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 an ominous, yet unspecified new threat late in 2018.) While non-believers shall perish, through the direct intervention and guidance from 44 angels (including his divine father, Leonardo da Vinci) Burton and his followers will be spared, founding a new, and more perfect civilization.

Many regard Robert Earl Burton a narcissist and sociopath, surrounded by a largely greed- and power-driven inner circle. The following pages offer abundant evidence supporting that conclusion.

This archive draws
on official Fellowship publications and websites,
news archives, court documents, cult education and awareness forums, the (former) Fellowship Wikipedia page, the long-running Fellowship of Friends - Living Presence Discussion, the Internet Archive, the (former) Fellowship of Friends wiki project, and the editor's own 13-year experience in the Fellowship.

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

Saturday, May 8, 2010


Declining Fellowship of Friends membership statistics, as influenced by the blog.

"Joe Average" posted on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, May 22, 2007 at 2:13 a.m.
Since the Fellowship stopped updating their beautiful graphs in December 2006 and the last overview data available is from February 2007, a more accurate picture of the population of the school is hard to get. The individual centre population counts, though often also one or two months behind reality (centre book-keepers must report people joining and leaving – Isis has no way to know otherwise, and these reports are often delayed), are more current. I added those figures up and compared them against the February 2007 “overview” figures. For Tokyo, Mediterranean” and “Miscellaneous”, stable numbers are assumed as either the February or current data are missing.

The results:

Total students in February: 2085
Total students as of 21 May 1726

35 new students joined, making the total departures since February 394. The majority of these are from Isis – 317.

Given the huge extra donation that was due 1 April, I suspect there is a substantial block of students who are currently “behind” in their donations, having either decided not to financially support the organization any more or simply trying to decide whether to remain. It is an old tradition, fully supported by comments from Robert over the years, that Renaissance/Apollo/Isis sets the pace for the rest of the school, and that other centres always react more slowly to changes. The numbers so far seem to confirm that; the wave of departures from centres is yet to come.

To save you the trouble, I will supply the RB quote myself: “Forget the numbers and just remember yourself” – Robert (number 7.x, “brightest light in two thousand years”) to HK when the latter told him he had become a man number five.

"Ames Gilbert" posted on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, July 3, 2007 at 5:31 p.m.:

[ed. - The following blog stats show the growing interest in the "Sheik's" discussion concerning the Fellowship of Friends.]
Sheik posted his initial observations Sunday April 16, 2006
First comment on these observations: June 24, 2006
Part 1—First 300 comments, ending March 1, 2007
Part 2—Next 338 comments, ending March 11, total 668
Part 3—Next 333 comments, ending March 22, total 1007
Part 4—Next 312 comments, ending March 29, total 1313
Part 5—Next 391 comments, ending April 8, total 1704
Part 6—Next 408 comments, ending April 20, total 2112
Part 7—Next 397 comments, ending April 28, total 2509
Part 8—Next 453 comments, ending May 11, total 2962
Part 9—Next 452 comments, ending May 22, total 3414
Part 10—Next 534 comments, ending June 5 , total 3948
(change of format occurred here…
Part 11—Next 715, comments, ending June 13th, total 4663. Note: no moderation, numbering screws up, FoF spam attacks repelled!
Part 12—Next 647 comments, ending June 21st, total 5310
Part 13—Next 829 comments, ending July 3, total 6139

Thanks, appreciation and love to you all from Ames!

Special thanks to you, O Sheik, for all your hard work.

"Purchasing awakening" posted on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, July 23, 2007 at 2:40 a.m.:
Simple Truth [blogger] – I wish it all was that simple and transparent in FOF…
No, it’s not ‘just being present and that’s all.’
There are lies and crimes and bottomless greed and ‘Be Present’ is just a cover up for devoted sheep like you. Main thing is money and sex and it has always been this way from day one. This is the only driving force behind RB and FOF. Open your damn glossy eyes already!
On a positive note FOF has already lost about 3.7 million in annual revenue due to recent exodus of wealthier students from US and Europe. It’s more than half of the annual income that comes from the teaching payments. (Usually about 6 million). Certainly there is still quite some personal RB’s income from all those ‘teaching events’.
But things are changing all by themselves and it’s not looking good for FOF. Current ‘exit rate’ is 50-80 students per month. New students seem to be a thing of the past ( btw, has anyone seen a new student join FOF lately?) It is not about the actual numbers of students who left, it’s more about the category of the people who are leaving. Teaching payment in USA is $450 per month minimum and it’s usually only around $10-$20 in less developed countries. Therefore losing American students does hurt.
Devoted salaried believers don’t bring much money to RB – they are actually mostly an expense and burden for FOF (sorry Howard)[blogger].
I think we’ll see lots of action in few months when Fall donation hits the fan… Stay tuned.
ST, make sure to complete all your sequences before the shop closes down!

Posted by "Bass Ackwards" on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog August 10, 2007:
Here are the latest membership stats:
April 2007 – 2035 (from the April FOF directory)
August 2007 – 1639 (+/- 5) (from Propylaia)

"Ollie" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, November 26, 2007:

Fellowship membership figures (to my best knowledge):

Mid August 2007: around 1,940

Mid November 2007: around 1,840

"Ollie" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, April 27, 2008:
Re. 130 More history needed?

To the best of my knowledge, membership was at 1,756 on April 15, 2008. Numbers continue to decrease each month. Looking back, membership was at 1,949 on Aug 15, 2007.

"Ollie" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, July 17, 2008:

fof membership numbers:

July 17, 2008: 1,737

August 17, 2007: 1,949

Posted by "Ames Gilbert" on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, September 2, 2009:
Re: the count of members of the Fellowship of Friends. According to the Propylaia website today (Sept 1, 2009) is 1570. To settle the argument, someone had to grind through the member names and count every single one! It would take someone who knows every member to see if they are counting folks who have left, though. But they are counting bodies; in the Task Complete section––two deceased. The rest, by ‘center’:

Apollo 578
Milan 44
Kiev 39
Moscow 74
Minsk 18
Palo Alto 11
St Petersburg 62
Novosibirsk 10
Porto Alegre 5
Athens 24
Khabarovsk 6
Bucharest 14
Buenos Aires 23
Campinas 11
Beirut 22
North Germany 12
Ahmedabad 50
Ljubljana 20
Nijny Novgorod 13
Naples 12
Santiago 14
Tel Aviv 45
Sacramento 10
London 35
Brussels 7
Naples 12
Amsterdam 24
Vilnius 8
New York 14
Rome 18
Sao Paulo 22
Shanghai 20
Venice 9
Tijuana 23
Madrid 7
Paris 24
Rajkot 19
Atlanta 3
Istanbul 7
San Francisco 7
Florence 13
San Salvador 14
Bogota 7
Los Angeles 7
Monterrey 8
Toronto 6
Petrosavodsk 11
Washington, D.C. 10
Munich 3
Mexico City 41
Mumbai 10
Valencia 7
Vienna 7
Veracruz 9
Bogota 7
Prague 5
Beijing 3
Zurich 5
Copenhagen 5
Barnaul 8
Miscellaneous 31.

Hopefully that all adds up to 1570! Some previously unknown center may have slipped through. Someone else can do the analysis. How does this break down by continent? How is the population aging? Are some of the remaining richer, older Americans nearing retirement, and will their dues go down? And so on…

"More history needed?" posted the following on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, October 29, 2009:
1570 members still in the fellowship of friends, including Robert Burton. 579 are mentioned of those students, as belonging to the Apollo center.

"Ollie" posted on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, May 8, 2010:
Notwithstanding all the information that’s freely available here and elsewhere on the web, the advertising efforts of the Fellowship of Friends are still bringing some results. Here are some recent stats:
Total people joining (Jan 8 – May 8, 2010): 39
Shanghai: 4
Ahmedabad: 2
Middle East
Tel Aviv: 4
Beirut: 2
Istanbul: 2
Eastern Europe
St Petersburg: 4
Moscow: 3
Kiev: 3
Minsk: 2
Bucharest : 2
European Union
Rome: 2
Florence: 1
Milan: 1
Ljubliana: 1
London: 1
South America
Campinas: 1
Santiago de Chile: 1
Oregon House: 1
Sacramento: 1
Total people leaving (Jan 8 – May 8, 2010): 63
Total membership (May 8, 2010): 1,540

"Ollie" posted on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, May 8, 2010:
Let’s put it in perspective:

Membership mid-2005: 2,200
Membership mid-2007: 1,950
Membership now: 1,540

Mr Burton, ever the clever businessman, would of course spin it in his usual way, saying things like: “There has been a very productive period of winnowing (separating the grain from the chaff) in the school.”

Oh dear. There are still quite a number of friends of mine stuck in the cage. Just as I, while I was a member, had deaf ears, blind eyes and a closed heart to so many obvious truths about the Fellowship of Friends, in just the same way I can now do nothing for my friends to wake them up, to give them courage to open their hearts. Until one day, one gets it… That’s just how it is. It takes time, so much time, to slowly let go of the fears and silly belief systems that one gets attached to while in there.

"Ollie" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, December 12, 2010:

164. More history needed [post and blogger]

According to the database, there are 1,519 member in the Fellowship of Friends now. Six months ago, there were 1,529. Since then, 55 left and 45 joined. Those 45 joined in the following places:

Russia and Ukraine:
Moscow: 6
Kiev: 3
Petrozavodsk: 2
Khabarovsk: 1
Mexico City: 7
Monterrey: 3
Ahmedabad: 8
Rajkot: 1
Mumbai: 1
New York: 3
Oregon House, CA: 1
Florence: 2
Athens: 1
Middle East:
Tel Aviv: 1
Istanbul: 1
Beirut: 1
Sao Paolo: 2
Beijing: 1

"Remember..." wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, December 16, 2010:

I would advise people not take Ollie’s numbers seriously. Who knows if the numbers are correct or not? He shows up on the blog frequently with an official looking stat sheet, but it’s entirely possible that his/her task is to create the impression that the numbers remain high, and that the Greater Fellowship and blog have had little effect on Burton’s fun and games. In other words, the point is to discourage people from posting. Remember that the road to lies is paved with numbers and statistics. The numbers may be correct, but like anything else emanating from this organization, it’s wise to be skeptical.

"Joseph G" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, November 28, 2007:
Hi Bistro Fundraiser and Ollie [bloggers],

Regarding your posts around #253-254:

The numbers that really count are the payable amounts on checks written to FOF.

The monthly aggregate of these numbers is going down at a much faster rate than the membership tally.

Many members contribute in the negative: financially they take more than they add. Some of these poor souls seem to have become (i.e. are believed to be and believe themselves to be) incapable of “working in life.” Other members live outside the U.S. where the average donation is only $200-300 per month, or much less. Subtract these non-paying and low-paying members and what is left?

The demographics behind the numbers are more important than any superficial roster count in terms of how much negative impact the blog has had on the FOF, and by extension on Robert’s lifestyle. You can’t squeeze blood from a turnip, even if it’s a #4.

Joseph G

"Purchasing awakening" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, November 28, 2007:
Joseph G [responding to post above] – I completely agree with you. It’s not how many people left, it’s which kind of people left.

Pensate [blogger] and all,

It’s not about people in FOF – it has never been about people! it’s all about the money.

Those who make more money seem to be leaving. Why? Because if one has to pay thousands of hard earned dollars to this organization – so it better be worth it! It’s so hard to justify every monthly check written to FOF after one has read even a fraction of this blog. And it’s getting harder and harder to pay so much for such delusional bullshit that the Teacher calls “the teaching”. There is no end in sight to this BS – the Beloved Teacher seem to be firmly on his de-coding course, having a total blast… So people finally leave, sick of paying for this meaningless crap.

Many devotees are actually financially dependent on FOF and don’t contribute to it, rather they are an expense to the organization. Most devoted receive large salaries for their usefulness.

Of course there are exceptions and there are wealthy devotees as well but not that many.

People who are leaving are mostly from more developed countries where they have access to internet and free information. These are the people who contribute most money in their teaching payments. There is virtually no more new students coming from USA and Europe – because they can easily access the criticism about FOF online and make an informed decision about joining this cult.

This is different for non-english speakers from poorer countries, who don’t have access to information and are still joining here and there in small numbers.

In poorer countries the monthly payment is only 20-50 dollars (comparing to 150-1500 monthly payment in Europe and USA), so not much money is coming from those distant centers. A center of 100 people in St. Petersburg can only produce 2000 dollars monthly, and most of it is retained to pay for the rent of the teaching house…

A salaried student in Isis is receiving approximately 460 a month, so a whole large center of 100 Russian students can only support 4 salaried students each month. How many salaried students are out there? Couple hundred or more?

A shirt for Robert’s boy costs around 700-1500 dollars, don’t forget the ties, vests, scarves, rings, chains, cars and huge travel expenses for each traveling boy. As we all know, Robert never travels alone.

So all of 200+ Russian students that are in the school now cannot even pay for wardrobe and travel needs of only ONE Robert’s boy… And how many “boys” are out there? A hundred or more?

So the question is not “how many people are still in FOF”, the question is – “Who the heck is going to pay for all this?”

Fellowship collapse will most likely occur for financial reasons, when the structure is unable to pay for itself anymore.

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