would sink to this.

But we are talking about the FOF. Everyone is sinking. Everyone learns to justify more and more. Though I am loathe to believe it, I cannot say such criminal negligence is impossible.

I heard that Robert used to joke to insiders that, in the end, everyone will have had sex with everyone else in the FOF. Alas, in the pestilential sense, it’s all too true. Perhaps it’s his only prediction that may come true.

"Wendy" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, June 24, 2011:

Tell that to the center directors who were doing the screening.

"qwertyuiop" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, June 24, 2011:

Ok, everyone. Please strike from the record that Robert Burton has AIDS. Let’s forget this.
You have shown no proof — no medical records published online, no testimony from his doctors, no confirmation from his closet confidants, and he hasn’t stepped forward in the interest of public safety to say he has AIDS. So, please, even if you hear from someone that he has AIDS, or even if you’re concerned that he MAY have AIDS, whatever you do, don’t announce it here. It’s best to keep quiet about it.

And besides you’re forcing a lot of us to think twice about having sex with anyone in the FOF, which is a real downer, and you’re making us wonder if we’ve been really naive about this. And what’s worse, you’re questioning Burton’s integrity by suggesting he has AIDS and is continuing to have sexual contact with his followers. So just stop, please, and let people go back to sleep.

"Wendy" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, June 24, 2011:
Oh please. This is all part of a creepy and increasingly distant past. I really don’t care what my ex did, and with whom or how many, except insofar as the cooties I may have been exposed to. You can’t scare me with stuff.

"Wendy" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, June 24, 2011:

Cut the hazing, J.D. [blogger] I’m not trying to join any fraternity.

Let me clarify: I am not at all rattled about what my Bubba may or may not have done with his little binky years ago. He’s on the dark side now – the incredible shrinking man.

I am, however, deeply rattled by the idea of an AIDS pandemic within a community where many don’t have health insurance or anyone to take care of them, other than the care offered by volunteers, many of whom don’t have the qualifications for any other gainful employment, and are sometimes themselves marginal members of the community.

Given that the FOF has great pretensions to being a “church,” I think they will find that government isn’t very sympathetic to a “church” that throws its members into harm’s way, and then averts its gaze when they need to have medical care that will save their lives and prevent a pandemic.

I know of a number of people, in and out, whose lives would be directly at risk. Some of them were not willing partners in any possible sense, but spouses who were lied to and who are still in the dark.

Since the FOF claims to be a church, with special IRS standing, they should be concerned about the well-being of the FOF members, if not former members. Given Robert’s known proclivities, the questions are credible ones, and we shouldn’t be left to guess.

This rumor, if silentpurr is telling the truth, exists within the FOF community, and they certainly owe it to their members especially. But the FOF leadership should be concerned about all of us.

If it is a “church,” of course.

For years, FOF representatives have told the press and the world that Robert has only consensual sex, and that many straight men apparently find him attractive, hence, the promiscuity. They have said that they find nothing wrong or immoral about his behavior.

If that is the case, I call on Abraham Goldman and the FOF doctors to come forth and make a clear statement on this matter, which affects so many. I ask them to put their professional standing behind their confirmation or repudiation. Our concerns are well-grounded given Robert’s mysterious ill health, and not idle or merely provocative.

They can’t have it both ways. If it’s not shameful or immoral, then be transparent.

From Fellowship of Friends Discussion Blog - Part 104

"Bryan" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, June 27, 2011:
X: I meant it partly as a compliment, though the other part was obviously too much sarcasm. Keep up the good work, and keep kicking some ass. I like it.

Ames: I would have thought it was completely a lost cause “reaching” that bastard, literally or figuratively. But I’m happy you’re trying.

"Bryan" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, June 28, 2011:
Renald (36), quoting from Cali:

“After all, those folks at the sweat lodge were there voluntarily. Some have characterized them as followers of Ray’s. Nonetheless they chose to be there. He did not force them…From the soul perspective, from our perspective, there is no blame or guilt. There is only responsibility — the responsibility of each of you for yourself.”

