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.")

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. Read more about the blog.

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

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Robert Burton continues to recruit young Russians

Fellowship of Friends Moscow Russia Open Meeting Advertisement with Gurdjieff and Ouspensky

[ed. - Burton cannot seem to decide whether Gurdjieff, Ouspensky and The Fourth Way are in or out of his teaching. It appears he'll use whatever lure is necessary to maintain the flow of "fresh meat," as young male heterosexual recruits have been termed by members of Burton's inner circle. The domain for the Russian website ( was created by Fellowship member Alexander Komov in St. Petersburg. Similar campaigns were undertaken in Argentina (blog has been removed) and Brazil.]

"Tim Campion" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, October 28, 2012:
Familiar Fourth Way School “Non-Profit Organization” recruiting on facebook.
Upcoming open meetings in Moscow, Kiev and Nizhny Novgorod offer an opportunity for reverse bookmarking!

From the Moscow meeting announcement:
Esoteric School of the Fourth Way holds a series of introductory lectures on the principles and methods of conscious human development. Meetings will be held in Moscow on 10, 11 and 12 November 2012. Beginning at 19:00. Admission is free. Registration by phone: 8 (926) 210-9367

"Janna" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, August 2, 2007:
On a different note (Critical Mass) [blogger] – being Russian myself it slightly saddens me to see which role Russians played in the school… A “special” role. Most Robert’s sex toys are Russians.

Oh well. But, hey, if you ask an average American around here what do they know about Russians they’ll likely mention mail-order brides, Russian mafia, Brighton Beach and Russian prostitutes… It is what it is…

"Ames Gilbert" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, October 26, 2007:
Dear all,

The Fellowship of Friends “come–on” (#23-144, or thereabouts) stimulates me to offer a list of questions that a prospective student should ask, in one form or another, before joining. I started this list because a friend who has been through the Fellowship experience joined another 4th Way group (started by an ex–FoF student!) and had some second thoughts, and asked for input. I’d say that any prospective student owes it to his or her self to not only get answers (and write them down, in detail), but to have someone less partial go over the answers with them. Ideally, some one who joined would also have a “buddy” to check in with after agreed periods of time to see if pre–stated aims and directions were being adhered to, and in general provide a ‘reality check’ and grounding. Ideally!
This list can surely be improved, so I put it out there as a group project…

Some Questions to ask before making a commitment

Mechanics and set–up of group/school:
  • How are payments structured?
  • Is the group organized legally as a non–profit or church for IRS purposes?
  • How transparent is the accounting?
  • What power does any board hold?
  • Do you serve at the pleasure of the board?
  • Exactly what degree of independence does the board have?
  • Please give examples of when the board effectively countered your decisions?
  • Are board meetings open to students, or do students have access to minutes of meetings?
  • If there is no board, what steps have you taken so students can hold you accountable for your actions, including financial decisions?
Relationship with teacher:
  • How do you measure students’ abilities beforehand to undertake difficult work?
  • What methods, in detail, do you use to prevent students entering a dependent role?
  • How do you prevent infatuation?
  • How do you deal with fear?
  • How do you prevent ‘spiritual materialism’ developing in ‘your’ students?
  • Do you feel invested in the success or failure of your students?
  • What do you do with failures?
  • What value do you place on the idea and practice of personal verification?
  • Are your students required to give up their will to you, as their teacher? If so, is this permanent or for a set or limited period of time?
Sex energy:
  • Are you married?
  • Do you claim celibacy?
  • Do you undertake to never have sexual relations with your students?
  • Please give examples of tasks concerning sex energy.
  • Describe how you presently channel/use sex energy, and will you describe your history in that regard?
  • Do you give out generalized/group exercises?
  • Are any exercises individualized?
  • What are the criteria for making such exercise ‘individual’?
  • Do you fully explain the purpose of the exercises beforehand?
  • Do you have helpers, and if so, what are their qualifications, and are they permitted to set exercises themselves?
  • Are there rules or codes of behavior that must be followed by school members? If so, what are they and how are ‘infractions’ handled?
  • Is there any appeal from your decisions, and if so, how is this handled?
  • Do you and your students work with the Fourth Way idea of Good Householder, and if so, what forms does this work take?
Dynamics of student body/school/group:
  • Is there a limit to the number of students you are willing to work with?
  • Is there a hierarchy?
  • If so, what is its basis?
  • What steps do you take or intend to take to prevent the needs of the organization overtaking the needs of the students with time?
  • Are you prepared to dissolve the organization if this happen?
Measurement of progress:
  • How do you test for the necessary ‘normalcy’ required of prospective 4th Way students?
  • What do you do if mental illness manifests nevertheless?
  • How do you describe the nature of the risks necessary to face before graduation?
  • What criteria do you and the student use to measure progress?
  • How do you empower students or teach them to take back/discover their own power?
  • How do you define conscience?
  • What is the use of conscience?
  • What are your teachings regarding conscience?
  • How do you separate conscience from subjective morality?
  • At what point is there graduation?
  • What happens to graduates?
On asking questions:
  • Will there ever be any questions on any subject that are unsafe, unpalatable, or otherwise objectionable if asked in good faith?
  • Will you take personal questions, that is, questions about your path, your conduct, your history?
  • Do you make contracts with your students, specifying goals, payments, efforts, limits, and results, concerning the temporary giving up of will to the teacher apparently requested of 4th Way students, and what steps are taken to ensure that this is indeed temporary and results/goal driven?
  • Do you in any way put pressure on students to limit their contacts with non-students, family?
  • What are your policies regarding talking about the work, exercises, meetings, experiences with the teacher, with non-students?
  • With ex–students?
Group work:
  • Do you organize group projects?
  • Do you join in them yourself?
  • Do you join students in experiments whose outcome you do not know (take risks)?
  • What is the primary objective/aim of your school?
  • What are secondary objectives/aims of your school?
Your work:
  • Do you believe the ends justifies the means? Regarding awakening?
  • Do you have a sense of humor?
  • Do you encourage a sense of humor in your students?
  • Do you regard yourself as still being on a journey yourself, or do you regard yourself as in any way ‘completed’?
  • Do you believe that you can learn from students or situations as they present themselves?
  • Do you claim to be conscious or enlightened and, if so, do you classify yourself (per the Fourth Way tradition) as a man #4, 5, 6 or 8?
  • Who are/were your teachers and what is their lineage in relation to the Fourth Way or other schools of awakening?
  • Why did you decide to become a spiritual teacher?
  • What are your personal goals/aims as a spiritual teacher?
Other sources, inspirations, teachings:
  • Apart from your own book, do you use or recommend other 4th Way books?
  • Those by Gurdjieff? Ouspensky? Bennett? Orage? Nicol? Others?
  • How do you feel about other teachers, other teachings?
  • Do you ‘mix and match’, and if so, what are your criteria?
  • Do you require exclusivity? That is, can I also study/meet with other teachers/traditions?
  • Do you make specific claims about your level of being?
  • Do you claim powers?
  • What levels of obedience do you require (tasks, suggestions, orders, etc.)?
  • Does your school have a ‘task’ or aim beyond teaching paths to increased consciousness of students?
  • Do you consider your school to be a ‘Fourth Way’ school?
Access to students or graduates:
  • Are there students available who I can talk to, over a period of time, so I can judge their degree of dependence or infatuation or fear myself?
  • Who can (voluntarily, of course) speak something of results gained, states attained, exercises and tasks they have undertaken, and results gained—or are they asked to withhold this kind of information? I’d also be looking for differences between ‘resident’ and ‘non-resident’ students, including, if possible, results.
  • Do you have any objections to me asking the questions below of current students?
  • What do you think of these questions?
  • If you were asking questions of a teacher or students, what would they be?
Relationship to students who have left:
  • What is your policy regarding the relationship between current and former students?
  • If there are restrictions, what is your policy if those rules are broken?  

  • What methods, in detail, do you use to prevent becoming dependent on the teacher?
  • How do you recognize and prevent infatuation?
  • How do you recognize and deal with fear in the student–teacher relationship?
  • What limits, if any, do you place on what the teacher asks you to do in order to awaken?
  • Do you think that you have an operating conscience?
  • Do you think that conscience can be developed?
  • Do you believe the ends justifies the means? Regarding awakening?
  • Are you willing to act on your conscience if it tells you that the teacher is wrong, or is setting you wrong tasks?
  • Are you willing to leave the school if your conscience says you should or must?
  • Do you think you will be in this school for the rest of your life?
  • If not, how long is the most you will stay?
  • How do you think you will recognize that you are ready to graduate?
  • If you believe that you are ready to graduate, will you act on that, or wait for the recognition or permission of the teacher?
  • What methods do you use to prevent becoming dependent on the group?
  • Would you take a paid position with the group?
  • If so, what precautions do you or would you put in place to prevent you becoming dependent on this position a) psychologically, and b) materially?
  • Do you have a position of authority within the group? If so, please describe your role and its importance within the organization.
  • If not, would you take a position of power/responsibility with the group?
  • If so, what precautions do you or would you take to avoid becoming corrupted by the power?
  • How long would you hold such a position?
  • On what basis would you or do you hold or transmit authority within the group?
  • Please describe the chain of authority between the teacher and you.
  • How do you view the legitimacy of each person in authority of those ‘below’ the teacher and ‘above’ you?
  • What do you think of these questions?
  • If you were asking questions of your teacher or students, what would they be?
…a lot of questions to be sure, but you are putting your time, money, effort, body and even your life on the line, so why not try to make the right decision? You cannot have too much information in these circumstances.

