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.

Sunday, January 12, 2020

Asaf Braverman quietly buries decades-long service to Robert Earl Burton

[ed. - It appears "Fourth Way teacher" Asaf Braverman now recognizes a liability in his roughly 20 years of devotion and service to Robert Earl Burton and The Fellowship of Friends. As Ames Gilbert writes below, Braverman's newly-polished résumé omits some "inconvenient truths."

Braverman faces a dilemma, just as Robert Burton faced when he departed Alex Horn's "school" in the late 1960s. The Fourth Way teaches that an essential element of esoteric schools is an unbroken lineage of direct transmission from "conscious teacher" to student. Thus, Braverman is bound by tradition to acknowledge his sole link to that sacred lineage, his "conscious teacher" and mentor Robert Earl Burton.

Prior to his departure from the Fellowship, Asaf Braverman's Gurdjieff website (accessed September 12, 2016) included Robert Earl Burton in his presentation of the Fourth Way lineage. From his "Backstage" post (bolds added):]


Asaf Braverman
"I encountered the Fourth Way in 1995, joining Burton’s Fellowship of Friends, and am still a member of that organization. I moved to the California headquarters in 2000 and began working closely with Burton on his teaching. In 2007, I was forced to set out on a two year journey, which brought me in contact with the origin of the ancient wisdom that I had been previously studying in theory. I traveled to all the major ancient sites of the world, spanning Asia, Europe, the Middle East, Central and South America."

Asaf Braverman (pre-2020 autobiography)

[ed. - Bolds added]
Asaf Braverman is the Founder, Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of the Ark in Time network, a collection of blog sites focused on psychological and philosophical teachings.

Upon encountering the writings of George Gurdjieff and Peter Ouspensky, during his late-teens, Asaf Braverman’s interest in practical self-knowledge was kindled. The Fourth Way – the name of the teaching that these two teachers had coined – its source extending as far back into antiquity as pre-history, was a perfected system for the evolution of consciousness in man. [ed. - Many would challenge this assertion!] In the late nineteenth century, during his varied travels and sojourns in Central Asia, George Gurdjieff gathered the scattered fragments of ancient wisdom. Peter Ouspensky then documented Gurdjieff’s exposition into a systematic presentation.

During his national service in the Israeli Army, Asaf joined the Tel-Aviv center of Fellowship of Friends, a Fourth Way school. After completing his military service, Asaf moved to the school’s headquarters in Northern California. Under the guidance of his teacher, Robert Burton, Asaf incorporated more ancient sources into the Fourth Way teaching, in effect, expanding the legacies of Gurdjieff and Ouspensky and engaging in a continuation of their search, paving the Fourth Way into the 21st century.

When he turned thirty years old, Asaf Braverman embarked on a journey throughout Europe, Asia, South America and the Orient in search of the alleged ancient origins of the Fourth Way. He based himself in Europe and ventured from there to most of the major ancient sites of the world, using the Fourth Way principles as a touchstone to assay the cultures and traditions of Ancient Egypt, Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Jainism, Buddhism and more. Like pieces of a great mystic puzzle, one of awe-inspiring breadth and depth, Asaf began to comprehend the timeless scale and striking similarities of these cultures, thus confirming Gurdjieff’s claim that the Fourth Way, indeed, encompasses all the known ancient teachings of mankind.

Asaf Braverman was also given to understand why these connections were not obvious: time inevitably distorted each expression of the teaching, giving form (traditions, rituals and rites) precedence over life. In each age, wherever upon the Earth that schools appeared, they had to revive their message of truth into new expressions so that man could pursue conscious development. Asaf likened this phenomenon to an ‘Ark in Time’: the spirit of truth is represented by the dove; its physical expression by the vessel of the ark; and its threatening degeneration by the floods of time.

Asaf Braverman (2020 autobiography)
[ed. - Bolds added]
Early in life, I was overcome by a paralyzing aimlessness. The prospect of graduating from high school and being drafted to the military, then college, career, family, and so on, made me feel like I was entering a production line that wouldn’t stop till I’d die. Yet who was I? Where was I? And why was I here? My elders dismissed these questions as inconsequential, though I could see they didn’t have a clue; they were only further down the production line than I was. I resolved to either find a deeper meaning to life, or die searching for one.

