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Fellowship Of Friends/Fourth Way School/Living Presence Discussion – Page 141 May 26, 2014

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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;

http://www.livingpresence.com/

Comments

1. Tim Campion - May 26, 2014

Fellowship of Friends controversy in Appeal-Democrat

(Whalerider, would you re-post your latest comment?)

2. WhaleRider - May 26, 2014

A colleague of mine who knew I am a FOF cult survivor approached me last night and wanted more information about the cult.

By happenstance, they had a new client whom had been kicked out of the FOF…for claiming to be conscious and enlightened like the cult leader.

Much to the dismay of the individual, the FOF didn’t agree with this self assessment, and the individual was asked to leave.

It was suggested by top FOF brass that before the individual be allowed to return to the flock, they seek an evaluation by a mental health professional “life person”, for whatever they feel that’s worth.

I would be lying to say the FOF holds the professional field of psychology in particularly high regard, so obviously the FOF doesn’t really want this character back, and probably wouldn’t take them back even if the life person mental health professional thought the individual was mentally fit to do so, which no serious mental health professional would ever recommend doing anyway…because it could get them into serious trouble for sending a client to rejoin a cult.

Seems like a total mind fuck on the part of the FOF, if you ask me, on someone whom is probably close to a psychotic break.

But clearly, to the FOF, this sick individual needed help…the kind of help not provided by them in the practice of their so-called esoteric Christian religion, for this broken individual broke the cult’s cardinal rule.

In the cult there can only one person who can claim to be conscious and enlightened, and that is the cult leader.

Anyone else who claims to be enlightened without the approval of the cult leader is obviously suffering from a grandiose delusion, for it is the cult’s firm belief that everyone else in the entire world is asleep except the cult leader.

And only the cult leader can bestow consciousness status upon his followers; a cult follower may not bestow that upon themselves, nor do any self promotion within the cult, otherwise you are asked to leave. Followers must only promote the cult and its leader.

If a cult follower suddenly wakes up to the fact they are already conscious and have always been conscious, and feel entitled to be recognized for their advanced level of being by others, then they have a problem…a problem that is apparently best handled by a trained mental health practitioner in life and not by an older, more experienced cult follower nor the cult leader himself (whom many cult followers believe possesses magical powers but whom is also apparently unable to heal anyone).

I repeat. In a cult, only the cult leader can claim to be enlightened. Anyone else who claims to be enlightened is deluded….except for burton. He’s not deluded. He just sounds deluded.

Therefore, in order to be in a cult, especially as a long term follower, you must be…and remain…asleep and unenlightened.

How sadly ironic, since that’s the opposite of why a person joins and why a person leaves.

3. Barbara - May 26, 2014

…a classic!

“By happenstance, they had a new client whom had been kicked out of the FOF…for claiming to be conscious and enlightened like the cult leader. – – – It was suggested by top FOF brass that before the individual be allowed to return to the flock, they seek an evaluation by a mental health professional “life person”, for whatever they feel that’s worth.” – – – 2. WhaleRider – May 26, 2014

Seems like a total mind fuck on the part of the FOF, if you ask me, on someone whom is probably close to a psychotic break. 2. WhaleRider – May 26, 2014 ~ Indeed

knock knock – is Linda there?, is Elizabeth there?
ummm let’s see…

4. Barbara - May 26, 2014

The holographic universe slash omens….

“Inside Santa Barbara Killer’s Manifesto” http://gma.yahoo.com/inside-santa-barbara-killers-manifesto-141852298–abc-news-topstories.html?vp=1

Fascinating how the subconscious speaks and connects its own dots… very unique

5. Tempus Fugit - May 26, 2014

INDEX TO THE BLOG

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

http://animamrecro.wordpress.com/2006/04/16/fellowship-of-friends-a-cult-for-intellectuals/

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

http://fellowshipoffriends.wordpress.com/

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

https://fofdiscussion.wordpress.com/

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 Fellowship of Friends you may find your path to freedom.

6. Steve - May 27, 2014

Nick Bishop, did you write that book about the FOF yet?

7. Tim Campion - May 28, 2014

Letter to the Editor from Fellowship of Friends President Greg Holman

Over the last few weeks there has been an effort by some to use the Fellowship of Friends to influence the Yuba County 5th District Supervisor’s race. This effort has taken the form of numerous public communications making unsubstantiated claims that the Fellowship is a cult and then trying to tie a candidate to the Fellowship to try and discredit the candidate. Unfortunately, it is not unusual for some to be fearful and distrustful of what is different or what they don’t understand. The Fellowship has dealt with this in the past by trying to work quietly and privately to educate these individuals about the Fellowship and our beliefs. However, the Fellowship is extremely troubled by this recent activity for numerous reasons and believe this public response is necessary…

8. ton2u - May 28, 2014

“…The Fellowship and its members greatly value being a part of this vibrant community and all the wonderful people who make up this community.” etc.

Has the FOF changed it’s beliefs / programming regarding “life people” ? The FOF always purported that for everyone and anyone who is not a member of the cult, there are “no possibilities for evolution” and that “life people” are as good a dead already, food for the moon, etc. Meanwhile, back at the ranch, burton and company are the “chosen people” who carry the torch of “consciousness” and culture through the darkness that is the human race.

Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain, this letter to the editor is just another exercise in “intentional insincerity” — in other words it’s filled with lies and half-truths intended to fulfill the FOF agenda.

9. Robert Stolzle - May 28, 2014

I was an early FOF member (1973-77); started at Lake Tahoe and then moved to Carmel. I am certainly not an apologist for RB and the FOF was certainly run like a cult, but one of the edicts from that time was that a student was to verify all “angles of thought” for themselves.

Without blathering on, and not knowing how far the organization and Robert Burton went “off the rails” in later years (I always thought he was gay), I have to say that I learned a lot from my time in the FOF. Living and working with similarly intentioned and dedicated people was a unique and useful experience. I made many friends and would like to reestablish contact with any still around (rstolzle@gmail.com).

Even then, it seemed that a lot of RB’s behavior was a far cry from Gurdjieff, Ouspensky or Smith, et al, but many of the ideas he promoted were beneficial to me, e.g. “the observing “I”. But, I never could accept that the FOF was the one true path and that all the worlds religions were just a trick. In fact, I really “believe” that all serious transcendental groups are talking about the same thing, just in different terms and to different people. “He who has ears to hear, let him hear!” We’re all wanting to know if there is some existence after death and whether mankind is indeed the peak of the pyramid. Almost all the other questions are just ego driven self interest.

I have a lot of empathy for the people who fill these blog pages with their stories of mistreatment and mind control, but must suggest that their current work is to move past those negative experiences as best they can without “throwing out the baby with the bath water”. Back in my day, it was suggested that Gurdjieff was a “conscious charlatan” and I took that as a warning that “consciousness” didn’t necessarily preclude or displace all or any of man’s bad behavior.

Still searching after all these years,
Robert Stolzle

10. Mick - May 28, 2014

“…unsubstantiated claims that the Fellowship is a cult…”
Well, it is obvious that their founder and unquestioned leader does have a devoted and defensive following. I am curious to know more about how they “work quietly and privately to educate these individuals about the Fellowship and our beliefs”. Would any of “these individuals” care to speak up? In contrast, quite a few people are working not so privately and quietly to educate interested people about the true nature of this organization.
Is it unfair to characterize Robert Burton as homosexual, promiscuous, eccentric and ego-centric? He does appear to have a flamboyant, reclusive and wealthy lifestyle supported by so-called donations (known as “teaching payments”).
But, dammit, that don’t make it a cult.

11. WhaleRider - May 28, 2014

@Greg Holman

“…making unsubstantiated claims that the Fellowship is a cult.”

I think a simple public debate with your lord and master Mr Burton about whether or not the Fellowship of Friends is a doomsday, self-serving cult that employs psychological manipulation…and also practices deception, elder abuse, extortion, international smuggling of sex slaves, fraud, tax evasion, (others?) would bring into focus the bigger picture rather than the view of the cult presented through Mr Holman’s beauteous and narrow rosy lens and echoed by followers.

The first issue to tackle in the debate: how you describe water to a fish?

You take him out of water.

If burton were taken out of his element, made to debate in public or in court, there is a darn good chance his mental status would become apparent to more (sadly not all) of his followers who could begin to view him from a distance, break the spell, and begin to reclaim their lives, thus draining the victim pool.

“We all need and want a harmonious environment to live in, raise our children in and through which we can experience a better life.”

This is precisely why the Fellowship of Friends cult ought to be disbanded and its sexual predator leader and enabling board members prosecuted. They need to be confronted publicly in order to raise public consciousness about the cult’s true intent, to exploit and drain others in service of Mr Burton’s sexual mania and grandiosity, causing disharmony in the lives of many people, a small fraction of whom are vocal.

For despite Mr Burton’s self proclaimed exalted status, it is also one of our cherished founding democratic principles that in this great country we are all equals, if not in a monetary/power sense, but at least in principle as individual human beings with human rights and dignity.

(If we could actually incorporate that belief of treating others as equals and conducting ourselves according to this platinum rule, many of the problems facing our communities and the planet right now could be addressed and solved, IMHO.)

But no, some people believe and convince others to believe that they are different or better than others and their corrupt and self-serving actions exempt from scrutiny. This is what I have come to understand about the Fellowship of Friends as a former member these many years down the road.

The entire planet suffers at the hands of sociopaths.

There is now in the public domain a growing list of sexual predators whom have hidden their activities behind the guise of freedom of religion.

So that we all may enjoy a safe and open community, the public needs to be informed and warned that sociopaths and sexual predators are likely to exploit this grey area of law.

The Fellowship of Friends is part of that list, despite the claims of the nominal figure of its Board President.

Make no mistake, ROBERT E BURTON is behind the mask of the Fellowship of Friends.

Hundreds of men, hiding in shame, have been preyed upon by its leader.

The Fellowship’s “increased awareness of beauty” is merely clever packaging for fraud.

The following line makes me sick to my stomach:

“…in serving others we improve our souls.”

Their souls, not ours.

Life people like us don’t have souls.

And please explain exactly how does prostituting yourself or your husband and/or son to enhance your cult status improve your soul?

For that is the fate of most young male followers purposely recruited, groomed, and conveyed to the cult leader by his ardent, colluding older followers, including a minor who contracted herpes from the sexual encounter with the cult’s leader.

12. WhaleRider - May 28, 2014

@Robert Stolzle

“I have a lot of empathy for the people who fill these blog pages with their stories of mistreatment and mind control, but must suggest that their current work is to move past those negative experiences as best they can without “throwing out the baby with the bath water”.”

I’d say you are being a bit presumptuous in suggesting what another person’s personal “work” is or should be by just reading these pages.

The piece you missing here is that for a victim of burton’s abuse such as myself, speaking out against the shady perpetrator of the ongoing abuse of others IS WORK…wandering off silently into the night as burton would have his victims do is a whole lot easier!!

Charming sociopaths exploit the tendency to blame the victim, (it’s their own fault, they should have known better) effectively stifling dissent, which does nothing to warn or protect others who are vulnerable to their psychological manipulation and enables the perp to carry on with his or her exploitive activities unabated as burton has done over the years.

BTW, the baby in the bath water?…regarding the cult experience, IMO, that baby is one’s conscience, the anathema of the sociopathic burton, by his own words.

So, IMO, it’s fine to work on oneself, but not at the expense of one’s conscience!

How does working against one’s conscience, as followers in burton’s cult are instructed to do, possibly lead to living a better life living in harmony with others when the FOF follower’s role model(s) for enlightenment treats both men and women followers as narcissistic objects and sexual play toys?

I certainly don’t wish to be treated or treat people as objects, “machines” as they say in the cult.

Does that mean I am causing “disharmony” in the community by warning others or actually just challenging the cult’s status quo with the truth behind the pretty facade?

Having a functioning conscience is about speaking one’s truth and standing up for what one feels is right in the face of injustice. Democracy empowers me to do do.

I am not going to apologize for making you or anyone else in the cult dismayed or uncomfortable with the truth.

Sexually and financially exploiting others in the guise of religion and spirituality as is the practice of Robert Burton and his little cult called the Fellowship of Friends is wrong!

Vote for conscience on June 3.

13. archer - May 29, 2014

“I was an early FOF member (1973-77)… Without blathering on, and not knowing how far the organization and Robert Burton went “off the rails” in later years…”

There never were any rails. Based on Burton’s early ramblings (“Via Del Sol Journal” and “Renaissance Journal”, for example), the group was crazy from the start. In the 70s, Burton was already talking about a glorious “golden age” for “the School,” with peace for 1,000 years following Armageddon, etc. He talked of being “celibate” despite the fact that he was already boinking his followers left and right.

The “cult” debate is hilarious. Most “life people” immediately recognize Burton and the Fellowship of Friends for what it is. Cult members and former cult members are the last ones to know.

14. archer - May 29, 2014

“… must suggest that their current work is to move past those negative experiences…”

“I believe racism goes away naturally if you stop talking about it.”
-Stephen Colbert

15. Jomo Piñata - May 29, 2014

9/Robert Stolzle

one of the edicts from that time was that a student was to verify all “angles of thought” for themselves

Lots of people have the illusion that “verification” inoculates them from the hazards of “going off the rails.” The less intuitive truth, often not apparent even in retrospect without lots of new information, is that “verification” provides no safeguard when someone’s ability to evaluate information critically is impaired. One of the pernicious features of thought-reform environments like FOF is the use of specific and identifiable techniques to impair the ability to evaluate information critically.

“Photography” so-called (a shame-induction device), thought-terminating clichés (“that’s formatory”) (“you’re in the queens”) to impose ideological strictures on what might be said or done, the enshrinement of a “sacred science” to structure even the smallest features of someone’s daily life, even the act of “dividing attention” which tends to interrupt thought and to focus experience mainly on sensation, all combine to narrow the acceptable range of what may be felt, thought, or questioned. Add plain old deliberate deception by others as well as self-deception to that mix, and you have all the ingredients common to many groups which outsiders and ex-members know to be scams.

Karl Popper’s essay, Science as Falsification, also speaks directly to the false panacea of “verification.” You can find the relevant excerpt here: https://www.readability.com/articles/ozb4a15d

Robert Stolzle - May 29, 2014

I wouldn’t presume to argue that the FOF wasn’t a cult. All the “exercises” could, as you point out, be used for some degree of thought control. That type of control is somewhat limited to the amount of control allowed by the ‘student’. It takes two to tango.

For a naive, OCD, just out of college, southern white boy, my experience was largely beneficial. I did dine with “the Teacher” once at what was then the Mt Carmel Monastery and asked him a few personal questions at the meetings, but I was never in the “Entourage” and did the work with a fair amount of skepticism. I never saw RB do anything magical and his prediction of the future was usually “off”. He claimed to be “Man #5” at that time, but other than living a rather fine lifestyle and running around California in a Mercedes sports car, there was nothing to suggest that he was anything more than a well informed purveyor of the Fourth Way methodology. I’d say that compared to most charlatans and false prophets, Robert burton is pretty tame stuff.

Most of the exercises that you mention can well be used in some measure to control a person. The source and purpose of any “photograph”/comment has to be considered before giving it any credence. A friend saying you’re “in the queens” may be suggesting too much emotional involvement; a group leader may be just trying to reclaim the discussion. Most tools can also be used as weapons.

The contrarian point I suggested was that in spite of all the damage that former members have suffered and all the negative commentary posted on this blog, my experience was mostly positive. I joined out of curiosity, stayed four years because it was interesting and left of my own free will. Much of what I learned has proven to be helpful since then. The most difficult thing was leaving behind some good friends—and even that became a useful learning experience.

Good luck,
Bob Stolzle

16. Opus111 - May 29, 2014

The contrarian point I suggested was that in spite of all the damage that former members have suffered and all the negative commentary posted on this blog, my experience was mostly positive.

What is the import of such a point? That we should rejoice you escaped abuse of any kind? Done!

My point… is: the fact that many boys who grew up in the catholic church were NOT abused by their priests does not illuminate the problem in any way, nor does it diminish the sexual misconduct of numerous clergy, make the tacit acceptance and cover-up by church authorities for years and perhaps centuries acceptable, or help heal the often irreparable emotional damage inflicted on the young victims of such abuse.

17. ton2u - May 29, 2014

in 9 & 16 Robert Stolzle says among other things:
that he’s not an ‘apologist’ — but he is. He ‘soft-pedals’ burton all over the place, for example: “…other than living a rather fine lifestyle and running around California in a Mercedes sports car, there was nothing to suggest that he was anything more than a well informed purveyor of the Fourth Way methodology. I’d say that compared to most charlatans and false prophets, Robert burton is pretty tame stuff.”

And here he implies that burton’s behavior has a ready-made, built-in excuse: “Back in my day, it was suggested that Gurdjieff was a ‘conscious charlatan’ and I took that as a warning that ‘consciousness’ didn’t necessarily preclude or displace all or any of man’s bad behavior.”

He claims to have “a lot of empathy…etc” but I don’t think so, from the sound of it he’s only concerned with himself. Good for him if he feels he escaped the FOF unscathed, others didn’t…. good for him if he can rationalize the experience so that he feels “mostly positive” about it. Everybody’s experience is different — if he really were as empathetic as he claims, he would realize and understand as much and try to resist the urge to preen himself here for the “benefit” of others… for example, with condescending suggestions like “their current work is to move past those negative experiences etc.” He uses cult-speak like he’s still brain-washed after all these years… really, “still searching after all these years” ?!
Good luck with that…

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apologetics

18. Jomo Piñata - May 30, 2014

The fourth-way ideology tells people that if they abandon the decision to “work,” all that they have learned will turn into something wrong in them. “There is no going back. If you agree and then go back, you will lose everything that you have acquired up to that time, and you will lose more really, because all that you acquired will turn into something wrong in you. There is no remedy against this.”

So everyone who leaves a “school” under the sway of the ideology (i.e., everyone) seeks to avoid such a result. One views experience through the lens of trying to avoid “losing all that one acquired.” Ironically, it’s this ideologically based avoidance that constrains a thorough examination of experience. Fearing we will surely lose what we worked so hard to acquire, we hang onto evaluative criteria which serves us poorly and which we would be better off jettisoning.

Many people feel, and will say, that they “got something positive.” There’s nothing contrarian or counterintuitive about it, and they’re not wrong. One can have genuinely spiritual experiences even in a cult. But there’s more there, a whole lot more. Everyone has numerous, simultaneous channels of experience; what’s going on on one channel can completely drown out what’s going on on another. Sometimes we have to mute the sound of one channel to hear what’s going on on another. That quieter channel may include important experience that hasn’t been processed, and needs to be.

And sometimes we have to mute our own experience to hear the experience of others. If in the end we are deaf to the experiences of others and “it’s all about us,” aren’t we trapped in the cul-de-sac of “conscious egoism” called “narcissism”?

Robert Stolzle - May 30, 2014

Mr. Blog Moderator, opus 111,ton2u, jomo pinata, archer,whalerider et. al.–

My apologies for rekindling all the ire and pain from your experience of the FOF. My intent in posting here was selfish; I thought it was an open discussion about the Fourth Way as presented through the FOF. And, I would inquire now of the blog moderator if the purpose of the blog is such a discussion or if its purpose is to warn the world of the horrors perpetrated by Robert Burton in the name of “higher consciousness”

The institutional Christian church long ago addressed the question of whether the message (the Bible), as presented by a corrupt and evil priest or preacher, is corrupted. The Church’s answer, for better or worse, is no it is not. That does not relieve the pain of the afflicted nor the guilt of the corrupt, but it does leave open a door.

I have no idea if, as Gurdjieff suggests, the Fourth Way is an ancient teaching or just something he cobbled together from various other spiritual disciplines. For example, the question, whether the “body types” idea is really a valid way of seeing people or just a figment of our minds attempt to make sense of the world, is something I would like to hear about. Whether any of the so-called tools and exercises had any merit or benefit to any former members are the questions I have and would like to see discussed.

So, let me know if such a discussion is desirable or even possible or whether the purpose of this blog is to provide a forum for those damaged by Robert Burton and the FOF.

Thanks,
Robert Stolzle

19. Jomo Piñata - May 30, 2014

Robert Stolzle, this blog is just a campfire we’re all sitting around. Some of us are making smores while others are spitting watermelon seeds as they tell their stories. The fact that people have had strong reactions to what you said, or that they disagree, or that they take exception, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have said what was on your mind. You say what you think and feel and others say what they think and feel.

Robert Stolzle - May 30, 2014

Thanks for the insight. Is anyone using this blog interested in a discussion of the “tools and techniques” of the Fourth Way? It seems to be dominated by those who want the FOF disbanded and RB’s head on a pike…..and more power to them. It just isn’t my interest now.
Robert Stolzle

20. ton2u - May 30, 2014

I think it’s easy to get wrapped-up in “tools and techniques” — that goes for “the 4th Way” or any other way you might choose. I think there is a danger to those who become so enamored with “tools and techniques” — and any other types of so-called “spiritual-exercises.” The danger is becoming so engrossed in “the way” (i.e. using so-called “tools and techniques”), that one loses the goal. “Tools and techniques” are not an end in themselves, but people tend to treat them as such, in fact, cults rely and depend on this tendency and even foster it in order to retain card-carrying, dues-paying membership… especially the dues-paying. burton and company have no interest in “graduating” the FOF “student” body — in fact, FOF ideology / brain-washing makes it psychologically difficult to escape. More generally, I think there be many souls who get lost on “the way” because “the way” becomes an end in itself… “still searching after all these years” echos the fact.

Robert Stolzle - May 30, 2014

Yep–still searching, because I still can’t claim, even in my most delusional states, to have achieved any degree of salvation, enlightenment, higher consciousness, knowledge of life after death, nirvana or any understanding of God…..or even if there is a God or gods. It seems pretty mechanistic to me.

I suppose my interest in tools and techniques might be related to this, but I’m mostly curious to know whether ANY of my contemporaries experience with the Fourth Way or any other spiritual disciplines, for that matter, was of any benefit in their spiritual quest.

I know that many “seekers of truth” are just seeking personal gain and some sort of advantage over others, but I also know from personal experience that not all are so damaged. I’d like to communicate with some of those people.
Robert Stolzle

21. Tim Campion - May 30, 2014

Robert, if you wish to begin a discussion on a particular topic, I recommend the Greater Fellowship “Forum” page. (See the link at the top of the page.)

Posts in this general “Comments” section of the “Fellowship Of Friends/Fourth Way School/Living Presence Discussion” tend to shift with the wind. The page is not designed for, nor conducive to an in-depth discussion on an isolated topic.

22. ton2u - May 30, 2014

You’re right Robert, not all “seekers of truth” are “so damaged” as you put it — my point is, there are plenty of “seekers” out there who are sincerely interested in the “seeking” part — to the extent that “seeking” becomes an end in itself and even creates an obstacle to the “truth” part. “Seeking” as a lifestyle choice is of course up to the individual and I wouldn’t presume to pass judgement… to each their own.

23. WhaleRider - May 30, 2014

@Robert Stolzle

“…I still can’t claim, even in my most delusional states, to have achieved any degree of salvation, enlightenment, higher consciousness, knowledge of life after death, nirvana or any understanding of God…”

You sound like you’ve achieved enlightenment to me. What else is there to talk about?

24. brucelevy - May 30, 2014

Brought to you by “You can’t make this shit up”…

http://gawker.com/dead-gurus-followers-stick-him-in-freezer-claim-hes-m-1583946997

25. shardofoblivion - May 30, 2014

in #18 Robert Stolzle poses the question “For example, the question, whether the “body types” idea is really a valid way of seeing people or just a figment of our minds attempt to make sense of the world, is something I would like to hear about.”

The 4th way presents its theories in a rather deceptive way, so the body types theory is given as higher knowledge, and later justified with some nonsense about astrology by Rodney Collin. However it certainly seemed to work for us in the FoF. The psychologist Jung came up with his own theory of introvert/extrovert as a way of classifying different types, he made it up, it seems to fit with some of the experiences we all have, I would be prepared to accept the theory of body types in a similar spirit.

However when I was a FoF student I did notice that I (and others) would misuse the body types theory as a way to pigeon hole other people, as a mild form of stereo typing prejudice. We would become adept at putting other people into neat categories, and this added to the feeling of superiority of students to ‘life people’ who didn’t have the secret knowledge. Because of that I have resisted using it since I left the FoF and hardly ever find myself looking at people that way now.

Robert Stolzle - May 30, 2014

Tim-
Thanks for the suggestion. I was somewhat hesitant to go there simply because I don’t really want any discussion of ideas with students still in the FOF. I do know what propaganda looks like.

By the way, I remember your name from around the time I left the FOF as one of the cognoscenti. Am I remembering correctly? Also, FYI, I was in E-mail contact with Valerio Biondo, a good friend, a couple of years before he passed away last January.I’d like to find Horace Carter, Fran Connelly and a few others if you have any leads.
Thanks,
Bob

26. Tim Campion - May 31, 2014

Robert,

Were they all friends of Greg Goodwin and Steve Suh (Steve White)?

27. swhite44 - May 31, 2014

Ahem Tim: Steve Suh is not Steve White, because I am the latter.
Steve Suh is Chinese isn’t he?
Robert Stolzle: I’m one who approves of your positive stance. Best to use experiences rather than become embittered by them, we create our own reality and self.
Regarding body types – someone posted on FB something like ‘Avoid Aries, Taurus and Pisces people, they are all jealous and bitter’. Hold onto Libra, Scorpio, … they are loyal friends… etc etc. All positive except for the first 3 star signs whatever they were. Obviously rubbish grouping people like that. For me the proof is that nobody could pick another person’s star sign consistently. Maybe after 6 guesses.
However, we all know that anyone versed in the body types theory would generally pick the same body type as someone similarly learned would. So it is a relatively valid model.
Just like colors are a valid model for categorizing light energy – we would all agree on what color something is.

I’ve seen ads recenlty for Joel Friedlander’s Body Types book, and Susan Zannos’ Human Types book, even though they both left and became very anti-FOF, so I guess they still consider the theories valid.

I also hated the way some students would use those ideas to put people down. Once in Venice a female came up to me and said ‘You must be a Lunar’ and I happily replied to the friendly girl ‘Yes, maybe Jovial Lunar Venusian’, to which she retorted ‘I thought so, because I always see you walking alone ‘, as she happily skipped off to join her group. Bitch.

I think it’s better to use the ideas to develop understanding and compassion. e.g. some people on this forum are pretty aggro. Maybe Martial types so that’s understandable.😉

28. ton2u - May 31, 2014

something smells…. a couple weeks ago public debate surrounding questions about the FOF pulling strings in local politics, conflict of interest, (etc) emerges; http://www.yubafoothills.com/forums/topic/12317/territorial-dispatch-article-tie

(also see Tims dialogue with N.S. and links to Territorial dispatch toward the end of the previous blog page #140).

This negative publicity for the FOF is exposing to a wider public, the shady side of the FOF. The negative publicity generated an effort at damage control by the FOF, an attempt to paint a ‘norman rockwell portrait’ of the FOF via an ‘editorial’ type of letter in the Territorial Dispatch — link from previous page #140…

Recently this Robert Stozle and mr.”44″ show up here posting what feels like “soft pedaling” apologetics in defense of the cult…. questioning the negative attitudes expressed here toward the cult… more attempts to deflect and redirect negative attention…. part of the FOF political campaign ? Reminds me a little of a previous go ’round with daily cardiac, fat boy, and others.

29. brucelevy - May 31, 2014

27. swhite44

“…as she happily skipped off to join her group. Bitch…

I think it’s better to use the ideas to develop understanding and compassion.””

Still an asshole , huh Steve?

Robert Stolzle - May 31, 2014

WhaleRider-
What prompts the “You sound like you’ve achieved enlightenment to me” comment? Am I dismissed?

30. Robert Stolzle - May 31, 2014

ton2u-
I assure you that I have had nothing to do with the FOF for over 35 years and that I’m exactly who I say I am. I’m reluctant to do this, but in the interest of reducing your paranoia, I invite you to contact me at your convenience. The name is really mine and I live in Goddard, Kansas, a small town outside of Wichita, and have been here for for almost 30 years….I’m sure you can find my telephone number if you care to “verify” I’m who I claim to be. I find your implications that I’m some stooge of RB and the FOF offensive.

Robert Stolzle

31. Robert Stolzle - May 31, 2014

Tim-
I don’t recall either Greg Goodwin or Steve White. As I mentioned earlier, after about a year at the Tahoe center (under the “leadership” of Jim Vincent Randazzo, who ended up in prison), I moved to Carmel where Stella and Harold Wirk were the “student teachers”. I lived with the Conoleys, Tom Klouman and Marlane Dassman, and finally Horace Carter, Valerio Biondo, Peggy McLemore and Bill Bradish before I took my leave. It was a good group of people and for me, a good experience.

For the rest of the “bloggers” on this site that find my interest difficult to believe, I can only say that my inquiries here are because after such a long absence, it would be fun to “exchange angles of thought” with some of the students from that era again.

Bob

32. Tim Campion - May 31, 2014

Steve,

How do you explain your earlier post, signed Steve Suh?

It’s funny that you and Greg (Deprogrammer) showed up together last year. I have a feeling you know “Bob” as well as you know yourself.

33. WhaleRider - May 31, 2014

@Robert Stolzle
I am being sincere with you.

Have you ever considered after all these years of efforts that attaining “enlightenment” may be an idealized myth promoted by traumatizing narcissist gurus, enabling them to project their unwanted feelings of inadequacy on to their followers?

If you are honest with yourself (as you are) and can admit that you don’t feel enlightened, then the traumatizing narcissistic guru raises the bar even higher and says, “maybe next lifetime, dear”, effectively pushing you lower down in his delusional authoritarian heirarchy.

By destabilizing his followers and creating an environment where followers have to compete to get the guru’s attention and win his or her favor, the guru can more easily manipulate his or her followers into acting against their own best interest, depleting them of self esteem and money.

Once in his or her inner circle, he traumatizes them into further submission and dependency. This why burton sadistically enjoys chasing and seducing his young male followers who are not gay. He keeps his inner circle silenced in silk and shame.

This is the legacy of the fourth way, IMHO. Convince people they are “machines” and less than human, then dangle validation above their heads just out of reach.

I urge to to stay and keep posting your thoughts and feelings, Bob.

You are welcome here. AND, please realize the Fellowship cult has descended way more than when you left eons ago.

BTW, why did you leave?

34. Robert Stolzle - May 31, 2014

Steve White-
Thanks for your reply. The squinty-eyed interrogations of my intentions here were wearing a little thin. The “body type” ideas were some of the more compelling we were supposed to “work” with and with the relative openness of the other students about their thoughts and attitudes, it produced some good, insightful discussions. I still never found much benefit from the body type information in real “life”.

From what I can tell, there is some “truth” in the general behaviors of the different types and this idea has even resurfaced in a completely different format in the recent popular psychology i.e. a genetic component to personality. When it come to real dealings with individuals, there are too many variations in behavior for it to be of any real use (and that phrase implies some sort of manipulation and angling for advantage).

For me the idea has been more useful in looking inward and better understanding my own behavior. Likes and dislikes of all sorts in myself and the people I know well seem to be pretty well aligned with me being a Venus-Mercury. But, personally, I could never “get out of the weeds” when I tried to factor the notion of “center of gravity” into the equation.

I have to say that the idea that the deck of playing cards arose from some ancient teaching that we were heirs to always charmed the socks off me. And there are people who are more emotional, physical, intellectual etc. than than me. So, I have over the years tried to make sense of the idea without any real success.
Every time I run into some “moving centered gym rat” I find that he can dissect “War an Peace” with a scalpel and runs a charity for homeless cats.

But that is just me,
Bob Stolzle

35. Tim Campion - May 31, 2014

Steve White, my apologies! The coincidence was irresistible, but if I had read the above post from last year correctly, I’d see you were thanking, Steve Suh, not signing Steve Suh. (Greg is no doubt getting a chuckle out of my squinty-eyed interrogation.)

36. swhite44 - May 31, 2014

No worries Tim. My previous post was signed Steve somehow, and this one swhite44. I must have 2 WordPress accounts.

37. Tim Campion - May 31, 2014

Robert,

The Greater Fellowship is comprised mostly of former members (over 1,000 people in the network.) Marlane is among the members. Not a lot of propaganda there. I’m sorry to hear about Valerio. I knew him, though not well. The GF forum contains an “In Memoriam” section which lists those who have passed, and I don’t think he has been included. A remembrance of him could be added. (I don’t recall Horace, Peggy, or Fran, but rarely made it to Carmel.) Did you know Mike Bonnell? Sadly, he too has passed away. He was a very good friend of my brother (whom you may be recalling.) I never was part of the cognoscenti (though I did get to drive the Rolls and Mercedes once in awhile!)

38. ton2u - June 1, 2014

30 Robert,
A slogan was once attached to the site here that went something like: “free speech can be dirty business…” or words to that effect. There have been numerous ‘impostors,’ FOF shills, stooges, moles, trolls and other dissemblers to visit these blog pages over the several years I’ve been following things here. I’ll take you at your word and apologize if you took offense at my speculations….

39. Mick - June 1, 2014

I see no evidence you weren’t right the first time, but I’ve been wrong before. Poor old Blog, it’s not the same lynch mob we once knew.

40. Tempus Fugit - June 1, 2014

I’m glad to see the blog ripping along again – Burton and the FOF deserve as much grief as we can give them.

First though, I’d like to express my strong admiration and respect for Tim Campion, who has the guts to confront this evil publicly and relentlessly.

I also admire Whalerider and others who are willing to discuss painful personal abuse so openly. We never know when someone naive about Burton may log on here. With the FOF in the local news currently, there may be folks looking for information beyond FOF propaganda.

This blog reveals the disgusting truth, and would be much less if not for the courage of Whalerider and many others.

I say welcome to Robert Stolze. I think this blog should be open to anyone. When I left the FOF in the early 80’s I met others who also said they had a good experience. I’m glad for them and for Robert Stolze too.

I’d also like to remember Valerio Biondo. He was a good man, hard working and funny, good friends with Stella and Harold. After the FOF, if memory serves, he married a beautiful, statuesque woman whose name I’ve forgotten. They made a striking couple. Goodbye Valerio!

You know, for me, the “baby” of the FOF experience, the good part, were the friends and lovers I had and my experiences with them.

In 1989 or 1990 former members had a picnic up in Marin. I think about 130 people were there. This was several years after the truth of Burton’s behavior finally got out, and many had left the FOF (I left in the early 80’s before those first public revelations).

Naturally much of the talk at the Marin picnic was about what happened to Burton and the school. Was it a real school and then lost its way? Was Burton a real conscious being who then lost his way? Like many others I spoke to, I was filled with anger, betrayal, and grief for the loss of the beautiful dream and the apparent waste of years of our lives.

At that point in my own recovery I felt like a complete fool for falling for Burton’s lies. For decades I never talked about my years in the FOF with anybody except my girlfriend and a few very close friends. When I ran into old non FOF friends I just said I had been out of town working. After all, who could understand me joining such a bizarre cult without judging me for an idiot?

Anyway, at the Marin picnic that day I finally encountered an old friend with a different perspective. He said “Burton may have turned out to be a criminal, but that takes nothing away from the beauty and sincerity of our spiritual search.” I completely agree.

Truly, the one to pity is Burton. I still wonder what happened to the little boy Bobby that twisted him so.

And I’m still amazed that the group I gave my heart to in full belief of its future magnificence would turn out to be only a sleazy minor cult. Luckily the world has better vision.

The group presented to us as historically unique and the leader who billed himself as second only to Christ are seen by the world for what they are – insignificant and not worth spending much time on.

41. Tim Campion - June 1, 2014

Thanks, Tempus. I’ve even been known to confront evil where none exists.

42. archer - June 1, 2014

Just curious about a couple of things:

– Does anyone know why Robert Stolzle wrote several comments without a number assigned to any of his posts? Web programs can sometimes behave strangely, so it probably means nothing, but I just thought it was odd.

– Most of you are more connected than I am, so I was wondering if anyone knows who the moderator is? Not asking for their name to be posted, but just wondering if anyone knows who he/she is. Are they a former member? Still a member? Never a member?

43. Tim Campion - June 1, 2014

archer,

The moderator, Steve Lang, has given us his background on several occasions. Here’s one.

Regarding the unnumbered posts, the last time that came to our attention was on page 136, when Steve White joined the discussion. At the time, I joked that if any posters don’t toe the line, we strip them of their post numbers. So then Robert comes along. His first post (#9 above) was numbered, but his subsequent posts weren’t. Obviously not toeing the line.

I actually have no explanation for the phenomena.

WhaleRider - June 1, 2014

It happens when you select the ‘”reply” button from the blog email.

It’s nothing personal.

44. archer - June 1, 2014

Steve Lang – thanks for taking this on.

Another Colbert quote…

““Here’s an easy way to figure out if you’re in a cult: If you’re wondering whether you’re in a cult, the answer is yes.”

45. fofblogmoderator - June 1, 2014

I’m not sure why certain posts are showing up without an assigned number. I’ll have to look into it….

46. archer - June 1, 2014

It appears WhaleRider has demonstrated how and why this happens between #s 43 and 44.

47. Mick - June 2, 2014

Parole hearing, Feb. 2003, Canon City, CO
At the time he was sexually assaulting children [actually teenagers under age 18] [James Vincent] Randazzo said he believed he was doing good. I thought it was educational for them.

48. brucelevy - June 2, 2014

47. Mick

The psychology of psychopathology. Virtually ALL of the modern day gurus succumb to it. Because they’re preditors, whether they wear vests or beards, they’re all the same. They fail the very first test of “teachers”. Fuck em all. If you can see their “inner work”, they’re completely full of shit. They sit there and lap up the shit the sychophants smear all over them. They’re like the fat queen termite who needs to be groomed and moved around because they’re incapacitated by their own ego and bull shit. And their is never a dearth of ass-lickers ready to groom their insect.

49. Tim Campion - June 2, 2014

The Fellowship of Friends Daily Quote, June 1:

It takes maximum effort to bring presence (Self-remembering) to simple moments. Robert Earl Burton

All these years of “efforting,” all this mental activity. My sense is that Burton had it wrong from the start, and then made things worse.

50. brucelevy - June 2, 2014

pardon the “their” error.

Robert Stolzle - June 2, 2014

Tim, et al–

I have often wondered if RB really believed the “conscious man” act that he presented to everyone. Is he possibly schizophrenic or is it a calculated act designed to perpetuate the lifestyle. I suspect most everyone posting here knew him better than me, so what do you think.

I mean did he drink his own koolaid? It seems to me that there is a rational aspect of his behavior–however reprehensible–and this would suggest that he was one calculating SOB. But then, keeping the act going more or less consistently for so long is difficult to imagine.

Bob stolzle

51. Tim Campion - June 2, 2014

Robert,

Drinking the koolaid is a reference to Jim Jones, and like Jones, Robert Burton is a charismatic psychopath who from day one has used a faith-based system to prey on naive followers.

52. swhite44 - June 2, 2014

Good question Robert, I often wondered if he swallows his own load of crap too.

But I don’t think he is intelligent enough to be so calculating – if he was, you would have to ask why a clever person would come up with such nonsensical drivel as the numbers and interpretations of art and predictions etc. You were there a long time ago, but in recent years he would show slides of works of art, e.g. the Mona Lisa, point out how 4 fingers are visible, and inform us that was a reference to the 4 Worthless Breaths (one of his things).

So I think he believes his crazed imagination about being God-like.

Also I think he is singularly uncharismatic, and the peons are held in sway just by the weight of numbers and worshipful peer pressure.

53. silentpurr - June 2, 2014

Robert may have had an event take place in his childhood which left him developmentally arrested, I’d say 5 or 6, the ‘age of imagination’. We all pass through that stage but then move on to an appreciation for critical thinking. He’s stuck in the Land of Pretend.

54. Associated Press - June 2, 2014

Robert Burton pleads guilty in domestic violence, attempted murder case:
http://tinyurl.com/kckkhur

‘Robert Burton pleaded guilty to attempted first-degree murder in the stabbing of his ex-girlfriend 32 times in 2012’

‘”There is a better life after abuse,” she told reporters.’

‘A Florida woman has offered forgiveness to her former boyfriend after a judge sentenced him to life in prison for stabbing her 32 times. . .’

55. brucelevy - June 2, 2014

Robert Stolzle – June 2, 2014

It’s simply the “act” of a sociopath. “Truth” and “belief” doesn’t even enter into the equation. It’s manipulation fueled by lack of normal human virtues like compassion, empathy, sympathy. That ios what a sociopath is and does.

56. Tim Campion - June 3, 2014

On page A09 of the Appeal-Democrat today, The Fellowship of Friends placed a full-page ad titled “Fellowship Speaks Out.” (Coincidentally, page A08 contains a full page ad for Randy Fletcher, the Fellowship’s candidate.)

And with the election tomorrow, our friend Nick wrapped up his political mudslinging campaign on yubafoothills.com today.

Robert Stolzle - June 3, 2014

33 WhaleRider-

Thank you for your reply. I don’t have any real notion about enlightenment or what that might mean, either generally or personally. I do suspect that, since we all recognize different abilities between individuals, that it is “logical” to believe that some people might be more or less aware. This “logic” fails to address the many imaginary people and conversations that schizophrenics and other mentally deranged people have. To date, my only criteria is that if I can’t verify a phenomenon myself, it doesn’t exist for me. But then, your reality isn’t my reality, either.

I have thought about your parting question for a couple of days now and dug the larger justifications out of the cobwebs. I had decided when I joined the FOF that, having earned a B.S. degree in four years that I should be able to learn what I needed about he Fourth Way in the same amount of time. And, for me, the learning curve had definitely flattened by that point. Also, I grew up in farming country and there was no way I was moving to “the monastery” and participating in that circus. I was waiting tables at the Covey Restaurant—an upscale golf resort in Carmel valley–and not going any higher soon. Four years to earn a geology degree was too much to fritter away.

Finally, I have to thank Fleetwood Mac. Their “Rumors” album was just out that year and some neighbor awakened me almost every morning by blaring “You Can Go Your Own Way” to the entire neighborhood. I figured that if “higher forces” were going to communicate, what better way? And so I took my leave.

No regrets, mate-
Bob Stolzle

57. shardofoblivion - June 4, 2014

Bob Stolzle How sweet that a song was the catalyst of your stepping away – disentangling oneself from the cult – it reminds me of the phone calls characters make in the Matrix. And for many of us “another lonely day” was the price we paid at first.

58. Fee fi fo fum - June 5, 2014

The Monterey Herald had an online obituary of Valerio Biondo. He died on 2/2/14. If the below link doesn’t work, just Google his Valerio Biondo obituary.

http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/montereyherald/obituary.aspx?pid=170498234

59. Fee fi fo fum - June 5, 2014

I meant to say, if the link doesn’t work, just Google “Valerio Biondo obituary.” It is one of the obituaries that appear online.

60. Tempus Fugit - June 5, 2014

Fee fi fo fum – thanks for the link to Valerio’s obituary – his photo brought back good memories!

61. Golden Veil - June 5, 2014

49. Tim Campion – June 2, 2014

“My sense is that Burton had it wrong from the start, and then made things worse.”

Well said, Mr. Campion!

In the FoF appearances are so important, too – the “act” so refined – the act – the act…

62. silentpurr - June 5, 2014

Fellowship students practice and learn the art of “Acting As Though They Were Conscious”. The aim of that being to “appear” fair and objective, as in Nicholas’ comment: “Not defending anyone. Folks can defend themselves.”……..

63. Fee fi fo fum - June 6, 2014

60. Tempus Fugit

64. Fee fi fo fum - June 6, 2014

60. Tempus Fugit

You’re welcome.

65. Mick - June 14, 2014

Still gullible after all these years? A Fellowship of Friends computer-generated report dated 10/28/95 listing 1,756 active & 5,212 inactive members does not include the name Robert Stolzle. So there, put that in your pipe & have another toke.

66. Mick - June 15, 2014

OK, exhale. Also missing from the list:

Steve Beckett (in Via Del Sol)
Ronna Carmichael
Daniel Davis (supposed future Man Number 5, in Via Del Sol)
Susan Davis (in via Del Sol)
Wayne Ferenzak (Bay Area)
Colleen Hayes
Jay Jones
Carol Jones
Deidre Kennedy
Katherine Kirk
John Kirk
Melvin Lee
Judy Martell
Donald McDonald
Eddie Mesa (SF)
Philip Metzen
John Murphy (Hawaii/Los Angeles)
D.R. Parker (in Via Del Sol)
John Ray (play of crime in 1978 or so)(Renaissance)
Mary Steinhauer or Steinhauser (Los Angeles)
Edward Swan (Dallas)
Erica Valentine
Marsha and Nolan ___ (Los Angeles)

67. Tim Campion - June 15, 2014

In response to Greg Holman’s Letter to the Editor concerning the Fellowship’s role in the community (#7 above,) former member Lew Neal wrote a letter titled “A Time for Healing.”

68. Mick - June 16, 2014

Bear in mind, dear hearts & gentle people, that while a very few discuss and describe the Fellowship in a largely critical fashion, the organization is actively promoting itself, pursuing more recruits and seeking more revenue sources. After all they have bills to pay & a goddess to maintain.

69. ton2u - June 18, 2014

fingerin’ the dyke… er goddess:

http://robertearlburton.blogspot.com/

70. Golden Veil - June 19, 2014

67. Tim Campion – June 15, 2014

The Oregon House community must be very perplexed!

First by Fellowship of Friends President Greg Holman’s letter in the Territorial Dispatch where he claims the Fellowship is not a cult but is instead “a religious organization based, in part, on the belief that through education, the awareness of the beauty inherent around us and in serving others we improve our souls and our individual paths to immortality.”

http://eterritorialdispatch.blogspot.com/2014/05/fellowship-part-of-community.html

And then secondly, at the response to Holman’s letter by Lew Neal, a former Fellowship of Friends member who wrote a letter using cult terminology that would clearly not make sense to most Territorial Dispatch readers, that would be nonsensical language – unless you are or had been at some time – a member of the Fellowship of Friends. Neal explains that the Fellowship of Friends is, “religiously superior toward “life people” in this community for 44 years”, and is now “wanting to inject their commerce among us for their economic benefit without a mention of their past ill treatment, displays one tenet FOF holds near and dear – intentional insincerity.”

http://eterritorialdispatch.blogspot.com/2014/06/a-time-for-healing.html?q=Lew+Neal

Note: I first saw the reprints of the aforementioned letters on the Robert Earl Burton Blog: http://robertearlburton.blogspot.com/

71. Robert Stolzle - June 21, 2014

I just read a short article in the July 2014 Scientific American that is titled “When does Self-Help actually Help”. The article is focussed on a 2009 incident where self help guru James Arthur Ray killed two people and sent 18 others to the hospital from an Arizona sweat lodge. It seems relevant to our cult experiences and there’s a reference or two that might help people; so here are a few lines:

“Self- help becomes particularly perilous whenever someone joins a group and peer pressure begins to counteract one’s better judgment…….Add physical and emotional stress to peer pressure and you have a potentially dangerous brew…..Stressful conditions frequently produce strong emotions ranging from despair to ecstasy and forge a sense of intimacy and affection between strangers. This sense of camaraderie makes people all the more susceptible to peer pressure and more obedient of authority figures. Stress also reduces blood flow to regions of the brain important for planning, self-control and reasoning. Even apparently minor stresses, such as being denied access to the bathroom, can wear down one’s ability to resist social pressure……..The end result is that even highly intelligent and educated people can behave irrationally……The smartest individuals are, in fact, often at highest risk because they tend to think they are immune to peer pressure…..We like to think we are different, but we’re not, and these are really powerful techniques……If you do wind up in such circumstances, be aware that they can profoundly alter your thinking and behavior; therefore do not make life-changing decisions.”

A final piece that might interest those who want the FOF dismantled:
“Whelan ( Christine Whelan, a sociologist with the University of Pittsburgh, most quoted in the article) now serves on the advisory board of Seek Safely, an organization set up by the Brown family (one of the sweat lodge victims) that offers tips to those that might be attracted to potentially dangerous programs.”

Hope this helps,
Bob stolzle

72. nevasayneva - June 23, 2014

Re #71
Thanks for the reference to Scientific American.
Dismantling the FOF might be a far aim. For those already “in” – seems like they have to go through it. Having been there myself, even if people attempt to make you see what it is while you are in, you may not have the ears to listen. I do wonder about responsibility one might have to alerting others before they travel down the road. Zero? or some responsibility to alert others “danger, swamp ahead” etc

FOF uses social media to attract members. The very existence and current activity of this blog or other ex-member websites itself may serve as a caution and awareness to those evaluating the spiritual path offered via FOF. There is a good deal of reputable information on the modus operandi of such organizations at one’s fingertips now than there was in my day.

But I am reminded of the proverb:
“A fool and his money are soon parted”
So if someone is going to join and open the wallet and that is certainly required- the “nothing is for nothing” is quite drilled in at the beginning, it may be hard to stop them.

73. Robert Stolzle - June 25, 2014

Neva-
I suspect that the FOF will implode with the demise of RB. I’d kind of like to be there when he announces his ascension to Man #7. I don’t have a personal axe to grind, but am persuaded that he is a sociopath by all the anger here.

I don’t imagine there is a good way to protect anyone from themselves, but maybe someone can adapt a 12 step program for FOFers. It is also not reasonable to judge what manner of learning will benefit any seeker and a brief survey still indicates a world full of evil scoundrels. Telling personal stories and experiences seems decent starting place, though.

Bob Stolzle

swhite44 - June 25, 2014

Who gets the money if it is dismantled and sold off?
Or will Asaf or someone else assume the crown?

74. Golden Veil - June 25, 2014

Good idea for prospective male students on the younger side to note this re-hash:

A few students and former students occasionally post on this forum to make the point that the Teacher only has consensual sex with male heterosexual students, especially newly recruited students of the Fellowship of Friends-

“Someone”, wrote on May13, 2010:

“While I was a member, I took the trouble to check the facts and RB’s [Robert Burton’s] sexual circle around 4-5 years ago included 10-14 students out of which 6-8 were more ‘permanent’ and the rest more casual. He did use to ‘replace’ 5-10 students each year. So altogether it used to be around 20-25 students. Out of ~2000 members at that time, it is around 1 percent.”

Well, according to “Someone,” if it looks like “The Teacher” has an entourage to you, know this – they ain’t just globe trotting sightseers… it’s more like a secret sexual club.

Following “Someone” on this forum, (excerpt) former student “Old FoF” who wrote here on May 15, 2010:

” I was able find that about 40% of the male students in each of the two main centers in which I had been living were seduced by Robert Burton – some very soon (weeks) after they joined.”

and:

“In passing please note again that this debate is not “esoteric.” One of Robert’s conquests hanged himself, one either died or nearly died from anorexia, and at least three had psychotic breakdowns. And these are just the ones that I knew about. Was Robert Burton responsible? In my mind he is, but maybe there were contributing factors. Nevertheless, why is a “conscious” teacher having sex with hundreds and perhaps thousands of his own male students – some of whom are vulnerable, and nearly all of whom were naïve sincere seekers?”

Well, according to “Someone”, it’s only about a thousand students – if you consider his liaisons with approximately 25 students-a-year x 40 years. It must take a lot of Viagra… it is written on this forum that Viagra is required for the young heteros to ‘get it up’ for the old guy…

“When I left in the mid-1990s I estimate that by that time Robert Burton had likely had sex with over 1,000 of his male students. This was not just a made up figure but an estimate based on serious inquiry.” another except from the aforementioned post by “Someone,” on this forum, May 13, 2010.

Well, Mr. Prospective Student; be prepared to titillate in some way or another; the Teacher may be getting up there, but if he has ‘Satyriasis’ – see Merriam-Webster Online it may be a lifelong condition…

75. swhite44 - June 25, 2014

If the land etc is all sold off it should reap a few mil.
If that is split between the 10K or so ex and current members that’s a few Gs each. Better than a poke in the eye with a sharp stick!

76. Golden Veil - June 25, 2014

You want M O N E Y I wouldn’t hold your breath, swhite – – if you’re an ex-student!

77. Golden Veil - June 25, 2014

78. Golden Veil - June 25, 2014

A real ‘must read’ on the textbook list of all prospective students; this one written from the female (you would say “Intellectually Centered”) point of view! Thank you to Tim Campion and his wondrous, all-inclusive, persistent, fantastic, Robert E. Burton Blog! http://robertearlburton.blogspot.com/

This passage tells the tale of the “every student.” Are you a “Prospective Student?” Read about what’s in store for you… here!

http://robertearlburton.blogspot.com/2014/05/sex-lies-and-grand-schemes-of-thought.html

79. brucelevy - June 25, 2014

75. swhite44

It’s a “California” non-profit “church”. If it dismantles it reverts to the State of California.

80. Jomo Piñata - June 25, 2014

78/Bruce

Not quite. A nonprofit corporation holds its assets in trust for the specific purposes and activities stated in the organization’s articles of incorporation. Assets have to be distributed in accordance with the articles of incorporation and the bylaws of the dissolving corporation, and are subject to any trust under which the assets are held. The intended recipient of assets must have the same IRS exemption as stated in the the dissolution clause of the dissolving corporation’s articles of incorporation. The specific purpose of the FOF, according to its Articles of Incorporation, is as a religion. So in theory another religious organization would be the likely recipient of assets in the event of a dissoluation.

81. Jomo Piñata - June 25, 2014

The specific purpose was as a “church” in the original Articles, but they were later amended to provide that the purpose was as a “religion.” Some people equate these, but I see the second purpose as much more grandiose than the first.

82. ton2u - June 25, 2014

“When one person suffers from a delusion it is called insanity. When many people suffer from a delusion it is called religion”.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Religious_delusion

83. brucelevy - June 25, 2014

Thanks Jomo.

84. Mick - June 26, 2014

There are too many people with an interest in maintaining the organization and controlling the assets and income for them to let it dissolve. One could hope that the Fellowship will improve when Burton dies. But I doubt that it will, given the cast of characters and all the underhanded dealings that have gone on.

85. Golden Veil - June 26, 2014

Yep.

Robert Stolzle - June 26, 2014

I can’t imagine the FOF continuing for long without the exalted leader…he is the only reason for its existence. I’m sure they will try, but is the “inner circle” charismatic enough to keep it going? I doubt it and with the usual attrition and fewer replacements, it will likely disappear like the Cheshire Cat. FYI-legalities not withstanding, any good leadership can and will milk the organization until it is just a shell. Think they’ll put him in a sarcophagus on public view like Lenin?

Bob Stolzle

86. shardofoblivion - June 26, 2014

“Think they’ll put him in a sarcophagus on public view like Lenin?”

Absolutely – there’s a portrait of himself with a dog that perfectly encapsulates his hideous self regard and aggrandizing delusions. Perhaps something tasteful like the more money you donate as you spend third state time in the eternal sarcophagus (at an eye watering rate per minute), the more revealing and intimate details of the gross old queen’s body the supplicant gets to view. – yuck!

http://robertearlburton.blogspot.co.uk/2012_05_01_archive.html

swhite44 - June 26, 2014

Charismatic enough? It’s not charisma, it’s just the peer group pressure of fawning drones who create the illusion of charisma.

87. nevasayneva - June 26, 2014

Somebody has actually happens to these groups when the leader dies:
http://www.sunypress.edu/pdf/52290.pdf
Their conclusions would suggest that FOF would be a group that would survive. Maybe it will even thrive since the element that is causing scandal will no longer be there.

88. Arthur Brooks - June 26, 2014

I spent a few hours in the Fellowship Of Friends, back went he couldn’t pass the last interval about 1977 and began a hugh money suck and other things.

Ayuveda a long time Indian medicine wheel has “body types” and even suggests medicines accordingly.

And finally, even though I only spent a few hours in Fellowship of Friends this is my platform. It’s a cult it’s a church doesn’t matter. According to Matthew 20 you long time vineyard workers aren’t getting what you think you deserve.

For my few hours of work, I full possession of the Olive, Wine and Marijuana fields.

Too bad, rules are rules.

89. Arthur Brooks - June 26, 2014

Corrections: “back when” and “I want full possession”. Never was good at English.

90. Golden Veil - June 29, 2014

86. shardofoblivion June 26, 2014

Here’s an iconographical interpretation that I wrote about the portrait of REB you mentioned above, from this forum, page 120, post 21:

The painting depicts imagery appropriate to “The Teacher’s” true primary interest. The red of the rich fabric covering the chair and the drapery above symbolizes anger, sin, and especially lust. In the painting’s center, a white horse’s head represents, in the tradition of Greco-Roman symbology for the horse, the traits of dominance and virility. There are many phallic symbols, including the candles erect behind him, and the black iron fireplace andirons that depict male nudes. He clutches a small phallus, a bronze sculpture in the form of
a nude man. The classical painting in the background depicts an older man focusing on the object of his desire, a young male companion. In the fireplace, the “fire of inequity” or, the “unquenchable fire” symbolizes his perverse sexual desire for young heterosexual men.

The fire in the portrait of “The Teacher” also brings to mind false teaching. “The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by Hell.” James 3:6

91. paul gregory - June 29, 2014

90. Golden Veil – June 29, 2014
86. shardofoblivion June 26, 2014

“In particular, if he [Robert Earl Burton] knows what he is doing and we don’t, we have no basis for judging or doubting him. Instead, we simply have to trust him, as a child trusts his parents, or dog trusts its master. If he asks us to do things which seem to have no connection to awakening–or even to be ‘wrong’–we have no choice but to do them anyway.” Girard Haven, Creating a Soul, page 576

And, lets face it, it’s the dog that ‘makes’ the picture. Does it shit dollars, too?

92. Parson Yorick - June 30, 2014

I remember that back 30 or more years ago one of the Journals featured the Arnolfini wedding portrait on the cover, but it was a cropped version in which the dog was cropped out. I guess the dog didn’t make the picture in that case. That was before the “dog octave” began.

93. ton2u - July 1, 2014

alas yorick, I knew him well…

poor “conscious bob,” he has absolutely no insight into his own loss of touch with reality…. this painting should be titled “Grandiose Delusions” inasmuch as it characterizes his fantastical beliefs in his own importance, that he’s somehow “famous,” omnipotent…. but even a broken clock is right twice a day — “pearls” from the horse’s mouth:

“Some paintings do not deserve a place on the wall…. Kenneth Clark asked, ‘What will men of the future think when they look at our art?’ What they will then understand is what men are like when they have lost their minds… (In reference to a picture of a man in Poldi Pezzoli Museum, receiving divine inspiration) People flatter themselves in thinking they are inspired from above.”

isn’t it the truth… burton’s all about self-flattery and self-indulgence… sadly, at the cost of others.

http://fellowshipoffriends.wikispaces.com/in-their-own-words?responseToken=01608caa46c5f16f9218aa3d2625a6242

94. Fed up with stupidity - July 2, 2014

Any idea where I can see a photo of this painting?

95. Tim Campion - July 3, 2014

Robert Earl Burton Portrait (painting)

Robert Earl Burton Portrait (photograph)

They look like they might have been from the same sitting (standing.)

96. shardofoblivion - July 3, 2014

94 Fed up with stupidity – here’s a link straight to the painting itself:

97. shardofoblivion - July 3, 2014

95 – Tim – thanks for the photo link – it’s a perfect picture of someone desperately doing the “I am self remembering right now” act!

98. Tim Campion - July 3, 2014

Shard, since the lower cannot see the higher, only RB knows for sure!

99. WhaleRider - July 3, 2014

“…The Greatest Story Ever Told (Oursler, 1949)… the life of Jesus Christ…leads humans to believe that they too can turn the other cheek in the face of torture…the idea of emulating Christ’s perfect forgiveness…(the author finds this) not only impossible, but unrealistic and even grandiose. We are after all, only human, we are not gods.

If the process of repairing ruptures (in the psyche) and surviving destructiveness involves accountability, atonement, and forgiveness, how does the patient who has suffered at the hands of the traumatizing narcissist engage in a repair process with the traumatizers?

The traumatizing narcissist…is unwilling to acknowledge insufficiency of any kind, unwilling to be accountable or contrite, unwilling to atone, and sees no reason to ask for any kind of forgiveness.

As Grand (2000) has said, referring to attempts to grant forgiveness unilaterally to unrepentant perpetrators:

‘…the implied neutral acceptance of the unrepentant is a solipsistic process…Forgiveness/acceptance of the unrepentant is a monologue, in which the monologue of forgiveness mirrors the perpetrator’s monologue of torture: it is another collapse of intersubjectivity.’ (i.e. the healthy ability of two people to share an experience consciously, instead of one relating to the other as an unconscious object)

The traumatizing narcissist has no interest in intersubjectivity–for him the subjectivity of another is a threat to his sense of superiority. The other’s subjectivity is only there to suppress, take over, and control.

With trauma, the sense of time is so often warped (Ries, 1995) and what is in the past is chronically experienced as present and future.

(This IMO, is the mechanism that binds one to the FOF cult and to daddy burton, the traumatizing narcissist…the over emphasis on the present and perceived apocalyptic future-at the expense of the individual follower’s subjective past.)

Emancipation (from trauma, for the victim) would mean that the past and the present both exist, distinguished from one another, and the future can be imagined without dreadful anticipation, conscious or unconscious, of retraumatization (Ornstein, 1974)…and would involve a more or less stable detachment from toxic internal objects (read:lower self, sleeping machine, cult indoctrination, etc) and if still present, from living traumatizers.

‘Health is the ability to stand in the spaces between realities without losing any of them This is what I believe self-acceptance means and what creativity is all about-the capacity to feel like one self while being many. (Bromberg, 1993)’

~from Traumatic Narcissism, Relational Systems of Subjugation, by Daniel Shaw, 2014

100. Jomo Piñata - July 3, 2014

99/WhaleRider

Nice!

101. Fed up with stupidity - July 3, 2014

96 Shardofoblivion, thanks for the link. I have a brother in law in FOF.

102. Bares Reposting - July 4, 2014

Vena Says:
March 1st, 2007 at 7:21 pm

Dear Courageous Friends,

I agree with a recent observation that the move away from Gurdjieff and Ouspensky has coincided with a great awakening for many. Probably not because O and G and the Fourth Way are not valid ways but because when Robert Burton began to desperately try and concoct a system of his own by cobbling together bits and pieces of other great systems it became obvious that he doesn’t know what he is talking about.

It truly seems to be the “Fellowsheep of Friends” or perhaps the “Fellowship of Fools.”

Every whim of his has been justified by explanations like, “We are doing this for the Ark” or “This is the will of C Influence.” Some of these whims have included collections of Meissen Porcelain, Steinway pianos, rare books, Eighteen Century French Furniture, An Art Library (when he was trying to reinvent himself as Bernard Berenson), Eighteenth Century European Painting, and Ming Furniture. Many of these collections contained costly fakes and forgeries and the cost to the members has almost been incalculable. During these phases he attempted to build a book bindery which was aborted and now serves as a “Town Hall”, a grandiose winery which also was aborted, a French Chateau (full of gaudy antiques, full length portraits of himself and grotesque murals), a Greek Theatron when he was fashioning his empire after a Greek city state, which was also never finished. Literally millions of dollars have been poured into these aborted projects and yet as he moves on to the next phase no one mentions the abandoned, costly and failed projects but the fund raising just continues as before. What greater proof of sleep of the members could one ask for?

The whole show has been so fantastic that no one could have made it up as a piece of fiction.

I personally wonder if this school and all its manifestations are the result of a serious disorder which I mentioned in an earlier posting. I have enclosed a list of the major characteristics of this disorder. After reading them I felt that I recognized the cause and reason for the existence of the Fellowship and all its attitudes. I also wished, in spite of the damage he has done, that Robert Burton could be helped. Does anyone in or out think there is any possibility of this or any reason or obligation to try?

Warm regards to All, Vena

p.s. I feel sick at my stomach after reading the posting from “Inner Circle Facts” but I thank him for revealing these things. Perhaps it will help some to wake up to the truth.

Proposed Amended Criteria for the Narcissistic Personality Disorder

Feels grandiose and self-important (e.g., exaggerates accomplishments, talents, skills, contacts, and personality traits to the point of lying, demands to be recognized as superior without commensurate achievements);

Is obsessed with fantasies of unlimited success, fame, fearsome power or omnipotence, unequalled brilliance (the cerebral narcissist), bodily beauty or sexual performance (the somatic narcissist), or ideal, everlasting, all-conquering love or passion;

Firmly convinced that he or she is unique and, being special, can only be understood by, should only be treated by, or associate with, other special or unique, or high-status people (or institutions);

Requires excessive admiration, adulation, attention and affirmation – or, failing that, wishes to be feared and to be notorious (Narcissistic Supply);

Feels entitled. Demands automatic and full compliance with his or her unreasonable expectations for special and favorable priority treatment;

Is “interpersonally exploitative”, i.e., uses others to achieve his or her own ends;

Devoid of empathy. Is unable or unwilling to identify with, acknowledge, or accept the feelings, needs, preferences, priorities, and choices of others;

Constantly envious of others and seeks to hurt or destroy the objects of his or her frustration. Suffers from persecutory (paranoid) delusions as he or she believes that they feel the same about him or her and are likely to act similarly;

Behaves arrogantly and haughtily. Feels superior, omnipotent, omniscient, invincible, immune, “above the law”, and omnipresent (magical thinking). Rages when frustrated, contradicted, or confronted by people he or she considers inferior to him or her and unworthy.

By: Dr. Sam Vaknin

Author of “Malignant Self Love – Narcissism Revisited”

“You are after something your entire life, some goal. Enlightenment is giving it up.” Zen Master

103. WhaleRider - July 4, 2014

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

~The Declaration of Independence, July 4, 1776

These truths are no longer self-evident to nor held by a long term cult follower, for over time the follower becomes alienated from his or her rights and subject to the authoritarian cult leader he or she places “above” them.

We all may have been created equal, yet the authoritarian institutions self-serving gurus with which they surround themselves and others join and support can turn people into submissive slaves who must feign happiness and please the guru in order to survive.

There is no liberty in a cult either, even the word “life” itself is corrupted and maligned, as in “life people”, those who do not belong.

Such is the case with the Fellowship of Friends and the institutional rape of its followers.

Robert Stolzle - July 4, 2014

Whalerider, et. al.-

When I left the FOF in 1977 they had just raised the monthly “tuition” to $60.00 (it was $30.00 in 1974, if I remember correctly). I am curious what the extortion rate is now? Does anyone have a recent number? I’d say that $60.00 in 1977 was about 15% of an average monthly income and was definitely a strain for most of us…..not to mention the almost annual “special tasks” of a couple hundred dollars each.

I have the feeling, C influence, I’m sure, that RB will depart this plane soon (I mean, he IS a geezer!) and am surprised so many ex students think the group will continue on. Gerard Haven had just reached the inner circle when I left, but he was as interesting as an undertaker then. I feel strongly that the FOF and all its possessions will be dispersed in a year or two.

Even Gurdjieff’s “Priorie” has faded into oblivion and RB has no real legacy of developing a unique “teaching” unless, if I read these postings right, one is willing to embrace a homosexual orgy as a learning experience worthy of the sacrifice. I have a copy of RB’s “Self Remembering”, but it is too dull for me to get through the first page or two.

Has anyone from the FOF(aside from Randazzo) tried to spin off their own group, with or without RB’s approval? I always thought that Stella and Harold would be the ones to start a new branch. Does anyone know the story of how and why they were forced out?

Bob Stolzle

104. Mick - July 5, 2014

Stella (& therefore Harold) were unceremoniously dumped because some dirty rat finked out her for smoking cigarettes. I had attended defective student meetings in Berkeley in 1974 but didn’t join. About a year later I contacted Stella at the Carmel center. She was a student of 4th Way like no one else and I probably wouldn’t have joined if I wasn’t impressed with her. I visited with them in Reno after the banishment and they didn’t have a clue as to the corruption & perversion. I hope she’s up there laughing.
Harold is still around. The tales he could tell.
Once upon a time the other members of the Grateful Dead gave Jerry Garcia the ultimatum that it was either give up drugs or leave the band. He did neither.

105. brucelevy - July 5, 2014

You know Mick, Stella was told inumerable times (including by me) what RB was up to. For years she refused to believe or even here of it. People who tried to express the truth were put on her center “shit list”. The “facts” didn’t agree with her own tunnel vision of the FOF. So let’s not jump to deify her, she had her significant blind spots, including Carmel being her own fiefdom until RB removed her. As for her not having ” a clue as to the corruption & perversion”, that was simply because she wouldn’t here of it. And the fact that enjoyed her status in the hierarchy as “the” quasi-reprobate.

106. Renald Brisson - July 5, 2014

Since any subject pushed against (unwanted) can only get bigger or worse I predict that it (FOF) will go on as long as the pushers against exist.
It may change its appearance or name (really?) but that is irrelevant and that has already been proven.

107. ton2u - July 6, 2014

106 renald brisson
you’re in the prediction business now ? hmmm… I do question the motives, if not the intelligence, of anyone who advocates ignoring burton and the FOF — ignorance is not a solution.

At least the “pushers against” shed some light on the situation.

108. Mick - July 6, 2014

You are right, Bro, Stella was no “advanced being” and had a lot of faults including vanity & power and obviously a lot of people didn’t care for her or her trip at all. The person who ratted her out was purportedly Linda Kaplan, no fucking saint herself. Her move was probably politically motivated. Surprise! There’s a lot of that shit going on.
Stella was the one who spread the (untrue) rumor (from Richard Hocking, a dirty rat in his own right) to RB that I was growing pot. Under interrogation I was forced to name names and I gave up you, Grant R., John B., & Randy O. Sorry ’bout that, but I did rush to tell you guys before you were confronted.

109. Cheryl Lister - July 6, 2014

Hi Friends, I haven’t been able to keep up much with the blog here, although I was grateful to find it near its beginning, and have posted a few times. I wish you all well, wherever this may find you.

I know this will be controversial to some here, and I also feel inspired to want to share. I was a member of FOF from 1987-2006. To boil it down as simply as possible, I left when I came to deeply understand that as long as I was there, making teaching payments and participating at any level, I was in complicity with whatever was happening behind the curtain, with the dark underbelly of the Teacher’s relationships behind the scenes. It became impossible to stay. I felt so much fear about leaving, though, fear of everything from going to the moon type of thing, to losing my friends, to not trusting myself on my own. It became necessary to leave, to face the fear, too.

Fast forward about 8 years .. lots of dark night of the Soul stuff and NEVER ever wanted to be part of any kind of structured group again, esp. Fourth Way. So it was a surprise – a miracle – to discover a group, yes, a Fourth Way oriented group, with a Teacher – a “Real Deal” Teacher, from my personal experience.

Long story short: Our family is moving to the Dominican Republic on Friday, July 11, to join their community and support their Work on a rainforest farm. Jose Reyes has studied under many Teachers from traditions including Fourth Way, Sufi (Zikr), esoteric Christianity as taught by Gurdjieff. He has integrity, he’s humble, he’s down-to-Earth , he offers help. He wishes to help.

Jose Reyes will lead the next seminar at the farm in January, 2015. I’m attaching a link here if you are interested in checking it out. We will be there!

https://www.facebook.com/events/805863412771312/

Feel free to write me at cheryllister44@yahoo.com if you have private questions. Forgive me if I can’t respond to many posts now as we are just about to head off-the-grid to the solar powered farm. I’m also starting a blog to help keep friends updated on our adventure. I hope you will follow us if you are inspired.

http://offthegridmama.com/

In the meantime, I am grateful for what I’ve received from the blog here, a place to sort out, question, express confusion, sadness, share stories. Thank you all, for your many unique voices and take on the FOF situation. Much Love.

110. Parson Yorick - July 7, 2014

She seems enthusiastic.

111. archer - July 7, 2014

Cheryl, since you didn’t ask for advice/feedback before you embarked, I think most people will just wish you and your family well and hope you don’t end up out of the frying pan and into the fire.

Just keep in mind that the “FOF situation”, as you describe it, is not unique. The same cult manifestations take on different forms with different groups, different leaders, and different followers.

112. brucelevy - July 7, 2014
113. WhaleRider - July 7, 2014

@Cheryl Lister

The fact that you are blogging here out of the blue, about the HUGE step you are taking for yourself AND your family, and at the same time promoting this guy’s next seminar “at the farm” speaks volumes to me.

All my red flags are flying right now.

Unconsciously we want to bring others along in our process because there is a small part of you that naturally has doubts about your decision, and by externalizing that critical voice to a person like me, then you can dismiss it and jump right into the fire anyway, and feel comforted by bringing a few people with you. This is how cults work

Realize this: on Mr Reyes website, there is a photo of him drumming.

Drumming causes a trance state and in that trance state all manner of trance logic can be instilled without you realizing it.

I can guarantee you this: what you are apparently still searching for in a guru is a lot closer than you think.

You won’t find it in Dominican Republic, on a tropical island, off grid or in the rainforest.

“It” is already within you.

For the love of god, Cheryl, make sure you have an exit strategy for you and your family.

If you choose not to heed my advice to reconsider, then I beg you to pay attention to your dreams each night before you go.

Write them down and then blog them here.

DO NOT GO OFF GRID.

Stay connected to family and friends.

114. ton2u - July 7, 2014

I scrolled through the links here — http://www.gurdjieffdominican.com/
and a couple things came to mind: the photos say a lot — the body language, the expressions on faces… it’s FOF redux. a cult is a cult, changing the faces, or the locale and sprinkling in a few “movements” doesn’t change that fact.

there’s a psychology at work here… obviously this mr. reyes has a need for the adulation, the adoration, the sense of power and control which comes from leading a group of followers, and on the other hand, there is no shortage of people out there who are looking for someone who will lead them, tell them what to do… I think in some cases it goes back to something in the early relations with parents — people are looking for a father / mother / authority figure, someone to direct them, someone to please. some folks never really grow-up. in other cases people are looking for someone or something to give a “higher” meaning and purpose to life…. this is projected onto the group and the “guru” who leads it.

apparently cheryl didn’t learn her lesson from the FOF so she’s going to have another crack at cult life… and cults are a bit like crack… they represent psychological addiction… but this time it’s a “good” cult right cheryl ? and the teacher is “the real deal” — but wait… isn’t that what you thought about “conscious bob” when you joined the other cult ? do you see a pattern ?

115. brucelevy - July 7, 2014

114. ton2u

I always advised my two children, if you can see someone’s inner work you can be sure they’re full of shit.

116. WhaleRider - July 7, 2014

I couldn’t agree with you more, ton2u.

The endgame of most, if not all addiction is crises.

It will more often than not be a personal crisis that will awaken the addict to their personal truth that they have given away their power.

This is the lesson that naive followers like Cheryl and I must learn, the hard way…through being traumatized by a narcissist guru.

I also looked through the website.

I was particularly struck by the account of Mr Reyes’ encounter with Pierre Elliot.

“No doubt in my mind that Pierre has a great Being; in many occasions I saw how he could endure adverse conditions with a very good emotional state.”

This, IMO, is the set up for exploitation by the fourth way cult leader and older group members.

The fourth way follower is being indoctrinated into believing that level of “Being”, has something to do with the ability to silently “smile” while experiencing hardship… opening the door for being abused or exploited and subtly teaching the follower not to complain, since to display anything else means lessor “Being”.

I can say with a great deal of certainty that the way to mental health and personal growth is not paved with masochism toward oneself, nor sadism toward others.

IMO, if Mr Elliot had used humor in response his adverse conditions, that would indicate to me that he had both “negative and positive” sides of his being developed, functioning and accessible. That’s what it means to be fully human without a christ complex.

Call it what you will, the repression of negative emotions is unhealthy… so is the relentless pursuit of the dopamine high produced in high intensity-high control cults and found in celebrity worship of others.

117. ton2u - July 7, 2014

yup… the photos of those people remind me of the compulsory nature of cult life… the puppet master attaches psychological strings to the marionettes who do those silly “movements” which are injected with some imaginary meaning. it’s really a game of dominance and submission, power and control over those who give up their control to the puppet master… masochism is involved on the one hand and that would imply an element of sadism on the other.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/803142

etc

Robert Stolzle - July 7, 2014

Re: Cheryl Lister-

Having reached incipient old age, I am persuaded that what all manner of cults, churches and religions are “selling” is an escape from the fear of dying. Whether it is the ascension to heaven or the indestructible consciousness of MAN #???, the promise is some sort of life after death.

Also, since I can see no evidence of anyone’s ability to continue on in this plane —schizophrenics not withstanding—this is, at the least, a very hollow promise. That is to say, that while there may be all manner of spooks and airy angels having fun on some other Edenic plane, no one gets to come back here…..so, it is a moot point, no? Also, there are none of the world’s spiritual teachings that really GUARANTEE that by abandoning your normal behavior and doing as they say that you will be given a seat in the heavenly bus….it is always just a “maybe”….or “if you are lucky”. But, what the heck, so far as I know, there may be a group living in bliss in the tail of a comet somewhere in space; but, the suicide payment for finding out is pretty steep.

So, maybe just living a decent life (which can be suffering enough) and helping make this realm better for everyone is a more reasonable solution for all us Men #4 than any other. And, it certainly offers as good of an opportunity to surviving our corporeal demise as some guru insisting that you have to drink the koolaid.

But, misery does like company!
Bob Stolzle

118. shardofoblivion - July 7, 2014

109. Cheryl Lister – July 6, 2014, you posted about having found a real teacher, which has provoked much good blog advice. You mentioned that it was Burton’s exploitative sexual behaviour that forced you to leave the FoF. Do you know what senor Reyes does for sex yet, by any chance? Might be worth asking before you commit to living in his community if you haven’t yet. It is an uncomfortable reality that many spiritual communities based around a charismatic leader have histories of that leader using his position to demand sexual favours from his adoring followers.

119. brucelevy - July 8, 2014

118. shardofoblivion

Yeah, about 99.44% of them. But you know, it’s hard to kick the habit of wanting to be exploited. Just look at the fucking GOP constituency;

120. swhite44 - July 8, 2014

Cheryl, sounds like fun, back to the old lodge days and building Renaissance, or Ouspensky’s Farm, or Gurdjieff’s Prieure.

121. WhaleRider - July 8, 2014

@swhite44
Fun? Really?

Back in the days when parents were abandoning their children or women were having abortions at the request of the sadistic FOF cult leader or people working like sleep deprived zombies to prepare for an apocalypse that never came?

How about Katherine Mansfield who was suffering from Tuberculosis left to die in the squalid barn of Gurdjieff’s Château Le Prieuré at Fontainebleau-Avon because Gurdjieff thought that inhaling the fumes of cow manure would cure her?

How about back in the days of Alex Horn’s Theatre of All Possibilities where followers and several of their children were literaly beaten up by older followers as “shocks” for “awakening”.

I am sickened by your post. IMO, you are romanizing Auschwitz.

Or maybe you were just joking?

122. drahcirah - July 8, 2014

There wasn’t any cure for TB in those days . The best he could’ve done was to send her to a warm sea resort.
However, typically humiliation is prevalent with cult
leaders . Humiliation allows the cult leader to retain power . “It is justified as it is a means for
awakening”..Even though in reality the person being
humiliated is more likely to suffer in silence for years on end . As they are probably highly vunerable to exploitation they have no one to turn to for assistance, as part of the culture of cults is to not complain and pretend life is amazing . As in he or she
has no voice because they have being instead .The ultimate cult psychological cul-de-sac.Thats another thing with cult leaders they have plenty of emotions but no feelings. They can be ill but be emotionally happy.For me thats an example of a human being lying to herself or himself.

123. Golden Veil - July 8, 2014

WhaleRider, I think swhite44’s remark was entirely facetious.

I hope Cheryl will let us know how her family’s life in the full time Dominican Gurdjieff community goes. She’s already had so much experience with an esoteric school, and may be going into this community with open eyes rather than just naivete. This kind of rainforest environment will be unusual for her daughters; I hope a safe place for them. Looking at these photograph albums

https://picasaweb.google.com/111541560633772274016

and looking over their web site, and reading Jose’s notes to the participants of the last annual January seminar

http://www.gurdjieffdominican.com/backtosquareone.html

I would say, looks like a nice place to visit…

swhite44 - July 8, 2014

No I think it would be fun to be in at the ground level, while everyone is fresh and inspired. Better than later when rules and structure and a political hierarchy of enforcers take over, everything becomes regimented, and the smiles become plastic. So long as she gets out in time, before she becomes one of the drones.

124. Tempus Fugit - July 9, 2014

Hello Cheryl.

I join the others here both in wishing you well and warning you to be watchful.

Perhaps Jose Reyes is the “real deal,” perhaps not. Hopefully your previous experience with the false teacher Burton will help you tell the difference.

For your sake and others please allow me to review a few important points:

SIGNS YOU ARE IN A CULT

1)The leader controls key aspects of your life: food, sleep, money, intimate relationships, family, friendships, travel, etc. (For example, the leader or group insists you surrender your cash, credit cards, or passports.)

2) The leader is secretive about his own personal life, especially his sexual behavior.

3) The leader controls group money and expenditures are secret.

4) An “inner circle” of preferred followers gets special privileges of many kinds, including access to the leader, better accommodations or food, better working conditions, etc. etc.

5) You are asked by the leader or group to lie to friends, family, or the authorities regarding group conditions, and hide any illegal or immoral activities.

6) The leader creates division between you and your spouse or children, including asking your family to divulge personal information about you, or telling you how to parent your children.

7) The leader prohibits the family from traveling together.

8) You feel something the leader asks you to do is wrong, but he insists the action is for your own spiritual benefit.

9) The leader justifies illegal or immoral behavior on the grounds of his enlightened state of mind.

10) Dissent is not tolerated, especially personal criticism of the leader, and any dissent is equated with moral or spiritual weakness.

There are other major warning signs, but these are common. From your years in the FOF all this should be familiar to you, but sometimes we all forget the lessons of the past when we are enthused about a new project or a new person.

I hope this experience is positive for you and your family, but I recommend you have a plan and resources ready in case it doesn’t work out and you need to leave.

Please write back later and let us know how it’s going. Meanwhile, be careful and good luck!

125. WhaleRider - July 9, 2014

@swhite44
“So long as she gets out in time…”

Right. That’s wishful thinking.

Weeks turn into months…months turn into years, and before you know it, you’re hooked.

That’s how addiction works.

That’s how cults work.

It seems so innocuous at first. “I can leave any time I want”, you say to yourself.

But then you can’t stop.

You can’t leave.

You’re in too deep.

You want that warm fuzzy feeling you first had again, but it’s gone. No matter how hard you struggle, it’s out of reach.

Then there comes that point when you wish you had never started. How foolish you were to think you were in control!

You find yourself doing stuff you never dreamed you’d be doing, chasing an illusion.

At some point, you finally just give up.

You think you have no choice, no hope.

It makes you sick to your stomach, so you don’t think about it, you just keep doing it and doing it.

And so you end up drinking the kool aid like everyone else.

I’ve seen it time and time again.

126. WhaleRider - July 9, 2014

Cults seductively reinforce the narcissistic thought process, “I’m special, I’m different.”

Like addictive drugs they inflate the ego with feelings of euphoria and superiority.

“So where’s the harm in trying it? Other people are doing it. I’m fine. It’s safe. It feels good. The bad stuff won’t happen to me. I can stop any time I want. I’m strong, I can control it.”

But the fact is, you leave your control at the door the moment you walk in, and you only get it back when you leave..if you ever leave.

Who in their right mind would suggest that their friend or family member try heroin?

Because that is exactly what we are dealing with here, IMHO.

Spiritual heroin.

Try telling someone using heroin what the warning signs of addiction are.

They will laugh in your face.

127. Tempus Fugit - July 9, 2014

Whalerider, I agree with your pessimism based on experience. I’m also sure you (and others here) join me in wishing the best for her and her family.

Cheryl seems like a really good person (I read her blog) but she’s already committed to this new group and major move. Her husband is in the background (for us) but obviously agrees with this decision. And both parents have decided to involve their children, which, as parents, is a highly significant indication of their emotional investment.

Then again, we were all true believers once, right? And somehow we escaped, not unharmed, but we escaped.

One approach to addiction is abstinence, another is harm reduction.

Perhaps, like in “Hansel and Gretel,” Cheryl is dropping a few breadcrumbs in the forest that will be useful should she decide to find her way out again.

Perhaps friendly reminders that the path out remains open will be remembered when it is needed.

128. WhaleRider - July 9, 2014

@Tempus Fugit
Thank you for your post. You bring up a very good point.

Where on earth is the father of her two young children on this serious move? Or her parents?

She makes no mention of either, yet out of the blue informs her peer group of her intentions, expecting us, what, to wish her bon voyage, good luck?

Perhaps this is why I feel compelled to confront her on her choices…in abstentia.

To my mind, she appears to be a single mom experimenting with spiritual meth and then announcing at a narc-anon meeting that she’s taking her kids and moving in with her dealer.

WTF?

129. archer - July 9, 2014

Cheryl says she is moving to the Dominican Republic with her family, presumably meaning there are children involved.

Adults have a bad enough experience in cults, but kids really get a raw deal. They are particularly impressionable and vulnerable. Yes – lots of red flags.

One of the things that I remember about Burton is that the weirdness didn’t become apparent right away, at least in my experience. With the help of several psychological blinders that allowed me to continue for years, everything seemed normal, normal, normal, normal, normal… And then suddenly BOOM … NOT normal … not healthy, not good. Some people are “fortunate” that the weirdness hits them right away, and multiple red flags go up early on.

130. Tempus Fugit - July 9, 2014

Whalerider, Archer, and all,
If you go to Cheryl’s blog, click on “About,” and scroll down you will find a photograph of the entire family, including her husband.

The blog itself is focused on her preparations to move to Dominican Republic, and contacts with various friends.

I was not in the FOF during the same years as Cheryl, but perhaps you or some other reader knows her or her husband. If so, this would be a great opportunity to re-establish your personal friendship and an ongoing connection.

For that matter, Cheryl invites contact from anyone in her post on this blog (Post 109), so please reach out if you wish.

Cheryl‘s email:

cheryllister44@yahoo.com

Cheryl‘s blog:

http://offthegridmama.com/

131. WhaleRider - July 9, 2014

In the end, what kills the addict’s soul is that their addiction becomes their lifestyle.

It becomes all they do, all they know, and all they talk about. They can never get enough, always scrambling for more, traveling great distances to get the next hit, the strongest dose.

They have their own special language, their own special circle of friends, their own special place to go where they do it.

They think they are sooo special!! And the drug makes them feel that way, as long as they keep doing it and stay in the bubble.

As time flies by in the trance they live in, they end up totally detached from their bodies, from themselves, and from reality…chasing the dragon’s tail, draining their finances, maxing out their credit cards, destroying their family in the process of destroying themselves…even prostituting themselves to support their habit, and eventually they become a dealer themselves. They lie, cheat and steal, and they don’t pay their taxes.

And they will pull their children into the vortex with them if nobody intervenes.

Oh, but it’s not the same thing! This is different! It’s a solar powered meth lab! It’s off grid! It’s in the rainforest! Everybody wears white! The leader is very experienced! We grow our own food there and everything! People are so nice!

Bullshit.

132. swhite44 - July 9, 2014

Whalerider – ‘Like addictive drugs (cults) inflate the ego with feelings of euphoria and superiority.’

So you’re anti- any group that aspires to spiritual development?
I guess you could classify any collection of people as a cult if they have any religious or spiritual aspirations, because there’s always a leader and organisational structure once it gets big enough.

You commented something about ‘It’ being already within you.
I always found the experience of euphoria or a higher state more intense in a group situation.
So that option is off the table now for you?

133. cheryllister44 - July 9, 2014

Hi Folks:) I did expect some backlash here, given the culture of the blog, and I think it’s more heated/vehement than I expected. I wish I had a lot of time to read each post over again, and also to take very deliberate time to post again. As you all know though, I’m leaving very shortly and just the basics of packing, organizing, etc are so involved that there’s not a lot of time for writing. I’m hoping to post at least once more on my own beginner blog, too, if possible. So if you don’t hear back from here, and you’re interested in the journey, I hope I have time to write there, too.

A few things to share, in haste: One is that, without divulging names because I wish to respect privacy, it’s been remarkable how many private email messages I’ve received from people that are on the blog here. The people from this blog that have sent a private email to me, have essentially wished my journey well, expressed positive feelings about the journey, Jose, the group, the decision to move to DR, have their own spiritual journey to share. One private email blog writer is privately sharing concerns.

So just noticing the inverse happening on the “public blog” — the majority of the messages on the blog are, for lack of a better way of saying it, “negative” about my decision to move to DR – either sarcastic, facetious; naysayers convinced that a group and teacher they have never met must be a horrible cult of deception and addiction and ultimate despair. Also the majority of the posts on the blog responding to my post, are anonymously named people – and the folks sending me private emails again, inversely, used their real names, not a pretend name.

What is the culture here, now, this observation leads me to ponder? Why do you think the naysayers are mostly posting here, using a made up name, and privately, another blog group is mostly emailing me with supportive, positive comments, using their real names? It almost feels like there’s a small group of bullies here w/ their agenda (any sign of a person involved in a spiritual group with a teacher is GOING DOWN, DUDE!) and the rest of the group is too afraid to express a different opinion, out of ? fear? tired of backlash?

Swhite’s post 131 speaks to some of my thoughts on the blog comments here. Are most of you now in a stage of your journey that you feel that involvement with a group of people who share spiritual practices that has a general structure with a teacher, must be a bad “cult”?

Also I do hear well wishes, concerns that sound as if they are contemplated as opposed to off the cuff..so.. I guess I’m just trying to point out my own concern here ::: When I first started reading this blog and posted near the beginning (how long has it been? Several years now, yes?) .. the blog felt like an incredibly refreshing open space, a wild ride with others who had kept quiet out of FEAR, for so long ,that there was no place we could all share and express, our unique FOF experience, the good, the bad, the ugly..some of us had similar experiences, some different; some of us have gone on to have similar experiences, some different. I hope, for the sake of everyone that still needs a place to be able to freely come and write what they are experiencing, whether in or out now…I urge the “oldtimer bloggers” that mostly post now…. Is it possible to keep this space a bit open for a person to process their experience, have a unique opinion/experience, without having a group Voice coming down on them if they do wish to explore spirituality here, or being part of a group again, etc?

I think for everyone, the “oldtimer.regular bloggers,” and for the ones who feel that they can’t speak openly here anymore without being shot down, and for anyone else that is reading here but feels too scared to post…it might be good, refreshing, healing, for all, if there is a more open spirit…? just sayin’… You oldtimers of course have the right to naysay and so on, but isn’t the party more fun if more people can come here and feel free to speak their own experience without the Voice response?

Anyway, not sure if that clearly explains what I wish, and sorry for the length!

To respond to a few bits here, and then if I’m fortunate enough to find good internet in DR, I would really enjoy being here on the blog when I can. …

I do have a family:) I have a husband and two young daughters. My husband is in the background because he is more private about his spirituality and experiences, so I do my best to not speak for him or about him. But to reassure anyone concerned that I’m a desperate single Mom seeking community or a new hubby, I’m not. I’ll just say that my husband and I are both amazed and grateful that we are in absolute synchronicity regarding this decision to move to DR. Our external spiritual practices have tended to manifest themselves differently from each other, so it’s — hey, maybe it’s a good sign! – that somehow, Jose’s group speaks to and appeals to each of us.

Re. my precious amazing daughters. They are by far the most miraculous, central part of my life. I feel very concerned about the environment they are being raised in. I want the best for them. I long for them to have all that they want, in the most important sense – not the best toy or fancy dress or biggest room or best dance teacher, or newest ipad or wii game or whatever those things are. I want them to be free to experience their lives, in a safe and natural environment. I want to know when they go to school that I don’t have to have it in my mind that there could be some guy about to run in w/ a gun, or dealing heroin in their school hall, or sexting or whatever else is going on now, here, in a very very upscale, “normal” community where we live – and where any parent of young children now lives -west coast, east coast, city, countryside, upscale, poor, whatever. doesn’t matter. It’s happening. Around the corner from us a 24 year old was busted for dealing heroin here..there’s a clientele of young people buying. We are a couple hours from one of the school shootings that is now so common in USA it’s more like, “Well, I guess they need bullet proof blankets in their lockers…” I witnessed two horrible, violent felonies against some young people in our neighborhood.
My 5 year old daughter came home in tears last week because all the boys want to “play guns” on the playground, even tho the busy teachers try to “re-direct”, and her little friend had yelled into her face, “I’m going to get a gun and shoot you in your face!!” ..

Yes, I’ve talked to the Director of the school, found the Mommy and talked to her, followed up, etc…not able to go into detail here, but I’m not really satisfied with the overall plan of re-direct, etc..it isn’t working..all the boys (can’t imagine why?) are obsessed with playing w/ guns, killing, smash the ants on the ground…

The private school about half an hour away from the farm in DR..that our daughters will attend..we met with the Principal, parents, talked very directly re. our concerns about what’s happening in the current USA culture re. violence, drugs, abuse via internet/stalking/sexting/, etc..there has never been one incident in DR in a children’s school w/ a shooting. In this school, most of the kids don’t have iphones and access to 24/7 internet. There might be a little bit of pot and beer in the high school. There are no hard drugs. The Principal and I started chatting about the possibiliities to bring the kids from the school over to the farm to help learn about organic gardening, eco-tourism, organic food preparation. Jose and his wife are happy for this to happen.

Re. Jose. He has a lovely wife of 22 years, I believe, who is involved in every aspect of the group, seminars, etc. She manages much of the seminar activity, shares in leading movements, managing their website, etc. They have children. A couple of Jose’s adult children are involved in the group and a couple are not. Their teenage daughter is frequently near if she is not at school, participating in activities along with other group members children, for the most part, as they wish. (exception being a silent meditation, for example). My two daughters were welcome at almost every activity, not only welcome, but really enjoyably welcome. Embraced in a healthy feeling way. The kids play together, we all shared meals together during the seminar, and then on our own we will have our own house to live as a family, and get together as a community when it makes sense.

I just have time to share one more story and then must go for now. But having come from FOF w/ all the dark, secret, sludgy sex stuff..of course I would not just leap into some group without getting a full sense of what is going on in that department. Jose and the group have a very clean, respectful, healthy energy together toward one another. And toward us and our daughters. I heard that Jose was helping to host at a seminar in the US with another Fourth Way group. The US group planned a group gathering in a sauna room. When Jose realized that most of the group was going into the sauna together, w/out clothing, he refused, and said to the group, “How can I go back to the DR, where a bunch of you are here right now with husbands and wives back in DR, and tell them that everyone went naked into a sauna together?” From what I understand, the group in the US now still takes a sauna, but there is one time scheduled for men, and a separate time scheduled for women. That felt respectful and clean to me. I appreciate that, I want that kind of respect for my family.

Friends, I gotta run..I hope to keep in touch. Going off the grid does not mean I am disapearing into a secret cult where no one gets to know what is happening. That’s the other part that is very different from something like FOF. When I asked Jose if I could write about him on my blog or anywhere, his answer was , “You can say anything you want/publish anything you want about me.” I wonder what Robert would have said? And everyone is invited to his seminar. There is no locked gate w/ a guard keeping people out of his groups. My aunts, uncles, friends, cousins, can – and will – visit me on the farm. It is not a closed system as FOF was. That’s another “feels ok to me” feeling.

Much appreciation to all for all of the comments, the good, the not so good, the anger, the concern, the well wishes. big hugs and I wish everyone peace, love, happiness, health, safety, and goodness. It’s the same thing I wish to my daughters each and every night, to them and to everyone.

134. WhaleRider - July 9, 2014

@swhite44

The ten warning signs of when a group becomes a cult are listed above. That’s when the groupthink sets in and critical thought is compromised in order to belong.

Yes, a group of people can amplify feelings, like at a soccer match, but to be clear, the feelings originate in the individual, not in group membership.

In an Al-Anon group for instance, the leader of the group rotates. In group therapy, the leader has a license at stake. Not so in a cult.

I prefer to practice spiritual virtuosity, independently of any group. The key for me are my dreams. Each night my unconscious mind amplifies my strengths and weaknesses, providing me with ample material for personal growth, without imposing a ready-made “system” or seeking validation from others who claim to be more “evolved” than everyone else.

I also experience amplification hiking in the wilderness or watching movies or making love with my long-term partner. The difference there is that when it’s over, I still maintain my integrity, my sense of self, and my power. Not so in a cult.

The endgame for cult followers is to sacrifice personal integrity for shame and humiliation…not a recipe for mental health, IMO.

135. archer - July 9, 2014

Cheryl, the comments on the public blog, as you describe it, are directed mostly at anyone who might be reading here and who might be curious. You’ve used this page to advertise the organization that you’ve joined, and perhaps you were looking for some validation. You can call it “backlash” or “negativity” or “anger” or whatever you like, but one of the healthy aspects of this page is that it presents an alternative view to religious organizations and cults. If you’re looking for blessings with regard to your decision, you’re probably barking up the wrong tree on this page. I certainly wish you and your family well.

136. Parson Yorick - July 9, 2014

Cheryl – you defend your decision well. Best wishes in your new endeavor.

137. swhite44 - July 9, 2014

Interesting observations Cheryl.
When I read this blog I often remember something Gurdjieff said about when you leave the 4th way you don’t just lose what you gained but a lot more.
I suspect a lot of the hardcore posters here have lost any trace of spiritual aspiration.
Also I think it’s the most hardline Fof people who are most affected when they leave – the true believers who worshiped Robert and adopted the group think and lambasted anyone who didn’t tow the line. That type could now form the core of this blog group, rudely attacking anyone who doesn’t share their bitter cynicism.

Sounds great that DR place, good on you.
Easy decision when the alternative is the horrible US society.

138. Tim Campion - July 9, 2014

Cheryl,

In light of your time constraints, that was a wonderful and informative post. It sounds like you and your husband (and friends and relatives) are approaching this new chapter with eyes wide open. (Certainly, you are far more knowledgeable about the benefits and risks of spiritual groups than I was prior to joining the Fellowship of Friends, and I would not presume to compare the two actions.)

Still, I find none of the comments above particularly out-of-line. Perhaps they even reflect the internal (and external) debate that preceded your decision. I would hope anyone planning such a potentially life-changing commitment, especially involving children, would undertake a similar (though maybe not so public) examination. And it sounds like you have.

Best wishes!

139. James Mclemore - July 9, 2014

Cheryl,
I read all the posts but decided against posting myself not out of fear of backlash but because I did not feel I knew enough about you personally or the new group to either try to dissuade you or to encourage you. There were already plenty of posts telling you to keep your eyes open and that is about all I could have recommended. I guessed that you probably already knew, since you yourself had posted to this blog, that there are a lot of cults out there with very disingenuous leaders.
Another group of people trying to study the fourth way does not interest me in the least, but that’s just me. I do not think any organized group is needed, but that’s just me. I don’t hear anything in your voice on that last post that sounds like addiction. I will have to admit that I did do kind of a double-take when you used the term “the real deal” in an earlier post. You yourself are “the real deal” not something or anything that is outside of you. However, there are certainly places and people and books and knowledge out there where we each can learn more about ourselves that then give us the possibility of letting-go of some of those things inside of us which cover up our own “real deal”.
The Caribbean sounds awful nice and I do not blame you a bit for wanting to raise your little ones somewhere other than the U.S. New adventures often open us up just because they are new. I wish you the best.
p.s. – And don’t be afraid of drums. Rhythm has the possibility of taking you to wonderful places inside of yourself.

140. James Mclemore - July 10, 2014

A small edit to my post – in case it sounds like I was still talking about just the fourth way.
Where I said, “I do not think any organized group is needed, but that’s just me.”
Should read –

I do not think any organized group is needed to study any of what are called “spiritual” or “religious” ideas, but that’s just me.

141. cheryllister44 - July 10, 2014

Thanks all, for every comment. I am grateful for each one. Leaving in 24 hours…I hope to be able to get connected to internet soon to keep in touch. Just posted on my personal blog, too at
http://www.offthegridmama.com for anyone trying to keep in touch.

cheryllister44@yahoo.com

May we all feel safe and free to express, and also to embrace the voices of one another, even if they sing a different song than our song. Love to all.

142. WhaleRider - July 10, 2014

Nobody joins a group thinking it’s a cult. It always always always feels wonderful in the beginning, and you will be chasing that feeling for the rest of your life.

When you first join it will feel like you have found a family, and that’s when the dysfunction begins to set in. We cannot help it, we are not gods without mothers and fathers, we are only human, and despite our belief otherwise we have an unconscious mind that we sometimes can’t live with and most certainly cannot live without.

IMHO, the soul craves harmony and seeks what it is missing, what it needs to be complete.

What is missing in Cheryl’s sincere post is that although her “aunts and uncles” are free to visit her in the DR, she neglected to mention her parents.

I dare say that most of us “old timers” had that same revulsion for the state of the world and families of origin at the time we joined the cult too, and sought to escape, rather than work to improve our communities, our relationships with our families or in finding meaningful careers.

Cheryl makes no mention of her own goals for personal growth. She appears to be looking for something she feels she is missing: safety and security for her family. As a result of her actions, her daughters may very well inherit her fears and unconsciously act upon them, or maybe not, but her mother’s fear will be instilled, nonetheless.

If we run away from fear, it chases us, just like a bear or will devour us like the two headed serpent, Sisiutl.

So, at the risk of being unpopular and sounding overly pessimistic, here’s my contribution, formed from my many years of experience AND education.

Religious and “spiritual” groups operate based upon an archaic, hierarchical and authoritarian structure, exempt from scrutiny. The self-proclaimed leader almost always falls prey to the feelings of omnipotence produced. That is why there are checks and balances in place in most other places of higher learning…colleges and universities.

So my advice, do not join. Go to college instead.

Superstition is not spirituality. If you really want to feed your spirit, spend time in nature, help others less fortunate than you, travel, do not join a group pursuing “higher” consciousness.

Their dogma will eat your dharma.

143. shardofoblivion - July 10, 2014

133. cheryllister44 – July 9, 2014 – You have put my mind to rest concerning the leader of the group, his physical modesty regarding the sauna and leading a family life all sounds healthy enough.
I wish you good fortune in your adventure.
I differ in outlook regarding joining a group, in as much as I rejected the 4th way as well as the school at the time I left, and you are among the many who kept living their lives according to their understanding of the 4th way, whilst rejecting Burton and his school as an aberration. In my case I went through a process of Cartesian doubt in the year before I left, and rejected any claims to access to the product of higher mind made by Gurdjieff, Ouspensky and of course Burton (via his debased concept of C influence) Compared to the advances made by the collaborative efforts of scientists in the past hundred years or so, the system looks home made, and shares the limited reach of the science of its day. eg there are no mention made of galaxies – why not – because scientists had not yet come up with the theory that some nebulae were galaxies – Hubble’s triumph in the end – and the people who cobbled together all that nonsense and told us it was from higher mind, were using the current science of their day. Now whether galaxies appear in the ray of creation is of course of no significance in our work or lives at all. It is the light it sheds on the origins of the teaching that I am pointing to here. If the system is made by men and women largely of a comparable intelligence and “being” as ourselves, maybe some of the more important things are wrong as well? I contend that both self remembering and separating from negative emotions are harmful. At least I contend they in the end harmed me. I suffered from a mild form of depersonalisation as a result of years of efforts to separate, and also concluded that trying to exclude what the system calls imagination and identification from my life, impoverished it rather than enriched it.

I sincerely hope you make some true friends and attain some spectacular states – a wish from a sceptic to a believer.

144. Fee fi fo fum - July 11, 2014

141. Cheryl Lister

Thanks for your recent posts. I read your blog. You sound like you were earnestly searching and trying different paths, and feel that what you found in the Dominican Republic suits you and your family. Whether your and your husband’s choice ends up being a wise one, only time will tell.

I think many people who were in the FF for a long time and then leave because of REB’s corruption and/or the feeling that the FF is mostly form and not substance, come to miss several things. One is the social life. Another is being accustomed to having a teacher and vague “inner circle” of people higher up than oneself: many people get used to being obedient. There are a lot of disturbing elements in the FF and in REB’s behavior. Dissent is discouraged with lines like, “The lower cannot see the higher.” In the FF, it’s all about being in common agreement. I hope your new group allows for more open discussion and expression of doubt. If you start to see similar dynamics to the oppressive and blinkered side of the FF, then let’s hope your red flags go up and you leave it.

Telling someone who is about to join a group with a spiritual purpose that she’s about to join a cult is sometimes counterproductive, because it often generates the opposite reaction. It causes the person to defend strongly the many virtues of the new group that they have, in fact, not experienced at length or deeply. It’s like telling someone who has fallen in love that they haven’t made the best choice of mate. Well, that’s as good as talking to yourself. One can only hope that there’s a modicum of good judgement that has informed the person’s passionate decision.

To me, if a person still has a burning need to be in a group situation led by a man or woman who professes to be spiritually advanced, then nothing is going to stop them from searching for and maybe joining one. One can only hope that no harm will come of the experience, and maybe even some benefits.

145. Fee fi fo fum - July 11, 2014

133. Cheryl Lister

Regarding the “negativity” of some of the “oldtimers” who post here, whether anonymously or not:

People experienced the FF differently. As a female, you did not experience directly REB’s sexual manipulation. For those men who were young and trusting when they joined the FF, of whom REB took direct sexual advantage of them with his twisted mind and justifications, there were reactions that are sometimes still strong. What’s wrong with that? Women know only too well what it’s like to be sexually assaulted and made to feel ashamed for the rape or assault, as though they themselves were at fault.

That’s just one example. If anything, those men know first hand that REB has feet of clay. And REB’s stuck in them.

146. Mick - July 11, 2014

The blog is vehemently anti-Burton, and therefore anti-Fellowship and by extension anti-cult. The negativity expressed is probably proportional to the amount of abuse – physical, mental, emotional & financial – that people suffered. For most I’d say that their conscience doesn’t bother them because they prefer not to think about it. The blog can be and often is a tough crowd. That’s part of its charm. It can’t be all niceness and euphemisms. Anyone with half a brain could figure out that such egoistic & selfish behavior was bound to generate some seriously angry people. No wonder Burton hides out.

147. Josiane - July 12, 2014

Sheryl,
I applaud you for reaching out with the news of your new endeavor. You knew this would be very controversial and yet good for this blog, didn’t you?
Why good? Because this blog needs to hear not only stories of anger and of hurts, but also stories of hope and recovery from hurt.
I would personally not make such a bold move but I wish you good luck to you and your family.

148. Someone - July 12, 2014

Sorry to say this, but this blog has failed in the one major thing. It should have been constantly and relentlessly active in filing a legal complaint against REB. I do appreciate the healing benefits of the blog, yet giving seeking legal actions has reduced the public impact this site could have.
Where the heck are all these abused ex members? Why do they not come forward?

149. drahcirah - July 12, 2014

If it could be proved that laws have been broken there is a case to be made . It would appear no laws have been broken . Eventually perhaps in the not too distant future emotional abuse, the human debasement of another human being will exist in the statute. This is a very ,very grey area as how do you define emotional abuse . How can emotional abuse be measured ?

150. Fee fi fo fum - July 12, 2014

148. Someone

The blog is an ongoing conversation about the FF as a cult that began with Pavel (“Esoteric Sheikh”)’s description, and assessment, of a prospective student meeting in England. Pavel offered a long-needed platform to discuss the FF. He did not join the FF, which made his comments especially interesting.

As the blog’s comments proceeded, REB’s and the hierarchy’s behavior began to pour in by then-current and ex-FF members. It was high time that the abuse and skewed behavior of the FF and REB were discussed. Hundreds of FF students left as a result.

151. Mick - July 12, 2014

It should be noted that the few lawsuits that have been brought have been settled without public trial. The heck with legal action, erosion of support is the best outcome of this discussion.
I wish Burton would stop hurting people and just go away. Don’t get your hopes up though, there are and will be others like him as well as a pool of people to be exploited.

152. Golden Veil - July 13, 2014

143. Shardofoblivion, June 10, 2014 said:

“I contend that both self remembering and separating from negative emotions are harmful. At least I contend they in the end harmed me. I suffered from a mild form of depersonalisation as a result of years of efforts to separate, and also concluded that trying to exclude what the system calls imagination and identification from my life, impoverished it rather than enriched it.”

Shard, the above thoughts you express – you’re probably not alone.

* * *

Another Devil?

I found another groups blog while researching an artist – when I Googled his name one of the search results said that he had posted on a blog, “Living in the Truth of the Present Moment.” Here, an excerpt from teacher D. R. Butler:

“We have a choice. Either we control the circumstances of our lives by consciously controlling what we think, thinking only of what we actually want and refusing to even consider what we don’t want, or we are subconsciously controlled by the past repetitive patterns of our own conditioning. It’s always one or the other. Most people, of course, don’t know they have a choice, or that there’s an alternative to being a completely mechanical automaton.”

And:

“Breaking free from negative emotions has much to do with breaking free from egotistical melodramas, which is explored in depth in the course. Once we truly live in the present moment, we will not bother to identify with or involve ourselves in negative emotions, which are very coarse compared to the higher feelings available only in the present moment.

It takes training and practice to actually do all this instead of just finding it something interesting to read about. This is why we have a course via email.”

Maybe another former FoF student…

153. Someone - July 13, 2014

150. Fee fi fo fum

This blog did not serve as a major accelerator during the 2006-2007 FoF desertion. Abuse has been there many many years before that time.

People left mainly because RB switched from a 4th way talk to a religious symbolic talk, which they could not understand and were not interested in.

A lawsuit could have been a major success, yet for comprehended reasons those who were abused refused to come forward and act.

unfortunately from a test result point of view The FoF won this battle big time!

The FoF are still there and RB is til there. They closed some of the memberships gap and I know at least eight members who returned to membership including two who used to express themselves fiercely against the FoF in this blog.

Old age does the FoF more harm than this blog. Probably people are getting older faster than young ones join. Unless RB successors manage to recruit new members, the FoF will shrink my natures’ choice.

154. shardofoblivion - July 13, 2014

#153 Someone points to the long term problems the FoF faces as the old ones die out. In his dreams Burton would probably like to grow perfect Adonis students in the Vats at the winery cloned from some of the sperm he has milked from his sex toys over the years. They could grow spare parts for Burton in the Vats as well – maybe give him the bigger wanger he has always longed for.

155. Martin - July 13, 2014

Vis a vis Cheryl, who is a friend, because people keep asking about her parents: Cheryl’s mother died decades ago. Her father, who was well advanced in dementia when I left the FOF, I believe has also been dead for some years.

When I left the FOF in desperate straits, people asked me if my parents could “help” financially. My parents, at that point, were also long dead.

At some point, you *are* a parent, with people and lives to protect and shelter. It’s remarkable how long in this society we remain dependent on some other to rescue us, into our 40s and 50s and 60s.

Bon voyage, Cheryl. I hope to write to you privately. And swhite44, your point is well taken (although I don’t always agree with you).

156. ton2u - July 13, 2014

re: 153

“Someone” likes to come here occasionally to push against the pushers against. I’ve expressed my opinion before about what might motivate this mentality and the possible “unconscious” and unintended consequences of this sort of mindset… in a word, it’s ignorance. I wonder why “Someone” wastes breath here on those whom s/he implies are “wasting their breath” ?

“Someone” frames the blog in terms of a “battle against” the FOF (and paradoxically s/he comes here occasionally to “battle” against what s/he sees as a battle against the FOF…. Personally, from the beginning of reading and posting here I’ve never held any illusions about this forum bringing down the FOF… and although there have been contentious exchanges here, I don’t consider this forum a battle ground to “wage war” on the FOF…. my interest here is in exposing burton’s misconduct — sadly, as it turns out, burton’s example is all too typical of of predators who swim the seas of “spiritual seekers.”

Shedding light on the misconduct at the core of the FOF, as well as personal processing of my experience is my interest here, and if a “cautionary tale” were to lead to anyone leaving the FOF, or prevent anyone from joining the cult, that’s about as much as I’ve ever hoped for. IMO the blog was never about directly bringing down the FOF — IMO it’s about exposing the truth of the situation through processing of personal experiences… may the process help to drain the victim pool.

157. Martin - July 13, 2014

Another note on previous posts:

A lot of people who have posted to this blog over the years do not understand American history and law. America was founded in part by religious dissidents. Under American law, you are free to make poor and masochistic choices about the religious groups you join – “caveat emptor,” etc. To legislate otherwise is to infringe on your rights. As a nation, the price of that freedom is funky little cults that do disastrous things. Read Louisa May Alcott’s “Wild Oats,” about the group her father, noted Transcendentalist Bronson Alcott, dragged the family to one winter, where they almost froze and starved to death. The price of freedom is the ability to make poor choices. Your government, in that respect, is not your Daddy.

The reason we can’t take “legal action” with the abuses, to date, is that many of the young men involved are foreign, and wished to return to the Third World countries they came from without becoming entangled in an American lawsuit or further humiliating self-exposure. They wish to resume their lives and rebuild. Who can blame them? Most of us did the same.

Many people posting on the blog also have had the fantasy that all you have to do is tell stories to the guv’mint and they’ll be happy to send a team of investigators to find out if what you have heard on the grapevine is true. The FOF is a small off-the-beaten track group in the foothills that will probably implode on its own in the next few years due to demographics, leaving a trail of broke and clueless senior citizens wondering what happened. The U.S. government has bigger fish to fry, and little extra staff to chase rumors.

Few of us knew of illegalities firsthand. In many cases, people who “know things” would have to be willing to incriminate themselves, since the people who know stuff are usually participants. The lawyer who would have known of such illegalities is now dead – and many incidents are long past the statute of limitations, in any case. And then, of course, someone needs to cough up lots of money for lawyers. (A possible reason for earlier buy-outs is that the plaintiffs didn’t have a strong enough case to win, and the FOF was willing to pay rather than risk further injury to its reputation.)

I hope Cheryl wouldn’t mind me adding that her husband was a young man from Eastern Europe when he joined the FOF. I have taken much pleasure in hearing about Cheryl’s wonderful family in the years since she left the FOF. Their post-FOF life has been remarkably successful. Much joy and happiness to them all – though they seem to have both in abundance.

158. archer - July 13, 2014

A lot of the comments in support of Cheryl’s decision to join a cult, and the decision to move her family to another country to participate in it, remind me a lot of the same mindset within the FOF cult itself.

From what I recall, there was a tendency to “live and let live” in the FOF … which may have seemed like a healthy, magnanimous attitude about others. But it also tended to enable the status quo, and discourage constructive discussion. Any questioning was quickly shot down, and criticisms were spun as “negativity” or “anger” or some other psychological weakness. Some of the same is happening on this page.

159. archer - July 13, 2014

156. ton2u

““Someone” frames the blog in terms of a “battle against” the FOF (and paradoxically s/he comes here occasionally to “battle” against what s/he sees as a battle against the FOF…. Personally, from the beginning of reading and posting here I’ve never held any illusions about this forum bringing down the FOF… and although there have been contentious exchanges here, I don’t consider this forum a battle ground to “wage war” on the FOF…. my interest here is in exposing burton’s misconduct…”

This describes my opinion exactly. Rather than being “against” the FOF, I’m “for” any open discussion about it that will heighten awareness.

160. Fee fi fo fum - July 13, 2014

On the subject of why more of the sexually abused young men don’t simply “come forward and say something”, you know, “be brave and make your voices count and make it public”:

When the day comes that you yourself have been sexually assaulted and in some cases, your life threatened, tell us that you proudly proclaimed to all and sundry that someone shoved their penis into you (front, rear, mouth, any orifice will do). Not everyone who has been assaulted or raped are traumatized. Even the victim’s age isn’t always a determining factor. But many people feel stigmatized and keep the incident quiet. REB and the FF depend on that dynamic. And so his behavior continues and continues, just like Saville’s (UK) and Sandusky’s (USA) did. In Saville’s case, it seems that only his death made him stop his rapacious behavior. What is really unfortunate about REB’s behavior is that so many current members know about it and yet keep turning a blind eye by telling themselves that focusing on “living presence” will somehow make the nasty stuff go away.

Many years ago when I was in high school, a female classmate rode on the crowded rush hour subway en route to class. Someone groped her. She grabbed the man’s hand, raised it high in the air, and shouted, “Whose hand is this?” Although she got a laugh out of the subway riders as well as her classmates when she told us the story, imagine if she would have done the same late at night on the way home in a dark and deserted street.

161. Martin - July 13, 2014

#158 To be clear, I am not supporting Cheryl’s decision. I am supporting Cheryl. She did not seek my opinion on her decision. She is a mature woman making her own choices, which I have to respect. Like others here, I am urging caution, but hoping for the best.

Swhite44 asked a pertinent question: are all spiritual groups off the table here?

162. Ms. Lew Neal - July 14, 2014

This is a first-time response for me, full of bits and pieces to clear up some aforementioned comments.
When RB dies, Asaf is in line for the throne, as the neighborhood “gossip” goes. Those of Jewish persuasion, plug your ears. “The Jews are going to take over” is another line in the gossip trail. Whether they are Zionists or not is not mentioned, as to some people the distinction matters not.
Stella was turned in for smoking by Helga, Stella’s good friend. I was close with Harold and Stella when they suffered living in Oregon House and remember the shock clearly.
Stella also played a tape she made of a conversation with RB about his continued sexual encounters. He was sorry, after she chided him, and said he felt badly because a student had died and the death threw him emotionally, bla, bla, bla. She didn’t believe him and did give him a “hard time of it.”.
As regards CherylLister44@Yahoo.com, I would have changed my email address as the connotation is revealing — my feeling totally. Also, Jones’ cult had visitors – a senator or representative from California who ran for his life as I recall.
Feeling an expression of negativity from this blog is a valid feeling. However, projecting that negativity into the negative is a choice, rather than seeing the love the expression of negativity is imparting. Negativity is only half an emotion, it is rounded out with positivity and both make up a whole person’s thinking and feeling. My character enjoys both; balancing them is the work of my lifetime.
Home schooling to evade the “gun” culture – not to mention the misogyny we women face every second of every day – while a monthly, weekly, etc. visit to the “farm” to be quite certain for the benefit of the girls would be a safer approach for the girls. The Dominican Republic will be a great shock for the girls, too.
Archetypes are at play here as well. Carl Jung helped me a great deal with his Archetypes and the Collective Unconscious.. I saw FOF in spades (forgive the pun). RB is a psychic vampire. I know this personally for a fact. He will prevail but he will never succeed. The FOF has never succeeded at anything they have tried to accomplish, and they are trying to succeed in my village again. Greg Holman’s letter opened the door for my response. Did I hope for closure – yeah, sure – and the return of the Fairy World, too (oops, another pun).
Enough for now. I’ve enjoyed the dialogues and encourage us all to use the tools available within each of us “to be more”. Use the energy we give to others for our own guidance and use.

163. WhaleRider - July 14, 2014

My Aunt passed away last Thursday, and I had to fly back to see my cousins and brother this week.

In broad strokes, I would characterize my family as hard working and hard drinking.

My oldest cousin is the mother of four beautiful, active children and is married to a successful and wealthy business owner who commutes two hours a day to work.

She is a full time mom, drinks rather heavily, passes out at night in the living room with the TV on and frequently disappears to smoke cigarettes.

The four children, two boys and two girls, often have to compete for their parent’s diminished attention, each unconsciously contorting themselves to fill their own niche. They all give both their parents plenty to talk about.

With so many kids and busy, often non-available parents, it’s fairly certain that in this dynamic family “system” although their physical needs are being met, some of the kid’s emotional needs will go unmet. The youngest daughter, the most animated and talkative, has to be coaxed to bed at night by the dad, as the mom nods off in front of the TV with her bottomless glass of Chardonney.

Now imagine your parents had died when you were young, as in the case of Cheryl. Or in my case, my father leaving for six months at a time when I was a young man because of his military service?

My cousin has several plaques hung on tne walls of her lovely home. Two of the were quite revealing…”Family is where it begins”, and “If you met my family, you would understand.” LOL.

Do we need spiritual groups, are they off the table? What do we really gain from them?

That depends upon the issues that arise from one’s family of origin, IMHO.

164. Mick - July 14, 2014

The worthwhileness of any group depends upon the inspiration and the leadership. The power of inspiration tends to dissipate and the leaders often pursue their own interests. In the end I think “awakening” is an entirely individual achievement.

165. shardofoblivion - July 14, 2014

#162 Ms Lew Neal shared an interesting fact

‘Stella also played a tape she made of a conversation with RB about his continued sexual encounters. He was sorry, after she chided him, and said he felt badly because a student had died and the death threw him emotionally, bla, bla, bla. She didn’t believe him and did give him a “hard time of it.”’

I wonder if that tape still exists somewhere. Stella was one of the few people who wasn’t overawed by Burton’s aura, and I would enjoy listening to him defending himself against a solid bit of criticism.

166. Martin - July 14, 2014

#163 Whalerider, where did you get the idea that life is a delivery system for the emotional needs of our tender innermost selves?

Life is rough and tough and brutal. Nobody gets all the pieces they want, or even all the pieces they need. And if you grow up in a large family, a brother can whack you just because you looked at him the wrong way in the morning. Civilizing kids is a long, long endeavor, and the failure rate is high.

Also, where did you get the idea that Cheryl’s parents died when she was young? She brought her beloved but ailing, elderly father to Oregon House so she could nurse him. I said her mother died “decades ago,” but even if I’m correct, that would put Cheryl in her 30s. Hardly a babe in arms. I wouldn’t pathologize Cheryl. She is one of the most level-headed people I know. Which doesn’t mean that I agree with all her choices.

We’re old folks now. Time to stop feeling sorry for ourselves.

167. WhaleRider - July 14, 2014

@Martin
“… where did you get the idea that life is a delivery system for the emotional needs of our tender innermost selves?”

I am not sure what you are asking

Does life, in and of itself, owe us emotional support? Maybe not, but I will argue that our parents certainly do, otherwise, as infants, we die, a condition known as “failure to thrive”.

Snakes and sharks, on the other hand are born without any further need for nurturing, and squirm or swim off, never looking back or their hungry parent might eat them for lunch.

Yes, I agree that life in the ocean and in the Petri dish is indeed harsh and unforgiving, but part of what distinguishes humans from microbes and tuna fish, IMO, is the ability to empathize with others, including animals.

Life can be sweet, too, when we learn how to give and receive love, especially with our children.

“Frustration of his desire to be loved as a person and to have his love accepted is the greatest trauma that a child can experience.” (Fairbairn, 1952)

168. Martin - July 14, 2014

You’re a nice guy, Whalerider. I wish you a life of happiness, goodness, and success.

169. brucelevy - July 14, 2014

165. shardofoblivion

You don’t know what you’re talking about. She was completely in awe of him, until she wasn’t. Half of her myth is true, the other half is pure bull shit.

170. brucelevy - July 14, 2014

RB let her run her center as she saw fit, so she had her own little 4th Way fiefdom She was the excepted reprobate. But she wouldn’t hear of any talk of RB’s sexual proclivities until RB crossed her, then she was more open. And God help any one of her flying monkeys if they crossed her.

171. Tim Campion - July 14, 2014

156. ton2u,

Thanks for your post. I have a similar regard for this blog.

162. Ms. Lew Neal,

Welcome to the blog. Greg Holman may be ignoring your open letter, but he’s suddenly eager to speak about “community” (at least the Fellowship’s concept of community.) You probably saw this in the (Marysville-Yuba City) Appeal-Democrat:

Grape expectations: North Yuba County is attracting notice for its burgeoning wine industry

…Greg Holman, president of both Renaissance and winery owner Fellowship of Friends, said the actual goal is to “be a really nice regional winery” that can serve as the hub for area agri-tourism.

“We just want to be part of the community,” said Holman. “We want to be part of that. We are part of the history.”

The Fellowship welcomes the public’s dollars but is not so comfortable with the inevitable exposure (unless a message can be carefully controlled, as through a compliant reporter like the Appeal-Democrat’s Eric Vodden.)

Since the 70s, there has been this dynamic at work in Oregon House. The Fellowship relies on mutually-beneficial relations with locals and visitors, while simultaneously seeking insulation from those they characterize as unsophisticated “life people” and “sleeping machines,” those people who are wasting their time on earth (except, of course, when they are purchasing Fellowship products.)

With the “Dambeck-Holman-Vodden triad” in place, we will certainly see more from the Fellowship P.R. campaign.

172. Ms. Lew Neal - July 15, 2014

Something very interesting just floated over the tele this afternoon. A local church group is “praying” for the FOF to be gone. My response was to make the destination kind – otherwise, the prayers may boomerang.
Caroline Myss said, “One good prayer is worth forty years of pushing hard rock.”
A couple years ago, Tom Richards (local rich boy) and Peter Moro (phonetic), a rich FOF member, teamed up in what I called the Magnificent Nine, and proffered a community proposal to the Board of Supervisors that was clearly connected to the FOF property enhancement and a take over of policing, fire department, etc.for our village. Like they would control the town.
Richards presented to the BOS a hundred signed petitions saying we agreed with this proposal. BOS sent them back for a town hall meeting.
Well, I went through all the petitions and saw 95 were FOF members with foreign names. Since no one mentioned the petitions at our meeting of 90 town folks (which is a lot by our standards), I stood up toward the end of the meeting and mentioned that small fact, with the addendum of , “Why didn’t they ask any of us to sign their petition?”
Greg approached me at the close of the meeting, stood too close for instinctive comfort, and said through his teeth, “I resent what you said about my church”. I was caught off guard and felt threatened by his behavior and ugly look.
The good news is, he took his best shot. The next move he makes toward me will not be pleasant for him. He knows I fear him not one twit, although his sidekick Dambeck has told two people that he, Dambeck, would kill someone if Robert asked him to – the second person he said that to was just about a month ago. Not a comforting feeling for a little lady as myself. We have many socio/psychopaths within our midst. Please keep that in mind should anything happen to me. I’m not afraid – and I’m not stupid – and I’m not about to let them run away with this community, as humble as it may be.
Just received a tele call saying a board member of our community centre reportedly talked to the head of the FOF at a recent community center meeting. I believe that would be Asaf. They’re trying a full frontal attack. I’ll keep you posted when I verify who is alleging to be the head of the FOF. Also will make an appointment with Eric Vodden tomorrow. We’ll see who’s who in this game of banditos!

173. Martin - July 15, 2014

#172 Ms. Lew Neal

“Church.” I find it really loathsome the way the FOF is wrapping itself in that word. At one of these public meetings, you might ask them how they see themselves as a “church.” They want all the respectability associated with that word, while behaving without the moral precepts and humility usually promulgated by a “church.” The word has Christian origins, yet they have repudiated Christianity as “feminine dominance.” Except, of course, in their reinterpretation of its “esoteric” origins, which they define for themselves, and define in such a way that it doesn’t prohibit the most exploitative practices among themselves. So how do they see “feminine dominance” in the churches of their surrounding community, to whom they are now reaching out? What is their real attitude toward, say, the practicing members of the local Congregational Church? Are they under “feminine dominance”? Do they experience contempt for them, a sense of superiority? Do they see them as dupes?

At the get-together you propose in your open letter for reconciliation, you might ask them about their “beliefs,” since the Fourth Way specifically says you must “believe” nothing. Do they use that word only so that they can pass themselves off as a “church”? What other words do they contort so they will appear to be a church for legal purposes? How about “tithe”? In most “churches” that is an ideal, not a requirement. Only in cults is it mandatory, under pain of expulsion. How do they see this?

What is their attitude towards suicide?

Members carry on like they’re in a brothel – and that’s an open secret, beginning with their leader. How do they reconcile behaving like rabbits on meth with mutual respect and fidelity towards each other? Ask them if Robert fornicates with married men. How do their wives feel about that? How does Asaf’s wife feel about that? How do they reconcile that with their “beliefs”? You might ask how they reconcile the search for “truth” with their behavior in the past and present, and with the requirements of “intentional insincerity.” For example, lying about the building of the Theatron without a permit. How do they view Gurdjieff’s ideas about “fleecing the sheep”? Is their reconciliation with the community an attempt to “fleece the sheep”? How do they distinguish their wish to reach out to the community from financial self-interest, given their income is likely dwindling?

How do they see private inurement issues in their “church”? Their leader “owns nothing” – yet lives like he owns a great deal. Is this a shell game so they can be a “church”?

They say they follow the great teachings of the ages, but this could be easily revealed to be balderdash by anyone with commonsense. Most teachings talk about renouncing greed, venality, concupiscence, self-interest. How do they reconcile this with their behavior? If they would murder for Robert … how do they reconcile that with “thou shalt not kill,” which is a pretty universal teaching in all religion?

If Greg is spitting the word “church” through his teeth … what does it mean to him? How does he reconcile his expression of resentment with his membership in a “church”? Is “I resent what you said about my church” the expression of a “negative emotion,” in his lingo? Is it a patient expression of humility and a remorseful recognition of past arrogance, pride, and selfish behavior towards one’s neighbors?

Is this all just a show towards self-interested ends, as it has been in the past?

Sorry about the local coup d’etat, Ms. Lew Neal. Good luck with all that. I suspect Eric Vodden has a journalism degree from a local community college and is being paid ten bucks an hour. He wants to be one of the cool kids, and feels very sophisticated associating with FOFers and putting one over on the rubes. He doesn’t know yet they view him as a rube. The joke’s on him.

Adios, friends. This is all bringing back bad memories. Acid reflux of the mind.

174. Martin - July 15, 2014

Parting shot for Ms. Lew: You might want to ask them how they feel about bigamy, as a “church,” since it’s rumored one of their prominent members was unable to return to the country for some time while the feds sorted out his multiple marriages. Another case of “intentional insincerity,” I guess. The hypocrisy and cynicism staggers the mind.

175. Associated Press - July 15, 2014

Following on to Martin, Ms. Lew Neal, you can ask about:

– How for years/decades donations were required that were designated for specific ‘church’ purposes but were then used for other purposes that were not ‘religious’ in nature – like buying baubles for Robert Burton or Robert Burton’s harem. How many years were ‘Winery Donations’ collected twice yearly that did not go entirely toward building and completing a winery according to the advertised construction plan? Fraud!

– How for some time, even if you paid donations, you could not attend ‘religious’ services because none existed (in Oregon House) – additional payments were required to attend the only venue with Robert Burton?

– How ‘church’ property was given a way to favorite persons like: Steven D. and others, who did (or did not, as the case may be) kiss the right anatomy? Private inurement.

– How slave labor was/is imported from all over the world to do the ‘church’s’ (Read: Robert Burton’s) bidding? Oh! compared to where they came from, they would love their new occupations and compensation. Immigration and labor violations.

– How multiple shell corporations exist to hide assets and cash flow? Conspiracy to defraud.

– How Fellowship of Friends attorneys, who were ‘church’ members, pointed out some of these ‘illegalities’ and were dismissed from service to the Board of Directors for doing so? Breach of fiduciary duty and conspiracy to breach fiduciary duty.

– How numerous Fellowship of Friends members were/are ‘excommunicated’ (shunned) for frivolous reasons (without appeal process or concern for personal consequences to the persons), frequently at the whim of Robert Burton and the team of flying monkeys? Silencing dissent.

– How numerous Fellowship of Friends/Robert Burton collections (Ming Chinese furniture, etc., worth millions of dollars) are amassed while the collective dining facility is condemned by the county and member laborers starve.

Funny how many of these have been alleged in lawsuits that were settled out-of-court. Alleged, because the cases were sealed to protect the guilty. One such case was settled for a supposed $5,000,000 – possibly paid, not from Fellowship of Friends assets, but, by an insurance company. Later, insurance would become very expensive, or, could not be had at any price.

Here is a list from one of the suits:
1. Fraud
2. Intentional infliction of emotional distress
3. Negligent infliction of emotional distress
4. Breach of fiduciary duty
5. Negligent supervision
6. Sexual misconduct with a min
7. Sexual harassment
8. Wrongful discharge
9. Negligence
10. Failure to pay minimum wage
11. Battery

Read this Los Angeles Times article:
Trouble Taints a Cerebral Sanctuary:
http://articles.latimes.com/1996-11-04/news/mn-61189_1_cerebral-members

This is good citizenship and good neighbor behavior? These are entrenched actions that have gone on for 44 years and likely to continue.

176. WhaleRider - July 15, 2014

“If the (guru) is delusional, he will not know it. He will function, sometimes very highly, with some students who will believe in his ability to know what is best for them, who will believe his claim that all he does and tells them to do is in their best interests, and comes from his love for them. These students will not see, sometimes for many years, that it is actually their (guru’s) own self interest being served, because they will have needed and wanted his approval so much. They will have wanted to place themselves within the glow of his prestige so much, and believed so deeply in his claims to be able to transform them into people like him, a fully-realized master.

They will not realize how dependent and how diminished he has made them, so that he could hold on to them, by showing them again and again how far they still have to go.”

~”Traumatic Narcissism”, Daniel Shaw, 2014

In order to have healthy development, healthy ego boundaries, and a stable sense of self, the primary source of approval when we were young ought to come from our parents. Problems can arise when it doesn’t or is inadequate, and IMHO, that’s what can make a person vulnerable to being trapped in a cult, never really getting the approval they need to compensate for the deficiency.

To bind his or her followers as spiritual slaves, all the cult leader has to do is repeatedly give some approval here and there and then take it away.

Raising consciousness of cult followers who are trapped in this perpetual, convoluted mind game is virtually impossible and difficult at best, because it means employing the Alexandrian remedy, severing the endless knot with the sword of truth, which is interpreted and pejoratively labeled as “negativity” by the fully indoctrinated cult follower.

@AP
You bring up an excellent point. Every ex-FOF follower was exploited and abused, not just Burton’s sexual abuse victims. It seems to me that if there were to be any legal remedy for the cult’s fraudulent activities, it would have to be from a suit filed collectively, on behalf of all of us, and not by one individual.

Robert Stolzle - July 16, 2014

Dear Everyone-

I just read all the postings regarding a former FOFer going to join another group in the rain forest. Good luck! Should have read The Mosquito Coast first. But, it is difficult to defend U.S. society when there is so much inequality. Of course the Roman leadership had it figured out—for a while—keep ’em happy with bread and circuses!

I cannot comment on anyone else, but a substantial part of what drew me to the FOF was a desire to change the status quo—this was immediately post Vietnam—and that we ended up tilting at windmills is a common experience for many who would presume to be agents of change.

I was around Stella and Harold a lot in Carmel. We’d meet at Sambo’s restaurant after the good restaurants closed and sit around drinking coffee and smoking cigarettes until near dawn…pity the poor waitress. Stella was a name that RB assigned and she loved the job of talking the Fourth Way. She pretty well hewed to the party line and I got scourged as a minor crime when I announced my departure. Not unexpected, though.

I still am curious how much the FOF is taking in per capita these days? We were paying $60.00 per month plus one or two special tasks of $200 – $400 each year in 1977. Anyone posting here remember when RB declared the Digger Pines at “the monastery” to be a substandard species and had them all cut down….made me sick and was another nail in the coffin.

In that vein, seeing as how “we” are all dead anyway, why don’t we just haunt the old bastard to death. Lawsuits are fine, but a crazy as RB is, it seems to me that he is more likely to succumb to negative energy than anything else. Anyone here know anything about “psy ops”. And who is this Asaf, anyway and how is he the “chosen one”?

Bob Stolzle

177. shardofoblivion - July 16, 2014

“psy ops” made me smile. But surely there can be no more suitable punishment for Robert Burton, than in fact being Robert Burton, forever chasing after some orgasm, pricey trinket or the adulation of others to fill the gaping hole in his heart.

178. Fee fi fo fum - July 17, 2014

Robert Stolzle (in between 176 and 177)

I don’t know what the teaching payments are nowadays, but people have posted in earlier pages that payments have been “a la carte” for awhile.

As you know, back in the 1970s, the teaching payments, special donations (which became frequent and then routine, but were still misnamed “special”) and extra-special big donations, all broke our bank accounts. Most students had a hard time making ends meet, because the cumulative effect of those monthly payments far, far exceeded 10% of one’s gross income. It was more like 25%. Plus, the pressure to live up to the so-called “high alchemy” standards of the FF was great, and many students that I knew went into credit card debt.

And yet, there was a 3-tiered system (probably more than 3 tiers). At the apex was/is REB indulging himself with our hard-earned money. Then there were/are people “on salary”, some of whom were/are paid enough to have a nice lifestyle. Several of these “salaried” students were not making $50/month. It was much more than that, and they were often people in positions of authority and/or traveling teachers with subsidized expenses.

The question is, why did everyone accept this for so long. It has only gotten worse, from what I see described on this blog.

179. Tim Campion - July 17, 2014

Robert Stolzle,

Following up on Fee fi fo fum’s comment above, here are two posts (among many) on the Robert Earl Burton blog that address donations and fundraising:

The “Voucher System” and Robert Burton’s underground economy

Payment is a Principle – Now and Then

180. Someone - July 17, 2014

Don’t be naive. Stella left because she (and Harold) wanted a larger share in the FoF’s accumulated funds and RB gave her a definite NO. I have been there as a relatively young member ( around 1982/83) when it all took place and I know exactly what happened.

181. brucelevy - July 17, 2014

179. Someone

Just fucking go away.

182. Mick - July 17, 2014

Please fill out the following marketing questionnaire.

1. Are you a member of the Fellowship of Friends?
2. If yes, do you pay dues or fees?
3. Would you recommend joining the Fellowship to others?
4. What can the Fellowship do to improve?

Thank you for participating.

183. robertschelly - July 19, 2014

Wow Cheryl, best of fortune in the DR. Here, you had the temerity to enter Whalerider’s realm with a ’44’ in your e-mail address. You set yourself up as the main course for these ghouls.

WRider, I did not know you were skilled in remote analysis of people you have never met. You are quite full of yourself; that is where you are nailed to the floor. You and many others here just rotate around your fixed position, and can’t get out.

I can tell you how to get out, but it won’t be easy for you.

184. WhaleRider - July 19, 2014

@robertschelly
I’m not sure where you are coming from. I make my living reading the subtext between the lines, so to speak, and I make every attempt to do so in a respectful and honest manner. If I’m wrong, and sometimes I am, I admit it.

I’ve had several private emails with Cheryl who completely understands and appreciates my point of view, unpopular as it may seem to you or others.

Personally, I believe I would have benefited from an informed dissenting view from my family or friends before I joined a cult; perhaps I would not have stayed as long as I did. They had no idea what I was getting into, and frankly, neither did I, and nor did my “center directors” inform me of burton’s proclivities for straight young men, such as I was at the time.

185. cheryllister44 - July 19, 2014

Hi Folks:) I wish I could read through all of the posts, but have tried to scroll through when possible – since I’m the Cheryl who’s gone off the grid, I don’t have a lot of internet time right now. But a few things that stuck out to me —
I absolutely agree that ALL voices are great to have here – the angry, the ugly, the upset, etc. My point was to say that they had become somewhat of a majority and it’s a bit difficult to post a “different” voice here – as Josiane spoke of, one of hope and recovery… Yes, that is one of my current voices (I still have many)
I remember a time in FOF when internet and forums and such were becoming possible, and I was living in an outlying centre in the east bloc. Someone started a kind of ? – open forum type of thing – if anyone remembers what it was called? Sometime around 1997 maybe? But basically for the first time, there was a kind of uncensored conversation within FOF, and opinions and voices that were not the party line, began to speak up about many topics, including Robert. Very shortly after, the forum was cancelled. There was no other public forum for FOF members to freely speak.
So — of course this is a place where all voices can and must be heard, expressed,etc. And it does seem that a few other voices are piping up and it’s great to hear all of them. Angry, hopeful, whatever.
Let’s just hopefully not permanently shut anyone up.
Hey R.Schelly! Awesome to hear you here! And “Martin” – I cannot for the life of me figure out who you are, so yes, please, send me a private email so I am in the know. Thanks for your input!
Just in case anyone really, actually cares (can’t imagine, but it’s come up a few times, so..)…I’m OLD!!! I joined FOF in 1987 at age 26, left in 2007 age 46. My mother died in 2002 when I was 41. My father suffered a brain aneurism in 1998, and after my mom died, my husband and I were his caregivers for quite a few years, interspersed with facilities. When our first daughter was born, it became sadly clear that we couldn’t guarantee her safety, given his disabilities, so he is alive – and cozy, semi- in oblivion – in an assisted living facility in the US. So I had/have parents for a long time.
Last, because I want to start dinner before the bugs come out here in the forest —
If only I could fully express the feeling in my heart – my hope and recovery (thank you Josiane!), if I have to guess, has pieces to it. I think at the lowest, worst post FOF time for me, I remember walking on a beach, and asking, “Out of all of the grains of sand on this beach, is there still one grain of sand of hope if all else are grains of hopelessness?” (Hope for who knew even what? For a fully expressed alive life, I think?) “Can I say that there is one grain of hope, from this dark place?” I said yes, I can give that there’s one grain of hope. And the second thing, was even though I didn’t know if there was anything higher at all, I prayed and asked for help.
I think my prayers were answered, I think the one grain of hope by a miracle took hold and grew. I’ve chosen to live, fully, topsy turvy and a bit wacky cuz that’s how I am, but I’m not stuck. At my old age, I decided I wanted to create a family, and miraculously, we did. Now, we are in the rainforest and bugs, bats, bliss and all, we are living it.

Maybe we’ll come crawling back to the US, all blistered and battered, but it’s better than not trying it at all. And I have a feeling, this is meant to be in a good way, anyway.

In my internet time, I’m mostly writing on my blog, so hopefully you can keep your eye on me:)

http://www.offthegridmama.com

love to all, the angry, the bitter, the hopeful, the resigned, the lost…we’ve all been a bit of each.

186. archer - July 19, 2014

WhaleRider 183.

“I believe I would have benefited from an informed dissenting view from my family or friends before I joined a cult; perhaps I would not have stayed as long as I did.”

That is really well said.

WR, I appreciate your perspective here. It’s helped me, and I’m sure it’s been helpful for many others to hear dissenting views–from you and many others. Cults–and all dysfunctional organizations–thrive on agreement, assent, and tacit permission.

187. Wouldnt You Like To Know - July 20, 2014

Dear Cheryl,

I knew you well in FoF and was impressed by your passion for life and see from your writings that that continues – this is good – as, one must be what one must be! Or, as Shakespeare said:
‘This above all – to thine own self be true,
And it must follow, as the night the day,
Thou canst not then be false to any man.’
(Hamlet, Act I, Scene 3)

Concerning that idea/feeling, and this that you wrote:
‘I remember walking on a beach, and asking, “Out of all of the grains of sand on this beach, is there still one grain of sand of hope if all else are grains of hopelessness?” (Hope for who knew even what? For a fully expressed alive life, I think?) “Can I say that there is one grain of hope, from this dark place?” I said yes, I can give that there’s one grain of hope. And the second thing, was even though I didn’t know if there was anything higher at all, I prayed and asked for help.’

In the darkest of dark places (even in The Dark Night of the Soul) there is the Light that guides one. Yes, there is always a ray of Hope. But, this story is worth remembering:

Prometheus and Pandora
(According to Thomas Bulfinch’s Mythology):

‘The Roman poet Ovid gives us a connected narrative of creation.
Before the earth and sea and the all-covering heaven, one aspect,
which we call Chaos, covered all the face of Nature, – a rough
heap of inert weight and discordant beginnings of things clashing
together. As yet no sun gave light to the world, nor did the
moon renew her slender horn month by month, – neither did the
earth hang in the surrounding air, poised by its own weight, –
nor did the sea stretch its long arms around the earth. Wherever
there was earth, there was also sea and air. So the earth was
not solid nor was the water fluid, neither was the air transparent.

God and Nature at last interposed and put an end to this discord,
separating earth from sea, and heaven from both. The fiery part,
being the lightest, sprang up, and formed the skies; the air was
next in weight and place. The earth, being heavier, sank below,
and the water took the lowest place and buoyed up the earth.

Here some god, no man knows who, arranged and divided the land.
He placed the rivers and bays, raised mountains and dug out
valleys and distributed woods, fountains, fertile fields and
stony plains. Now that the air was clear the stars shone out,
the fishes swam the sea and birds flew in the air, while the
four-footed beasts roamed around the earth. But a nobler animal
was needed, and man was made in the image of the gods with an
upright stature, so that while all other animals turn their
faces downward and look to the earth, he raises his face to
heaven and gazes on the stars.

To Prometheus the Titan and to his brother Epimetheus was
committed the task of making man and all other animals, and of
endowing them with all needful faculties. This Epimetheus did,
and his brother overlooked the work. Epimetheus then gave to the
different animals their several gifts of courage, strength,
swiftness and sagacity. He gave wings to one, claws to another,
a shelly covering to the third. Man, superior to all other
animals, came last. But for man Epimetheus had nothing, – he had
bestowed all his gifts elsewhere. He came to his brother for
help, and Prometheus, with the aid of Minerva, went up to heaven,
lighted his torch at the chariot of the sun, and brought down
fire to man. With this, man was more than equal to all other
animals. Fire enabled him to make weapons to subdue wild beasts,
tools with which to till the earth. With fire he warmed his
dwelling and bid defiance to the cold.

Woman was not yet made. The story is, that Jupiter made her, and
sent her to Prometheus and his brother, to punish them for their
presumption in stealing fire from heaven; and man, for accepting
the gift. The first woman was named Pandora. She was made in
heaven, every god contributing something to perfect her. Venus
gave her beauty, Mercury persuasion, Apollo music. Thus
equipped, she was conveyed to earth, and presented to Epimetheus,
who gladly accepted her, though cautioned by his brother to
beware of Jupiter and his gifts. Epimetheus had in his house a
jar, in which were kept certain noxious articles, for which, in
fitting man for his new abode, he had had no occasion. Pandora
was seized with an eager curiosity to know what this jar
contained; and one day she slipped off the cover and looked in.
Forthwith there escaped a multitude of plagues for hapless man, –
such as gout, rheumatism, and colic for his body, and envy,
spite, and revenge for his mind, – and scattered themselves far
and wide. Pandora hastened to replace the lid; but, alas! The
whole contents of the jar had escaped, one thing only excepted,
which lay at the bottom, and that was HOPE. So we see at this
day, whatever evils are abroad, hope never entirely leaves us;
and while we have THAT, no amount of other ills can make us
completely wretched.

Another story is, that Pandora was sent in good faith, by
Jupiter, to bless man; that she was furnished with a box,
containing her marriage presents, into which every god had put
some blessing. She opened the box incautiously, and the
blessings all escaped, HOPE only excepted. This story seems more
consistent than the former; for how could HOPE, so precious a
jewel as it is, have been kept in a jar full of all manner of
evils?’

Blessing to you and yours.

188. WhaleRider - July 20, 2014

Wow, I just went to Cheryl’s blog to find out what she hasn’t informed us here…she already has had a fever and the girls are getting bitten up by mosquitos…which also happen to carry Dengue, Malaria, and Chikungunya Virus. The tap water is unsafe to drink there or wash fruit with, medical care is unreliable outside the major cities, medical personnel do not speak English and neither does she, and according to the US State Dept, Travel Advisory website, (http://travel.state.gov/content/passports/english/country/dominican-republic.html) there have been 15,000 suspected cases of Cholera and 262 deaths in the last four years in the DR. Crime is a major risk in the cities, even more so than in the worst cities of the US.

At last report, she claims to feel better through prayer, and has thankfully found a connection to the Sacred in the rainforest.

Shit, Cheryl, if I learned anything as a cult survivor, it’s that the sacred is a lot closer than you think, and you don’t need to put your two beautiful girls at risk to get there!

The key is that the sacred is not “out there” in some distant exotic land or exclusive to this or that guru of the week. This is the legacy of the toxic spiritual materialism instilled by the FOF cult, no matter what motivates a person to join.

Apparently Mother Theresa could see the sacred and profound even in the sewers of Calcutta. The difference, IMO, is that Mother Theresa found the sacred in herself first.

I’ve sent her a private email offering to send bug repellant and mosquito nets for their beds. Probably a water filter would be a good idea, too.

189. WhaleRider - July 20, 2014

…and those evil little boys in the school yard back in Massachusetts gleefully killing ants probably seem tame to your daughter now compared to when she had to witness her mother get all serious and kill a cockroach up close and personal in the bathroom.

You are certainly not morally superior to those schoolyard boys just because you happen to have a phobia about cockroaches inherited from your mother and they were killing ants for fun and because they didn’t know any better.

Either way, those insects are part of life on the planet just going about their business, not hurting anyone.

The sacred and the profane are always side by side no matter where you are, for they both exist in all of us…even in those who claim to be men number 7.3.

Mosquitos, on the other hand, are THE single most dangerous creature living on earth, responsible for more disease and death than any other, (far more than the flea carrying bubonic plague)…or maybe the enlightened Mr Reyes neglected to mention that, knowing full well you were bringing your children to DR?

And I wouldn’t recommend spending too much time swimming in the river either, since Cholera is a water borne illness, and young children tend to put their hands in their mouths a lot.

There’s probably a reason why most of his followers prefer to live in Santa Domingo.

Someone (not you someone) ought to be worried about you.

190. Mick - July 20, 2014

A Poison Tree
by William Blake

I was angry with my friend;
I told my wrath, my wrath did end.
I was angry with my foe;
I told it not, my wrath did grow.

And I watered it in fears;
Night and morning with my tears;
And I sunned it with smiles,
And with soft deceitful wiles.

And it grew both day and night,
Till it bore an apple bright.
And my foe beheld it shine,
And he knew that it was mine.

And into my garden stole,
When the night had veiled the pole;
In the morning glad I see
My foe outstretched beneath the tree.

191. shardofoblivion - July 20, 2014

I know it’s a bit off topic, but I couldn’t let this paragraph from Whalerider go by with no comment – “Apparently Mother Theresa could see the sacred and profound even in the sewers of Calcutta. The difference, IMO, is that Mother Theresa found the sacred in herself first.”

here is another view of her:

192. cheryllister44 - July 20, 2014

I did not scream when I killed the cockroach, Whalerider. I did not panic. I collected myself, gathered the dormant Warrior Woman within and calmly wadded up half a roll of toilet paper and scooped and smashed it gently inward. We said a quick prayer to the roach, as yes, we are teaching our girls that ALL life is sacred. We wish everyone, and everything well. Outside we try not to kill anything for fun, like the ants. Inside, if necessary, we will kill a fly, a roach, a mosquito – saying “Bye, fly, bless your life.” There is no glee. And I’m doing my utmost best to not bring in the panic.
Before coming here we thoroughly checked out what specific diseases there are in this area…there was an outbreak of the “chunga..” whatever it’s called from mosquitos that is on the ending time now. Our water is clean – tested – from a source at the top of a mountain. As a back up though, we use an ultra-violet filter for drinking water.
In my fancy neighborhood back in Massachusetts, I witnessed a young teenager assaulted by her father who was dropping her off after his “visitation.” Another felony w/ a young child that I won’t describe. A heroin dealer busted around the corner, a buyer who didn’t wake up, from her purchase, in the neighborhood.
You cannot escape your fate. I’m not running away. The sacred is everywhere. I didn’t have to come here to find it. Yet as I mentioned in my post, I literally felt a sacred, personal, calling to enter this journey. If God speaks so directly to you sometimes, I ‘ve learned it’s usually a good idea to answer the call. Some kind of spiritual responsibility for being open, is to then to take on what is brought to the table for you.
The school my children will attend happens to be the Number 1 rated (via testing in 8th and 12th grades) in the Dominican Republic. The Principal said there has NEVER been anything like what my daughter already had experienced on her little playground in Massachussetts, where the little boy who loves smashing ants, ran up to her and shouted in her face, “I’m going to get a gun and shoot you in the face.”
The principal said that does not happen in their school. He said one of its noticeable qualities that visitors see is the level of respect both the students and teachers have for one another.
I’m comfortable with that.
Don’t worry so much about me. I worry enough. Part of this journey is facing some of my fear (cockroach) and MOVING ON. Getting OVER it! So sick of being stuck in some lame stuff. It’s refreshing and healthy to move on!
My girls are well, itchy, laughing, running, eating antibiotic free eggs we picked up from the chicken coop and passion fruit juice squeezed by our farmer friend. Let’s make a deal and both try not to worry so much about me. It’s such a drag, let’s let it go:) Trust that my husband and I are fully responsible for the health and safety of our precious daughters and do all we can do to keep them safe.
Much much love to all! Including “Wouldn’t You Like To Know” — thanx for the post! Love the hope:)

193. WhaleRider - July 20, 2014

@shardofoblivion
Thank you for the clip. It’s totally on topic, IMO.

Is Mother Theresa a saint? I don’t think so, she’s only human like the rest of us.

Could she, too, fall prey to an overinflated sense of herself from the omnipotent feelings produced by adoring crowds of people? Most definitely, although her role as a nun necessitated she adopt a demeanor of humility, at least in public.

Could she be guilty of using people as objects to promote an agenda? Probably so, she had the Catholic Church backing her.

Did she find the sacred in the streets of Calcutta? IMO, she did. These people were the “untouchables” of Indian caste society dying in the sewers. Death is sacred and profound. So is compassion.

@cheryllister44
You have a deal! Never mind the cult, when I read about your fever and the mosquitos, I got worried. I’m a parent, too. If you need anything, please let us know. I hope you find what you are looking for.

I can relate to the sense of life force you feel in the rainforest having traveled in Costa Rica, and visited my brother who lived for awhile on the island of Tortola in the BVI. You probably feel more at home in DR if you grew up in Hawaii, too. I can also understand your feelings about cockroaches. (I’m a catch and release type of person myself.) My dad lived in Florida, and there the cockroaches have wings! He used to call them flying olives.

Generally speaking, do little boys like to play with toy guns? Yes, they do. If none are available, they play with sticks or make spears and arrows, depending upon their culture. Will they point there little toy guns at little girls to frighten them? Yes, they will. It makes the boys feel powerful.

Do little girls like to play with toy guns? Generally not, especially if Daddy has a big one. They like to play with dolls and purses, like Mommy does.

What happens when little girls find a spider? They usually shriek and call the little boys.

194. shardofoblivion - July 20, 2014

#192 Whalerider says “Did she find the sacred in the streets of Calcutta? IMO, she did.” Thanks for that, it is a distinction I had overlooked, and I can agree that she found what she would call the sacred in her mission to aid the poor, whilst at the same time I believe her mission was misconceived. I do not think she was a hypocrite.

195. nevasayneva - July 21, 2014

Christopher Hitchens wrote a book on Mother Theresa’s feet of clay.

It is short, entertaining and seems like he did not like her v much.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Missionary_Position

I think Cheryl is dead right that she does not need anyone scolding or worrying about her. What is life if you do not step outside your comfort zone every now and then?

I dislike a bit her tendency to view the regular old time posters here as a bunch of negative, cynical, hard liners incapable of a fresh or positive view on spiritual development. I think the posters here show a good deal more variety than just attack FOF/REB pavlovian response. However she freely admits that she does not read the blog much so her view may be a bit limited on the material on here and the attitude of the bloggers.

196. brucelevy - July 21, 2014

Remember JZ Knight (she channels Ramtha). She also put together “The Secret” bull shit…

http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2014/07/21/new-age-leader-sues-ex-students-over-leaked-video-of-her-drunken-racist-anti-gay-rant/

197. ton2u - July 21, 2014

195 Bruce

A link here to something I read last week:

http://jszimhart.com/essays/laura_knight_jadczyk

198. Ill Never Tell - July 22, 2014

Insanity is out of the sanatorium and thriving.

199. brucelevy - July 22, 2014
200. Parson Yorick - July 22, 2014

Or, as the Richard Thompson song says more succinctly, “Beware of the bearded lady.”

201. WhaleRider - July 22, 2014

Awesome link, thanks Bruce!

The article clearly illustrates the difference between the role of a loving parent or mentor and a sadistic cult leader acting as a surrogate parent to his or her flock of child-like followers.

The self-serving cult leader really doesn’t give a shit about his or her follower’s well being and to stay involved a follower must cultivate incredibly low self-esteem to allow themself to be exploited as an object and sexual plaything, remaining perpetually dependent upon a narcissistic sadist for validation. This is the antithesis of personal growth, IMO.

The obsessive emphasis in the FOF on “being present” in an environment of beautiful objects in an effort to achieve “immortality” really only serves to numb the pain that burton inflicts upon his followers.

Some call burton’s sadism crazy wisdom, I call it just plain crazy.

202. Bares Reposting - July 22, 2014

Thanks a bunch, Bruce, for that link.

Bares reposting, verbatim, from:
Dangerous Cult Leaders
Dangerous Traits of Cult Leaders
@ Psychology Today; excerpt:

‘Here are the typical traits of the pathological cult leader (from Narcissists Among Us) you should watch for and which shout caution, get away, run, or avoid if possible:

1. He has a grandiose idea of who he is and what he can achieve.
2. Is preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success, power, or brilliance.
3. Demands blind unquestioned obedience.
4. Requires excessive admiration from followers and outsiders.
5. Has a sense of entitlement – expecting to be treated special at all times.
6. Is exploitative of others by asking for their money or that of relatives putting others at financial risk.
7. Is arrogant and haughty in his behavior or attitude.
8. Has an exaggerated sense of power (entitlement) that allows him to bend rules and break laws.
9. Takes sexual advantage of members of his sect or cult.
10. Sex is a requirement with adults and sub adults as part of a ritual or rite.
11. Is hypersensitive to how he is seen or perceived by others.
12. Publicly devalues others as being inferior, incapable, or not worthy.
13. Makes members confess their sins or faults publicly subjecting them to ridicule or humiliation while revealing exploitable weaknesses of the penitent.
14. Has ignored the needs of others, including: biological, physical, emotional, and financial needs.
15. Is frequently boastful of accomplishments.
16. Needs to be the center of attention and does things to distract others to insure that he or she is being noticed by arriving late, using exotic clothing, overdramatic speech, or by making theatrical entrances.
17. Has insisted in always having the best of anything (house, car, jewelry, clothes) even when others are relegated to lesser facilities, amenities, or clothing.
18. Doesn’t seem to listen well to needs of others, communication is usually one-way in the form of dictates.
19. Haughtiness, grandiosity, and the need to be controlling is part of his personality.
20. Behaves as though people are objects to be used, manipulated or exploited for personal gain.
21. When criticized he tends to lash out not just with anger but with rage.
22. Anyone who criticizes or questions him is called an “enemy.”
23. Refers to non-members or non-believers in him as “the enemy.”
24. Acts imperious at times, not wishing to know what others think or desire.
25. Believes himself to be omnipotent.
26. Has “magical” answers or solutions to problems.
27. Is superficially charming.
28. Habitually puts down others as inferior and only he is superior.
29. Has a certain coldness or aloofness about him that makes others worry about who this person really is and or whether they really know him.
30. Is deeply offended when there are perceived signs of boredom, being ignored or of being slighted.
31. Treats others with contempt and arrogance.
32. Is constantly assessing for those who are a threat or those who revere him.
33. The word “I” dominates his conversations. He is oblivious to how often he references himself.
34. Hates to be embarrassed or fail publicly – when he does he acts out with rage.
35. Doesn’t seem to feel guilty for anything he has done wrong nor does he apologize for his actions.
36. Believes he possesses the answers and solutions to world problems.
37. Believes himself to be a deity or a chosen representative of a deity.
38. Rigid, unbending, or insensitive describes how this person thinks.
39. Tries to control others in what they do, read, view, or think.
40. Has isolated members of his sect from contact with family or outside world.
41. Monitors and or restricts contact with family or outsiders.
42. Works the least but demands the most.
43. Has stated that he is “destined for greatness” or that he will be “martyred.”
44. Seems to be highly dependent of tribute and adoration and will often fish for compliments.
45. Uses enforcers or sycophants to insure compliance from members or believers.
46. Sees self as “unstoppable” perhaps has even said so.
47. Conceals background or family which would disclose how plain or ordinary he is.
48. Doesn’t think there is anything wrong with himself – in fact sees himself as perfection or “blessed.”
49. Has taken away the freedom to leave, to travel, to pursue life, and liberty of followers.
50. Has isolated the group physically (moved to a remote area) so as to not be observed.

When the question is asked, “When do we know when a cult leader is bad, or evil, or toxic?” this is the list that I use to survey the cult leader for dangerous traits. Of course the only way to know anything for sure is to observe and validate, but these characteristics can go a long way to help with that. And as I have said, there are other things to look for and there may be other lists, but this is the one that I found most useful from studying these groups and talking to former members of cults.’

203. brucelevy - July 23, 2014

When do we know when a cult leader is bad…when his lips are moving.

Robert Stolzle - July 23, 2014

Bruce, et al-

I know from my early days in the FOF (’74-’77) that “students” all had slightly different motives for being there–including cheap rent–but, there was also a common thread of “being a seeker”, presumably of spiritual/ metaphysical understanding. I assume that commonality still existed in later days, but my question is whether the people who post here still have that curiosity or whether RB knocked it out of them.

Part of this question is derived from the flurry of advice and commentary regarding Cheryl Lister’s decision to join an O-G? group in the Dominican Republic. I appreciate that her friends are trying to keep her from making another cult mistake and I, too, am perplexed that 20 years in the FOF wasn’t long enough to “understand” the workings of the Fourth Way—-Cheryl? I am mystified about what she imagines there is to gain from attaching herself to another guru—again Cheryl? Getting away from the failings of our society is one thing, but going to a primitive camp inthe rain forest is extreme.

There are plenty of other venue’s of esoteric knowledge out there, including the world’s religions. Anyone remember RB’s casting the Fourth Ways ideas as “esoteric Christianity”? I sort of came away with the idea that all the religious/metaphysical/self-help groups were pretty much talking about the same thing—-assuming they weren’t just a scam.

Which begs the question of how does one identify any group as a scam from the outside?? From Cheryl Lister’s DR group to Transcendental Meditation (whatever happened to that?) to Scientology, to the Church of Latter day Saints, to Islam or Catholicism there are many who feel the group is a scam (and some Muslims will kill you for saying that) and there really is always a distinct risk that all the effort is just a waste of time. Personally, I always liked the idea—and I’d say it works—that one could “do the Fourth Way work” while going about the daily chores. That is another reason that I wasn’t too flinchy about leaving the FOF—the chick has to leave the nest if it is going to fly—unless it is a chicken.

Not that it matters here, but, FYI I am presently a card carrying member of the Mennonite Church USA, an Anabaptist offshoot of Catholicism, that goes back to about 1650.

Bob Stolzle

204. Mick - July 23, 2014

Humor, ridicule & criticism are important tools to help check those in power.

205. fofblogmoderator - July 25, 2014

#179 was hung in moderation

206. Arthur Brooks - July 25, 2014

I wonder if Robert the ultimate Guru of the Follow-ship of Friends ever met Alan Watts back in prime time?

207. Arthur Brooks - July 25, 2014

I saw those photographs from DR. Too high alchemy for off-grid living.
Off-grid living is the week or two at the Boom Festival in Portugal. Those people are also into “spirituality” without guru worship. And some take the ideas back to the worlds they came from, and they do a lot of ‘psy-trance’ dancing.

208. Arthur Brooks - July 25, 2014

And by the wayside, I didn’t join the followship friends looking for a guru. I went looking for like minded after reading Rodney Collin. What I found was a bunch automatons imitating with flashing hand signals, do not use contradiction, do not say I, up or get. It was you poor slugs we are into high alchemy with french taste buds, silver and gold, so pay up.

209. Fee Fi Fo Fum - July 26, 2014

Bonita died yesterday.

210. Mick - July 26, 2014

Setting up the Fellowship of Friends as a religious organization has always been a tax avoidance issue. They would be much better off, in my opinion, simply as an esoteric membership organization. But that would require honesty and that’s impossible for Burton & Co.

211. Golden Veil - July 27, 2014
212. fofblogmoderator - July 27, 2014

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