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 an ominous, yet unspecified new threat late in 2018.) While non-believers shall perish, through the direct intervention and guidance from 44 angels (including his divine father, Leonardo da Vinci) Burton and his followers will 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
on official Fellowship publications and websites,
news archives, court documents, cult education and awareness forums, the (former) Fellowship Wikipedia page, the long-running Fellowship of Friends - Living Presence Discussion, the Internet Archive, the (former) Fellowship of Friends wiki project, 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.

Saturday, July 9, 2005

Move away from Gurdjieff and Ouspensky

[ed. - This post comes from the Fellowship of Friends wiki page.]
From: Linda T. [Linda Kaplan]

Date: July 1, 2005

[Students] Message from the Teacher: A new focus

Dear friends around the world,
Robert is asking us to pass from reading Gurdjieff and Ouspensky's knowledge to reading esoteric knowledge--especially esoteric knowledge used in Robert's teaching events. Robert explains, "Whereas Gurdjieff and Ouspensky used to give us strength, they now slow us down." [bolds added] Robert recently remarked that upon receiving the esoteric keys we have truly become a real school. In contrast, Ouspensky said to his students, "These lectures are not a school; not even the beginning of a school. A school requires a much higher pressure of work." Robert further observed that Ouspensky was right in that his lectures were not a school, but he was mistaken in that they were the beginning of our school. During one of the London events, a shock occurred that indicated Ouspensky was congratulating us for having become a real school.
May this moment find you dividing your attention.
Linda Tulisso, Apollo
From Robert: All schools would have been stunned by the depth and scope of the Egyptians. They were the first to face the problem of sleep, and solve it.
From: Kevin B. [Kevin Brown]

Date: July 9, 2005 11:17

[Students] Clarification on the request regarding the material of Gurdjieff and Ouspensky

Please read the following message with presence and patience as it is intended to help us all make presence a more intelligent experience and move the School to a new level of being. Considerable effort has gone into making this message as concise and thorough as possible.

The Teacher has said, “If we see far, it is because we stand on the shoulders of giants, the shoulders of Gurdjieff and Ouspensky.”

And now our School can see farther because we have been given the Keys to the ancient Schools and Traditions. As a result, the Teacher asks that we turn our attention away from the knowledge presented by Peter Ouspensky and George Gurdjieff, and focus instead on the thirty Work 'I's and the Keys given to us by Influence C. This request includes the works of Collin, Nicoll, and others in the Fourth Way tradition, and conscious beings that did not have a school.

The Teacher observed, “the Keys have alerted us to the difficult nature of the king of clubs.”
The Keys describe the development of the Steward through the 30 Work I’s, and how the Steward and Higher Centers mutually reinforce each other to promote and prolong presence. We are actually decoding keys from great esoteric schools and traditions: Egyptian, Old Testament, New Testament, Koran, the Tarot, Gothic Cathedrals, Sufis, Hindu, Tibetan, Philokalia, and the Epic of Gilgamesh.

Students are encouraged to study the keys and their sources in both written and visual forms.
Like any new language, effort and time are required to bring results. Currently there are several ways to study the Keys: the Thoughts from the Teacher is published weekly and translated into nearly every language (available by subscription); there are DVDs/videos of Robert’s Teaching events on the keys and the 30 Work I’s, including transcripts (available by request from Propylaia through the center directors); Benjamin Y. [Benjamin Yudin] continues to give presentations on the Keys both at Isis and on his travels to centers around the world. Finally, at the end of this message is a bibliography of suggested readings from the Philokalia, Egyptian texts, Sufis, the Bible and Koran. Also included at the end this message are examples of the Keys that were included in the last issue of Thoughts from the Teacher Volume 4 – Number 27.

The Fellowship’s external website has just published July’s newsletter with a lovely article about Schools and the Keys. It is translated into twelve languages and can found on the internet at http://www.gurdjieff-ouspensky /Jul2005.html

The graphical nature of the many of the Keys makes viewing images a particularly useful way to study the Keys. Art books on the Gothic Cathedrals, Egyptian and Sufi art and architecture. For Students at Isis, the Biblioteke has many art and literature books available for students to borrow. Additionally, each center (or student) can purchase the deck of Tarot cards which the Teacher uses when decoding the keys. Information about this Tarot deck may be found on the internet at

The Teacher is moving from abundance of words into using more symbols and images and that one way to keep current with the teaching would be to focus studies in these areas.

If you have any further questions, please feel free to contact myself or your Regional Councilor at any time.

Wishing you a more profound and lasting presence,

Kevin B. [Kevin Brown]

Council Dean

“Know thyself, and abide in that state.” [Tibetan Book of the Dead]

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