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.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Damage Control, Part Deux

Fellowship of Friends cult leader Linda Kaplan caricature
Linda Kaplan, by Harold Wirk
[ed. - Former Fellowship of Friends President Linda Kaplan, formerly Linda Tulisso, has allegedly made another foray into the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog to face the forces of darkness. The disguise this time: "I in the sky".

In 2009, "rock that boat" claimed Kaplan was posting on the Fellowship Discussion blog as "Daily Cardiac". "Daily Cardiac" and "I in the sky" are assigned the same avatar, meaning they use the same e-mail account. When conversations involving these posters are compared, similarities in psychology, language usage, mannerisms, strategy, frames of reference and education are apparent. From the very earliest days, Fellowship members appear to have taken an active interest in controlling the message.

"I in the sky's" first post on July 20th, curiously coincided with the breaking news of the Thomas Neuschatz scandal. The post below offers an official message, likely written by Fellowship attorney Abraham Goldman, part of damage control efforts by Fellowship leaders, including Linda. Interestingly, paranoia appears to be one of "I in the sky's" favorite topics.]

"Traveler" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, March 7, 2007:
Who’s afraid of the big bad blog [quoting an official message from Fellowship leaders:]
Dear Friends:

Thank you for the many supportive responses to our recent message about invasion of our rights of privacy.
At this time, when the most powerful teachings from Influence C are being revealed and shared, there are a number of anonymous people who use the Internet to harass the Teacher, the School and its members.

The people involved in these activities use false names, stolen identities, copyright violations, defamation, and tactics of negativity. Among other instances, Asaf’s name has been misappropriated and used for false e-mails containing vulgar profanities. Yesterday Linda Tulisso’s [Linda Kaplan] name and picture were falsely used to cast her and Fellowship Management in a negative, false light and to provide a link for unauthorized access to copyrighted materials on Propylaia. It is currently known that this has now gone beyond students with visible roles, such as Asaf and Linda. It now includes stealing names of other students for use in false cyber communications because of their national origin so as to falsely deceive friends in other countries into thinking that one of their fellow student countrymen, be it from Japan, Russia, etc., is actually sponsoring negative attacks against the Teacher and the School.

As with other recent privacy rights violations, the Fellowship takes these matters seriously and reports all such matters to governmental agencies at State and Federal levels as well as in other countries and the European Community for investigation and prosecution. In recent years, the U.S. government, every State, and country have passed strong criminal laws against cyber tactics of identity theft, false representation, and anonymous annoyances and harassment of private individuals and organizations. Law enforcement agencies can trace anonymous or false messages to its source.

If you wish to help, you may forward to the Fellowship’s office any such e-mails, web pages, blogs, CDs or MP3 files you have received, either directly or indirectly, electronically, or by regular mail. Please include a brief factual description including your name, address where it was received, the date of receipt of the communication, and the source, if known. If you have received communications via mail, we would appreciate your including the envelope and/or packaging when you forward this to the Fellowship’s office.
These laws exist to protect all people in all countries. The people involved in the current harassment have openly stated their intent to violate these laws to destroy the School, to injure students and the Teacher. These invasive tactics are not innocent nor can they remain hidden.

The School and our Teacher and friends have been attacked before but we have become stronger and deeper through the transformation of this friction. It is therefore before us to address these matters with presence and with vigilance.

All students should feel free to discuss any of these matters or concerns with their center directors, regional coordinators, the Council, Fellowship Ministers, and Fellowship management.

Thank you for your help, diligence, and presence.

Kevin Brown
Council Dean

Linda Tulisso [Linda Kaplan]
Fellowship President

"I in the sky" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, August 16, 2012:
14 – Tim Campion
Like the “Howard Carter” and “Daily Cardiac” characters before them, “I in the sky” is just the latest disguise for the officially-designated Fellowship of Friends spokesperson. 
I’m curious to know why you think I’m here on official business for the FOF? What kind of business would that be? What would they accomplish by sending someone that couldn’t be accomplished by someone representing themselves? What would the FoF gain by me debating WhaleRider on the nature of dreams, or you about your fake Rolex analogy? Will those or future points made by me effectively diminish the 123 pages of critical testimony? If you think so you pay me the highest compliment.

Comments you express in #14 remind me of Ames’ recent and insightful post regarding the dangers of the blog becoming institutionalized. In this case, institutionalized in paranoia.

I’m here as I presume others are; as an individual expressing my own views. I think some here have a tendency to overestimate the blog’s scope and / or effectiveness if they believe the FoF would feel the need to send an agent to infiltrate these pages.

If the FoF is what it claims to be it need not fear a blog of public opinion. And if it’s not what it claims to be it should fear a lot more than this blog.

