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Fellowship Of Friends/Fourth Way School/Living Presence Discussion – Page 142 July 27, 2014

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1. Golden Veil - July 28, 2014

Teacher Asaf Braverman is busy adding “pillars” (his term) to his Ark in Time. The text of Being Present First may be instantly translated for Russian readers by the click of a button just after the main body of text.


2. Amanda Raphaelson - July 28, 2014

Hi All,

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

3. Robert Stolzle - July 28, 2014

Golden Veil, et al-
Who is Asaf Braverman and how does he come to be RB’s chosen one? Also, I’ve been reading some of the history and saw a picture of Jim Chisholm and Joel Friedlander. I had passing acquaintances with them back in the old days (70’s). Are they still part of the FOF?

Bob Stolzle

4. nevasayneva - July 28, 2014

re 1. Golden Veil.

just for accuracy, the blog you list


does not appear to be authored by Asaf Braverman. It is authored by another member of FOF. No connection/association to Asaf Bravermann’s blogs is mentioned and they may not be connected aside from being blogs from members of the same organization.

FOF like so many organizations uses blogs and other sites such as http://www.meetup.com to express its understanding of the world and to attract interested people to join. Hooray for the first amendment.

“The exclusion of family and other outside contacts, rigid moral judgments of the unconverted outside world, and restriction of sexual behavior are all geared to increasing followers’ commitment to the goals of the group and in some cases to its powerful leader. Some former cult members were happy during their membership, gratified to submerge their troubled selves into a selfless whole. Converted to the ideals of the group, they welcomed the indoctrination procedures that bound them closer to it and gradually eliminated any conflicting ties or information.”

Coming Out of the Cults
Psychology Today, January 1979
By Margaret T. Singer, Ph. D.

5. Golden Veil - July 28, 2014

3. Robert Stolzle

In answer to your question, “Who is Asaf Braverman and how does he come to be RB’s chosen one?” That’s a question I cannot answer. I don’t know if he should be described as “RB’s chosen one”, but on the Ark in Time it is claimed that Asaf is “expanding the legacies of Gurdjieff and Ouspensky.”:

“Asaf Braverman is the Founder, Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of the Ark in Time network, a collection of blog sites focused on psychological and philosophical teachings.”


“Under the guidance of his teacher, Robert Burton, Asaf incorporated more ancient sources into the Fellowship teaching, in effect, expanding the legacies of Gurdjieff and Ouspensky and engaging in a continuation of their search for the origins of the Fourth Way.”


As for Joel Friedlander, he’s no longer with the FoF but I think that he is a member of the Greater Fellowship and he has an ad there for the Body Types book he wrote while in the FoF. On this blog on November 2, 2007 he had this to say about body types:

“When I wrote the book I was in the Fellowship of Friends. I was programmed, just the way we all were, to see reality through the lens of a learned insanity. Those who still believe that there really are body types,

Like slow and lazy for a Venusian, active and aggressive for a Martial…

have not, to my mind, freed themselves of the madness. It’s simply a learned mental disease. Friends, there are no body types—except metaphorical ones.”

I din’t see the above until after I bought the book!

4. nevasayneva

“No connection/association to Asaf Bravermann’s blogs is mentioned and they may not be connected aside from being blogs from members of the same organization.”

I said, “Teacher Asaf Braverman is busy adding “pillars” (his term) to his Ark in Time.” Yes, the lengthy verbiage of Being Present First is penned by someone else, Wiiliam Page, but the site is very connected to Asaf Braverman. Take a look at what the links say on the bottom of each page of Being Present First:

Being Present a pillar of the Ark in Time network

6. Robert Stolzle - July 29, 2014

Golden Veil, et al-
I just read some of the Braverman blog and the “Being Present First” postings and noticed that RB and the FOF was only mentioned in passing in the Braverman bio. With all the hoopla about him traveling to ancient religious sites to acquire “understanding”, it was telling that no mention is made of the source of his current “understanding”….”Brer Fox, he lay low.”

Isn’t it axiomatic that religions and religious belief spring from humans’ fear of dying? This connection alone would lead to similar beliefs and practices, not to say that they didn’t all borrowed freely. After all, Christmas in December fits in well with the Saturnalia of the winter solstice and was taken over by early Christianity, not because there was some magic in that date, but because the party was already planned and no one cared how it was to be justified. The Fourth Way and the FOF similarly rephrase fundamental concepts and claim new revelations.

I do think that a lot of the Fourth Way ideas have merit and are easier to understand, but I am not persuaded that there is any verifiable “higher consciousness” or “awakening” that is in any way different from a poor balance of brain chemicals or drug induced “realizations”. In that vein, I read Bonita Guido’s account of her first meeting, at a Christmas party, with RB and she implied that the effects of mescaline might have influenced her fascination with him. This is not a surprise, the effects of mescaline are such that under other circumstances we might all have been former members of the Church of the Sacred Rock; (i.e. FOF began with a bad drug trip.)

By the WAY, what is RB’s contribution to the Fourth Way path? “Self Remembering” wasn’t a new idea that he “brought forth upon the face of the deep”.

Bob Stolzle

7. Tempus Fugit - July 30, 2014


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


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


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


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

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

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

8. shardofoblivion - July 30, 2014

#6 Robert Stolzle says “(i.e. FOF began with a bad drug trip.)”, but Bonita’s accounts lead me to conclude she was having a good trip. She mentioned that there was something special about Burton’s eyes to her mescaline influenced perception – they glowed unlike other people’s. I think I know what she meant, when people try hard at dividing attention and self remembering it does seem to change the way the eyes look. The crime was the way Burton then shamelessly exploited the adoration any teacher evinces from their students.
Burton did bring new ideas to the fourth way – bad ones in my opinion. Feminine dominance is nowhere to be found in the teachings off Gurdjieff and Ouspensky, alchemy as Gucci shopping is also a Burtonism, and he probably dreamed up the concept of ladders. I remember Peter Bishop saying in his mellow baritone “Ladders are a teacher’s tool” when I asked him about them 🙂

9. Robert Stolzle - July 30, 2014

My “bad drug trip” snarky comment was in reference to all the FoF stuff that has followed that fateful meeting. Bonita’s account is anything but negative. In my reading, her account even has the “conversation was so compelling that we talked for the next three days without ceasing” vibe to it (as did O & G). But, did Bonita continue “searching” after being dismissed by RB or was that the end of her metaphysical trail?

More seriously, I am persuaded that two of the biggest hammers the FoF and Fourth Way uses are the ideas that “the lower cannot see the higher” and “when the student is ready the teacher will appear”. both have the capacity to lift the poor student above “the masses” while keeping you firmly in place beneath “the teacher”. In my FoF days, it occurred to me that RB didn’t have to be very far ahead of any student in order to maintain his teacherly superiority. So far as I could verify, most all of his C influence pronouncements (eg. 44 conscious beings, I will die at age 72, etc.) were always calculated to be impossible to verify, but quickly became verities.

Also, since any “good student” was supposed to surpass his or her teacher and RB started the FoF after three years in Horn’s group, it was illogical that people stay any longer. They were either demonstrably going nowhere and/or slacking by just staying around or RB wasn’t really getting the job done. Finally, any good cult pyramid has the tacit support of willing lackeys below the head guru who benefit greatly from their relative positions of power—-whether they claim to be ill informed dupes or not.

Bob Stolzle

10. WhaleRider - July 30, 2014

“I think I know what she meant, when people try hard at dividing attention and self remembering it does seem to change the way the eyes look.”

Interesting thought, shard. You mean, look different as opposed to when a person’s eyes defocus while contemplating or in reverie or when recounting a memory…or closed while in meditation or while sleeping?

All interesting states, IMHO.

Here’s my question: is a person not ‘remembering themselves’ if they are periodically not focused upon nor paying constant attention to the outer world of tasty fine impressions (where the guru is also projected)?

What if for a few moments a person either defocused or closed their eyes, and recounted a memory of self awareness while dividing their attention with whatever sensual input they happened to be experiencing in their surroundings…would that not in fact constitute ‘remembering yourself’ in that moment, regardless
and independent of the environment or group affiliation?

Is self remembering always about squinting the eyes to make them sparkle which naturally occurs while smiling? He’s gay for goodness sake!

Is not the memory of the self stored in the unconscious mind along with a myriad of other memories, otherwise how would we know and recognize our sense of self the present?

So contrary to what the cult believes about losing self awareness in imagination or in the past…IMO, we can find our selves both in the past and in the present, if we have a clear understanding and memory about what constitutes the ‘self’.

What a relief to let the present be what it is, and other people just be different than us, and be free to relax in one’s own skin, no matter what the alchemy, without the hyper vigilant scanning of the environment for signs and personal messages or scanning others for deviating from cult norms, constantly gauging others for their level of awareness, or looking for opportunities to infect and exploit vulnerable, weak or disenfranchised people with the “system “?

Did we ever hear what sparkly eyed burton might have been “on” too at that wild mythic party where he met Bonita (RIP), given his history of abusing pain killers and given he probably had the shit kicked out of him a few times by Horn’s thugs?

11. shardofoblivion - July 31, 2014

It was a look that most students secretly cultivated, the look of being here now, with the slightest of twinkles, more would be accused of chief feature of vanity, so one had to emit one’s high state discreetly and with the barest of hints. The eyes were shiny, as I recall. You could see the look reproduced many times in those hundreds of event snapshots of everyone in their best evening wear for some concert or wedding or something. Glowing smugly in their goodness.
I don’t go in for self remembering or being present these days, it happens by chance every now and then, but I love day dreaming, and getting identified in movies or books, so being present is just another thing that happens.
Thinking about it some more, I reckon part of that glowing good student act had to do with the crackling sexual energy, which was fueled by the FoF concept of “infra sex” which meant any overt displays were forbidden, and yet it is always in the air when people dress up to go out.

12. nevasayneva - July 31, 2014

re 10 whalerider
“Is self remembering always about squinting the eyes to make them sparkle which naturally occurs while smiling? He’s gay for goodness sake!”

??? what has that got to do with it?

13. Mick - July 31, 2014

Gay with a twinkle in his eye! That doesn’t sound so bad.

14. WhaleRider - July 31, 2014


Have you ever been in a room full of gay men? The term “gay” is not arbitrary. They are not called glum!

The one instance I can think of where anyone could be accused of having a “gay agenda” it would be burton and his rape factory, the Fellowship of Friends.

I grew up in the country. When I joined the cult I had absolutely no exposure to gay lifestyle. Sure, there were a few gay men around in our small town, but at that time, they were not advertising it.

So the idea of fine clothes, fine impressions, classical music, flowers, men kissing on the lips, men having manicures, man purses, clean, orderly living quarters, wine instead of beer, and the avoidance of “feminine dominance”, all seemed to fit into the context of the cult’s aspirations of being an Ark of European culture, but in retrospect I see that more as a reflection of the narcissistic cult leader’s self image and personal agenda rather than the form of a school of higher learning.

What do you think would motivate a gay man who is a cult leader to groom and manipulate his straight young male followers into having sex with him? His insecurity about being gay?

That seems like a gay agenda to me!

15. paul gregory - July 31, 2014

I don’t get how rape equals sex, whatever kind of sex it is, or rape, for that matter. Rapists have preferences for a sex, his preference is for the male sex, particularly that part of the male sex that doesn’t want to have sex with itself, or him, but wants to have sex with ladies, which we call ‘heterosexual’. When, to take an example, a ‘heterosexual’ has violent non-consensual sex with a ‘lady’, do we take that as the act of making love to a lady? The act of sexual violence is a negation of all of life’s values and meaning. Violence never makes sense.

Bob is a ‘goddess in a man’s body’. It does sound a bit gay, doesn’t it? The ‘A’ influence analogue of Bob would have to be the winner of the Eurovision Song Contest. A person, with a beard, breasts, and a long glittery dress like starlight, provoking mingled confusion, fear and wonderment. A hallucination at the end of a rather long strange party – in this case, a fancy dress party where everyone came as accountants, librarians and university professors.

How is a rapist entitled to the term ‘heterosexual’ or ‘gay?’ By committing an act of deliberate sexual violence and harm, surely you forgo the sex part of the sex act? Is rape sexy? Is rape ‘gay?’ Is it ‘straight?’ Gay is a word for same sex love and relationships. Love is nice. What bob’s doing isn’t. Where is the love in his actions? Where is the love of men in his ‘homosexuality?’ How is it that malice aforethought towards others minds, hearts and genitalia on a mass scale can be regarded as being harmlessly, just a bit ‘gay?’ or ‘gay’ at all? Maybe, for some, it’s ‘one of the expenses of being in this school’.

It is not merely promiscuous, but a deliberate violation of what should be sacred to every individual, by means of grooming, corruption, intimidation and insinuations, leading to sexual violence which can and almost certainly must have lifelong implications. Not gay. Not even remotely ‘homosexual’. More Holocaust.

‘You’re a wasted face
You’re a sad-eyed lie
You’re a holocaust’
Alex Chilton

16. archer - August 1, 2014

Paul, thanks for bringing some clarity.

Slightly different topic. One of my own most vivid recollections of this cult was the often bizarre contradictions and dysfunction with respect to couples… heterosexual or gay. A lot of it’s probably just one of the symptoms of the diseased attitudes about sex and love handed down from Burton himself, but whatever it means, I can at least describe what I remember.

For one, couples rarely showed public signs of affection — perhaps as some sort of pretentiousness that they weren’t “identified” with each other or their partnership. I wonder if that’s changed by now, but in the old days you didn’t walk hand in hand in the vineyard, stop to kiss each other in the hallway at the Academy, or put your arm around each other (even for a few seconds) while sitting at the Town Hall. You often sat separately at meetings. And when dining at the Lincoln Lodge, couples usually interacted with each other like they were colleagues at work.

There were exceptions; but overall, one of life’s pleasures—something spontaneous and natural and that makes you feel good to experience and to watch in others—was almost nonexistent.

Meanwhile, the pressure to get married and show a commitment to one partner was ever-present. Although we know now that all of that was for show, since the group doesn’t really foster lasting relationships. I’m all for having fun and enjoying consensual sex with multiple partners, but the “rule” that people needed to get married was such a joke when you consider everything that Burton had been doing from the very start. Lots of just plain hypocrisy in this cult. Hypocrisy sometimes seems relatively benign, but it’s not.

17. nevasayneva - August 1, 2014

re 14 Whalerider

“Have you ever been in a room full of gay men? The term “gay” is not arbitrary. They are not called glum!”

Yes, I have been in a room full of gay men. I call it my social life (at least if there is a counter dispensing drinks in the aforesaid room)

I think RB’s lifestyle and shenanigans should not be associated a with a”gay lifestyle” or “gay agenda” I think most gay people find those terms a bit offensive by the way for obvious reasons.

If you spend a bit of time in the room full of gay men, you will find that RB’s lifestyle, sexual preferences and game plan he enacts to act on those preferences have very little to do with the lifestyle, sexual preferences and actions they take as a result of their preferences have very very little in common with the people there.

18. WhaleRider - August 1, 2014

I apologize if my generalities about burton have offended you. I realize that not all gay men are effeminate, have their nails done, or wear pink suits. He is gay, but he’s certainly not queer, if you know what I mean.

And I know quite a few healthy gay people who feel repulsed by what burton does with his male followers and equally repulsed by Fox News promoting the term, gay agenda.

It appeared to me that the “form” of the cult was in some respects camouflaging and normalizing Burton’s sexuality and his agenda to have sex with his young male followers, which is not by any means indicative of a healthy expression of homosexuality..nor of advanced spirituality for that matter, IMO.

Males kissing males on the lips, for instance, was first explained to me as “non-formatory” and “European”. Having my nails done was “gold alchemy”.

Years later, after spending time in France, I learned that there even parents don’t kiss their children on the lips, the only person you kiss on the lips is your lover.


19. Tim Campion - August 1, 2014

From “Upper Lobby,” a blog about a Boston-area 4th Way cult:

The Day We Told Our Wives About Cesareo’s Sexual Abuse

As perpetrators learn from other perpetrators, it is important that survivors learn from other survivors.

I’ve been enjoying the past few months’ conversation, and especially the addition of Robert Stolzle’s voice.

Many thanks to all who write here.

20. brucelevy - August 1, 2014
21. Tempus Fugit - August 2, 2014

Bonita G. – A Brief Remembrance

I noticed there has not been much comment on the death of Bonita G., perhaps because most of you never knew her. When I joined the FOF in the early 1970’s there were something over 100 and something less than 150 members, so I got to know a fair number of them personally, including Bonita and her husband David.

Obviously she later remarried, but I know nothing of that. In fact, much is lost to time. I don’t recall how long I knew her or where our paths parted. I think she left a long time before I did. She was identified as the “first student” but details of her meeting with Burton were not public conversation, and I knew only she met him at a party.

My direct memories of Bonita are few but I can see her clearly as I write this post.

I remember Bonita as someone very special and very intense. She was a large woman. Her facial features were broad and she had long black hair. The most striking aspect of her appearance were her eyes, dark and deep. (Others who knew her better may correct me, but this is how she looks in my mind.)

I don’t recall conversations with Bonita so much as encounters! Her presence was powerful and serious. There was an air of mystery about her, and possession of secret knowledge. I liked her but she was also intimidating. Partly that was her status in the group, but it was also the feeling that when I spoke to her she was actually seeing me, actually there with me.

Thus when I was near her she pushed me to be in the present with her and be present to myself. And wasn’t that our goal?

22. Tempus Fugit - August 2, 2014

Well, well. I just re-discovered about this Fellowship of Friends wiki page where Bonita posted her own story in 1997.

Here’s the link:

and here is Bonita’s account.

You’ll note she clearly calls out Burton on his dishonesty.

27 May 1997
Tuesday 15:34

From Dec. 1969 to Dec. 1973
By Bonita Hightower
First student of Robert Burton

I left America in Dec. 1973 with the permission from Robert Burton, to be gone for 2 years, then return to America and be with him again, as a student. He had said that if any time in that 2 years I wanted to return and did not have the money to do so, I was just to telephone him, and he would send me the airplane fare to return. In the first weeks of being in another country, I wrote him a letter. In that letter, I said that he surrounded himself with “Yes” men, and that I did not feel it was beneficial for him. It gave him an unreal view of himself, and how things were, in the school. I also asked him why he referred to the students as “his” students, or “my” students. That why couldn`t he just refer to them as students. (I had been a student teacher in Los Angeles, Lake Tahoe, and Hawaii.)
Soon after that letter was sent to him, a Hawaiian student went against the rules of the school, and contacted me, and told me that Robert had put me out of school.
I did not tell anyone the name of my Teacher, or the name of the “Fellowship Of Friends” to anyone after leaving America. Not even my dear husband, who has been my partner for 16 years.
So, it was not until 1996 that my husband heard those two names, while I was speaking to someone on the telephone and they mentioned them.
Therefore, I would like it to be realized that it is only with a great amount of thought, and a deep realization that the story that shall be told may be of benefit to those that came after me, in helping them to heal old wounds, and giving them a history which is not only my history with the FOF, but is also their history, which they have a right to know. Much of what shall be written has not been told to anyone in all these years.
It is my hope that those who read it may find some of the unanswered questions they may have had, over the years. Also, I deeply hope that it shall in some way, help them to heal.

In Dec. 1969, I was invited to a New Years` Eve party. It was to be held in Lafayette, California.
I did not know the persons giving the party. They were said to be millionaires. It was my impression that the money was from the woman’s side. It was to be a costume party.
I was 33 years old, a housewife, and was married at the time to my second husband. I had 2 daughters from my first marriage. One was 14 ½ , the other was 13 years old. They were both from my first husband, who had been of German and Choctaw Indian decent. I had been told I was of part English, Scott-Irish, German, and Cherokee Indian decent. We had a long haired German Shepard, named “Muski.” We lived at 511 Kiki Drive, Pleasant Hill, which was close to the town where the party was to be held.
My husband did not wish to attend the party. I told him that I was to meet someone that would be very important to me at that party. I have not considered myself clairvoyant , but sometimes I do seem to know something that is going to happen, before it takes place. This might have been the most definite instance of that type of occurrence taking place. None had told me of the above important person to come into my life. I just knew it.
I had been taking belly dancing lessons in that time period of my life, and had made 2 belly dancing costumes. Therefore, I decided to wear one of them to the party.
The party was held in a large, rambling wooden house, surrounded by lovely trees. The persons who had invited me were the only ones I knew at the party. As I was a passive type person, and rather shy, I sat alone, and watched other people at the party. In time, I sat by the large fireplace, and greatly enjoyed watching the fire, and the glowing embers that came. In time, a man asked me to dance. He was a tall man, with black hair, and was quite good looking. After the dance, we sat down together and began to talk. His name was Robert Burton. After some time, I said to him, “There is something quite special in your eyes. I have never seen it before. Do you know what it is?” I do not remember the response, but we continued to talk for the rest of the evening. Eventually he said that I was the first person other than his own teacher who had recognized that special quality in his eyes. One of the statements he made that evening was, “I have found a God that has no clay feet.”
Robert was a little drunk that evening. I was “high” on some 60`s drug. Probably it was mescaline. There was the feeling of awe, and a quality that was well known by many in the 60s`—that feeling, that “anything can happen”. As I had “known” I would meet someone that would be important to my life at that party, it had not taken long to realize that it was this apparently wise and mysterious man. It was Robert Burton. I had never before met anyone like him.
There was such intensity to our conversations that at times everything and everyone else just seemed to disappear. I had entered a new, wondrous world, full of hidden portent. As the party ended, we each left, going our own separate ways.
On Jan. 1, 1970, at home, after being awake for a time, I suddenly realized I had no way of contacting that man. A sense of horror came over me. How could I have been so dumb as not to have secured myself a means of further contact?
It did not take long to make a phone call to the hostess of the party, with the aim to try and find a way to contact him. The hostess said yes, she knew him. He lived with his mother in Walnut Creek. She gave me his phone number. With great relief, I made the phone call. He was home, and we made an appointment to meet in a restaurant in Berkley. I do not remember for sure if it was for the same evening, or the evening after. I think, however, that it was for the same evening.
I did own my own car, and could drive. It was a little pale yellow Datson stationwagon . However, I had been in a bad automobile accident in 1951, and had never really gotten over some of the trauma of that accident. I did not like to drive. I had not so very often had to drive to a place I did not know. I was somewhat upset that I would have to find that meeting place by myself. Yet, that discomfort in no way took hold of me to the extent that I would even consider not going.
In fact, the night that the meeting was to occur, my brother stopped by, unannounced. It had been quite a long time since I had last seen him. I was ready to leave when he arrived. We spoke a short time together, and I told him I was sorry, but I had a meeting and would have to leave, in order not to be late. I suppose he was rather upset with me at the time, but honestly, I was not in the least concerned with how it affected him. This was too great an event in my life to be concerned with hurting him. I really do not even remember if I had thought about it, at the time. It was only much later, that I realized that I had probably wounded him pretty badly. I had fairly much raised him from the time I was 11, and he was 7 years old, until I left home, when he was about 14 yrs. Old.
That had been necessary because my parents had a Spanish/American restaurant, in Windsor, California. They worked 6 days and nights a week, and I took care of him after school. They did not return home until after we were both in bed, asleep. My older sister had worked in the restaurant after school hours.
I found the meeting place, and it was perhaps only the second time I had ever driven in Berkeley.
(Robert was waiting when I arrived. He congratulated me for on being on time. At this meeting, he told me of Gurdjieff and Ouspensky. We arranged to meet again, the next day, I think, and I was to buy the book, “In Search of the Miraculous” by Ouspensky. He gave me the name of a book store in which to buy them. I think both the store, and the next meeting, were in Walnut Creek.
We sat for hours in a cafeteria or restaurant, and had only coffee. I was worried about what the waitress would think of us spending so much time there, and spending so little money. Robert said I was not to be concerned with such things, and that it was an example of what was referred to “In the Work” as a feature in false personality called, “Inner-Considering”.
That meant that what one did and did not do, were dependent on what other people would think of our action or inaction, instead of acting from what was true in and of ourselves. I seem to recall him saying that we had to be realistic, and realize that we did in fact, not have much money to spend. At that second meeting, I asked him to autograph the book I had bought. He said, “No, it is not me that is important. It is the knowledge that I release that is important. Someday you will autograph for me, a book that you write.” That has not as yet come to pass.
At some point in the meeting, after having had some of the basics of the theories of the Gurdjieff/Ouspensky given to me, I quite clearly remember going to a toilet, and trying so very hard to “remember myself”. It might have been the first real attempt I had made to do so, and was apparently somewhat successful, as it has created a memory that lasts to this day, more than 27 years later!
At one of these early meetings, Robert said he had only been with his own teacher for 3 years. He also said that his teacher had increased his payments until he had had to hold down 3 jobs to be able to make the payments to be able to remain with his teacher. Then there had come a time when his teacher had told him it was time for him to leave, and go out on his own. Robert said, that he had traveled across the United States, searching for a student, that he may be able to teach, and was it not strange that he had come home, and found one (a student) in his own back yard.
The next meeting was held in Pleasant Hill. We were in a “Burger Bar” of some kind, and I ordered a hamburger. Much to my surprise, Robert did not talk. Eventually he said, he would not teach while I was eating. Eating would be a deviation of my attention. Of course, I finished my food as quickly as possible! I made some comment as to the negative appearance of some of the customers. Robert said that to him, they look “just right”, according to their body types.
At one of the early meetings I asked what would be needed for me to become his student. He explained that one could not be considered a student until a payment was made. He said, “What do you consider it would be worth to save your soul?” He said I was to think about those things he had taught me considering payments, and to arrive at the amount I would choose to pay. I chose to pay 90 dollars per month. I paid the amount, and became his first student.
The subject of voluntary sacrifices was spoken of. I told my teacher that I would give up many things, but I would not give up my children.
In a short time, my husband also became a student. From that time, the meetings began to take place in our home, in Pleasant Hill. From the beginning, Robert and I met 6 days a week. When my husband became a student, the meetings became 6 nights a week. The two children had a hard time, as it was necessary for them to be quite in their rooms up- stairs, from 7:00 to 10:00 p.m. 6 nights a week. Of course, that was only one of the reasons their life became more difficult. Yet, that is a story for a later time.
As I had the great good fortune to be a housewife, it became possible to increase the teaching periods I had. It became 6 nights a week, plus many extra meetings in daytimes, alone with Robert. I was also given a number of personal exercises which took up alot of time.
1. I was fat at the time—weighing perhaps 150 lbs. and 5ft. 3½ inches tall. I had a wardrobe for several different sizes, as I was one of those people who had been on and off diets much of my life. One of the exercises was to make a skirt and a long vest, and a blouse.
2. I had previously colored my hair, (had a grey streak down the middle from the time I was 15 years old, due to the auto accident) and had gone through the discomfort of letting all the color grow out. I was to color my hair, as an exercise. Robert said the grey—which was no longer confined to the streak in the middle— was a sign that the hair was dead, or dying. (These are not really important, they just might be a source of humor now, to some “Who have been there .)
Quite early, I was given the exercise to make a poster, to advertise the meetings, to acquire more students. It was quite a surprise to me, and I asked “Why shall one advertise a “C” Influence teaching. It was one of those exercises that gave me alot of friction. I was so very passive, just the thought of carrying that out took alot of working against what “came natural” — or, “what was mechanical” for me.
I had 3 months of a teacher to myself, much of the time. So much went on in the day meetings, that I surely felt myself highly privileged, and grateful. Because of the many hours spent together, the time took on another dimension of being taught. That is to say, it could not be considered to be the same kind of a 3 month period for those that came later, and, for example, may have been mostly taught in a group, 3 nights a week.
As I remember it, the 3rd. Student was a Doctor. At one time the 4 of us were doing an exercise in our back yard, doing some yard work. It seemed strange to me that I had already noticed a few times when it was necessary for Robert to “separate”, when it was not needed at all for me. I figured out that perhaps it was partly because he was a couple of years younger than I, and had not been married, or had children. Meaning, simply, a lack of experience in family life, which helps one to overcome and accept many things that are not as one would want, if it were only oneself to take into account. Another thought was that perhaps it was just due to our different body types. He was Saturn, with a little Mars. I was Venusian, with a little Mercury.
There came more students. We continued to meet in our home until there came others with a suitable home to have meetings in.
Sometime in the beginning, Robert said he would like me and my husband to make our payments in advance, so he could have enough money to make a downpayment on a Volkswagen van. I think he was using his mothers` car, though am not sure. We did not hesitate to do so, to the extent we could manage. The house we lived in made it look as if we had a good amount of money. That was not correct. My husband had saved a large amount of money before we had met, and put an unusually large downpayment on the house. Most likely we had the smallest monthly income of any in that housing tract. We did explain that situation to the teacher. He gratefully accepted what we could manage to give him, and he bought the Volkswagen Van. In its` time, it carried many a student to wonderful excursions. It was sort of the “hippy car” of the time, in the 60s` and early 70s. Many a hippy lived in their V.W. Vans, and many were decorated in wild and beautiful colorful designs. Roberts` was destined to remain its` own discrete color, with none of the fancy decorations of the time. It is surely remembered with a touch of nostalgia, for those that can remember the wonderment of the time, without coloring those memories with the disillusionment that came later.
From the beginning, it was made clear that persons that became students and left, were to have no more contact with each other. The teacher said he had devoted himself to work with those persons who wished to evolve, and it was necessary to keep the energy with- in the group, and not let it “leak” out, to those that left.
At one point I told Robert that I had an opportunity to belly dance at a local bar. It would include being topless, as there were the usual topless dancers there. I was told that it would be o.k. to do so, as it was possible to make the performance, “without being it.” I was delighted. I wanted to experiment with the dancing I had been taught. As I had been a nudist for some years, going topless was not something of concern to me. I invited a couple from San Francisco, who were friends of mine, to be there. I did the deed. It was exciting, but really quite hard work. I changed costumes 3 times, and had a wonderful time on stage. It seemed that “doing a strip-tease act was right in my essence!!! Ha Ha Because that was what I made it into. Between performances, the top-less dancing ladies were to serve drinks. In doing so, one dear customer was so sweet as to ask me to marry him. Oh, my, did that boost my ego! Ha However, though I felt my performances were rather successful, I did not get the job. So it was my one and only night as a professional topless belly dancer. I was quite proud of myself to have been so bold, and was glad that I would have the story to tell if I ever had grandchildren.
Many years later, in the `90s`, my oldest daughter told me a story concerning the night I had been a topless bellydancer. She said that a boy at her school had asked her about it, because HIS FATHER HAD BEEN AT THE BAR, AND SEEN ME DANCE. Oh, my poor ,dear, precious daughter!!! She said she had been horribly embarrassed!!! It was certainly NOT the first time I had embarrassed her badly, for sure, but that time had been particularly difficult for her. In many ways, I was grateful that she had waited so many years to tell me. She had not told me until these later years how difficult it had been for her, due to my “unusual” interests, of a variety of kinds.
When we were still quite a small group, one of the members named Stella, asked me if there was anything between me and the teacher other than that of teacher and student. I answered, “No, of course not.” I would like to say at this time, so many years later, that I had lied.
My second husband and I had been separated 2 times, for short periods. The final separation and divorce occured because I told him that I was having an affair with a young man that had come into school. He was a Mormon. My husband could not “take” that information, and we separated and he filed for divorce. It is too long a story to go more into, at this time.
Due to the separation, it was necessary for me to return to work, to earn money. I had begun to work as a practical nurse to earn money, and knew it was a job I intensely disliked. That was because I had taken the education to be able to “give” to other people, and the jobs I had held in “Old Peoples`Homes” had shown themselves to be a horror to me. The work load was literally impossible to carry out, and it became necessary to jump over many of the functions one was supposed to carry out. To me, it had become a nightmare of being inhuman to those precious persons for whom I had learned to value and care very deeply for. So, when I saw an advertisement to be trained as a masseuse, I quickly applied for the training. I was trained by a registered nurse, and learned the trade. Because I already had a certificate as a practical nurse, I was legally allowed to massage people. I acquired a job as a masseuse.
One day, Robert asked me if I would come to his apartment in Walnut Creek. ( He had moved away from his mother as soon as he had enough money from students to get his own apartment.) I gave him the massage in his bed. After, he asked me if I would like to have sexual activity with him. Of, course, I was really delighted at the offer. I had been quite curious at what it would be like to have sex with him, a conscious being. He suggested I take a shower first, which I did. We had sex together. Afterwards, he congratulated me on not buffering, by closing my eyes. He also said he had been greedy, as he had attempted to have sex again, after the first orgasm, and had not been able to do so. I had been somewhat disappointed, as it did not seem that he had any special abilities, because he was a conscious being. Also, I did not have an orgasm. There had been no noticeable “foreplay” by him to me, but of course, he had just had an hour of massage, so perhaps that had played the part of “foreplay” for him. In other words, it was just ordinary sex, not exciting or particularly positive. The most positive part of it for me, was that my curiosity was satisfied.
Later that evening, there was a meeting at my house. He seemed much more identified with the fact that we had had sexual activity earlier that day, than I was. He made a statement to the small group, that he was “A bit low on energy that night, due to an unusual expenditure of energy during the day.” I do not think I acted any different to him that night, than at other meetings, but I supposed that I had had a lot more sexual experiences than he. That was just the impression I had had. (As a “liberated” woman of the 60`s, I had experimented quite alot in the area of sexual activities.)
At some time later, I cannot remember how long, he made a statement to the group of students that he had been celibate since he had been a Teacher. Of course, I knew from personal experience, that it was a lie. It created some confusion in me. I just could not understand WHY he would LIE about such a thing. It would have been so easy just to say he was celibate..without adding the lie, “SINCE I HAVE BEEN A TEACHER.” It did not, however, become a large negative for me, as he had preciously taught me, “It can be a legitimate tool, TO LIE. It must not, however, be from mechanical parts that, for example, just want to protect an idea of an identity, or to protect mechanical features.” So, I let it go, and did not, at the time, give much space to thinking about it. It did not in anyway make me think he would have sexual activities with others, and also lie about it, still stating he was celibate. Which means, that for me, later, when such statements were made, I believed them, thinking that I had been the exception which for some unknown reason, he did not want to acknowledge. ( I never told anyone this story as long as I was in his school, or in America.)
Later, at a school party, he notified me that we would not repeat the sexual experience together, because I did not value him and the experience with him, enough. He also told me not to have sexual activities that did not include a “full relationship”. That is, one in which there were be several centers involved, and a wish for a relationship, rather than just a sexual experience. He said that otherwise, it would be “tramp” against myself. That is, not valuing myself enough. Earlier, he had told me that his mother had been married 5 times. Perhaps, in some way, he had wanted to try and spare me that kind of fate, with those suggestions. (As it turned out, I did marry 4 times, anyway. The last marriage became “THE REAL ONE”, FOR ME, THANK GOD!!!)
Quite early Robert had spoken of the future, in which there would be acquired a farm for those students that wanted to devote their life full time to evolution, which included learning to separate from the expression of negative emotions, and learning to “Self-Remember.”
The idea was very interesting to me. I knew I needed and wanted such conditions for myself. Since we were in the process of getting a divorce, my husband and I put the house up for sale. It quickly sold. My husband and I each received 10,000 dollars cash at the sale of the house.
Because it was so very important to me to devote more of my time to evolution, I offered Robert 4,000 dollars to start the account for the buying of a property. He did not want to accept that. He said that it was too large an amount for one person to contribute. I talked and talked to him. Finally, he agreed to accept the money, if it could be considered to be a loan, which would be repaid. I agreed. In a relatively short amount of time he informed the other students that I had made that commitment of money, and there would be a collection made to gather enough to buy a farm. At that time, he said that he would make the decision as to what would be the amount of money which he would require from each student. If one did not make the payment in the amount of time designated, they would have to leave school. At a meeting, envelopes were handed out, telling each student how much they were to contribute. The amount stated in my envelope was 800 dollars. I was surprised, as I had already given the 4,000 dollars. Yet, I paid it, without question.

23. WhaleRider - August 2, 2014


What a great read. Bonita seemed like an honest person, and I appreciated hearing a little about her early family life growing up with working parents who were unavailable. I could be wrong, but this appears to be a pattern among cult members, IMO. Bonita seemed to have been so deprived of attention she swayed into exhibitionism.

Her account of burton’s teaching reminded me of how to be a better sociopath in five easy steps:

Rule #1. Learn how to lie.

Rule #2. Do not empathize with other people.

Rule #3. Silence and shun anyone who disagrees with you.

Rule #4. Threaten to withdraw all contact from anyone who does not pay up.

Rule #5 Promise anything.

Here’s how, IMO, to do the opposite and be a better person in five more difficult steps:

Rule #1 Tell the truth.

Rule #2 Do unto others as you’d have them do unto you.

Rule #3 Be open to criticism.

Rule #4 Serve someone unconditionally other than yourself.

Rule #5 Only make a promise you can keep.

24. Bares Reposting - August 2, 2014

“22. Tempus Fugit – August 2, 2014

Well, well. I just re-discovered about this Fellowship of Friends wiki page where Bonita posted her own story in 1997.”

Bares reposting on Bonita’s In Memoriam page on the Greater Fellowship website, too. It might be good to get next-of-kin permission to do so, IMHO. If she did not write a book, then this could be her legacy. 😉

25. Robert Stolzle - August 2, 2014

Tempus–Who you be’s? I was in the Tahoe and then Carmel center from 1973-77 and might have made your acquaintance. Bonita Guido had left by the time I joined, but her account of the “early days” is very interesting and she was still spoken of as a VIP. RB must have been Mr. Personality Plus in those days. A part of my experience of the FoF was looking for some verification that it wasn’t all smoke and mirrors and deciding that maybe there was something to all this Fourth Way stuff because Donald McDonald was a physician and still here studying under RB. He left a few months after I joined. I recall he was to be the first Man #5 from the FoF and it was a Great Crime when he departed. I have been intrigued by RB’s ability to charm some very intelligent and accomplished people to join. If any of you have some insight into his “Jedi mind tricks” I’d like to read them.

In the same vein, I’ve heard all manner of goofy predictions on the part of RB that never came to pass–could never have happened—and no one ever seems to notice—-that tricky C influence! More seriously, do any of you posting here recall any instance where RB displayed any evidence of being a superior being? I mean did he ever levitate or display evidence of telepathy or telekinesis or any other special ability? Back in the day Stella told me how she had once come up behind RB when he was on the phone and he “just knew I was there”, which is pretty sketchy evidence of some higher state, but that was all she had to offer

One last question–I left just after the push to start all the centers east of California and, being from south Louisiana, had great doubts that anyone in New Orleans would be interested in the FoF or Fourth Way…..VooDoo maybe, Psychological Evolution?, not likely. How did that N.O. group work out? Is there anyone posting here from that region?

Lastly, thank you Tim Campion for your encouragement. It has been interesting to rekindle some of those old I’s and experiences and “talk the Fourth Way” again. I’m just embarrassed and saddened to learn what a personally destructive mess the FoF has come to be.

Bob Stolzle

26. WhaleRider - August 2, 2014


Another great read, although it also made me feel sick to my stomach.

I was struck by the consistent theme in the cult victim’s lives: issues with their parents.

“Newton told me that Berman could sense which boys to invite into the inner circle, either because their parents were splitting up or because they were struggling in school.

Because of his lack of financial support, he needed the boys,” she wrote of Berman. “The boys needed a leader, because for some reason or another, the boys all hated their parents.”

The other original owner of the house, the bond trader, who spoke on the condition that he not be named, said that he first encountered Berman in tenth grade, when his relationship with his parents was crumbling. “I didn’t know it, but I was looking for someone like Berman, who had authority, who was a leader,” he says. “In a school that made everyone think he was special…”

I feel very fortunate to have left the FOF rape factory in time to resolve the issues with my father before he died. I hated him when I was young and my parents divorced just prior to my joining the cult. I, too, needed to feel special. I’ve learned these many years later that aligning myself with anything that makes me feel special or privleged comes at a cost to my humanity.

27. James Mclemore - August 2, 2014

25. Robert Stolzle

“A part of my experience of the FoF was looking for some verification that it wasn’t all smoke and mirrors and deciding that maybe there was something to all this Fourth Way stuff because Donald McDonald was a physician and still here studying under RB.
I have been intrigued by RB’s ability to charm some very intelligent and accomplished people to join.”

I joined in 1974 and I too was swayed by the all the “professional ” people that were there, doctors, lawyers, architects etc. It was my mistake to be swayed by people who I thought were “smarter” than I was. That sort of intelligence and white collar careers and money were intimidating to me at the time, I was 29 but had only a high school education. I think that sort of so-called intelligence won’t necessarily provide any defense against a sociopath nor a good con man. No matter what education or career a person might have, there is no difference in that “hole” that we were all looking to fill.
Just like in the article that Bruce posted from the New Yorker on that guy Berman, where they all thought that he had “something” that they did not, some “secret”.
Whether Robert Burton was/is a cunning sociopath and con man or just completely deluded (he was/is probably both), does not seem to matter. Whether we were a doctor or a lawyer or a long-haired person who took a lot of LSD, we thought for a time that Robert Burton had something we did not have. There can be a part of us that wants very badly to be something “special” and thinks of it as something we don’t already have. As WhaleRider just reminded us…….

“…that aligning myself with anything that makes me feel special or privileged comes at a cost to my humanity.”

28. Fee fi fo fum - August 2, 2014

21. Tempus Fugit

I met Bonita, too, and can picture her in my mind’s eye. She sat up front at the big meetings. I didn’t get to know her well. Unlike Donald’s departure, I have no recollection of Bonita’s no longer showing up at meetings.

