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 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.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Bryan Reynolds' story

"Bryan Reynolds" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, January 19, 2015:
Hi Everyone
I have followed this blog for quite awhile. My name is Bryan Reynolds. I joined the fellowship just after my 21st birthday 1975 and stayed in for only a year and a half. Joining the school was going to fix all of my problems, except that it didn't. I wanted to do something with my life that had meaning. I am not sure what I expected it to be like. I had read [P.D. Ouspensky's] The Fourth Way and In Search of the Miraculous. I lived in several teaching houses in Oakland and San Francisco. I worked hard to try to understand the teaching and I met many people who were very sincere and committed to the FOF. I washed dishes, gathered rocks in what were to become vineyards. I was working in very low paying jobs in restaurants. I can only recall speaking with the teacher on several occasions. I tried to get to the farm when ever I could. Things started to change. At the time within the FOF there was this bizarre sub-culture of 5 cent cigarettes, eating disorders, alcoholism, clandestine marijuana use, sexual liaisons, late night runs to get students who went into town to get totally trashed. The stress and disillusionment and expense drove me to leave. Several things helped to make the transition away from the school which was for me like PTSD. Being damned for eternity [anyone who left the Fellowship] and that the world was going end in 2006 [Burton's predicted date for Armageddon, though the Fellowship was to be spared] were not comforting thoughts. I read everything I could find about cults and several were very helpful. Idres Shah, famous Sufi, makes several statements about Gurdjieff-Ouspensky groups and student/teacher relationships which helped a lot. To paraphrase he says that the teaching of Gurdjieff was a teaching for people at a certain place and time and was not designed to be replicated 30 years later in the hills of California. He also explains that a teacher would evaluate students and accept and reject people based on their capacity to learn, not based on whether they could pay. What stands out years later is the inner conflict that I still experience trying to reconcile things which I learned, some great people I met, the energy that was there, and the inner states that I experienced which contradict all of the negative experiences. Another source of helpful information is several lectures on how to distinguish a cult from a real spiritual organization by Arthur Diekman on you-tube.

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