jump to navigation

Fellowship Of Friends/Fourth Way School/Living Presence Discussion – Page 136 March 18, 2013

Posted by fofblogmoderator in Uncategorized.

Welcome to the newest page of the Fellowship of Friends/Pathway To Presence Discussion.

At the Moderator’s discretion, excessive abuse, personal attacks, taking up too much space, as well as deliberate attempts to unmask people taking part in the discussion might result in a warning followed by a ban or a leave of absence from the discussion.

Participants require 1 moderated comment before they can start communicating in real-time. (ie. if you are new to the discussion, your comment will appear about 1 day after it has been posted, any subsequent comments will appear instantaneously).

To visit the official site of The  Fellowship Of Friends;



1. fofblogmoderator - March 18, 2013

From an earlier page

“Any explorer coming to this page should be easily able to see what happens so often if one joins the Fellowship of Friends and takes the ever-changing whims of Robert Earl Burton, the psychotic leader, to heart. So, I’m speaking to you.
You have the opportunity right here that is hidden from you if you attend the “introductory meetings”, the opportunity to peek behind the scripted theatrical performance put on to you by actors who have rehearsed the scene times beyond counting.

You have the opportunity to meet and learn from one of the finest minds in the Fellowship, a representative sent out to battle with the forces of evil who manifest on this blog. You have the opportunity to engage, yourself, right here, if you are reading this while the page is current. I personally don’t know anything about the entity called, “I in the Sky”. But I can assure you, dear explorer, that I know a great deal in general, and I can give you some guidance about her motivations. This is because I was once an explorer just like you, seeking to find some answers to life’s Big Questions, just as you are. I was hoping for guidance on how to live my life more fully, how to bring some meaning to it that was missing. I was looking for some explanations that did not demand blind faith, that would engage much more of me than was required by conventional religions, that would be more practical than the output of western philosophy, no matter how closely argued.

Perhaps you are like I was, drawn to the Fourth Way, and hoping, like I did, that somehow there was a branch of it that yet still lived and that I would come to meet it.

So, I was ripe when I found a Fellowship of Friends bookmark in London in 1978. I was thrilled to go to the introductory meetings and engage with people who had apparently found some of the answers. And I felt lucky beyond measure when it seemed that I had stumbled upon a living branch of the Fourth Way, an heir and descendant of the System propounded by Gurdjieff and Ouspensky.

My friend (I think I can call you that because we may have a lot in common already), I joined, and stayed in the organization for sixteen years. So I write from considerable experience. Not as much, of course, as some. The Fellowship of Friends has been going since 1971, and there some who have been there twenty, thirty and even forty years. But I was there sixteen years, quite enough, more than enough, to thoroughly observe the organization from many viewpoints. I was not a casual onlooker, I took the opportunity seriously, and my membership was the central point of my life. I’ve written a great deal about the results of that experience on these pages.

Many of the bloggers on this page have similar backgrounds and experiences. We joined, were mesmerized for a while, learned, and left. Please value our efforts and the time we have spent trying to reach people like you. I know this is a huge blog; we are here on the 132nd page, and some of the earlier pages had six hundred entries! It is an enormous amount to wade through. But the common thread running through all these pages is the warning: Stay Away. There are arguments and counter-arguments, and you’ll come to recognize some of the Fellowship of Friends representatives, become familiar with their tone, and you’ll be able to note their shallowness and obfuscation, and how ultimately they have changed from being explorers with open minds, as I was and I hope you are, to pawns in a charlatan’s fantasy.

So, right now, please pay close attention to “I in the Sky”, who formerly posted as “Daily Cardiac” in previous pages. This is a chance to see the workings of the hive mind, the groupthink that has become the guiding philosophy behind the Fellowship of Friends. And ponder the immense changes that must have occurred to someone like I in the Sky. She thought she was joining an organization based on the Fourth Way, which has a core principle, “Verify everything”. Question everything. Get down to the bedrock, where do all one’s ‘beliefs’ come from, how are we conditioned, what is of value in our mentation, how can we learn to disregard the rubbish, what in us is reliable, and how can we nurture it. She started out the same as you and I. Yet, during the course of her long membership, she has turned into the completely opposite direction, and proudly defends and even prosetylizes a religion. A religion with a leader, a messiah, an object of worship, Robert Burton, who proclaims himself a living god.

And, get this. She thinks she is headed in the same direction as the day when she joined! She literally has no idea about the changes she has made in herself, how she has twisted her mind to force herself to think that Burton’s religious organization is the same as the Fourth Way ‘school’ that she thought she had joined. In a word, she is mentally ill.

So, observe closely this product of Robert Burton’s school. If you join, you will be under the influence of people like her and Burton, and soon you will be thoroughly immersed in the group fantasy, and you too will be headed in the opposite direction without realizing it. You too will have to bury your conscience, subject yourself to the whims of the madman Burton, give up your reason, your money, your time, your chances of individuation, and if you are a young attractive male, your body for his sexual gratification.

Why, in heaven’s name, would you want to do that?”

2. Pranidhi - March 19, 2013

Technically, Just the facts, Ma’am, the symbol is more often called Yin-Yang. The Gurdjieff & Ouspensky profile portraits were minatures painted by Emily Gordon. It was a 2nd hand bookstore and it was not a “work book.”
There can be no forgiving without forgetting. Self Forgetting – that’s the ticket!

3. Tempus Fugit - March 19, 2013


Animam Recro – Fellowship of Friends – a cult for intellectuals, and Fellowship of Friends Discussion
Part 1 through Part 10


The Fellowship of Friends Discussion – Free speech is a dirty business
Part 11 through Part 33


Fellowship Of Friends/Fourth Way School/Living Presence Discussion
Part 34 through current page


These links will allow you to access every page of this blog from its beginning in 2006.

Read with an open mind and you will find out the truth about Robert Burton and the Fellowship of Friends.

And if you are a member of the FOF you may find your path to freedom.

4. jomopinata - March 19, 2013

The Dutton/FOF bookmarking controversy wasn’t about trespass. It was about confusion as to source, sponsorship or authorization.

5. Fee fi fo fum - March 20, 2013

The description of the bookmark with a yin-yang symbol in between Emily Gordon’s paintings of Gurdjieff’s and Ouspensky’s faces reminds me of some of “i in the Sky’s” posts last year. I in the Sky gave me the impression that the FF was no longer strictly adhering to the G-O/Fourth Way system anymore, and that it now included many spiritual traditions, including the “Sanskrit tradition” [sic].

Her/his comments me wonder if the FF realized it needed to market itself to a broader audience (for revenue, of course), because Gurdjieff and Ouspensky might be losing their dynamic appeal in the face of modern media stars like Eckhart Tolle. Therefore, if you include every touchy-feely spiritual discipline that you possibly can, you’ve covered your bases.

So why not include the face of Buddha and the Christian cross on the bookmark too? Come one, come all. Jack of all trades, master of none. The yin-yang symbol and the presumed face of Buddha have an enormous feel-good aesthetic appeal. So the FF has joined the T-shirt and coffee cup brigade.

Any serious secular or religious Taoist – and there is probably not a single one who is or was a FF member – would find RB’s behavior to be serious infractions of some of Taoism’s core values.

6. Tempus Fugit - March 20, 2013

All statements in this post are my own opinions only.

This post is a refinement of one I made not too long ago. I repeat it as a warning to active members of the FOF who may be reading this blog. How many of you do and how often is unknown, but certainly some do and this warning, in various forms and from various writers, needs to be posted frequently. So please read on, this message may save your life.

A bit dramatic, you say? Maybe, but the stakes are high.

Perhaps you feel strong in your commitment to Robert Burton and the Fellowship of Friends. Perhaps you also feel safe; after all, your life is in the hands of a conscious being led by angels – what could be safer than that? Doesn’t Burton devote his time and energy to your evolution and spiritual welfare, isn’t that what he has told you, isn’t that what older students and those all around you believe?

I once believed all those things until the truth opened my eyes.

Consider this post from shardofoblivion on page 135:

“74. shardofoblivion – January 25, 2013
A metaphysical Ark? I can just imagine his [Shard is referring to Asaf Braverman] inner glow because he is privy to the secret knowledge that in actual fact “C influence” have invited him aboard their very physical Ark, currently moored miles from the sea at Oregon House, in order that he should survive armageddon. O lucky him.”

A metaphysical Ark?

Exactly. This is the dangerous vision members of the FOF should hope Robert Burton never has.

I have no contact with active FOF members so anything I surmise about the current status of the group is mainly gleaned from this blog and other internet resources (such as Tim Campion’s excellent “Unauthorized Biography of Robert Earl Burton”).

Apparently Burton is continuing to promote his long term “vision” that the FOF is meant to serve as a literal, physical Ark to preserve the best of human culture for the survivors of a post apocalyptic world.

But what if real world failure and the stresses of illness and aging prompt a different conclusion?

Previously I noted the horrible possibility that Burton could decide to destroy himself and take others with him (Tempus Fugit – June 22, 2012, page 121, post 96).

Does this still sound far fetched? I again recall Jim Jones and the People’s Temple cult. For a full version (although only one) of the People’s Temple story, see:

In the middle 1960’s the People’s temple was based in Indiana, but Jones got the idea that the group needed to move to Northern California to find a safe place to survive an imminent nuclear holocaust (FOF oldtimers will note a familiar refrain).

The People’s Temple settled in San Francisco, where Jones established himself as a forward looking social activist lauded by mainstream leaders such as Mayor George Moscone and civil rights leader Jesse Jackson. Over time, however, his association with political radicals and mistreatment of his own followers attracted unfavorable attention.

Among other things Jones was sexually active with both male and female members of the group, and used such activity to increase his control over his followers. (is there an echo on this blog?)

On the eve of the publication of a major expose in New West Magazine Jones fled to Guyana, where the group had established a colony named after Jones.

According to Wikipedia it was in Jonestown that “Jones began his belief called Translation where he and his followers would all die together and move to another planet and live blissfully.”

Here, in my opinion, are parallels to statements made by Robert Burton that are absolutely creepy.

“Ollie” (page 113 of this blog, post 135, September 26, 2011), reported words allegedly spoken by Robert Burton on September 21, 2011:

“We are destined for immortality – eternal life – and this is what makes Paradise so sweet: it is a deathless place. Also, everyone is conscious and immortal there. Here everyone is mortal and unconscious, except for us.” (when I was an FOF member Burton said only he was “conscious,” and a lucky few might join him after a lifetime of hard work – looks like nowadays all of you have made it – congratulations! – maybe)

In Jonestown Jim Jones became increasingly strange and autocratic. Relatives back in the America began to escalate complaints to the U.S. government of mistreatment of their family members by Jones and his lieutenants.

A delegation led by U.S. Congressman Leo Ryan came to Guyana to investigate. While Ryan was there, a number of individuals and families approached him and asked for help to leave Jonestown. Jones reacted to the defections by concluding his utopian dream had failed and the full weight of the US government would soon fall on Jonestown and destroy the People’s Temple.

After some of his followers shot and killed Congressman Ryan, and killed and wounded others in Ryan’s party, Jones orchestrated the infamous mass murder for which he will always be known.

As I’ve written before, upon hearing news of the killings many of us in the FOF at the time were naturally concerned. Burton was asked if this could happen to the FOF, and I personally heard him deny it on the patio of the Lincoln Lodge right after the Jonestown news reached America.

After all, Burton said, the FOF is a real school while the People’s Temple was just another “B influence” group. Since “C influence” was guiding the FOF they would protect the group from such harm.

Well, personally I think Burton’s fantasies about “C influence” protection are just that, fantasies. What happened to the People’s Temple could certainly happen to the FOF. Perhaps unlikely, but certainly possible.

My best guess now is that Burton will die quietly. He is evidently getting everything he wants, and, according to recent posts on this blog, is setting up his followers to expect his spiritual guidance after his death.

But what if, like Jim Jones, Burton’s world falls apart. Perhaps declining membership leads to critical money problems. Perhaps government investigations attract the unwanted attention of powerful people or lawsuits bring public denunciation and disgrace. Perhaps Burton’s health fails with some painful, lingering disease. Perhaps impotence puts an end to his allegedly promiscuous lifestyle.

So Burton – sick, weak, and in pain, desperate to create an ending worthy of his supreme narcissism – suddenly re-imagines the ARK. A message, perhaps similar to the one below, is broadcast to members around the world:

“Dear friends, C-influence has humbled me and shown me my error. The ARK we have built is real, but not of this gross, material world. It is a Metaphysical Ark, standing pristine and incorruptible, waiting for us – just a short step away.

Tonight I will take that step, will you join me?”

In Jonestown people killed each other and even their own children at their leader’s command.

I wonder how many Fellowship students would take their own lives to follow Burton to the grave?

And the children?

7. Anna Tudor - March 21, 2013

To me Burton’s promiscuity is not “alleged”; my ‘husband was one of his consorts and he told me that on Burton’s 60th birthday Burton received a ‘treat’ of 60 boys. You can imagine that this was more than just a logistic nightmare…

8. brucelevy - March 21, 2013


Always trust your Guru, he has your best interest at heart…

“The 67-year-old founder of the international Bikram yoga studio is alleged to have pursued protege Sarah Baughn, 29, for years, claiming they were connected in a past life and his wife didn’t understand him. Eventually his pursuit turned physical, she claims.
According to a suit filed in Los Angeles’ superior court, Choudury denied Baughn an international championship title she had been awarded and has prevented her from teaching “because of her past and continuing refusal to have sex with her guru.”…
…Choudhury claims to have a fleet of Rolls Royces, has compared himself to Jesus and Elvis and claims to have the biggest pool in Beverly Hills…
…According to the suit, Choudhury told Baughn: “My wife is such a bitch, you have no idea.” He told Baughn: “I am so lonely. I am dying. I can feel myself dying. I will not be alive if someone doesn’t save me.”

9. Shard_of_Oblivion - March 22, 2013

Sounds like Choudhury would have enjoyed some lonely god potato twists 🙂

10. Terra Nova - March 22, 2013

When the time comes, we will not want to be judged only for our faults, our weaknesses, and our mistakes.

11. Ames Gilbert - March 22, 2013

Hi everyone,
it’s time for another reunion! So, save this date. Friday evening, June 7th to Sunday June 9th 2013. Former and current members, family and friends are welcome to attend.

As with previous reunions, informality is the key. The organizers will lay on the basics and develop a schedule for things like a potluck and some music, and will make information about accommodations and such easily available for you, but what happens after that will be mostly up to you.

The location? Lake Francis Resort, in Dobbins, location of the first reunion in 1996. The lake and dam have been rebuilt by the Army Corps of Engineers, and new owners have invested a lot of time and money upgrading the facilities, including some nice new basic on-site accommodations in addition to the RV and camping spaces of old. The whole area is very pretty in the late spring.

You will be responsible for booking accommodations, whether on-site or in towns close by, or with friends who live in the area.

We invite everyone to share in a celebration of old friendships and to make new ones. Just come and have a good time. Your children are especially welcome; we hope to organize activities for the younger ones!

Spread the word! There will be announcements on the GF site, and we are opening a Facebook page as our primary way of keeping you up to date. More details will follow in due course.

As you make plans, please RSVP to darahaskell(at)sbcglobal(dot)net so we can have an idea of the numbers; we have loose reservations for each day now based on educated guesses and past experience; as time progresses, we are required to firm up those numbers and pay for the facilities in advance. We will be asking a cover charge, perhaps $30 per adult, to cover basic costs, just as we did on previous occasions.

We have always had really positive feedback, and we expect everyone will have a great time and create many happy memories together again.

12. brucelevy - March 24, 2013
13. Pranidhi - March 25, 2013

RE: 136/10
Like it or not, fool, you cannot escape the consequences of your actions. It’s the law called karma. Peace & Love. Far out.

14. Golden Veil - March 26, 2013

What’s up Doc? See you at the Reunion!

15. Terra Nova - March 26, 2013

13. Pranidhi – March 25, 2013
RE: 136/10
Like it or not, fool, you cannot escape the consequences of your actions. It’s the law called karma. Peace & Love. Far out.

16. Man Number Zero - March 27, 2013

There’s an article in the first April New Yorker:


which describes students’ memories of an English teacher, Robert Berman, at the Horace Mann private school. According to some of his former students, Mr Berman introduced his students to the beauties of a life inspired by the highest aesthetic standards in literature and art. And made sexual advances to them in private. Ex-FoF’ers may find some parallels between him and another Robert.

17. idanevasayneva - March 27, 2013

Re # 16, Man number zero:

I thought somebody would post this article sooner or later and the NY times story:



The story of how seemingly gifted teachers who had a lot to offer and influenced many people positively also used their position to blur and confuse the boundaries between student and teacher.

And how a lot of good people caught up in the institution or the culture did or said nothing or looked the other way.

18. nigel - March 27, 2013

Through these last few months I have come to terms with many things in myself, many things in the world, possibilities of change and impasse…..

I am reminded of a line from ‘Desiderata’…..

“Be yourself, neither feign affection”


19. Shard_of_Oblivion - March 28, 2013

#18 nigel

It is good to hear you have come to terms, which sounds very healthy and positive.

The quote you included:

“Be yourself, neither feign affection”

set me to thinking about affection and the ways I might feign it. I don’t generally feign affection for people I don’t have any affection for at all. But with people I know and like, it is more interesting. I think I have seen where I make a gesture of affection that may exceed my feelings at that time, but in that way the affection can grow, I follow on along behind the gesture with the real accompanying emotions, and there is a virtuous circle of feedback of affection in return from my partner that rewards this approach. I suspect many of us do this, and I also suspect it wasn’t that type of pretending affection that you meant by quoting that line. The “Be yourself” I understand to mean, take the risk and follow your true (not feigned) feelings, which sounds like it should lead to a richer life for all concerned.

20. nigel - March 28, 2013

19 Shard_of_Oblivion……hinting

This may be me returning to the blog, but shall I just say, this is a terribly raw, new me from last year, needing help in my aims for the things that were chosen from my late teens and now come together in a beautiful precious metal school, through trashed dreams until now, understanding my life, my mistakes and successes.