29. shardofoblivion - August 3, 2014

in #25 Robert Stolzle says “Back in the day Stella told me how she had once come up behind RB when he was on the phone and he “just knew I was there”, which is pretty sketchy evidence of some higher state, but that was all she had to offer” I recall her telling a similar but slightly different story to a group of students in London who were asking if she had verified for herself that Burton was what he claimed to be. She said that one time she had observed him unseen from another room speaking on the phone, and that he cradled the phone “intentionally” even though he would not have know she was watching him, which she cited as evidence he practiced what he preached, and it wasn’t simply an act put on for others to see. In the same conversation she related that when Burton was asked if he ever lied to his students he said “No, but I would say that either way wouldn’t I?” which has greater resonance knowing that maybe his first big lie on a matter of fact was regarding his celibacy (claiming a pure run since he started teaching – which Bonita knew to be a lie), and in which he to a minor extent made Bonita complicit in that lie, when Stella asked her about it, and she covered for him. Maybe in the end that is why he seemed so venomous about Bonita after she left. I remember Miles Barth saying around 1983 that when Burton was asked if he would let Bonita rejoin the school, he said “I don’t want that weed in among my flowers”

30. Mick - August 3, 2014

That was a “useful” and interesting story by Bonita. It is missing an ending though. When, why & what precipitated her departure? Before she passed on to the next lifetime did she realize that the “school” she helped begin was being lead by a madman?

31. Tim Campion - August 3, 2014


I recall Stella telling that story in the mid-70s, exactly as you relate it. Another one she enjoyed telling was of attending a performance with Robert. (It may have been “Salome.”)

During the opera, a beautiful woman performed a sensuous dance. Stella was amazed that Robert seemed unperturbed by the shocking display of “infra-sex energy.” Spock-like, he stated something to the effect, “Isn’t it interesting that under that skin is twenty feet of intestines?” For Stella, this was a clear demonstration of his “being.” (We would eventually realize that Burton had little interest in women’s bodies.)

Robert Stolzle,

There were two occasions when I witnessed what I believed to be demonstrations of Robert’s extraordinary abilities. In the mid-70s, during meeting intermissions, and occasionally at the Lincoln Lodge, students would line up for the opportunity to ask Robert a burning question. When my turn came, to my amazement, Robert answered my question before I could even ask it. (Many years later I learned that Guinevere Ruth, Helga, wrote in her book Bread on Water that on such occasions Burton had “screeners” subtly gathering information from those in line, and advising Robert.)

Another memorable incident occurred during a meeting at Skyline Church in Oakland, when Pamella Cavanna, eagerly raised her hand to make a comment. Before allowing her to speak, Robert advised Pamella to be sure that her “angle” was relevant to the topic at hand. She blurted out that while Robert had been speaking, through the window behind him, she saw a meteor streak through the sky.

He then “photographed” her “dominance feature” which caused her to ignore his request. How could he have known she would do this? (There are many possible answers, among them, perhaps it was a common “problem” with that individual. Perhaps it was choreographed.) But for a long time, these two incidents, and those anecdotes from Stella and other “older students,” kept me under the illusion that Burton possessed special powers.

Sadly, those are the only “conscious bean” stories I have.

To your other question, in the 70s and 80s, the New Orleans center produced many new members, some of whom are still in the Fellowship.

32. Parson Yorick - August 3, 2014

“Spock-like, he stated something to the effect, “Isn’t it interesting that under that skin is twenty feet of intestines?” For Stella, this was a clear demonstration of his “being.”” Well, that is a well-known practice among Therevadan Buddhist monks for thwarting desire/arousing disgust. I heard a story, similar to that, of when a female German violinist (whose name I’ll withhold, since she still performs) played at the Renaissance Town Hall in a white dress sans underwear. I think this was during the time I was a member (1978-1982) and I regret missing that concert.

33. WhaleRider - August 4, 2014

Just curious, is it generally believed that clairvoyance and/or telepathy is a sign of enlightenment…or advanced level of being?

Because most people I’ve met who claim to be clairvoyant also claim to have had the “gift” since birth and did not acquire their special ability as a result of any personal growth.

And if such a person was not born enlightened, but had achieved enlightenment through his own efforts, what extra qualities would they possess, for which they have worked so hard?

Would it be the ability to predict the future?

Would it be the ability to communicate with disembodied spirits floating over the dinner table?

Here’s a personal story about “being present”.

Last night my girlfriend and I were lying in bed, winding down from our day.

34. Ms. Lew Neal - August 4, 2014

Bonita’s revelation from 1997, to me, was a testament of what can go wrong in this world of two choices.- one male and one female.
In a further reference to Bonita, a description was given of her as being quite powerful in her own right……Burton was the stronger because of his psychopathic nature, hers the weaker because of her wanting to please.
An insight followed! My Goddess, she was the one the universe had chosen as the Teacher. But, in this paradigm of the Patriarchy, the male would dominate – thus she gave him the power – and Oregon House was born with all its dysfunction – a form of afterbirth gone wrong….
This is all based on “whether we need a Teacher” at all.
If we stay alert, watch for our symbols from nature, life can serve us quite nicely. The catch seems to be taking the symbol seriously and changing accordingly! Bonita chose to give her power away, IMHO.
I for one send a prayer to Bonita, not of thanks for filling Burton’s cup – for that I might visualize a kick to her dupa – but for her magnificent portrayal of experience she lived and left us as a legacy of betrayal! Ah, the sickening sweet scent she leaves wafting through the air!

35. WhaleRider - August 4, 2014

So I tell her a story about something in my day that gave me joy while I’m intentionally stroking her leg. I’m present to both. After I finish my story, she says, “now you can be in the present with me.” I replied, “I am in the present, sharing my joy and stroking your leg.” She was silent for a moment. Then she said smiling, “But now you can be present to me“.

Isn’t that really what burton means with all his emphasis on “being present”…”Be present to me.”

36. sallymcnally - August 4, 2014

Teal Swan is someone who just came out about abuse in a cult she was in as a child. I’m 65 years old and I still have remnants of my past, or post traumatic stress from even being involved in the Fellowship of Friends. But I think what I enjoy most about listening to others who have had traumatic emotional events in their past, like Teal Swan, is they have come out of it with a deeper understanding of how prevalent it is in our daily lives and how not giving up and dealing with the pain and emotional confusion it causes can come through it and help others to heal.

37. sallymcnally - August 4, 2014

If anyone does watch this, I will say that the political views of the interviewer do not reflect Teal’s political landscape and I posted this so people could understand Teal’s experience in dealing with her past in a religious cult.

38. sallymcnally - August 4, 2014


In answer to your question about clairvoyance, telepathy, or any other psychic ability, I have a lot of experience in speaking to people with these abilities.

I have observed the two are mostly independent of each other. I have also observed people who spend a lot of time in self-reflection, or self-observation strengthen these abilities, but typically call themselves intuitive and not psychic. Anyone can strengthen those abilities with self-reflection and self-observation if they choose.

This is not to say that someone could have both the abilities and the self-consciousness, however in my experience the ‘gifts’ are usually given to these people not to use them to gain power over someone, but to learn how to use them to help others. Many times the gifts are abused, but not always. It’s really important to remember though, in my opinion, that psychic abilities and self-awareness can be completely separate from each other and it is one of the tools gurus use to trick people, if they are good at it.


39. sallymcnally - August 4, 2014

And in remembrance of a humble, uneducated intuitive woman from Bangor, California who helped me understand this, her exact words were, “I ain’t no psychic.” 🙂

40. Josiane - August 4, 2014

I joined FoF in 1977 (left in 2008) and therefore never met Bonita. The only comment that I ever heard about her was that she had asked Robert to come back and he had said that it would be too much work for him to bring her back. And so it goes–gossips and lies.

Felt good to hear that Bonita’s fourth marriage was fulfilling.

If she had not been the first student, someone else would.

R.I.P. Bonita. No matter what, in the end, we are all one big family.

41. Tim Campion - August 5, 2014

“And so it goes–gossips and lies.”

Josiane, that dismissive comment is an example of the kind of Pavlovian responses we all learned in the Fellowship, a defense against anything that was perceived as negative, or made us uncomfortable.

Dismissing others’ thoughts as gossip and lies can itself be seen as a “negative” act, especially if one is ignorant of the facts.

If you seek truth and feel people are lying, then challenge them. Where are the lies? And what makes it “gossip” rather than “information”?

Robert Stolzle - August 5, 2014

Dear all you all-
My inquiry regarding RB’s “extraordinary” abilities wasn’t any real interest in psychic phenomena or its origins but, curiosity regarding how he continues to be regarded as some ascended being without any notable proof of same, whether tangible or intangible. In light of all his misdeeds it is surprising that the FoF keeps rolling along and that is the only feat that I can personally say gives ANY credibility to his claims.

A question that comes from this inquiry is what, if anything, FoF “students” really expected to gain from ascending to Man #5 or gaining higher consciousness. Speaking personally, I rather selfishly hoped to gain some sort of advantage in my dealings with “life” people. (but I’m a Mercurial type–go figure) Turns out that most all “life” people had comparable or superior insight and understanding and ability from their own experiences and there was no real advantage gained from my FoF “training”. Since RB was in his “silence task” for almost half my tenure in the FoF and I must not have been “his type”, I can say that some of the Fourth Way training has been personally useful to me—but then, I was really naive.

I swear I can remember the shooting star incident at the Skyline Church that Mr. Campion relates. It didn’t resonate with me as any special ability of RB to chastise Pamella Cavanna for her Dominance Feature—-wasn’t it called a Power Feature back then, or do I misremember? I do remember that when I started in 1974 we were told that Robert would be the one to identify—more or less magically—our “Center of Gravity” and all new students were expected to eventually line up at one of the weekly meetings for his pronouncement. Having plenty of intellectual vanity and being reasonably intelligent, I was “photographed” as being instinctively centered. This didn’t sit well but was probably a good answer—maybe it didn’t really matter what his response was since we are all our favorite topics.

Bob Stolzle

42. sallymcnally - August 5, 2014

Bob Stolzle, I think in those days we were having a lot of fun. At least I was, and not thinking of the time when about 20 years later I would be knocked out of my illusions and face the real world. I actually love the old stories and have many myself. I do not remember you though.

Robert Stolzle - August 5, 2014

I joined the FoF in 1974 in Tahoe and moved to Carmel in 1975. I saw the hoopla over Donald MacDonald leaving and then the departure of Jim Vincent Randazzo, the student teacher at Tahoe. The latter event told me that RB couldn’t have ascended very far and still be conned by someone as obviously sleazy as Jim Vincent. If he didn’t care—that was even worse. I also knew enough geology to know that the Farm was never going to be sea side property and certainly was not the Ark of the Apocalypse and that the Digger Pines growing there were not a “degenerate species”, etc. Of course the 44 conscious beings idea was fun–I still can’t see that number and not trigger memories–but like so many of RB’s notions, these “angles” were completely unverifiable….and slightly goofy.

Like most students I was mostly interested in my favorite subject–me. And, in my view, this is what the Fourth Way focussed on. The gobbledegook about our energy feeding the moon and the “teaching” going back to “presand Egypt” never carried much weight. I do like that they claimed the standard card deck and astrology as memory devices, though.

I was eating lunch at the Farm one day when Kimo Beach offered up the “photograph” that I could improve the “impressions” I brought with me by removing a mashed, blackened thumbnail. That is when I realized there were some really extreme believers in the group—and the occasional “damaged machine”. With these doubts and the necessity of making a living, I didn’t participate as whole heartedly as many new students. That said, I did and still do believe that some of the Fourth Way ideas are a valid way of understanding our psychology. Without some type of framework, aka “pigeonholes”, I can’t organize the human chaos of the world enough to begin to understand anything about it. It is useful to me even if it prejudices my understanding in some measure.

Among some of my friends and acquaintances, I’d count Valerio Biondo (deceased), Horace Carter, Peggy MacLemore, Fran Connolly, Kathryn Gearhart, Marlane Dassman, Tom Klouman, Wayne Hunter, Jill Ullum, Bill Bradish and a host of others that I can “see” but not name. Harold and Stella Wirk headed up the Carmel Center then and because I worked in restaurants and got off late, l really enjoyed the very late night meetings at Sambo’s. It is too bad that the FoF didn’t produce a “Yearbook”; it has been over 35 years since I departed sunny CA and the neurons don’t fire like they once did.

Sorry, I don’t remember you, either,
Bob Stolzle

43. shardofoblivion - August 5, 2014

Robert Stolzle – just saying thanks for sharing your memories, I joined in 1978 and any stories from before that time have a wonderful early days strangeness.
I agree with your assessment that the reason I and probably others joined was because we were intensely interested in ourselves. And making ourselves into better people, whatever that meant to us at the time.
Parson Yorick – something diabolical about your mentioning in passing about a violinist playing in a sheer white gown, that image has hovered around in my head for a day or so now :-). I remember talking to a long time resident at Renaissance, who worked around the hand printed Journals octave for years. He said that for him the environment was almost monklike, and that infra sex rules were widely followed, and he and other students once visited London in a group, and went to a performance of Hamlet. He said for years he couldn’t forget the image of Ophelia, who was well built and wore no underwear under a sheer white smock. He said she had pretty much the same effect on all the Renaissance students, who had seen nothing like it for years.

44. Parson Yorick - August 5, 2014

Sorry Shard. I didn’t mean to be diabolical, but I’m glad you put a smiley by your comment. That image has stuck with me, too, since somebody told me the story a long time ago. (I’ve always been a sucker for pretty violinists.) In fact, I think I’m a string player in a wind player’s body. 😉 Shakespeare productions can indeed be pretty sexy. I’d provide an example, but I don’t want to plant any more images in anybody’s head. Oh, and the reason I joined the FoF: Ouspensky’s novel “Strange Life of Ivan Osokin” had made a major impression on me in the early 70s and my reading went on from there. If there had been an internet in 1978 I like to think I’d have done my homework better and steered clear of the FoF. The Gurdjieff Foundations, which would have been a better choice for me at the time, were not making themselves very visible.

45. Tempus Fugit - August 5, 2014

Wow, lots of great comments and I have a few in return. Let me start with appreciations.

Whalerider, you thanked me for the repost of Bonita’s story and you’re very welcome.

Tim, thanks for your compliments to everyone. Like you, I also appreciate those who write here, as well as the great work you do on the “Robert Earl Burton” blog, which can be accessed by the link on the top right side of each of this blog’s pages.

Robert Stolze, hello. I don’t remember you, but of course it’s possible we met. I’ve told a lot of my story here (in pieces) but choose to remain anonymous. Anonymity allows me to be more open, and frankly, and I don’t want my name attached to the stench of Burton and the FOF. I respect that you and a few others who use their real names feel differently.

On the last page of, Page 141, the “purpose and usefulness” of this blog was questioned. Regarding that, I agree with this comment from ton2u:

“156. ton2u – July 13, 2014
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.”

I think it’s wonderful that anyone in the world, at any time, who is seeking information about the FOF other than the group’s propaganda, can find it here.

It’s impossible to know the true impact of this blog, but in a number of posts over the years people have told of the blog’s helpful influence on decisions to not join or to leave the FOF, as well as the blog’s contribution to the recovery process.

I’ve tried to imagine what I would have done if the Internet had existed when I joined the FOF. I’m pretty sure I would have searched for information, certainly at least to read the official FOF website.

But in that search I would have also uncovered this blog, the Robert Earl Burton blog, and various other websites presenting the hidden rot of the FOF. I was so young and starry eyed I might have dismissed those contrarian views, but I would know they existed and were there as a source of information and support whenever I needed it.

And when I did it would have made my escape a lot easier.

46. shardofoblivion - August 5, 2014

#44 A Parson’s Delight “(I’ve always been a sucker for pretty violinists.)”

47. Mick - August 6, 2014

According to rumor, after leaving Burton, Bonita and her partner went over to Scandinavia and essentially started a new cult, which eventually deteriorated into something dark as well.

48. brucelevy - August 6, 2014
49. Parson Yorick - August 6, 2014

#46: Nice.

Robert Stolzle - August 6, 2014

Tempus fugit et al,
Although if is enjoyable to share and see others’ FoF experiences, my original intent here was to try to reconnect with former students who were personal friends. Hasn’t happened yet, but who knows when one will swim by; meanwhile, my current fascination is how RB manages to keep his weird, conglomerated mess moving along??

I think we all have a personal understanding of the allure of the FoF and its promises, but I wasn’t ever so enthralled that I didn’t try to look behind the curtain. Of course, in my relatively brief stay I didn’t really discover much about how RB did his “magic man” thing. That, question, especially in the context of the cult and his bizarre sexual behavior, is how he maintains his lavish lifestyle with the same old story and promises. Does anyone here have any real observations of real “magic”. RB’s charisma is considerable, but not any greater than a good used car salesman. Your insights please.
Bob Stolzle

50. sallymcnally - August 6, 2014

I believe that the codependency of teacher/student or naive young individual/sociopath or any other type of relationship such as this is based on fear and codependency. After a while the mind, which is being manipulated sometimes quite subtly somehow thinks it’s not only acceptable but preferable. The aha moment for most people who leave is some kind of a shock. For me it was when I was told I could no longer speak to my sister because she had left the school. I had heard of such rules but thought they were based on people’s misunderstanding. I was met with many folks willing to ‘work’ with the request. It was at that time and already years of internalizing and questioning the bizarre activity that I decided to leave. .

However, I am glad I was in the Fellowship. I have met so many people since that still keep their gurus in high regard and are devoted to them, so the codependency remains. I have learned how to be part of the world, help others and do my own personal work. Relationships based on codependent behavior do not teach people how to become their own master and it does not matter whether it’s a cult, a church, a corporation, or another individual. It’s still manipulation based on fear and in turn codependency. The world is full of these types of relationships. You don’t have to join the Fellowship to experience it. It’s everywhere.

51. Bares Reposting - August 7, 2014

Article in Time about recent research:

How Do You Spot a Narcissist? Just Ask
Jeffrey Kluger Aug. 5, 2014


‘It’s not easy to diagnose most personality disorders. But narcissism is a snap—since the narcissists themselves know who they are.

. . .

Narcissists are alternately preening, entitled, aggressive, greedy, insensitive, vain, unfaithful, dishonest, lethally charming (a charm you buy at your peril) and sexually exploitative. They may represent merely 1% to 3% of the general population—but that’s only full-blown, capital-N narcissism, the kind formally known as narcissistic personality disorder. There are plenty of other people with lowercase, sub-clinical cases of the condition who can do all kinds of damage—and the odds are very, very good there are at least a few in your life.

How can you learn to recognize a narcissist at a glance? Easy, suggests a new study published in PLOS ONE: Just ask them.
new study://tinyurl.com/n3a94k5

Narcissism is typically diagnosed with a 40-item questionnaire known as the Narcissistic Personality Inventory, or NPI.
Take it here://psychcentral.com/quizzes/narcissistic.htm

. . .

All of this—the fragile ego, the tenuous human ties, the overweening self-regard–inevitably comes crashing down, even if less calamitously than it did for the proto-Narcissus. It’s for the narcissists themselves to recognize the dangers in the condition to which they admit so readily. And it’s for everyone else to get out of the way while they’re figuring it out.’

“Narcissists have no problem admitting they are narcissists,” a coauthor on the paper tells the Los Angeles Times.

52. nevasayneva - August 8, 2014

Re Robert Stohlze Aug 5

“Like most students I was mostly interested in my favorite subject–me. And, in my view, this is what the Fourth Way focussed on.”

I agree – that’s a big pull in when you join- also there is a quote from Margaret Singer something like people joining groups because they are able to “subsume their troubled self into a more selfless whole”

That was true for me, the perfect mix of a group which gave me lots of fascinating material about that favorite subject – “me” and also activities by which I could escape the space of that ever troubled self into something selfless and apparently noble.

I kind of grew out of all that in the end though.

It might seem strange that FOF and RB keep going, defying logic, ad common sense at many turns of the road. But it seems there are many such groups out there.


A recent poster – Sally McNally said that she was glad she was in the Fellowship. For me, I feel its a bit like being in a car accident or something rather accidental like that. I can be grateful for some of the experiences that it gave me, but I can’t say that I am really glad that I was in it.

53. ton2u - August 8, 2014

“Famous throughout all the Aonian cities, Tiresias gave faultless answers to people who consulted him. Dusky Liriope, the Naiad, was the first to test the truth and the accuracy of his words, whom once the river-god Cephisus clasped in his winding streams, and took by force under the waves. This loveliest of nymphs gave birth at full term to a child whom, even then, one could fall in love with, called Narcissus. Being consulted as to whether the child would live a long life, to a ripe old age, the seer with prophetic vision replied ‘If he does not discover himself’…”


54. archer - August 8, 2014

I can relate to Sally’s comments about being glad, and I don’t think it’s any way meant to be an endorsement of the experience. I wouldn’t do it again knowing what I know now, but I’m glad for the friends that I met, and the positive experiences I had—even if they were outnumbered by the many negative experiences, and the consequences of joining a cult.

Just one example: I enjoy many types of culture, including classical music and fine art and fine literature. Fortunately, the negative associations that I have with the cult haven’t destroyed that appreciation. I still look back with fond memories on those moments and fortunately I’m still creating many more fond memories long after. I’m sure that’s true for many others who left the cult. Part of what we are was grown there. Not all bad.

Robert Stolzle - August 9, 2014

sallymcnally, archer, et al-
Thanks for your input and observations regarding how you experienced RB and the FoF and how it continues on…..any other insights? Like Archer, my experience of the FoF wasn’t all negative; I learned a lot about people and had some good friends there. Some of my current friends seem to have learned just as much from drinking beer and playing pool, though.

It is probably a little self delusional, but I try to maintain an attitude of having no regrets; either about my missteps in college, marriage, kids, business, church, the FoF or any of the many lessons life has dealt. I don’t mean to promote the hackneyed “its all good” justification—because I know it is not, but I assume that most everyone has plenty of “yin and yang” in their lives and the only thing we have any control over is how we deal with the experience (there’s a good Fourth Way angle). It is only when the “accidents” leave permanent and debilitating scars that they require more attention and rehabilitation……hence this blog–right?

That RB is a huge narcissist is, to me, an unarguable premise. And, the idea from Margaret Singer about “subsume the troubled self into a selfless whole” that Neva posted really “resonates” with me as being a major pillar of the FoF. Is it true that as “seekers of truth and wisdom” we were all self identifying as being less than satisfied with our lives and, as such, easy prey for RB and the FoF? Or, is that too easy a generality? After all, what human is ever really “satisfied”. Isn’t civilization built on our collective dissatisfaction and most everyone being slightly OCD?

More practically, my “question du jour” is whether in your experience, the FoF ever did anything to help anyone outside the group. Most all churches have various missions to help the less fortunate. This may always be seen as self serving, but the effort is no less beneficial to the recipients. Did the FoF ever contribute to anything but its own narrow self interest?

Bob Stolzle

55. ton2u - August 9, 2014

Re: Ovid’s Narcissus — “…Being consulted as to whether the child would live a long life, to a ripe old age, the seer with prophetic vision replied ‘If he does not discover himself’…”

An applicable moral in burton’s case… how old is he?

Some of the rest of the story goes like this…

“Unknowingly he desires himself, and the one who praises is himself praised, and, while he courts, is courted, so that, equally, he inflames and burns. How often he gave his lips in vain to the deceptive pool, how often, trying to embrace the neck he could see, he plunged his arms into the water, but could not catch himself within them! What he has seen he does not understand, but what he sees he is on fire for, and the same error both seduces and deceives his eyes.

Fool, why try to catch a fleeting image, in vain? What you search for is nowhere: turning away, what you love is lost! What you perceive is the shadow of reflected form: nothing of you is in it. It comes and stays with you, and leaves with you, if you can leave!

I am burning with love for myself. I move and bear the flames. What shall I do? Surely not court and be courted? Why court then? What I want I have. My riches make me poor. O I wish I could leave my own body! ”

We’re all narcissistic, it’s a question of degree…. there’s something called primary and secondary narcissism and like most things in adult life, there are connections to our childhood development…. I won’t go into it any further since there’s a lot of research into the topic and much available on the internet…. a good book on the subject I can recommend is by Al Lowen called “Narcissism: Denial of the True Self.”

There was some discussion here a while back about burton as the head narcissist (pun intended) at the center of the FOF attracting other ‘fledgling’ narcissists to the organization… but it’s always been about “conscious bob” and if the organization helped anyone outside of “the fold” it was as a byproduct of supporting the “bon vivant” lifestyle of a malignant narcissist.

I think the notion of “self remembering” as it’s applied in the FOF is a reflection of how a group of people can be mislead into being overly self-involved…

re: narcissism and “dissatisfaction” — you can connect the dots —

“a narcissist is a person who is preoccupied with him/herself… a narcissist becomes his own world and believes the whole world is him… narcissists present various combinations of intense ambitiousness, grandiose fantasies, feelings of inferiority and over-dependence on external admiration and acclaim… a narcissist has chronic uncertainty and dissatisfaction about themselves, are consciously or unconsciously exploitative and ruthless toward others….” etc.

56. archer - August 10, 2014

ton2u: “I think the notion of “self remembering” as it’s applied in the FOF is a reflection of how a group of people can be misled into being overly self-involved…”

I didn’t see it that way, although it may be true that many took it that way, or that it developed into that attitude for many followers. From what I understood, this was one of intentions behind “divided attention”—it was partly what enabled a person to remember their “selves” (that part of a person that can develop a soul, or that already has a soul) from spiraling into self-involvement, self-indulgence, or narcissism.

Trying to “self-remember” would actually become narcissism if we never paid attention to those around us at the same time (divided attention). But the missing element (according to this idea) is that we chronically forgot our “selves” while habitually paying attention to all of these pursuits and dreams and people and interests outside of ourselves.

“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.”

The idea, at least how I interpreted it, was more a question of finding a balance that we lost a long time ago. We sometimes lose ourselves in everything and everyone around us—in other words, we sometimes remember everything but the “self”. So I didn’t see it as a recipe for narcissism. It was more a question of learning to appreciate our existence, and our limited time on the planet. Many of us lowly “life people” call it being “centered” without realizing we are talking about something very similar — self-remembering, non-identification, kindness, and quiet love. We pretended that we were exceptional and were the only ones practicing “self-remembering” because we gave it a name…

Now that’s what I think is particularly narcissistic about the FOF.

I’ve met many more people “in life” who have much more of the wisdom and understanding that many pretend to have in the FOF. In the FOF, self-remembering may have been more words than practice, and in the final analysis it’s complete opposite. But I liked the idea from the start and have never really dismissed it or rejected it even decades later.

57. archer - August 10, 2014

Robert S.: “Some of my current friends seem to have learned just as much from drinking beer and playing pool, though.”

I have the same attitude, and much of what you have written resonates.

“Did the FoF ever contribute to anything but its own narrow self interest?”

IMO a resounding “no.” And if the FOF every does contribute to anything outside of its own narrow self interests, it will do so only because it promotes its own narrow self interests.

58. ton2u - August 10, 2014

Re: narcissism and so-called “self remembering” — you can’t see a connection there? I ask you to think about how that sort of programmed self-involvement is used as a mind control tool by this cult.

People leave the cult and maybe get a little distance (at least physically), but they’re unwilling to “throw the baby out with the bathwater” so-to-speak, they continue to hang onto so-called “work ideas,” or maybe it works the other way around — “work ideas” hang onto them. That’s understandable on both accounts, spending years in a “thought reform” environment means these “work ideas” are deeply rooted…. and after all’s said and done, nobody wants to feel that they’ve been “duped” or used or abused, nobody wants to feel that they’ve wasted time, energy, money. Humans have been called “the rational animal” and even though we humans aren’t always rational, we can rationalize almost anything.

You and I are different; for me that “baby” was aborted and it would be grotesque to continue bathing it. I see so-called “work ideas” like “self-remembering” and “many selves” and “divided attention,” as tools of thought-control used by a cult to manipulate and control the lives of followers. Once upon a time I bought into the program ‘hook line and sinker’ but today the cult-speak, (so-called “work ideas”) just sounds crazy to me. But hey, maybe that’s just my “wrong work of centers.”


On a more positive note I’ll leave you with something I read today from Arne Naes:

“How do we develop a wider Self?… through an identification so deep that one’s own self is no longer adequately delimited by the personal ego or organism. One experiences oneself to be a genuine part of all life.”

59. WhaleRider - August 10, 2014

IMO, the FOF narcissist uses the concept of “divided attention” as a way of placing themselves in the center of the universe, furthering an attitude of “what’s in it for me?” or “what can this person or object do for me?”

The “selflessness” that Singer alludes to is reflective of the relationship of follower to guru, but not the other way around.

But make no mistake, although the co-dependent may function as the selfless mirror for the narcissist who requires an audience, the co-dependent also needs to feel special basking in the narcissist’s aura and will often mimic the narcissist and start their own cult, as in the movie, “All About Eve”.

If one can consider the whole Self to include the unconscious part of all of us, and not just the cult ego seeking immortality, then the act of “self remembering” ought to produce the opposite of cult narcissism: compassion and humility for others, regardless of cult affiliation.

IMO, the ego has to be reminded that it is not in control.

I believe the current emphasis in the FOF of producing “immortality” speaks to the fact that “self-remembering” as practiced in the FOF produces no special “psychic powers” that might measurable or verifiable…and which narcissist would not want to live forever?

For the narcissist, the dissolving of the narcissist’s fragile ego at death is terrifying for them to imagine, for in a sense death is an equalizer in that we all must die one day, and “worms care not whether you were a prince or pauper”.

60. Parson Yorick - August 10, 2014

“I believe the current emphasis in the FOF of producing “immortality” speaks to the fact that “self-remembering” as practiced in the FOF produces no special “psychic powers” that might measurable or verifiable…and which narcissist would not want to live forever?” James Joyce summed it up in one word in Finnegans Wake: “mememoreme”

61. Parson Yorick - August 10, 2014

OOPS! I looked it up to make certain. Actually Joyce wrote “mememormee” I wonder why my spell-checker didn’t pick that up!

62. archer - August 10, 2014

“… that sort of programmed self-involvement is used as a mind control tool by this cult.”

That’s your take that it’s “self-involvement.” It could be that you and many others understood it that way (including Burton for all I know), but it’s not the way everyone understood it or applied it. You might try re-reading what I wrote above.

To me, the primary mind control tool is that you can’t share other new or different ideas. You can’t disagree or express your dissenting opinion. It’s a closed system, where other voices are unwelcome, and healthy debate and direct questioning is disallowed. IMO it wasn’t “self-remembering” that led to narcissism, but this constant evaluation of everyone’s “level of being” and evaluation of who’s measuring up to what’s expected. People acted the act, played the game, and talked the talk to sound “conscious.” It’s obviously the same buzzword nonsense in major corporations (which have many of the same attributes of a cult).

The term “self-remembering” is just a word. It’s not an idea owned by Burton or Ouspensky or this cult. We’ll always associate the term with those people and with the FOF. But the idea has been articulated in numerous ways by different people throughout the centuries, and from many different perspectives. If you think it’s misapplied and misunderstood in the FOF, I would agree with that. Maybe it all went downhill right from the start, when someone gave it a name, as though there could be no other way to name it, and no other way to look at it.

63. booklab1 - August 11, 2014

62. archer

I agree. Narcissism isn’t aquired. You come with, then you leave with it. It can become worse, but it’s not a “technique” or “practice” that causes it. It’s a personality disorder.

64. brucelevy - August 11, 2014

Sorry, wrong login

65. brucelevy - August 11, 2014

62. archer

I agree. Narcissism isn’t aquired.

You come with, then you leave with it. But it can become worse. But it’s not a “technique” or “practice” that causes it. It’s a personality disorder.

66. ton2u - August 11, 2014

I don’t think we disagree, we’re simply coming from different perspectives… you write:

“…IMO it wasn’t “self-remembering” that led to narcissism…” etc

I think it’s the other way around, at least in the beginning… I think later and with further involvement in cult programming, narcissism and “self-remembering” become like two poles of an alternating current motor…. what was the motive force to do “the work” ?

This may ruffle some feathers but I’ll venture to say that it was an aspect of narcissism in the ‘student’ that led to a cult which practiced what it calls “self-remembering.” I think we can agree that we’re all narcissistic to one degree or another — as Bob Stozle put it in an earlier post: “we are all our favorite topic…” We tend to be even more narcissistic, vain and self-involved when we’re young and I think it’s safe to say we all were at least younger, if not young when the cult found us.

A point I’m trying to make is that the idea of “self-remembering” as applied by this cult is a very narrowly focused concept of the “self.” In the cult the ideas are filtered through burton — we can agree that he’s the malignant narcissist at the core of the FOF, and it all revolves around satisfying his narcissism… therefore it’s about all about selfishness, it’s a cornerstone of the organization, and “self-remembering” as put into practice by this cult is a mind control tool based on selfishness.

Appropriately enough Bob Stozle asked earlier whether the FOF, which represents itself as a “religious institution” has ever done anything to help anyone outside the narrow confines of it’s own self-interests… or words to that effect. I think the answer is no…. I think that would be totally out of character and I would suspect some ulterior motive were it so…. correct me if I’m wrong.

The quote above from Naes refers to a wider sense of self, an indication of other concepts and approaches to the whole notion of self and by extension, “self-remembering.” Here’s Joanna Macy:

“The way we define and delimit the self is arbitrary. We can place it between our ears and have it looking out from our eyes, or we can widen it to include the air we breathe, or at other moments, we can cast its boundaries farther to include the oxygen-giving trees and plankton, our external lungs, and beyond them the web of life in which they are sustained. I used to think that I ended with my skin, that everything within the skin was me and everything outside the skin was not. But now you’ve read these words, and the concepts they represent are reaching your cortex, so “the process” that is me now extends as far as you.”

It seems clear to me now in hindsight, that this cult is practicing “self-remembering” as a form of “group-think” and as such it’s another tool used to control the minds of individuals. (Some folks want to hang onto “beloved” ideas from “the bad/good old days” — be careful of that, I’ll suggest that it can work the other way around too, i.e. some ideas hang onto you). IMO “self-remembering” as it’s promoted and practiced in the cult is a means of mind control, AND because of burton’s influence it’s a form of selfishness, it appeals to a common denominator in human nature — primary narcissism. “The system” as burton likes to call it, is filtered through a malignant narcissist which means it’s all about me,me, and more me.

In this regard Bob Stozle asks a good question in an earlier post:
“A question that comes from this inquiry is what, if anything, FoF “students” really expected to gain from ascending to Man #5 or gaining higher consciousness.”

What were the motivating factors ? Maybe it was simply the vanity of youth, narcissism, egoism… maybe it had something to do with manifestations of the unconscious workings of the so-called “superego” (?) Maybe it was simple immature naivete’ — maybe it was something from subconscious childhood experiences looking for a role model and an authority figure… maybe it was the acid trip on my 21st birthday… etc, etc.

67. WhaleRider - August 11, 2014

Actually, Bruce and Archer, just to clarify, personality disorders are not considered primarily genetic, if that’s what you mean, they are a result of upbringing, usually in individuals whom have learned maladaptive patterns of behavior coping with a childhood of abuse, neglect or violence.

Yes, these mental disorders can persist throughout one’s whole life, since for the individual, nothing seems wrong to them, and they see no reason to change.

But a person can change their personality, if they are sufficiently motivated. That may not be the case with a psychopath, however, which may be a genetic disposition no matter what the upbringing.

(And a person can learn to be a sociopath from other sociopaths, given the right environment, such as in a cult, gang or prison where one’s membership or survival is at stake.)

I am not totally convinced of the genetic cause of all mental disorders; for instance how does a child learn the meaning of joy and happiness growing up with and internally modeling a single parent who is chronically depressed?

And there are many degrees of narcissism, with full blown NPD at the far end of the spectrum. A person can be a narcissist and still have some empathy for others, but not necessarily leave a wake of traumatized victims as with NPD.

Ton is right, IMO, we all have a degree of narcissism from our youth through which by tempering we develop into mature and healthy adults. Empathy is a feeling that must be cultivated, too.

I agree that my own youthful narcissism led me to joining a cult at age 21 and away from intergrating into the community at large.

But I don’t recall seeking to become psychic or clairvoyant; I felt the need to find a new “family” free of verbal abuse. The “non-expression of negative emotions” seemed to me at the time to be a big relief from the harshness I felt from my father and from life.

There is healthy narcissism, yet that can be corrupted with FOF cult practices like “resisting feminine dominance” or “working against inner considering” or being taught that it’s ok to lie to others not in the cult.

For myself, it was the sense of impatient narcissistic entitlement instilled by the cult with such statements as being among the “few, chosen, and lucky ones” that I had to work out of my personality over the post-FOF years.

I felt the time I spent in the FOF was molding my personality in ways I could not accept, causing me to leave despite my need for validation from others. I also felt my time with burton intensified that process, and first and foremost, I had to get away from him.

More than anything since my departure, I have learned to be more patient with others and treat everyone as my equal.

68. brucelevy - August 11, 2014

67. WhaleRider

I’ve read many of the papers on this, and actually genetics counts for a significantly larger aspect of narcissism then nurture, though they both play a role. Narcissism, like psychopathology cannot really be treated. Different brain patterns and responses. The prognosis of effectibe treatment is probably close to zero. One can be in treatment to learn the acts of normalcy, but these two pathologies are not considered curable.

Of course you’re entitled to your opinion, but not your facts.

69. brucelevy - August 11, 2014
70. brucelevy - August 11, 2014
71. brucelevy - August 11, 2014
72. brucelevy - August 11, 2014
73. brucelevy - August 11, 2014
74. archer - August 12, 2014

ton2u, brucelevy, and WhaleRider, thanks for your comments, analysis, and viewpoints. Good discussion.

You’d think we all would’ve delved into these areas a lot more while members of a “conscious school” where self-study was supposedly paramount. Narcissism, psychopathology, and all psychological disorders would be a good topic for anyone trying to observe and analyze human nature and further their understanding of human psychology. But this was all “modern psychology” and considered unworthy of our attention—which to me was a big blind spot. The FOF had you believe that everyone equally suffered from “wrong work of centers” etc.—a type of false equivalency that prevented us from taking a close look at the person in charge and how malignant he was. Obviously these topics were off-limits.

75. WhaleRider - August 12, 2014

Thanks for the links.

Yes, the one narcissistic entitlement I still retain is to express my opinion, but to what facts are you referring?

In the first link it states:
“It would seem reasonable to assume though, at this stage, there is not a shred of proof – that the narcissist is born with a propensity to develop narcissistic defences…still, I would have to attribute the development of NPD mostly to nurture.”

This article assumes a genetic link, which, IMO, can lead to confirmation bias, but in the end, he supports my assertion that nuture, or the lack of it, is the primary cause of NPD.

The second link concludes: “Considerably more work is needed before the causes of narcissism can be fully understood.”

Inconclusive conclusion, I love it!

The third link states:
“The NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital states that recent evidence has pointed to a genetic predisposition and other biological or biochemical factors that are probably linked to NPD.”

A pointing finger is by no means a smoking gun. Just because men have a genetic and biological predisposition to aggression, doesn’t mean all men are naturally aggressive. Much depends upon their upbringing.

In the fourth link:
“The cause of Narcissistic Personality Disorder is unknown at this time. There is some evidence that genetic predisposition and other biological or biochemical factors are involved for some people. Psychological factors are also involved for most people.”

That seems to support my opinion above that,”personality disorders are not considered primarily genetic.”

In the fifth link it states:
“Peer groups may also influence the development of full-fledged personality disorders like narcissism, according to a 2004 article in the “Monitor on Psychology.”

That also seems to support my opinion (and personal experience) that a peer group such as a cult can help cause the budding narcissism of youth to bloom into the full blown disorder, so to speak.

As much as the studies which are usually funded by huge pharmacology companies are “suggestive” of a physical link to mental disorders, I don’t believe bad genes are the primary cause, nor a lack or an over abundance of brain chemicals.

Genetic disposition may be one factor in mental illness and mental disorders but it is impossible to predict since one cannot separate a person’s genes from their environment.

Even in studies involving identical twins, which are by far not a random sample of the population, there is no physical mechanism to account for how one twin feels the other twin’s pain.

I could be wrong, but the fact is, I have not met one person with NPD or BPD whom had what I would consider a stable childhood. That doesn’t mean they don’t exist, and of course that also doesn’t rule out that a person from a stable home might develop NPD from other environmental factors, like school.

Yet I have not heard of anyone nor read of anyone who spontaneously develops a personality disorder out of the blue due to bad genes.

There is no question that full blown personality disorders are virtually impossible to “cure”, and I did not make the assertion that they can, yet I have witnessed how a person can learn to manage their disorder more effectively by learning other coping skills, including exercises that involve increasing Self awareness…and I’m not talking about “word exercises”, either, I’m referring to exercises that put a person in touch with the unconscious mind…of which a person with NPD is often unaware or afraid. They believe they are 100% conscious and go about projecting their unconsciousness upon everyone else. This causes them to have a fragile ego, in constant need of adoration and/or a scapegoat.

I only made the statement that personality is changeable, if there is enough motivation to do so, since our environment moulds our personality…unlike attempting to change the color of your eyes, which is a physical trait determined solely by genetics and not by environment.

Weren’t we taught in the FOF cult to shed our “false personality” in order to develop our “true personality”?

76. brucelevy - August 12, 2014

75. WhaleRider

The twin study showed NPD was genetically responsible in something like 67% of the cases. Also viewing nurture as a cause due to being raised by a parent or parents with their own personality disorder and thus creating an abusive environment, for me, seems to be a glaring scientific blind spot, as that itself indicates genetics being viewed as nurture because they can’t find the physical “gene” itself. And the cases of multilple children being raised in identical environments, and only one showing NPD from a very early age… But whatever, we’re going to believe what we’re going to believe, and in the end it doesn’t mean shit to a tree.

77. brucelevy - August 12, 2014

75. WhaleRider

And just another “anecdote”…I was raised with a brother and a sister in a very loving and suppotive home with both parents present all the time. Our “school” environment was also very supportive. Yet my brother is a clinical sociopath and narcissist, and had been from as early an age as could be discovered back then. He also had been treated, on and off, his whole life to little effect. so…believe what you will.

78. ton2u - August 12, 2014

…believe what you will

79. brucelevy - August 12, 2014

80. brucelevy - August 12, 2014

The above indicates a genetic basis “triggered” by environment and nurture

81. brucelevy - August 12, 2014

Also interesting in support of genetic aspect…http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3973692/

82. WhaleRider - August 12, 2014

Twin studies are useful in isolating specific genetic traits such as certain physical diseases, but as far as personality style is concerned, I can guarantee you that no two people will have exactly the same personality development despite being brought up in exactly the same environment.

