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.

Monday, August 8, 2016

Robert Earl Burton, in eternal pursuit of youth

Robert Earl Burton (R. E. Burton), founder of Fellowship of Friends with Sacha his favorite boy
Robert Earl Burton with one of his favorites

“Insider” submitted the following via e-mail, August 28, 2016:
I will offer a few comments on this photo, as well as other related happenings within the Fellowship of Friends.

The young man with Robert is Alexander (Sasha) Shalapanov. He appeared from Russia several years ago, and was fairly quickly put on the “list of 7 conscious beings to be produced by the school,” the others at that time being Asaf and Dorian. (Now there is another: Samuel Mercer, son of Maya Mercer who is the daughter of Maria Machado and former wife of David Springfield, the former Fellowship attorney. The last I heard earlier this year, Samuel was studying ballet in London. Why he was given “conscious being” status, no one seems to know. But Robert seems to have a special place in his fantasies for ballet dancers. But then, who doesn’t?) The photo is from March 2015, but they have worn these costumes on other occasions since then.

According to a close friend who dined with Sasha several months ago, Sasha told everyone at the table that Robert had told him (Sasha) that Dorian would be assuming leadership of the FoF (no time frame given), and that Sasha should do all he could to support Dorian.

Sometime in April/May of this year, I attended a Sunday meeting Dorian led while RB was traveling in Mexico. Dorian was very much in command, both of the material he wished to present, and over the audience. It was a 1-hour presentation, no questions or comments permitted. He said that the FoF is ready for a new phase or cycle, the current one having lasted now for 10 years, clearly referring to the introduction/invention of the “sequence” in 2005. I would guess the “sequence” will be tossed out.

He told people the change would be difficult, and advised everyone to hold on tight, and that many people would “fall off,” or something close to that. He referred to the new cycle about 10 times. As an obvious low-blow to Asaf, he further mentioned that any “intellectual” aspects of the school or system would no longer have a place in the new order. He did not use the terms duality or non-duality, but was clearly describing the new phase in non-duality language. To me, this was really an admission that there’s no longer any practical work being done in the Fellowship; and any prior resemblance of the FoF to a practical “School of Awakening” is gone, entirely replaced by a religion based on worshiping and serving Robert Burton (soon to be Dorian Matei).

Up until recently, many of us “sideline observers” felt that Rowena Taylor (aka Renee Taylor, Rowena Lamb, etc.) was always the force behind Dorian. She helped him acquire and remodel his house (maybe even bought it for him), and lived there until recently. (Now she is apparently living back in her own house with her husband, Robert Taylor, who did not die as expected last year, nor is even ill, though they both played up this myth/hoax for a good year or so, for whatever reasons. Taylor has been predicting his death for the past 30-35 years, in part to manipulate Rowena. She seems to have fallen for it yet again.) The proposed takeover and makeover of the FoF Board, Administration, Council, and all leadership roles, going back about 5 years, is well-known, the ringleaders at that time being Rowena and Steven Dambeck. And that will surely be happening if/when Dorian assumes full command. In fact, Rowena is already Dean of the Fellowship Council, as Asaf resigned from that position around June 2016. This gives Rowena and Dorian enormous power and control over FoF members who live in the distant centers. (All centers and center directors report to the Council. The Council can set or alter the teaching payment formula for a given center. They can make donations exceptions for individuals as needed. They also hire and fire center directors.)

(It should be mentioned here that it is common knowledge, although second-hand for me, that Rowena used her position as director and mentor to the Russian centers, virtually since their inception in 1991, to screen and approve of candidates for Robert’s harem. With what she knows about Robert, coupled with what Dorian knows from having been in the harem and having lived in the Galleria for many years, the two of them can get just about anything they want from Robert and the FoF. They are two members you really don’t want to upset.)

Asaf is on his own with his websites, his “teaching,” the lectures and webinars, though there are more people behind the scenes. His writings are being translated into 10-12 languages. After resigning from the Council, it seems he no longer has a visible role in the FoF. He does not promote, and I don’t think ever has promoted, the FoF using his websites and teaching. He does not seem to support Robert’s current teaching religion, even though, ironically, he did more than anyone to get Robert to move away from Gurdjieff and Ouspensky, and towards the religion that replaced them. It’s really not clear to many members why Asaf remains in the FoF, although of course social bonds are strong.

Finally, some thoughts about Dorian and Sasha, and the future leadership of the FoF. For now, Robert still controls the $$, and approves (with the Board’s rubber stamp) any substantial buying and selling of FoF property and assets. Obviously, no meaningful transfer of power will occur as long as Robert runs the finances. Whether to groom Dorian and Sasha for future roles, or merely to keep them occupied, they have each been put in charge of certain functions at Apollo and within the FoF.

Dorian (including Rowena) oversees the centers away from Apollo. This includes appointing directors, setting donation levels, and making special financial arrangements for “certain friends.” He controls the scheduling of events at Apollo. He is Robert’s prompter at meetings, and alternates with Sasha in this role at breakfasts and dinners. But perhaps his most important job is to cover for Robert’s increasing forgetfulness, errors in names, dates and places, and (as it seems to many) early (or late) stages of dementia. The fact is that Robert makes an absolute fool of himself on a regular basis. Dorian has a way of smoothing it over and making it seem humorous, normal, even intentional. But more and more, people shake their head and silently wonder if what Robert says has anything to do with anything “spiritual.” He confuses people’s names. He mispronounces words. He has to be reminded if, e.g., there’s a dinner following a meeting. And yet, when one of the antiques is mentioned, he knows exactly when and where it was purchased, as well as the cost.

Meanwhile, Sasha seems to be in charge of the physical aspects of Apollo, from buying and selling camels, to tree planting, to bench painting, and a number of other projects to maintain or improve Apollo. He helped turn part of the bathhouse into a Russian banya. He also produces, for Robert, a performing arts program that includes several fairly major orchestra concerts each year. To the consternation of many of the actors, he is beginning to “muscle in” on the theater (i.e., Shakespeare) productions (of which there are 2-3 per year), imagining he is some sort of “super-director” at large. He is also the “expert” in observing ballet (except for Robert, of course), in that he has learned to find the “sequence” in just about every ballet, thus proving the conscious, school origin of ballet, and making Robert very happy.

Overall, Sasha Shalapanov would seem to be unfit at this time for a major leadership role, primarily because he does not know himself, does not suspect that he has out-of-control power and vanity features. He pushes people around, knowing that Robert will support him, and does not care whom he steps on to gets his/Robert’s way. He is also entirely na├»ve regarding affairs of the world, legal matters such as always surround the FoF, managing finances, earning a living or starting a business, etc. At least one could say about Dorian that he manages a house, a family (1 kid; 1 more coming), and several agriculture-related ventures.

Clearly the most competent choice for Robert would be Dorian to take the reins. But will that ever happen? I know that certain Board members keep a constant eye on Dorian and Rowena, as they remember the attempted restructuring/takeover 5 years ago. They know that Dorian and Rowena are waiting for an opportunity to get a few seats on the Board, or in some other way to gain complete control. The roles of FoF President and VP, the Council Dean, and the head of Apollo Arts, are all automatically Board members. They have 1 of these 4 seats now.

Will Robert ever give up control of the money? And if Robert were to step aside, whomever he chooses to succeed him, would the donations keep flowing sufficiently to maintain Apollo and the FoF?

"Out of Time" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, May 16, 2016:
I don’t know why I wrote this. I don’t know why I check this blog. I don’t know anybody here (by their tag names, at least). And yet, I spent almost twenty hellish years of my life in the FOF and am a fairly recent escapee. The posts I do read don’t seem to reflect what I saw–that Dorian is really the air [sic] apparent , or that Leonid comes to tea with his dog dressed as a giraffe, for example. I’m struggling into a new life, and I think I look at this blog to see that something has changed–that something has stopped. When I left, it seemed there couldn’t be one more day of the hideousness that passed for a teaching. It was only after leaving that I verified how truly evil that place was. I’m hoping to hear there’s been an end to it, but I guess that is wishful thinking on steroids.

"Out of Time" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, May 16, 2016:
Mind out of Rhyme,

When Asaf [Braverman] was unable to return to the US, Dorian stepped in to fill his Gucci shoes. He was at every single event of R’s [Robert Burton's], giving fodder for the empty sham called “teaching.” He also made decisions as to how things were run, and who ran them. Asaf was at none of these events (dinners, teas, etc.). For awhile, he and his wife, Ansley, sat front-row center at meetings, then they stood near the back, then they sort of disappeared. Asaf installed himself into several “octaves,” including Apollo Arts, where he basically ran things. Then he seemed to have come up with the on-line school for something to do. At events, R hinted many times that Dorian would be taking over for him. Dorian’s wedding seemed to many to actually be a coronation.

"Mind Out of Rhyme" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, May 17, 2016:
Thanks Out of Time for the update. What kind of teaching does this Dorian offer? Is the sequence still the thing? Do people consider Dorian conscious based on his speaking? Is there a radiance? Is there even a pinkish hue? Can you give us a view into the weird world of make believe? It’s rather boring out here in reality most of the time.

"Out of Time" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, May 17, 2016:
Dorian’s teaching is accelerated dribble without the charisma. Most people walk out of his meetings without a clue of what he’s talking about, but they “go with the program” anyway. After all, this is the next guy in line, the next guy to steal all they have. And he’s speaking to their “higher centers” who DO know, they’re just not telling. A glow? Puke green would be the closest to describe it. More on the weird world to come…

"X-ray" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, May 6, 2011:
43. veramente

Oh give me a break! A known womanizer ministering a marriage? [ed. - Here, Steven Dambeck presides over the marriage of Dorian and Carmina.]

Now let me tell you few things here:

Burton forced Edit [Edith Minne] to marry Dorian so Dorian will get a green card, now Dorian is marrying Carmina to make her green card so later Burton can have Carmina marrying anyone of Burton choice to expand his harem.

These people have to be charged with immigration fraud starting from Asaf!

Looks like M_h_i [Mihai Algiu] will be returning to Romania. Geee- he didn’t get his green card in time! D_r__n [Dorian Matei] will be staying – after all his Green card is in the works as a result of his ‘official’ marriage to Ed_t.

1 comment:

  1. Oh dear...a bad painting accident... or really ugly bed sheets?