“For it is in dying that we are reborn”.

21. WhaleRider - March 30, 2013

I hereby nominate Robert E. Burton to be listed in the Guinness Book of Warped Guru Records.

60 blow-jobs given to his followers in 24 hrs on his 60th birthday.

Wow, what a guy!

So given that the average ejaculation yields one half a tablespoon of semen, 60 blowjobs nets 30 tablespoons…which means in one day Burton quaffed down almost two cups of semen (one and 7/8 cups, to be exact).


22. brucelevy - April 2, 2013

The Pandora Project: Are You Ready to Awaken?

I just watched the trailer. It appears to be another horse shit “seeker film” and another venue for “gurus” to sell their snake oil. Much like “What the Bleep” was. Connections with various groups and cults.

23. Shard_of_Oblivion - April 2, 2013

#21 Whalerider provides some juicy details of Burton’s 60th!

“60 blow-jobs given to his followers in 24 hrs on his 60th birthday.”

As William Blake observed, ‘Some are born to sweet delight, some are born to endless night’

24. silentpurr - April 9, 2013


25. Pranidhi - April 11, 2013

What kind of comment is that? Whatever do you mean? My, what big claws you have. And somebody ate all the porridge and threw out the bath water with the baby! Any fool but not every fool. This message has been encrypted and I’m not as crazy as I sound.

26. Pranidhi - April 12, 2013

The dirty secret is that Robert/Fellowship was a scam and a sham from the get-go. (RE: Bonita-Money/Sex). And it has only grown more outrageous as time goes on. Few would have believed if they were told, some still don’t.
“Anything that has a beginning has an end.”

27. Shard_of_Oblivion - April 12, 2013

I’ve been pondering Pranidhi’s comment that the FoF was a sham from the get-go. It sounded right when I first read it, but after some thought I am not so sure. I read an autobiographical description of Horn’s school from someone who was there a couple of years before Burton. It seems clear from his description that there were serious and monumental efforts made to step outside the usual conscious state to attain an altered state. And they succeeded to some extent. I think we who joined the FoF are mostly part of the cohort of people who seek and are hungry for elevated states of mind, and when someone promises to teach us how to get there more often and stay up there longer, we are willing to give it a try. For Burton to stay 18 months in that madhouse of a school must show that he also was “one of us” in being willing to pay almost any price to get high. But he didn’t stay too long. And when a tripped out Bonita came onto him at the new year’s party, I think he may by then have been missing the company of fellow esoteric seekers that he would have had in abundance when he was still in Horn’s outfit, and she flattered him by saying he had a special look in his eyes, so he started to peddle what he had been “taught” at Horn’s group. It seems from evidence on the blog that Burton has the particular mental conditions of Narcissistic Personality Disorder and Ideas of Reference. I think he genuinely believes that he is special and being “guided” by celestial beings. I think he lies and fabricates as well, and his myopia concerning himself allows him to still think he is being truthful even while he lies.

But in the end, I can’t be sure, and he may possibly have “seen through” the whole esoteric thing when he was with Horn and then deliberately sought to scam gullible people with his own “school”.

What I do know for certain is that if he were by some happenstance made available to be questioned on these matters, his answers would settle nothing. In fact I do believe a student once asked him if he were doing a con job on us, and he replied “Either way my answer would be no” and laughed at them.

28. Pranidhi - April 12, 2013

Certainly there is a “spiritual demand” and no shortage of those who claim to be able to fulfill the need. At best though, there is a possibility that Burton is self-deluded, but that doesn’t mean he’s harmless.

29. WhaleRider - April 12, 2013

Recently, and by happenstance, I’ve gotten to know someone whom was in Alex Horn’s, Theater of All Possibilites cult.

We’ve had some long chats about our mutual experiences.

I’ve come to understand that anyone whom would subject themselves to being literally physically beat up, emotionally abused, and sleep deprived to reach a higher state is seriously deluded about what’s at stake.

In Horn’s cult, one quickly learned it is far better to be the abuser than to be the one to have the shit kicked out of you.

Burton left Horn to pursue his own penchant for sexual abuse.

30. thirdlurker - April 13, 2013

Either way the truth would be yes.

31. jomopinata - April 15, 2013

I think it’s fair to say Burton was trolling for students, looking for someone who would confirm his own specialness, who would play Echo to his Narcissus, who would reflect back to him the image of himself which so entranced him, that of a person of remarkable achievement and special destiny. He found that in Bonita. At the time he was a fellow who had been dismissed from his teaching job in the third year, had gone through a brutal cult experience with Alex Horn up in Sonoma, and had had a serious auto accident in Modesto in which he had significant head trauma. He managed to find some work giving tennis lessons at the Claremont Hotel and to do some subbing in Emeryville, but he was living at home in Walnut Creek with his mom. Taking monthly payments from seekers helped enable him to buy a VW van and become independent. He collected quite a group of people, but then made a very exploitative request for the big bucks, and most of them left.

I think if you examine the strange fact that Burton renewed his elementary school teaching credential in 1975 for the period 1975-1980, long AFTER he had announced that he was the “Avatar of the Age” and that the group was going to produce “three angels” who would be “burned on the cross and still survive… literally and worse burned on the cross,” it forces you to come to some conclusions about sincerity. The main conclusion I draw is that Burton believed he might have to go back to teaching elementary school, because the whole scam, the terraced hundreds of acres in Oregon House, the legions of devoted students, etc., might fall apart. And he would have to figure out how to make a living again.

32. jomopinata - April 15, 2013

I also have information of unknown veracity that Burton did business management for a rock group for a period of time in the late 1960s. I do not know whether this was before or after the 1968 Modesto auto accident.

33. Pranidhi - April 22, 2013

“In the ordinarily inaccessible realm of the non-dual, badness can be regarded as the least degree of good. Good Luck and God Bless.” – Baba Rum Raisin

34. Pranidhi - April 27, 2013

After a long interval following the discussion, songs were sung, the campfire was stoked and humorous but true stories were told:

Willie Nelson was at the funeral for Ray Charles where he performed “Georgia on My Mind”. During the eulogies Charles’ longtime manager, Joe Adams, said to Willie and the other congregants, “Willie, I think this is a good time to tell the people that you’re in a good position now to beat Ray in a chess game.”
Willie laughed and answered, “I sure couldn’t do it before.”
Adams explained: “Ray and Willie are both avid chess players and they would play between shows. Ray always seemed to win, and then one night Willie figured it out. What did you tell him, Willie?”
Willie, knowing this was one of those “Blind Ray” jokes, didn’t miss a beat: “I said, ‘The next time we play, can we turn the lights on?'”

35. freeman - April 28, 2013


When religious beliefs become evil: 4 signs
By John Blake, CNN

(CNN) – An angry outburst at a mosque. The posting of a suspicious YouTube video. A friendship with a shadowy imam.

Those were just some of the signs that Tamerlan Tsarnaev, accused of masterminding the Boston Marathon bombings, had adopted a virulent strain of Islam that led to the deaths of four people and injury of more than 260.

But how else can you tell that someone’s religious beliefs have crossed the line? The answer may not be as simple you think, according to scholars who study all brands of religious extremism. The line between good and evil religion is thin, they say, and it’s easy to make self-righteous assumptions.

“When it’s something we like, we say it’s commitment to an idea; when it’s something we don’t like, we say it’s blind obedience,” said Douglas Jacobsen, a theology professor at Messiah College in Pennsylvania.

Yet there are ways to tell that a person’s faith has drifted into fanaticism if you know what to look and listen for, say scholars who have studied some of history’s most horrific cases of religious violence.

“There are a lot of warning signs all around us, but we usually learn about them after a Jim Jones or a David Koresh,” said Charles Kimball, author of “When Religion Becomes Evil.”

Here are four warning signs:

1. I know the truth, and you don’t.

On the morning of July 29, 1994, the Rev. Paul Hill walked up to John Britton outside an abortion clinic in Pensacola, Florida, and shot the doctor to death. Hill was part of a Christian extremist group called the Army of God, which taught that abortion was legalized murder.

Hill’s actions were motivated by a claim that virtually all religions espouse: We have the truth that others lack.

Those claims can turn deadly when they become absolute and there is no room for interpretation, Kimball says.

“Absolute claims can quickly move into a justification of violence against someone who rejects that claim,” Kimball said. “It’s often a short step.”

Healthy religions acknowledge that sincere people can disagree about even basic truths, Kimball says.

The history of religion is filled with examples of truths that were once considered beyond questioning but are no longer accepted by all followers: inerrancy of sacred scripture, for example, or the subjugation of women and sanctioning of slavery.

If someone like Hall believes that they know God’s truth and they cannot be wrong, watch out, Kimball says.

“Authentic religious truth claims are never as inflexible as zealous adherents insist,” he writes in “When Religion Becomes Evil.”

Yet there’s a flip side to warnings about claiming absolute truth: Much of religion couldn’t exist without them, scholars say.

Many of history’s greatest religious figures – Moses, Jesus, the Prophet Mohammed – all believed that they had discovered some truth, scholars say.

Ordinary people inflamed with a sense of self-righteousness have made the same claim and done good throughout history, says Carl Raschke, a theology professor at the University of Denver in Colorado.

The Protestant Reformation was sparked by an angry German monk who thought he had the truth, Raschke says.

“Martin Luther’s disgust at the worldliness of the papacy in the early 1500s inspired him to become a radical revolutionary whose ideas overturned the entire political structure in Europe,” Raschke said.

So how do you tell the difference between the healthy claims of absolute truth and the deadly? Scholars say to look at the results: When people start hurting others in the name of their religious truth, they’ve crossed the line.

2. Beware the charismatic leader.

It was one of the deadliest terrorist attacks in Japanese history. In March 1995, a religious sect called Aum Shinrikyo released a deadly nerve gas in a Tokyo subway station, leaving 12 people dead and 5,000 injured.

Two months later, Japanese police found Shoko Asahara, the sect’s founder, hiding in a room filled with cash and gold bars. Kimball, who tells the story of the sect in “When Religion Becomes Evil,” says Asahara had poisoned the minds of his followers years before.

Asahara demanded unquestioned devotion from members of his sect and isolated followers in communities where they were told that they no longer needed to think for themselves, Kimball says.

Any religion that limits the intellectual freedom of its followers, he says, has become dangerous. “When you start to get individuals who are the sole interpreters of truth, you get people who follow them blindly.”

Charismatic leaders, though, often don’t start off being cruel. Jim Jones, who led the mass suicide of his followers in South America, was a gifted speaker who built an interracial church in San Francisco that did much good in the community. Few people at the beginning of his ministry could predict what he would become.

As time went on, though, his charisma turned cruel as he tolerated no questions to his authority and became delusional.

“Charismatic leadership is important, but in healthy religions, there’s always a process where questions are encouraged,” Kimball said.

Weaning followers away from corrupt charismatic leaders and bad religion can take years, but it can be done if one knows how to speak their language, says Ed Husain, senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York.

Countries such as Saudi Arabia and Egypt will often deploy imams to reach out to young men in prison who have adopted “Islamism,” or extreme forms of Islam sanctioning violence against civilians, says Husain, who has written about Muslim extremism.

These Muslim clerics know the Quran better than the extremists and can use their knowledge to reach extremists in a place that logic and outsiders cannot penetrate, Husain said.

“The antidote to extremism is religion itself,” Husain said. “The problem is not to take Islam out of the debate but to use Islam to counter Islamism.”

3. The end is near.

In 1970, an unknown pastor from Texas wrote a book called “The Late, Great Planet Earth.” The book, which linked biblical prophecy with political events like Israel’s victory in the 1967 Six-Day War, predicted the imminent return of an antichrist and the end of the world.

Author Hal Lindsey’s book has sold an estimated 15 million copies and spawned a genre of books like the “Left Behind” series. Many people are fascinated by the idea that the heavens will open soon because the end is near.

That end-times theology can turn lethal, though, when a follower decides that he or she will speed up that end-time by conducting some dramatic or violent act, says John Alverson, chairman of the theology department at Carlow University in Pittsburgh.

“A religious terrorist mistakenly believes that God has ordained or called him or her to establish the will of God on Earth now, not gradually and not according to the slow and finicky free will of other humans,” Alverson said.

Yet this impulse to see God’s intervention in human affairs now and not in some distant future can also be good, he says.

There are vibrant religious communities that teach that political and economic injustice must be addressed now. Liberation theology, for example, was a movement among pastors and theologians in Latin America that called for justice for the poor now, not in some future apocalyptic event, Alverson says.

“Hope is a good breakfast but not much of a supper,” Alverson said. “We can’t just live on the hope that justice will happen; we have to actually experience justice from time to time so that our hope can continue.”

4. The end justifies the means.

It was one of the biggest scandals the Roman Catholic Church ever faced, and the repercussions are still being felt today.

In January 2002, the Boston Globe published a story about Father John Geoghan, a priest who had been moved around various parishes after Catholic leaders learned that he had abused children. It was later revealed that Catholic officials had quietly paid at least $10 million to settle lawsuits against Geoghan.

Kimball says the Catholic scandal revealed another sign that a faith has turned toxic: Religious figures start justifying doing something wrong for a higher good.

“The common theme was trying to protect the integrity of the church,” Kimball said of some Catholic leaders who covered up the crimes. “You get all of these rationalizations that we can’t let this scandal bring the whole church down, so we have to pay off this family and send the priests off to rehab.”

Religion is supposed to be a force for good. Still, it’s common that everyone from suicide bombers to venal church figures finds ways to justify their behavior in the name of some higher good.

Those rationalizations are so pervasive that religious movements that avoid them stand out, scholars say.

Jacobsen, the theology professor from Messiah College, cited the civil rights movement. The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and his fellow activists renounced violence, even as they were attacked and sometimes murdered.

“They were willing to lay down their lives for what they believed in, but what’s incredible is, they practiced not retaliating when they suffered violence,” he said. “Those people really believed that God created everyone equal, and they were committed to the point of death.”

In some ways, it’s easy to say we would never adopt a form of religion that’s evil. But when we use the word “evil” to describe those who kill in the name of their faith, we’re already mimicking what we condemn, Jacobsen says.

In his new book, “No Longer Invisible: Religion in University Education,” Jacobson writes that calling a religion evil is dangerous because “bad or wrong actions can be corrected, but typically evil needs to be destroyed.”

“To label someone or something as evil is to demonize it, putting it in a category of otherness where the rules of normal life do not apply, where the end often justifies almost any means,” Jacobson writes.

And when we do that, we don’t have to read about radical imams or look at angry YouTube videos to see how easy it is for someone to drift toward religious extremism, he says.

We need only look at ourselves.

– – –

36. Tempus Fugit - May 4, 2013

I was thinking why I seem to see the human world so differently than Robert Burton (and perhaps you, the reader, do too).

I see a world of people like myself. Apparently, Robert Burton sees a world where no one is like himself.

I feel an obligation to guide my relations with others with respect for their human dignity and freedom. I often fail to realize this obligation as well as I would like, but never stop trying. Apparently, Robert Burton only sees others as machines to be used for his own desires and needs.

Why don’t we see other people the same way?

In my opinion we all see the world through subjective filters created by our biology, culture, and life experience. Many spiritual teachings, including the “Fourth Way,” claim to provide a method to clear our “spiritual vision” of these filters and allow us to see reality directly.

Evidently Burton believes he has cleared his spiritual vision and, in seeing other people as machines, believes he sees reality.

Could it be, rather, that he has failed to clear his filters and they have actually become hardened? Could it be, rather, that when he looks at the world he sees only his own ego projected on it?

Burton’s many interpretations of numbers, names, and other minor and coincidental phenomena are characteristic of some types of the brain disturbance we call psychosis.

People with this illness sometimes confuse the boundary between the outer world and their inner self. They personalize their experience of the outer world. Invisible forces, whether helpful or harmful, are continually sending messages or arranging events specifically in reference to them. They become the center of their own universe. Thus the sick ego projects itself on the world and becomes inflated. Other people simply become objects in their drama.

Does this not describe what we can see in the behavior and words of Robert Burton? In my opinion Burton is a sick, mentally ill individual. Sick people deserve our compassion, and so does Robert Burton – but from a safe distance, for in his madness Burton is also quite dangerous.

37. Wouldnt You Like To Know - May 4, 2013

‘Madness in great ones must not unwatch’d go.’
The Tragedy of Hamlet Prince of Denmark
Act III, Scene I, Line 168
William Shakespeare (1564–1616)

38. Golden Veil - May 8, 2013

Gertrude Stein once wrote about a rose
in a way similar to this:

Cult is a cult is a cult is a cult.


That, my friend, is the bottom line!

39. nigel - May 9, 2013

3 psychiatric admissions one after the other, medication problems, family feuds over money, social denial about how I may solve my problems of ugly police arrests 136 (danger to yourself or others), but I love this poem by Dylan Marlais Thomas…..

That sanity be kept I sit at open windows,
Regard the sky, make unobtrusive comment on the moon,
Sit at the open window in my shirt,
And let the traffic pass, the signals shine,
The engines run, the brass bands keep in tune,
For sanity must be preserved.

40. Tempus Fugit - May 11, 2013

First, hello to you, Nigel. I am sorry to hear you have to fight so many personal battles, but I hope you keep pressing on and never give up. I believe a way forward will always be revealed. You’ve been given more challenges than most, but also more courage and persistence.

As to our poor little blog….. I’ve noticed the obvious slowdown in posts lately and wondered why.

Are people blogging elsewhere? Has this blog run its course? Is something else going on that I don’t know about? (Well, of course that’s always true 🙂

When I decided to contribute to this forum it was from a desire to help others by providing an alternative viewpoint to the FOF official party line.

But perhaps there is less need for that contribution than I first thought. After all, there is a lot of information available on the internet about the FOF to whomever wants it and it’s not hard to find.

