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 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 2007) Fellowship of Friends 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.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Robert Stolzle's story

[ed. - By stating that his experience in the Fellowship of Friends was mostly positive, Robert Stolzle evoked a backlash from Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog stalwarts. He was suspected of being an apologist or worse, a Fellowship shill, a troll, and not who he claimed to be. His attackers were later forced to apologize for their embarrassing behavior.]

"Robert Stolzle" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, December 16, 2013:
looking for former FoF members–was Man#4 between 1974-78 in S. Lake Tahoe and then Carmel center.

"Robert Stolzle" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, May 28, 2014:
I was an early FOF member (1973-77); started at Lake Tahoe and then moved to Carmel. I am certainly not an apologist for RB and the FOF was certainly run like a cult, but one of the edicts from that time was that a student was to verify all “angles of thought” for themselves.

Without blathering on, and not knowing how far the organization and Robert Burton went “off the rails” in later years (I always thought he was gay), I have to say that I learned a lot from my time in the FOF. Living and working with similarly intentioned and dedicated people was a unique and useful experience. I made many friends and would like to reestablish contact with any still around.

Even then, it seemed that a lot of RB’s behavior was a far cry from Gurdjieff, Ouspensky or Smith, et al, but many of the ideas he promoted were beneficial to me, e.g. “the observing “I”. But, I never could accept that the FOF was the one true path and that all the worlds religions were just a trick. In fact, I really “believe” that all serious transcendental groups are talking about the same thing, just in different terms and to different people. “He who has ears to hear, let him hear!” We’re all wanting to know if there is some existence after death and whether mankind is indeed the peak of the pyramid. Almost all the other questions are just ego driven self interest.

I have a lot of empathy for the people who fill these blog pages with their stories of mistreatment and mind control, but must suggest that their current work is to move past those negative experiences as best they can without “throwing out the baby with the bath water”. Back in my day, it was suggested that Gurdjieff was a “conscious charlatan” and I took that as a warning that “consciousness” didn’t necessarily preclude or displace all or any of man’s bad behavior.

Still searching after all these years,

Robert Stolzle

"Robert Stolzle" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, May 29, 2014:
I wouldn’t presume to argue that the FOF wasn’t a cult. All the “exercises” could, as you point out, be used for some degree of thought control. That type of control is somewhat limited to the amount of control allowed by the ‘student’. It takes two to tango.

For a naive, OCD, just out of college, southern white boy, my experience was largely beneficial. I did dine with “the Teacher” once at what was then the Mt Carmel Monastery and asked him a few personal questions at the meetings, but I was never in the “Entourage” and did the work with a fair amount of skepticism. I never saw RB do anything magical and his prediction of the future was usually “off”. He claimed to be “Man #5” at that time, but other than living a rather fine lifestyle and running around California in a Mercedes sports car, there was nothing to suggest that he was anything more than a well informed purveyor of the Fourth Way methodology. I’d say that compared to most charlatans and false prophets, Robert Burton is pretty tame stuff.

Most of the exercises that you mention can well be used in some measure to control a person. The source and purpose of any “photograph”/comment has to be considered before giving it any credence. A friend saying you’re “in the queens” may be suggesting too much emotional involvement; a group leader may be just trying to reclaim the discussion. Most tools can also be used as weapons.

The contrarian point I suggested was that in spite of all the damage that former members have suffered and all the negative commentary posted on this blog, my experience was mostly positive. I joined out of curiosity, stayed four years because it was interesting and left of my own free will. Much of what I learned has proven to be helpful since then. The most difficult thing was leaving behind some good friends—and even that became a useful learning experience.

Good luck,

Bob Stolzle

"Robert Stolzle" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, May 30, 2014:
Mr. Blog Moderator, opus 111,ton2u, jomo pinata, archer,whalerider et. al. -

My apologies for rekindling all the ire and pain from your experience of the FOF. My intent in posting here was selfish; I thought it was an open discussion about the Fourth Way as presented through the FOF. And, I would inquire now of the blog moderator if the purpose of the blog is such a discussion or if its purpose is to warn the world of the horrors perpetrated by Robert Burton in the name of “higher consciousness.”

The institutional Christian church long ago addressed the question of whether the message (the Bible), as presented by a corrupt and evil priest or preacher, is corrupted. The Church’s answer, for better or worse, is no it is not. That does not relieve the pain of the afflicted nor the guilt of the corrupt, but it does leave open a door.

I have no idea if, as Gurdjieff suggests, the Fourth Way is an ancient teaching or just something he cobbled together from various other spiritual disciplines. For example, the question, whether the “body types” idea is really a valid way of seeing people or just a figment of our minds attempt to make sense of the world, is something I would like to hear about. Whether any of the so-called tools and exercises had any merit or benefit to any former members are the questions I have and would like to see discussed.

So, let me know if such a discussion is desirable or even possible or whether the purpose of this blog is to provide a forum for those damaged by Robert Burton and the FOF.

Thanks,

Robert Stolzle

"Robert Stolzle" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, May 30, 2014:
Thanks for the insight. Is anyone using this blog interested in a discussion of the “tools and techniques” of the Fourth Way? It seems to be dominated by those who want the FOF disbanded and RB’s head on a pike…..and more power to them. It just isn’t my interest now.

Robert Stolzle

"Robert Stolzle" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, May 30, 2014:
Yep–still searching, because I still can’t claim, even in my most delusional states, to have achieved any degree of salvation, enlightenment, higher consciousness, knowledge of life after death, nirvana or any understanding of God…..or even if there is a God or gods. It seems pretty mechanistic to me.

I suppose my interest in tools and techniques might be related to this, but I’m mostly curious to know whether ANY of my contemporaries experience with the Fourth Way or any other spiritual disciplines, for that matter, was of any benefit in their spiritual quest.

I know that many “seekers of truth” are just seeking personal gain and some sort of advantage over others, but I also know from personal experience that not all are so damaged. I’d like to communicate with some of those people.

Robert Stolzle

"Robert Stolzle" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, May 30, 2014:
Tim-

Thanks for the suggestion. I was somewhat hesitant to go there simply because I don’t really want any discussion of ideas with students still in the FOF. I do know what propaganda looks like.

By the way, I remember your name from around the time I left the FOF as one of the cognoscenti. Am I remembering correctly? Also, FYI, I was in E-mail contact with Valerio Biondo, a good friend, a couple of years before he passed away last January.I’d like to find Horace Carter, Fran Connelly and a few others if you have any leads.

Thanks,

Bob

"Robert Stolzle" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, May 31, 2014:
Steve White-

Thanks for your reply. The squinty-eyed interrogations of my intentions here were wearing a little thin. The “body type” ideas were some of the more compelling we were supposed to “work” with and with the relative openness of the other students about their thoughts and attitudes, it produced some good, insightful discussions. I still never found much benefit from the body type information in real “life”.

From what I can tell, there is some “truth” in the general behaviors of the different types and this idea has even resurfaced in a completely different format in the recent popular psychology i.e. a genetic component to personality. When it come to real dealings with individuals, there are too many variations in behavior for it to be of any real use (and that phrase implies some sort of manipulation and angling for advantage).

For me the idea has been more useful in looking inward and better understanding my own behavior. Likes and dislikes of all sorts in myself and the people I know well seem to be pretty well aligned with me being a Venus-Mercury. But, personally, I could never “get out of the weeds” when I tried to factor the notion of “center of gravity” into the equation.

I have to say that the idea that the deck of playing cards arose from some ancient teaching that we were heirs to always charmed the socks off me. And there are people who are more emotional, physical, intellectual etc. than than me. So, I have over the years tried to make sense of the idea without any real success.

Every time I run into some “moving centered gym rat” I find that he can dissect “War an Peace” with a scalpel and runs a charity for homeless cats.
But that is just me,

Bob Stolzle

"Tim Campion" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, May 31, 2014:
Robert, Were they all friends of Greg W. Goodwin and Steve Suh (Steve White)?

"swhite44" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, May 31, 2014:
Ahem Tim: Steve Suh is not Steve White, because I am the latter. Steve Suh is Chinese isn’t he?

Robert Stolzle: I’m one who approves of your positive stance. Best to use experiences rather than become embittered by them, we create our own reality and self.

Regarding body types – someone posted on FB something like ‘Avoid Aries, Taurus and Pisces people, they are all jealous and bitter’. Hold onto Libra, Scorpio, … they are loyal friends… etc etc. All positive except for the first 3 star signs whatever they were. Obviously rubbish grouping people like that. For me the proof is that nobody could pick another person’s star sign consistently. Maybe after 6 guesses.

However, we all know that anyone versed in the body types theory would generally pick the same body type as someone similarly learned would. So it is a relatively valid model.

Just like colors are a valid model for categorizing light energy – we would all agree on what color something is.

I’ve seen ads recently for Joel Friedlander’s Body Types book, and Susan Zannos’ Human Types book, even though they both left and became very anti-FOF, so I guess they still consider the theories valid.

I also hated the way some students would use those ideas to put people down. Once in Venice a female came up to me and said ‘You must be a Lunar’ and I happily replied to the friendly girl ‘Yes, maybe Jovial Lunar Venusian’, to which she retorted ‘I thought so, because I always see you walking alone ‘, as she happily skipped off to join her group. Bitch.

I think it’s better to use the ideas to develop understanding and compassion. e.g. some people on this forum are pretty aggro. Maybe Martial types so that’s understandable.

"ton2u" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, May 31, 2014:
something smells…. a couple weeks ago public debate surrounding questions about the FOF pulling strings in local politics, conflict of interest, (etc) emerges; http://www.yubafoothills.com/forums/topic/12317/territorial-dispatch-article-tie

(also see Tim's dialogue with N.S. [Nick Spaulding] and links to Territorial dispatch toward the end of the previous blog page #140).

This negative publicity for the FOF is exposing to a wider public, the shady side of the FOF. The negative publicity generated an effort at damage control by the FOF, an attempt to paint a ‘norman rockwell portrait’ of the FOF via an ‘editorial’ type of letter in the Territorial Dispatch — link from previous page #140…

Recently this Robert Stozle and mr.”44″ show up here posting what feels like “soft pedaling” apologetics in defense of the cult…. questioning the negative attitudes expressed here toward the cult… more attempts to deflect and redirect negative attention…. part of the FOF political campaign ? Reminds me a little of a previous go ’round with daily cardiac, fat boy, and others.

"Robert Stolzle" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, May 31, 2014:
ton2u-

I assure you that I have had nothing to do with the FOF for over 35 years and that I’m exactly who I say I am. I’m reluctant to do this, but in the interest of reducing your paranoia, I invite you to contact me at your convenience. The name is really mine and I live in Goddard, Kansas, a small town outside of Wichita, and have been here for for almost 30 years…. I’m sure you can find my telephone number if you care to “verify” I’m who I claim to be. I find your implications that I’m some stooge of RB and the FOF offensive.

Robert Stolzle

"Robert Stolzle" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, May 31, 2014:
Tim-

I don’t recall either Greg W. Goodwin or Steve White. As I mentioned earlier, after about a year at the Tahoe center (under the “leadership” of Jim Vincent Randazzo, who ended up in prison), I moved to Carmel where Stella and Harold Wirk were the “student teachers”. I lived with the Conoleys, Tom Klouman and Marlane Dassman, and finally Horace Carter, Valerio Biondo, Peggy McLemore and Bill Bradish before I took my leave. It was a good group of people and for me, a good experience.

For the rest of the “bloggers” on this site that find my interest difficult to believe, I can only say that my inquiries here are because after such a long absence, it would be fun to “exchange angles of thought” with some of the students from that era again.

Bob

"Tim Campion" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, May 31, 2014:
Steve,

How do you explain your earlier post, signed Steve Suh?

It’s funny that you and Greg (Deprogrammer,) [Greg W. Goodwin] showed up together last year. I have a feeling you know “Bob” as well as you know yourself.

"Robert Stolzle" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, July 4, 2014:
Whalerider, et. al.-

When I left the FOF in 1977 they had just raised the monthly “tuition” to $60.00 (it was $30.00 in 1974, if I remember correctly). I am curious what the extortion rate is now? Does anyone have a recent number? I’d say that $60.00 in 1977 was about 15% of an average monthly income and was definitely a strain for most of us…..not to mention the almost annual “special tasks” of a couple hundred dollars each.

I have the feeling, C influence, I’m sure, that RB will depart this plane soon (I mean, he IS a geezer!) and am surprised so many ex students think the group will continue on. Gerard Haven had just reached the inner circle when I left, but he was as interesting as an undertaker then. I feel strongly that the FOF and all its possessions will be dispersed in a year or two.

Even Gurdjieff’s “Priorie” has faded into oblivion and RB has no real legacy of developing a unique “teaching” unless, if I read these postings right, one is willing to embrace a homosexual orgy as a learning experience worthy of the sacrifice. I have a copy of RB’s “Self Remembering”, but it is too dull for me to get through the first page or two.

Has anyone from the FOF(aside from Randazzo) tried to spin off their own group, with or without RB’s approval? I always thought that Stella and Harold would be the ones to start a new branch. Does anyone know the story of how and why they were forced out?

Bob Stolzle

"Tim Campion" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, May 31, 2014:
Steve White, my apologies! The coincidence was irresistible, but if I had read the above post from last year correctly, I’d see you were thanking, Steve Suh, not signing Steve Suh. (Greg W. Goodwin is no doubt getting a chuckle out of my squinty-eyed interrogation.)

"swhite44" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, May 31, 2014:
No worries Tim. My previous post was signed Steve somehow, and this one swhite44. I must have 2 WordPress accounts.

[ed. - On May 31, 2014, at 11:32 a.m., the website administrator notified Tim Campion, "the comment (below) just came in for approval - which I won't do, since that would be letting Greg back in. I think those two people you mentioned are not Greg, but that's him for sure in the comment (below)". Note: Greg W. Goodwin's chosen pseudonym for this occasion is REDRUM, or MURDER spelled backwards.]

Greg W. Goodwin ("Grog W. Goldwing") attempts to threaten blogger
Greg W. Goodwin's intended threat
Text of message from Greg W. Goodwin:
Timmy: "It's funney that you and Greg (Deprogrammer) show up together last year."

I own your mind at this point. Do you understand that? I control your mind. Not a single strange thing can happen in your live that you do not think of me.

"Tim Campion" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, May 31, 2014:
Robert, The Greater Fellowship is comprised mostly of former members (over 1,000 people in the network.) Marlane is among the members. Not a lot of propaganda there. I’m sorry to hear about Valerio. I knew him, though not well. The GF forum contains an “In Memoriam” section which lists those who have passed, and I don’t think he has been included. A remembrance of him could be added. (I don’t recall Horace, Peggy, or Fran, but rarely made it to Carmel.) Did you know Mike Bonnell? Sadly, he too has passed away. He was a very good friend of my brother (whom you may be recalling.) I never was part of the cognoscenti (though I did get to drive the Rolls and Mercedes once in awhile!)

"ton2u" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, June 1, 2014:
30 Robert, A slogan was once attached to the site here that went something like: “free speech can be dirty business…” or words to that effect. There have been numerous ‘impostors,’ FOF shills, stooges, moles, trolls and other dissemblers to visit these blog pages over the several years I’ve been following things here. I’ll take you at your word and apologize if you took offense at my speculations….

"Mick" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, June 1, 2014:
I see no evidence you weren’t right the first time, but I’ve been wrong before. Poor old Blog, it’s not the same lynch mob we once knew.

"Tempus Fugit" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, June 1, 2014:
I’m glad to see the blog ripping along again – Burton and the FOF deserve as much grief as we can give them.

First though, I’d like to express my strong admiration and respect for Tim Campion, who has the guts to confront this evil publicly and relentlessly.

I also admire Whalerider and others who are willing to discuss painful personal abuse so openly. We never know when someone naive about Burton may log on here. With the FOF in the local news currently, there may be folks looking for information beyond FOF propaganda.

This blog reveals the disgusting truth, and would be much less if not for the courage of Whalerider and many others.

I say welcome to Robert Stolze. I think this blog should be open to anyone. When I left the FOF in the early 80’s I met others who also said they had a good experience. I’m glad for them and for Robert Stolze too.

I’d also like to remember Valerio Biondo. He was a good man, hard working and funny, good friends with Stella and Harold. After the FOF, if memory serves, he married a beautiful, statuesque woman whose name I’ve forgotten. They made a striking couple. Goodbye Valerio!

You know, for me, the “baby” of the FOF experience, the good part, were the friends and lovers I had and my experiences with them.

In 1989 or 1990 former members had a picnic up in Marin. I think about 130 people were there. This was several years after the truth of Burton’s behavior finally got out, and many had left the FOF (I left in the early 80’s before those first public revelations).

Naturally much of the talk at the Marin picnic was about what happened to Burton and the school. Was it a real school and then lost its way? Was Burton a real conscious being who then lost his way? Like many others I spoke to, I was filled with anger, betrayal, and grief for the loss of the beautiful dream and the apparent waste of years of our lives.

At that point in my own recovery I felt like a complete fool for falling for Burton’s lies. For decades I never talked about my years in the FOF with anybody except my girlfriend and a few very close friends. When I ran into old non FOF friends I just said I had been out of town working. After all, who could understand me joining such a bizarre cult without judging me for an idiot?

Anyway, at the Marin picnic that day I finally encountered an old friend with a different perspective. He said “Burton may have turned out to be a criminal, but that takes nothing away from the beauty and sincerity of our spiritual search.” I completely agree.

Truly, the one to pity is Burton. I still wonder what happened to the little boy Bobby that twisted him so.

And I’m still amazed that the group I gave my heart to in full belief of its future magnificence would turn out to be only a sleazy minor cult. Luckily the world has better vision.

The group presented to us as historically unique and the leader who billed himself as second only to Christ are seen by the world for what they are – insignificant and not worth spending much time on.

"Tim Campion" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, June 1, 2014:
Thanks, Tempus. I’ve even been known to confront evil where none exists.

"archer" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, June 1, 2014:
Most of you are more connected than I am, so I was wondering if anyone knows who the moderator is? Not asking for their name to be posted, but just wondering if anyone knows who he/she is. Are they a former member? Still a member? Never a member?