If you read my posts I don’t mention the FoF (except here to reference your comments.) Nothing I’ve said strictly pertains to the FoF, but are fitting responses to the remarks of others. In my earlier comments to you I was speaking of laws in general. The same as in the answer to Man Number Zero. No one who answers my comments is taken “off point” if that’s what they surmise is my mission because my points can be as broad as anyone can entertain or if others want to make it about the FoF they can do that also. But that’s for them to direct. I’m content to speak in generalities.

[ed. - After 40 days on the blog, "I in the sky's" mission becomes transparent:]

"I in the sky" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, September 3, 2012:
134 – Shard_of_Oblivion [post number and blogger]

“The place where I am most surprised by your reply is where you dismiss science as a possible way to determine if the phase of the moon has an effect on human behaviour. Surely this, of all the FoF dogmas, is an ideal candidate where a carefully conducted statistical survey will reveal the truth of the matter.”

Science usually steers clear of Religion / Spirituality. Science is interested in the world of matter, not the world of spirit. It likes to identify and classify into neat groups of yes or no. Spirituality is founded on faith. Science has no use for faith, even if it’s faith based on verification. Faith of any kind means nothing to science. Science would be at a loss to know how to begin to sort and classify facts and information to determine the effects of the moon on human psychology..

How would they begin to chart data? Would they send a survey to a test group and ask questions like – Were you more negative during the last moon phase? Did you gamble or drink more? If so, how much more? Less than 15% – more than 30 %? If you were in a good mood did you laugh more than normal, louder than normal?

I’ve noticed patterns in myself where I like to reminisce during moon phases. So, I’ll catch myself thinking about an old girlfriend, or find myself humming old rock and roll songs. How do you quantify that? Do I also do that at times when it’s not the moon? Yes. Do I do that on each moon? No. But there are clear patterns regarding those tendencies. Am I less patient around moons? Yes. Am I more impulsive? Yes? How much so? Enough to notice.

The closest I could offer to a scientific approach of the moon’s effect on people’s behavior would be this argument: We all know of the moon’s gravitational pull on the earth, by the ebb and flow of the tides. The human body is composed of 60% water. So if the moon can cause the movement of oceans why could it not have an effect on the water in the human body? We know our mental state can change drastically simply because we are too hot, too cold or too tired. It’s not a stretch for me to see that the subtle pull of body water would produce subtle or not so subtle effects in our thinking or perception and thereby cause us to react differently to others or to circumstances.

SoO: It seems you are rock solid in your “verification” of C influence. I know it is something personal, but would you be willing to disclose what it was that allowed you to verify “C influence”? I would understand if you declined, as the posters on the blog would likely look to find ways to dismiss it, but if you were to share in that way, I would be very interested.

It’s not a question of declining, but one of trying to describe a process that clearly falls outside the boundaries of language. And I’m not concerned about the blog dismissing anything I say. When people comment dismissively they are actually recruiting for the FoF. If anyone comes to these pages checking out the FoF because they are attracted to the ideas on their website, in all likelihood they are looking for how to connect with what we call C influence, or higher consciousness. So when people looking for that read the sarcastic and dismissive posts they are more likely to disbelieve most of what is claimed here since the posters do not even believe in or promote core spiritual ideas or values.

I don’t know what I could say to someone about verifying Influence C, as it is the most personal verification of all. I can say what it is not though. It is not even remotely like depictions in the bible where God appears to someone in vivid form. Those depictions are not meant to be taken literally. Writers from the past and most recently Hollywood do take the bible stories literally so they, in their depictions of verifying Influence C (God or angels), will also suggest it to be a real, sensual, vision, or a clear verbal message, but it is neither. They do not have voices, or forms, or they choose not to inhabit one, so they have to communicate with man by different means; by speaking through other people or through circumstances or signs (even License plates.)

The responsibility of the seeker is to have a clean, open, state, poised to receive any shocks if they come. From a higher state, even a slightly higher one than normal, individuals who are looking for this kind of contact can receive it. For others it suffices to just look around at the world and everything in it and deduce that this creation was no accident and could not happen without the participation of a higher mind.
I would also suggest reading or re-reading your countryman Rodney Collin’s book – The theory of Celestial Influence, which might shed some light on the effect that bodies like the moon can have on the human level.

"Tim Campion" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, September 21, 2012:
To the current Fellowship of Friends functionary “I in the sky”:

Whoever you are, posting from behind this pseudonym, I am addressing much of this post to your role, and not to you, personally.

As you know, since early 2007 (despite repeated statements to the contrary,) The Fellowship of Friends has periodically assigned a representative (derogatorily called a “shill”) to this blog. Some of us will recognize your voice in Howard Carter, Daily Cardiac, and presently “I in the sky.” The ploy is fairly transparent. (Really, how many here quote Shakespeare and O.J. Simpson in the same post?)

Like that of your predecessors, your task is clear: defend, distract, obfuscate and even recruit. “Any reasonable person” will recognize your arguments (e.g. post 106 above) as tortured straw men. Facts should never stand in the way of a good argument.