It may also be that the majority of current students are happy with their membership in the FOF and not seeing the kind of problems that I saw all those many years ago. If so I think they have been fooled but each has a right to their own experience and their own conclusions.

So I hope my comments have been helpful to those who needed to hear them, but perhaps it is time to move on or at least take a break.

I’ll check back in later to see if anyone can shed some light on the state of blog or re-ignite the conversation. Meanwhile good luck and God’s protection to one and all.

41. ton - May 11, 2013

pearls are formed by the oyster in response to an irritant…. in this case the irritants have departed the blog so there seems to be little motivating force to post…. I drop in occasionally to see if there’s anything new here but, like t. fugit saith re: burton’s web, his “enterprise” and escapades, there’s plenty of ready info available on the back pages of this site and elsewhere in ‘cyberspace.’


speaking of the unspeakable:

42. Shard_of_Oblivion - May 12, 2013

Ton, thanks for posting that Alan Watts talk. I had not heard his voice before, and I came to love his sweet voice as he continued to talk.


“We haven’t got enough inches!” 🙂

43. Paul R - May 13, 2013

I only recently discovered this blog. I was a student in 1978 to 1979. I joined the Atlanta center after finding a bookmark in “Search of the Miraculous”. I then moved to California to be closer to the teaching. But I left the school because I could not keep up with the monthly dues ($200 a month) and they wiped out my savings. I really did not want to leave the school, there was a sense of awe about the place, and I liked the illusion of being one of the chosen few. However, over time, I accepted that I was snookered by a con man and forgot about them. And of course that was verified when California didn’t crash into the ocean and there was no nuclear war.
I became interested in them again when a friend told me about an Eckhart Tolle event she attended in San Francisco. Only it wasn’t about Eckhart Tolle, it was about the Fellowship of Friends. They had given her a tour of Renaissance (including an airplane tour) and were intensely pressuring her to join. The guy trying to recruit her said he could see an inner truth in her. They wanted her and her husband to attend one of those dinners. I told her they were a cult and the teacher was a con man. She didn’t go because of the way they misrepresented themselves on being an Eckhart Tolle group.
But that story piqued my curiousity about them. I was surprised they were doing so well after the false predictions made by Robert. I read all the fascinating stories on this blog and websites. I consider myself fortunate compared to other former members of this cult. I only lost two years and my bank account, which was pretty meager. I had no clue about Robert’s sexual predations and his male harems. I can’t believe that I forked over money for his opulence and then his legal settlements.

44. Golden Veil - May 13, 2013

That the Fellowship of Friends is using the old “bait and switch” technique to lure in students is very troubling. I’m surprised that Eckhart Tolle has not ordered them to cease their deceptive practice. I remember hearing that “the ends justify the means” when it comes to creating an “Ark.” Shame on the these students shilling for Robert Burton. Yes, you’re fortunate you didn’t spend more time on this false Magical Mystery Tour. As for your friend, she really should write to Eckhart Tolle personally here and let him know what he is being used for…


And reference this:


45. Tim Campion - May 13, 2013

43. Paul R.

Paul, welcome to the blog! I second Golden Veil’s recommendation that your friend contact Eckhart Tolle and expose the “bait and switch” being perpetrated. The Fellowship of Friends has a history of such tactics. In recent years, their desperate pursuit of new members has led Robert Burton and his operatives to cast a much wider net. And in Burton’s competition for souls, morality and ethics are a hindrance.

46. Just the Facts Ma'am - May 13, 2013

43. Paul R., and all readers:

Do not let appearances fool anyone. Fellowship of Friends is in debt up to its collective third eye. But it does have a cash flow of some significance plus valuable property and therefore continues to tread water. Your description of your friend’s experience only goes to show you (or, is it, shows to go you?) that they are desperate enough to employ any ‘intentional insincerity’ (lying) to get what they want – new naïve members and the untapped cash they can bring – kind of like a Ponzi scheme.

So, one wealthy member, P.M., may own an airplane and have a pilot’s license and can put on a wondrous show for prospective students (defined as: a mark; an object of attack, ridicule, or abuse; specifically: a victim or prospective victim of a swindle.) by an Eckhart Tolle (or other type) ‘meet up.’ Then there is the show for younger types by A.B., and company. Be sure to visit:

Can a leopard change its spots? I think not. Beware the wolf in sheep’s clothing.

47. Fee fi fo fum - May 14, 2013

40 Tempus Fugit

I don’t think this blog has “run its course” so much as it’s probably in “idle mode.” The large impact at its inception, when people poured out their doubts and stories about REB and the FoF won’t happen again, simply because that door has already been opened. I don’t know what it will take to have another mass exodus. Certainly, there will be attrition. And then, many people simply live with moral conflict because they can’t imagine an alternate life to the FoF. As one long-time member said, “I just try not to think about Robert.” She was referring to his corruption. That’s a powerful statement of negation, considering REB is at the head of the organization.

But do not despair. Someone on the GF website posted recently that they left the FF and gave a bit of their story. That was good to read.

48. jomopinata - May 14, 2013

In a well-staged production of Thornton Wilder’s Our Town, the conversation among the souls in the Town’s graveyard sometimes pauses for quite a while.

49. idanevasayneva - May 14, 2013

I think one (but not the only) purpose of the blog in idle mode is just a place where current but questioning members of FOF can read to get opinions and even info from people who have left.

Sort of even “what is it like?” after you leave info.
They may not know this and may have no other way of finding out.

At least it served that purpose for me. When there was more argy bargy here on here, it was more like people shouting at each other.

For me while I was in FOF, it was good to read that -stupid as it may sound- that people were Ok when they left, that they picked themselves up and got on with their lives. It takes a while to move from thinking that you cannot live without FOF and that this is your life and that you are willing to accept whatever, to having a post FOF mind frame. It takes a while, well, it took me a while, I think the blog is useful for that journey or it was for me. Even in idle or quiescent mode.

50. Wouldnt You Like To Know - May 14, 2013

Re: 48. jomopinata

‘In a well-staged production of Thornton Wilder’s Our Town, the conversation among the souls in the Town’s graveyard sometimes pauses for quite a while.’

My favorite quotes from:
Thornton Wilder’s Our Town:
(In no particular order from the play.)

From graveyard scene; Emily Webb returning to see her life:
‘I can’t. I can’t go on. It goes so fast. We don’t have time to look at one another. I didn’t realize. So all that was going on and we never noticed. Take me back — up the hill — to my grave. But first: Wait! One more look. Good-by, Good-by, world. Good-by Grover’s Corners…Mama and Papa. Good-by to clocks ticking…and Mama’s sunflowers. And food and coffee. And new ironed dresses and hot baths…and sleeping and waking up. Oh, earth, you’re too wonderful for anybody to realize you. …Do human beings ever realize life while they live it? — Every, every minute? …I’m ready to go back…I should have listened to you. That’s all human beings are! Just blind people.’

‘Now there are some things we all know,
but we don’t take ’em out and look at’m very often.
We all know that something is eternal.
And it ain’t houses and it ain’t names,
and it ain’t earth, and it ain’t even the stars…
everybody knows in their bones that something is eternal,
and that something has to do with human beings.
All the greatest people ever lived
have been telling us that for five thousand years
and yet you’d be surprised how people
are always losing hold of it.
There’s something way down deep
that’s eternal about every human being.’

‘You know as well as I do that the dead
don’t stay interested in us living people for very long.
Gradually, gradually, they loose hold of the earth…
and the ambitions they had…
and the pleasures they had…
and the things they suffered…
and the people they loved.
They get weaned away from the earth –
that’s the way I put it, – weaned away.’

‘That’s what it was to be alive. To move about in a cloud of ignorance; to go up and down trampling on the feelings of those… of those about you. To spend and waste time as though you had a million years. To be always at the mercy of one self-centered passion, or another. Now you know — that’s the happy existence you wanted to go back to. Ignorance and blindness.’

51. Fee fi fo fum - May 15, 2013

49 Idanevasayneva

Even though I left the FF a long time ago for the usual reasons, reading many of the posts on this blog was still an eye-opening experience.

I think it would be a mistake to expect this blog to repeat its initial impact and limit it to having the single mission of undoing REB and the FF. Some of the power of its initial impact was because the person who started it, Pavel, wasn’t even a member of the FF. His sharing his rich perceptions of the FF through the prospective student meeting he attended was a validation for many people: He validated the doubts we had harbored and the craziness that we experienced, and as he continued to react in his occasional posts, we realized how important it was to share what we went through.

REB was, and still is, very controlling, and one way he controls is through fear, secrecy and the threat of excommunication. He also makes it impossible for members to verify his many preposterous claims, such as his being a Man Number Whatever, because of stand-by excuses like “the lower cannot see the higher.”

52. WhaleRider - May 16, 2013

The lower cannot see the higher…does that apply when burton goes down on you?

53. freeman - May 17, 2013

Luke is thinking about leaving the cult. He’s having trouble deciding. Yoda has a talk with him:

54. nigel - May 17, 2013

Something about my psychosis, and maybe not my psychosis – the age of membership and controlling restraints of the FOF ‘hid’ my huge human heart – why I cry about beauty and the many ways in which is described/portrayed (I have a high tolerance to pain and a low tolerance to boredom), the fierce outrage about intolerance in itself among humans and standing up ‘for those who have no helper’. My aims are stronger and higher than before and my ideals more far reaching with complex and complicated beginnings and results. Is this why I get into trouble? How does anyone else feel about these sorts of things? Serious question. Serious answers?…..Nigel.

55. Shard_of_Oblivion - May 17, 2013

Hi Nigel, you say:

“My aims are stronger and higher than before and my ideals more far reaching with complex and complicated beginnings and results”

My own personal experience is the other way round. I used to have very high and far reaching aims, but as life goes on and we each of us experience the death of close friends and contemporaries, those aims seem a little irrelevant. I have just finished reading a fine book about Michel Montaigne, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/books/bookreviews/8316056/Two-Books-on-Montaigne-review.html
and it highllghted the changes that Montaigne shows in his book of essays as he reedited it over the years. He started as a Stoic, he had been recently bereaved, his best friend died very young, and he quoted with approval a Stoic saying that philosophy teaches us how to die, but as he continues in his life, ‘tasting’ himself as he puts it, and always interested in every man and woman he met, he finds that what really matters to him is life, and he says he never thinks about death, as nature knows how that works and he trusts it to work for him. It sounded true to the feelings I have now about life. It is here to be lived, it is already amazing, we can each play our little part in affairs by following our own talents and enthusiasms where they lead, and enjoying each day for its simple pleasures.

You have shown us the wonderful work you do as a silversmith, that would seem to offer scope for your ambitions. Good luck.

56. James Mclemore - May 17, 2013

Hello Nigel –

“My aims are stronger and higher than before and my ideals more far reaching with complex and complicated beginnings and results”

Using the same quote as a starting place that Shard used in his heartfelt note to you, I would say just notice how comparative is the language, Why do any of us need to compare any point of view to any other that once came to mind. What is to be gained? We know instantly what is more beneficial. Our minds become lost in the descriptions and analyzation of ‘things’. ‘Things’ that have no real substance, kind of like the “inches” that Shard referred to from Alan Watts (thanks Ton). And what does “stronger and higher mean”? Maybe try to leave, at least for now, the “complex” and “complicated” to the philosophers and metaphysicians.
I especially liked the Montaigne quote about death,… “as nature knows how that works and he trusts it to work for him”.
How incredibly simple and indescribable is that lump of silver you may now have in your hands, or the note coming out of my guitar.

My very best wishes to you Nigel.

57. idanevasayneva - May 21, 2013

re 51 Fee fi fo fum

you said:
“REB was, and still is, very controlling, and one way he controls is through fear, secrecy and the threat of excommunication. He also makes it impossible for members to verify his many preposterous claims, such as his being a Man Number Whatever, because of stand-by excuses like “the lower cannot see the higher.”

Yes I agree -from what has been published as per similar groups, these aspects are not at all specific to FOF or REB- I mean the secrecy, control, cut-off-from people outside the group, messianic if increasingly vague mission, prophecy reset, connection with higher powers interpreted by the leader etc etc, leader adoration, large financial tithe, leaders sexual escapades – they seem to be a fairly run of the mill requirement for a controlling group. Its hard to even blame REB for them, you can’t really run a functioning cult without them. And maybe he is not to blame for it, he has a certain type of personality, -for example- his always 100% certainty that he is right- people gather around him, and hey presto before you know it, all the factors are in place and it rolls along.

Maybe human beings or some human beings have some sort of hard wiring that attracts them to cults and keeps them in. I can see that was true for me. So if you happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time you kind of end up being part of the whole show. Such was my case for in hindsight quite a bit too long – but no use crying over spilt milk. All in all I think it’s pretty hard to get out. Kudos to those that make it. I am going to have a drink for that this weekend. Cheers!

I guess the original post here was whether this blog has any relevance anymore. It is a place for a few people to vent – like me- 🙂 Maybe not so many people or nobody reads anymore
If a tree falls in the forest- does it make a sound?

58. Golden Veil - May 21, 2013

57. idanevasayneva

“he has a certain type of personality”

Yes, evidently a charismatic personality, but how about a certain type of mental illness, including a high level of sociopathic narcissism that enables him to lumber along, not considering the emotional, physical (health), and financial damage to others his little monarchy causes?

Yes, you and others of us may have just been in the right place at the right time. But he didn’t seduce me into his strange dominion; I was a resident in another country from my birthplace and did not fall in with him, I was seduced by fell his lovely students, and learned to live what I thought was an elegant form of The Work of Gurdjieff and Ouspensky. Yes, it wasn’t until later, on this very blog, did I learn that the Fellowship of Friends, the mysterious, and controlling but compelling organization that I’d been part of for a couple of years, has a black, rotten, perverse inner core – The Teacher. The exercises, experiences in fine dining, music, art, and dress – all those beautiful impressions – were the gift wrap around a voracious, predatory teacher.

As for whether this blog is efficacious or not, keep writing, dear idnevasayneva. We are in the forest of the internet. You may not see them or hear them, but there are multitudes of trees out there, reading the words on these pages. If there is even one young man who may wake up by reading my words, I am content to keep on writing here now and then until that mentally ill charlatan’s hands are no longer able to grasp.

59. Barbara - May 21, 2013

57. idanevasayneva – “And maybe he is not to blame for it, he has a certain type of personality, -for example- his always 100% certainty that he is right- people gather around him, and hey presto before you know it, all the factors are in place and it rolls along.”

58. Golden Veil – May 21, 2013- The Fellowship of Friends, the mysterious, and controlling but compelling organization that — has a black, rotten, perverse inner core… high level of sociopathic narcissism—, not considering the emotional, physical (health), and financial damage to others (entire families) his little monarchy causes?

inner core, inner circle, people gather around him….factors get in place… lets play the evil game, i like that flavor, “I salivate in these situations…” as LT once told me, when they “were considering giving me a leave of absence for questioning behavior”

60. Shard_of_Oblivion - May 22, 2013

Barbara 59. “I salivate in these situations…”
What exactly was making her salivate? Was it the simple exercise of authority? I imagine she would be telling herself that any disciplining was “for the good of YOUR work” as you were perceived to be in danger of losing the school. Did she mean she was salivating at the prospect of helping you, or was she blatantly admitting she enjoyed causing hurt to others? That was surely a radical admission in the lovey-dovey goody-two-shoes FoF.

61. Steve - May 22, 2013

Maybe the exercise of power. Like males who supposedly get horny when they are raping and pillaging in a war situation where they are free to abuse their power.

62. Shard_of_Oblivion - May 22, 2013

Steve 61.


Not salivating between her legs, surely to goodness!

63. Fee fi fo fum - May 22, 2013

57 idanevasayneva

Relevance: The blog may have lost the initial excitement of openly discussing the FF and REB, but it’s a useful information / conversation platform, as long as they are still around pulling the wool over people’s eyes. It’s a place where people can say what they’ve been through and know other readers understand what they’ve been through, primarily, the feeling of betrayed trust.

I don’t think humans are hard wired to join cults or follow cult leaders. My view is that many people search for explanations to life’s mysteries, maybe guidance in the form of knowledgable individuals. Many cult joiners are young adults who are trusting and maybe gullible. REB took full advantage of that trust, which says something about his errant moral compass.

The friendships and lifestyle in the FF made it very hard for many people to leave, and REB takes advantage of that too. They are not good enough reasons to stay in, plus, we don’t necessarily lose those when we leave, despite REB’s wishing that were the case.

64. turdlurker - May 22, 2013

Uh….no….not salivating from between her legs. From a couple of inches in front of her ass.

65. Shard_of_Oblivion - May 23, 2013

I was shocked when I first read this account by Ouspensky’s secretary of the time when they stayed in New York during WW2.
Now I find myself thinking “well he was just human, and really it was the rest of us who raised him so high on our imaginary pedestals”. But still, some of the things he says are quite outrageous, for example:

When the coffee came, I asked: “Can you, or will you, explain how it is you could cancel a lecture at a few hours notice for the sake of this dinner? I don’t understand. And I am sorry to feel compelled to ask you; but do you lose your temper with people consciously, or because you have lost control of yourself? You do not lose your temper with me in this way…”
“They are such fools,” he said. “I’ve lost control of my temper.”
“But surely, if we are to try to control our negative emotions, we cannot learn from you, if you can’t control yours,” I said.
Ouspensky answered bluntly: “I took over the leadership to save the System. But I took it over before I had gained enough control over myself. I was not ready. I have lost control over myself. It is a long time since I could control my state of mind.”
“Will you not try to gain control over your temper for everybody thinks you are testing them when you fly at them,” I said, for it never entered my head that Peter Ouspensky was not speaking the truth.
“They are fools!” he said contemptuously.
“But I really feel I have learned something from the System,” I said.
“Then you are the only one who ever has!” said Ouspensky.
“I have really tried.” I said, “tried for myself.”
“The others are deluding themselves. They have never gained anything,” Ouspensky said.

if you would like to see the full text go to:


and search for

Pensate un attimo
The Case of P. D. Ouspensky

Marie Seton

I admire her approach to the work – she used the system, it didn’t use her.

Steve - May 23, 2013

Interesting. But he never struck me as a conscious looking type, more like a miserable little librarian or bookkeeper.

66. silentpurr - May 24, 2013

Hopefully he came to see that there is no control of anything, nor need there be.

67. Pranidhi - May 26, 2013

From the “If the Foo Shits, Wear It Department” –
Certainly it has become a cult, defined as a religion-based community where the leader is given complete authority over his/her followers and is not accountable for his/her actions.

68. Shard_of_Oblivion - May 28, 2013

Mark Hollis wrote this beautiful song after his brother died from heroin abuse. Mark himself wasn’t a user and struggled to comprehend. I had no idea there existed a performance video of this song, which is from “Spirit of Eden” – the album that penetrated to the heart of things for me on ayahuasca one time.

In a way cult membership and heroin addiction are similar, in both cases relatives are appalled, and so many possibilities are missed.

Hear it in my spirit
I’ve seen heroin for myself
On the street so young laying wasted
Enough ain’t it enough
Crippled world
I just can’t bring myself to see it starting
Tell me how I fear it
I buy prejudice for my health
Is it worth so much when you taste it?
Enough there ain’t enough hidden hurt
A time to sell yourself
A time for passing
How long?

69. karma Lingzhi - May 29, 2013

Intellecutal jovial-Lunar; hardly the charismatic type. It takes all kinds. You don’t have to look like anything and ‘conscious-looking’ individuals are mainly a product of your imagination.

70. idanevasayneva - May 30, 2013

Re Fee Fi Fo Fum #63

Okay maybe human beings are not hard wired to join and stay in cults, that was a bit of a stretch. But there must be a pre-disposition in some people to accept the halter and blinkers and stay with it which may not be in others. Or who knows.

In my final years there, what Groucho Marx said about marriage seemed more and more applicable to how I was feeling about FOF,

“Marriage is a wonderful institution, but who wants to live in an institution?”

71. Fee fi fo fum - June 2, 2013

70. idanevasayneva

Yes, maybe some people are too naive and gullible and are not skeptical enough when it comes to gurus and spiritual teachers. Just because somebody says it’s so doesn’t make it so; just because some FF students say the FF is a conscious school doesn’t make it so, especially when nothing much has come of it.

Bad relationships and marriages can also be very hard to leave. I’m sure there are similar dynamics. The longer you stay, the harder it is to leave. As someone said, “Better the devil you know than the devil you don’t.” Of course, marriages often involve mortgages and children, so that complicates a desire to part ways. The FF has more subtle ties that make it harder and harder to leave, most of them psychological, some of them social. You get used to some of the demands out of sheer habit.

72. Golden Veil - June 2, 2013

And in The Fellowship of Friends, getting “used to some of the demands out of sheer habit.” can be painful – emotionally, financially, and and for some younger, attractive heterosexual men,”Ouch!” physically. At what cost do you draw the line regarding paying for your membership? I remember that oft repeated b.s. line about the principle of “Payment.” It made perfect sense at the time. Well, you know the old saying, “There’s a Sucker born every minute.” Apt phrase regarding The Fellowship of Friends…

73. Paul R - June 7, 2013

Reading the tragic history of the paraplegic K Kelly here http://fellowshipoffriends.wikispaces.com/History is an eye-opening story and would make a good news expose or some sort of documentary. It seems that by his suicide, he was giving Robert the middle finger, and Robert didn’t appreciate it.

74. Shard_of_Oblivion - June 7, 2013

This made me smile

“Your call is important to God… please hold the line…the angels are listening”

75. yesrib - June 9, 2013

Hey, did you hear an older student recently had a near death experience?
Really! The weird thing was Robert Burton’s life flashed before his eyes

76. nigel - June 9, 2013

Sorry, but I tend to agree with many of the ‘mainstream’ bloggers who have either left the site or who ocassionally ‘drop in’ with a comment – the Fellowship of Friends Discussion / WordPress site has reduced itself to a pile of inane drivel. Nothing substantial regarding the goings-on of REB ( what has changed anyway? I doubt whether the sex positions are any less contorted and the luxury lifestyle – silk shirts for himself and ‘the boys’ – the world trips to ‘esoteric sites’ – are still the same – with the vineyard crumbling into a terraced, twig-twisted ruin – along with other, half-started/finished projects being left through ‘diverted’ funding).

The FBI has either decided to leave the FOF alone (or being paid to keep away) and Burton will end his days as a sad, pompous psychopath.

Personally, if I were to return to frequent posting on this site, it would be in the light of what could be retrieved from people’s lives from OUT OF THE FOF, I am not sure that the GF site has any worth other than as an ‘escapees club’ (as I was travelling to Italy I came across Cynthia Haven having a latte in a Venice cafe – that sort of thing).

The world is full of beautiful literature that could be shared here, but going through the last ten posts, I am not sure that anything substantial has been shared.

Yours, with hope…..Nigel

77. Pranidhi - June 10, 2013

Once there was a poster who said he wasn’t going to post but still does occasionally to say that he doesn’t care for the postings that other people post.

78. ton - June 16, 2013

79. freeman - June 18, 2013


“I believe that Robert Burton has harmed and damaged many sincere young men. Those around him who know of this and protect him share in his guilt. He has used his position of power and trust to satisfy his lusts, without regard for the consequences to others. He has invoked higher powers to overcome the objections of unwilling partners, telling them that “higher forces” were thus pleased.”

80. nigel - June 20, 2013

“After through observation, investigation, analysis and reflection, when you find that anything agrees with reason and your experience, and is conducive to the benefit of one and all, and of the world at large, accept only that as true, and shape your life in accordance with it; and live up to it.” – Prince Gautama, The Buddha

81. Free54 - June 29, 2013

This is my first posting on the FoF blog; I left the FoF last year. I found the below post on Ram Dass’s blog to be helpful as I was coming to terms with my experience in the FoF. The reality is that there are more false teachers than genuine ones because it is very hard to truly love selflessly. For those of us who have left, I hope we can forgive Robert and try to manifest more often from the place of unconditional love while simulatenously acting with wisdom since we are a little less naive after our time in the FoF. I have verified for myself that karma exists so if we wish to be free from Robert then we have to forgive him. Personally, I am finding it to be more painful to be stuck in the past by not forgiving instead of moving forward more lightly.

For those who are considering joining the FoF or any other spiritual group, please take the time to look at the post below and know that God shines their grace on everyone just like the sun so it does not matter whether you are in a group or not. You make mistakes while part of a group and you make mistakes on your own while trying to live a spiritual life. When we are sincere, we attract help from higher dimensions and get glimpses into what seemed impossible.


May all beings be happy and free,
Steve Suh

82. WhaleRider - June 29, 2013

Congratulations on your liberation, Steve. Thanks for posting.

You are right; making mistakes is unavoidable…learning from our mistakes is optional.

May you find guidance from the higher dimensions within your self.

Remember any of your dreams lately?

83. Shard_of_Oblivion - June 29, 2013

Hi Free54, thanks for posting your message on the blog. It is good to hear that people are still freeing themselves from the FoF, and looking for answers elsewhere.
You mention that it feels important to you to forgive Robert Burton, and you sound quite well balanced on that point. I left the FoF in 1989 and was very very angry with Burton for some years afterwards, but now I am no longer angry, I simply look on him as a very manipulative and greedy sex pervert, who found his ideal method to feed his lusts when he happened across Alex Horn’s group in 1967. I don’t think for me forgiveness ever really entered the picture, I feel I could forgive someone who had high ideals but failed to live up to them. But my considered opinion is that Burton is much worse than that. I believe he knew exactly what he was doing all the way through, and that he considers it fine to cause great suffering to others if that affords him some gratification, and that is very hard to forgive. In fact it is almost worse than that, he considers other sentient beings to be machines, and therefore almost incapable of real suffering, so the abuses he hands out, he sees as the moral equivalent of tossing a radio into the sea.

Steve - June 29, 2013

Good website thanks Steve Suh.

84. A Hundred Thousand Angels - June 29, 2013

81. Free54

SS, thank you for posting the Ram Dass/Welshons link.

85. Grace - June 30, 2013

Hello, I have a family member in the group that I’d like to leave for mental health reasons. I’m interested in speaking to people who have recently left within the past 10 years or so. My hope is that maybe they know you and will respect your opinion. I can be contacted at gracewinsall@gmail.com

86. ton2u - June 30, 2013

Thanks Steve, I agree that forgiveness is important but I don’t believe in misdirecting it — some actions are forgivable, some maybe not so much. in any case and in all cases I think a degree of discrimination is necessary.

Since leaving the FOF and through “coming to terms” with my own misdeeds and the follies of my youthful indiscretions, I have learned to forgive myself for actions I regretted during that episode in my life. when a person experiences true remorse, then s/he is truly sorry for an action they’ve taken and with true remorse the person will never commit the regretted action again. in that case forgiveness would be in order.

But burton is completely unrepentant, he is oblivious to the harm he inflicts because he believes that others are put on earth to serve his insatiable desire-body. He’s been up to his tricks for a long time by now, and I don’t expect that he will ever stop, he doesn’t feel the need to, and he certainly doesn’t feel the need for forgiveness…. he thinks he’s above any harm he may do to others and so he continues… that’s why I would say that forgiving him is misdirected — forgiveness is for those who deserve it.

87. fofblogmoderator - June 30, 2013

#85 is a new poster

88. Dennis Larson - June 30, 2013

If I may add a rather intellectual possibility. If we are all equally mechanical, then there are no mistakes and there is no need for forgiveness, because there is nothing to forgive, both for ourselves and others. When I think about things that I have done in the past that were not done the way I would do them now, I try to realize that that was exactly who I was then and I could not have done them any differently. It doesn’t feel like forgiveness, but perhaps compassion, for myself.

89. Ames Gilbert - June 30, 2013

Re. forgiveness . . .
(adaptation of something I posted previously)

There have been other conversations about this subject before on this blog. That started by ‘Tiger’ on page 25,
is one that I particularly recall. Further down the same page, I remember ‘ak0aka0ka’ writing that he/she had forgiven an extremely serious abuser from the past, and I replied that my take was that our vocabulary is simply inadequate and leads to confusion. We use the word ‘forgiveness’ to cover too many situations. My understanding is that Steve above is referring to some alteration of the internal state, whereby he arrives at a place where he is not consumed by or wasting energy on the actions (or rather the results) that need forgiving, part of the process of forgiving himself. An internal reconciliation within one person. In such a case, Burton is not, and needs not be, a part of the process.

However, another scenario is the situation where the perpetrator asks for forgiveness. This is a whole different matter, because now there can be an exchange of energies between the parties, and IMHO, the possibility of reconciliation between the two. Though a skilled psychopath could fake the words, because by definition he/she cannot feel remorse, neither true reconciliation between the parties nor true healing could occur.

Someone who had learned enough about themselves, has experienced true remorse, and trusted their experience would be able to tell if they were being suckered by such a person. On the other hand, someone who ‘forgave’ the perpetrator from the basis of morality or religious misunderstanding (for example, the common misinterpretation of what ‘turn the other cheek’ means) might actually make it easier for the next sociopath who came along to take advantage of them.

For the second type of forgiveness mentioned above, Burton would first have to be given a conscience, then truly see where he is, sans filtering or support by his acolytes. Then he would have to feel remorse, then ask for forgiveness from an individuated adult (responsible, in the true sense, and thus capable of an appropriate response). Finally, Burton would have to deal with the huge amounts of energy that would be unleashed, for which he has no training. That’s half¬–a–dozen true miracles in a row, which would seem to be stretching things a bit.

All just my opinion, of course .

P.S., sorry, but I think there are other, better, forums for advancing and discussing one’s favorite literature and poetry, thousands upon thousands of them. An incidental quote is one thing, but the self-indulgent wholesale cutting and pasting that has been done previously on this blog is, IMHO, pointless and just clogs up the works.

90. Shard_of_Oblivion - June 30, 2013

#88 Dennis Larson says

“If we are all equally mechanical, then there are no mistakes”.

This sounds like a position fraught with moral hazard. In my opinion whatever the philosophical reality regarding whether or not we could have done otherwise, for us to act as moral agents we need to act AS IF we have a choice. Most legal systems make a sharp distinction between those capable of taking moral responsibility and those deemed to be unaccountable “by reason of insanity” The formula above sounds to me like a way to justify all sorts of horrors, and I would resist it, there are indeed mistakes, and we should try not to make them.

91. ton - June 30, 2013

thanks to Dennis, Shard, Ames, for your thoughtful perspectives on the topic of “forgiveness.” IMO it is an important part of the process of being, and becoming human.

re: turning the other cheek… you’ve heard of the third eye, you may have heard of the third ear, but what about the “third cheek” ?

There is (of course) the beautiful morality tale about ‘turning the other cheek,’ which put in contemporary terms says something very important about “de-escalation” and “non-retaliation.” This is a tale which implies that in the land where the rule is “an eye for an eye,” everyone is blinded. But there are other implications to the tale — ‘turning the other cheek ‘allows the transgressor to repent for the initial “blow” (pun intended). If the transgressor hasn’t learnt the lesson, when the other cheek is offered he strikes again… more punning). Turning a “third cheek” to the abuser might signal masochistic tendencies…. or one could rather be “turning” toward more “healthy” directions to avoid additional harm…. but some folks never learn. Turning the other cheek allows a space for repentance/ forgiveness to enter; when both parties are able to examine their complicity in the situation, a higher understanding can enter too. IMO

92. Steve - July 1, 2013

I think it’s probably hardest for the people who were the ‘true believers’ who bent over backwards or forwards whenever they could for Robert, obviously hoping to get something in return – special favors, gifts or attention.

Understandably those unfortunates feel duped and raped when they leave the FOF and can’t forgive and forget, and take away the positive experiences and lessons, because then they would have to – at least in part – blame themselves for obligingly entering such transactions.

For others who were never so blinded by greed or vanity or guru-worship, it was probably a useful and rich experience with many life lessons.

Forgiveness is positive emotion that frees you from the past, when you don’t really understand from the other’s point of view why they did what they did.
It’s a bit like faith, which frees you from fear when you don’t know how things will turn out.

93. Golden Veil - July 1, 2013

I found myself wanting to explore “forgiveness” after reading the above by Steve and found this secular definition; it’s pretty good:


A bit about forgiveness and health:


94. Shard_of_Oblivion - July 1, 2013

#92 Steve sets up a dichotomy between those who

“bent over backwards or forwards whenever they could for Robert”

and those who

“were never so blinded by greed or vanity or guru-worship”

But I feel there is not such a vast gulf between those two. We all were fooled by an outrageous conman, and we all have to come to terms with how that happened before we can really move on.

95. WhaleRider - July 1, 2013

“Forgiveness is positive emotion that frees you from the past, when you don’t really understand from the other’s point of view why they did what they did.”

Give it some time away from the cult and you will understand why burton did what he did.

In my experience in dealing with and containing people with sociopathic behavior, it is imperative that one have the ability to set firm limits, sometimes by force, which may involve expressing negative emotions.

IMO, people on the sociopath/psychopath spectrum have a low tolerance for pain, which may be why they make it a career to inflict pain upon others. For example, if you confront a bully, stripped of their colluding support network, the bully will usually back down.

I have to admit, draining the victim pool appears to be a daunting task; the cult has the resources to expand their reach across the globe in search of more willing and vulnerable victims.

I feel for you, Grace. I recommend the book,”The Guru Papers”. The arguments set forth in that book made a deep impression on me, even decades after I left.

96. Golden Veil - July 1, 2013

“… you know these organizations offer a sense of community , and offer a sense of love…”

97. Associated Press - July 1, 2013

I Escaped a Cult (Nat Geo 2012) 44:48:

98. Associated Press - July 1, 2013

Doomsday Preppers S02E15 A Fortress at Sea 44:59:

99. Associated Press - July 1, 2013

Heaven’s Gate Documentary 54:32:

100. ton2u - July 2, 2013
101. ton2u - July 2, 2013

102. freeman - July 3, 2013

It seems like forgiveness is usually initiated as a topic in reference to others and how they can benefit from it, and almost never in reference to ourselves. It’s easier to imagine forgiveness when it’s someone else receiving the negative energy or experiencing the harm, and harder to imagine when it’s us.

I think sometimes people do have sincere intentions when they want others to forgive. They want someone to heal. They want someone to feel better, and to let it go, move on, and live happily. They don’t want them to be consumed by hatred or resentment. All are potentially good reasons to forgive.

Something to remember, however:

Many of us spent our time in the Fellowship of Friends forgiving. To a degree, we lived in a constant state of forgiveness. We didn’t call it that (this would be an admission that something was wrong), but forgiveness is what it was:

– We let it go when we could have pressed the issue.
– We didn’t say something when something could have been said.
– We gave the benefit of the doubt when we could have criticized or questioned.
– We looked the other way when we could have paid closer attention.
– We said yes when we could have said no.
– We returned for more when we should have walked away.

All of those actions, or inactions, were types of forgiveness. We knew something was wrong — maybe some of us more than others — but what kept us from leaving and escaping the cult is that we forgave. We practiced forgiveness daily.

Steve - July 3, 2013

Certainly true, forgiveness is for the forgiver to move on.
I went through the list but I didn’t do any of those for my 18 years or so, except by choice.

103. freeman - July 3, 2013

I may be misinterpreting your short response. But if it’s true that you didn’t look the other way, then you would have been kicked out of the cult long before your 18 years or so. And we all looked the other way by choice.

Our inaction (not leaving the cult, not saying anything, and not objecting) was a form of forgiveness. But it’s also true that it was a type of blind forgiveness that required passive acceptance of the status quo, and a lot of denial. Sure, forgiveness is a wonderful idea and a positive emotion that can lead to healing and reconciliation. It’s advisable to forgive with your eyes open — that’s all. When I hear people suggest that others should forgive and move on, it reminds me of the same attitudes of blind faith that were encouraged in the FOF (as in other cults). There’s an intolerance to skepticism and criticism and questioning in the FOF that we don’t need to take with us. It was sort of the engine that kept the cult running.

104. ton2u - July 3, 2013

I would suggest to anyone who is, or was a member of burton’s little project, and yet remains unaware of or oblivious to their own complicity and collusion in the systematic abuses of that organization; you really should peel back a couple of layers of that nice, shiny veneer and take a closer look… you are no less victimized just because you “choose” to remain unaware / ignorant of, or oblivious to burton’s “mission” vis-a-vis the cult…. in fact continued ignorance implies to me that you are still being victimized / brain-washed.

Those who are still in the cult have ready-made psycho-emotional structures which help with the self-calming “sleep” necessary for continuing to support the cult…. e.g. burton can do no wrong, he is the one and only “conscious being” on the planet, he’s the middle man on earth who speaks for the gods, we are “the chosen people” by affiliation with burton and the cult… etc, etc, etc.

For those who have exited the cult, depending on where you are at in that process (it is a process), the structures provided by the cult are no longer “available,” although the effects do linger… nevertheless you will find a way to “reframe” the experience — some choose to ignore unsavory aspects and instead focus on “the positive” — if that helps you to live more comfortably with yourself and the “choices” you’ve made… so be it.

105. ton2u - July 3, 2013
106. Steve - July 3, 2013

I can’t say I looked the other way, I was quite curious about the bizarre sexual antics that allegedly went on, but sex is a pretty personal topic. It’s not something I would just bluntly ask mere acquaintances about, any more than I’d appreciate them asking me about my sex life! But it was their business if they chose to drop their daks for an old man, not something I would do under any circumstances.
For me it was an overall positive experience, without any blindness or adjusting my focus. The worst thing for me was the plastic smiles and repetition of mostly inane ‘angles’ and observations from Robert about works of art and such, which became the basis of all the meetings. For me that was worse than useless as far as awakening goes.
As far as ‘Burton doing no wrong and being a conscious being’, I never swallowed any of that horseshit, so I consider anyone unfortunately gullible if they did. I guess they’ve lost that gullibility by now, which is a plus.

107. freeman - July 3, 2013

I appreciate your perspective, and I knew a fair number of people like yourself when I was a follower there. It was always a welcome change from the usual onslaught of cult propaganda, and made life a lot more bearable and fun.

However, I just want to point out that adopting the attitude that “it was their business” is the very definition of looking the other way. Not judging you on that — I often adopted that same attitude.

108. idanevasayneva - July 3, 2013

Re # 102 Freeman:

you said:

“Many of us spent our time in the Fellowship of Friends forgiving. To a degree, we lived in a constant state of forgiveness. We didn’t call it that (this would be an admission that something was wrong), but forgiveness is what it was:

– We let it go when we could have pressed the issue.
– We didn’t say something when something could have been said.
– We gave the benefit of the doubt when we could have criticized or questioned.
– We looked the other way when we could have paid closer attention.
– We said yes when we could have said no.
– We returned for more when we should have walked away.”

My 2 cents:

Well I don’t doubt what you say, but I think your phrasing makes it a bit more black in white than it actually was. The chances that we would have

-have pressed the issue when we could have
-said something when something could have been said
-not looked the other way when we could have looked
– not given the benefit of the doubt
-said no when we felt we should say yes
-left as soon as we could

were not great. If the FOF is not a cult, it is an organization with strong cult like characteristics, such an organization works by having a number of psychological mechanisms in place which suppress all of the above activities. So suggesting that we could have been other than obedient and loyal followers feels telling someone who got washed away in a tsunami, that they should have resisted and paddled to saftety on their paddleboard. It’s just not very likely.

Having said that during my time in FOF, I knew plenty of people who tended to do some or all of the above to varying degrees. They were either fun or annoying to be around or both.

Steve - July 3, 2013

Hi Freeman (glad you’re free now!) yes it seemed to make it more fun to be irreligious and irreverent, forthright and outspoken. Someone told me meetings were pretty boring without me haha. But anyway, I was friends with a couple of the ‘boys’, a Romanian and a Russian, and they were cool and fun guys, not all smiley and sickeningly gooey like many, I liked them a lot, But what could I say? If they felt the need for oral relief (and whatever else) from an objectively rather hideous fellow, it’s not for me to tell these 2 grown men they shouldn’t do it! I know a gay or 2 and I wouldn’t dare tell them what they do is bad! And who knows, my friends might have come from impoverished backgrounds and maybe sent money back to support their family. Every adult has a right to choose their own path and learn from his own mistakes. (One has left the FOF and the other not, as far as I know, but who knows who is happier now?)

The thing that puzzles me is… so many people stayed in for so long -decades – but apparently as soon as they leave the whole period turns to shit. Probably most of us joined for something related to seeking enlightenment, higher states of consciousness, that sort of spiritual thing. But why would people stay in for so long, if they experienced nothing of value in that arena?
It’s like joining a gym and not getting fitter or gaining muscle, but just continuing to pay for nothing!

I had some great times and experiences there, and I don’t think I’d change it even if I could! I had some unpleasant ones too I must say, mostly with students who had the rigid religious type of morality that sufficiently overruled their conscience to allow them to be arseholes to ‘friends’.

109. freeman - July 3, 2013

Steve, you wrote: “The thing that puzzles me is… so many people stayed in for so long -decades – but apparently as soon as they leave the whole period turns to shit.”

From what I’ve observed and experienced, it’s more of a process, and not something that suddenly turns sour — and then one leaves. Also, the act of leaving and removing yourself from the closed environment enables freer thinking, and freer communication, and the freer flow of information, and it therefore enables a person to see the experience much more acutely — hence the sudden perception that “the whole period turns to shit,” as you describe. I think that’s why WhaleRider wrote further up the page, “Give it some time away from the cult…” A lot of people (myself included) see things much more clearly, and gain a much different perspective after they leave.

As far as your enjoyment and sense of accomplishment in the cult, good for you! I felt the same, and have many of the same positive memories. But I was able to experience that enjoyment only because I kept my eyes closed (all the while pretending that my eyes were wide open, ironically).

108. idanevasayneva

“Having said that during my time in FOF, I knew plenty of people who tended to do some or all of the above to varying degrees. They were either fun or annoying to be around or both.”

I knew the same people. Many of them, by the way, were on the way out when they acted that way, and have since left, partly because they did question things and pointed out the bullshit when they saw it. However, there’s another group of people who fit into the category that you describe, but who may never leave. For them, it’s easy to joke about Burton here and there, or poke fun at how dysfunctional the group is, etc. It’s part of their “act” to pretend they are thinking freely and acting freely. But keep in mind that not one of them directs their questions or expresses their sarcasm at Burton himself. If they did, they would be leaving the cult by the next day. That’s not a secret, though.

110. freeman - July 3, 2013

108. idanevasayneva

“If the FOF is not a cult, it is an organization with strong cult like characteristics, such an organization works by having a number of psychological mechanisms in place which suppress all of the above activities. So suggesting that we could have been other than obedient and loyal followers feels telling someone who got washed away in a tsunami, that they should have resisted and paddled to saftety on their paddleboard. It’s just not very likely.”

It’s a cult, so people en masse won’t suddenly be marching in front of the “Academy” and starting a resistance movement. Of course not. But thousands of people have broken off individually and have left the cult. It’s only a very small percentage who remain, so quite a few have been successful at deprogramming themselves, or at least beginning the process of doing this. I think your analogy of paddling against a tsunami is very apt. However, at some point a person realizes that simply stating an open criticism of Burton and the FOF isn’t impossible. And it’s still not impossible. It’s just that a person won’t be staying in the cult very much longer once they get to that point.

You might consider finding a shorter term than an “organization with strong cult-like characteristics.” It’s easier that way. Just the word “cult” works pretty well. Finding it within ourselves to use that word is part of paddling against the tsunami, too.

111. idanevasayneva - July 3, 2013

Re 110 freeman

Yes I agree. And I think we agree even. These organizations are powerful. There is a group psychology that is quite hard to resist or even to be aware of. I see little point in doing any of the things mentioned – “saying something when it could have been said”, etc etc. The most effective protest is to take your time, energy and money elsewhere, and as you point out the vast majority of people do, sooner or later.

112. freeman - July 3, 2013

It sounds like we’re missing each other’s points a bit or coming at this from different angles, but sure, there are some key agreements between us. I’m like you in that I’ve always liked the old Nike slogan when it came to the FOF and other cults: “Just leave.”

113. Fee fi fo fum - July 4, 2013

102 freeman

Good list. Thank you. When I left, which was a long time ago, I found it to be important to examine how my thinking and behavior had been programmed by the FF, so that I could free myself from it as much as possible. Forgiveness was the farthest thing from my mind at that time, because at its deeper level, it means you’re not affected by that which caused you pain or harm. That stage may come at a later time, but the priority for someone who has recently left the FF who was immersed in the programming and woven into the lifestyle (meetings, lived near Apollo, married a student and socialized with other FF families, in other words, led an insular life), is to question everything, and undo that programming.

I would also be wary of hiding behind a concept of forgiveness if what is really driving one is a knee-jerk reaction of avoiding the “expression of negative emotions.”

114. WhaleRider - July 4, 2013


Thanks for the good read about “Forgiveness and Retribution”.

In the discussion of “unconditional forgiveness” vis a vis retribution, despite all the sound reasons why a paradigm of forgiveness might sooth your wounds and make you feel better…

this was particularly tasty:

“These theorists (cf. Strawson 1962 “…the reactive attitude of resentment plays a crucial role in moral life”) defend resentment — a reactive attitude characterized by the judgment that one has been wronged, a feeling of moral anger toward the one responsible, and either a desire to punish or (at least) a withdrawal of goodwill. In resenting, they argue, a victim shows proper respect for himself, for morality and for the offender. Indeed, a lack of resentment leads us to worry that the victim might be condoning his own victimization or viewing the offender as if she were a child or an animal, that is, something less than a competent moral agent.”

I’d say for me, my resentment of burton translates as a complete withdrawal of trust and faith, which are important aspects of goodwill.

ergo, burton is not my friend.

115. brucelevy - July 4, 2013

“I know a gay or 2 and I wouldn’t dare tell them what they do is bad! And who knows, my friends might have come from impoverished backgrounds and maybe sent money back to support their family. Every adult has a right to choose their own path and learn from his own mistakes. (One has left the FOF and the other not, as far as I know, but who knows who is happier now?)”

The above statement indicates that you don’t or can’t differentiate between “consensual sex” and the actual “cult dynamic” that is going on in the FOF and most “enlightenment groups”. And that’s what the “gurus” depend on.

Also, while “forgiveness” can be an effective self therapy, it can also be an extension of self-victimization. It can also help prolong a venue of preditor-prey like the FOF by putting the onus of forgiveness on the victim.

Steve - July 4, 2013

OK so what sort of things did you say to deter the boys from bending over for Robert, since you must have seen that as your moral duty?

116. ton2u - July 4, 2013

“bent over backwards or forwards… for Robert”

re: “bending over for robert” and what some folks “choose” to ignore:

“We all were fooled by an outrageous conman, and we all have to come to terms with how that happened….”

we come to terms in different ways…. what I did to “deter the boys” was to leave the cult… at least draining the victim pool by 1.

117. ton2u - July 4, 2013

and please let’s not ‘soft-pedal’ the situation — a cult is a cult:


118. Tim Campion - July 4, 2013

(At Apollo this 4th of July, Fellowship members are probably celebrating the 42nd anniversary of the purchase of that property. For most Americans, it’s Independence Day.)


Through eighteen years, your membership, emotional support, financial support, and, we may assume, recruiting efforts certainly helped sustain Robert Burton in his unchallenged role as guru.

You apparently joined the Fellowship clear-eyed and with no misconceptions about Burton (charges against him being widely publicized by 1992.) As you recognized him for the charlatan many of us now see, can you tell us what you received from the Fellowship of Friends that encouraged you to stay on over the many years?

In other words, knowing as you did that other members were clearly being deceived, controlled, and perhaps even abused, what benefit did you derive that was worth the ongoing cost of membership?

And what subsequently changed, that you decided to leave and, according to Fellowship teachings, accept a fate worse than death?

119. brucelevy - July 5, 2013

Steve – July 4, 2013

What did I do Steve? I told people what was fucking happening. What did you do?

Steve - July 5, 2013

Hi Bruce and Tim, maybe you can tell ‘us’ (let’s get some cultish Us and Them mentality happening here) how long you were in, whether you perceived or received any benefit from being in, and what tipped the scales to make you leave. Did telling people what was fucking happening work well while you were in Bruce, or was it just ‘internet bitching’ after you left?

Like I said, I gained a lot in the area of spiritual stuff, but it would be ‘pearls before swine’ to detail that here. 🙂 It’s too easy to stomp that sort of thing into the mud. Perhaps you 2 could describe what you gained – or were you simply brain-washed into staying in for a long time, so it was completely out of your control?

I understand the victim / blame mentality would seem natural to adopt, because it must be hard to inwardly reconcile having bent over for him. But… it’s not exactly like a girl getting raped down a dark alley, you need to accept that there was some degree of compliance or you’re just left with bitterness.

Like most I think, I was shocked when I first heard he was gay. It was from a champion runner in Australia who joined the school and went to Apollo, and got hit on very quickly. He left soon after.

But I’m reasonably gay tolerant. Then stories of many male partners came out. I don’t subscribe to the societal standards relating to monogamy, so OK… Then stories of women getting abortions and couples divorcing at his behest, and bullshit predictions that people actually believed. That was enough to tell me he was definitely loony and so were the people who swallowed that crap. But that was their choice, and it didn’t detract from the value I perceived, which was mainly from interactions with other sincerely seeking students. His value was in keeping it all together, and I must say, many wise and useful exercises, observations, angles.

I’ve read about enough gurus to know they all have a loony side, it’s part of the deal. Muktananda, Sai Baba, Rajneesh, Gurdjieff. Once they acquire swooning devotees who will do anything for them, they become a law unto themselves, and their sex drive naturally takes advantage of the situation. Who could resist? I bet Meher Baba had a nice time with his women mandali, he looked like a playboy porn star with that moustache. Ramana Maharshi could be an exception…with those man-boobs he just does not look the type.

Just wait a few years and stories will emerge about your current favourites (if you’re not totally disillusioned) – Mooji, Nisagaratta, Advaita, Ravishankar, and who’s that popular one in CA who got chosen over Robert himself by at least one student? Adi Shakti or something?

120. ton2u - July 5, 2013

Thanks Tim, well put… this is one of the pieces “Steve” doesn’t seem to grok:

“In other words, knowing as you did that other members were clearly being deceived, controlled, and perhaps even abused, what benefit did you derive that was worth the ongoing cost of membership?”

of course the implication is that his conscience was / is comfortably numb.

another part he doesn’t seem to get — he says:

“I understand the victim / blame mentality would seem natural to adopt, because it must be hard to inwardly reconcile having bent over for him….”

he hangs onto the notion of his “exceptionality” and refuses to recognize that ALL the sheep are ‘bent over’ and screwed by “the system” — as burton calls it.

“People coming out of a cultic group often struggle with the question, ‘Why would anyone (my leader, my teacher) do this to me?’ When the deception and exploitation become clear, the enormous unfairness of the victimization and abuse can be very difficult to accept.”


“Steve” may simply be a troll, or a Fellowship shill, or maybe he’s at an early stage in the process of “leaving” and he’s struggling with a type of myopia — 18 years?! that’s a long time — and it’s going to take time for his perspective to change. It does change… with time.

Steve - July 5, 2013

Ananda, was that the guy who attracted a few students who had to choose? No Ton or whatever your name is, not everybody has to think the same like you, and be all bitter and twisted after leaving.

So tell me how long you were in, and what happened to turn your head around? Were you blind and suddenly you saw?
I’ve seen all along, so I could never feel that way – “how could my teacher do that to me”!
Even that revolting phrase ‘my teacher’ – which I heard sometimes – had that gooey sickly feeling to me. Maybe it was one of your expressions, but I couldn’t have said that without puking between words!

I assessed him through ny own eyes and experiences so I never worshipped him like you probably did. How could you worship someone who makes predictions that are always wrong?

On my first visit to Apollo I asked one of the boys (C.C.) if he thinks Robert is conscious. His reply was a categorical ‘I have no doubt’. It was interesting, but certainly didn’t create the belief in ME that he was conscious. Were you one of the ones who quoted the hoary old lines like ‘he’s more conscious than me’, or ‘he’s the most conscious person I’ve met’, or the popular variations of ‘if you’re drowning and see a lifebuoy you don’t ask what colour it is, you just hold on!’

These sort of copied lines when repeated probably induce the worshipful cult trance state, but I could never be so untrue to myself, that would feel soul destroying.

For me the only possible sense of loss could be monetary, but obviously I assessed that internally every month, and paid the minimum like most of us! haha.
I always had the thought ‘what if these self righteous do-gooders suddenly get pissed off and leave, how will they feel having parted with so much cash!?

Everyone can choose what they do within the circumstantial constraints, so I think it’s better to man up and accept responsibility for those choices and move on that be all bitter and twisted about the past.

If you want to get revenge or protect others fine, but don’t expect every ex-member to think the same as you and be all negative about the past and their own choices in life. Better to take the positive lessons out of life than get all chewed up about it!

Others can probably detect the cult-like attitude to make me the enemy (THEM) because I don’t think the same as you.

121. Tim Campion - July 5, 2013


I left the Fellowship before the shit hit the fan. (The Samuel Sanders case had been settled, but the case was sealed, and the Fellowship leadership was careful to maintain secrecy.) In my case, it was not any shock or outrage, but a failure to meet financial demands that led to my departure. It was not until this forum began, over twenty years later, that my reflection and analysis of the “Fellowship experience” truly began.

