Robert Earl Burton founded The Fellowship of Friends in the San Francisco Bay Area in 1970. Burton modeled his own group after that of Alex Horn, loosely borrowing from the Fourth Way teachings of Gurdjieff and Ouspensky. In recent years, the Fellowship has cast its net more broadly, embracing any spiritual tradition that includes (or can be interpreted to include) the notion of "presence."

The Fellowship of Friends exhibits the hallmarks of a "doomsday religious cult," wherein Burton exercises absolute authority, and demands loyalty and obedience. He warns that his is the only path to consciousness and eternal life. Invoking his gift of prophecy, he has over the years prepared his flock for great calamities (e.g. a depression in 1984, the fall of California in 1998, nuclear holocaust in 2006, and most recently the October 2018 "Fall of California Redux.")

According to Burton, Armageddon still looms in our future and when it finally arrives, non-believers shall perish while, through the direct intervention and guidance from 44 angels (recently expanded to 81 angels, including himself and his divine father, Leonardo da Vinci), Burton and his followers shall be spared, founding a new and more perfect civilization. Read more about the blog.

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

Friday, January 31, 2014

Why bother?

[ed. - This sincere conversation took place recently on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog. I think it provides an insight into why some former Fellowship members feel obliged to warn potential victims of the cult and encourage current members to break free. "Someone" has posed their question on numerous occasions, each time eliciting an interesting dialogue.]

"Tempus Fugit" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, January 2, 2014:
Happy New Year to one and all! I hope the new year finds you healthy, optimistic, and, above all, free.

Since I escaped the FOF [Fellowship of Friends] cult thirty years ago I have had good days and bad days but everyone one of them has been a day lived free of the delusional madness of the Fellowship of Friends.

If you are a member of the FOF looking for new information and other perspectives you have found a great resource in this blog [Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog].

Please read the stories and comments here as much as you can, old ones and new ones, thousands of posts going back for years. Listen to the voice of your inner self as you read and look for the truth.

Don’t be distracted by irrelevant comments and bad writing (some of which is certainly mine) but pay attention to the stories that speak directly to you and your situation.

In my experience and in my opinion Robert Burton is a fraud and a criminal. Do you truly believe he is a good man? Do you truly believe he is enlightened?

If you decide the writers here are wrong you will only lose a little of your time and have your faith in Robert Burton and the FOF strengthened.

If you decide the writers here are correct you may discover the courage and will to choose a new life.

My sincere hope that 2014 is the year that brings you freedom!

"Someone" responded on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, January 7, 2014:
Tempus Fugit,

You left the FoF in the early 80′s and you still have them in your mind. Why carry them inside for so long? They are not worth it.

The FoF are ~1500 people worldwide – they always have been around 2000 or less. Their average age in OH [Oregon House] is probably 60.

RB [Robert Burton] is an old man and the number of member isn’t going to grow.

After I left I heard rumors that many young people are joining in other countries. Now I think they were mere rumors. Why waste time, thoughts, emotions and energy on the FoF? I am entering this Blog once or twice a year because I care about those who are wasting vital energy on the FoF. Though they are harshly against the FoF, it’s still a waste of life energy. I lived in OH for many many years and now I rarely think of it. This Blog [the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog] was opened 7 years ago during the big leaving. Since then the FoF size stayed almost the same.

Perhaps they managed to bring in 50-100 new members, yet more members died of old age. Taking into account Nature’s course, in 10 years time the FoF will be left with perhaps 500-600 members worldwide.

Why bother?

"Tempus Fugit" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, January 9, 2014:
191. Someone – January 7, 2014 [Quoting the above]
Tempus Fugit,
You left the FoF in the early 80′s and you still have them in your mind. Why carry them inside for so long? They are not worth it.

...Why bother?

Thanks for posing this question, although myself and others have addressed this topic before I feel it is an important one.

In some ways I think my FOF experience will always be on my mind. My experience was serious, lengthy, and traumatic. My psychological understanding of those years is still yielding important insights into who I am. After all, it’s not so much “them” that I carry inside, rather it’s “me,” and understanding myself is worth everything.

Why was I taken in by a charlatan? How could I deny and lie to myself for so long and stay in the cult for years and years? How do I learn to trust myself and my judgment after such brutal mistakes? How do I understand the truth of the FOF and Burton without being stuck in an anger and hatred which will only poison me? How do I take responsibility for my own decisions and choices and at the same time give proper responsibility to Burton and others who took advantage of my ignorance and naivete?

My understanding of that time has changed a lot over the decades, and the FOF is by no means the most important time of my life. Still the tree of suffering bears fruit, and I choose to pick it.

This blog [the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog] has been very helpful in my recovery, and my thanks to all of you. The time I spend thinking and writing here is certainly well compensated in the knowledge that I gain about myself and my life. I hope my contributions have helped you in return.

And finally, again, I love the fact that this blog is a light to those still trapped in this horrible cult or even just in danger of the spider’s web, helping some to leave, and others not to join.

To think that relatively small efforts here may spare others from years of abuse is pretty cool. Really damn cool!

"Someone" replied on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, January 10, 2014:
194. Tempus Fugit [above]

I truly appreciate your deep reply.

Apparently my overall personal experience in the FoF has been different from the experience of other ex-members. Surely it was totally different from the experience of those who were sexually hurt.

It is now more than six years since I left OH and the FoF (after being a member for 25 years). Being honest and true to myself, in many aspects and perspectives, I became a better person as a result of those years in the FoF. However my life circumstances have been so poor in so many ways that I was not able to enjoy and exploit any of those positive aspects. Only after I left, when I started living again, I saw how much I gained for the time I spent in the FoF. I am definitely more attentive and concentrated. I ascribe that to years of exercising my intentionality. I genuinely developed taste and affection for the arts and culture and broaden it later on. The ‘Non Identification’ training turned out to be quite helpful in my life, especially in business.

Yes!!! It is all morally contradictory. As I see it now, the FoF has totally failed as a society/community, yet it managed to provide many beneficial personal tools for people as individuals.

There is one thing I’m deeply sorry and angry about and that is the absence of an official complaint against RB. Unfortunately RB and the FoF unjustly!!! walked away freely and actually won this battle. Perhaps there is some consolation in the fact that they are definitely in their last decade. The FoF will gradually shrink and be dispersed.
[ed. - It appears to me that "Someone" has, in part, answered their own question. The injustices did not end with their departure. "The Blog" that "Someone" refers to began April 16, 2006 and significantly contributed to "the big leaving" of 2007. In recent years, despite aggressive marketing via social media, Fellowship recruitment has not kept pace with an exodus that continues to this day. Certainly, global access to the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog and other critical sites has helped neutralize their recruiting efforts.

Narcissistic cult leaders will always be with us. However, the experiences of those who passed through the Fellowship of Friends may alert others to the deceptive marketing of cults, and to the very predictable outcomes of joining such sham religions. The internet greatly improves the propagation of this message.]