Cali might want to keep in mind that cult leaders rely on their followers to adopt the above described attitude.

If anyone states a concern about the cult leader or about the cult, they are generally admonished to “look inside themselves” and to “stop playing the victim” and to focus on their inner worlds, while paying less attention to the external realities that could victimize them. If they see something wrong, it must be that they’re “creating their own experience.” No one is really hurting them. They are only hurting themselves. If they would just change their attitude, it would change their experience within the cult to something positive.

But when a person perceives and acknowledges the destructive and criminal behavior within a cult, this is a healthy first step toward NOT playing the victim, and toward taking responsibility for themselves.

Ironically, cult leaders want them to believe just the opposite. They want to discourage the expression of complaints or dissent. Followers often remain psychologically trapped in cults because they are afraid to criticize anything outside of themselves. Cult leaders are very good at directing people inward, and redirecting them from anything external. They discourage activity — encourage passivity. But the impulse to question authority and articulate complaints is the only way out of the mental trap (and often this occurs only after leaving the cult).
When Cali writes that “We are not being callous and hard-hearted here,” they actually are. This tendency to downplay the suffering of others and the external causes of that suffering–suggesting is was something they brought on themselves without acknowledging the actions of the perpetrators–just sounds like the typical erosion of conscience that all of us could see occurring within the FOF. It sounds more like a mechanism to avoid facing uncomfortable truths about the world, and remain blissfully ignorant about another person’s suffering and the causes of it.
– If we are sincerely concerned about another person gaining the maturity to take responsibility tor themselves, and if we sincerely want to help them to avoid “playing the victim,” then turning a blind eye to the external realities — such as a sociopathic cult leader — is not going to serve them. You can turn inward and look for solutions inside, but if you don’t acknowledge the effects of the outside world, you will never be able to “look inward” quite enough.

Cults thrive on the passivity of their followers.

"Bryan" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, June 29, 2011:
Keep in mind that Burton having HIV/AIDS would not automatically cause a huge, obvious outbreak of the disease. And if he has had HIV for years, symptoms would not necessarily be obvious to anyone.

What’s clear from some of the posts here is that many people won’t even consider the possibility that he has HIV or AIDS until they see dozens of followers with lesions and other obvious symptoms, or until they see Burton pass away, and with an obituary that describes the cause of death.

Think about it: Even if Burton keeled over tomorrow and that’s the last we heard from him, there’s no guarantee that any of us will ever receive evidence that he died of AIDS.

From what I can tell, the point of silentpurr’s post was to present a friendly warning to current members of the cult, and to anyone who is “dating” someone or married to someone within it: Think about what you’re doing.

The righteous indignation and the calls for proof “in this venue” and all of the rest are just further signs of cult indoctrination. Since I’m not silentpurr, I can’t make such a definite statement that he has AIDS or HIV. What I do know is that from everything I’ve heard and everything I’ve observed about Burton, it would be wise for people take silentpurr’s comments seriously.

"Bryan" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, July 6, 2011:

“90. Josiane – July 5, 2011

Robert Burton is not abroad. He is at Apollo leading meetings and he looks well.”
And? Are you suggesting there’s nothing to be concerned about?

It reminds me a lot of the types of reactions one gets in the cult when any concerns are articulated about Burton. It’s gossip. It’s a rumor. It’s negative. It doesn’t matter. He’s our teacher. Photograph them. Attack the messenger passively aggressively. Deny. Change the subject. Forget all about it. Sip your wine. Smile knowingly. Stare into space. Return to the trance.

"Bryan" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, July 6, 2011:
Josiane and a few others,

By railing against “the blog” as a supposedly out-of-control rumor-mill and issuing your blanket disapproval and outrage for any commentary about Burton that does not meet your criteria for what is fair and accurate, you’re contributing to the same hysteria that you claim to object to. If you want a page that provides something useful and enlightening to the reader, why not simply address the poster with your dissenting opinion — and not attack “the blog”?