So my question above was a serious one. I wanted to know how people (like yourself,) with “full knowledge” of the situation (the betrayal of trust, the fraud, the failed predictions, the forced abortions, the destroyed marriages, the tax evasion, the lies, the unabashed greed, the sodomy, etc.) justify remaining. Obviously, you were not alone – there were a couple thousand others who stayed on, and many who joined after the truth about Burton emerged. OK, you have answered that; there was “spiritual stuff” that made it worthwhile.

And what led to your departure?

Steve - July 5, 2013

Tim, OK that’s a new one, sounds like you were completely in the dark about the sordid sex etc. Maybe the time when Robert claimed to be celibate? I didn’t know about fraud, but I guessed something shifty went on with the Chinese collection, and it became apparent that not a penny of the teaching payments went to anything other than trips and a fancy lifestyle, but that was his choice I guess. Needless to say I never gave money for any of the numerous requests for donations for all sorts of things like improvements to Apollo.

Weren’t there failed predictions in your time?
That was such a joke for me, all the die-hard retards collecting canned food!, leaving their jobs in SF, how gullible.

At my first dinner in 2006 on my first visit I piped up with a question like ‘What if the predictions fail?’
His response was something inane like ‘We don’t worry about that’.
‘We’ must have been the elite inner circle I assume, who are mostly here now! At that dinner I noticed his leg bouncing and twitching around, so I could see he was not conscious if he wasn’t even aware of a spastic leg.

At my second visit in 1998 at a dinner I fired a few more questions, I can’t remember what about at the moment. But his reaction, after getting his right hand boy to repeat the question, was to turn away and address the other side of the room about how the negative people take up the most space or something like that. He went on for quite a while, as if I had spoiled the atmosphere. Later walking home Rulik approached to tell me how ‘lucky’ I was, to ‘receive so much C influence’. He was welcome to it, I thought.

On my last day in the US, at the airport, I got a call from Michael Goodwin to say I was banned from visiting Apollo for 1 year.

My next visit was 10 years later, but I didn’t invest in any more dinners!

I think my questions were along similar lines to some I asked Asaf when he visited, something like ‘what is your inner attitude when you repeat those sort of angles from Robert like ‘notice how this painting is square and has 4 corners. These represent the 4 worthless breaths. And the Mona Lisa has 2 breasts, which represent short b and long B’. I asked if his mental attitude was to ‘play along’, or did he actually believe the artists intention was to put such symbols in art, or that these symbols were not from the artist but from C influence?

Asaf reacted similarly to Robert had, to turn away and address the people not near me, saying something about ‘negative people’ having too much to say, and how Robert takes his observations very seriously.

I just thought ‘another deadhead loser who can’t see the truth if it hit him between the eyes.

It was always sad to see how gullible and retarded people could be, but as my grandmother used to say, it takes all kinds to make a world.

As for tax evasion, well I am not anti that! That’s the IRS’s job.

Forced abortions and destroyed marriages? Yes I heard about those, but surely they are in the same category as the ‘forced sex’. If people let themselves be so totally controlled by someone else that they would blow him or bend over or get an abortion or get divorced because he said to… well I don’t know what to say without offending some unfortunate. But taking responsibility for your past actions is important I think. What sort of jellyfish would do something totally against their own conscience and then blame someone else for it?

At the same time, I wouldn’t want to be in Robert’s shoes if there is any karma!

122. WhaleRider - July 5, 2013

What’s wrong with some bitterness in life?

Seems like the human condition to me.

I certainly have some bitter feelings about the past, that doesn’t automatically make me a bitter person, unless I ruminate on them or keep them to myself.

I also have just as many joyful feelings about the past. Hence the overall feeling of “bitter-sweet”.

123. Tim Campion - July 5, 2013


I had to laugh at your stories. I’m sure there are many more where those came from.

Yes, Robert Burton claimed to be celibate during the time I was a member. And he only condoned sex within marriage. At least that was his official position. (We now know about his other “positions.”)

And yes, there were failed predictions in my time, most notably that a 3-1/2 year depression would commence early in 1984. Many set about preparing for the crisis (and some even made financial bets on it.)

The failure of that prediction no doubt undermined my faith in Burton (and it was indeed faith, since much of what he claimed was impossible to verify.)

There were other indications all was not right in Paradise. The San Francisco Chronicle and Sacramento Bee had done unflattering articles about Burton and the Fellowship. There were rumors of the Sanders lawsuit, and there was definitely a Fellowship “underground” that included ex-members and members on their way out, whose perspective on the Fellowship may have been much like your own. Stella Wirk was a prominent voice in that underground.

I officially left in 1986, long before the biggies: The Fall of California and Armageddon!

When it comes to tax-exempt churches and private inurement, the law is pretty clear, and I think there can be little doubt that Robert Burton has been the primary beneficiary of the Fellowship’s largesse.

It’s ironic that for many years Burton chastised members who were “in tramp” with regard to teaching payments, who apparently wished to receive “something for nothing,” while, for over four decades, he has in a myriad of ways sought to avoid paying the membership dues in a society which tolerates, accepts, and even supports his organization. Without public funding (via tax exemptions, social welfare, grants, insurance, subsidies, etc.), I doubt the Fellowship would have survived.

124. Shard_of_Oblivion - July 5, 2013

Steve in various postings 3-5 July recounts his relationship with the FoF and Burton, and I am grateful to hear his perspective which struck me as quite unusual. 18 years seems a long time to make teaching payments to an outfit run by someone for whom you have little respect, and peopled by gullible and retarded specimens. You say that you found real tangible benefits from following some of the exercises, but it hardly seems enough. I would suppose that you also had made some good friends, and that was a large part of the reason why you stayed. After all, for someone who prides himself on not being gullible, you were paying a huge price for those exercises, and there are many books and indeed other groups that offer very similar exercises for a fraction of the cost.

It is a puzzle. Maybe you have an unusual attitude to making payments, so that it didn’t worry you how much money it was costing you to see some friends and get some useful suggestions on exercises for your first line of work. But thinking about it, I can see it would be a very different experience to join the FoF whilst NOT believing Burton was conscious, and not believing in C influence as described by Burton (endlessly – yawn). I can imagine you felt a bit like a “spy in the house of love”, and possibly the attraction for you was this feeling of superiority you were able to cultivate, as you looked at the gullible fools around you.

I for one am very grateful that you did join, and disrupted/livened up meetings a bit with your freethinking attitudes, and those questions you put to Burton and Braverman were pertinent and well placed.

Burton and Braverman themselves I am certain have no trouble at all with people who express negative attitudes, they will feel a mild emotion of pity, as they are certain the negative person has missed the point completely, and there is no point wasting any of their so precious energy on them. (Does Burton claim to run on hydrogen 3 yet? if not it’s only a matter of time, he will find that conceit irresistible)

Steve - July 6, 2013

I think he might be running on H1 now, chaotic thoughts merged with the universal entropy. So unified and Godlike he never hears an opposing idea.

Glad to hear you’re OK whalerider – you’re one I worried about – so all the weird experiences made you a better, not bitter person!

Actually Shard! regarding ‘C influence’ I’ve had enough more-than-timely coincidences to harbour a lurking suspicion of higher forces looking after me, before and after the FOF. But yeah the idea gets flogged to death by his holiness.

And I don’t think I felt superiority, it was more like a disconnecting stab when one of them did something cold like shutting me out of the meeting when I was a few minutes late (Niels), or another time when I arrived with cash because I was late with the payments. And more of a sad and lonely feeling when someone seemingly intelligent like Asaf revealed his emptiness – his blind acceptance without verification.

I figured around 100 a month was not too much more than a gym membership, for a kind of trapdoor into another world where the daily worries disappeared upon entering a meeting as I became absorbed in presence. The school was mainly a vehicle for me to get that experience, and I was there in spite of RB and certain obsequious students who revolted me. Apart from the opportunities and motivation to travel.

125. brucelevy - July 6, 2013

Steve – July 5, 2013

All the information you requested from me is conatained in the previous 136 pages, in depth. If you think I’m going to reiterate what’s already been stated to assuage your own personal narcissism, you’re sadly deluded. It’s all there, find it yourself.

126. Shard_of_Oblivion - July 6, 2013

Steve #124

OK I get it I think. For you higher forces are a reality based on your own life experiences, so you weren’t looking for confirmation of the miraculous as many may be doing, you were simply after an environment where you could practice, and FoF meetings and milieu fitted the bill.

So now you know to a fuller extent what Burton is doing, do you morally condemn it – that would still be compatible with saying that for you, the experience in the FoF wasn’t a bad one at all.

127. Tempus Fugit - July 6, 2013

First, hello to Free54/Steve Suh. Congratulations on your escape and thanks for your comments and the inspirational link to the comments of Ramananda on the Ram Dass blog.

And thanks to all for getting the blog roaring again.

And to the other Steve, in for 18 years yet a nonbeliever – if you are honest and not just another FOF shill then you are helping confirm a thought that has been forming since I joined this blog a couple of years ago. The FOF must be quite different and “watered down” from when I was a member.

I joined the FOF in the early 70’s and stayed until the early 80’s. When I joined the group had less than 150 people, I knew many of them personally and they all seemed like family.

I was passionate and completely committed to Robert and the group. I felt I had found my spiritual home for life, and was on my way to immortality under the guidance of a conscious being and the angel guides.

Not everyone was a true believer like me, but I had lots of company. I’ve got the feeling that the intensity of commitment of new and newer students for the FOF simply does not match the religious fervor of the early days.

“Steve” says he simply chose not to pay special donations. That would have been impossible when I was in the group. You paid 10% of your gross income (with a minimum amount I don’t recall and reductions or waivers for people working full time on the “Farm”). Then about every other month a separate donation (again old memory fails- $200-$300) was required to pay for special art works or projects.

If you failed to pay you fell into arrears and eventually were asked to leave the group. If you later wanted to return and got approval to do so you had to make up all missed payments and pay a fine (I remember the figure of $1500). There was no such thing as simply choosing to not make a required payment.

Some of you may recall Sharole Mannering, one of my friends who died of cancer. Her story is somewhere in this blog or on the web, maybe on one of Stella Wirk’s old pages; I would appreciate if someone could repost the link.

Sharole wrote Burton a letter (yes on paper in a stamped envelope!) discussing her difficulty making payments. Burton showed no sympathy whatsoever, and replied that if she didn’t get current she could (approximate words) expect to go to hell when she died.

Lovely man, isn’t he? The word sociopath is really too polite to express the criminal nature of this monster. And I use the term monster in a figurative sense only. Burton is just as human as you or I, but, in my opinion, is severely mentally ill.

Back to my story. The first 2-3 years were generally exciting and positive. My disenchantment was slow and I became more and more unhappy as the years passed while remaining trapped by my original and then elaborated commitment.

Significant disenchantment came from the onerous financial burdens, especially to buy expensive art works that were only of mild interest to me, but worse than that were the rules that controlled one’s personal life, how to dress, what to eat, who you could sleep with, where you could live…..

I’m a free American, and my spirit rebelled at the core to these limitations on my freedom. I’m sure this undercut my efforts to keep up with the group even though I could not see it at the time. I thought I was trying my best but just couldn’t earn enough money.

I stopped being a “student” after being three months behind in “teaching payments.” The day came just like any other day. I had been banned from meetings for three months because I owed the money and, with a couple of exceptions, people in the group followed the “no contact” rule and ignored me. One day in, the next day out.

Recovery for me has been a long process.

When I left the group I was suffering from depression, PTSD, extreme anxiety, and disturbed thinking. I realized I needed to do something to get back into life, and not just wait around for “C-influence” to arrange the horrible fate promised by Burton, a suffering so intense I would “wish I had never been born.”

Some who read this may not know that Burton ordered people not to use the word “I” in the late 70’s and refer to themselves as “it” or “this person,” even when dealing with “life people.”

My mind had been so twisted by this bizzare nonsense that I couldn’t think right. I remember sometime soon after I was out of the FOF a stranger made a friendly comment to me in public and I looked at him with some alarm and thought “this life machine is talking to me, how should it respond?”

Dehumanization is a powerful tool of enslavement. Burton wanted followers to see themselves as “things,” and himself as the only real person.

How wonderful, and yet still how strange, to now know the truth.

Although Burton and I are both real human beings we are profoundly different. One of us is sane and knows he is human and limited, the other one is insane and imagines he is a god.

128. Tim Campion - July 6, 2013


Here’s one link: “The Hell Letter”

That was my experience as well, Tempus. In the end, it was all about the money.

129. Tim Campion - July 6, 2013

Tempus, here’s one on the subject of donations: “Payment is a principle”

These policies might not reflect Steve’s experience, but for many it was the law.

130. Tempus Fugit - July 6, 2013

Hi Tim. Thank you for the links.

Steve - July 6, 2013

Hi Tempus, you’re right, I forgot about those Extra Special payments! Luckily I made enough money to not have to worry if I paid the minimum, but I felt sorry for some of those trailer park people living a squalid existence, except when they dressed up in their finery for a meeting.
What you describe is one of the sickening aspects, how people could treat others coldly, ‘life people’ or ex-students. I always treated all people the same, and thought it was sick to treat some like non-humans, conscience destroying I’d say.
Also disgusting to read that letter condemning the poor woman to hell if she left. Definitely insane to be preaching about love in one breath and condemning his beloved students with the next.
PS. Is there a BLOCK button for brucelevy, he seems to have a nasty chip on his shoulder.

131. freeman - July 6, 2013

No, there is no “block button” for brucelevy. Sometimes don’t you wish we had a block button for all of these pages? It’s not an easy read.

Steve - July 6, 2013

Yes especially the sex stories, gruesome stuff! I can imagine how that would mess people up.

I can’t quite imagine how intelligent people could believe so much in his divinity though, unless they experienced something like psychic incidents with him?

I’ve only ever heard one story like that, from old Gloria who said something about a blue light coming from Robert and filling her with energy. But I think her addled brain probably pinched the story from a Fritz Peters book which told the same story.

Even Miles Bart, who inspired one mass exodus, is quoted in a story as saying Robert ‘knows what he’s doing’ in instructing Ton2u’s wife to get an abortion. How could a mumbling old man induce such certainty about his godly status? Is it just from peer pressure and rumours? If enough people repeat the line that someone is conscious, do people just accept it as a fact, even if that someone talks and acts about as godly as an old Marlon Brando?

132. Shard_of_Oblivion - July 6, 2013

Couldn’t resist this…

Does anyone know the way? There’s got to be a way!

To Block BUSTER!!!


133. freeman - July 6, 2013

Steve: “I can’t quite imagine how intelligent people could believe so much in his divinity…?”

You say you were in this cult for 18 years? I suggest that you stop looking for “block buttons” and take Bruce’s advice and read these pages. You’ll find a lot of answers there, assuming you’re honestly looking for them.

Steve - July 6, 2013

Well Mr Freeman I’ve read a lot of (justifiable) bitching about what a mongrel he is, but not much to explain why people would believe wholeheartedly in him being enlightened. No special powers or accurate predictions or anything of the sort. Like I said, I think a lot of his angles, observations and exercises are insightful, like Ekhart Tolle, but not remarkable enough to think he’s Godlike and do whatever he says, even if it’s totally against your nature. I guess it was just the whole atmosphere and peer pressure of living there. Maybe I was just lucky enough to be raised with a more suspicious and cynical nature, but not as much as some who would not even join in the first place.

134. ton2u - July 6, 2013

One thing the current thread here indicates is that some things have changed (somewhat) over the course of the years, at least in regard to payments. If I take steve at “face value” i’m assuming he’s only recently left the organization ? and his experience sounds very much different than mine — I left in the early 80’s. Steve refers to burton as a “mumbling old man” which during my tenure he was not… yes peer group pressure has a lot to do with why a person would allow his conscience to be lulled to sleep… and there’s something called “charismatic / coercive persuasion” — (you can read all about it in the literature on cults) — that has a lot to do with it too. there was a particular dynamic occurring at the time at “the ranch” — at least for me, i was young, foolish, naive to the world as a ‘seeker,’ i found myself in an insular environment where burton is treated and acts like the defacto god… back then he was not the “mumbling old man” steve refers to. i’ve openly (see the back pages here if you’re so interested) admitted my culpability and collusion, my foolish stupidity and naivete’ in the situation… and I feel that I’ve come to some terms within and to some extent I’m able to forgive myself for the errors I’ve made….

But I’m a little mystified by Steve’s attitude, he seems to be gloating about having avoided the shit while reaping the supposed “benefits” and in the process disparaging the “retards” and poor stupid suckers who were/are duped by burton… of course he was not one of the retarded dupes, he just consciously supported the enterprise for 18 years. re: what he says he knew about the deceptions and inner workings of the cult while he supported it — it’s still difficult for me to get a handle on why steve kept up his support and his payments for those 18 years ? I was in for about 5 years and that seems like a long time…. I guess if you can manage to steer clear of enough of the shit, for example if you’re at an outlying center and you have a cozy well paying job and you can afford to make a donation to the FOF social club and buy your way into a sense of community with the “spiritual stuff” included, or maybe it’s an insurance policy for the afterlife… in any case i suppose that you can insulate and ignore the shit… unfortunately that wasn’t the case for me…. within a year of joining i moved to “the ranch” and lived there until i managed to work up the courage to leave… on the other hand if I hadn’t been in the middle of the shit i might have wasted many more years supporting burton’s antics…. like steve.

Steve - July 6, 2013

Yes I suppose it sounds like gloating, maybe because I was often irritated by the holier-than-thou types who were apparently so soppily obedient and pretending to be ‘good students’. They are probably the ones most twisted when they leave, when they realize His Divine Majesty is not so holy as they imagined.

I wouldn’t gloat at the suffering of any sincere seeker who gets abused under the pretext of spiritual guidance, but as for the phonies with the fake smiles and mellow tones concealing their inner coldness for real people who don’t copy their masks… they probably deserve what they get.

They are probably the same miserable school bullies who now try to ostracize individuals on this forum who apparently don’t think the same as them, into an Us and Them position, by calling them names like narcissists, trolls, shills or whatever.

