Presented in reverse chronology, this history stretches from the present back to the Fellowship's 1970 founding, and beyond.
(See "Blog Archive" in the sidebar below.) It draws from many sources, including The Fellowship of Friends - Living Presence Discussion, the Internet Archive, the former Fellowship of Friends wiki project, cult education and awareness sites, news archives, and from the editor's own 13-year experience in the Fellowship.

The portrait that emerges stands in stark contrast to sanitized versions presented on the Fellowship's array of
alluring websites, and on derivative sites created by Burton's now-estranged
disciple, Asaf Braverman.

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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