I began reading a wide range of literature. At first, my search bore no fruit. Western psychology seemed impossibly complex, Eastern spirituality suspiciously simplistic. There were a few exceptions that inspired without instructing. They did little in paving a way forward. My difficulty was compounded by my not knowing exactly what I was searching for, although I navigated by an intuition that the truth should be practical and measurable. I eventually found a genre of psychology called The Fourth Way that answered many of my questions in an unique and unflattering way. It claimed its origins were ancient, while only hinting vaguely at what these origins might be. I was intrigued. Had the answers to the deepest questions been known to past ages? And if so, why were they hidden?

The same teaching insisted that one could not practice its principles on one’s own, that one had to learn from others. So in 1995, at the age of eighteen, I joined a local branch of an international Fourth Way school. [ed. - Here, Braverman avoids directly mentioning Robert Earl Burton and The Fellowship of Friends and instead links to his own website. However, a reference to Burton and the Fellowship can be found "buried" in a subsequent "About" link. But it is clearly important that Braverman displace from top search results these references to his past affiliations.]

Members were of a mixed crowd. Not all were like-minded, nor did all share my enthusiasm toward self-study. Some of the more experienced students, however, who had been practicing this teaching for years, exhibited a sincerity and depth that attracted me. They could see right through me and advise me in a way the written word never could.

At the time of my joining, the organization had been functioning for 25 years and had accumulated in its wake the debris of cult and scandal. The founder was controversial. When I eventually met him in the year 2000, I saw the reasons for the controversy, but I also recognized a method in his madness. Sensing an opportunity, and knowing I had nothing to lose, I put myself at his service and gradually became his right hand man, handling issues that ranged from teaching to human relations and from logistics to finances. I often fulfilled the delicate position of intermediary between him and his students. This brought me in intimate contact with almost all the members of his school and exposed me to their difficulties, challenges, and successes.

Our collaboration peaked in 2004, by which time my position became very specified. The frequency of his teaching events had increased and I was entrusted with giving them content and structure. Teaching requires repetition and repetition is always threatened by dogma. How could we repeat our lessons without allowing them to lose their vitality? We tackled this challenge by expanding our sources beyond the Fourth Way to the historical traditions of the world. We were learning and teaching simultaneously, and this infused our presentation with the thrill of discovery. It forced me to dig up the hidden roots that the Fourth Way had claimed it had, but had never explicitly exposed. We worked intensively during this period, sometimes hosting three teaching events per day. The volume of knowledge I had to sift through was considerable.

Our connection ended abruptly. [ed. - In 2016, not in 2007.] In 2007, the organization came under the scrutiny of the US immigration [ed. - See INS story.] department and the foreigners in my position were forced to promptly leave the country. After seven years of complete dedication, of having all but died to my former life, I was exiled from my friends, commitments, and belongings. There was a good deal of panic and mishandling on the organization’s part, and it left those sent away with feelings of betrayal. On my part, along with the hard feelings was also an auspicious air around this unlikely turn of events, as if it were so bizarre that it had to be meaningful.

Rumors of my exile spread and members around the world invited me over while the storm abated. For a while I was on an open ended trip. Cut asunder from my past obligations, I had ample time to visit Notre Dame of Paris, or San Marco of Venice, or the Taj Mahal of Agra. So as this interim of uncertainty turned from days to weeks and from weeks to months, I became exposed to major historic monuments of the world. Having delved so deeply into inner work in the preceding years, and having researched ancient cultures so thoroughly, I began perceiving these monuments differently. Their architecture, sculpture, and painting assumed a new meaning, entirely nonreligious, surprisingly practical.