135. ton2u - July 6, 2013

who is ostracizing who steve ? from the beginning here you’ve been tossing stones at the fools, the retards and the unfortunates who were ‘bent-over’ by burton while you so cleverly avoided the shit and reaped the benefits… you know what steve, good for you, i’m very happy for you.

Steve - July 6, 2013

Ostracize is to exclude someone from a group. How can I ostracize you all from my one-man group? I don’t have a group, I just write from my direct experience, but some of you lot act like a gang of thugs ready to ostracize anyone with name-calling, sarcasm and labelling, anyone who doesn’t conform to your views. Maybe some lingering cult mentality. What’s with the ‘happy for me’?

136. ton2u - July 6, 2013

steve, how about the word “marginalize” instead of “ostracize” then — as in — “you try to marginalize individuals on this forum…” think about it… ‘unfortunate retards with fake smiles and phony tones who conceal coldness and were bent-over by burton” etc. definitely “some lingering cult mentality.” i can say, the same as you; i don’t have a group and i write from my experience — and this is how i experience you.

137. ton2u - July 6, 2013

Look steve, if you are as you represent yourself, newly escaped from this cult — then i am truly happy for you… i have nothing against you personally, unless you are an apologist for burton’s little operation — which at times it sounds like you are. my ‘beef’ with you steve, is that you seem to be under the illusion that you are one of the “lucky” or “cleaver” ones who were not “bent over” by burton while the other “unfortunates” and “jellyfish” were busy taking it up the arsehole…. “figuratively speaking.”

Here’s a perspective from an old beekeeper at “mt. renaissance” vineyard; using a metaphor from bee-culture: burton’s operation is set up to feed the queen at the center of the hive… this queen feeds on semen… among other things. the operation is set up to feed the queen and the queen is fed by the workers… that’s you steve! and then there are the drones… you can google it if you’re interested in the sordid details about drones and the queen “BE”… . i agree with Tempus, burton is sick…. mentally / emotionally ill — and when ‘susceptible” individuals are in proximity, they are infected / harmed by him…. some apparently with out realizing it.

on the lighter side:

i’m a victim of circumstance…

138. ton2u - July 6, 2013

somethings i missed while in the cult….
sorry to clog up the works here….
“mea culpa” — if you don’t know what it means ‘google’ it:

139. Tim Campion - July 6, 2013


Robert Burton founded The Fellowship of Friends when he was 30 (and Eckart Tolle was 21.) He was not some old guy. Most of Burton’s early followers were actually older than him. (Think Asaf Braverman, but bigger, and from Arkansas.) Yet there is something in the teacher-student (and parent-child) relationship that feeds our innate longing for approval and acceptance. I don’t know if the impulse ever leaves us. I still recognize it today.

“We” (yes, most of us) were all too eager to demonstrate trust in and support for Burton, quickly gaining competency at emulating his mannerisms, quoting his aphorisms, and experiencing and describing the world through his “fresh” perspective.

Burton may have long ago lost his charisma, but he did create an environment and organization that perpetuates his mythology, and that still attracts youthful, naive and eager-to-please followers.

As for how people fall for such scams, it may sound like there’s an echo in here, but ask yourself that question and maybe you’ll uncover some uncomfortable truths.

140. Tempus Fugit - July 6, 2013

Hmm, for some reason the new Steve’s blog posts are unnumbered. Anyone know why?

fofblogmoderator – could you investigate and explain this curious glitch?

Thank you!

141. Tempus Fugit - July 6, 2013

Pardon, I should have said “curious anomaly.”

142. Tim Campion - July 7, 2013


When a blogger fails to toe the line, “we” marginalize them by disallowing the numbering of their posts, in effect ignoring them. That, or it may be the work of C Influence.

143. yesrib - July 7, 2013

because it is the moderator duhhuh!

144. silentpurr - July 7, 2013

Steve’s lucky. He got in and got without sustaining any unprepared for change/injury.

145. silentpurr - July 7, 2013

Sorry, I meant: Steve got in and got out without sustaining any unprepared for change/injury.

146. yesrib - July 8, 2013

I need to temper my previous post with the caveat that I may have my head up my ass. A common condition of mine for those that don’t know me.

147. freeman - July 8, 2013

140, 141. Tempus Fugit

Good question.

Incidentally, Steve uses the number “44” in his profile like countless other FOF cult members have used the number over the years (you can see this by clicking his name, Steve, whenever he posts). Either he’s being slightly ironic or sarcastic, or he is much more tuned in with the “Fellowship” culture than he would like us to believe. Any affinity with that number is very much connected to the same Burton superstition and other nonsense that he claims he never bought into.

148. jomopinata - July 8, 2013

It takes time to deprogram oneself from the cult just as it took some time to become fully indoctrinated. The narcissistic impairments that facilitated the cult involvement in the first place also persist upon leaving, and need to be recognized as such and worked through. And then there’s the whole armor of “spiritual” beliefs (“we must FORGIVE!”) that potentially insulate people from coming to terms with what actually happened. I think it can be an act of courage, having left, to announce one’s beliefs to others, however narcissistic, bullshit-laden and contradictory those beliefs may be, IF the person stating those beliefs opens his or her ears to constructive criticism. It’s hard to do! And I understand the impulse to viciously attack someone’s boldly stated beliefs, interwoven with many cult doctrines. The cult mindfuck has numerous long tentacles which can reach out many years after the fact to influence what we say and think. These tentacles can sometimes be like fingers callously thrust into our own wounds. They hurt, and we lash back. Maybe it can have some helpful shock value sometimes, I’m not sure. Usually people just shut down.

149. Deprogrammer - July 8, 2013

Your precious time on this world was eaten by a false prophet:


We are small little fish dropped into a pond that is ruled by big, lying fish and we were swept away into the current of a shark. This happened because our unsophisticated minds are easily confused by big ideas. We were misdirected by idealism and then ill-used by a ruthless realist.

Who is to blame? The little idealistic fish? The ruthless shark? The nature of the pond?

150. ton2u - July 8, 2013

i appreciate the metaphor… but burton a “realist” — really ? i think i understand the attempt to contrast the “idealism” that motivates these “little fishes” but to imply that burton is a “realist” imo is really stretching it. How burton gets people to buy into his fantasy life is the “mystery”…. the naivete’ of a young idealist might explain the initial draw… somewhat. Personally i’m not looking to place blame…. but if that were the case, as you point out your image works well since there’s plenty of “blame” to go round… and… I do not forgive burton but I’m not looking for retribution either… were he to somehow realize his misdeeds and truly “repent” (never to do these deeds again) then forgiveness might be a consideration.


Steve, i apologize if I came down too hard on you, I hope you will feel free to continue posting your experiences and I hope you see how some comments here may be perceived in such a way as to sometimes elicit a “group” response…. that is given the “audience.”

151. WhaleRider - July 8, 2013

“Who’s to blame?”

I think the question for me is, what are my moral obligations to myself and my community, knowing full well the manner in which burton continues to exploit and harm people?

You seem to be relegating us all to less than responsible, conscientious, moral beings…fish.

Are we not the pond, too?

What kind of “deprogramming” is this?

Steve - July 8, 2013

Thanks Ton, no worries, it’s interesting to write and read all this.

Strange I can’t see a funny post I wrote about squares, which have taken over from 44’s. Does the moderator just randomly delete some posts?
Maybe it was too raunchy, I can’t remember.

152. freeman - July 9, 2013

Steve, if you included more than one link in your post, it will be held up in moderation (just a guess, but the moderator might be away on vacation).

I don’t think there any raunchy filters here, although people are sometimes pushing the envelope.

153. Deprogrammer - July 9, 2013

“Are we not the pond, too?”

The false prophet sees this kind of attitude, this obvious lack of normal boundaries, and instantly knows he has a suitably appetizing idealistic fish on the line.

Lack of boundaries: the first opportunity, the primary breach, a predator hunts for.

154. ton2u - July 9, 2013

So, so you think you can tell Heaven from Hell,
blue skies from pain.
Can you tell a green field from a cold steel rail?
A smile from a veil?
Do you think you can tell?
And did they get you to trade your heroes for ghosts?
Hot ashes for trees?
Hot air for a cool breeze?
Cold comfort for change?
And did you exchange a walk on part in the war for a lead role in a cage?

155. Deprogrammer - July 9, 2013

The mind control used in the counterculture’s subliminal messaging through rock music hypnotism has driven more people into cults than any other influence in history.

Steve - July 9, 2013

Interesting observation Deprog about boundaries, maybe that’s what saved me from getting done over in the FOF, that I luckily had some boundaries about how much I’d pay and what I’d do and not do.

156. ton2u - July 9, 2013

I think greg is back…

157. WhaleRider - July 9, 2013

My experience is that the spiritual predator primarily fishes for victims who feel dissatisfied with or alienated from their community or family.

The spiritual predator validates these feelings for the victim then begins feeding his victim’s latent narcissism with exclusive “secret, esoteric knowledge” and delusions of grandeur about being part of the special, lucky, “chosen ones”, (of course, with him as the undisputed leader).

The spiritual predator offers his victim what his victim lacks: a sense of belonging within his cult hierarchy. He manipulates his victim through controlling cult membership; using membership status as leverage for his loyal victim to “verify” the “secret knowledge”, along with the spiritual predator’s infallibility.

The victim has no real “choice”, but to succumb to the intense social pressure and seek confirmation bias…since the now spiritually myopic victim has been indoctrinated to believe that they would be facing a fate worse than death if they left.

Once the spiritual predator successfully splits his victim from their social network, isolating them from exposure to critical thinking reinforced by thought terminating “exercises”, then the spiritual predator capitalizes on that success and the mind-body splitting deepens…(i.e. upper-lower self) cultivating his victim for exploitation and physical, sexual or emotional abuse through the process of “separating” from the pain and suffering the predator causes his victim in the name of “spiritual evolution”.

The victim is left to “blame” his suffering on his “lower self”.

…or blame it on rock and roll, if you prefer.

Steve - July 9, 2013

He wasn’t so good on the Infallibility part with all those predictions.

158. Deprogrammer - July 9, 2013

Most have no idea who they are now, but many decades ago there was a rock guitar ensemble who called themselves the Beatboys, or the Beatniks, and they basically told a generation of teenagers refusing to get haircuts or take baths to join cults. This one instigator, the leader of the band, (who I believe was responsible for a riot at a free rock concert on the outskirts of San Francisco in which a man in a lime green suit was killed by the motorcycle gang that a folksinger named Bob Donovan (real name Trayvon Zimmerman) had started before he broke his neck on a motorcycle “run” to Las Vegas with his gang) cleverly employed sophisticated North Korean indoctrination techniques to convince many unshaven teenagers to frequent airports where they sold schatzkis, or chakras, and then gave all the money to their Buddhist ringleaders. Here is the guitar twanging maniac inciting people to brainwash themselves just a few months before he died at the hands of a crazed midnight intruder:

159. ton2u - July 9, 2013

your “guitar twanging maniac” did not die at the hands of “a crazed midnight intruder” — wtf g ?


160. Golden Veil - July 9, 2013

Deprogrammer’s entire post is tongue-in-cheek, ton2u! I’s all cock-eyed. The point they are making is…

161. Deprogrammer - July 9, 2013

The Whole (Earth) Rock and Roll Conspiracy:

The Mamas and the Papas: “California Dreamin”

The Doors: “The west is the best
The west is the best
Get here, and we’ll do the rest”

Beach Boys “I wish they all could be California girls”

Scott McKenzie: “If you’re going to San Francisco
Be sure to wear some flowers in your hair
If you’re going to San Francisco
You’re gonna meet some gentle people there”

The whole plan was to get teenagers to California where all the false prophets live (the so-called “Tambourine Men”):

Bob Dylan: “Hey ! Mr Tambourine Man, play a song for me
In the jingle jangle morning I’ll come followin’ you.
Though I know that evenin’s empire has returned into sand
Vanished from my hand
Left me blindly here to stand but still not sleeping
My weariness amazes me, I’m branded on my feet
I have no one to meet
And the ancient empty street’s too dead for dreaming.
Take me on a trip upon your magic swirlin’ ship
My senses have been stripped, my hands can’t feel to grip
My toes too numb to step, wait only for my boot heels
To be wanderin’
I’m ready to go anywhere, I’m ready for to fade
Into my own parade, cast your dancing spell my way
I promise to go under it.
Though you might hear laughin’, spinnin’ swingin’ madly across the sun
It’s not aimed at anyone, it’s just escapin’ on the run
And but for the sky there are no fences facin’
And if you hear vague traces of skippin’ reels of rhyme
To your tambourine in time, it’s just a ragged clown behind
I wouldn’t pay it any mind, it’s just a shadow you’re
Seein’ that he’s chasing.
Then take me disappearin’ through the smoke rings of my mind
Down the foggy ruins of time, far past the frozen leaves
The haunted, frightened trees, out to the windy beach
Far from the twisted reach of crazy sorrow
Yes, to dance beneath the diamond sky with one hand waving free
Silhouetted by the sea, circled by the circus sands
With all memory and fate driven deep beneath the waves
Let me forget about today until tomorrow.
…I’ll come followin’ you.”

Psychedelic rock Main article: Psychedelic music

“The late 1960s saw San Francisco and Hollywood rise as the center for psychedelic rock and a mecca for hippies. Haight-Ashbury became a countercultural capital, and bands like Jefferson Airplane, Loading Zone, Quicksilver Messenger Service, Country Joe and the Fish, Santana, The Charlatans, Big Brother & the Holding Company and the Grateful Dead helped to launch the blues- and folk-rock scene; other bands, like Moby Grape and The Flamin’ Groovies used a more country-influenced sound, while Cold Blood incorporated R&B and Orkustra played a sort of freeform psychedelia. Of all these bands, the Grateful Dead were undoubtedly the longest-lasting of all. They continued recording and performing for several decades under the leadership of Jerry Garcia, experimenting with a wide variety of folk, country and bluegrass, and becoming a part of the jam band phenomenon.

“Hollywood’s Sunset Strip area produced bands like The Byrds, The Doors, Love, Buffalo Springfield, and The Seeds. The Byrds went on to become a major folk-rock act, helping to popularize some of Bob Dylan’s compositions and eventually launching the careers of folk-rockers like David Crosby and country-rock fusionist Gram Parsons.

“Frank Zappa and Captain Beefheart, both from Antelope Valley, started their aggressively experimental music careers during the late 1960s.

“The band Iron Butterfly is another noted California psychedelic band, coming out of San Diego.

“San Francisco psychedelic scene[edit]This era began in about 1965, when The Matrix, the first folk club in San Francisco, opened; Jefferson Airplane, then a newly formed and unknown band, performed that night. Later that year, a band known as The Warlocks became the Grateful Dead, performing at The Fillmore, which was to become a major musical venue in the area. Jefferson Airplane became the first San Francisco psychedelic band signed to a major label, followed soon after by Sopwith Camel. In 1966, the first acid test was held, and the use of the drug LSD became a more prominent part of psychedelic rock, and music in general. One of the first albums from the scene was Country Joe and the Fish’s Electric Music for the Mind and Body (1967). A year later, the band Blue Cheer released Vincebus Eruptum, which launched a national hit with a cover of Eddie Cochran’s “Summertime Blues”; Blue Cheer is now regarded as a progenitor of heavy metal.”

Helter Skelter
(White Album)

When I get to the bottom I go back to the top of the slide/ Where I stop and I turn and I go for a ride/ Till I get to the bottom and I see you again.
Do you, don’t you want me to love you/ I’m coming down fast but I’m miles above you/ Tell me tell me tell me come on tell me the answer/ You may be a lover but you ain’t no dancer./ Helter skelter helter skelter/ Helter skelter.

Will you, won’t you want me to make you/ I’m coming down fast but don’t let me break you/ Tell me tell me tell me the answer/ You may be a lover but you ain’t no dancer./ Look out helter skelter helter skelter/ Helter skelter.

Look out, cause here she comes./ When I get to the bottom I go back to the top of the slide/ And I stop and I turn and I go for a ride/ And I get to the bottom and I see you again./ Well do you, don’t you want me to make you/ I’m coming down fast but don’t let me break you/ Tell me tell me tell me the answer/ You may be a lover but you ain’t no dancer./ Look out helter skelter helter skelter/ Helter skelter/ Look out helter skelter/ She’s coming down fast/ Yes she is/ Yes she is.”

“One of the two great influences on the thinking of Charles Manson, along with the Book of Revelation, was the musical group the Beatles. According to Family members, Manson would most often quote “the Beatles and the Bible.” The two influences were linked, in that Manson saw the four Beatles members as being the “four angels” referred to in Revelation 9. Revelation 9 also tells of “locusts”–the Beatles, of course–coming out upon the earth. It describes prophets as having “faces as the faces of men” but with “the hair of women”–an assumed reference too the long hair of the all-male English group. In Revelation 9, the four angels with “breastplates of fire”–electric guitars–“issued fire and brimstone”–song lyrics.

“Manson believed that the Beatles spoke to him through their lyrics, especially those included in the White Album, released in December 1968. Several songs from the White Album crystalized Manson’s thinking about a coming revolt by blacks against the white Establishment. He interpreted many of the songs idiosyncratically, believing, for example, that “Rocky Raccoon” meant black people and “Happiness is a Warm Gun” was a song about getting firearms to carry on the revolution rather than–more obviously–a song about sex.

“The White Album played a key role in forging Manson’s warped ideology. According to Family member Paul Watkins, “Before Helter Skelter came along, all Charlie cared about was orgies.”

162. ton2u - July 9, 2013

i don’t know if the david gilmore link “wish you were here” triggered all this, but thanks for the info reprogrammer… I just happen to enjoy the song, the chords resonate with me and I think the lyrics can apply here somewhat…. but at least now I know how I got into the cult… rock-n-roll’s to “blame.”

g in the 1950’s ? :

163. Deprogrammer - July 9, 2013

More people joined the Fellowship of Friends because of Pink Floyd than any other band.

164. ton2u - July 9, 2013

reprogrammer…. so what band made you join ?

steve I left the cult in 1983, that was before the “conscious shock” of 1984 was to occur as burton suggested was arranged by “c influence” — what a load of horseshit… I’d checked out emotionally long before that and the “predictions” didn’t matter any more. the date of 1984 was no doubt derived from popular culture and george orwell’s dire, if prescient novel.


165. Golden Veil - July 9, 2013

Deprogrammer, it’s remarkable how similar the preachers and rock and roll singers are with their passionate exclamations.

166. WhaleRider - July 10, 2013

The influences and circumstances that lead one to join a cult are somewhat different than the influences and circumstances that keep one in a cult for decades.

Afterall, once in, we gladly gave up that evil Rock and Roll for more saintly Baroque music to fit into the cult mold.

It can take years to shed cult mentality, an example of which, IMO, is relegating other people to “fish” or “sleeping machines” or “retards”…less than responsible, moral beings…or by the same token, endowing “conscious beings” immunity from all moral responsibility for their actions.

With time, an ex-follower can learn that “ideas of reference” regarding numbers on street signs and license plates are delusions, as are the delusions of Charles Manson regarding the White Album….and Burton’s 44 dead guys.

Yes, we need strong boundaries to maintain a healthy sense of self as an individual concern, as well as flexible enough boundaries to be capable of empathizing with the concerns of others in our community, something Burton is incapable of doing.

167. Golden Veil - July 10, 2013

Thank you very much Whalerider, and especially for this part:

“Yes, we need strong boundaries to maintain a healthy sense of self as an individual concern, as well as flexible enough boundaries to be capable of empathizing with the concerns of others in our community, something Burton is incapable of doing.”

168. Bares Reposting - July 10, 2013

From: Linda T.
Date: July 1, 2005
[Students] Message from the Teacher: A new focus

Dear friends around the world, Robert is asking us to pass from reading Gurdjieff and Ouspensky’s knowledge to reading esoteric knowledge–especially esoteric knowledge used in Robert’s teaching events. Robert explains, “Whereas Gurdjieff and Ouspensky used to give us strength, they now slow us down.” Robert recently remarked that upon receiving the esoteric keys we have truly become a real school. In contrast, Ouspensky said to his students, “These lectures are not a school; not even the beginning of a school. A school requires a much higher pressure of work.” Robert further observed that Ouspensky was right in that his lectures were not a school, but he was mistaken in that they were the beginning of our school. During one of the London events, a shock occurred that indicated Ouspensky was congratulating us for having become a real school. May this moment find you dividing your attention.
Linda T_____o, Apollo
From Robert: All schools would have been stunned by the depth and scope of the Egyptians. They were the first to face the problem of sleep, and solve it.

[At one time, early in Fellowship of Friends (FoF) history, Robert Earl Burton said something like: Ancient Egypt was a King-of-Clubs (lower self) civilization that worshiped death (or, the dead) and was not worth studying. Now, or recently, FoF worships ancient Egypt. What next, Grasshopper? ]

169. Bares Reposting - July 10, 2013

From: Kevin B.
Date: July 9, 2005 11:17
[Students] Clarification on the request regarding the material of Gurdjieff and Ouspensky

Please read the following message with presence and patience as it is intended to help us all make presence a more intelligent experience and move the School to a new level of being. Considerable effort has gone into making this message as concise and thorough as possible.

The Teacher has said, “If we see far, it is because we stand on the shoulders of giants, the shoulders of Gurdjieff and Ouspensky.”

And now our School can see farther because we have been given the Keys to the ancient Schools and Traditions. As a result, the Teacher asks that we turn our attention away from the knowledge presented by Peter Ouspensky and George Gurdjieff, and focus instead on the thirty Work ‘I’s and the Keys given to us by Influence C. This request includes the works of Collin, Nicoll, and others in the Fourth Way tradition, and conscious beings that did not have a school.

The Teacher observed, “the Keys have alerted us to the difficult nature of the king of clubs.” The Keys describe the development of the Steward through the 30 Work I’s, and how the Steward and Higher Centers mutually reinforce each other to promote and prolong presence. We are actually decoding keys from great esoteric schools and traditions: Egyptian, Old Testament, New Testament, Koran, the Tarot, Gothic Cathedrals, Sufis, Hindu, Tibetan, Philokalia, and the Epic of Gilgamesh.

Students are encouraged to study the keys and their sources in both written and visual forms. Like any new language, effort and time are required to bring results. Currently there are several ways to study the Keys: the Thoughts from the Teacher is published weekly and translated into nearly every language (available by subscription); there are DVDs/videos of Robert’s Teaching events on the keys and the 30 Work I’s, including transcripts (available by request from Propylaia through the center directors); Benjamin Y. continues to give presentations on the Keys both at Isis and on his travels to centers around the world. Finally, at the end of this message is a bibliography of suggested readings from the Philokalia, Egyptian texts, Sufis, the Bible and Koran. Also included at the end this message are examples of the Keys that were included in the last issue of Thoughts from the Teacher Volume 4 – Number 27.

The Fellowship’s external website has just published July’s newsletter with a lovely article about Schools and the Keys. It is translated into twelve languages and can found on the internet at
[Link not valid any longer.]

The graphical nature of the many of the Keys makes viewing images a particularly useful way to study the Keys. Art books on the Gothic Cathedrals, Egyptian and Sufi art and architecture. For Students at Isis, the Biblioteke has many art and literature books available for students to borrow. Additionally, each center (or student) can purchase the deck of Tarot cards which the Teacher uses when decoding the keys. Information about this Tarot deck may be found on the internet at http://www.camoin.com/index.asp

The Teacher is moving from abundance of words into using more symbols and images and that one way to keep current with the teaching would be to focus studies in these areas.

If you have any further questions, please feel free to contact myself or your Regional Councilor at any time.

Wishing you a more profound and lasting presence,
Kevin B.
Council Dean
“Know thyself, and abide in that state.” [Tibetan Book of the Dead]

170. Bares Reposting - July 10, 2013

Index to wikispaces/fellowshipoffriends

171. Bares Reposting - July 10, 2013

wikispaces/fellowshipoffriends Testimonies:

172. Bares Reposting - July 10, 2013

Fellowship of Friends on Archive.org:

173. Deprogrammer - July 10, 2013

The “keys” to human decency are the first necessary aspect of life that many gurus never seem to get around to discovering. What are they? What does one human being inherently owe another human being by virtue of just being alive? Why was that never one of the points of interest in the Fellowship of Friends? Is there an “objective” sense of humanity?

One thing is perfectly clear, Burton does not possess a sense of responsibility toward anything but his own self-interests. As we all clearly understand first hand from our own experience, his students were and are hardly fine examples of human wisdom. The “form” of Burton’s school is the development of malignant narcissism. Burton’s is a school of narcissism as exemplified by the continuous “theater octave.” The Fellowship of Friends is the Theater of Narcissism.

Narcissism is the absolutely required trait for every false prophet.

174. ton2u - July 10, 2013

as an old friend often said: “you live and ya learn.”

programmer ‘says’; “his students were and are hardly fine examples of human wisdom.” do you include yourself in this assessment ?


175. Deprogrammer - July 10, 2013

As “we” all clearly understand first hand from “our own” experience, his students were and are hardly fine examples of human wisdom.

176. ton2u - July 10, 2013

let me get this right, when you say “we” you’re ‘speaking’ for all of “us” based what ? “our own” experience….? not sure this works as a blanket statement… you can speak for yourself and that would mean owning “your own” experience. when i asked “do you include yourself…” i was only wondering if you were or are a “student” of burton… the question refers to “you” and “your” experience… not the “royal we.”

177. Deprogrammer - July 10, 2013

“let me get this right, when you say “we” you’re ‘speaking’ for all of “us” based what ? “our own” experience….?”

Ok, maybe others were fine examples of wisdom and I missed it. I wasn’t particularly wise, though I did consider myself such as a direct result of being in that atmosphere. If others, such as yourself, were made wise then maybe Burton’s teaching does have merit and I’m wrong about its corruptive quality. What I think I observed about myself and others was a competitive ambition to appear as self-confident as possible. Each went at least a bit overboard demonstrating that Burton’s school was doing what it claimed, making the students more conscious.

Of course the truth of the matter is that the ego of myself and others was simply being artificially inflated using the local psychotic atmosphere emitted from Burton’s asinine sense of reality. We emulated insanity and called it advanced awareness.

However, if it was indeed wisdom that people emanated while going about their usual cult business (as you seem to want to insinuate) then there was probably nothing wrong. In that case Burton’s school was all that it claimed.

If your point is that I couldn’t reliably tell whether other people were full of wisdom or full of crap and in truth could only accurately judge myself then, naturally, I dismiss that particularly refutable bit of New Age, pop-psych, collective wisdom, unsound assumption.

The psychologically demonstrable fact is that each of us can detect the falsity and phony tics in everyone else with amazing accuracy while being incapable of detecting the same in ourselves. We can see everyone else far better than we can see ourselves in most circumstances.

I remember those meetings and people giving angles and it was entirely a narcissistic charade. People were even absurdly proud of themselves and described it with much haughtiness when they were reporting how “mechanical” they noticed themselves to be. Everyone was imitating a narcissistic lunatic called “The Teacher.” Including myself.

178. ton2u - July 10, 2013

thanks for sharing ‘programmer…. so you were in this cult, when?

“….if it was indeed wisdom that people emanated while going about their usual cult business (as you seem to want to insinuate)”

I really don’t know where you get this, where do I come close to even implying this ?! it’s certainly not my “insinuation” — it’s your interpretation / projection.

so when you say “hardly fine examples of wisdom…” you’re referring here to your past experience in the cult…. thanks for the clarification.

mistakes are made in life but what i am trying to “insinuate” is, to rephrase it: “if yer lucky you live through it and learn from it.”

i’m sure you’ll agree there is a wisdom that only comes of experience, in that sense the ‘FOF experience’ was a “school’ but not as advertised, it’s only a “school” in the sense that life / living itself is a school…. this is in no way an endorsement, quite the opposite — caveat emptor — (just so there’s no misleading “insinuations”).

imo there have been and still are many wise-heads who visit this site, mostly ex-“students” — you can seek “verification” of this in the back pages here.

thanks to all

179. Deprogrammer - July 10, 2013

No. Those of us who found their way into the Fellowship of Friends under the domain of the thoroughly despicable black magician Robert Earl Burton are karmic retards. Cosmic fuck ups. Even those who managed to eventually escape. The reincarnating Burton refugees are all permanently condemned to recurring hell. This is a Twilight Zone episode where the faceless characters never select the correct tune on the tabletop Wurlitzer and consequently are never able to leave town.

How wise is that?

180. ton2u - July 10, 2013

then I’ll assume this characterization includes you… ?

listen kid, you don’t have to be so hard on yourself… or on others.

181. Tim Campion - July 10, 2013

It appears Robert Burton’s move away from Ouspensky and Gurdjieff mentioned in the Linda Kaplan (Tulisso) and Kevin Brown memos above might have been a rash decision, considering the allure those figures still hold in certain regions of the world.

So the Fellowship continues to selectively market itself using the images of Ouspensky and Gurdjieff, as in this announcement for a July 16, 2013 open meeting in Kiev.

182. ton2u - July 10, 2013
183. ton2u - July 10, 2013
184. WhaleRider - July 10, 2013

Thank you for posting your feelings deprogrammer.

“Ok, maybe others were fine examples of wisdom and I missed it.”

Undoubtedly, you missed it because those who wise up to burton’s fraud leave the cult.

(As Tim C points out above, a big red flag ought to be the contradiction in the cult of, on the hand distancing themselves Mr O and Mr G, and yet on the other hand continuing to use fourth way language like, “work I’s” and “influence C”, etc…plus the obvious confirmation bias of the “Ouspensky shock congratulating them, blah, de blah, blah, blah…” What utter rhino shit!)

Your post reminds me of a particularly distraught post greg made on elena’s blog decrying in all honesty….”how could we be so stupid?”

Well, I can accept that I made a stupid mistake joining a cult, but that doesn’t automatically make me a stupid retard or spiritual fuck-up, thank you very much, nor should I allow any shame I might feel prevent me from responsibly warning others…otherwise I am colluding with the cult as they fish for more victims.

IMO, self-loathing leads eventually to depression…and/or lashing out against others.

A person dedicated to such deep self-loathing also makes them vulnerable to any self-effacing institution or individual who can reinforce that familiar feeling…or maybe instead you can start your own little cult and manipulate others into feeling about themselves what you don’t want to feel about yourself…that you are not perfect.

So, even though I regret having joined, I don’t buy into an ongoing feeling of self-loathing about my stupid choice to join a spiritual group, following in George Harrison’s footsteps, may he RIP, and I am proud that I made the wise decision to leave when I did.

I’ve had to accept that it’s OK to have emotional needs, even though such feelings sometimes make me feel weak and vulnerable.

By perpetuating such self-loathing, the bullies win, and in a way you reincarnate burton and his unconscious relationship with himself of self-loathing.

Although they appear otherwise on the surface, deep down people with narcissism carry a great deal of self-loathing, which makes them hard on themselves and others through the process of idealization.

185. ton2u - July 10, 2013

Whalerider thanks for experiential insight and wisdom…
BRP, Tim, thanks for continuing to provide facts here….


now for the op/ed:

ouspensky being from russia and all and with the intriguing mythos developed around the character of “gurdjieff,” I would imagine the ouspensky / gurdjieff hook gives burton and the FOF” a juicy vein to mine for fresh, young, idealistic, naive, and suck-u-lent russian meat… it’s important that they be succulent but monthly dues will suffice.

(are these the images of G / O the ones painted so long ago by T_m_s E_s_ey… aren’t there copyright laws and wouldn’t he want to block their continued use ? I heard he didn’t leave on such “good terms.”

both the vampire image and the “mythical” troll work as metaphors to describe burton and the “burtonites” — i’ll go with this:
“trolls dwell in isolated rocks, mountains, or caves, live together in small family units, and are rarely helpful to human beings. trolls can’t stand sunlight… trolls even turn to stone upon being exposed to sunlight.


may sites like this at least continue to shed a few rays of sunlight.

186. brucelevy - July 10, 2013

Ton, I think you might be right. It’s either Greg or Elliot (Larry K).They have very similar egos.

187. Wouldnt You Like To Know - July 10, 2013

136/185. ton2u:

‘(are these the images of G / O the ones painted so long ago by T_m_s E_s_ey… aren’t there copyright laws and wouldn’t he want to block their continued use ? I heard he didn’t leave on such “good terms.”’

The G & O images were painted by another artist who maintains copyright over use of them but it is not easy to enforce such property and use rights in this day and age. They are not a member of Fellowship of Friends (FoF) and are concerned about the continued violations. Some places, like FoF website(s), actually state that they have the copyright on the images, which is false.

188. WhaleRider - July 10, 2013


Yes, very apt metaphor for greg-like behavior, IMO: the irritable troll archetype…often depicted as carrying a big club, too, and doesn’t hesitate to club anyone in their path…and yeah, vampires suck…big time…as Freud might say..they practice oral sadism.

As far as burton’s enablers, well, for me it’s the zombie archetype that seems to fit best, as in: “…a hypnotized person bereft of consciousness and self-awareness, yet ambulant and able to respond to surrounding stimuli. ~Wikipedia

To that description we could add bereft of a conscience, too.

As far as having to respond to surrounding stimuli…if that’s a problem, there’s always Viagra.

I have to admit, working all those long hours in the hot sun, half a glass of wine in the afternoon at lunch, more hard physical labor…then rush to a concert where I had to pull the hairs on my leg to keep my eyes open…then late dinner and a few more glasses of wine that night…along with a late. late night kitchen octave, followed up in the wee hours by being led by burton’s ghostly figure into his bedroom to have my semen harvested…to be honest, i did feel quite depersonalized and zombie-like at times in order to be close to him.

189. Golden Veil - July 11, 2013

WhaleRider ~ this is very well put ~ I’ve verified this:

“Although they appear otherwise on the surface, deep down people with narcissism carry a great deal of self-loathing, which makes them hard on themselves and others through the process of idealization.”

Deprogrammer ~ Based on this and other assertions of yours,
I would NEVER question whether or not you’d been a member of
the Fellowship of Friends. It’s clear to me, at least, that you were:

“Of course the truth of the matter is that the ego of myself and others was simply being artificially inflated using the local psychotic atmosphere emitted from Burton’s asinine sense of reality. We emulated insanity and called it advanced awareness.”

It seems that your response in 179 to the somewhat challenging questions of ton2u in 178 come from an emotional gut reaction…
not surprising. I hope that you keep sharing without inhibition. I have to say, you do speak for me as well, at least on some points.

190. ton2u - July 11, 2013

Golden Veil, i don’t mean to inhibit anyone with a direct question, i’m usually hoping for a response, that’s all. re: my questions to ‘deprogrammer’ — sometimes the answer is obvious but you have to start somewhere — i didn’t doubt that he was a “member,” the point was to start a dialogue to see if he is simply projecting his sense of ‘self-loathing’ onto others — as characterized by comments like “karmic retards,” and “cosmic fuck-ups” and etc. i think he answered…. thanks ‘deprogrammer’ for sharing, i hope you can feel better about yourself and the “mistakes” you make in life…. after all life is for learning and you learn from your “mistakes” — but you know this already.

191. Deprogrammer - July 11, 2013

The mind is struck with a head-on collision when the randomness of reality is finally comprehended. Foolish people go from the laughable delusion of believing themselves the conscious-seeking flies at the heart of the real world, the only creatures viewed under the microscope of the very Gods themselves, to eventually realizing they were behaving worse than ordinary homeowners viewing reality shows on TV to pass the evening until bed and the resumption of their routine in the morning.

Burton: I am the greatest and you all are somewhat great as well by paying my bills! Right Girard?

Girard: I am your dog, my master. As all your naughty children wish they were.

192. fofblogmoderator - July 11, 2013

Sorry comments are closed for this entry

%d bloggers like this: