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, August 12, 2011

Kimo's Story

[ed. - The photo above comes from the Find a Grave site. Kimo was born William Keyes "Kimo" Beech, and joined the Fellowship's Hawaii center around 1973. His parents were famous. His mother, Linda Corley Mangelsdorf Beech, was fluent in Japanese and was the star of a popular late-50s sitcom in Japan. His father, William Keyes, was a Pulitzer Prize-winning correspondent with the Marines at Iwo Jima, and later covered the Korean and Vietnam Wars. Kimo spent his childhood in Japan. Additional remembrances of Kimo can be found on the Greater Fellowship site (membership required.)]

"silentpurr" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, August 12, 2011:
Back in the 1970′s a very sweet young man joined the Hawaii center. Kimo Beech and his loyal dog Loka. I remember him as a sane, intelligent and serious student. In 1974, he was asked to move to “Renaissance” as we all were, but he stayed there to work rather than being sent out to “open centers” like many of us were at that time.

Once, when visiting Renaissance I learned that Kimo had died by suicide or in some strange way. No details of his death were given. Kimo, the person I knew had displayed no mental or emotional disturbances. What happened?

"Guy Grand" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, August 12, 2011:
23.Silentpurr [responding to above]

In 1976 I was at the Long Island teaching house when Burton and entourage were in town. Kimo was one of the travelers and one night he locked himself in a bathroom, ignored everyone’s pleas to come out (made at Burton’s order), and spent the night on the bathroom floor. Years later I understood what he was hiding from. I think Kimo, like Brian S. [Brian Sisler] was probably repeatedly molested by Burton, and couldn’t mentally handle the pain. He was probably bi-polar as well.

"Ames Gilbert" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, August 12, 2011:
Silentpurr (#108-23 or thereabouts)[responding to above],

Kimo (given name, William) married Cynthia (now also deceased), but was not able to live with the situation, and left her, the property, and the FoF in 1980. I heard he became mentally unstable, ended up as a ‘street person’ in the Bay Area, and eventually died homeless and alone.

I was told he was born and raised in Japan, and spoke fluent Japanese. I also remember him as a sweet, decent person, a hard worker in the vineyard, and a sincere student in the true sense of the words.

He was not the only one pressured to be with Burton; Bruce has told of how other followers pressured him to be at Burton’s service, as “an act of external consideration for the Teacher”. There is every reason to assume the same was true for Kimo. What a disgusting misuse of the Fourth Way principle of ‘external consideration’!

At that time, and for a considerable time thereafter, the fact that Burton preyed on his male heterosexual followers was known only to his victims and a few enablers, so he and Bruce and so many others like them had no one to turn to for support. This secrecy served Burton well until about 1983. But, as it turns out, Burton’s predatory behavior rather easily became normalized, so in hindsight he needn’t have worried so much about resistance from the sheep. I myself believed he was celibate until it was announced [in 1994] that he was not, and I think almost everyone else not involved chose to believe the same. From that announcement (which was coupled with the propaganda that the sex was between consenting adults) the narrative progressed bit by bit over the years to where it is now assumed by the laity that Burton has every right to take what he wants, in the quantities he wants, and when he wants, and that having sex with him is even an enviable privilege, communion with an angel and ever so helpful for one’s ‘evolution’. Any thought or word of disagreement is explained as the ‘lower self’ trying to undermine spiritual progress.

"Carl" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, August 12, 2011:
23 [responding to "silentpurr" above]

I worked alongside Kimo in the vineyard in the late ’70′s. I’m not sure when he left but it was sometime prior to my own leaving in 1983. Y’all know already, disowning and disavowing friends and family was, and I assume still is, part of the ‘program’ in the FOF and any ‘good student’ does his / her best to comply with the FOF requests, tasks, programming and generalized peer pressures (consciously or otherwise). Cutting off of any outside support system is another means of controlling the flock, another invisible fence to keep members from straying. (By-the-way “mr Burp” [blogger] — based on your comments from a previous page, I would respectully suggest that you need to check yourself, your thinking and your flippant remarks regarding what constitutes “force” and the role that various forms of coercion can play in the subtler games of ‘mind control’ — “force” doesn’t require anything like a gun being held to the head — I won’t go into it here again, but from my personal experience I can say that there were abortions performed at the behest of “the teacher” — I’m sure his motives were various, controling reproductive rights, creating and maintaining an ‘underclass’ in the hierarchy, retribution for unrequited sexual advances toward the male partner of the couple, and etc… but I digress…).

I left the FOF with nowhere else to go so I survived for a time living on the mean streets of San Francisco where one morning I happened to run into Kimo Beech. It was a real skid-row scene, we were passing a bottle of booze around a circle with a few other homeless unfortunates. The Kimo I knew from the vineyard was so bright, articulate, charismatic even… but that Kimo was already gone — I shared the bottle that morning with a shadow of the Kimo I’d known a few years earlier. I can remember attempts to engage him based on our past shared experiences in the FOF, ‘fell on deaf ears,’ he wanted only to forget and escape…. he passed the bottle ’round to change the subject, saying: “have another drink…” It was a brief encounter, lasted only long enough to drain the bottle and then I watched as he walked away… I didn’t see him again and didn’t expect to… like I said he was already gone, far away and unreachable.

Talk of (known) suicide(s) here begs the question about all those unknown hundreds (thousands?) over the years, who left the FOF, were not able to adjust to ‘life’ and met an untimely or otherwise unfortunate end after having their soul sucked dry through entanglements with burton and ‘the school.’ There are those who, after a number of years in the FOF, are not able to so easily readjust to ‘life’ and I would guess that some may go on to live in quiet desperation, on the margins and fringes of society — as one ex ‘student’ put it many years after leaving: “I don’t know if I’ll ever live it down.” Of course there can be life beyond the fellowship but after that humiliating kick in the crotch, getting back up and learning to ride again can be daunting — the years that are taken from a life, the friendships and family bonds the are shattered in the process, this can not be replaced nor can psychological and emotional damage be easily and quickly repaired… those who came to the FOF with so much hope, promise and potential for living life to the fullest can end up slipping through the cracks and living as ‘survivors’ of a type of ‘spiritual rape’ and the psycho/emotional abuse that goes with it.

"moot" wrote on the Find A Grave site, July 21, 2015:
I knew Kimo in 1973 in Hawaii. We were members of a cult the fellowship of friends. I left in 1974 never saw him again. He was a kind and gentle soul. He had a dog, drove a Land Cruiser. Just learned of his death. He had become a homeless street person. Another victum [sic] of cult leader Robert Earl Burton.

[ed. - Kimo appears in a photo of Burton on the Fellowship's Fifth Anniversary.]

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