My perceptions were doubtlessly influenced by the psychological pressure of exile, by grappling with betrayal and injustice, and by the vast and daunting unknown that lay before me. And yet, it was this very pressure that enabled me to look with unprecedented clarity. The thread of exile runs straight through the tapestry of human history. I could see Adam exiled from Paradise, or Odysseus exiled from Ithaca, or Rama exiled from Ayodhya, at eye level. Time and distance availed not; they were with me, those mythical men of ever so many generations past. The more I encountered them in a stained glass window, or a relief of a temple pillar, or a mosaic in a museum, I could see them from their own standpoint, and understand their story. Something significant was at play through this fateful synchronicity, and its propitiousness lightened my burden.

I would spend the next two years scouring the museums and monuments of the world, and would find the same unorthodox meaning everywhere: Egypt, Greece, Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism, Christianity, Islam all taught a lesson essentially the same, rendered different by the veil of religious misinterpretation. Indeed, the deepest questions of life had been answered in past ages — and answered well. Why did none regard these truths, hidden in such plain sight? There had to be others that would be as touched by them as I was. So along with my exploration grew a sense of responsibility that urged me to record my findings methodically. The end and crowning episode of my travels was the revelation of a calendrical system that lay at the base of all ancient teachings. This would become the foundation of BePeriod.

"amesgilbert1"wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, January 11, 2020:
John Harmer, you so rightly say, “But then fakery is a big part of the story of the FoF”.

The fact is, Burton the Arch–Liar infects the thinking of everyone who has ever entered his fantasy, and one dangerous meme is, “The ends justify the means”. The form I encountered right from the start was, nothing, but nothing should get in the way of achieving “consciousness”.

This is exactly the same operating procedure that governs the modus operandi of the Fellowship of Friends as an organization when it interacts with the outside world. Most especially in the recruitment of new followers, but also in business interactions with the local community, and relations with government agencies such as the IRS. Much has been said this, and about the use of tools such as ‘intentional insincerity’ on previous pages.

An alert reader has pointed out another specific example, this one pertaining to Asaf Braverman and his BePeriod ‘school’. Anyone who has followed along knows that Asaf was one of Robert Burton’s most loyal followers for twenty years and became a central pillar of the whole con, so central a star that Burton was grooming him to take over the organization after he passes. On former versions of Braverman’s BePeriod website, he acknowledged this connection in rather vague terms, but did include a portrait of Burton and stated the center of the Fellowship is in Oregon House, California 95962.

But now, Braverman has altered his biography rather significantly. The ends justify the means.

Read the full autobiographical note [ed. - See text above] by Asaf Braverman for yourself.

In this new, improved version, there is no mention whatsoever of the Fellowship, or Robert Earl Burton, or Alex Horn, or Gurdjieff (though G. is mentioned on other pages), or anything related to lineage, a highly significant departure from his earlier autobiography.

There is also no mention of Apollo, the headquarters of the Fellowship of Friends, or its location, only that he eventually met the ‘founder’ in 2000. No mention of ‘The Sequence’, the ridiculous and superstitious numerology he co–invented with Burton, and that was the central teaching of the Fellowship religion for a dozen years.

He fabricates out of whole cloth an explanation of why he was forced to leave (Apollo) in 2007, but says nothing about his return 2 years later, and his subsequent final parting [ed. - Link added] from Burton in 2016.

Sigh! Those who have followed along will know that the actual truth about this absence is, according to reports, that he [was] revealed as a bigamist. The first marriage was ordered by Burton so Asaf Braverman could get a ‘green card’, as mentioned in the famous letter [ed. - Link added] to the FoF Board from the lawyer, David Springfield. Time passed, and then he entered another Burton–sponsored marriage with his present wife without dissolving the first. Upon exiting Israel after their honeymoon visit, the authorities noted his concurrent marriages, and the U.S. quite rightly denied him re–entry. Hence the ‘exile’ he milks in this latest version of an ‘autobiographical note’. Such a victim of the U.S. authorities! It is safe to assume that his wealthy family and of course, Burton with all the resources of the Fellowship, moved heaven and earth with said authorities to smooth things over. We know, because two years later, they were able to return to Oregon House. So, Diddums’ so–called ‘exile’ consisted of being flown to exotic locations around the planet at FoF expense for two years! All the while absorbing ‘ancient knowledge’ and discovering the heretofore hidden ‘calendrical system’ he currently advertises.

