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.")

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. Read more about the blog.

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

Monday, July 28, 2014

The Linbu Society

[ed. - Bonita Hightower (Guido) and Robert Burton met at a party before New Years Day 1970, and thus began The Fellowship of Friends. See: "Early History of The Fellowship of Friends, as told by Student #1."

While directing the Hawaii center, Bonita asked for, and received, permission from Robert Burton to take a two-year leave of absence from the Fellowship. It is reported that she left Hawaii on December 26, 1973, accompanied by her spouse Hallstein Farestveit, who had also briefly been a member of the Fellowship. They flew to Oslo, Norway.

According to a source, Donald MacDonald was there to take over the Hawaii center and, while they were still in the air, he received word from Robert Burton that Bonita was no longer in the Fellowship. Robert said she was a "bad seed."

Bonita and Hallstein founded what would become The Linbu Society.]

"Martin from Berlin" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion, April 22, 2007:
Many years ago I came across a 'Fourth Way’ group mainly situated in Sweden. It turned out it was started by an ex-student of the FOF, who had left in the seventies. It was a copy of the FOF. I think it was called Linbu. And here comes the interesting part. It worked for many years — at least as a “conscious school” for the members. They used the same ideas as the FOF, body types, deck of cards, C-influence and the teacher gave himself a number. Their shops, dealing with semi-precious stones were called Arcena (the Arena of C-Influence). Apparently the members had no idea about the origin of the ideas and the form of the school (Correct me if I am wrong). I am sure they verified C-Influence within there frame of thought and believed they are part of a conscious school. Maybe somebody knows, what happened to them.

[ed. - The following reflection on The Linbu Society is reprinted from the Greater Fellowship website, with the permission of its author. He states that since writing the article, his assessment of Linbu has grown more critical.]

"Bjorn from Norway" wrote on the Greater Fellowship, June 30, 2011:
Hi everybody

Maybe you have no idea what "the Linbu Society" is, but you'll learn that pretty soon. And there will surely be some topics to discuss related to what I write here, even if you don't know this particular school/group.

The Linbu Society, or its precursor JOULA, was started by Mr. Hallstein Farestveit (HF) and Ms. Bonita Hightower (BH) some time around 1975 in Sweden. BH had been the first student in Robert Burton's FOF in California, and had later formed, or became leader of, a FOF center in Hawaii. It is unclear to me exactly for how long HF was a student in the FOF, but I know he resided in La Habra, California, in 1971 and 1972. And then some time around ... 1973 .... he also went to Hawaii, and was there working/studying together with BH. As far as I know - they were lovers.

Then, around 1975 they started a new Gurdjieff/Ouspensky center in Sweden. Or a few of them. And they were no longer students in FOF or connected with FOF in any way. As far as I know. At that time BH and HF were both teachers there in Sweden. Equals, so to speak. But later BH left and HF became (only) teacher. Around 1977, if I remember correctly, the Linbu Society - a foundation/charity - was founded. And this was so to speak the official name for what students called the Linbu School.

H. Linbu was the pseudonym taken by HF prior to writing his only book (so far): "The Theory of Conscious Light." Published in 1977 and very hard to get. A German edition was published in 2000.

I was a student in this school for about 8 years. 1989-1996. I "belonged" to the Småland center in the south of Sweden. It should be said that there were such centers in several countries: Norway, Denmark, Germany, Italy and Poland, in addition to Sweden. At the time there were two major centers in Sweden: the one I belonged to, and another just north of Gothenburg.

In regard to my 8-year experience I shall not go in to all the little details - just focus on what I feel are the most important points. Here they are:

1. It was an incredibly rich time. I mean - rich in experiences and rich in learning.

2. I am certain I did learn a lot - and that the Fourth Way is not just something in somebody's imagination. These things we learn about in the Fourth Way teaching are quite real. I mean, the teaching as it was presented in "In Search of the Miraculous." Not Burton eating muesli (with sprinkled gold dust on top) together with the 43 other enlightened ones. Always provided, of course, that we are able to understand these things at all. That's not to be taken for granted. Or maybe rather: that we are willing to make the efforts in order to verify what's in this teaching personally.

3. I have heard/read all the stories about Burton. But when it comes to Mr. HF, the teacher in the Linbu Society, I don't think I can paint the same picture. Never did I see him mistreat anybody or behave in ways I would call immoral. Sure, he could scream and yell and "make a big circus", but he was never aggressive. And I never heard any story about him taking sexual advantage of the female students, and so on and so on. (HF isn't homosexual. Unlike Burton.) In fact, I still see him as a "role model" in many ways, when I recall the way he used to behave in various situations. That said, I think I still should mention that HF drank quite a lot of alcohol. I never saw him not in control of himself - but intoxicated? Yes.

But at the same time: I don't know how it was in the beginning, but when I arrived in Sweden in 1989 the teacher (HF) had started the policy, so to speak, of only working with the "center directors" i.e. leaders of the groups of students. He often mingled with the rest of us too, but more often than not he just worked with the group leaders. Or was by himself - or with whoever was his girlfriend/partner at the time.