The reason: IMO, survival issues at play in a family system. If the parents are “good” and the family is big enough, at least one child will turn out “bad”, because the one “bad” child will get all the attention as all the other “good” children fade into the woodwork. Is that genes at play? Is it just that if you have enough kids eventually the bad genes show up? Or is it because mommy and daddy have only so much bandwidth? It’s complex!

From Wikipedia:
“…most differences between the twins (such as height, susceptibility to boredom, intelligence, depression, etc.) is due to experiences that one twin has but not the other twin.”

That seems to me to support the notion that whether you have the gene for “depression” or not, the environment plays the larger role in determining whether you become depressed.

You claim to be raised in a stable, caring environment, your brother is a narcissist and sociopath and yet you (and I) joined an abusive, high intensity/high control cult, one that (ironically) teaches co-dependents how to be smug narcissists and holier than thou sociopaths.

C’mon, something’s going on here.

Do you and I simply have the cult gene, or are there deeper unconscious issues at play, issues of which both you and I are unaware?

You can’t see the back of your head, you know, you have to use a mirror or ask a friend…

Can you admit that there are parts of you that you cannot see, and elements of your childhood that you don’t remember or are you under the illusion that you are 100% conscious of every aspect of yourself?

As I said, it’s impossible to isolate genes from environment. Cultural norms, such as gender roles, are passed down through generations, too, irrespective of genes.

Abusive parents tend to produce both abused and abusive children, not because of genes necessarily, but because of abusive grand parents, IMO, probably stemming from abusive and narcissistic Chiefs, Dukes, Kings, and Queens.

I can sense that you may have given up hope about your brother, his problem is deeply buried in his genes, in the same way you have given up hope about people like Linda, Nick, and Steven still entrenched on the FOF cult.

Believe me, I am fully aware of how frustrating, and more often than not, how intractable personality disorders are, no matter what the causal factors.

I still cling to the belief, possibly to my own detriment, that Personality Disorders such as NPD and BPD are intractable not solely due to bad genes, over which people like burton have no control, but because of the inherent double bind of the disorder, i.e., one has to be sufficiently motivated to BE different, and the endless knot of the disorder prevents a person from ever fully grasping any reason to change their behavior or moderate their moods when their very survival has been dependent upon their maladaptive coping mechanisms. Their defenses are just too strong.

I am sure it feels like your brother is surrounded by a wall that is a mile thick, so thick that even a nuclear bomb wouldn’t get through to him.

And fucking with his seratonin levels hasn’t solved anything either.

I get it. You wish he could be different, but he’ll never change…because he doesn’t want to and therefore can’t change, and that really sucks to know that about a person you maybe once loved. That’s sad.

Same with burton. And it just occurred to me that this is his unconscious fear that he projects onto his followers, that eventually an apocalypse like “hydrogen warfare” will happen, a big explosion, or Earthquake, the truth will come out, and he has to take steps to make sure he survives all the fallout…of his actions and the huge pile of suffering he has left in his path through life.

And in fact the earthquakes and explosions have happened, just as he predicted, every time a prominent follower has left his cult.

burton exists only in reclusion. He barricades himself behind his followers, and they collude with him, taking on the belief that he could not exist in the harsh and unforgiving “real world” of life out there…that they somehow have to protect him…from the truth of his illness.

I remember that feeling.

I’m sorry to hear about your brother, Bruce. I imagine it was painful growing up with him.

83. brucelevy - August 12, 2014

I see where you’re coming from, and I can agree with much of what you are saying, but, of course, not all.

I was never a “joiner”. Why the FOF? As I can see it I studied and was very interested in Gurdjieff since I discovered him when I was around 17. There didn’t seem to be much around to further the study until I moved to SF in the 70’s. When I found the book mark I felt it was pretty much the only game in town, so I persued it. That’s what brought me there.

Then, of course, as we all have some degree or narcissism, RB played to it, his support staff of procurers promoted it, and I was abused out of my own stupidity. I removed myself from it fairly quickly, but the damage was obviously done.

I felt while observing the dynamic there, that there were two classes of victims. The stupid ones, which I belonged to, and the narcissistic and sociopathic ones, who new what they were getting into yet relished all the goodies that would accrue by their temporary subservience…those I call the whores. The idiots and the whores. One or the other.

84. WhaleRider - August 12, 2014

Well then, to be honest, for a time I played both an idiot and a whore.

I guess I just settled for being an idiot by leaving the cult.

Interesting article above, Bruce.

“The cover story for the May 20, 2013 issue of Time magazine entitled “Millennials: The Me Me Me Generation” depicted so-called millennials – the youth generation spanning the 1980s to 2000 – as typical narcissists: “Millennials are lazy, entitled narcissists, who still live with their parents” [1]. Indeed, recent research has extensively documented the increasing prevalence of narcissism.”

This is an odd way to start the article, IMO, as though it were a sales pitch about a new growing market of narcissists…maybe the cult business should take notice!

What do you think would contribute to the “increasing prevalence” of narcissism of today, eh? Is it because more and more narcissists are breeding than ever before?

Or is the changing social environment playing a significant factor…in the modern age of single player video games, Facebook, selfies, custom colored iPads and iPhones?

It’s true: “…no one disagrees that narcissism is a multi-factor construct.”

But there is a BIG difference between narcissism and NARCISSTIC PERSONALITY DISORDER.

Just because a person is narcissistic or scores high on the NPI on one given day, doesn’t necessarily mean they have full blown NPD.

The study goes on to say: “We are living in a narcissistic age. Narcissists attach superfluous importance and excellence to themselves at the same time they enjoy exploiting and manipulating others.”

Like what, we should find the gene responsible and eradicate it from our human Genome?

Who would want to be elected President, then?

What would happen to the Republican Party?

God forbid! The Daily Show would become humorless!

85. brucelevy - August 12, 2014

“But there is a BIG difference between narcissism and NARCISSTIC PERSONALITY DISORDER.”

I think we were talking about the later which is the same as malignant narcissism.

86. WhaleRider - August 12, 2014

I was referring to the last article you posted about the study done in China about two different traits of narcissism in general, grandiosity and entitlement.

As far as I can tell, the above study was not targeted at Chinese individuals with full blown NPD. Any correlation with NPD was extrapolation.

From what I understand, a person can have at least three different intensity levels of narcissism-or depression for that matter: 1) narcissistic traits and features like you and I might have, which might surface here and there, but don’t cause problems, 2) narcissistic personality style, which is sometimes a problem, and 3) narcissistic character disorder or NPD, which is always a problem, aka “malignant” narcissism, or to be more precise, “traumatic narcissism”. (Shaw)

In regard to burton, and delusional gurus like him, we are talking about a character disorder. Thank you, ton. His disorder is so prevalent that it impedes him from functioning in a healthy way, so he has to surround himself with a cult for protection and sustenance. His cult functions as part of his iron-clad defense system. His followers unconsciously introject his vulnerability, then protect and feed him. In return they feel special.

87. nevasayneva - August 14, 2014

well whatever label there is for RB’s personality disorder is, we may never know, since I guess he is not hitting the therapist couch anytime soon.

Narcissistic or not, a good deal of self absorption is helpful in getting one joined FOF and staying in. After all the word “self” is part of the term “Self-remembering”. It is not about Self forgetting.

My dog is pretty good at being in the moment. She also is healthily self absorbed.

88. Mick - August 15, 2014

It should be no surprise (but it was to me) to learn that in addition to salary, gifts & all the benefits of exercising total control of all Fellowship “donations” & assets, a number of members give money directly to Robert Burton. I am sure both the giver and the recipient are in compliance with IRS accounting rules and that all appropriate taxes have been paid.

89. archer - August 15, 2014
90. ton2u - August 15, 2014

beautiful… thank you robin

Robert Stolzle - August 16, 2014

Ladies and Gentlemen-
The ongoing discussion about “self remembering” and narcissism has me spinning since I have to confess to never having successfully understood what self remembering was supposed to be….let alone being confidant that I was “doing it”. “Dividing attention/observing I” was a much more useful idea for me and I still use it to step back from some situation that has me “identified”. It is certain that anyone negotiating anything has acquired the same skill from other sources, though.

I can only empathize with those former members who were abused by burton and the FoF. I “wasted” 4 years in the FoF and probably would have been far better off professionally entering the work force right after college. That said, I have always tried to go through life without regrets…. we are just not very good at predicting the future and I have made plenty of other poor choices since leaving the FoF in 1977. I read somewhere—not 4th Way– that, “self pity is the most destructive emotion.” I have seen this in some close acquaintances and believe this statement is quite accurate. I also generally enjoyed my time in the FoF and matured a lot during that era though not at all just because of the FoF. So, WTF…”they say in the end its the blink of an eye”, Jackson Brown.

I think most people operate from their own, often misguided, understanding of what their own self interest might be. Understanding ones self better via self remembering or any other technique and thereby making better decisions was what drew most members to the FoF….NO? I mean, part of the Man #4 hoopla was that most all students felt something was missing in themselves or that they could become better people by “studying/living” the Fourth Way teaching. That the FoF and RB used this idea to take advantage of the “students” instead of really trying to be a “Fourth Way School” is a tragedy perpetrated by him, not the students,…..and probably one that only time will remedy. Remember, though, he is a geezer and has to be sliding into decline towards his own demise….enjoy it! We can be certain that it will be a show. (I am “conscious” enough to predict that!)

The August 2014 issue of Scientific American has an article titled “Accidental Genius” by Darold Treffert, a psychiatrist who studies savant syndrome. In it he cites some very rare instances of savant syndrome appearing after brain trauma. Interesting enough in itself, but Treffert suggests, “whether everyone has the capacity to become a savant”…and, “whether it might be possible to do so without facing the travails of brain injury or dementia.” He has some ideas about how this might happen, and suggests, “Meditation or simple adherence to assiduous practice of an artistic skill may suffice to allow us to switch to switch on the more creative right side of the brain and thus explore undiscovered artistic capabilities.”

I am pretty sure this sort of change is what most mystical practices are focussed on and it is what I was searching for when I joined the FoF. I don’t believe that this drive to be better in some way can be called narcissism. Or, that beyond all human’s basic desire to survive and, if possible, prevail, the FoF membership was any more narcissistic than the surrounding culture of the day. We were all led down the wrong “yellow brick road” by a corrupt wizard, but that fact doesn’t necessarily paint all the “munchkins” needs and desires black.

Bob Stolzle

91. Parson Yorick - August 16, 2014

I guess I must have been your “relief” Mr. Stolze, because I probably joined around the time you left. I stayed 4 1/2 years. It would probably have been less, except that I gave up a good job and uprooted my settled existence when I joined: I was “invested” in other words. I have lost interest in the “4th Way.” I have, instead, become a Zen Buddhist, but only after carefully checking out the lineage I joined and being satisfied that it was not a cult. Awakening, or “kensho” is not impossible or all that rare. It happens to some people accidentally, apparently. Flora Courtois, a Michigan native, is the usual example of this. Zen practice in my lineage involves koans rather than self remembering, but if you take a koan such as “what was your original face before your parents were born?” it can seem pretty similar to self remembering. The big difference is that in Zen you do a lot of zazen, or “sitting.” (This “sitting” has also become a practice in the Gurdjieff Foundations, possibly through the influence of Wm. Segal who was both a Zen Buddhist and a follower of Gurdjieff. I know this from experience.) I wonder if there are any former FoF members in the “Ring of Bone Zendo” a Zen Buddhist group in Robert Aiken’s lineage, located in Grass Valley. It’s pretty close to Oregon House, actually. When I left the FoF I was pretty deeply involved with a very strange novel by Herman Melville, titled “The Confidence Man,” especially the final chapter. I recommend it highly to anyone with sufficient patience for the style.

92. David - August 16, 2014

This is Robert Burton’s relationship to the 4th way. A certain man has an interest in quantum physics. He finds some books written for lay people about quantum physics and reads them. This makes him want to be a quantum physicist. Then he meets a man who has read the same books and who is married to a woman who once dated a quantum physicist. This man he has met declares, “I am a quantum physicist”, and begins to teach. But he knows no equations or mathematical formula and has never even seen a particle accelerator; he teaching is based on concepts he read about in popular books on the subject. At a certain point the first man is kicked out of the ‘school of quantum physics’ for not doing homework. However, he has been using some physics textbooks as pillows and one day decides, having magically absorbed information while dreaming from said textbooks, that he too is a quantum physicist and begins to teach the same concepts he learned along with some new inventions of his own. Actual researchers in the field laugh at him, but he manages to make a quite a bit of money and even declares himself a Professor.

93. Parson Yorick - August 16, 2014

David, I like your description. Gurdjieff told a story about making chicken soup by chasing a chicken through a room where a pot of water was being heated, then calling the hot water chicken soup. It’s somewhere in “All & Everything” I think. Sort of similar.

94. shardofoblivion - August 17, 2014

Apropos of “Gurdjieff told a story”, by the magic of the web we can all listen to him telling his stories. This one is about Scotch, but it is hard to make out. It sounds like the giggling girls have heard his stories before, and know when to burst into showers of laughter at his words. It sounds a fun party, and I kind of wish I was there, but somehow there was too heavy a wiff of all those pupils desperate to please him, hanging on his word, that doesn’t feel healthy now.

95. shardofoblivion - August 17, 2014

ooops – wrong link – sorry about that

96. shardofoblivion - August 17, 2014

97. shardofoblivion - August 17, 2014

98. shardofoblivion - August 17, 2014

finally got a link that wasn’t part of some strange playlist, hope the moderator can tidy up the dodgy links,

99. archer - August 17, 2014

92. David

Outstanding analogy — love it!

I would go a step further. Rather than “quantum physics,” the discipline might be described as “warp-drive technology” or “time-travel theory.” In other words, all of this is based on something much like science fiction, or fantasy. Some of the concepts in the sci-fi books are more plausible than others. The aspects that are more plausible drew us into the cult — the “hook.”

100. brucelevy - August 17, 2014

99. archer

Actually, if you Google Hal Puthoff you’ll find that warp drive and dark matter are no longer the realm of Sci-fi. I had the opportunity to sit and talk with him for awhile in Austin in the late 80’s.

101. brucelevy - August 17, 2014

He was the head of Stanford Research Institute in the 70’s and early 80’s.

102. archer - August 17, 2014

100/101 brucelevy

As Spock would say, “Fascinating.” Thanks for the reference to Hal Puthoff; fun and intriguing read. The electric car was considered sci-fi just a few decades ago.

Robert Stolzle - August 18, 2014

Archer, et al-
Are there any of the Fourth Way concepts and ideas that don’t seem to be entirely science fiction to you now? It seems there is an enormous amount we don’t understand or even sense, especially in the quantum physics and astro physics realms.

In the realm of human suffering, wouldn’t it be nice if we could just stop killing each other? The invitation to join an exclusive community that is without crime is powerful catnip to most people and how is one to see below the surface before wading in? It is easy to call the FoF a cult now and try to steer people away, but what warning signs are there for the “prospective student” to see and assess beforehand?

Bob Stolzle

103. Tim Campion - August 18, 2014

Speaking of Spock, the following was posted January 27, 2010 by our very own Spock:

I’ve been trying to recall exactly what I was thinking about “trips to Egypt” or “trips to Europe” when I was an fof follower, and what I was thinking while watching Burton slowly walk by with his “quiet and thoughtful act” with five or six men in their 20s and 30s walking alongside, and an almost completely different set of men every time I saw him.

One of my conclusions is that “the ego” provides a huge barrier to seeing what’s obvious. To really SEE the above, it would have required me to challenge my very reason for being a cult member. I would have needed to say to myself, “You know what, I may not be special at all for being here, and in fact I may actually be pretty stupid for being here.”

What eventually broke through the barrier? Lots of things, but what really helped was gradually dragging myself away from the FOF prose — the sleep-inducing language of the Fellowship of Friends — and looking at the world in my words rather than through the words of the cult. So, instead of a “Teacher with his beloved students”, I saw an aging and sick man with a guru act walking by with a set of enslaved and often confused young men, all of them sheepishly hiding a strange secret. And I thought about where the clothes came from, where the cars came from, where the money came from for his trips, and why the FOF had a retention rate of just 10%.

(Think about it: Only about 10% or less of those who join the FOF have stayed, and the percentage is getting smaller and smaller. It’s no wonder Burton needs to spin that as a sign of “how difficult doing the work” is. Because if followers see the fact that so many people people are leaving as a “weak retention rate” — an expression in business used to describe a company that has trouble keeping its customers — they’ll start to think that maybe that 90% sees something they don’t.)

What triggered the change in thinking, I can’t be sure. But breaking through the Ego Barrier of I’m Really Cool for Being a Fourth Way Student started with a change in the vocabulary that I used to describe what I was seeing. I almost completely stopped using the Fourth Way terms, and I especially stopped talking in FOF-ese.

Instead of “making payments,” I was wasting my money on the twisted pleasures of a narcissist, and contributing to an illness — with all of its consequences for me and everyone else in the cult.

104. Golden Veil - August 18, 2014

Tim Campion, I’m glad that you brought up “making payments.” All students and former students are familiar with the, as I remember it termed, “Principle of Payment.” I think that it’s an especially effective aspect of the slow brain wash that all received (or received) while in the Fellowship of Friends.

I think that, for the most part, we all want to do good, be accepted and respected by others, and the “good householder” routine of “making payments” is an aspect of that. The “Principle of Payment” covers so much – from the theory that the Fellowship of Friends presents early (as fact) that “One doesn’t value that which is free”, all the way to “I can bear having sex with my elderly “Teacher” because it will lead to: 1. Respect from other students by my closeness to REB, the exclusivity – being in his presence, 2. “Travel – while in REB’s intimate circle, 3. Funds – teaching payments waived and green cards or visas to remain in the US are enabled, 4. Clothing – not my stye, but clean, new, and gifted to me, along with jewelry, and perhaps, more than anything, the thought that 5. “I am loved, desired, and a person of value.” Attention goes a long way with many. Manipulators know this and grand manipulators of the sociopathic variety (like REB) can be experts in aiming darts of exquisite attention and even what may be misinterpreted as Love.

I don’t think it’s odd that so many heterosexual men have fallen under the influence of REB and been seduced by him, basked in the attention he bestows upon them – the attention, taste of riches, etc., and then been sexually seduced (probably while drunk.) For some it’s a small price to pay after they have weighed all the cost vs benefits. And after all (I hope I don’t offend anyone here), men, particularly in some cultures outside of the US, sexually experiment with their friends because women are very protected and unavailable – and sex drive is high in youth. They may be heterosexual, but not a stranger to same-sex sexuality.

The long-term, students-for-many-decades who are aware of REB’s sexual proclivities are indulgent individuals, aren’t they? But, they know which side of their bread is buttered. But, if they are of the trust fund variety, and turn a blind eye to the bizarre suffering that REB creates, how do they live with themselves? I think that the answer can only be fairy tales. They tell themselves fairy tales – that’s pretty whacked out – but any other explanation is such an expression of evil – I, for one, cannot imagine it. Maybe they only believe, like that student who told me early on, “Our Teacher is gay, by the way.” “That’s okay, I said, not an important issue to me at all…”

The “Principle of Payment ensures that the distasteful is borne willingly and even welcomed. Students are taught to even welcome loss…

105. Mick - August 18, 2014

People aren’t very interested in kindly advice, except maybe in hindsight. Sometimes words of warning have the opposite effect – making the object of cautionary tales seem more attractive.
“You can’t cheat an honest man; never give a sucker an even break, or smarten up a chump.” – W.C. Fields

Robert Stolzle - August 18, 2014

So, how about a Letterman style “Top Ten Ways You Know You’re Joining a Cult: (I’ll start)

1. The leader and his cronies live lavishly while the minions struggle.
2. It costs a lot of money and you’re encouraged to go “all in” from
the start; “abandon your family and follow me”.
3. Tangible results (like sober for 30 days) are absent, but all the
devotees know they’re really special.

Well, that’s a start….got any more?

Bob Stolzle

106. Bares Reposting - August 18, 2014

104. Golden Veil:
‘I think that the answer can only be fairy tales. They tell themselves fairy tales – that’s pretty whacked out – but any other explanation is such an expression of evil – I, for one, cannot imagine it. Maybe they only believe, like that student who told me early on, “Our Teacher is gay, by the way.” “That’s okay,” I said, “not an important issue to me at all…”

The “Principle of Payment” ensures that the distasteful is borne willingly and even welcomed. Students are taught to even welcome loss…’

Yes!, ‘fairy tales,’ in many different meanings to such words, but here is example:
The Emperor’s New Clothes:
As posted on page 112/103 by
Wondering Who’s Watching – September 17, 2011
The Emperor’s New Clothes 3:26:

[excerpt from: The Emperor’s New Clothes (1987)
with Sid Caesar, Robert Morse, Lysette Anthony. . .]
One of the last lines spoken in this segment:
‘Everybody sees just what they want to see.’

The Emperor’s New Clothes
Plot synopsis
Many years ago there lived an emperor who was quite an average fairy tale ruler, with one exception: he cared much about his clothes. One day he heard from two swindlers named Guido and Luigi Farabutto that they could make the finest suit of clothes from the most beautiful cloth. This cloth, they said, also had the special capability that it was invisible to anyone who was either stupid or not fit for their position and office.

Being a bit nervous about whether he himself would be able to see the cloth, the emperor first sent two of his trusted counselors to see it. Of course, neither would admit that they could not see the cloth and so praised it. All the townspeople had also heard of the cloth and were interested to learn how stupid their neighbors were.

The emperor then allowed himself to be dressed in the clothes for a procession through town, never admitting that he was too unfit and stupid to see what he was wearing. He was afraid that the other people would think that he was stupid.

Of course, all the townspeople wildly praised the magnificent clothes of the emperor, afraid to admit that they could not see them, until a small child said:

“But he has nothing on!”

This was whispered from person to person until everyone in the crowd was shouting that the emperor had nothing on. The emperor heard it and felt that they were correct, but held his head high and finished the procession.

And: ‘the distasteful is borne willingly and even welcomed’
in 4th Way speak it is called ‘Intentional Suffering.’

107. Mick - August 18, 2014

You want more?
4. Hypocrisy
5. Unloving & Unloved
6. Sucks lots-o-cock

108. silentpurr - August 19, 2014

I was with RB one evening in a car somewhere shortly after Bonita had left. He said about her that ” The Fellowship is like a Faerie Tale and it was some people’s ‘play’ to become a witch, dry up and blow away’. I was taken aback by his condescending remark since only recently, at the Makiki House, they had been chuckling and teasing like old friends…
Joining in Hawaii, I always enjoyed Bonita and was saddened when she said she was moving with Holstein to Denmark. We cried and cried together, four of us around a small table holding hands, our tears flowing down to free- formed puddles.
After a long time weeping Bonita said: “No matter how angry you ever become with your teacher, never attack him but run the other way!”

109. Tempus Fugit - August 19, 2014

A Proposal to Expand the Dialogue

For a long time I’ve felt this blog has two major benefits, one personal and one public.

The personal benefit is, of course, helping me process my own involvement in the FOF cult. The public benefit is to educate and warn others about the dangers.

Since the time I joined this blog current members of the FOF have also blogged here anonymously. Sometimes they have been identified by others and sometimes they identified themselves. Probably some have gone undetected.

Wasn’t it about two years ago FOF member “I in the Sky” was here supporting Burton and the FOF until asked to leave? At the time I agreed with the move to ban her/him because her/his posts defending the behavior of Burton and the FOF were, in my opinion, dishonest.

But now I’m thinking my judgment to ban, and the judgment of other blog members, may have been a mistake.

After all, what better way to show the insanity of FOF to the world than by confronting the convoluted logic of its long time members and leaders?

If they are willing to defend their beliefs and engage in discussion, why don’t we reach out and invite them to join in again?

I’m now thinking such dialogue would enhance the effectiveness of this blog as a warning to others. Your thoughts?

110. Wouldnt You Like To Know - August 19, 2014

108. silentpurr:
‘After a long time weeping Bonita said: “No matter how angry you ever become with your teacher, never attack him but run the other way!” !!!’

Excellent advice! The only teacher you cannot ‘run the other way’ from is the true teacher that is deep down inside of you. That is the real teacher. Cultivate it.

Here is an exercise I have been working with for a few years:

‘A bodhisattva’s practice is to rid ourselves of bad friends
With whom, when we associate, our three poisonous emotions come to increase;
Our actions of listening, thinking, and meditating come to decrease;
And our love and compassion turn to nil.’

Another version of same:

‘If we have harmful companions, the three poisons are increased, our reflection and meditation becomes degraded; love and compassion are destroyed. To abandon dangerous company is a practice of the bodhisattva.’

Another version of same:

‘When friendship with someone
Causes the three poisons to increase,
Degrades the activities of listening, reflecting, and meditating,
And destroys loving kindness and compassion,
To give up such a friendship
Is the practice of a Bodhisattva.’

This is from:
The Thirty Seven Practices of Bodhisattvas

The Thirty Seven Practices of Bodhisattvas is a transcription of an oral teaching by a Buddhist scholar and teacher. The text on which the teaching is given is a set of verses written in the 14th century by a Tibetan Buddhist monk… th[e] work seeks to elucidate the day-to-day practice of the Bodhisattva. The original verses are short and fairly clear, and the commentary…’

Many versions/translations/commentaries exist.
You can search the internet.
One of the above is attributed:
Original version published in:
His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama:
Four Essential Buddhist Commentaries
Dharamsala, India
Library of Tibetan Works & Archives, 1983.

111. Fee fi fo fum - August 19, 2014

104 Golden Veil

The “principle of payment” is a basic psychological dynamic, where we tend to value something if we put time, effort or money into it. From Bonita’s story, it sounds like REB understood that dynamic, very early on. Didn’t she say that he was wondering how much he should charge students, from its early days? Fine, charge a nominal payment. But no, his greed got the better of him. What may have begun as a neutral concept morphed into a deep-pocketed source of play money for him that remains unabated.

112. Fee fi fo fum - August 19, 2014

109 Tempus Fugit

The problem with “I in the sky” is that their posts quickly became insincere. We weren’t having an honest conversation with them. The conversations were getting nowhere, and they seemed to enjoy one-upsmanship and putting people down, rather than the process of true inquiry.

Robert Stolzle - August 19, 2014

Tempus Fugit, Fee fi fo fum, et al.,
The notion of having current FoF members posting here is intriguing, but probably not very useful for anyone. As Fee noted it could quickly become a defensive contest. I didn’t start here with any particular agenda on the FoF or RB and and was almost immediately suspected of being an apologist for burton and an FoF plant. I’d like to think I’ve gotten past that accusation, but the pain and anger expressed on this blog is a testament to how bad things became after I had departed in 1977. The only possible benefit would be to have some contact with the existing organization and, more importantly, its current members.

“Parson Yorick” and “Wouldn’t You Like to Know” have indicated that their spiritual journey didn’t end with the FoF, but has led them to Buddhism. Mine has, more or less unintentionally, led to Christianity.
It is my sense of this journey that there are many roads leading to the same destination…death, or at least an understanding thereof…..with a secondary benefit being instruction on how to best live in the world today. I don’t believe there is any real escape and whether there is something on the “other side” is not for us to know….regardless of consciousness, enlightenment, visions etc. I would even say that the first reason to back away from joining any group is that they claim some special means for dealing with this conundrum. I am personally convinced that the best we can do is to “know what we cannot know”.

But, I would very much like to have a correspondence about the few Fourth Way ideas that seem to have some benefit in this regard and also those that are useless or worse. For those of you who have rejected the FoF and all its notions, please don’t accuse me of “clinging” onto these ideas. I have always believed that if our time here could be put to any use, it should be to “escape death”. A metaphor regarding my FoF experience that might work here is that having learned to drive a stick shift, that knowledge still influences my driving, though I haven’t driven a stick shift vehicle in years.

Perhaps sad to admit, but basically I just do this for fun.

Bob Stolzle

113. Jomo Piñata - August 19, 2014


“No matter how angry you ever become with your teacher, never attack him but run the other way!”

Bonita told me that she hired a Danish lawyer to make a written demand upon Burton because she felt Burton had treated her dishonorably.

Robert Stolzle - August 19, 2014

Sorry to take up so much space but, Jomo or others…did bonita eventually go on to start her own Fourth Way (or other) group in Europe? Is it still going?
Bob Stolzle

114. WhaleRider - August 19, 2014

The beauty of this blog is that past conversations with FOF supporters are contained and archived, so you can always back track if you need a dose to remind you of the toxicity.

There is a great deal of information revealed in those exchanges, and in some instances, what FOF supporters lack in the realm of conscience and empathy is even more revealing…and disturbing.

Most of the ideas and unchanging attitudes expressed by current cult followers are unhealthy, IMO, and can serve to compromise one’s personal integrity; for instance, the FOF meme that a follower’s relationship with burton is akin to the relationship between a dog and its human. I find that notion to be quite toxic and dehumanizing, to say the least.

Yet every cult flourishes through exploiting the grains of truth that are held and repeated ad nauseam within the cult’s confines.

You may well ask yourself, what would you consider a life well lived?

“I have always believed that if our time here could be put to any use, it should be to “escape death”, says Bob S.

That’s sad and untrue to me.

There are many good, useful ways to spend one’s time among the living: a lot of personal growth is served by having and raising healthy children, for example…which ought not to be pitted against getting into heaven climbing the FOF’s or anyone’s else’s exclusive stairway.

Are we here only to save ourselves from certain death, nevermind our neighbor…or do you get into heaven by helping your neighbor…as long as they are also cult members?

Shall we splice enough genes to enable us to live forever? What would that cost?

And after a lifetime’s effort in pursuit of immortality, (or the money to buy immortality) are you sure the other people whom also manage to successfully “escape” death are the kind of people with whom you’d want to spend eternity? What if they are all rich Republicans?

(I wonder if FOF followers are going to be free to show their teeth in heaven when they smile, since in heaven everybody has perfect teeth? Certainly there must be laughter allowed in heaven, too…I don’t know that I could settle for gentle mirth.)

115. Parson Yorick - August 19, 2014

Back in the 1980s a book appeared authored by “Anonymous” titled “Meditations on the Tarot.” I purchased it from Fields’ bookstore in San Francisco and at first I found it impenetrable. Years later it’s author was identified as the former follower of Rudolf Steiner, Valentin Thomberg, and I managed to slog through the whole book. In the chapter titled “Death” Thomberg devoted around four pages to Gurdjieff and G’s way of “escaping death” by creating an entity of some sort – maybe not quite a “soul.” It makes interesting reading, but in brief, Thomberg condemned Gurdjieff’s “way” as an unnatural means of bypassing Purgatory. Those who are Roman Catholic may take such a notion as Purgatory more seriously than we who are Buddhists. I still like Joyce’s coinage, “mememormee” as capturing the essence of the thirst for immortality.

116. Robert Stolzle - August 19, 2014

Sorry about the “escaping death” comment. I don’t imagine it to be possible and have never obsessed about it; but I do imagine it to be the basic reason religions, cults and religious cults continue to thrive. I supposed it might be better to posit that if our time here had any “grand purpose” it might be that effort.

This is not to say that improving our lot here might be an even nobler cause and certainly more practical. Nor do I believe that the two ideas are in any way incompatible or that “escaping death” somehow requires a narcissistic focus on ones self; it may be exactly the opposite. I can say, from some personal experience, that the complete absence of desire is death.
Bob Stolzle

117. shardofoblivion - August 19, 2014

The phrase “escaping death” intrigues me. What would that mean? Would it mean that after death one retains memories of the life we lived here on earth? But that is surely impossible, since our memories depend on our brains being healthy. Old people with Alzheimer’s forget pretty much everything. If “escaping death” means some spark of consciousness in some way causally connected to the life we led can exist after our deaths, I have to say that unless I can remember, there is no sense in which that spark can be said to be me.

But I do like the idea of a “Grand Purpose”, though each of us will have to find our own, I reckon. For me, to understand as much as possible about the world, and to experience as many products of the imagination of my fellow human beings, will suffice.

118. Parson Yorick - August 19, 2014

Shard, some of what you say is controversial. The notion that memory is entirely dependent on the physical brain is questioned by some, for example Roger Penrose in two of his books, “The Emperor’s New Mind” and “Shadows of the Mind.” In Alzheimer’s, which my brother’s wife is currently going through, it’s short-term memory that is affected. Long term memory remains, at least to an extent. On the other hand, western science, to the extent that it is purely materialistic, supports the general gist of what you say. But it’s not the only view.

119. Fee fi fo fum - August 20, 2014

109 Tempus Fugit

I wanted to add that I didn’t mean to quash your sentiment in your post #109, where you said:

“After all, what better way to show the insanity of FOF to the world than by confronting the convoluted logic of its long time members and leaders?

“If they are willing to defend their beliefs and engage in discussion, why don’t we reach out and invite them to join in again?”

It’s just that, after a few months of several people interacting with I in the sky, it no longer felt like a healthy debate and process of inquiry of spiritual values. Instead, the exchanges degenerated into quick roadblocks on their part. True, their responses did indeed “show the insanity of FOF to the world.” But after awhile, they seemed to exult in dominating the blog with nonsensical posts for the sake of crowding out intelligent discourse. At that point, one says, “Enough.” Of course, maybe a new incarnation of I in the sky will appear, and we’ll have another go at it.

120. shardofoblivion - August 20, 2014

Parson Yorick, I did read over half of “The Emperor’s New Mind” some years ago, but ran aground in the quantum sections. I will fish it out and this time read it to the end to see what he means by memory not being entirely dependent on the physical brain. My current understanding is that our memories are in some way laid down as patterns of pathways travelled by electrical impulses through the neurons. It certainly seems to be a delicate mechanism that each of us has experienced letting us down on occasions. The more extreme examples of illness or injury seem to me to point to the fundamental role of the physical brain. A friend of mine had a motorcycle accident, and was knocked unconscious, When he came to he was devoid of ANY memory of who he was, which was very strange to experience, as we knew each other well. His memory returned gradually over the course of a few hours, as some healing took place inside.

I think the question is of some importance with respect to cults, as they often offer some remedy to the problem of physical death as a hook to draw in the new members. So my logic is, the more people there are who accept they will die, and that death is the complete annihilation of the self, the fewer people there are who are vulnerable to cult promises of immortality.

121. Tim Campion - August 21, 2014

During my years in the Fellowship, whenever the news reported a scandal involving a church or cult, we Fellowship members were quick to draw distinctions and reassure ourselves that the Fellowship bore little resemblance to these other misguided, and often criminal, organizations.

Now it is impossible to watch a story such as the one below and not see the many similarities.

Cult of Horrors

122. brucelevy - August 21, 2014

121. Tim Campion

Thanks Tim. I would say, in my personal experience, that the video pretty much represents Robert and men (boys), in the late 70’s and early 80’s (when I left) about 85-90% of the dynamic shown in the video. I suspect most “gurus” folow the same dynamic to exploit their sheep.

But, as I understand it, it progressed to an even more grotesque degree after I left.

Robert Stolzle - August 21, 2014

Tim–and others,
I read the transcript you posted and find the parallels with the FoF compelling. One of the things that continues to perplex me is how these “leaders” like RB manage to persuade and mislead so many people. The character in the video would seem to me to have an even less “interesting” or compelling basis for his cult than burton, yet he continued to prosper.

I inquired here before about people’s ideas on how RB continues to roll along and most seemed to feel that his overwhelming narcissism and self regard and the help of his minions were a major factors. It seems to me that humans as a species are programmed to live in groups and to select leaders who display the greatest level of self confidence. Some of the traits displaying this confidence would probably include speaking ability, absence of obvious nervousness, quick, cogent answers, existing followers or, at the beginning, the opportunity to be in the “inner circle” and finally, “pretty” also helps. (Recent genetic research indicates that there is a correlation between genetic “soundness” and a pleasing balance of facial features—the prom queen is indeed special.)

None of this answers the question of how to avoid cults in the first place, how to dissuade people from joining or even how to dismantle the FoF. I would propose a “red flag” an acolyte might consider: Is this charismatic person who is promising some type of intangible salvation in return for my obedience also requiring some sort of unusual behavior. There are many groups that fit this description, but the lack of any democratic oversight of the leadership or the group’s guidance should send up a red flag. Finally, I believe that RB’s mental instability will eventually lead to the demise of the FoF and efforts to tip his fragile balance could be effective. He has already outlived his own predictions of his demise and will, in any event, be dead in a few years. If there is any afterlife, he must surely be set to suffer the injustices he perpetrated here.

Bob Stolzle

123. Parson Yorick - August 22, 2014

R. Stolze wrote: “Archer, et al-Are there any of the Fourth Way concepts and ideas that don’t seem to be entirely science fiction to you now?”
Maybe this is not precisely the sort of thing you had in mind, but Gurdjieff’s assertion that periodically people “go crazy” and begin destroying each others’ existence along with everything that they’ve built over the centuries does not seem like sci-fi to me.

124. duncan shockley - August 23, 2014

I looked briefly at the article attributed to Asaf in the beginning of this section. It is the same exact pattern that R has used since the early days of the FOF. Finding some Formatory Intellectual type who can go on and on about the same words and topics Ad infinitum.
I have met people in life who scam others. One characteristic some of these types seem to have is known as “blowing smoke up your ass”. Whenever they are around a cloud of confusion sets in and cause and effect seem to be distorted, common sense suspended and fantasy runs rampent. It seems that only when these people are removed does it become clear as to who did and is doing what to who.
Robert and the line of mechanical shills which when I was in the Fellowship were Miles, then Gerard and whoever came after before Asaf all follow the same pattern. Real limited intellectual types who serve as Roberts apologists. It is not so much that what they teach is in error it is simply limiting and biased to promote Roberts agenda.
Certain key ideas in Gurdjieff’s presentations on “awakening” have been removed or minimized. The idea of a unique individual developing through their own understanding and efforts is minimized.
It is not a question of the right doctrine but the right questions. To find something real for oneself and then to be true to that understanding and follow where it leads.
There was a book called “Zen and the art of motorcycle repair”.
It stresses the importance of finding our own path of living our own truth.
I do not regret my experience in the FOF any more than I do the general level of ignorance I existed in as a youth. Retrospect is a powerful tool but it always need be tempered by the absolute acceptence of all that was and is just as it is.
There is nothing remotley unique about con men fleecing ther victims by manipulating their goodness.There is and probably always was and will be crime commited in the name of love, goodness and peace.
To me the most important asp3ect of being in the FOF is why was I attraced, why did I stay and why did I leave. In the 4th way language if it is true that as I am I have almost nothing but a false personality then it follows that the FOF need appeal to False personaity and feed it in order to attract and retain students.
So for me it comes back to me. Knowing who I am and what I am capable of for better and worse. It is not and never has been a question of becoming something but of being something. Unity is not some strange concept but the simplest possible experience of knowing and accepting all parts of my being. What else could it be?”

125. Arthur Brooks - August 23, 2014

I think Burton said homosexuals find His School a good hiding place. He wasn’t lying about that. And, I think “self observation” after three life times comes “self-remembering” , and then three more life times comes “awakening”. I have a new Guru that I listen to daily in between other on-line things, Alan Watts, deceased but interesting. Oh, Well, I still have multiple life-times to just let things happen.

126. nevasayneva - August 25, 2014

re 125 “I think Burton said homosexuals find His School a good hiding place. He wasn’t lying about that.”
Sounds a bit homophobic.

127. Arthur Brooks - August 25, 2014

re 126 my mistake was saying, “I think”. He did say it in one of his slick journals. Don’t be so sensitive twinkle eyes.

128. Arthur Brooks - August 25, 2014

I forgot. Some of those deep thoughts from the slick Journals came not from Burton himself, as they say. So maybe one of his henchmen said it.

Robert Stolzle - August 25, 2014

Parson, Duncan, Arthur, Tim, et al-
I just revisited the “Ark in Time”/Braverman website again and was taken by the emphasis on the Gurdjieffian claims that the Fourth Way had roots in “ancient knowledge”. Did any of you posting here really believe that? I have written here before that my understanding today is that since all religious belief deals with humans and the same basic subjects, that they necessarily have commonalties. But, just because the sun is the source of all life on the planet and ancient people recognized its importance doesn’t establish a “connection” between the ancient Egyptians and my personal theology.

I have read some good arguments that Gurdjieff borrowed heavily from Karl Jung and William James, a couple of the leading thinkers of that day and have to concede that he pretty much cobbled the Fourth Way together with the help of Ouspensky. It used to be said that Gurdjieff was a “conscious charlatan”…..aren’t they all?

Archaeology is a complete science dedicated to understanding ancient people and their civilizations and they still don’t understand half of what the Maya were writing about. That Gurdjieff or anyone else could saunter up to some ruin and soak up the knowledge hidden there from everyone else is ludicrous…..as is Braverman. But, he is obviously positioning himself and his “Ark” to take over when RB and the FoF is finished.

When I joined in 1973, I thought the Fourth Way was a compilation and summary of religious teaching and psychological insight. Less generously, it may also be described as a mish-mash of religious hokum and thought manipulation designed to fleece the sheep. Since most of us here more or less feel “fleeced”, I am most interested to find out whether anyone came away from the FoF with some personal gain other than an enhanced sense of wariness and skepticism…..and anger.

“But we all had fun playing with the pencils on the bench”…. Arlo Guthrie (Alice’s Restaurant)
Bob Stolzle

129. nevasayneva - August 25, 2014

re 125-128
you miss my point. Who cares abut the homophobia? that REB has that should not come as a surprise. The continuance of a “Robert said….” mindset was more my point.

130. Parson Yorick - August 25, 2014

I saw plenty of similarity between theosophy and the 4th Way. Maybe there was also some James and Jung, but that almost seems anachronistic doesn’t it? Especially Jung.

131. WhaleRider - August 25, 2014

It is interesting to note that along with William James, and contemporary to G and O, were the “neurologists” of the day (predating the practice of Psychology) like Pierre Janet in Paris, who were researching “automatism” in individuals…as this great man began exploring and charting the workings of the “subconscious” mind, a term he coined.

At the time, many people were gradually awakening to the fact that we possess unconscious, automatic “functions” that can be both physical and psychological in nature. It had nothing to do with being “asleep”; and it was soon discovered that simply being made more aware of unconscious functions was not enough to alter them.

So the stage was set for people like G and O to make a synthesis of old and new ideas of their time…to perpetuate and update the language used in hierarchical and authoritarian cults with “scientific” words like, hydrogens and “laws” of this or that.

They could easily convince their followers that humans have automatic “mechanical” sides of themselves due to these ideas becoming more prevalent, but they went on to lead people (for money) to believe their “system”, known as the Fourth Way, could free a person from their unconsciousness…and better yet, create the soul they were indoctrinated into believing they didn’t possess but could grow using these special methods.

(IMO, Freud also formed a cult around the practice of psychoanalysis in the very same manner. This is how one survived in academic circles back then.)

Now, IMO, a person with NPD and a Christ Complex hearing of this new intellectual idea of “automatism” for the very first time, that there is a part of the mind that functions independently from the conscious mind and who is not Satan, well, their ego might just automatically take offense to the concept that their “angelic” narcissistic personality is not fully in control and exempt themselves from the theory
applying to them, despite any evidence to the contrary.

That person with NPD might just feel inclined to deny the existence of their own subconscious mind altogether by claiming to others that he or she is 100% fully conscious, or enlightened probably from birth, or that all their demons have been thoroughly excised.

They might even establish a defensive delusional “system” of distorted and magical thinking (which they may or may not share with others), placing themselves at the center and reinforcing the notion that everyone else is less conscious of themselves or less special than he or she is.

The person with NPD may even form a cult of supporters in service of his or her personality style, binding subservient followers usually through fear, intimidation, withheld validation, and empty promises.

Such is the backdrop of the fourth way, IMO, and the FOF.

132. Arthur Brooks - August 25, 2014

Maybe all “modern” ideas have roots in “cobbles”. Bible cobbled? FOF cobbled? So I go to the university to become a (anything) and the information I received mostly cobbled. Adding and subtracting, buttoning and unbuttoning. And somehow there is an advance cobbled together.

133. shardofoblivion - August 26, 2014

Robert Stolzle says “I just revisited the “Ark in Time”/Braverman website again and was taken by the emphasis on the Gurdjieffian claims that the Fourth Way had roots in “ancient knowledge”. Did any of you posting here really believe that?” Not so much that it was “ancient knowledge” for me, but I was very taken with the idea there was an Inner Circle of Humanity, and that it was still happening (and therefore that I would have a chance of entering into that special company) That it still existed was what I felt could distinguish the teachings that Gurdjieff came up with, from the many other theories and philosophies of life, all of which may have merit, but I was searching for certainty.Thinking again about the idea now, from the perspective of someone who no longer believes the claims made by the fourth way tradition, the idea of the inner circle of humanity has a clever property. If these conscious men do exist, and in some way guide the course of history, because they are more conscious than the rest of us, it explains why they are not mentioned in history, and no one is aware of who they are. The phrase “The lower cannot see the higher” was used in the FoF as a thought blocking meme, to put a stop to enquiry.

On the topic of how old the Gurdjieff system is, I seem to recall in one place Ouspensky talks about the fact that words like hydrogen, and oxygen are used to describe the chemical factory theory, gives a clue as to where the system came from. He doesn’t spell out what his own conclusions are, but leaves it as an exercise for his students. I remember concluding at the time I first read it, that this showed that the system was concocted very recently, but that that was good news, because it meant that there were conscious people on earth right now, not just in some past golden age. Now I would tend to agree it also gives evidence that the system is “cobbled together”, and is therefore just another theory. Some bits of the system seem to hit the nail on the head. The many I’s for example still seems to correspond to my experience very well. Other bits are profoundly mistaken, including the practice of separating from negative emotions – which I found led to depersonalisation rather than the elevated higher energy state the system suggest it should give.

134. J.D. - August 26, 2014

That’s right, “what better way to show the insanity of FOF to the world than by confronting the convoluted logic of its long time members and leaders?” As they peek through the sect’s bars, they represent a great showcase of oblivion, delusion and denial, and yet… they are not alone.
Imposing the ban not for “breaking the rules” but rather for non-meeting expectations, for supporting deep-throat Bob, for allegedly being insincere, or just because “interacting with them no longer felt like a healthy debate and process of inquiry of spiritual values” (What?) … stinks pretty bad: it smells like those same condemned cultish, stuffy, fofy environments.
“But after a while, they seemed to exult in dominating the blog with nonsensical posts for the sake of crowding out intelligent discourse.”
“The conversations were getting nowhere…”
Are you kidding me? Did you read this blog? All 142 pages of it?

Robert Stolzle - August 26, 2014

Parson, Shard, Arthur and all-

By “cobbled” I meant to suggest that far from the “Meetings With Remarkable Men” experiences that Gurdjieff said were his “Fourth Way” education and the reason HE became conscious; his “system” was a product of the thinking of the day from many likely sources…including Theosophy….and it was a product of his time. The touting of his ideas as ancient knowledge was just a canny lie, although he likely had been reared in the Eastern Orthodox church.

RB obviously understood the power of a canny lie and that a shotgun “angle of thought” will almost always have a couple of “hits” that are meaningful to a few people. So long as the rest of the students just say “Huh?, I do not know what to do with that.” And, so long as “students” assume they are the “dumb ones” the whole confabulated mess will continue rolling along. (and so long as they continue, they are indeed the “dumb ones”—the end of school means leaving it!) In lock step with this is the fact that the non-expression of negative emotions severely limits any reasonable inquiry into the merits of the various crazy ideas that have emanated from Gurdjieff, Ouspensky, burton, et al. Any idea that can’t stand against opposition isn’t worth much.

This may not be relevant to many students—it wasn’t for me; but my mistake was assuming that the misused terminology and kooky ideas were intended as metaphor. Now I’m not so sure, least of all with burton…..but, at least he didn’t try to use chemistry to explain his revelations. Has anyone here plowed through “Beelzebub’s Tales to His Grandson” and come away with a better understanding of themselves and the world around them? I contend that the book is impossible and was set in place as the ultimate, unattainable hurdle—“Well, just how enlightened can you be if you can’t understand “the Teacher’s” finest musings? Better stick around another year or so….” Also, since obfuscation causes confusion and confusion is a high state, then all is well in FoF land.

Bob Stolzle

135. Mick - August 26, 2014

Now this is just opinion so don’t get your panties in a bunch. There is evidence that Gurdjieff did travel to Tibet and elsewhere in the East where he gained some spiritual instruction and learned esoteric dance and probably was legitimate at some level and not just a con. Ouspensky learned some things from Gurdjieff. Burton registers below scale and should do the world a favor and exit, the sooner the better.
P.S. J.D. The moderator does all the moderating, not the posters.

136. shardofoblivion - August 27, 2014

Mick says “There is evidence that Gurdjieff did travel to Tibet and elsewhere in the East where he gained some spiritual instruction and learned esoteric dance and probably was legitimate at some level and not just a con.” and sure enough my panties are all in a bunch 🙂 I don’t doubt that Gurdjieff traveled and sought and received instructions from various spiritual heavy weights. I think it is very likely that he was sincere, and in that sense not just a con. But that doesn’t detract from the fact that in my opinion he was profoundly mistaken in his world view, and that his system is a hodge podge of various traditions, and despite his claims to the contrary, requires of its followers an abandonment of rational criticism in favour of a faith based attitude to the teachings themselves. So my main criticism would be that he believed his own nonsense, about creating higher being bodies by accumulating higher hydrogens through assiduous practice of the first and second conscious shocks.

137. brucelevy - August 27, 2014

136. shardofoblivion

Yeah, right, whatever.

138. WhaleRider - August 27, 2014

So probably Gurdjieff learned about hierarchical authoritarian cults and different religious sects traveling in Tibet…or Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan or possibly India. What does that prove? How does that make him legitimate?

(With all their centuries of religious mystification, the Tibetan Lamas still weren’t able to stop the eventual Chinese invasion of Tibet. And they didn’t dematerialize or levitate into the clouds to escape the Communists; they ran on foot like everyone else or they hopped on their Yak.)

Apparently G didn’t stayed very long in Tibet, either, spending time learning the nuances of their complex religion, slowly working his way up the ranks as disciples are expected to do, evolving and maturing like a fine wine. No, sir. G saw what he wanted see, left Tibet or where ever he was, and sought to start his own cult with himself at the center.

And along the way he learned how remarkably easy it was to cheat gullible tourists by selling painted local birds as “American Canaries” to fund his journey.

So where did the dances come from?

Anyone who has attempted to plow through “Beelzebub’s Tales” knows the guy had a vivid imagination!

I suspect the following: since G was Armenian and lived not too long after the Turkish genocide of Armenia, then it’s plausible he wasn’t too impressed by tranced-our whirling Turkish Dervishes mechanically spinning in circles to create higher states of consciousness…so he decided to do the “opposite”, the antithesis of what he saw…he choreographed a series of intentionally complex movements that were supposed to produce a state of heightened self-awareness due to their difficulty instead of a trance and convince others he had the key to enlightenment and immortality…that it was somehow better to discretely put a pebble in your shoe and go about your business with more self-awareness than to spend hours and hours meditating upon your navel in a cave or spinning like a top.

He exploited the public’s new fear of the automatous unconscious mind with its many “I”s and hidden agendas, and convinced his followers that he could help them become more “conscious” and “unified”…plus they get to keep their days jobs, because there are dues to pay.

All he needed was O to come along and add the “science” part before he could go mainstream in Europe and make the big bucks. Which he did.

Robert Stolzle - August 27, 2014

Mick, Shard, Whale and all-
Ouch! Ouch! Ouch!, Ya got me knickers in a twist on me “nads”! G likely did travel and got some or most of his ideas from various religious and spiritual traditions. It’s also OK that he incorporated his own notions to create “THE FOURTH WAY!!!” TA DA! I even confess to having gotten something out of my four year stint; perhaps not as much as from the next four years, but all in all an interesting time. But, that is just me and my grinching is all about the various lies (like the connection to ancient knowledge …making fire with a stick? or the cognoscenti who run the world…billionaires!) that have been concocted in support of these groups, especially our old alma mater, the FELLOWSHIP OF FRIENDS!

Today, I don’t consider these purveyors of spiritual redemption to be any more than hucksters selling the latest, greatest, eat all you want and still lose weight! diet program. They aren’t really trying to help anyone but themselves and the fact that a small percentage of the followers does usually get better (see “spontaneous remission”) is not a verification of their message or methods….. and eating less is always good. Only the target audience is different. As any TV evangelist knows, selling spiritual salvation is great because how do your followers ever know they made it unless they die and then they can’t make payments any more…..you can still leave us your house, though. IMO membership in the FoF had one benefit and that was living with people who generally tried to apply and share the Fourth Way ideas and practices in a straightforward, honest manner. RB and his favorites obviously had an underlying agenda, but just like the military, my “friends in the trenches” really were friends and spreading “the teaching” worldwide, building the vineyard and collecting overpriced dishes was just an expensive side show and of no interest to me. Really! In hindsight, you could take burton (remember the burton/burden angles he liked) with a pound of salt and still not have enough.

I remember (does anyone else) burton, at a Skyline Church meeting surmising that “Gurdjieff was a conscious charlatan”. THAT gave me pause, since the implications for the FoF were pretty important. He also pontificated that Gurdjieff’s school was “the way of denial” while the FoF was the “way of love”….lots more fun…..didn’t quite catch his drift at the time, though. Everyone was soon busy reading C.S. Lewis’s “The Four Loves” and trying to fit those ideas into the operation of the FoF. Anyone here remember when love would conquer all? Try to avoid “manifesting your TRAMP FEATURE”, though. On that subject, one thing I learned from Gurdjieff that I can, in my old age, say I have VERIFIED! is that sex underlies and drives about 90% of our human behavior (Ya gots to reproduce or go extinct!) Love?…… maybe not so important in the long run….

Bob Stolzle

139. WhaleRider - August 27, 2014

G probably observed all the “selflessness” of Eastern religions and spirituality during his travels, and rather than integrate into the religions to which he was exposed and possibly losing his inflated sense of self by submitting to the authority of another…being a young man intent upon making his mark on the world, he hit upon the opposite idea of “self remembering” instead as the key to enlightenment.

He then started his own cult with himself in the center…because that’s what narcissists do.

You know, it dawned on me today that one of the “natural” ways to heal the narcissism of our youth is to step back from our rebellious teenage hatred of our parents and muster the compassion to take care of our parents as they age, become sickly, and die. This process can help to humanize our narcissistic tendencies, especially if we still have an emotional connection to our parents, whom we have internalized as part of ourselves. It forces us to see, up close and personal, the part of life and of ourselves we don’t want to see which is terrifying to a narcissist, death.

This natural process becomes compromised when a person joins a cult and is indoctrinated to disown his or her family of origin.

In that instance, it would be more likely that the follower’s narcissism and dependency would increase instead of diminish, especially being subject to such a traumatizing narcissist like burton.

Witness how poorly the FOF handles the elderly followers who become “unsightly impressions”…in part because burton never made it through that stage with his parents whom he inhumanely regarded as “sleeping machines”.

For a follower, the guru doesn’t ever die either, they are “transformed” to the “next level of existence” from which the “immortal” guru continues to exert influence…in the follower’s head…just as we might imagine our dead parents or relatives doing.

140. Fee fi fo fum - August 28, 2014

The discussion of I in the sky and Nevermind’s being banned is at the end of page 133, beginning of 134.

141. Barbara - August 28, 2014

Dear WhaleRider, you are a pillar in my recovery…. 🙂

Dear Tim, your always centered and compassionate word in the middle of the raging is too…

I love you my friends


142. Barbara - August 28, 2014

So, Bonita was liberal and brave enough to show her chiches out but compromised when she observed R cheating…

Robert Stolzle - August 30, 2014

Mostly Everyone Here-
I just read through most of pages 133-134 per Fee’s post to see what the FoF supporters had to say—nothing much—and saw postings by Ames Gilbert. His exposition on Nov. 29, 2012 of the later workings of the FoF is on page 134, #4 and very well done. I had never come across that name in my short time here and wonder if he still posts on this blog?

His and others exposition of burton’s bizarre sexual indulgences speaks to a very sick mind that could never benefit anyone. He needs to be in an institution. As I have indicated before, having left in 1977 and perhaps not being his type, I didn’t encounter this sordid behavior, but it was still obvious then that he was beyond passing strange and it seems the whole organization went to hell soon after.

I am curious as to how burton backpedaled his “End of Mankind” on December 21, 2012 prediction. I would have thought that failure would have adequately shown the emperor to have no cloths if anything would. So how did that prediction get explained away? “Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me.”

Back on July 28 on this page, posting #2, Amanda Raphaelson told of Bonita Hightower’s (Guido) death on July 24 in Denmark. Someone had posted here that they thought she had started her own Fourth Way school in Denmark. Is that true and how did it work? And what was the lawsuit she filed against burton way back when?

Lastly, after reading through most of pages 133-134 and finding some good expositions of the FoF, it occurred to me that it might be a useful enterprise to collate the best of the postings and make them more readily available at one place that could be more easily reviewed by prospective FoF students or others with questions. I understand that it would be a big undertaking and too time consuming for one person but, if there is a system that would allow bloggers here to review and nominate the best postings, it might be workable. It is too daunting an effort for a curious visitor to wade through all the years of verbiage here and realize that the FoF is going to be a waste of time and money and soul, i.e., the denying force is too great……

Bob Stolzle

143. Parson Yorick - August 30, 2014

I went back to Page 134 to see what Ames Gilbert had written and found this quite delightful piece of prose: “He may use your body for his sexual pleasure. He will travel widely at your expense. He will dress in the finest and most expensive clothing, silken underwear, drink wine worth hundreds of dollars at every meal, drive the best cars, travel first class everywhere, and give rich gifts to his lovers—while he favors them—all from your earnings. His followers exist to hang on every word, gratify every whim, and worship him as, in his own words, ‘the brightest light in 2,000 years’.” Why did I pick that out? I picked it out because it resembles in its syntax and rhythms the prose of that other Robert Burton, the one who lived from 1577 to 1640 and wrote “The Anatomy of Melancholy.” I don’t claim to have read the entire “Anatomy” (who has?) but years ago when I left the school I made a point of reading the section, 80 or so pages long, that “old” Burton devotes to Religious Melancholy. I think it’s apposite here because it’s theme is how religious aspirations drive people to do really crazy things. Here is a typical passage from “old” Burton, for comparison to what Ames posted back in 2012: “We have women politicians, children metaphysicians; every silly fellow can square a circle, make perpetual motions, … interpret Apocalysis, make new theories, a new system of the world, new logic, new philosophy, etc. Nostra utique regio, saith Petronius, ‘Our country is so full of deified spirits, divine souls, that you may sooner find a god than a man amongst us,’ we think so well of ourselves…”

My other comment arising from going back to those old posts from a couple of years ago is that there were young men, even among those who were invited to stay at the Blake Cottage when they visited Rennaissance who never fell victim to Robert’s sexual predations. Possibly they were eventually “uninvited.” Was I the only one?

144. Tim Campion - August 31, 2014


Thank you for your kind remark.

Robert Stolzle,

Bonita Guido (later, Hightower) and Hallstein Farestveit founded The Linbu Society. On the Greater Fellowship site, B. Belsen discusses the history of the group, and his experience as a member. (There are also some articles about Linbu on the internet, but most are not in English.)

If you haven’t already, check the Robert Earl Burton blog, linked in the Blogroll at the top of the page. It attempts to organize, in the form of a timeline, some of the material from these 142 pages.

Parson Yorick,

You weren’t the only one.

145. Barbara - August 31, 2014

…when Bonita offered the $4K, R said… that is too much for a single person…

146. Associated Press - August 31, 2014

Robert Stolzle,
See also:
Res Ipsa Loquitur
link at top of page.
Although compiled a few
years ago, it is a
distillation of the key
materials on the blog
at the time.

Robert Stolzle - September 1, 2014

Couldn’t find Res Ipsa Loquitur. What am I doing wrong? No shortage of negative info on burton & the FoF, though. Is there any organized strategy to dismantle the whole sordid mess?
Bob Stolzle

147. Associated Press - September 1, 2014

Sorry, the link reads:
‘It speaks for itself’
which is what the term:
‘Res Ipsa Loquitur’ means.
Try this:
You can also click on my
name which, in this post,
is an active link.

148. Parson Yorick - September 1, 2014

“Sorry, the link reads:
‘It speaks for itself’
which is what the term:
‘Res Ipsa Loquitur’ means.”
I guess you needed to be Roman Catholic or to have gone to law school! 🙂

149. thomas judd - September 3, 2014

just recently found site.still familiarizing myself with past postings.I opps was member for two years and left approx. 9 years ago mainly due to dues increase.$150 to $400 plus monthly. I was unaware of all the back door dealings,pun intended.Only became aware of rbs playing for the other team maybe 6 months before my departure.It was somewhat disconcerning but had no inkling as to the extent and depravity.

Robert Stolzle - September 3, 2014

Parson, AP, Whale, et al,

Yep, that went right by me….kinda wish I’d never asked, though. Spent most of an evening reading through part of it and left feeling guilty for ever having been a member of the FoF and supporting burden. I kinda feel left out, too…..but thats OK!

Now, I just think that burden deserves everyone’s revenge but, “Vengeance is mine saith the Lord.” Never hurts to help things along, though. Actually, I cannot imagine anyone looking at the “It Speaks For Itself” postings and still even considering joining the FoF. I wouldn’t have and I was as green as grass. The blog must be having an effect. There is nothing but downside to joining…. and yet it seemingly prospers.

A couple of questions:
Stella said burden was an Arkansas hillbilly. Any ideas about whence he came and when? One posting said Momma lived in Sacramento and her place was cared for by the farm slaves….she must have been a piece of work, too. I remember burden saying how he visited her in the hospital during his “task of silence” period and how he managed to not speak, even though “she lay dying”. Ever the drama queen. Any sense of her? And, where was Daddy? Another immaculate conception?

Burden was kicked out of Horn’s illegitimate group in 1967—-I saw their show once and it WAS painful to watch—-, but he didn’t meet Bonita Guido until Christmas 1970. Was he supposedly planning on starting the FoF in that period or did the opportunity just fall into his lap? What he be doin’? One posting said he was a Fourth grade teacher at some point……good practice for the FoF.

