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.")

But 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.

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 from official Fellowship publications and websites, news archives, court documents, cult education and awareness forums, the Internet Archive, the long-running Fellowship of Friends - Living Presence Discussion, the (former) Fellowship of Friends wikispace project, the (ill-fated) Fellowship Wikipedia page, 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, September 16, 2016

Robert Burton channels the Absolute

Robert Earl Burton (R. E. Burton), Fellowship of Friends cult founder and dandy
Self-proclaimed Avatar of the Age, and Fellowship of Friends dandy, Robert Burton

[ed. - From "The Canons of The Fellowship of Friends" (bolds added)]
Higher Forces

The Fellowship teaches that the universe comprises a hierarchy of worlds governed by orders of laws, that the Absolute created the world and Higher Forces [also known as "Influence C"], and that Higher Forces created humanity. Higher Forces pass on the knowledge of how to create and prolong Divine Presence through the medium of Schools, and have done so throughout known and unknown history. Behind human history is Divine Presence, behind Divine Presence is Schools, behind Schools is Higher Forces, and behind Higher Forces is the Absolute. By mastering Divine Presence, a man becomes immortal, thereby entering the City of Paradise to join the company of Higher Forces.
[Below, a follower struggles to make sense of Robert Burton's latest revelations. It appears Burton has now established a direct connection with the Absolute, creator of the Universe. He no longer needs to go through intermediaries such as the 44 angels (well, 45 counting Alex Horn) the Fellowship knew as "Higher Forces," or "Influence C." Apparently the Absolute has instructed Burton to prepare his followers for Armageddon, and the destruction of the world beyond the Fellowship's Apollo compound. That message has of course been delivered many times before, but by mere angels. This time it's coming right from the top.]

"Mad Cult Member" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, September 13, 2016:
For me it is important, because I am in FOF and I mad🙂 The Absolute visited Robert and he kissed his feet and now we are so lucky because this never happened before. Our grandfather is the author of the Universe! And soon we will be having the brightest times because when Life [all non-members] will have the darkest hour it will be the brightest hour for the Schools [the Fellowship]. Life is an unsolvable problem, it only exists to realize Holly Scriptures: the end of the worlds. And we certainly deserve it because we were supporting Influence C for half a century. We can not overestimate this Gift! Christ said nicely it in 6 words: I’ve done what you asked – I completed the theme of the sequence: Be.

"Mad Cult Member" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, September 14, 2016:
I wish I had my best friends agree with my point of you, but they don’t. They think I am loosing the school. And on my end I don’t know how to replace my life-long friends just because fucking Robert is gone crazy. You did not understand my sarcasm? Well, you did not come to the events recently, did you? I wrote word to word what Robert says. I couldn’t make it up if my life depended on it. Insider knows what I’m talking about.

"Mad Cult Member" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, September 14, 2016:
The other day I passed the folks in Yuba City holding signs: Are you suicidal-here is the phone number, your life matters. I laughed. Who is suicidal? But after a few days I regretted that I did not memorize that damn phone number.

"Insider" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, September 16, 2016:
Everything Mad Cult Member said in #95 [above] is true. For the second time in 800 days, Robert Burton (by his own unbiased admission) was visited by The Absolute. Robert was told to “Be ready.” I didn’t hear about the kissing of feet, but there were around 9-10 events at which Robert spoke about this, to the exclusion of almost everything else, so the story had a chance to “evolve” over the course of the week following the “visitation.”

Naturally, everyone is talking about this. After all, it’s probably the most important event in the “school” since Robert’s “crystallization” in 1976. Here’s one (paraphrased) comment I overheard: Now it is probably necessary to identify which students continue to believe in Robert, and which ones are doubters; and we should think seriously about expelling the remaining doubters.

To say that the Fellowship is now 100% a religion is self-evident. But in a sense not much has really changed from 2 weeks ago, 2 years ago, or even 45 years ago. Robert (and probably Alex Horn before him) always mixed “religion” in with the knowledge brought by Gurdjieff to Russia. “Influence C” was being preached from almost the beginning of the Fellowship, even though it had almost no practical value to those members who, correctly, were focused on studying the basic “Fourth Way” ideas. The preaching of “Influence C” (and a few other related ideas) guaranteed that the Fellowship would always be a religious cult under the veneer of a “Fourth Way School.” Of course, even the veneer fell off a long time ago.

So now Robert’s hard-core followers blame/credit “The Absolute,” rather than “Influence C” or “Leonardo,” for everything that happens in the world or in the Fellowship. For the faithful, the past 10 days have seen little more than a swapping of words. And now “The Absolute” is all the rage amongst the Burton Believers.

"Mad Cult Member" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, September 16, 2016:
Robert went to his knees in the rose garden and kissed the feet of the Absolute. They showed a photo of this special moment at the Sunday meeting where Robert indeed is on his 4 points wearing white shoes. The story though was a bit confusing for me. It happened either at the same time or at the same place where the dog Apollo was taking his “big business” as Sasha put it. And it had something to do with Nicky, the young fellow responsible for walking the dog (who as Robert said, now is in the rehab because of drug addiction). After that special day Robert requested students to send him some thoughts about the meaning of it. And they do. Now at the meetings the messages from the students are shown on the big screens and are commented by the Teacher. He also requested that everyone should come to the meetings from now on. So there is an increase in attendance lately.

"We Were There" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, May 22, 2007:
When there was a wave of departures from the Fellowship of Friends after ‘the worldwide depression’ failed to happen, a dear friend (an ‘older student’ who I think remains a member) said to me with surprising vehemence:

“I HATE former students! I wish they would just go away and leave us alone!”

The same, if more restrained, theme is recurring here in posts from current members along the lines of

‘It’s fine for those who don’t want to be in the Fellowship of Friends to leave, and we respect that. We just ask that you respect us and leave us alone.’

Those posters miss the point that many here are not much interested in reaching the ‘true believers’ but rather in letting those who are disappointed know that we have found there can be a good, healthy, spiritual life after the Fellowship – as well as in letting anyone who might be thinking about joining have the benefit of our long years of experience.

‘Things are often other than they seem,’ and we are trying to shine light on the unfortunate dark corners of the Fellowship.

So, I say to current happy members,

‘It’s fine for those who want to be in the Fellowship of Friends to stay, and we respect that. If you don’t like the postings here, simply don’t continue to visit.’

A final thought.

RB will soon refer (perhaps he already has?) to this forum as his long-predicted ‘crucifixion.’ It would be more accurate to say that the existence of this blog is an example of ‘his being attracting his life.’

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