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 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. 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.

Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Fellowship of Friends Membership 1970 to 2019

Fellowship of Friends membership tracking from 1970 through 2019
Fellowship of Friends membership from 1970 to 2019

For the first dozen years, the Fellowship routinely published membership tallies which proudly demonstrated the success of early recruiting efforts. However, by 1980 growth had slowed and subsequently showed a slight decline. In November 1981, it was announced  "census" numbers would no longer be published. From 1982 until 2007, membership figures are drawn from articles published in the press, in magazines, and occasionally found in legal documents. Typically, a Fellowship spokesperson provided an approximate population (giving rise to "plateaus" in the chart.) Since 2007, official Fellowship rosters have often been "shared" with non-members, resulting in fairly transparent membership counts.

In 2006, a blog article published by The Esoteric Sheik of Inner Confusion generated a public dialog that eventually contributed to the Fellowship's decline. It remains unclear whether the Fellowship ever reached the peak of 2,200 active members "officially" reported between 2005 and 2007.

Saturday, December 14, 2019

A lineage of profound deception continues

Asaf Braverman's BePeriod spin-off from Robert Earl Burton's Fellowship of Friends Fourth Way Gurdjieff Ouspensky cult
From BePeriod on Facebook

"amesgilbert1" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, December 14, 2019:
This coming Sunday, December 15th, Asaf Braverman is hosting another workshop on his site, BePeriod.com. The subject this time is:
Transitioning from searching for a teaching to practicing one

Introductory workshop hosted by BePeriod students
When is the right time to stop searching and begin practicing a teaching? What are the obstacles in this transition? Join us for an introductory workshop hosted by BePeriod students aimed at opening a window into this process.
Readers who have found this site for the first time while searching for more information about BePeriod.com and its founder, Asaf Braverman, might be puzzled as to the connection between Braverman and Robert Earl Burton, founder of the Fellowship of Friends. There is a simple answer: Braverman was Burton’s faithful, obedient follower and appointed successor for two decades. They had a falling out, and now Braverman seeks to apply what he was taught to you, a sincere seeker who is doing due diligence.

When you read through these pages, as you learn more about Burton’s depravity, his greed, his insatiable sexual appetites, his enormous lies, his lust for absolute control over every aspect of the lives of his followers—keep this in mind: Burton was Asaf Braverman’s teacher. In fact, for many years, Burton was training Braverman to take over the organization, both materially and spiritually. Braverman joined the Fellowship of Friends shortly after completing his Israeli army training, and was in his forties when he left. Think of how you were or are at the various stages of life, and thus how central to his life the Fellowship became, how much space his indoctrination into Burton’s fantasy took.

Now, Asaf’s defenders may say, “He finally realized the truth about Burton”, or, “He has gone back to a purer Fourth Way, only updated”, or any number of rationalizations about his history and present actions. I, of course, have no way of finding my way through such a minefield, nor am I interested. But, I’d say to any seeker, beware. And ask yourself, how likely is it that somehow he can slough off twenty years of mental conditioning, of being Burton’s right–hand man, of being adored and looked up to by thousands, of being assured of and accepting a luxurious lifestyle courtesy of those thousands? And how exactly does that qualify him to teach anybody anything? Except as an object lesson, of course.

No, Asaf Braverman was central to Burton’s con for two decades. And Burton was central to Asaf’s life for twenty years. It is not enough for Braverman to slough off any enquiries into his past relationship with Burton with, “It is like a bad marriage, one doesn’t talk about such things”.

I strongly advise you to look elsewhere, if indeed you believe that guidance from others is somehow vital to your spiritual well–being.

"Cult Survivor" posted on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, December 14, 2019: