Introduction


Presented in reverse chronology, this history stretches from the present back to the Fellowship's 1970 founding, and beyond.
(See "Blog Archive" in the sidebar below.) It draws from many sources, including The Fellowship of Friends - Living Presence Discussion, the Internet Archive, the former Fellowship of Friends wiki project, cult education and awareness sites, news archives, and from the editor's own 13-year experience in the Fellowship.

The portrait that emerges stands in stark contrast to sanitized versions presented on the Fellowship's array of
alluring websites, and on derivative sites created by Burton's now-estranged
disciple, Asaf Braverman.

Friday, June 1, 2012

"Our Spiritual Teacher": the authorized biographies, and more

The official biographies
[From the Fellowship's "Gurdjieff-Ouspensky Centers" website, March 7, 2007:]
Robert Earl Burton - the Founder of the Fellowship of Friends

Robert Burton: The Early Years


In 1967 Robert Earl Burton attended a meeting led by Alexander Horn, and immediately knew that he had found what he had been seeking. Mr. Horn conducted a group based on the Gurdjieff-Ouspensky ideas that used theater as a form for work on oneself. Burton devoted himself to studying the Fourth Way and to participating in Mr. Horn’s group. After eighteen months, however, Robert Burton found it necessary to part from his teacher, realizing that Mr. Horn’s teaching methods were no longer serving his aim.

Robert Burton: The Fellowship of Friends
 

On January 1, 1970, Robert Burton founded the Fellowship of Friends, a school based on the Fourth Way principles and dedicated to the aim of creating higher consciousness in its members. On July 4, 1971, his students purchased 1,200 acres of mostly uncleared land in the Sierra foothills. For the next five years, Robert Burton focused his efforts on establishing a network of satellite groups or “centers” in California, and on developing the property—later called Renaissance—to serve as a central retreat for Fellowship members and as the focus for their external efforts.

Robert Burton: Developing the Soil and the Arts
 

In those early years a major effort was the clearing of the land and the planting of a 365-acre vineyard by Fellowship members. Later a winery was built, and the first wines were produced under the Renaissance label in 1984. At Renaissance, hard physical labor went hand in hand with an intense study of the arts. From the beginning, Robert Burton focused on what has become a signature characteristic of his teaching: the use of the arts to promote an unremitting effort to be present. He established the first Fellowship art collection and traveled extensively in Europe, educating himself and his students in the visual as well as the performing arts. Robert Burton taught the Fourth Way at weekly meetings in the Bay Area for several hundred students, and at “teaching dinners” held six nights a week at Renaissance.

An International School

 

 In 1976, Robert Burton asked many of his students to move to cities across the United States and establish Fellowship centers outside of California. Approximately 20 centers were founded and the membership increased dramatically. In the early 1980s centers were founded in major European cities, and the school became international. Eventually centers were also established in China, Singapore, Hong Kong, many Central and South American cities, and—after the fall of the Berlin wall—in Russia and Eastern Europe. As the international centers were established, members were encouraged to travel around the world, teaching newer students and studying languages and the arts. Renaissance hosted an ambitious concert series and developed its own opera, orchestra, chorus, theater, and ballet companies. In 1991 Burton’s book, Self-Remembering, was published, which highlighted the core of his teaching of the Fourth Way: his unwavering emphasis on the disciplines of self-remembering and the transformation of suffering.

The Effort Continues

 
As the school matured, Burton began a prolonged study of ancient Greek and Roman art and literature, a study that later widened to include the great thinkers of all ages. He encouraged his students to research the noblest thoughts humanity has produced, and those thoughts were shared in publications and at meetings. The name “Renaissance” no longer seemed to reflect the global, timeless nature of the Fellowship, and the name was changed to Apollo. As the school entered its fourth decade, Burton began to study the Bible, finding the roots of the Fourth Way clearly expressed within its teachings. Today the Fellowship has 2,200 members who live at Apollo and in approximately 65 centers around the world. Apollo possesses a concert hall, an art gallery, a library, and formal gardens, and every effort is made to develop the practice and appreciation of the arts as an aid to self-remembering. Robert Burton continues to strive to bring the Fellowship to all those who may be interested in it, and to teach and apply the principles of the Fourth Way in daily life.
[ed. - On a previous version of this site, the below photograph was included. However, the St. Petersburg, Russia center apparently became an embarrassment.]


[From the Fellowship's still-active The Art of Divine Presence website:]

Robert Earl Burton

Robert Earl Burton is a spiritual teacher and founder of the Fellowship of Friends. As a young man, Robert studied intensively the teachings of the Fourth Way, as presented to the West by George Gurdjieff* and Peter Ouspensky. He focused on the practical side of this teaching, and quickly grasped that self-remembering was the basis of the system. His book Self-Remembering, published in 1991, provides a collection of personal insights into the practical nature of this spiritual work and its application in daily life.

The course of Robert Burton's life as a spiritual teacher is indistinguishable from the growth and development of the Fellowship of Friends. Robert has worked single-mindedly to create an environment of inspiration at Apollo that is conducive to awakening, and at the same time he has labored to extend his spiritual teachings to interested people around the world. Through the efforts of Robert and his followers, the Fellowship has opened and continues to maintain centers in dozens of cities on every continent. The Fellowship became, and remains to this day, international.

Throughout the years, Robert’s spiritual teaching has never strayed from focusing on the practical moment-by-moment efforts necessary to awaken from sleep. He has taught the same message at all Fellowship gatherings, and has striven to be personally accessible to each member of the Fellowship. He has tirelessly sought new inspiration, introducing fresher approaches to each member’s internal efforts, and always providing loving guidance and support.

Robert has come to understand the esoteric nature of all spiritual teachings throughout recorded time. He has concluded that all religious traditions are the same and that the basis of all great spiritual work is the same--to escape from imagination and the lower self and to awaken and recognize one's Higher Self. Today the Fellowship focuses on these basic spiritual ideas common to all esoteric traditions.
[*ed. - Burton admitted never having read Gurdjieff's works.]

[And from the Fellowship's latest Living Presence website:]
Robert Burton founded the Fellowship of Friends on New Year’s Day, 1970. The school grew so rapidly that in 1971 its students collectively purchased the land that became Apollo. Over the decades the external form of the school—Apollo, the Fellowship centers, and the teaching—took shape and flowered from Robert’s conscious vision.

Basing his teaching on Peter Ouspensky’s Fourth Way writings, Robert focused relentlessly on “self-remembering,” the effort to increase consciousness by a direct effort to be present within a moment. His book Self-Remembering, published in 1991, reflects his initial understanding of the subject.

As his teaching matured, he came to prefer the term “being present” as a more simple and objective way of describing self-remembering. He also expanded the Fourth Way tradition, studying esoteric schools from all eras, and isolating the common thread to reveal their universal message.

Robert lives at Apollo, together with about six hundred members of the Fellowship, and teaches at many events each week. He also travels regularly, encouraging students to join him as he follows traces left by schools around the world.

How to describe a conscious teacher? His only true credentials are his own presence and his effect upon his students. He does what no one else will do or can do—teaching the most unpopular of all truths: that our illusory sense of “I” must die before presence can be born. He is the living reminder that it is possible to awaken, and that presence means humility, acceptance, and conscious love.
[ed. - After forty years of claiming both Ouspensky and Gurdjieff's supposed influence on his teaching, this most current Fellowship of Friends website, quietly omits references to Gurdjieff. As reported throughout this blog, Burton's "presence" is a highly-polished act and for the many unfortunate enough to witness his dark side, it certainly does not "mean humility, acceptance and conscious love."]

The not-so-official biography
"spoonful" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, August 24, 2008:

I recently visited the FOF Web site and was disturbed to discover how misleading most of the information was. The FAQ’s are definitely in need of an overhaul, but I thought it was only fair to begin on “Our Spiritual Teacher”. So here it goes…
Robert Earl Burton

Robert Earl Burton is a spiritual teacher and founder of the Fellowship of Friends. As a young man, Robert studied intensively the teachings of the Fourth Way, as presented to the West by Alex Horn and Sharon Gans. He focused on the practical side of this teaching, and quickly grasped that self-remembering was based on an appreciation of the male genitals. His book Self-Remembering, published in 1991, provides a collection of personal insights into the practical nature of this spiritual work and its application in daily life, while having sex with a young boy, or a group of boys.