My question to anyone who is righteously indignant about unsubstantiated or unproven commentary about Burton is this:

Why are you? What’s bothering you?

Is it really a concern for keeping things factual and truthful? Or is it something else? In the end you have the equal power of anyone here to refute and set the record straight.

I’ll take Whalerider’s comments a step further: I could care less about Burton’s whereabouts, or his state of health, OR whether anyone is hurting his feelings.
When I look at the above page, I see dozens of posts that are interesting, measured, informative, and thought-provocative. The rest I either leave alone, or dismiss, or possibly respond to directly.

Each reader can use their common sense as a filter, and they can just make a note of commentary without accepting it outright. They can also use their common sense to gradually absorb truths that may not be entirely pleasant and flattering.

"Josiane" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, July 7, 2011:

98. Bryan

I can hear your pain and anger in your post but please don’t take it on me. You and I, as all bloggers here, have our own way of expressing our experience in FoF and talking about it. That’s what a blog is for, isn’t it? This blog can be rather extreme at times and bloggers such as myself with a more moderate voice aren’t well received. So be it. It is a voice nonetheless.

I wish I could agree with Whalerider (whose voice I have always respected) that we should be here for each other. Yet I don’t see it happening. What I am seeing mostly are people who are stuck in a situation where they are unable to come to terms with their lives post FoF. I am one of these people. And I don’t want to be one of them for the rest of my life. I want out and I don’t think that putting RB behind bars or closing down the property or any other measure will bring me peace of mind.

Sure, go ahead and pursue any legal actions you can find against RB and FoF. I said it in another email but it’s worth repeating, FoF has already been investigated by the INS and hundreds of illegal students were sent back to their homeland.

Oh well, sounds like I have just signed myself out of this blog for good.


"2011" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, July 7, 2011:
I personally don’t hear any pain or any anger in Bryan’s post but I think what he says does represent my view as well. There are plenty of intelligent posts on this site and if someone starts some unsubstantiated rumors, oh well. It happens all the time everywhere. The FOF is full of misinformation and rumors.

This site has served a useful purpose for many people and has helped shed light on the behind-the-scenes reality of the FOF. What was possibly started as a “school” that would allow people to “work on themselves” quickly turned into a questionable business endeavor that allowed the founder (Burton) to have his “special needs” satisfied by his followers. The minute I heard that you must give up your will to the will of the teacher I started to wonder if this was what I really wanted. His followers will tell you that unless you give up your will, you will not be able to achieve the results that would allow you to verify the rewards that can be obtained by doing so….. I’ll pass.

"Bryan" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, July 7, 2011:

I am not planning to pursue legal actions against Burton, and I never wrote that I was planning to. (You seem to be grouping me together with another one or two posters here.)

What I did say (in response to a comment by another poster) is that Burton going to jail would be a positive development to help free many people who feel psychologically trapped in the Fellowship. I also said it’s a fallacy that many people currently depend upon the FOF for their well-being, and that it would be harmful to them if the FOF folded. This isn’t anger or pain or being vengeful. This is my desire to see something end that is causing suffering — that’s all. I also said that I have no idea how anyone would make it happen.

In my opinion, the most important experience lacking in the FOF is the ability for people to speak openly and with a strong voice, and to share ideas that are not yet given approval by the man in authority. There’s a lack of healthy dialog that can help people make wise decisions about their present and future. Although many people eventually learn many unpleasant truths about Burton and the FOF without such an open community forum, the lack of such a forum prevents many others from thoughtfully assessing what they’re involved in.

Your voice is welcome here, or at least I certainly welcome it. I like your even tone, and I actually agree with you and appreciate your comments much more than you realize. But I sense a lot of sadness in you? Maybe you feel the same sadness that I do — that something we thought was beautiful and inspirational turned out to be something quite different.

The primary intent of authorities in the FOF is to silence dissenting voices. It may sometimes feel hurtful that people are expressing opinions that seem harsh or unforgiving. But maybe it’s not quite so angry or quite so harsh as some people think.

And maybe we’re a lot closer in our views and feelings than it seems. But how would we know until we express them?


"Josiane" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, June 29, 2011:
Get a grip bloggers. All you have on REB’s illness, departure from US to Italy, and the authorities being after him are nothing but speculations. This blog deserves better than mere gossip on top of gossip.

REB travels abroad all the time.

Let’s please stay focused on the task at hand which is, as Whalerider used to say, “to empty the victims pool.” Some here want nothing short of seeing REB in jail. Fine. The moderate among us have in mind the well-being of those students in FoF who need to find their way out. (Incidentally, this exodus from FoF seems to come in waves and there may not be another one for some time.)

BTW, the Immigration Services investigated FoF in 2007 (or thereabout) and at least one hundred students living at Apollo illegally were sent back to their country of origin. In other words, the investigation has already happened so don’t waste your time on that.

What then can we do, you may ask. Well, it depends on your approach, I would say. For me, the decision to leave was not short of a miracle; the grace of god, the universe, special spirits, the awakening of conscience…your choice. How can we compete with that when we try to convince our friends and spouses still in FoF to see the truth that we saw. Ultimately, they will have to see it for themselves. And when/if they do, it would be our job be there to support them.

"Joseph G" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, October 15, 2007:
Hi Fat Boy [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

"arthur" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, August 10, 2007:
HERPES a sexual transmitted viral disease. INCURABLE. In the state of California Supreme Court Kathleen W. vs Robert B. awarded compensation. BATTERY.
Robert Burton has HERPES for 27 years? Forces sex - that’s BATTERY.

"arthur" added on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, August 10, 2007:
Sorry! It was Kathleen K vs Robert B. and it was a civil case sucessfully brought to a conclusion by the California Court of Appeals.

It’s NEGLIGENCE if accidental and BATTERY if deliberate.

"Another Name" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, August 10, 2007:
I am so tired, so tired of all the efforts I made so many years.

The skirts I bought and wore because Robert saw a women in the Rose garden and thought it was a boy. Within days the skirt exercise was installed.
I am so tired of all the paid events I went to after Ka- ren John—–n told Robert that he could not have any money after a new load and dear Robert decided to start teaching events to increase his funds.

I am so tired of the contradiction of people who can hardly afford to pay their medical bills and Robert spends easy 20.000 dollars a day on shopping [for] expensive presents and clothes for god may know who. (Not for ladies BTW.)

I am so tired of the people who are depressed in the fellowship, the people who asked Robert for help and for addiction on many levels ( alcohol, power, sex ) and Robert gives them pills or for the gravely sick he tells them this is how they will create a permanent tendency to awaken.

The Viagra distributions, the amount of sex he needs a day…Breath smelling like sperm…

Dear Just me [blogger]. I do not know what to say…there is so much evidence…we sacrificed so much, so many years. Some of us a lot more then others…the pain is sometimes unbearable…

Especially now I do not see Robert so much and when I see him, no smile, no eye contact. He ignores me…The Love I thought he had for years is so conditional…
Read Anna’s letter, aaah I have to give up. This breaks my heart and leads to nowhere. I can and do not want to convince you…wisdom can not be given through simple words…if you do not get it now….you have to go through the motions… yourself, Question yourself…let go of world 12 states search the 6 and 3 and the non states…

My best advise for you is to sit still, listen to you heart at least 15 minutes a day and listen to your conscience. Just be still and breath……The answers will come.

And when you are seeing things in a different light, there will be help and friends who went through the same.

It is all a matter of time……

"Anna wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, August 28, 2007:


(Beginning of the marriage; husband and wife have agreed that it it’s the higher right for him to stay in the Galleria (the Teacher’s home) for a while)
Student (Teacher’s male friend): I don’t know why you object… the sex is really not ‘pleasant’

Wife of student: It’s just that…

Student (Teacher’s male friend): I mean imagine yourself having to do it with a very fat old lady…

Wife of student: Perhaps you could just stop and be a normal student?

Student (Teacher’s male friend): Well the idea is that this will accelerate the process.

Wife of student: Yes… but…

Student (Teacher’s male friend): I mean it’s awful; he covers his whole mouth and the lower part of his face with K-Y…


Wife of student (nervously): What did Robert say when you told him that I didn’t like… you know… your having sex with him?

Student (Teacher’s male friend): He paused briefly, looked surprised, and said “Oh this is her formatory mind, her king of clubs and her feminine dominance, everybody has them…

Wife of student: Oh…


Student (Teacher’s male friend): Every morning Robert drops in to the library where I sleep and… Well I’ve found a way to avoid this; I just set my alarm earlier and earlier and clear out of there as quick as I can…

Wife of student: Oh…


(Few months after end of marriage)

Student (Teacher’s male friend): I’ve got some news (clears throat) I’ve got Hepatitis B…

Ex-wife of student: What’s that?

Student (Teacher’s male friend): Well it’s a liver disease, like hepatitis A which you get from food… my eyes are yellow and I feel tired.

Ex-wife of student: How is it transmitted?

Student (Teacher’s male friend): Normally through sex… but this is a real mystery.
Ex-wife of student: Couldn’t you have got it from Robert?

Student (Teacher’s male friend): Oh no, that’s not possible, you wouldn’t understand… Umm… You’ll have to have a blood test, and then take a course of medication for a few months… just in case…. Yes. The good thing is that I don’t have to have sex with him at the moment: at least not as long as I’m in quarantine!

"aarrgh me buckos" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, December 2, 2015:
The following is an excerpt from a letter and is Not My Story:
Now, on a lighter note, I recently had an encounter with Robert Burton at the Palace of the Legion of Honor in San Francisco. I was sitting on a bench at the far end of one of the big rooms, waiting for [name omitted] to return from one of the heads. I saw a small person turning the corner into another room, caught a part of his profile, but thought he was way too small. Then I noticed that three young men were following him with their hands in the “protect your gonads” position. Finally I decided to check it out. So, I walked through one room, not there, walked in the next room, and there they were, but the little man still had his back to me. I walked on, turned around and came back and he was facing more towards me so I could definitely see it was him. So somehow the whole thing tickled me. I started stalking him, moving towards him, and when he would turn, I would go sideways and get closer, and when he would turn again, I would keep going sideways and keep getting closer. I became aware that his three companions were aware of my movements, and were watching me closely. They were lined up shoulder-to-shoulder, with their hands in position, and they looked like soccer defenders waiting for a free kick. That tickled me even more. Finally I got within about three feet of the little fellow, and he was finally alerted to my presence and looked at me. He was pale and gaunt, and his eyes looked confused and slightly maniacal. He said, “My age and my memory…”

And I said, “I’m [name omitted].”

And he said, “Yes, of course.”

I put out my arms and we had a hug. I stood back and he went into the same act that I remember from 40 years ago. He bowed his head slightly, squinted, looked off into middle-distance and said, “Conscious influence is still working with us and there’s more to be revealed.” This tickled me even more. And when he finally looked back at me, I was starting to laugh. So I put my arms out again, we had another hug, this one a little longer than comfortable, so I stepped back, turned, and walked away. He said, “Say ‘hello’ to your brother,” and without turning, I waved my hand back at him.

I went back and sat down; at about the same time that [name omitted] rejoined, and I said, “Robert Burton is in the second room there. Do you want to say, ‘Hi’?” And she said, “Are you fucking kidding me?” Again, the amazing thing was how small he was, maybe 135 – 140 pounds, and I swear, I was looking down at him. End of story.