A very usual, and arguably very sensible, way of doing things. You work in the hierarchy - and delegate tasks to those below you - who in turn delegate the work further to those below them. And so on. I don't really have a problem with that. But ... and there's a but: even if the teacher might be man no. 7.5 (with flashing lights and a platinum diploma), the group leaders, who may be frustrated women with emotional instabilities, these group leaders (regardless of gender, really. We males can be wacky too) might cause all kinds of hell. Maybe just on a whim. Or the guys/girls just below these group leaders in the chain-of-command. And/or there's all kinds of idiotic and violent misunderstandings and conflicts that just manifest out of the void and cause all kinds of hubub.

This was why I left that school, really. My "center director", a middle-aged woman with an unusual potential for cruelty and intrigue of 1001 kinds, was simply "hacking me to death." In such a group environment there's also the sad tendency that the less powerful ones automatically begin to imitate/take the side of the more powerful one, and so help this one with any hacking-to-death that needs to be done. So ... on a day-to-day basis I met all this resistance. No matter how small and petty a matter was - the others, as a rule females (for some definite reason females were given more power than males in this school. Excepting the teacher, that is.), would begin "the hacking." And it never ended. In the end I just saw it as a matter of survival and decided to get the hell away from there. Before I either hurt myself, or hurt somebody else.

Anyway ... and it's a strange thing....: I felt, and I still feel, that it was exactly the right time for me to leave. Regardless of "all the circus/madness." As there was so much waiting for me "outside." I became a student when I was only 18, and so I had very little life experience. Back in "life" and "doomed forever" (a bit of humor there) at 25 I did definitely begin my "catching up" with so many things I still hadn't learned in my life.

At the same time ... another unusual thing: I was one of the very few, I reckon, who left this school/group without giving the school/leaders/teacher/teaching any negativity. I sent no angry letters and made no accusations about "causing trauma", "exploiting innocent young people" or anything like that. And, unlike a great many others who were students in this school, I did not steal any money or property as I left. You see - many students did this. As they left. But I could never have done such a thing. In my mind such a thing is very wrong.

I did however write some letters. To the teacher. Not many - all in all maybe 5 or 6 over the years. Sometimes I enclosed some small gift. My letters were only positive and I presented no criticism. But then - just the other day I receive a big envelope, posted by this "evil center director", whether by the teacher's order or not, containing 3 of my letters, one of them unopened + one beautiful rolled-up Chinese picture I had sent the teacher 5 or 6 years ago. No comments inside. No letter.

And I thought this was very harsh. Isn't even an "hello" in order? Or: if one does not like someone's letters - why not just throw them away/burn them? Why this need to return the letters? It's very extreme. But yeah - I get the message: "please be so kind and f**k off!" I just can't see what the big problem is. What's the point of having some school that hardly anybody has ever heard of due to this school keeping such an extremely low profile? What's the matter if someone sends a friendly letter, a greeting? Why divide everybody into students (= have a shred of hope) / ex-students (= dead forever and contagious)?

I don't really get it. Back in the 1920's, 1930's, 1940's and 1950's it was OK for people to talk together. To visit each other, write letters, and so on. I'm talking about "Fourth Way people." Collin and Nicoll were friends - not enemies. There was some circulation of students between the teachers/groups at the time, and a high degree of openness about what was going on, what was being studied and done and so on.

But now ... everything's terribly fragmented. FOF, who are led by a super-faggy money-crazed megalomaniac psychopath, declare everybody else "dead." And they're seemingly not very interested in the Fourth Way, anyway. Making money and keeping up appearances seems to be all. Or almost all.

The Linbu Society has ... 60(?) ... active members? Or maybe it's 30? And you can't find them. Unless you really, really know where to look and are 100% committed to following the order, as is said.

The Gurdjieff Foundation seems an old fossil. A kind of museum.

William Patterson has some thing going on, but I'm not really sure what it is. Doesn't really look like the Fourth Way. I think he means well, however. I don't think he's a bad person.

And then there are some "enneagram groups" who study God-knows-what, but it doesn't have anything to do with the Fourth Way. I know, I've looked in those books and seen some ...scary... videoclips.

So ... what's to become of the Fourth Way?

I'm really not sure. But personally I do have an ambition: I would like to start a group myself. In not too long time. And I want to produce a book dealing with the body types and the enneagram - as I feel I have something to contribute in that area/those areas. Wait and see. I'll start doing something soon.

Anyway - it's a discussion and it'd be good to discuss these things a bit. This little piece is just to "get started."


Bjørn (aka "Bob Belsen")

Hallstein Faresveit
Additional material on The Linbu Society

Articles in Swedish: [ed. - Dead link]

Articles in French:

Linbu is dangerous (!) (9 pages)

[ed. - Also see the Norwegian Wikipedia page for Linbu.]

"Amanda Raphaelson" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, July 28, 2014:
Hi All,

I received information from Thomas Hightower [ed. - Thomas Váczy Hightower], Friday, that my mother, Bonita Hightower (Guido) had passed away on Thursday, July 24th of natural causes. She had been ill for many years. A small memorial service will be held in Denmark on Wed. afternoon, local time, and her ashes will be spread at sea. The In Memorandum section on the Greater Fellowship site will have more information soon.

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