"Tim Campion" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, June 1, 2014:
archer, The moderator, Steve Lang, has given us his background on several occasions. Here’s one. Regarding the unnumbered posts, the last time that came to our attention was on page 136, when Steve White joined the discussion. At the time, I joked that if any posters don’t toe the line, we strip them of their post numbers. So then Robert comes along. His first post (#9 above) was numbered, but his subsequent posts weren’t. Obviously not toeing the line. I actually have no explanation for the phenomena.

"archer" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, June 1, 2014:
Steve Lang – thanks for taking this on. Another Colbert quote… “Here’s an easy way to figure out if you’re in a cult: If you’re wondering whether you’re in a cult, the answer is yes.”

"Tim Campion" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, June 2, 2014:
The Fellowship of Friends Daily Quote, June 1:
It takes maximum effort to bring presence (Self-remembering) to simple moments. Robert Earl Burton
All these years of “efforting,” all this mental activity. My sense is that Burton had it wrong from the start, and then made things worse.

"Robert Stolzle" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion: blog, June 2, 2014
Tim, et al– I have often wondered if RB really believed the “conscious man” act that he presented to everyone. Is he possibly schizophrenic or is it a calculated act designed to perpetuate the lifestyle. I suspect most everyone posting here knew him better than me, so what do you think. I mean did he drink his own koolaid? It seems to me that there is a rational aspect of his behavior–however reprehensible–and this would suggest that he was one calculating SOB. But then, keeping the act going more or less consistently for so long is difficult to imagine. Bob Stolzle

"Tim Campion wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, June 2, 2014:
Robert, Drinking the koolaid is a reference to Jim Jones, and like Jones, Robert Burton is a charismatic psychopath who from day one has used a faith-based system to prey on naive followers.

"swhite44" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, June 2, 2014:
Good question Robert, I often wondered if he swallows his own load of crap too.

But I don’t think he is intelligent enough to be so calculating – if he was, you would have to ask why a clever person would come up with such nonsensical drivel as the numbers and interpretations of art and predictions etc. You were there a long time ago, but in recent years he would show slides of works of art, e.g. the Mona Lisa, point out how 4 fingers are visible, and inform us that was a reference to the 4 Worthless Breaths (one of his things).

So I think he believes his crazed imagination about being God-like.

Also I think he is singularly uncharismatic, and the peons are held in sway just by the weight of numbers and worshipful peer pressure.

"silentpurr" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, June 2, 2014:
Robert may have had an event take place in his childhood which left him developmentally arrested, I’d say 5 or 6, the ‘age of imagination’. We all pass through that stage but then move on to an appreciation for critical thinking. He’s stuck in the Land of Pretend.

"brucelevy" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, June 2, 2014:
Robert Stolzle – June 2, 2014 It’s simply the “act” of a sociopath. “Truth” and “belief” doesn’t even enter into the equation. It’s manipulation fueled by lack of normal human virtues like compassion, empathy, sympathy. That ios what a sociopath is and does.

"Robert Stolzle" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, June 3, 2014:
33 WhaleRider- Thank you for your reply. I don’t have any real notion about enlightenment or what that might mean, either generally or personally. I do suspect that, since we all recognize different abilities between individuals, that it is “logical” to believe that some people might be more or less aware. This “logic” fails to address the many imaginary people and conversations that schizophrenics and other mentally deranged people have. To date, my only criteria is that if I can’t verify a phenomenon myself, it doesn’t exist for me. But then, your reality isn’t my reality, either.

I have thought about your parting question for a couple of days now and dug the larger justifications out of the cobwebs. I had decided when I joined the FOF that, having earned a B.S. degree in four years that I should be able to learn what I needed about he Fourth Way in the same amount of time. And, for me, the learning curve had definitely flattened by that point. Also, I grew up in farming country and there was no way I was moving to “the monastery” and participating in that circus. I was waiting tables at the Covey Restaurant—an upscale golf resort in Carmel valley–and not going any higher soon. Four years to earn a geology degree was too much to fritter away.

Finally, I have to thank Fleetwood Mac. Their “Rumors” album was just out that year and some neighbor awakened me almost every morning by blaring “You Can Go Your Own Way” to the entire neighborhood. I figured that if “higher forces” were going to communicate, what better way? And so I took my leave.

No regrets, mate- Bob Stolzle

"shardofoblivion" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, June 4, 2014:
Bob Stolzle How sweet that a song was the catalyst of your stepping away – disentangling oneself from the cult – it reminds me of the phone calls characters make in the Matrix. And for many of us “another lonely day” was the price we paid at first.

"Fee fi fo fum" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, June 5, 2014:
The Monterey Herald had an online obituary of Valerio Biondo. He died on 2/2/14. If the below link doesn’t work, just Google his Valerio Biondo obituary. http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/montereyherald/obituary.aspx?pid=170498234

"Fee fi fo fum" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, June 5, 2014:
I meant to say, if the link doesn’t work, just Google “Valerio Biondo obituary.” It is one of the obituaries that appear online.

"Tempus Fugit" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, June 5, 2014:
Fee fi fo fum – thanks for the link to Valerio’s obituary – his photo brought back good memories!

"Golden Veil" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, June 5, 2014:
49. Tim Campion – June 2, 2014 “My sense is that Burton had it wrong from the start, and then made things worse.” Well said, Mr. Campion! In the FoF appearances are so important, too – the “act” so refined – the act – the act…

"silentpurr" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, June 5, 2014:
Fellowship students practice and learn the art of “Acting As Though They Were Conscious”. The aim of that being to “appear” fair and objective, as in Nicholas’ comment: “Not defending anyone. Folks can defend themselves.”……..

"Mick" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, June 14, 2014:
Still gullible after all these years? A Fellowship of Friends computer-generated report dated 10/28/95 listing 1,756 active & 5,212 inactive members does not include the name Robert Stolzle. So there, put that in your pipe & have another toke.

"Mick" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, June 15, 2014:
OK, exhale. Also missing from the list:
Steve Beckett (in Via Del Sol)
Ronna Carmichael
Daniel Davis (supposed future Man Number 5, in Via Del Sol)
Susan Davis (in via Del Sol)
Wayne Ferenzak (Bay Area)
Colleen Hayes
Jay Jones
Carol Jones
Deidre Kennedy
Katherine Kirk
John Kirk
Melvin Lee
Judy Martell
Donald Macdonald
Eddie Mesa (SF)
Philip Metzen
John Murphy (Hawaii/Los Angeles)
D.R. Parker (in Via Del Sol)
John Ray (play of crime in 1978 or so)(Renaissance)
Mary Steinhauer or Steinhauser (Los Angeles)
Edward Swan (Dallas)
Erica Valentine
Marsha and Nolan [or Noel] ___ (Los Angeles)

"Robert Stolzle" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, July 16, 2014:
Dear Everyone-

I just read all the postings regarding a former FOFer going to join another group in the rain forest. Good luck! Should have read The Mosquito Coast first. But, it is difficult to defend U.S. society when there is so much inequality. Of course the Roman leadership had it figured out—for a while—keep ’em happy with bread and circuses!

I cannot comment on anyone else, but a substantial part of what drew me to the FOF was a desire to change the status quo—this was immediately post Vietnam—and that we ended up tilting at windmills is a common experience for many who would presume to be agents of change.

I was around Stella and Harold a lot in Carmel. We’d meet at Sambo’s restaurant after the good restaurants closed and sit around drinking coffee and smoking cigarettes until near dawn…pity the poor waitress. Stella was a name that RB assigned and she loved the job of talking the Fourth Way. She pretty well hewed to the party line and I got scourged as a minor crime when I announced my departure. Not unexpected, though.

I still am curious how much the FOF is taking in per capita these days? We were paying $60.00 per month plus one or two special tasks of $200 – $400 each year in 1977. Anyone posting here remember when RB declared the Digger Pines at “the monastery” to be a substandard species and had them all cut down….made me sick and was another nail in the coffin.

In that vein, seeing as how “we” are all dead anyway, why don’t we just haunt the old bastard to death. Lawsuits are fine, but a crazy as RB is, it seems to me that he is more likely to succumb to negative energy than anything else. Anyone here know anything about “psy ops”. And who is this Asaf, anyway and how is he the “chosen one”?

Bob Stolzle

"Robert Stolzle" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, July 23, 2014:
Bruce, et al-

I know from my early days in the FOF (’74-’77) that “students” all had slightly different motives for being there–including cheap rent–but, there was also a common thread of “being a seeker”, presumably of spiritual/ metaphysical understanding. I assume that commonality still existed in later days, but my question is whether the people who post here still have that curiosity or whether RB knocked it out of them.

Part of this question is derived from the flurry of advice and commentary regarding Cheryl Lister’s decision to join an O-G? group in the Dominican Republic. I appreciate that her friends are trying to keep her from making another cult mistake and I, too, am perplexed that 20 years in the FOF wasn’t long enough to “understand” the workings of the Fourth Way—-Cheryl? I am mystified about what she imagines there is to gain from attaching herself to another guru—again Cheryl? Getting away from the failings of our society is one thing, but going to a primitive camp inthe rain forest is extreme.

