Introduction


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.")

But 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.

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 from official Fellowship publications and websites, news archives, court documents, cult education and awareness forums, the Internet Archive, the long-running Fellowship of Friends - Living Presence Discussion, the (former) Fellowship of Friends wikispace project, the (ill-fated 2007) Fellowship of Friends Wikipedia page, 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.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Escaping the heat. Is the Fellowship of Friends brand a liability?

[ed. - Asaf Braverman formerly managed an array of websites for The Fellowship of Friends. The sites below rarely mentioned their affiliation with the Fellowship of Friends, however Braverman (one of Robert Burton's many lovers), Benjamin Yudin, Brian Flynn and other Fellowship contributors created a new identity for the cult, apparently to escape the stigma attached to Burton and his Fellowship of Friends. The sites had a more contemporary feel than the Fellowship's Living Presence home page. Different packaging, same old trance-inducing cult. The network tag line, "Boarding an Ark of Ancient Wisdom" echoes Burton's divine mission to create an "ark" that shall preserve culture from the ravages of nuclear holocaust, and save souls the fate of being "food for the moon." With Braverman's departure from the Fellowship, most of the web pages are now inactive, though archives maintain copies, linked below.]

Dorian Matei, Robert Burton, Asaf Braverman - Fellowship of Friends cult leaders
Robert Burton with his "generals" Dorian Matei (l) and Asaf Braverman (r)

"Asaf Braverman is the Founder, Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of the Ark in Time network, a collection of blog sites focused on psychological and philosophical teachings."
Asaf Braverman
Asaf Braverman videos on YouTube
Ark in Time
Mysticism
As Above So Below
Know Thyself
Ouspensky
Gurdjieff
Road Less Traveled
Apollo Camelot
Consciousness
Awakening
Spirituality (Brian Flynn's site)
The Present is the Only Reality (William Page's site)

[ed. - Here is my very own welcome to the Ark in Time Network. It was the only communication I received. Mr. Braverman apparently decided I was not worthy to board the Ark.]
Welcome.

If you’ve come this far, I presume we share an interest in ancient wisdom and in its application in present times. I presume you sense that there’s more to be gleaned from past teachings, more gold to extract from our ancestral mine. Or perhaps wisdom itself attracts you—be it ancient or contemporary—the search for understanding amidst the vast ocean of information.

If that’s the case, then you’ve embarked on the right boat—only, it is not fully built! Ark in Time is a work in progress, a live experiment, a vessel in the making. It’s deliberately open to like-minded readers, so that they may assist in its construction. You are bound to find unfinished cabins in this boat, as the author experiments in building and dismantling its contents.

Ark in Time is not a depository of romantic ramblings on the beautiful past, nor does it boast to be some secret society preserving ancient knowledge under lock and key. It is an attempt to revive the spirit of ancient teachings, an attempt that must be repeated with the progression of each age. Standing, as we are, on the shores of a new technological age—the pre-Internet era drifting farther and farther behind us—revival is once again imperative. Old vessels have lost relevance. The spark of religion, academics, and even many of the arts, has been extinguished. In what form will the spirit of man express itself today? Where will the surge of lofty inspiration, which flowed steadily through previous ages, burst out?

Ark in Time is an attempt to find that form. It seeks, not to establish a following, but to revive a teaching. Through a series of unusual circumstances, its author verified that ancient teachings could be as vital today as they were centuries ago, provided they were restored and brought up to date. To some extent, this already happens in literature and art, but in scattered and incomplete attempts. The author hopes to lay a more solid foundation for bringing ancient wisdom to contemporary times.

As a subscriber, you will be receiving new posts by email. These will chronicle the gradual evolution of the book “Ark in Time”, as well as the latest explorations of its dissemination. The author may occasionally ask your advice on certain matters, sharing his considerations in navigating his boat. You are most welcome to follow quietly or participate actively.

I hope this vessel sparks your inspiration as it has sparked mine.

Asaf Braverman, Author of Ark in Time

"Cult Survivor" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, December 16, 2018:
108. Ames Gilbert

Back in 2011 Robert started to prepare the transfer of power to the “triumvirate”: Asaf was going to be in charge of attracting new members, the teaching and the organization of the school, Dorian was going to be responsible for Apollo and Sasha was supposed to be taking care of the arts. I heard that when Asaf told Robert that he wanted to create a web site to attract new students because the times had changed and people were finding groups in the Internet, Robert said “I’m fine with that but make sure that you don’t use my name or the name of the Fellowship of Friends when attracting new students because they are ‘radioactive’ in the Internet”. Robert also told Asaf to use the Fourth Way and images of Gurdjieff and Ouspensky to attract students (even if he abandoned the Fourth Way back in 2006 when “the Sequence” was introduced — I remember him saying “only the lower self would read Fourth Way literature now when we have something much higher: the Sequence”) because “it was a better hook”.

Asaf then created a web site (that would be ggurdjieff.com [below] as I discovered recently) and started collecting email addresses of visitors asking them to submit their information in order to receive a weekly newsletter. The ggurdjieff.com site was not very efficient so after 4 years or so collecting email addresses and writing weekly newsletters Asaf decided to change the approach and created BePeriod.com, a more dynamic site with social media capabilities à la Facebook, and started producing weekly video tutorials on Fourth Way topics. At this point Asaf started to recruit students for his project since he needed a lot of help with web design, video editing, search engine optimization, translations (each video tutorial needed the translation of the sub-titles into 6 or 7 languages), etc. Asaf used around 60-70 students for that and never compensated any of them for their efforts, even when Robert was distributing “vouchers” for the so called “third line octaves” like serving, landscaping, washing dishes, etc. I personally know several people that spent countless hours helping Asaf because they thought that he was going to replace Robert as “the Teacher” (as the videos that I posted here show, the meetings lead by Dorian were totally incomprehensible and Sasha was not supposed to lead meetings due to his poor command of the English language and his lack of intellectual brilliance). Imagine how surprised were those people when Asaf was asked to leave the Fellowship…

My personal opinion is that Asaf was trying to rejuvenate the Fellowship in order to attract younger people and not to be the leader of a retirement home but he committed the big mistake of not being open regarding his project so several hard-lined older students close to Robert were convinced that he was creating a “school inside the school” and that gave Dorian, Rowena Taylor and Steven Dambeck the opportunity to execute a coup d’état and get rid of Asaf.

I mentioned here that Asaf learned a lot from Robert regarding how to attract new students and take money from people, but his expulsion of the Fellowship shows that he is an apprentice regarding politics, an area where Robert excels.

"Ames Gilbert" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, June 3, 2012:
Whalerider,
Right on!
The mysticisma.com site run by Benjamin Yudin presents his credentials thus:

Benjamin Yudin has lectured and taught classes on mysticism for more than thirty years.

Since 1979, Benjamin has been a member of the Fellowship of Friends where he received his training in keying the esoteric interpretations to sacred literature, legends, and myths.

Benjamin’s well loved and edifying museum tours attract people from all walks of life who are interested in his deciphering of the mystical message in art, sculpture, and architecture.

Benjamin has served as the keynote speaker on mysticism, body types, features, and other esoteric themes for both private and public organizations. This would include Intentional Development, Financial Focus, and the Association for Past-Life Research and Therapies.

When he is not traveling, Benjamin teaches, via Skype, individual and group classes on mysticism from his home in California.
[ed. - See updated profile below.]
What a load of bullshit!
If I was Benjamin Yudin, I’d not be quite so proud of receiving my ‘training’ from the sociopathic sexual predator Robert Burton. What is Burton qualified to teach? How to scam and hoodwink people. Check. How to exchange supposed spiritual benefits in exchange for sex. Double or triple check, Yudin has learned that one particularly well. How to expand random firings of neurons to great bundles of self–referential fluff. Check. His site speaks for itself, continuous drivel, semantic content not just zero, but far less than zero. Actually harmful for those who might take it seriously. How to grossly indulge in spiritual materialism. Check. How to look for external signs and wonders to cover up internal emptiness. Check. Etc, etc.
So now he has a Masters degree in Advanced Superstition. What a big deal he must be!
Has Benjamin Yudin graduated from the FoF after thirty years or more? Nope, Big Fail. He prefers to remain a big fish in a very small pond, really just a puddle, and muddy at that. What does that say for his qualifications to teach anyone anything? By his own admission, he has abjectly failed; he is still an infantile dependent and worshipper of Burton. He joined an organization that indulged his weaknesses, puffed up his vainglory and sense of importance, and now wants to pass on these valuable lessons to other idiots. What a shallow poseur!
Honestly, if anyone other than other present members of the Fellowship of Friends responds to him or any of the equally grandiose and self–indulgent advertisements on the Asaf Braverman websites, I ‘almost’ feel they deserve what they get. But not quite. So, any seeker landing on these pages, know that this whole proliferating mass of websites are just additional portals to entice you into Robert Earl Burton’s fantasy world.
You have been warned!
[ed. - Here's an updated Benjamin Yudin profile from Mysticism.com:]
Benjamin Yudin, Fellowship of Friends "teacher" and Robert Earl Burton desciple
Benjamin Yudin has lectured and taught classes on mysticism both nationally and internationally for more than thirty years. Presently, a retired director of education, Benjamin is a private tour guide to the world's greatest museums. His speciality is revealing the esoteric wisdom covertly placed in the art and architecture by Wisdom Schools, dating from pre-dynastic Egypt through the post European Renaissance era.
 Portrait of Benjamin Yudin taken by James Reid


"Opus111 wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, October 23, 2012:
Alexander Francis Horn (horny perhaps, but not Horne) is said to have died in 2007 (9/30/07). Mr Braverman wrote he died in 2011. May be Horn lived a few more years at the ranch…

"Ames Gilbert" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, October 23, 2012:
Opus111 [above],

You know and I know that Asaf Braverman is an unquestioning, devoted follower of Robert Earl Burton, and has entered the fantasy. Burton discovered that Alex Horn was dead in 2011. Funny how Alex, now supposedly an angel, never get around to communicating his new status to Burton for years and years. Burton, after all, was his prize pupil—according to Burton—and pretty much the whole point of Horn’s life.

Never mind, they found out about his purported death, and purported date thereof, and Burton, predictably, pontificated about it at length, claimed Alex Horn was now an angel (in communication with him at that very moment, natch), thus creating another a big sensation inside the walled garden. More circular proof positive that Burton is ‘conscious’, and that his ‘teacher’ must have been ‘conscious’, so Burton must be ‘conscious’, etc.

For Asaf, this is ‘verification’: Burton spouts, so Asaf, a future ‘Man Number Five’, takes it all in as objective truth, using the method and standards of appointed ‘Man Number Five’, Girard Haven (I quoted quite a lengthy excerpt that he wrote about verification on p. 73 of his book, “Creating a Soul” here:

http://tinyurl.com/8g484hc

According to Social Security death records:
HORN, ALEXANDER
565-36-0399
Birth: 14 Aug 1929
Death: 30 Sep 2007
Last residence: New York 10011
Death certificate observed (P). Issued in California
I’m sure ‘C-Influence’ intended Robert Burton, Asaf Braverman, and Girard Haven to look as stupid as they are. After all, “the play is written” . . .

More on Asaf:

Asaf Braverman may have ‘had to set out on a journey’ because he committed bigamy. He married the young Ansley Pierce (on Burton’s instructions) while he was still married to Elisabetta Da Ros (another arranged marriage, for purposes of obtaining a green card—according to the “David Springfield Letter” posted by Black Marker: “It was our diligent monitoring of the blog that put us on notice that Asaf Braverman’s arranged (by Fellowship officers and/or agents) fraudulent marriage to Elisabetta da Ros was being exposed to the world. “)

The way I heard it, Asaf and his new ‘wife’ set out on their honeymoon, which included Israel. The Israeli border exit authorities contacted U.S. authorities about discrepancies in their records, and the U.S. refused him re-entry. His Israeli family is rich and influential, and after a lengthy absence during which they were based in Italy, the happy couple are said to have been able to finally return to the U.S. At least, someone reliable told me that they had seen them fairly recently in Oregon House.

Asaf Braverman's Gurdjieff website for Robert Earl Burton's Fellowship of Friends cult
Screenshot of Asaf Braverman's ggurdjieff.com website as it appeared April 20, 2012.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

The 15 Stupidest Cults Ever

Robert Burton with his "generals" Dorian Matei {l} and Asaf Braverman (r). From livingpresence.com.

[ed. - From AOL's "Mandatory.com" website [now defunct]. The article incorrectly states a mural depicts Robert Burton. The model in that painting is Julian Branston, a Fellowship member.]
#4 Fellowship of Friends

Many cult leaders try for legitimacy by claiming that famous dead people talk to them. Robert Earl Burton, leader of the Fellowship of Friends, had a whole party in his brain, with Ben Franklin and Plato both offering advice. Unfortunately, most of their advice boiled down to “stick your dinger in people’s mouths.” Indeed, there was only one way to heaven for the Friends, and that was through Burton’s pants. A giant mural on the ceiling of the group’s compound actually depicts Burton with an erection, and even predicting nuclear war in 2006 hasn’t slowed him down.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

What shall you give your teacher?

Portrait of Robert Earl Burton (R. E. Burton), Fellowship of Friends cult leader and dandy
Portrait of Robert Earl Burton
[ed. - During Robert Burton's "birth month" (Burton's birthday has been variously cited as May 4, 5, 11, 12 and 13, 1939) it is customary that donations are solicited from Fellowship of Friends members (many of whom are impoverished) for a birthday gift suitable to someone of Burton's stature and nobility. Historically, he has directed that gold, jewelry, gems, art and other collectibles are appropriate. (See "Purchasing Awakening.")]

"jomopinata" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, May 9, 2012:
17/silentpurr [post number and blogger]
”truthful portrayal”
I think the official painted portrait [shown at right] of Burton surrounded by expensive objets d’art, including a fawning dog, clearly demonstrates how he sees himself and would like others to see him. http://bit.ly/LNzN2a
Paradoxically, JUSTLY, it conveys an ACCURATE impression of his utter dependency on “narcissistic supply.” The reflection of himself which so mesmerizes him must include numerous expensive baubles, columned porticos and fawning dogs to confirm his grandiose sense of his own worth and importance. It can never be enough to produce anything genuinely satisfying, hence the need for more more more, and to discard and devalue anything which challenges the reflection of himself he wants to see in the mirror of his interpersonal relations.

"lauralupa" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, May 5, 2008:
Bares Reposting 121 [blogger who posted a link to the painting]

How nouveau riche!

What’s the phallic statuette he is holding in his hands? It looks a bit like an Oscar…

And I guess the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel are still the Chosen Dogs of the Ark! I love all sorts of canids, but I remember being instantly repulsed by these precious bulgy eyed lapdogs when they started showing up around the property… but then again, I was already in my “love affair gone sour” phase. Anyway, I bet that most of the appeal of this breed to Robert comes from its long history as dogs of the Royal families of Europe.

One can see in the painting what a pathetic poser the man is, superficially modeling himself after refined aesthetes like Bernard Berenson. Too bad he is not really interested in art and culture. I wonder if he ever reads books at all, or if, like everything else, they’re just for show…