From someone who’s Been There and Done That,


Monday, October 15, 2012

"Inner circle facts"

[ed. - The following was one of the earliest, and most shocking posts on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, describing the "teaching" conducted by Robert Burton in his private (tax-exempt church) chambers. I post it again, since many have likely overlooked it. There are similar stories to be found among the first-hand testimonies on that blog, by known contributors. This post was reported to have been written by a Russian member of the Fellowship. (Most of the young men who perform these "services" for Burton are now from Eastern Europe or Russia.)

As with any anonymous post in this discussion, one cannot evaluate the author and their intentions. (This was the sole post attributed to"Inner Circle Facts.") So, we must regard this as hearsay. Unless the poster wishes to identify themselves, and their role in the Fellowship, their testimony remains suspect, and we must even consider it may have been a "false flag attack."

The following quotation comes from the Fellowship's "Self Remembering" website.]

"[Robert Earl Burton] has termed the Fellowship a 'School of Love,' in which he gently but inexorably presses his students towards a higher level of consciousness. "

"Inner circle facts" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, March 1, 2007:
Are you ready for some brutal facts?

Who would like to know how its really happening in his bad room? OK folks, fasten your sit belts, the Kansas going Bye Bye…

Did you know that usual orgies are formed from 4 to 6 student?. Usually two of them are SIMULTANEOUSLY entering Burton’s anus. Third person is laying on his back while Mr.Burton is providing him an oral sex while two from both sides are subject to the masturbation by MR. Burton with his two hands.

Some time there is one more student who’s role is to hold Burton’s testicles in his mouth during the whole time. Prior to all, by Burton’s request Viagra pills are shared and swallowed between all members of the orgy which are constantly provided by Mr. G.

Some time you can hear Burton’s words during the sexual activities “How incredible! We are getting closer, aren’t we?”

Some of them are asked to suck his nipples and his toes. All sperm gets swallowed by Mr. Burton at the end of the act. But that is not all yet.

There are two students who had the most terrifying and most humiliating role to play (in my opinion). They have to enter with their hands by their elbows into the Burton’s anus. (Looking for Consciousness perhaps) ..both students are Russians. One of them had left the school and the other has been “shipped” back to Russia for disobedience.

And now get this:

Beside those depraved scenes there is another one which going to shake you all:

There is another act that Burton is preforming with a specific student of his own “inner circle”. This act of Humiliation is performed in his bath room while Burton is laying down and 3 students are urinating right on him!

And on the next morning, like nothing happened Mr.Burton is leading the meeting on Love?

How cynical indeed!

[More "inner circle facts"]

"Foolofit)" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, June 11, 2007:
It is interesting to me to observe the defenders of the Fof keep asking for proofs of the ‘interesting’ private/not-so private-life of R [Robert Burton]. It is this the way to defend? Asking for proofs?

I was a night guard for 8 years at the galleria [Burton's residence]! Do you really want proof, yes is true. You really didn’t know? And you are in the school to wake up? Scary.

Adults that could say no? Maybe, maybe not.

Some are 20 years old, on salary, meaning $400 a month. They believe R. is God. Suddenly they are traveling, nice clothes, good life, everybody (I mean everybody) sleeps with him, so it almost feel normal. Once you said yes the first time, you are accepted in the group (a bit of a disturbed group I would say).

Nobody comes forward. Really? Strange, which heterosexual man wouldn’t like to expose himself, saying that he was or still is part of R. entourage. He already has to deal with the fact himself, maybe is not that easy to tell the rest of the world, that, like an idiot you said yes (at least for awhile) and then you accepted all kind of stupid truths to justify yourself or your teacher. So while dealing with all kind of stupid things like that, why not go out and tell everybody what kind of an idiot you’re?

