Introduction


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 now the October 2018 "Fall of California Redux.") 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 from 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 wikispace 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.

Friday, November 15, 2013

The student-teacher relationship

"Ames Gilbert" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, November 15, 2013:
Men in White Coats (#139-22 or thereabouts), the ‘Be Present First’ website you linked to is operated by William Page, a member of the cult of Robert Burton since 1976, and who still lives in Oregon House. I can tell you from personal experience that he is quite terrified of ex-members like myself and my wife, and when we happen to meet him, he will not look at or acknowledge us. I point this out because it implies that his theories about consciousness and fear of death are just that, theories.
Separately, he devotes a whole page to the Student/Teacher relationship. There is nothing to indicate that he is aware of the gross inequality of power in such a relationship, and in fact he seems to put the onus on the follower to take all responsibility:
The teacher’s responsibility, and essentially his only responsibility, is to bring out, or feed, the student’s higher possibilities. But teachers are also human, and very few are beyond the need for human relationships. What this means for the student is that he or she must, if it is his or her privilege to have personal relationship with a teacher, to be able to distinguish the man or the woman from the teacher. The student must be able to recognize when he is required to act as a personal friend and when he is required to act as a student. If the student has trouble distinguishing between the two, it is probably better for him to ask to be removed from the teacher’s circle of personal friends and confine himself to a strictly student/teacher relationship.”
And so on.
The whole website is rather sad, and very much in the style of that leading Fellowship of Friends luminary and apologist for Burton, Girard Haven. In other words, intellectual masturbation. Then, with ‘teachers’ like Burton and Haven, what other form could it take?
IMHO, judging solely by his own words, he hasn’t realized much of his potential in the last thirty-seven years.

From the Fellowship of Friends Wikispace:
"In particular, if he [Robert Earl Burton] knows what he is doing and we don’t, we have no basis for judging or doubting him. Instead, we simply have to trust him, as a child trusts his parents, or dog trusts its master. If he asks us to do things which seem to have no connection to awakening – or even to be ‘wrong’ – we have no choice but to do them anyway.” Girard Haven, Creating a Soul, page 576

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