Robert Earl Burton founded The Fellowship of Friends in the San Francisco Bay Area in 1970.

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

The Fellowship of Friends exhibits the hallmarks of a "doomsday religious cult," wherein Burton exercises absolute authority, and demands loyalty and obedience. He warns that his is the only path to consciousness and eternal life. Invoking his gift of prophecy, he has over the years prepared his flock for great calamities (e.g. a depression in 1984, the fall of California in 1998, nuclear holocaust in 2006, and an ominous, yet unspecified new threat late in 2018.) While non-believers shall perish, through the direct intervention and guidance from 44 angels (including his divine father, Leonardo da Vinci) Burton and his followers will be spared, founding a new, and more perfect civilization.

Many regard Robert Earl Burton a narcissist and sociopath, surrounded by a largely greed- and power-driven inner circle. The following pages offer abundant evidence supporting that conclusion.

This archive draws
on official Fellowship publications and websites,
news archives, court documents, cult education and awareness forums, the (former) Fellowship Wikipedia page, the long-running Fellowship of Friends - Living Presence Discussion, the Internet Archive, the (former) Fellowship of Friends wiki project, and the editor's own 13-year experience in the Fellowship.

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

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Apollo, Land of Enchantment

Robert Earl Burton in salmon. Uncredited.

[ed. - For Robert Earl Burton's 75th birthday, a story.]
Long ago, upon introduction to The Fellowship of Friends, the prospective member was solemnly admonished, "Believe nothing. Verify everything."

After three brief, and carefully scripted introductory meetings, the prospective member was presented the opportunity to join The Fellowship of Friends. Collection of monthly financial payments ("donations") began with the new member's first regular meeting.

But from their earliest encounters, the new member faced elements of Robert Burton's teaching that were clearly impossible to verify. And this immediately placed the novice in an untenable position. If they were to remain in this mysterious and alluring group, it was already necessary to ignore a basic tenet of the teaching. In the case of "unverifiable" statements, they would have to grant exceptions, and hope that they would one day be able to verify the information. Eventually, as the indoctrination was completed, this tendency would become a normalized behavior, and exceptions become the rule.

Here is a small sampling of Burton's superstitions or myths the acolyte would have to accept, or risk reproach.
Robert Burton is the Second Coming of Jesus Christ, and he alone is the source of divine instruction upon earth.

Burton is a "conscious being," directly and personally guided by Leonardo da Vinci and 43 other conscious beings (also known as angels, C Influence, Higher Forces, or The Gods.)

Of the 45 conscious beings (counting Burton,) 44 are men. According to Burton, Elizabeth I of England was the sole woman in history to attain consciousness.

These conscious beings regularly communicate with Burton and his followers through "conscious shocks" which are often messages revealed only to the initiated (those conditioned to perceive them) via license plate numbers (at first, anything containing the number 44, but later on, with the advent of personalized plates, any symbolic wording or numbers,) aphorisms, "esoteric" images, etc.

Fellowship members are the only humans on earth attempting to "awaken" and create a soul. The remainder of humanity are "sleeping machines."

The Fellowship of Friends is building a literal ark, intended to preserve humanity's highest arts and culture for future generations. This ark will survive Armageddon.

The Fellowship compound at Apollo will be a refuge for members during global calamities which Higher Forces have personally indicated to Burton. (Past failed prophecies include the Depression of 1984, the Fall of California in 1998, and "Armageddon" or nuclear holocaust of 2006, which was postponed to 2012, and now looms in the unspecified but proximate future.)

All of humanity, save those who remain devoted followers of Burton, shall perish and their "magnetic fields" shall become food for the moon (which itself is an evolving organism.)

Those who leave the Fellowship are condemned to a "fate worse than death" and have no further chance of evolution. He said it would have been better were they never born.

After less than 18 months in his former teacher's conscious school, Robert Burton claims to have become a conscious being (and immediately established a connection with the 44 angels who would guide him.) But according to Burton, death is the only form of graduation from his own conscious school.

One does not have a soul, but through the methods of "self-remembering" Burton teaches, and only through these methods, one can create a soul.

Developing consciousness and a soul under the direct instruction of a conscious teacher is the real meaning of evolution, and the only path to realizing our full human potential.

Followers are told, "The lower cannot see the higher." In other words, Burton's true consciousness will never be fully appreciated or recognized by his less conscious followers.

Burton's Fellowship of Friends is the latest (and only current) manifestation in the unbroken lineage of "higher" or "conscious" school upon earth.

It is essential that one be in a true conscious school (and only Burton's qualifies,) surrounded by others working with the same objective. This work cannot be done alone.

Payment is a principle, and a dues-paying membership in The Fellowship of Friends is the only path to consciousness, the creation of a soul, and survival beyond the death of the physical body.

Mankind is subject to "feminine dominance," a weakness inherent in all humans, which must be overcome on the path to consciousness.

Humans are allotted nine lives to develop a soul. Burton's students are on different lifetimes. Some are old souls, some are young. Some are on their last lifetime, their last chance to awaken. Each evolving soul will spend one lifetime as a woman.

Humans are receptors for influences from the sun, moon, and planets of our solar system, and can be identified by "body type," according to these planetary bodies' impacts upon the human endocrine system.

Entire nations can be categorized by the endocrine "body type" that predominates, generally falling into one of seven basic types.

Our behavior is directly controlled by the tidal effects of sun and moon.
These are just a few of the superstitions the new Fellowship member faced when directed to, "Believe nothing. Verify everything." Though some of these early myths have been replaced with new myths, the recruiting and indoctrination continues in very much the same manner it began.

Burton would often challenge his followers, "Have you verified C Influence?" (In other words, have you noticed sufficient coincidences, 44s, or meaningful license plates in your everyday life to provide absolute certainty of divine intervention?) To this there was only one acceptable response.

In retrospect, former members may declare that they never bought into the myths, but in my experience, it was uncommon for followers to challenge Burton's teaching (and be permitted to remain in the organization.)

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