But then again at least you’re not trying to tell everybody else that everything is fine and if you have verified Influence C(?!)and that it’s all that is required from you.

Please stop asking for proofs, you know is all true, at least, for a little bit, try to be honest! (or it’s just feminine dominance?)

see ya


"medusa" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, February 28, 2007:
I didn’t think that I would be writing again, simply because I don’t find it as useful and as educational as reading, but post # 265 from “current student” deserves some attention. Question to you then: what kind of blindness or deep self-deception are you affected by in order to believe that the FoF money is only turned into tar for “our” roads or flowers for “our” gardens? MOST of it is turned into… SPERM (sorry, don’t mean to be vulgar, only truthful.) Do you even know ( and if you don’t , why don’t you take responsibility in getting better informed about your community life) how much money is spent EVERY MONTH in airplane tickets, visas, green cards, properties, jewelry, expenses, medical bills, Viagra pills, vibrators, cars, pregnant ballerina (and correlative expenses), fancy clothing for every old and new “MEMBER” in the harem etc. by your beloved “teacher”? That money is sucked out of the pockets and the labor of people that often end up having no choice at all, no means to move away even an inch. You have money? Good for you. But have you at least had the honesty and courage to actually READ some of the posts? They are not all coming from outsiders, you fool. Many are written by students that came here for the same reasons you had for yourself, and lived in this same community, driving on your same precious tainted roads and admiring the same nice flowers, some of them for even longer then you have. THEY have seen it ALL. They don’t try to egoistically buffer Robert’s sexual perversion as you are doing, and justify it in the name of …..WHAT? Palms? Ballet?…The sequence?? What a convenient position you have, but really, for you own sake…GET BETTER INFORMED and take it ONLY from there. Imagine being your own parent..what good advice would you give to yourself?

“Keep your eyes and ears close Dear, everything is fine, just ignore it...” I don’t think so. Physically safe, you said? What the hell do you mean??? Do you know how many sexually transmitted diseases are secretively treated by our fellowship doctors every year? Do you acknowledge the trauma of those asked to PERFORM devious sexual acts ON Robert, including oral sex, defecation, urination and fist penetration? And Yes, they all came for their Souls, the Work and the Beauty….Actually this letter doesn’t mean to be personal to you,poor thing, but it is for all of those other “Current Students” such as yourself, oblivious and in deep, pathetic, denial. Enjoy your “City of Angels” my dear….

"Gwendolyn" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, March 1, 2007:
The words are not it really. The sex makes me uncomfortable, although it has not touched me personally.

I do not take too seriously those of the “inner circle” – Most of the rich and famous or people with major “roles” leave. But the self remembering and moments of presence go very deep. The fellowship for me has been a great place to find and live my own personal truth. To find something authentic. But you really need to not be interested in the outer forms or special attention. Some people who have left the school have had a special place in school. For some it is difficult to have to arrive at the place of nothingness.

I have found – once there – a great peace and freedom. Although arriving at nothingness is no small task. Arriving is not exactly it – it is more of a surrender, I think.

A friend of mine mentioned today how very personal “awakening” really is. It is not only personal but also a very intimate experience, excruciatingly so.

I frequently think of my close friends who have left the school with great love. They have not left my heart.

God, the self, whatever you want to call “this thing called love” is so palpable so beautiful.

Such a rich, joyful experience – when we are there – who would deny anyone their approach to that?

Be well. All. It is nice to hear from you. I almost would say that I regret any who are struggling with their path and yet there is something quite significant about that struggle, in or out. In or out let us all find peace – “His most precious gift – eternal peace.”


"tatyana" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, February 21, 2009:
Anna, I remember when I first read “Inner circle facts” it was a HUGE shock. I could not believe it, I thought someone very very mean is making it up. So I went to my friend who was “Robert’s Friend” at the time and asked him to tell me “if it is true”. He replied: “The whole blog is about me. Because who is chosen to urinate on RB? Me. Who is asked to sh…t on RB? Me. I am not going to read this f…g blog! I don’t know how people write and do not afraid that they will be run over buy a bus!” I saw with my own eyes that this friend of mind is very much off balance and needs help to say the least, but there is nothing I could do. I told him that I really wish him to run away from all this hell…

I was so disturbed that I probably drunk the whole bottle of wine later that day… But again, every time I tried to talk to someone about it, the reply was always – “It is all lies. Those guys like it.”

"Anna" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, February 21, 2009:
Hello Yesri

Actually I don’t find the contradictions in the boys statements surprising. Common sense and a little self reflection were precisely what we were taught to avoid.

Before being drawn into Robert Burtons machinations, Tatiana’s [sic] young friend had probably been appalled at what adult life turned out to be like. He was desperate to escape it. When he found out about this phenomenon called ‘awakening’ or ‘enlightenment’ or ‘consciousness’ there was a sparkle of hope at last. If he could awaken he could escape honourably, without becoming lost in life’s corruptions.

Then he discovered the Fellowship of Friends, and he was warned that there was a price to pay for this consciousness. He trusted the Fellowship because he had for as long as he could remember been desperate to trust someone, but everyone and every thing had failed him. But this system and these students seemed so plausible, so sincere; it was easy to pin his dreams on to them. He was told that ‘awakening’ was very difficult and that the more he paid and suffered the more likely he was to achieve it.

He was told from the start that Robert Burton was conscious. He hoped desperately that this was true. He had longed for someone who he could respect and trust enough to lead him in to the light. Burton suggested to him that he was special and that he had rare potential.

Burton pampered him as he began to believe that he deserved. The boy was told that it was his ‘play’ his fate, to be part of the elite. He also learned that if he didn’t want or value the patronage of the earth’s greatest ever conscious being, he could go and work long hours in the vineyard or return penniless to Siberia. These understandings caused twinges of fear which luckily dissolved at the glorious sunny potager lunches, and other events.

Finally Robert Burton asked the boy to do something that for him was unimaginably disgusting and that would accelerate his chances proportionately; he persuaded him to do what ‘Inner circle Facts’ described on this blog (see end page 65) [See above]

During these hellish orgies he would sometimes experience what I have now learned is called psychosis. His consciousness would leave his body, or a strange peace would overwhelm him and transport him away from the agony that his body was experiencing. He would tell himself that these experiences were ‘higher states’.

In the wake of these nightmarish orgies, he felt again the twinges of fear and doubt. Sometimes he would even be carried away with paranoia: what if he were expelled? What about the guns people carried around here? How could he go anywhere without money and qualifications or even a visa?
But above all he WANTED to believe, he was desperate to believe that Robert and his promises were genuine. It was a belief that he was already paying for dearly… he couldn’t afford to be wrong.

When his friend Tatiana asked him about the truth of Inner Circle’s expose, he admitted that the post was about him that, that he had been “… chosen to urinate on RB” that he had been “asked to sh…t on RB” he said “I don’t know how people write and do not afraid that they will be run over buy a bus!”

But in the light of his great hope, and of more sunny potager lunches, and the support of his plausible fellow students, often his instinctive fears and repulsions would dwindle.

I guess instinctive fears and repulsions are what balanced folk call ‘common sense’.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

The Fellowship of Friends pleads ignorance, innocence

Yuba County's Fellowship of Friends decry fed's pot busts

By Ryan McCarthy
2012-10-12 23:16:30

Several Fellowship of Friends members in Yuba County are involved in marijuana trafficking and use proceeds to pay the religious organization, asserts a federal court filing that the Fellowship president says is false.

"It may even border on religious hate crimes," Gregory Holman said of the search warrant affidavit filed last week in US District Court in Sacramento. "In other drug affidavits, do you say someone is a Catholic or a Baptist?

Click here to read the search warrant. [Also, below]

The Fellowship, described in the warrant as "a sect of Mystical 'Fourth-Way' Christianity based upon the teachings of G.I. Gurdjieff" and founded by Robert Burton in the 1970s, is based at a 1,250-acre site in Oregon House.

The search warrant states that a confidential source said it was common knowledge in the foothills that several Fellowship members supported themselves, and paid the required tenth of their income or $400 a month, by cultivating marijuana on properties surrounding the religious compound. The payments impose a financial burden on Fellowship members with limited resources in an area with few jobs, adds the warrant by a Drug Enforcement Administration special agent.

A German resident who moved here to join the Fellowship routinely has more than $100,000 in cash at his home from marijuana sales, according to the confidential source cited in the document.

"People within the Fellowship of Friends, including the leaders of the organization, knew how these people were obtaining the money they were providing," the source told the DEA, but "nobody seemed to care."

Holman responded, "We have no knowledge of any such thing."

"We condone no illegal activity," he said.
Read more at Appeal-Democrat.

Also see this short article on the Fellowship in the ReligionNewsBlog.