The course of Robert Burton’s life as a spiritual teacher is indistinguishable from the growth and development of the male organ. Robert has worked single-mindedly to create an environment of inspiration at Apollo that is conducive to the awakening of this fact, and at the same time he has labored to extend his spiritual teachings to seduce boys from around the world. Through the efforts of Robert and his stooges, the Fellowship has opened and continues to maintain centers in dozens of cities on every continent to maintain a constant supply of male members. The Fellowship became, and remains to this day, international, with the spotlight currently on hand picked Russians.

Throughout the years, Robert’s spiritual teaching has never strayed from focusing on the practical moment-by-moment efforts necessary to arouse himself from sleep. He has taught the same message at all Fellowship gatherings of young men, and has striven to be personally accessible to each member as his fancy takes him. He has tirelessly sought new inspiration, introducing fresher approaches to each member’s external efforts, whoever he happens to servicing in the moment, always providing loving guidance and support, either orally, or by a hands on approach.

Robert has come to understand the erotic nature of all spiritual teachings throughout recorded time. He has concluded that all religious cults are the same and that the basis of all great spiritual wanking is the same–to escape from imagination and the limp self and to awaken and recognize one’s higher coming. Today the Fellowship focuses on these basic spiritual ideas common to all homo-erotic traditions where a male leader is surrounded by eligible boys.
You can read the original here:
http://www.beingpresent.org/index.php?toc=Robert-Earl-Burton&
Perhaps you feel there are other areas that need expanding on.

The definitely-not-official biography

[ed. - The following submitted by Ames Gilbert via e-mail]
Robert Earl Burton is a spiritual charlatan and founder of the Fellowship of Friends, an organization solely devoted to assuaging his unlimited appetites and perversions. As a young man, Burton studied intensively the deceptions of Alex Horn, who had learned a few words of the Fourth Way as presented to the West by George Gurdjieff and Peter Ouspensky, while waiting for his girlfriend as she completed the last three days of a nine-month course by J. G. Bennett in England. Burton focused on the practical side of this scam, and quickly grasped that frequently mentioning self-remembering was the best hook to lure in disciples. His book Self-Remembering, published in 1991, provides a collection of particularly shallow personal insights by an imposter, designed to further bamboozle his victims.

The course of Robert Burton's life as a con-man is indistinguishable from the growth and development of the Fellowship of Friends, since he has assumed dictatorial powers over both the organization and his followers. Burton has worked single-mindedly to create an environment of infatuation or fear at Apollo (as the headquarters of the shakedown is pretentiously called) that is particularly conducive to sleep, and at the same time he has labored to extend his fraud to gullible people around the world. Through the sincere but deluded efforts of his followers, the Fellowship has opened and continues to maintain centers in dozens of cities on every continent. The Fellowship became, and remains to this day, an international racket.

Throughout the years, Robert's fake teaching has never strayed from focusing on the practical moment-by-moment efforts necessary to rip-off the sheep. He has repeated the same sham at all Fellowship gatherings, and has striven to personally access every male member of the Fellowship. He has tirelessly sought new ways to gratify himself, always fostering fresh illusions to suit each devotee's fantasy, and continually hustling for extra money and sex.

Robert has come to understand the essential nature of all spiritual stings throughout recorded time. He has concluded that all religious chicaneries are the same and that the basis of all great spiritual hoaxes is the same—to fleece the sheep today and promise rewards for their sacrifices sometime in an indefinite future. Today the Fellowship still focuses on these basic shell games, common to all esoteric swindles.

And definitely the most creative biography...

"unoanimo" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, October 26, 2007:
A Slight Historical-Fact Modification Catharsis Pendulum
__________________________________________
Robert Earl Burton is a sexual predator and floundered the Fellowship of Friends and enemies. As a young man, Robert studied intensively the pre-school children he taught, particularly those who closest resembled the nude young boy painting now for years is situated on the Fellowship of Friends Galleria wall, as presented to the West by his sex slave and Russian artist in resident. He focused on the practical side of zipping down zippers, and quickly grasped that self – ‘members’ were the basis of his narcissism system; he’s currently still working on zipping up zippers, particularly his own.

His book Self-Remembering, published in 1991, provides a collection of personal coercive platitudes into the practical nature of how to quote oneself re assuredly alone (while practicing how to smile) so to get someone who has allot of money, time, naive spiritual enthusiasm and (if he’s really lucky) a large ‘member donation’ into his sexual predation work and its application in more sexual predation work.

The course of Robert Burton’s strife as a spiritual teacher is indistinguishable from the growth and development of the fungus that paleontologists now believe rocked the world of the woolly mammoths, causing them to charge head long into thinly iced over, bottomless mud pits.

Robert has worked single-simplemindedly to create an environment of desperation at Isis that is conducive to giving him more and the giver less, and at the same time he has labored to extend his penis, hand/wrist and tongue to interested people around the world. Through the efforts of Robert and his cult followers, the Fellowship of Friends has opened and continues to maintain his sexual predation in dozens of cities on every continent. The Fellowship of Friends became, and remains to this day, hell’s rendition of The International House of Pancakes.

Throughout the law suits, coercive rapes, excommunication of those who “Just said No to Hugs”, Robert Burton’s sexual predation has never strayed from focusing on the practical sex-by-coercive fear-efforts necessary to awaken from sleep and roll over to the next one sleeping in his bed (it’s a big bed folks).

He has teased the same psychic massage at all Fellowship of Friends grumblings, and has striven to be personally re-accessible to each member and ‘member’ (ahem) of the Fellowship of Friends, if, they pay to see him alongside 43 others who have also paid to hear the same thing the other 44 the night prior heard, but slightly different due to the logical progression in the pronunciation of the proceeding different day’s names spelling; hence, Tuesday is pronounced differently than Monday, so, ‘logically’ the literary script is simply not the same; we at the Fellowship of Friends appreciate that all seven days are spelled differently, this gives our Second Coming of Christ a great opportunity to diversify himself and to repeat daily the spiritual ‘double-dribble’ we’ve all come to love to just let him get away with on the big galactic basketball court of the universe.

He has tirelessly sought new perspiration, introducing fresher sexual predation candidates to each member’s external orifices, and always providing ‘rape-like’ guidance and support.

Robert Burton has come to underestimate the esoteric nature of all spiritual teachings throughout recorded time and before recorded time (it takes a special person to finely hone prehistoric history into a pencil eraser). Therefore, like a bright eyed high school student tapping the pencils end on his forehead during an exam he simply forgot was ‘today’, he has concluded that all religious sexual predations are the same and that the basis of all great sexual predation work is the same–to escape down his secret trap-door in his bedroom in case a furious, conscience intact, non-member-man-parent, father (or mother) to one of his sexual predation ‘meals’ aftermath were to get past his guard house and make it into his ‘lair’ looking for a bit of old fashioned ‘Medieval Tweezer Fun’ for his imagination and lower self and to awaken and recognize his Rapist Self.

Today the Fellowship of Friends focuses on these basic spatial deals common to all acidic traditions.

The Work of Our Spitting Preacher

The principal work of our spitting preacher is to initiate and prolong his and his sexual predation partners and victims penises with Viagra, Anti-depressants and high definition pornography in the lives of Fellowship of Friends members. He does this in many ways: by conveying all sorts of coercive ‘goodies’ attributable to all sexual predators in positions of power, where another’s (the victims) personal welfare and family’s safety has found itself in bondage within such clutches; by offering money and expensive ‘high-end’ clothes, travel, jewelry and political power for sex, personal one-on-one rape sessions, and opportunities to work in harvesting new, fresh victims for his predation by becoming ‘traveling teachers’ and simply going home to visit the family for awhile; and by simply lying and allowing us to become liars too. All such efforts spring from his own pants, and his desire to convey this reality to us.