There are plenty of other venue’s of esoteric knowledge out there, including the world’s religions. Anyone remember RB’s casting the Fourth Ways ideas as “esoteric Christianity”? I sort of came away with the idea that all the religious/metaphysical/self-help groups were pretty much talking about the same thing—-assuming they weren’t just a scam.

Which begs the question of how does one identify any group as a scam from the outside?? From Cheryl Lister’s DR group to Transcendental Meditation (whatever happened to that?) to Scientology, to the Church of Latter day Saints, to Islam or Catholicism there are many who feel the group is a scam (and some Muslims will kill you for saying that) and there really is always a distinct risk that all the effort is just a waste of time. Personally, I always liked the idea—and I’d say it works—that one could “do the Fourth Way work” while going about the daily chores. That is another reason that I wasn’t too flinchy about leaving the FOF—the chick has to leave the nest if it is going to fly—unless it is a chicken.

Not that it matters here, but, FYI I am presently a card carrying member of the Mennonite Church USA, an Anabaptist offshoot of Catholicism, that goes back to about 1650.

Bob Stolzle

"Robert Stolzle" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, July 30, 2014:
Shard-

My “bad drug trip” snarky comment was in reference to all the FoF stuff that has followed that fateful meeting. Bonita’s account is anything but negative. In my reading, her account even has the “conversation was so compelling that we talked for the next three days without ceasing” vibe to it (as did O & G). But, did Bonita continue “searching” after being dismissed by RB or was that the end of her metaphysical trail?

More seriously, I am persuaded that two of the biggest hammers the FoF and Fourth Way uses are the ideas that “the lower cannot see the higher” and “when the student is ready the teacher will appear”. both have the capacity to lift the poor student above “the masses” while keeping you firmly in place beneath “the teacher”. In my FoF days, it occurred to me that RB didn’t have to be very far ahead of any student in order to maintain his teacherly superiority. So far as I could verify, most all of his C influence pronouncements (eg. 44 conscious beings, I will die at age 72, etc.) were always calculated to be impossible to verify, but quickly became verities.

Also, since any “good student” was supposed to surpass his or her teacher and RB started the FoF after three years in Horn’s group, it was illogical that people stay any longer. They were either demonstrably going nowhere and/or slacking by just staying around or RB wasn’t really getting the job done. Finally, any good cult pyramid has the tacit support of willing lackeys below the head guru who benefit greatly from their relative positions of power—-whether they claim to be ill informed dupes or not.

Bob Stolzle

"Robert Stolzle" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, August 2, 2014:
Tempus–Who you be’s? I was in the Tahoe and then Carmel center from 1973-77 and might have made your acquaintance. Bonita Guido had left by the time I joined, but her account of the “early days” is very interesting and she was still spoken of as a VIP. RB must have been Mr. Personality Plus in those days. A part of my experience of the FoF was looking for some verification that it wasn’t all smoke and mirrors and deciding that maybe there was something to all this Fourth Way stuff because Donald Macdonald was a physician and still here studying under RB. He left a few months after I joined. I recall he was to be the first Man #5 from the FoF and it was a Great Crime when he departed. I have been intrigued by RB’s ability to charm some very intelligent and accomplished people to join. If any of you have some insight into his “Jedi mind tricks” I’d like to read them.

In the same vein, I’ve heard all manner of goofy predictions on the part of RB that never came to pass–could never have happened—and no one ever seems to notice—-that tricky C influence! More seriously, do any of you posting here recall any instance where RB displayed any evidence of being a superior being? I mean did he ever levitate or display evidence of telepathy or telekinesis or any other special ability? Back in the day Stella told me how she had once come up behind RB when he was on the phone and he “just knew I was there”, which is pretty sketchy evidence of some higher state, but that was all she had to offer.

One last question–I left just after the push to start all the centers east of California and, being from south Louisiana, had great doubts that anyone in New Orleans would be interested in the FoF or Fourth Way…..VooDoo maybe, Psychological Evolution?, not likely. How did that N.O. group work out? Is there anyone posting here from that region?

Lastly, thank you Tim Campion for your encouragement. It has been interesting to rekindle some of those old I’s and experiences and “talk the Fourth Way” again. I’m just embarrassed and saddened to learn what a personally destructive mess the FoF has come to be.

Bob Stolzle

"shardofoblivion" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, August 3, 2014:
in #25 Robert Stolzle says “Back in the day Stella told me how she had once come up behind RB when he was on the phone and he “just knew I was there”, which is pretty sketchy evidence of some higher state, but that was all she had to offer” I recall her telling a similar but slightly different story to a group of students in London who were asking if she had verified for herself that Burton was what he claimed to be. She said that one time she had observed him unseen from another room speaking on the phone, and that he cradled the phone “intentionally” even though he would not have know she was watching him, which she cited as evidence he practiced what he preached, and it wasn’t simply an act put on for others to see. In the same conversation she related that when Burton was asked if he ever lied to his students he said “No, but I would say that either way wouldn’t I?” which has greater resonance knowing that maybe his first big lie on a matter of fact was regarding his celibacy (claiming a pure run since he started teaching – which Bonita knew to be a lie), and in which he to a minor extent made Bonita complicit in that lie, when Stella asked her about it, and she covered for him. Maybe in the end that is why he seemed so venomous about Bonita after she left. I remember Miles Barth saying around 1983 that when Burton was asked if he would let Bonita rejoin the school, he said “I don’t want that weed in among my flowers”

"Mick" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, August 3, 2014:
That was a “useful” and interesting story by Bonita. It is missing an ending though. When, why & what precipitated her departure? Before she passed on to the next lifetime did she realize that the “school” she helped begin was being lead by a madman?

"Tim Campion" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, August 3, 2014:
Shard, I recall Stella telling that story in the mid-70s, exactly as you relate it. Another one she enjoyed telling was of attending a performance with Robert. (It may have been “Salome.”)
During the opera, a beautiful woman performed a sensuous dance. Stella was amazed that Robert seemed unperturbed by the shocking display of “infra-sex energy.” Spock-like, he stated something to the effect, “Isn’t it interesting that under that skin is twenty feet of intestines?” For Stella, this was a clear demonstration of his “being.” (We would eventually realize that Burton had little interest in women’s bodies.)
Robert Stolzle,
There were two occasions when I witnessed what I believed to be demonstrations of Robert’s extraordinary abilities. In the mid-70s, during meeting intermissions, and occasionally at the Lincoln Lodge, students would line up for the opportunity to ask Robert a burning question. When my turn came, to my amazement, Robert answered my question before I could even ask it. (Many years later I learned that Guinevere Ruth, Helga, wrote in her book Bread on Water that on such occasions Burton had “screeners” subtly gathering information from those in line, and advising Robert.)
Another memorable incident occurred during a meeting at Skyline Church in Oakland, when Pamella Cavanna, eagerly raised her hand to make a comment. Before allowing her to speak, Robert advised Pamella to be sure that her “angle” was relevant to the topic at hand. She blurted out that while Robert had been speaking, through the window behind him, she saw a meteor streak through the sky.
He then “photographed” her “dominance feature” which caused her to ignore his request. How could he have known she would do this? (There are many possible answers, among them, perhaps it was a common “problem” with that individual. Perhaps it was choreographed.) But for a long time, these two incidents, and those anecdotes from Stella and other “older students,” kept me under the illusion that Burton possessed special powers.
Sadly, those are the only “conscious bean” stories I have.
To your other question, in the 70s and 80s, the New Orleans center produced many new members, some of whom are still in the Fellowship.

"Parson Yorick" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, August 3, 2014:
“Spock-like, he stated something to the effect, “Isn’t it interesting that under that skin is twenty feet of intestines?” For Stella, this was a clear demonstration of his “being.”” Well, that is a well-known practice among Therevadan Buddhist monks for thwarting desire/arousing disgust. I heard a story, similar to that, of when a female German violinist (whose name I’ll withhold, since she still performs) played at the Renaissance Town Hall in a white dress sans underwear. I think this was during the time I was a member (1978-1982) and I regret missing that concert.

"Robert Stolzle" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, August 5, 2014:
Dear all you all-

My inquiry regarding RB’s “extraordinary” abilities wasn’t any real interest in psychic phenomena or its origins but, curiosity regarding how he continues to be regarded as some ascended being without any notable proof of same, whether tangible or intangible. In light of all his misdeeds it is surprising that the FoF keeps rolling along and that is the only feat that I can personally say gives ANY credibility to his claims.

A question that comes from this inquiry is what, if anything, FoF “students” really expected to gain from ascending to Man #5 or gaining higher consciousness. Speaking personally, I rather selfishly hoped to gain some sort of advantage in my dealings with “life” people. (but I’m a Mercurial type–go figure) Turns out that most all “life” people had comparable or superior insight and understanding and ability from their own experiences and there was no real advantage gained from my FoF “training”. Since RB was in his “silence task” for almost half my tenure in the FoF and I must not have been “his type”, I can say that some of the Fourth Way training has been personally useful to me—but then, I was really naive.

I swear I can remember the shooting star incident at the Skyline Church that Mr. Campion relates. It didn’t resonate with me as any special ability of RB to chastise Pamella Cavanna for her Dominance Feature—-wasn’t it called a Power Feature back then, or do I misremember? I do remember that when I started in 1974 we were told that Robert would be the one to identify—more or less magically—our “Center of Gravity” and all new students were expected to eventually line up at one of the weekly meetings for his pronouncement. Having plenty of intellectual vanity and being reasonably intelligent, I was “photographed” as being instinctively centered. This didn’t sit well but was probably a good answer—maybe it didn’t really matter what his response was since we are all our favorite topics.

Bob Stolzle

"Robert Stolzle" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, August 5, 2014:
Sally-

I joined the FoF in 1974 in Tahoe and moved to Carmel in 1975. I saw the hoopla over Donald Macdonald leaving and then the departure of Jim Vincent Randazzo, the student teacher at Tahoe. The latter event told me that RB couldn’t have ascended very far and still be conned by someone as obviously sleazy as Jim Vincent. If he didn’t care—that was even worse. I also knew enough geology to know that the Farm was never going to be sea side property and certainly was not the Ark of the Apocalypse and that the Digger Pines growing there were not a “degenerate species”, etc. Of course the 44 conscious beings idea was fun–I still can’t see that number and not trigger memories–but like so many of RB’s notions, these “angles” were completely unverifiable….and slightly goofy.

Like most students I was mostly interested in my favorite subject–me. And, in my view, this is what the Fourth Way focussed on. The gobbledegook about our energy feeding the moon and the “teaching” going back to “presand Egypt” never carried much weight. I do like that they claimed the standard card deck and astrology as memory devices, though.

I was eating lunch at the Farm one day when Kimo Beach offered up the “photograph” that I could improve the “impressions” I brought with me by removing a mashed, blackened thumbnail. That is when I realized there were some really extreme believers in the group—and the occasional “damaged machine”. With these doubts and the necessity of making a living, I didn’t participate as whole heartedly as many new students. That said, I did and still do believe that some of the Fourth Way ideas are a valid way of understanding our psychology. Without some type of framework, aka “pigeonholes”, I can’t organize the human chaos of the world enough to begin to understand anything about it. It is useful to me even if it prejudices my understanding in some measure.

Among some of my friends and acquaintances, I’d count Valerio Biondo (deceased), Horace Carter, Peggy MacLemore, Fran Connolly, Kathryn Gearhart, Marlane Dassman, Tom Klouman, Wayne Hunter, Jill Ullum, Bill Bradish and a host of others that I can “see” but not name. Harold and Stella Wirk headed up the Carmel Center then and because I worked in restaurants and got off late, l really enjoyed the very late night meetings at Sambo’s. It is too bad that the FoF didn’t produce a “Yearbook”; it has been over 35 years since I departed sunny CA and the neurons don’t fire like they once did.

Sorry, I don’t remember you, either,

Bob Stolzle

"Robert Stolzle" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, August 19, 2014:
Tempus Fugit, Fee fi fo fum, et al.,

The notion of having current FoF members posting here is intriguing, but probably not very useful for anyone. As Fee noted it could quickly become a defensive contest. I didn’t start here with any particular agenda on the FoF or RB and and was almost immediately suspected of being an apologist for burton and an FoF plant. I’d like to think I’ve gotten past that accusation, but the pain and anger expressed on this blog is a testament to how bad things became after I had departed in 1977. The only possible benefit would be to have some contact with the existing organization and, more importantly, its current members.

“Parson Yorick” and “Wouldn’t You Like to Know” have indicated that their spiritual journey didn’t end with the FoF, but has led them to Buddhism. Mine has, more or less unintentionally, led to Christianity.

It is my sense of this journey that there are many roads leading to the same destination…death, or at least an understanding thereof…..with a secondary benefit being instruction on how to best live in the world today. I don’t believe there is any real escape and whether there is something on the “other side” is not for us to know….regardless of consciousness, enlightenment, visions etc. I would even say that the first reason to back away from joining any group is that they claim some special means for dealing with this conundrum. I am personally convinced that the best we can do is to “know what we cannot know”.

But, I would very much like to have a correspondence about the few Fourth Way ideas that seem to have some benefit in this regard and also those that are useless or worse. For those of you who have rejected the FoF and all its notions, please don’t accuse me of “clinging” onto these ideas. I have always believed that if our time here could be put to any use, it should be to “escape death”. A metaphor regarding my FoF experience that might work here is that having learned to drive a stick shift, that knowledge still influences my driving, though I haven’t driven a stick shift vehicle in years.
Perhaps sad to admit, but basically I just do this for fun.

Bob Stolzle

"Robert Stolzle" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, December 5, 2014:
Re: #4

What did you do with Mick?

I suppose I can confess—after the fact— to being feeble-minded for joining the FoF in the first place but, I would prefer to just think that I was gullible and living with a bunch of “hippie chicks” didn’t hurt the allure. That old satyr, Gurdjieff, noted that most everything we do—or did— is driven by sex and I agree. The idea of being somehow superior to everyone else didn’t hurt my ego either. Finally, the notion that a “scientific approach” could be applied to studying the magical realm was appealing to me (various intoxicants helped with this misperception). All in all it was a very compelling brew of lies and circumstance in the early 70’s.

I’d be curious to know from someone who joined in the last ten years whether the formula has been changed much.

Bob Stolzle

"Robert Stolzle" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, December 16, 2014:
Re: nowackim and the body types/enneagram-

I joined the FoF in January 1974 and the “body types” and enneagram were not being presented as anything new to the FoF then. I had the distinct impression, then, that these ideas had, in good secret society fashion, been handed down through the ages, most recently from Horn”s group. I recall a body type handbook with a reflective front cover being printed about 1975. Harold Wirk’s drawings of FoF members that were the “pure types” accompanied a summary of the expected behaviors. I cannot remember where, but around that period there was a book, unrelated to the Fourth Way, that suggested the modern deck of cards originated as a memory devise for describing personalities.

More recently, in the early 90’s I came across a couple of books that addressed those subjects. One, by Don Richard Riso (supposedly a Jesuit who left the group) published a book titled “Personality Types”, “using the enneagram for self discovery”. The other by Richard Rohr and Andreas Ebert was titled “Discovering the Enneagrqam” “An ancient tool for a new spiritual journey.” Although Gurdjieff received mention in both, neither made any references to the “Fourth Way” or any of those groups. There was little or no correspondence that I could see between the FoF usage and the personality types described in these books.

The “body type information” has stuck with me all these years and still, unintentionally, influences my assessment of people. I like using it but, I am personally convinced this “system” seemingly “works” or looks like a deeper “truth” simply because it provides a framework for remembering different people and their behavior— and the “glandular” explanation is just silly. As a simple memory device it allows the user to “pigeonhole” and thereby impose some order on the randomness and chaos that is human personality. It is perhaps the most useful information I got from the FoF, but like all of these ideas, it comes up short (as a refined sort of prejudice) when it is allowed to guide one’s reactions and interactions with any individual or group.

I might be wrong, but I never thought RB was clever enough to have thought up the body type or deck of cards ideas from his own narrow mind. Forty-four “conscious beings”, sure, but anything more complex seems doubtful, especially since someone posted here that he bragged about not having read most of the Fourth Way texts. I also never heard of the “Michael Channel” in my time with the FoF. I seem to recall references to the “Archangel Michael” guiding RB and the FoF but nothing beyond those comments. What are you talking about?

Robert Stolzle
FoFer ’74-’77, Tahoe and Carmel

"Robert Stolzle" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, December 27, 2014:
ton2u-

So far as I can think, the absence of conscience, regardless of any claims of consciousness is, as has been pointed out here innumerable times, psychopathy. Without empathy or sympathy for others, there can be none of the traits that seemingly set us apart from the rest of the animal kingdom. One can surmise that, even IF it started out with the best intentions, the quest for money to further the cause will eventually corrupt the organization. No one can serve both God and mammon.

Marconi-

I never heard the “He was identified with prophesy.” justification. But, when I took my leave Burden was just beginning to play around with the idea of multiple lifetimes. That idea covers so many of the FoF’s shortcomings that it is surprising that it wasn’t wholly embraced by Ouspensky or Gurdjeiff. Thinking through that concept could lead one to conclude that if they aren’t going to flit among the stars with RB this time around, “I’ll just catch you in the next lifetime.” and summarily take their leave.

I do remember the “being tested by C influence” justifications for the failed prophesies, but Burden was only a #5 then. Even then it seemed contradictory that a being with supposedly greater awareness could succumb to the vain (not to say stupid) predictions of a sea side farm in the foot hills of the Sierras, etc. The beginning of my end with the FoF might have started with Burden’s pronouncement that the Digger Pines, which might have interfered with the plans for a vineyard, were a degenerate species, a failed experiment, and had to go…..and out came the chain saws. I knew then, that Burden either had no understanding of the natural world (a large failing for a conscious being, No?) or that he was more than willing to justify his decisions with Fourth Way BS instead of being honest about the pines removal. Either way, that pronouncement was, to me, inherently a failure and identified the exalted Man #5 as someone who should not be trusted.

And yet he prospers,

Bob Stolzle

"Robert Stolzle" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, December 29, 2014:

Re: leaf #108

This posting is one of the better expositions of morality, and by extension, conscience, that I have read in a while….thank you. The balance between the presumed civilizing influence of religions and the conflicting dogmas that those same religions gives rise to is certainly open for debate but, I would like to understand why most all of mankind is inclined to various religious beliefs? I don’t believe there is any such thing as a “magnetic center” leading us to a deeper comprehension of how the world “really” works, but it is odd that humans apparently have this need to believe, isn’t it? Is it just fear of the unknown?

No one ever posted an explanation of what the “Michael Sessions” were about that made sense to me. Was this some RB BS that supposedly involved him conversing with the Archangel Michael? or something else? Another idea that hadn’t yet bloomed in Burden’s fevered mind before I left was the “feminine dominance” I’ve seen mentioned here several times as a bad thing. I grasp the male vs female halves of the enneagram, but I don’t recall any supposed benefit of one over the other. In those days any “body type” was comparable to any other and the “task” on the way to greater consciousness was to understand and incorporate the positive aspects of the other types into ones own behavior. Made good sense at the time and provoked some interesting discussions with friends. I gather this “understanding” must have been “upgraded” later to place his own “saturn” type at the top of the heap.
To paraphrase an old joke about divorce, “the reason that leaving the FoF is so difficult is because it is worth it.”

Bob Stolzle

"Robert Stolzle" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, December 31, 2014:
Re: Paul # 113

Thanks for the link explaining the “Michael Sessions”. From the references, I had assumed the FoF was involved. Back in the early ’70’s many students, “allowed or not”, investigated all manner of Yoga, Tai Chi, and other esoteric disciplines. Since Gurdjeiff presumably “taught” through the discipline of dance and RB had no interest in any serious moving center exercise, those extracurricular activities were seemingly tolerated.

The image of two MD’s hunched over a Ouija board and “talking to the spirits” is really laughable and extremely bizarre. It is a good example of those times, though.

Re: leaf #115 and AP #116

Thank you for the explanations of feminine dominance. I can imagine that RB, having to compete with female members for hetero male attention, would see women as a threat. Thinking about it now, I’d bet that his Man #7 BS came about because he was able to coerce hetero males into his homosexual frolics,; thereby demonstrating his control of “sexual energy”…….the poor deluded old bastard, may his end come soon, slowly and painfully!

(So far as I can tell from the Psalms of the Bible, it is OK to pray for God to “rain down fire on the heads of my enemies”……if it’s good for King David, it’s good enough for me.)

What do you think will happen to the FoF when the exalted leader is gone? From what I’ve learned here about today’s FoF it should be rife with all manner of “palace intrigue”.

Happy New Year,

Bob Stolzle

"Robert Stolzle" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, January 27, 2015:
All ‘Ja Aw-

I took my leave in ’76 after 4 years and missed all the “fun”; but I was also, somewhat intentionally, beyond the orbit of Pluto in the FoF and apparently not RB’s preferred type. I was invited to dine on the Meissen only once. Having come from a “country” upbringing, the Farm looked like a joke to me and I probably wasn’t there over a half dozen times; but I spent many a long night at Sambos in Carmel with Stella holding forth. Christian religious writing was the required reading for some time then (remember the Philokalia?), and RB was in his “silence task” for a good part of my tenure, but he could be seen writing his ‘angles’ at the Skyline Church in Oakland every Tuesday? night and identifying your body type. If you were stocky, you were instinctive centered, thin and athletic–moving centered, geeky=intellectual, gay people and the obese were emotionally centered and you might get the ultimate appellation of solar if you were especially neat and pretty. There were no teaching centers farther east than S. Lake Tahoe and it was pretty much a white, middle class, pretentious American group. It is surprising to me how, under the leadership of a perverted sociopath, what might have really been a good and useful organization went to hell. I am not sure that the Fourth Way stuff was all tainted. I mean the “feeding the moon” and a lot of other ideas are pretty goofy (no argument that Gurdjieff was a sociopath, too), but so are most of the ideas of Scientology and most religions and at least the 4th Way does say to “verify everything”. No one knows the mind of God. The vapor trail of the FoF is sort of a microcosm of our generation’s idealism and belief that we could remake the world into a better place. We were beyond naive, but I think that was better than the rampant cynicism that governs today’s discourse in the west. “People are just no damned good.” Amen.

I’d still like to hear from anyone who departed the FoF since 2010 or so, to learn of the current belief system and goings on.

And, Mick, I’ll take Wilson’s “victory from the jaws of defeat” over Brady’s “deflategate” and give you 3. It is good that the FoF is no more important than American football to us anymore.

Bob Stolzle

"Robert Stolzle" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, March 6, 2015:
Re: Psychotropic drugs etc.

As someone else suggested here, in my experience, there is a huge difference between narcotic and psychedelic drugs. Experimenting with those differences were one reason the idea of “centers” made sense to me. I have to say, though, that after a 10 hour trip I didn’t want another “experience” for a few weeks, at least. Not quite sure why—-I never really had a bad trip, just some intense experiences. One commonality was that I usually had to get away from people, even friends, at the peak of the trip. I had an acquaintance who set himself the goal of dropping acid every day for a year. Last time I saw him (decades ago) he seemed more or less normal—–no word on his chromosomes, though. Marconi, you seem to have been bolder than most, did your experiences make you want more right away? I was physically and emotionally “wrung out”.

In my opinion, the “chemical imbalances in the brain” comments aren’t any stigma. I think all human traits can be seen as falling on some “bell shaped curve” with our mental functioning (as controlled by our brain’s chemistry) being no exception. We all share basic behavior, including our thinking, and yet we are all unique in some manner, too. How I discuss FoFer and other behavior here is mostly a matter of perspective and experience (isn’t everything?) and not a judgment meant to stigmatize or criticize. Everyone has slightly different strengths and weaknesses but, having gotten this far, I can’t imagine anyone being stigmatized here by my ramblings……no matter how screwed up you are. (“That’s another joke, son!)

A few years back (90’s maybe), there were several books published on the subject of “emotional intelligence” and that idea got a lot of media attention for a while; it seemed pretty similar to the Fourth Way ideas. My experience of the FoF membership—and I include myself here—again!—ton2u—-was that many members were emotionally immature in many different ways. For me, the group seemed to offer a safe environment to develop emotionally (while continuing to play with drugs). And, this is not to say that cheap rent and unattached females weren’t part of the draw, too. Both are true.

When I left in 1977, RB was still at the front of almost all of the weekly meetings and presenting “angles of thought” along with the various centers “student” leaders. He could usually be approached there or at the farm with some burning personal question, if necessary, although it was discouraged to bother the great man with your petty problems. I only had a couple of exchanges with him…..my problem, a “non-existence feature” don’t you know. This was way before the cult went international. I gather from the postings here that even getting to see the old devil today costs money. Well, I suppose that “you don’t value what you don’t pay for”. But, then too, there is no “one liner” so profound that it can’t be twisted to “someone’s” personal gain. Its the emotionally naive who have to pay to learn this lesson.

Bob Stolzle

"Robert Stolzle" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, April 8, 2015:
My youthful experience with psychedelic drugs and the FoF lead me to the understanding that, for me, the so called “magnetic center” or perhaps my unusual interest in “things spiritual” are a direct result of experimenting with those drugs. From my reading of the numerous previous postings on these drugs, I suspect many current and ex-FoFers have a similar history. Is this true? Would any of you ever have thought twice about joining the FoF if you hadn’t experimented with psychotropic substances? I remember reading years ago that Timothy Leary’s early research suggested that the LSD experience was very similar to a schizophrenic episode. Has this suggestion been verified?

Back in my day (’72-’76) when the FoF still pretended to be a Fourth Way school and RB hadn’t found his inner goddess, it may have been possible to imagine the experience as a step in a spiritual search. Then, it seemed to me that the differences between striving for higher consciousness and moving towards God or Nirvana or whatever the deity of choice might be was only a matter of semantics. The initial step of getting one’s psychological house in order seemed to make sense then, too. Most of us “were a mess”.

I doubt it occurred to any of us then, that this apparently idealistic undertaking could be so thoroughly twisted to suit the exalted leader’s perverse cravings. (We might have benefitted from a closer study of the rise of Hitler, though.) I have to believe there is a special circle of hell for the so-called “teachers” who pervert their subjects’ spiritual desires like RB—–sadly, there seems to be no shortage of false prophets. But we, the “starry eyed seekers of truth and light”, have now evolved into cynics of the first water—–but are still honest presenters of the unpleasant, unfortunate truth. There seem to be many spiritual paths going in the same direction, but there is no reason to experiment with the FoF, we’ve all been there, done that—–read up. The FoF path IS a dead end.

Bob Stolzle

"Robert Stolzle" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, April 20, 2015:
Anyone posting here remember when RB declared that the FoF and Fourth Way study was “esoteric Christianity”? This was circa 1975, but I don’t know whether the notion lasted very long. I do recall that burden was much taken with Jesus’ “son of man” cryptic references (son = sun= higher centers—get it) and implied, of course, that meant him. Coming from Arkansas, one can safely assume that he had a ‘Bible thumper’ background. Nevertheless, in the early days, lots of students were slogging through the Old & New Testaments and trying to make 4th Way sense of those books. Jesus was said to be Man #7.

I gather from postings here that the FoF is no longer even a 4th Way school. When and how did that pronouncement come down? And with what result? Are any “religious” practices of any sort still allowed—meditation or ritual of any sort? I infer there is no longer any basis for questioning any of burden’s cockamamie pronouncements…..or his demands for “servicing”…..SO SAD! I guess the Devil made him do it!

Bob Stolzle

"Cathie L." wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, April 25, 2015:
#68 Bob Stoltze:

“…the turning point in the FoF that led to someone leaving the cult.”

This all happened so long ago for me…30 years! I’ve long since “processed” this stuff, so I’m not sure what purpose is served by reminiscing, but let’s pretend we’re gathered around a campfire sharing stories of days gone by. Here’s a bit of mine:

The turning point for me was when I worked in the law office in Marysville that was handling the FOF defense of the Sanders lawsuit. My job allowed me access to depositions that were taken in that case. Of course, these were and are protected by attorney/client privilege, so I can’t disclose anything I read (or possibly, even the fact that I read them), but suffice it to say it was an eye-opening experience. The little voice of conscience in my head spoke up and said, “Ahem. Leave.”

Somehow I never really believed the spiel about losing the school, being cast into spiritual darkness, losing all possibility of evolution, or being shunned by all my friends. A lot of people were leaving when I did (1985), so there were groups springing up that acted as transitional support for all the “disconnected” souls. Souls. Yes. I believe I do have a soul. Its existence does not depend on the Fellowship of Friends, or even The Work!

“Or, perhaps, did anyone think the FoF was a cult when they joined? I certainly didn’t and absolutely denied it. How were we so blind?”

I was naive and ignorant about cults. It never even crossed my mind. I was drawn in by the magic of it all, the specialness, the sense of being “chosen by C Influence.” The fact that I was raised in the Mormon Church might have made me more susceptible to the idea of being “chosen,” I’m not sure.

“Re: #63, Cathie, you seem much less cynical than most everyone else posting here. Your pan pipes are a welcome change from the incessant drum beating usually we usually hear.”

Thank you.

“Didn’t the FoF knock the last bit of hope for Nirvana out of you?”

On the contrary, I expanded my search! Not for Nirvana, perhaps, but for how to live and be in this world. To be joyous. To be peaceful. To live authentically. To still the mind and open the heart. I do struggle with cynicism, despair, bitterness and disappointment, growing older, and being confronted daily with my own failings, as well as the folly and cruelty of our species. I’m cynical about most of Western Civilization in the 21st century. But I try not to dwell on it. Life’s too short.

“Re: #59, Paul, et al, The discussion regarding drug use and the FoF would suggest that they are pretty closely linked, if not a stimulus and response. Does your–and by your, I mean everyone here– experience suggest that their “cosmic understanding” was just a result of the drug…”

I’m not saying I have “cosmic understanding” (whatever that might be!) but whatever experience I had, it wasn’t “just” a result of the drug, it was a result of the interaction of the drug, me, my past conditioning, my present conditions, the setting where I had the experience, and, uh…All That Is.
“…or did it have some real value that was hidden from the “normal” perceptions?”

Yes, for me. Expansion of perceptions, expansion of consciousness, dissolving of boundaries, etc. experienced under the influence of entheogens, had real value for me, and those understandings continue to underlie and inform my awareness to this day.

"Robert Stolzle" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, May 21, 2015:
All of you all—

This blogging business is really quite strange—-at least for me. This is the only one I’ve ever written on or read. Without seeing a face, hearing a voice or sharing any personal history aside from the FoF, one comes to develop a (probably mistaken) understanding of the people sharing here. I’m not proposing a reunion or anything, but it would be interesting to see some of you in the flesh……..or perhaps not; be careful what you wish for.

Actually, I would like to propose a sort of ad hoc history of the spiral of degeneration of the FoF to be posted here. This is, for me, because my cult tenure ran from 1973 to 1976 and I left before all the truly criminal behavior came to light. I was never closer than the moons of Jupiter (orbiting Stella Wirk in Carmel) and “the Farm” had just been rechristened Mt. Carmel Monastery and had one or two permanent workers living there–that was around 1975, I think. The exposition need not be personal and wry or funny would be a good tone. I’d just like to better understand the process of the wheels coming off the FoF wagon.

I’d say that the Bonita Guido-Hightower history, posted on “the other blog” of the earliest days of the cult is as good a summation as can be made and there are certainly former “student-teachers” who had much better insight than I into the inner workings of the cult. RB started and ended his “silence task” ( a little less than 2 years, as I recall) during my time and I was sort of impressed at his pulling it off. If he cheated, I never heard about it…….and we did gossip—–a lot—-in spite of the prohibitions. The “word exercise” was mandatory in all member conversations. Not using “I”, “got”, any “contractions” and two other words I’ve forgotten now [very and  antidisestablishmentarianism], led to some pretty unusual speech patterns……..and initially made one more aware of what they were saying. “Tramp features” were much discussed and included smoking pot and “uncommitted” sex.

The original home on the Farm started to be remodeled into what was, I think, later called “the Blake Cottage”. I recall being asked to work on the “septic tank octave” through the night so that festivities celebrating the completion of—was it Steven Canepa’s???—-fireplace. could proceed with running water the next day………I declined. It was a fine piece of masonry, though. Most everyone staying there lived in tents. RB’s declaration that the Digger Pines were a “degenerate species” immediately led to cutting them all down. I couldn’t make any sense of this decision—too identified, you know— and this was perhaps the first crack in RB’s Man #5 armor that resonated with me.

Smoking cigarettes almost seems to have been encouraged—-pity the poor waitress at the Sambo’s in Carmel where Stella and Harold Wirk held court. As per usual, the snobbery of the FoF led to a preference for the Dunhill and Sobranie imported brands. There were regular local center meetings every Tuesday evening and the big “all centers” conclave Saturday evening at the Summit Church in Berkeley unless “the Teacher” was at “the Monastery” and all bodies were expected to make that pilgrimage—–and lend a hand. Most “students” shared the rent in “teaching” houses—not a bad arrangement.

“Dues” were $40.00/month when I started and $60.00/month when I left and heading towards $100.00. Special assessments were $250-$400 at Christmas, of course and everyone paid the same rate. The giving and getting of “photographs” regarding student interactions and conversations was a common “exercise”; both useful and also abused. I remember Kimo Beech telling me I should remove a smashed, blackened thumbnail because it presented “a poor impression”. I said “Thank You”, but declined. Meissen china and air twist crystal were in high demand and I remember helping a couple “very self important” (well skilled in the art of self remembering) young female students with an expense account search through S. Lake Tahoe antique stores for same. Cost was not a consideration—caution sign #1. Higher, finer impressions being most important, doncha know.

By the time I left in 1976, rumors about expanding the cult outside CA were flying around and I seem to remember that the Phoenix center had just been started. I don’t even remember who was involved. There was also worried discussion of a “no smoking task” coming down the pike. I heard later this “task” came to be Stella’s undoing. Students were being encouraged to move to Mt. Carmel—I think they needed more slave labor to start the vineyard—what ever happened to the wine making “octave”?

As my hero Forest Gump says, “That’s all I have to say about that!”

Bob Stolzle

"Robert Stolzle" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, June 2, 2015:
Cathie L., et al.

Since you seem to be one of the few willing to recount some of your FoF history, please allow me to ask what changes you observed in the activity and governance of the FoF during your tenure. I hadn’t heard of “intentional insincerity” although it was generally OK to take advantage of “life people” since they were asleep. (Talk about creating an underclass to demagogue and prey upon.) Miles Barth had moved into the “RB’s successor” slot after Donald Macdonald took his leave, but Stella Wirk, in Carmel, was the senior student……and could talk the ears off a deaf mule. Her quitting time at Sambo’s was usually around 4:00 am. after about two packs of Salem cigarettes. Female students still had as much chance at evolving as males, then. How did that celestial sexual bias announcement go over? Why would any woman participate in the FoF now? The Hindu ideas of reincarnation had yet to be embraced. This was your one shot at immortality!

In 1976, the “word exercise” was still going strong and monthly “dues” were still $60.00 per month, with a once or twice a year “special task” of $200.00 or so. The majority of “students” lived in “teaching houses” with someone sleeping on the couch and, in the case of a good friend of mine, Valerio Biondo, in a dirt floored garden shed behind the “Vizcaino house”. But, individual rent was commonly in the $100.00 range which made it possible to make ends meet without working two jobs. What did the Chicago mansion cost?

A lot of Christian literature was being read, especially C.S. Lewis’ “The Four Loves”, in part because R.B. was conflating the Fourth Way’s Sun/solar crap and Jesus’ reference to the “son of man”, in his ascent to greater spending. It was announced that RB had verified there were 44 “conscious beings” in the history of the world but who they were was still being worked out. All the underlings were eagerly searching for “verification” that this Fourth Way business had some merit. Gurdjieff said “verify everything” and the evidence was everywhere! And, anyone with any sense at all wanted to be “in a higher state”. It didn’t help that all the music and much popular literature touted the same thing. “….but we all had a good time playing with the pencils on the bench.” Arlo Guthrie, “Alice’s Restaurant”.

Bob Stolzle
"Robert Stolzle" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, June 29, 2015:
Cathie L.

What a nice coincidence…..higher forces at work, I’m sure!

(Ah say, that’s a joke, son!) I was just going through my books, in order to divest myself of the Fourth Way collection—about 80 lbs. worth—and found some old publications of Harold and Stella’s called “The Wirkshop” from early 1986 that had been sent to me by Horace Carter, one of my best FoF friends.

Trying to find some of the folks I knew “way back when” is one of the reasons I follow this blog. In this regard, the effort has been a failure. Is there any chance of you e-mailing or posting a copy of the directory you mentioned in your last posting. Barring that could you see if there are any listings for Horace Carter, Kathryn Gearhart (now Smith), Fran Connolly, Peggy MacLemore, Tim Buckley, Marlane Dassman or Wayne Hunter. There are others, but the names have faded over the last thirty-some years. If there is anyone posting here that I “was in with” that would care to correspond, you know where to find me.

It seems that one common thread in the conversation here is “life after the FoF”. In that regard, I can say that although leaving took a real effort, that life afterward was good. I’ve had a good career as a petroleum geologist and am still working, more for the social contact than financial need. Had children, now grown, two wives–still married, and, as Jimmy Buffet sings in the “Captain and the Kid” (or something like that, I think) “Some of it’s magic, some of it tragic, but I’ve had a good life all the way.” Yes, there is life after the FoF and you can keep all the Fourth Way that you want and discard the rest when you leave. You will again be the captain of your ship.

Bob Stolzle

"Robert Stolzle" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, July 8, 2015:
Ladies and Gentlemen-

I need help deciding what to do with about 60 pounds of Fourth Way and other mystical/metaphysical/esoteric books. I love books and can’t bear trashing them and at the same time feel like Pandora helping spread the FoF problem by putting them back into circulation. Anyone want to add to your collections? They are about half hard backed circa 1950-60. If you can make a buck off them, more power to you. I’ll pay for half the shipping.

#141 ton-

I don’t understand the quote “The facts bury us….etc”. I am personally inclined to the maxim “The truth shall set you free”; and I’d be inclined to see “facts” as one expression of “truth”. Also, I tend to be a “lumper” rather than a “divider” and am inclined to say that “everyone is talking about the same thing, just using different language”. No one has a patent on any sort of salvation and the world’s religions, witches, Fourth Wayers, yogis, sufis, even Deepak Chopra are working on the same mysteries without enough clues. (I’m not addressing the RB style of false prophet, here) Hence part of my interest in this blog—-we’ve all verified an interest in the basic subject matter.

Bob Stolzle

"Robert Stolzle" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, August 1, 2015:
Tim-

Like anyone else RB couldn’t remember every person’s name—-and the emperor can’t be ordinary. Also, there is quasi-religious Southernism, “Oh, my goodness.”, used in exasperation, that I always assumed was where he co-opted the term.

When I joined the FoF, the Fourth Way idea of “verification” helped persuade me because it posits a certain confidence, I thought. Then, when it was incumbent on the “students” to verify RB’s status as Man #5, I could never see it, but decided that any teacher only has to have a little more knowledge and “understanding” than the student, to be able to help the student. But, the less I heard about “false personality” and “body types” and the more about “C influence” and the magic number 44, the closer I came to leaving. Reading the postings here, it seems, to me, that the FoF moved steadily from a quasi-psychological study group to religious cult, but slowly enough so that, like the “boiling frogs” analogy, no one really noticed…….and RB’s utterances just kept getting stranger. The story, recounted here, of him pointing out the Rhino poop in a cave painting as a “C influence” communication and not being laughed at sounds like bad science fiction, No? Pass the Koolaid!

A passing curiosity: How is Asaf’s “Online School of Higher Consciousness” doing? Doesn’t that whole idea fly in the face of the “personal teacher, face to face transmission” notion of how such knowledge is to be passed along? Maybe next the FoF can rope in some game designers to work up another way of making a buck with the first person, devotee version of “The Art of Conscious Fraud” with unlimited “angles of thought” and a guarantee of higher consciousness if you can win the game. They are probably working on it now…….

Bob stolzle

"Robert Stolzle" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, August 4, 2015:
Re: #72—The repeat of the “HigherM” posting from 4/22/07—-

This is a joke, right? There isn’t really anyone so delusional in the FoF, is there?

The last paragraph of that posting lists some of the pretenders to Gurdjeiff’s throne. One James Vincent Randazzo, aka Jim Vincent, I know about. He was the “student teacher” in Tahoe when I joined and could run a clever line of B.S. He was an oily, ingratiating thief (Mercurial type, doncha know) who kept new students from going to the Berkeley meetings for a couple of months on the pretense that one needed to be prepared to meet “THE TEACHER!”. Of course, he pocketed their monthly payment until they were “officially” introduced. His people manipulation skills were nowhere near as subtle as RB’s;, but he quickly understood the focus of the FoF.

An aside—- didn’t RB personally approve or appoint the student teachers back then? How could a “conscious being”, even a piddly #5, make such a mistake?????? Maybe because he wasn’t f–king conscious!

Randazzo’s scheme went on for over a year and then when he was found out, he took his leave and RB announced a minor crime had occurred in the Tahoe center and that it would be closed indefinitely. I was in Carmel by then. Mr. Randazzo landed in Creede, Colorado and set up the “Spiral of Friends”…….a supposed Fourth Way group that specialized in consciousness, cocaine and young women. He was eventually sent to the penitentiary for the cocaine, so occasionally a “conscious being” does get his just rewards.

Bob Stolzle

"Robert Stolzle" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, August 5, 2015:
I don’t recall ever hearing Randazzo comment on burton’s operation per se, other than the Man #5, exalted leader B.S…..and that suited his purposes. I pretty well know that “Jim Vincent” was only a con man, pure and simple, and knew a good scam when he saw it. I don’t believe the notion of helping someone would even enter his thinking unless he might profit from it in some way…….that much he shared with RB. And, I would say that any of his claims of “higher consciousness” were only advanced to suck in his next victim……unless he got really strung out on coke. I wonder, now, if any of the poor souls from the “Spiral of Friends ever graduated to the Fellowship of Friends?

It might be because of that early FoF experience that I always wondered if burton believed his B.S. or if he was just a very good actor. I wasn’t close to the inner circle, but was around him often enough and never saw him display any other personality; he was in his “silence task” for over a year of that time, though. None of my inquiries of other “student teachers” or the “cognoscenti” ever led to any suggestion of contradictory behavior. I trust those here who say RB is fully invested in his fantasy. I wonder if he was at the start in 1970?

The apparent truth of RB’s beliefs makes me wonder if his deep sociopathy isn’t akin to, or perhaps one step removed from, full blown schizophrenics who live in a world of their own making with unseen friends and their own versions of cause and effect…..kind of like the 44 (now 45?) angels and C influence he is prone to tout. Both are delusional, but one lives a fine lifestyle, catered to by minions and the other is catered to by nurses with meds in an institution or maybe live on the street.

I do hope that burton will promise, like Houdini, to communicate with Asaf or someone else from the great beyond and that day can’t come too soon. If there is a God, perhaps the Great Burtoni will have a serious stroke and spend his last ten years or so in a drooling daze. After that, the minions can get the Russians to pickle him and put him on display at the farm, sort of like Lenin in the Kremlin. He deserves nothing less.

Bob Stolzle

"Robert Stolzle" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, August 19, 2015:
Here is a question: If you had not succumbed to the charms of the FoF, would you have joined another cult or wasted time on some other “false teaching”.

Speaking personally, I was ripe for the picking and a couple of friends who were enthusiastic new members of the Tahoe center talked me into a prospective student meeting with Jim Vincent. The supposed “scientific” approach to nirvana and communal living appealed to my psychedelic induced ideas of spirituality. Drug use in the FoF, even among some of the old coots, was a given in those days. Although I met RB a few times at the Berkeley meetings and at the Nut House, I dined on the Meissen only once. I was, thank God, apparently not his type.

So, the terrible experiences that damaged so many missed me, but I essentially wasted four years that would have been better spent pursuing a career or doing almost anything else. It is difficult to say that I learned anything from the early “Fourth Way FoF” that has proven to be particularly beneficial. However, it is my opinion that regret is a form of self pity and pretty destructive in itself. That said, I have no idea how anyone experiencing RB’s sexual predation might work through that trauma. Perhaps, “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger”. Your accounts make me sorry I ever contributed to or participated in the FoF.

A good bit has been said about the dire effects of ever leaving the FoF, but those always seemed weak to me since Gurdjieff, whoever, Horn and RB all had to defy their teachers to launch their own operations. The threat of eternal damnation seemed more like a dare. More than one “mystical teaching” and science too, for that matter, say that it is a poor student who doesn’t surpass his teacher. Thanks to your postings, I am now confident that I have cleared that hurdle many times over……and without ever mentioning the “Fourth Way”.

Bob Stolzle

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