I can well understand Asaf Braverman’s aversion to admitting his connection to the Robert Earl Burton and the Fellowship of Friends. Who would not want to shuck off this sordid and inconvenient history? Particularly when setting out to gull fresh recruits? Yet this dishonesty speaks for itself. And lies of omission are still lies. I suspect he is attempting to put part of Plato’s philosophy, whereby the prevailing authorities are permitted their Noble Lies for the ‘greater good’, into practice. Certainly, Asaf leaves no doubt that he is on an important mission, and he learned from Burton over two decades that ‘intentional insincerity’ is necessary, and that big lies go over better than small lies. From the page linked above:
So along with my exploration grew a sense of responsibility that urged me to record my findings methodically. The end and crowning episode of my travels was the revelation of a calendrical system that lay at the base of all ancient teachings. This would become the foundation of BePeriod.
One has to read the whole ‘autobiographical note’ to get the extent of these Big Lies of commission and omission. Like I said, Braverman obviously believes the ends justifies the means, and in his particular case, such Noble Ends justify frontal assaults on a host of Inconvenient Truths.

I say all this because it shows, once and for all, that Braverman is a fake. He does not understand that the means shape the ends. And that not only do lies multiply into a tangled web faster than mere human minds can keep up with, but by their very nature, they poison the whole enterprise. Asaf has no chance of keeping up with his cover–ups, explanations and obfuscations—unless he can somehow take control of the search engine algorithms and fool anyone doing due diligence. That he does not understand such basic facts, a misunderstanding demonstrated daily by Burton and his followers in the Fellowship of Friends for over fifty years, is just one of many illustrations that Asaf Braverman is not fit to teach anyone anything.

[ed. - This February 16, 2020 video highlights Braverman's complete dissociation from Robert Earl Burton, The Fellowship of Friends, and the inconvenient elements of Braverman's own personal history. Asaf Braverman's rapidly-evolving autobiography has forced poor Ames Gilbert back to the keyboard (see below).]


"amesgilbert1" wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, February 18, 2020:
Alert readers have pointed out that Asaf Braverman, founder and leader of BePeriod.com, has a new come–on for seekers on YouTube, titled, “What is BePeriod?”

In the spirit of purest altruism, as a service to readers and seekers, I put on my best waterproof clothing and galoshes, and waded in, regardless of the risk to my mental health.

After the introduction:
BePeriod is an active learning community for the study of oneself. It gives its members the tools and structure by which to embark on a comprehensive journey of self-observation. Its teaching breaks down human psychology into the building blocks that form who we are — our habits, illusions, weaknesses and strengths — and shows how these same blocks can be reconstructed to create a real Self.
… Braverman divides the rest of the video into the following parts:
• What is BePeriod?
• Why join BePeriod?
• What is our guiding principle?
• Who Am I?
• How do we operate?
I don’t have time to write it all down, but I have transcribed Asaf’s own words where he answers the question, “Who Am I?”, above. Here they are:
My name is Asaf Braverman. My own personal journey began when I was overcome by a paralyzing lack of purpose. For many years I traveled the world studying ancient psychology and philosophy in search of answers to the burning questions: Who am I? Where am I? And, Why am I here?
I discovered many interesting answers quite different than those offered by mainstream philosophy and spirituality. I felt my discoveries were radical and significant. I decided to share them with others. This was the foundation of Beperiod.
Readers will quickly realize that Asaf (as always way, way ahead of my ability to keep up) has abbreviated his esoteric history even more since I last wrote about the subject on the last page (185, #56, January 11th [see above]). Now the lies of omission are even more blatant. Not only does he skip over the two decades he spent learning how to operate spiritual scams directly from his teacher, Robert Earl Burton, leader of the Fellowship of Friends, but now omits any mention of the Fourth Way, Gurdjieff or Ouspensky entirely! Look at that last paragraph above, again.

Asaf Braverman certainly learned everything he knows about sheer chutzpah and arrogance from the Grand Charlatan, Robert Earl Burton, the God–Emperor of Oregon House and Best Buddy of the Absolute™!

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