How does he tweak in the moment? At one level, he may use an anti-depressant, sit on a pillow placed on an already plush seat during meetings, reference some distant dead person’s quote that’s been ‘trimmed and shaved’ to something closer at hand, as a way of bringing a person out of an inattentive state of historical honesty and more deeply into the present state of media manipulation, conspiracies to defraud and all around hypnotic debauchery that pretty much any relatively healthy powerful sexual predator would say is redundantly and methodically customary to their class and rank.

At another level (underneath the bottom of the barrel), he may use all drug methods and pornographic instructions as a way to sustain erectile function once it has been achieved.

After a period of sincere rapes, a member comes to understand that awakening to Robert Burton is neither the practice of one exercise nor the overcoming of one obstacle alone, it’s all of the above, excluding god of course. It is a way of life. Awakening to Robert Burton has become the way of life of our spitting preacher, and he invites us to join him in this life (of course he doesn’t invite the ones already members of the Fellowship of Friends, since, after all, we’re already here and would have to drive back and forth from home twice.)

Our Creature provides direct reanimation of buried traumatic pains. Direct reanimation means both using his penis and someone else’s without words (of course that’s because he cannot actually pronounce anything with a penis in his mouth.) It would seem that the use of coercion is more direct rape, less subtle love and easier to follow through to another rape without any pausing for that pesky critter called ‘Conscience’.

Yet all forms of coercion and systematic hypnotism of ‘all the others not waking up to Robert Burton in the morning’ require effort to keep the puke down (regurds are true suffering at it’s finest acidic level), and each person must regurd to regurd. Learning to regurd means recognizing and acting upon the obvious position of the putrid glob somewhere between the Adam’s apple and the little floppy thingy that hangs down from the entrance of one’s esophagus, as well as acknowledging subtle, wordless bouts of confusion that lead to alcoholism, spousal abuse, elderly abuse, child abuse, poverty wages, sexually transmitted diseases, abortions, hysterectomies, suicides, unwanted children and adoptions, illegal immigration, tax fraud, moral turpitudes and all around other fun stuff.

Each person must value his or her money donations to the Creature, be it several young sons or only a few minutes of unexpected oral sex or coerced anal penetration, to garner what he or she can and make further use of it. In addition, a person must recognize opportunities for effort without expecting the Creature to request them, he does not like to ask for the same thing twice; remember ‘The Four Wordless Breaths’ refer to how long it should not take to answer the Creature’s demand for sexual predation-food.

Awakening to Robert Burton or any of his numerous sexual predation co-conspirators is a personal experience (indeed!), and our Creature can provide each ‘member’ with lesions (little blisters and red swelly smelly things) that are subtle and direct, and unrecognized by others, particularly in the dark.

A simple-minded indication or request, if followed, can open the trap-door to new worlds of pain and possibilities of sexually transmitted diseases, rape, trauma and spiritual entrapment. The Creature is motivated to work with and for his students because he’s a millionaire sexual predator for having done so well at it for 37 years, though he is more advanced, thanks to those in the Fellowship of Friends who simply can’t get enough of hell on earth, he understands that a sincere person trying to awaken to Robert Burton possesses the same potential that he does when he practices, once again, to smile in the mirror and will at some time attain what he has attained prior to what he had attained previous to where he attained it.

Members and orifices alike have the opportunity to verify that the Creature is more knowledgeable and experienced in sexual predation than they are, and that he is even more interested in their erectile tissue growth than they are (sorta). It is on this basis alone–on the verification that one does not know as much as one’s spitting preacher with regard to awakening to Robert Burton–that a right angled rape-relationship can develop into all sorts of traumatic heirlooms for the participant’s family, friends and of course ‘self’.

Great sin is required to accept that although we originally formulated the aim to awaken, our own desire is sufficient, no need to go and satisfy it and graduate from any painful toil, we like pain. And yet we are never closer to the truth than when we remember that we forgot it and continue to do so.

Developing a personal relationship to the Creature does not depend upon proximity to him, don’t worry, we’ll find you one way or another. His influence permeates through all aspects and dimensions of the prostitutions he’s created, and the moment a person connects to this prostitution through any channel in Robert Burton’s mouth or anus, he or she will experience the Creature’s gloving influence directly.

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