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) Fellowship 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.

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.
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…

1 comment:

  1. Yes, the painting depicts imagery that represents Robert Earl Burton’s interests; let's look at the meanings that classical symbology is used for here: The red of the rich fabric covering the chair and the drapery above symbolizes anger, sin, and especially lust. In the painting’s center, a white horse’s head represents, in the tradition of Greco-Roman symbology for the horse, the traits of dominance and virility. There are many phallic symbols, including the candles erect behind him, and the black iron fireplace andirons that depict male nudes. He clutches a small phallus, a bronze sculpture in the form of a nude man. The classical painting in the background depicts an older man focusing on the object of his desire, a young male companion. In the fireplace, the “fire of inequity” or, the “unquenchable fire” symbolizes his perverse sexual desire for young heterosexual men.

    The fire in the portrait of Robert Earl Burton also brings to mind false teaching. “The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by Hell.” James 3:6

    The above taken from a post by Golden Veil ( and edited) in the Fellowship of Friends Discussion, Page 120, post 21, on May 9, 2012