Appearances can be deceiving. Conveniently overlooking the actual premise that launched this blog, you express shock at the overwhelming percentage of posts critical of The Fellowship and of Robert Burton. You have portrayed that pro- and anti-Fellowship posters are equally free to participate, but that Fellowship defenders have been brutally silenced by negative outbursts from ex-members. You will not acknowledge that Fellowship members have been instructed not to participate. The early days of the blog (see Part 1), before The Fellowship Council got involved, featured a much more lively debate.

As the official Fellowship of Friends voice, you hardly represent the Fellowship membership and the wide spectrum of attitudes and opinions to be found there, just as I do not represent 15,000 former members.
You misrepresent all former members as holding similar attitudes about the Fellowship of Friends and Robert Burton, a straw man that is patently false. “Someone” and “Joseph Nachumovitch” are but two former members who clearly demonstrate this.

It also serves your “performance” that the reader believe you are only speaking on behalf of yourself (an oft-repeated claim among Fellowship shills, by the way.) You are one of the few reasonable voices amidst the howling wolves. You seek sympathy by personalizing this solitary, yet noble against-all-odds effort. How can ex-members so viciously attack you?

But I see no “real person” on the page. In six years, what have I learned about the individual(s) behind this role? Virtually nothing. (Though Daily Cardiac did admit having difficulty achieving an erection under certain circumstances!)

What readers witness here is the impersonal, insentient, unresponsive Fellowship of Friends mouthpiece. And considering who, or rather what many non-members are confronting, it is little surprise that responses elicited are overwhelmingly critical and often tinged with exasperation.

Unlike The Fellowship of Friends, “we” (whoever we are) don’t have a coordinated campaign, with a designated spokesperson. Non-members come and go for reasons only they know. Can you claim the same? Non-members can (and do) simply walk away from the forum. Do you have that option?
As others have suggested, the bias inherent in your role is powerful. Your position is official defender of The Fellowship of Friends and Robert Burton. No one else has such a stake in the game. Probably no one else here appreciates how truly dire The Fellowship’s situation is, and the fear that drives this singular effort.
Like all good shills, part of your role is to trivialize the opposition. A frequent bit of hyperbole (“intentional insincerity” to you) is to misrepresent the number of blog participants, “20″ being the latest estimate. It’s another straw man. (You might claim that I am doing the same, but I can easily prove the number is far higher than 20, while you would have difficulty pointing to another Fellowship member posting.) More importantly, is the quality of truth dictated by number of participants? If that were the case, your argument would be even more precarious.

Since we both assume casual readers will only visit the current page, I see your intention as occupying a certain amount of real estate on each page, with the stated objective of introducing “balance.” You will offer an “angle of thought” on any subject, presenting the cult’s unique spin. After all, it’s just more real estate, more air play in your political campaign.

As spokesperson you will summarily dismiss any allegations of crimes and abuse directed at Robert Burton and other Fellowship officials. The common refrain is that Robert Burton has never been and will likely never be tried in a court of law because there is no proof to support the allegations. You will assert that victims’ testimonies on the blog and elsewhere cannot be proven, and you dismiss grievances as little more than hearsay. (And you will never acknowledge legal cases that were settled out of court, at great cost to Fellowship members.)

At the same time, you will point out that the conduct of Robert Burton and The Fellowship of Friends can only be evaluated in a spiritual context, as they are above man-made laws.

So, from your perspective, perpetrator and victim must be judged according to different standards and criteria, and we must leave the matter of Robert Burton’s guilt or innocence to a “higher court,” inaccessible to mere mortals. (And apparently, the crimes and abuses we rail about on the blog aren’t even recognized in this higher realm!) It sounds like an air-tight defense. The victims, of course, have no remedy. (Well, they have a blog at least.)

In any case, the reader will judge. And that is absolutely fine with me.

Finally, to the actual person writing under the pseudonym “I in the sky”: Robert Burton obviously feels no obligation to defend himself. What compels you to defend a Teacher and a School that are by definition beyond reproach? (Do you unconsciously question that assumption?)

Yours appears a lonely duty, willingly embraced for years now. I must admit, your tenacity is remarkable. My wish is that you recognize you are playing a part, and this is not who you are. You are not the subject of criticism here – it is your role that draws the fire. I do believe you have a choice in the matter, and can exercise that choice each day.

When you write that you have personally verified the existence of C Influence, that The Fellowship of Friends is a real school, that Robert Burton is a conscious being subject to higher laws, who is speaking? If it’s the voice of the corporate shill, then we can easily understand. This is what’s necessary to promote the product, recruit naive seekers and replenish the Fellowship’s depleted coffers. All the nonsense about verifications is simply artifice to support the official narrative.

If, however, it’s a moment of candor expressing your personal views, so be it. Then your position, to the extent you acknowledge the limits of this understanding, is really unassailable.

Only you can know which voice is speaking.

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