I feel your pain-
Bob Stolzle

150. Parson Yorick - September 3, 2014

I have often wondered why people stay in the FofF after they know more about the organization. There are some terms from literary theory that offer some insight. These are called “meta-narratives” or “totalizing narratives.” They are the same thing. The FofF is and was a prime example. Within the narrative there was an explanation for everything you might experience. If you had doubts, those became “doubt-I’s.” Those who left the school didn’t leave on their own volition; rather C-influence had expelled them. There was also the expression “the I’s are just lies.” (Rhyming is a great rhetorical device and as with all rhetorical devices their persuasiveness and truth-value are completely unrelated.) Of course there were many more examples. Another example of a totalizing narrative is that used by some Christian sects (I’ll be generous here and limit it to “some Christian sects”). For example, “if you have doubts, it must have been The Devil who put them into your head, because he wants your soul to burn forever.” I had trouble getting out of that particular totalizing narrative when I was seventeen or so. And now I’ve had enough economics to suspect that neo-classical economic theory (the dominant theory of our time) is also a totalizing narrative. What these all have in common is that you must step outside “the narrative” to see its flaws. I had difficulty in stepping outside the FofF narrative for a time. (Also, I liked the concerts, the food, the wine and a few of the people.) The catalyzing factor for my getting out, as I have said before – perhaps to the point of nausea, was reading Herman Melville’s novel “The Confidence Man.” The last chapter of that novel concerns itself with apocryphas, apocalypses and the need for a “counterfeit detector.” There was more, but I’m limiting my discussion in the interest of brevity.

In agreement with what R.S. said above, “the thing speaks for itself” makes stomach-churning reading.

151. thomas judd - September 4, 2014

Looking at old postings on Animam Recro I see reference to the sequence?Did this have something to do with the 30 steps on the ladder or 30 work I’s?I have vague recollection but me brain be fuzzy. I agree Beelzebub is a hard read but I find it an incredible insight into the human species.It voiced many feelings of my own as well as providing a host of new ideas.

152. shardofoblivion - September 4, 2014

Some thoughts regarding the sequence. Recent neurological research has suggested that consciousness itself is a very limited bandwidth phenomenon, around 20 bits per second, whereas the visual system is producing millions of bits per second. As a result it is possible to produce unusual states if consciousness is held motionless by some verbal or arithmetical tasks, or paying attention to the breathing as in vipassana meditation.

153. Jomo Piñata - September 4, 2014

Robert Stolzle/September 3, 2014

You may find the information at this link to be of some interest:


154. WhaleRider - September 4, 2014

Welcome Thomas Judd. Consider yourself lucky you left the cult after a relatively short amount of time. Yes, the so-called, “sequence” are the 30 canine commands, AKA “work “I”s”.

Heel. Sit. Beg. Lie down. Roll over….

Thanks to Parson Yorrick for the literary concept of “totalizing narrative”. Spot on.

Why do people stay in the cult after they learn the truth about burton’s rape factory?

It’s the same reason novice investors lose money in the stock market. It’s called, the “Disposition Effect”.

155. Barbara - September 4, 2014

RE: 172. Ms. Lew Neal – July 15, 2014
“…Also will make an appointment with Eric Vodden (Appeal-Democrat) tomorrow. We’ll see who’s who in this game of banditos!”

Any news Lew?

The appeal democrat has, obviously, “a horse in the race” as Tim expressed it….

156. Bares Reposting - September 8, 2014

Warning, this is long post.

The Sequence:

The Sequence is a method/process to promote and prolong presence.
(Every religion must have its key method(s).)
It is a series of 6 single syllable words that have specific and certain meanings (Work I’s); like this:
be, hold, x, back, x, BE
where x is a single syllable word chosen from a list of 30 imperishable Work I’s (not already in the sequence),
according to the activity one is experiencing in the moment:
30 imperishable Work I’s:
1. Be (Be present)
2. Hold (Prolong presence)
3. Pray (Use the thirty work I’s)
4. Back (Beware of the King of Clubs)
5. Turn (From imagination to work I’s to presence)
6. Peace [Pax] (Avoid the entire spectrum of negative emotions)
7. More (More effort)
8. Act (Engage Presence)
9. Leave (Avoid identification)
10. Kneel (Do not resent friction)
11. Drop (Do not judge or keep accounts)
12. Use (Use voluntary suffering)
13. Wit (Avoid wit)
14. Now (Think neither of the past nor of the future)
15. Look (Look with presence)
16. Hear (Listen with presence)
17. Touch (Feel with presence)
18. Taste (Taste with presence)
19. Smell (Smell with presence)
20. Move (Move with presence)
21. Talk (Speak with presence)
22. Think (Think with presence)
23. Read (Read with presence)
24. Write (Write with presence)
25. Child (Remain in essence; avoid false personality revolving around chief feature)
26. Serve (Do not inner consider, externally consider)
27. Scale (Use scale and relativity)
28. Aim (Keep aim and complete octaves; Be aware of third forces)
29. Time (Remember the brevity of life)
30. Be (Be present)
(This, of course, is dated material from a few years ago and may be different now since I am no longer an FoF member. It is supposed to be ancient, going back to prehistoric times, so, time passage should be somewhat inconsequential.)
There is also a breathing exercise that accompanies the use of the Sequence. Telling all of this and posting it here could be seen as sacrilegious by FoF. It is secret and metaphysical.

Start reading the older blog here:

‘February 24th, 2007
About the sequence:
In 1930, Mr. Ouspensky commented, “I am still certain that there is a great source from which our system has come. Mr. Gurdjieff must have had contact with that source, but I do not believe it was a complete contact. Something is missing, and he has not been able to find it. If we cannot find it through him, then our only hope is to have a direct contact with the source; our only hope is that the source will seek us out. That is why I am giving these lectures.”

Five years later, in 1935, Mr. Ouspensky realized that, “Something is missing in the system. If man is meant to remember himself there must have been some simple method, but it has been lost. I could never find it. Once in India, I heard an echo of such a method. If you find the method you may find the source.”

So Robert found the missing piece. It’s the Sequence! It consists of “6 immortal prescious work I’s”, used in a specific order, like a mantra. It starts with the short “be” and ends with long “be”. You have to say it, intoning it correctly, repeat it, and you’ll be present.There was also extensive studying of “intoning the sequence”, “anatomy of the sequence”, “turbulence in the sequence”, “guarding long be”, “middle coming”, “coming in firmly with be”, etc. Prior to this Robert “found” 30 work I’s, lists of which were changed many times before finally he settled on a final version.

“Robert began experimenting with reaching long BE in a few steps and soon after heard a definitive quotation from the Philokalia: “We attain freedom from sin (imagination) in six steps.” He then looked for confirmation of this from other schools and found precisely that. For example, the six-stepped pyramid of Saqquara, the Jewish creation of the world in six days followed by a day of rest, Jesus ascending the mountain after six days and experiencing the transfiguration, and Muhammad ascending six levels of heaven and reaching the seventh. With this, Robert formulated and refined the sequence.”

Basically, Robert now sees meaning in everything and counts things around him. Numbers game. Students do this too – count words in sentences, objects, people, also notice pyramid shapes in things, and do the sequence.

Hope that helps with your question.’


‘March 3rd, 2007
Robert has finally arrived at the sequence, which has been refined through his and others use over the last several months. In its current iteration, one intones internally six of the thirty in this sequence with a space of about one breath, followed by four wordless breaths for a total of ten:


The theme is selected from a small subset of the thirty, other than the four that are fixed. The idea is to try to do as many sequences as possible in series. One would only use sequences at times when one would normally be in prolonged imagination, usually when alone or with someone you are not talking to but enjoying each others presence instead. This is why the theme comes from just a subset of the thirty. In other situations, such as a conversation, the work I talk (speak with presence) could be used individually to remind one where it would be silly in a situation where one would use a sequence. The theme I use the most is look:


Of course if you just try to do sequences, nothing will happen. It will not work as has been pointed out. And yet for me, this somewhat superficial reconfiguration of my efforts to remember myself, especially in conjunction with the looking and listening exercises, has been miraculous. My efforts produce more experiences with prolonged presence and I remember to make the effort more often. I can honestly say that the sequence has increased the effectiveness of my efforts by at least a magnitude. Very exciting times!’


‘March 10th, 2007
Not Sequence, dummy;
Sequins: what gay people
wear on their garments
to get your attention,
as if they cannot get
it otherwise.

(This is not intended
to be gay bashing or
hateful blogging;
just making a metaphor.
A rose by any other name
would smell as sweet.)

Please be aware that
Sequins is these shining
little round sew-on adornments
to clothing that are designed
to reflect light in a sparkling
sort of way; often worn by
performers when on stage.
Sequins is Empoorer’s
New Clothes: finest
garment ever made.
No different from
earlier new clothes.
Shhssh! do NOT tell
Empoorer about the
nakedness. (Or, else!)

Do not make the mistake
that this reflected sequins light
is in any way a substitution
for that all-so-much-more real
inner light that shines into
your body through your
third eye. 3rd eye light takes
you nearer who u r, your true
identity as body of light.
Look in this Mirror of Light.
See it instead of Sequins.
Then you find truth; may be,
may c. Do it now……..
Self-Remembering who u r.

R U? M I? I M U R!
Very cleaver, looks like new sequins, hmm?’

You can go to each blog page and search the page, if you know how to do that, for the word: ‘sequence’ and quickly navigate through them by skipping over what does not seem interesting or what irrelevant search results come up. That is better than reading over page after page.

* * * * * *

A final observation on this subject:
The Way, The Path, or whatever one’s spiritual journey holds for one, is the thorn one uses to remove ‘the thorn of life’ that is stuck in one’s side. If one is not careful, then there might be two thorns stuck in one’s side. 😉

* * * * * *

157. Tempus Fugit - September 9, 2014

So if the “Sequence” led to higher consciousness than Burton would be a conscious man, and where’s the evidence of that?

Sure, we can’t directly see another person’s internal state, but our behavior generally shows who we are inside.

The literature about “enlightened beings” generally indicates some superior performance in the real world, such as verifiable demonstrations of unusual powers, religious leadership, artistic or literary creativity, exceptional charity, and so forth.

And what do we have from Burton? Number games, failed prophecies, and treating male followers like his personal harem.

Evidence of many things, but not enlightenment.

158. Tempus Fugit - September 9, 2014

Hi everyone – lots of great posts recently. Thanks to all of your contributions the rotten core of the FOF is being kept front and center, as it should be.

I’ve been checking in regularly but having a busy busy month. I want to especially thank Fee fi fo fum for the comments directed to me in post 119 on this page.

Fee fi fo fum, no offense was taken at all, but I would like to make a few comments in response:

1) How can anyone “dominate” the blog?

If someone gets really out of line the moderator does a great job of bringing them back in line.

Otherwise, if I’m not interested in someone’s remarks (including you, Someone), I just skip over that post(s). Usually doesn’t take too long.

The recent discussion of whether or not Burton is more sociopathic or narcissistic or whatever, for example, was boring to me so I just scrolled down, and kept scrolling down.

If you were part of that exchange and take my remarks personally that’s a problem – for you, no one else.

What happened with “I in the Sky” and his/her buddies was that people here took the arguments personally and got offended and excited rather than seeing the rantings of sad people mentally compromised by years of lying to themselves.

2) Why I thought seeing their insanity was useful.

I like to think that anyone reading this blog will not have to read more than a few posts to see the truth about Burton and the FOF – so let the Burton loyalists rant away, whether they identify their membership status or not.

FOF members or sympathizers have alleged a number of times that most posters on this blog are simply bitter malcontents dredging up events long past.

So seeing the dishonesty and lack of human decency expressed by active members in real time provides an especially powerful condemnation of the FOF and any claim of spiritual validity.

Seriously, I think we should invite them back.


119. Fee fi fo fum – August 20, 2014
109 Tempus Fugit

I wanted to add that I didn’t mean to quash your sentiment in your post #109, where you said:

“After all, what better way to show the insanity of FOF to the world than by confronting the convoluted logic of its long time members and leaders?

“If they are willing to defend their beliefs and engage in discussion, why don’t we reach out and invite them to join in again?”

It’s just that, after a few months of several people interacting with I in the sky, it no longer felt like a healthy debate and process of inquiry of spiritual values. Instead, the exchanges degenerated into quick roadblocks on their part. True, their responses did indeed “show the insanity of FOF to the world.” But after awhile, they seemed to exult in dominating the blog with nonsensical posts for the sake of crowding out intelligent discourse. At that point, one says, “Enough.” Of course, maybe a new incarnation of I in the sky will appear, and we’ll have another go at it.

159. Associated Press - September 9, 2014

157. Tempus Fugit:
‘And what do we have from Burton? Number games, failed prophecies, and treating male followers like his personal harem.’

The last two words, ‘personal harem,’ could be replaced with the word ‘chattel.’

‘Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.
Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?
Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit.
A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.
Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.
Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.’
Matthew 7:15-20

160. Mick - September 9, 2014

Well, I wouldn’t put it past “us”, but “we” would have to be batshit masochistic to “invite” such inane drivel to be posted. Go and read crazy someplace else.

161. brucelevy - September 9, 2014

161. Mick

I’m with you. Every once in awhile someone posts that certain people shouldn’t be banned. Usually it’s people who didn’t sit through the original bull shit, and what it escalates into. If you’re that interested in what they have to say, just go back and read it. It never changes. It’s either the same bull shit arguements or the same personal attacks. If I had to sit through this crap again I’d be the fuck out here.

162. thomas judd - September 10, 2014

My thanks for the info about the sequence.I am still laboring through the years of past postings.although it is a labor of love as I feel a kinship with fellow seekers and even more so with ex-present and future fof people. Much gratitude goes to Pavel or the Shiek for getting this whole thing going.

163. WhaleRider - September 13, 2014

I read a sad, sad story not long ago in the New York Times about a Russian child who had suddenly died just a few months after having been adopted by an American couple in Texas.

The tragedy was sensationalized in Russia, and despite any conclusive evidence, the Russian media claimed the child had been abused and killed.

The story had such an effect that a short while later the Russian government voted unanimously to ban all adoptions to America, in part, it was believed, because of all the economic sanctions the US government had placed on Russia during that time.

Given current events, maybe it’s high time to notify the Russian authorities and Russian media about what is happening to their young male citizens whom have been recruited, groomed, promised immortality, and brought to Oregon House, California on bogus “Religious” Visas by the American Gay Sex Cult?

Of course, that would never happen in Russia!

I’m sure Putin, the boys’ parents, and the Russian public would be eager to hear about it, you know, since they have such high moral standards and are entitled to know the truth.


It seems those whom are morally outraged about the lies and unlawful activities of burton and his enablers are being portrayed in public as Fellowship fraud “haters”.


Gee, I wonder how they feel about us?

164. Tim Campion - September 13, 2014

The Fellowship has become the focus of debate in this YubaFoothills.com discussion. “nightshift,” (whom many here know as N.S.) is a most prolific Fellowship agent, and is busy sewing his propaganda across numerous discussions on the site. The Fellowship has a lot at stake this November, and is (almost literally) banking on their friend Randy Fletcher winning the District Supervisor seat.

165. shardofoblivion - September 13, 2014

164 Whalerider If I didn’t know better I’d think you were trying to cause the start of World War Three, Putin would be mad as a snake in a sack if he heard, and might just take out Rice’s Crossing Road with some new fangled completely deniable, high tech disintegration device.
Luckily the Russian secret service haven’t happened across the blog yet, when they do…..

166. Parson Yorick - September 13, 2014

I knew N.S. in the Palo Alto Center. Early on he seemed to be an iconoclastic sort and I liked him. There was nothing sanctimonious about him. But in the months just before I left, he seemed to have become more of a “yes man.” I wonder what changed.

167. Fee fi fo fum - September 13, 2014

158 Tempus Fugit

Some of the conversations with i in the Sky was like talking to someone with dementia. If you’ve ever spent extended time with someone with dementia, then you’ll know what I mean.

The person with dementia can be adamant in their conviction that they make sense, and will argue tirelessly with you to make their point. They’re in their own world with its own logic. It’s like listening to someone’s mind veer off into self-explanatory eddies that satisfy only the person themselves. I’ve heard all sorts of strange explanations that include magical thinking. That’s when you say to yourself, “Enough.” The endless loop doesn’t go anywhere useful. It doesn’t go any where at all.

168. brucelevy - September 14, 2014

165. Tim Campion

I went through most of the posts. It’s not worth jumping in. On one hand you have the FOF sociopaths treading water as fast as they can. On the other hand you have people who intuitively know there’s something fucking wrong, but they have no idea. They wouldn’t believe it if they knew. I don’t think they have the intellect, or why would they be living in fucking OREGON HOUSE? I just leave them to their selves. OH is the anal cyst of California, right behind Linda, the meth capital of NorCal. Just let those FOF fuckers try taking one step further out of Yuba-Sutter, and I promise you ALL the shit is going to come out (and I will persoanlly spill it far and wide). You need to have a REALLY stupid constituency to not see what’s going on,…and Yaba Sutter is that constituency.

169. Tim Campion - September 14, 2014


Does that mean you won’t be attending the 14th annual North Yuba Harvest Festival at the Alcouffe Community Center on Sept. 27-28?

170. brucelevy - September 14, 2014

Tim, you funny man.

171. Drew - September 14, 2014

Bruce, like the friction’ fresh air! I love you, man! (Though man can’t love, of course 😉

172. Drew - September 14, 2014

Meant frickin’ … is spell-correct EVERYwhere now???

173. Barbara - September 14, 2014

Bruce, you may not be aware but the works already expand to Nevada, Placer and beyond…

174. brucelevy - September 14, 2014

What do you mean by “the works”?

175. brucelevy - September 14, 2014

I was specifically referring to making “political” inroads in Nevada County.

176. WhaleRider - September 14, 2014

“It began in Russia, and it will end in Russia.”

~Robert E. Burton
July 24, 2001, St. Petersburg

177. Tim Campion - September 14, 2014

In the YubaFoothills.com forum, Supervisor Stocker commented that it’s “all about the Fellowship wanting the county to rezone their back 800-900 acres, so they can put in a subdivision back there and make a lot of money for the Fellowship.”

This suggests a political motive for The Fellowship of Friends “church” becoming involved in political activism, possibly in violation of IRS 501(c)(3) rules governing its tax exemption.

Fellowship representatives have always portrayed the ongoing political battle as individual “private landholders” fighting for their “property rights,” including the right to subdivide and build on their properties.

IF what Hal claims is true, the Fellowship of Friends corporation may indeed be one of the interested parties driving the political process. And this suggests a reason for the close ties between Fellowship members and candidate Randy Fletcher. Fletcher has campaigned in support of “limited” foothill development, and he promises to press for the construction of New York Flat reservoir (that would likely serve this Fellowship project.) Stocker, on the other hand, has opposed these developments, and has drawn the wrath of Fellowship leaders.

178. brucelevy - September 14, 2014
179. Mick - September 15, 2014

The Fellowship could redeem its unwholesome reputation, become a more responsible member of the community & be the beneficiaries of a lot of assets if only they would get rid of Burton as their ruler before he dies. They could even afford to pay their property taxes. Problem solved.

180. Associated Press - September 15, 2014

Thanks for posting that, Bruce.

‘Illinois pot stop leads to foothills’ bust
. . .
That led the local agents to a 97-plant outdoor grow site, where they arrested Jonathan Fairoaks, 63.
. . .
Fairoaks’ wife, Merry Stehling, 63, was stopped by police in Illinois and found with packaged marijuana in the trunk of a rented car, Horan said. She was arrested on suspicion of transportation of marijuana, conspiracy and possession for sale.

As a result of the seizure and Stehling’s cooperation, the Illinois State Police made a controlled delivery of marijuana to a residence in Philadelphia, where officers seized heroin, hash oil, and $90,000 cash.’

Fairoaks, native to Philadelphia area and, at least at one time – possibly still, a member of FoF, was subject to the Law of Karma.

As Burton used to say:
‘Beauty creates its likeness in those who pursue it.’
[Quoted in this article about FoF:
Trouble Taints a Cerebral Sanctuary
Los Angeles Times, Nov 4, 1996]
A pleasant enough possible truism.

One could likewise proffer this possible truism:
Greed creates its own karmic wake.

That truism will eventually apply to Burton.

[Ironically, Philadelphia is decriminalizing marijuana possession; of small amounts.]

181. WhaleRider - September 15, 2014

Does anyone know if Jonathan Fairoaks and Mary Stehling are current followers of the FOF?

The moral of that story…think global, sell local…even if you don’t make as much money.

182. brucelevy - September 15, 2014

He was busted for growing in the early 80’s also. If I remember correctly he was asked to leave and then later taken back. I don’t know if he’s still a member. I remember the police were amazed at how sophisticated his set-up was back then.

183. ton2u - September 15, 2014

I live in Philly — Fairoaks has a tree service in the area and we had him take a giant elm tree out of the front yard last year. I broached the subject of the FOF with him thinking that he was no longer a member (I remembered him getting busted for growing weed all those years ago in the 80’s and assumed that he never returned to the fold afterward) but in fact, as of last year, as per our conversation he was still a dues paying member of the FOF – had I known before he did the work, I would have hired someone else.

184. brucelevy - September 16, 2014

182. ton2u

When they busted him in the 80’s he was living in an elaborate tree house with hot and cold running water. I think it was in Dobbins.

185. ton2u - September 16, 2014
186. WhaleRider - September 16, 2014

So let me get this straight, Bruce.

A long time FOF follower, with many years of working on himself under his expanding belt, sends his loving wife and business partner, whom is presumably also a FOF follower or was until a few days ago, cross country by herself to sell their weed to a person on the East Coast, presumably not a FOF follower, who also happens to deal in heroin and god knows what else, because they can get a better price than what they might get selling their product to legitimate cannabis dispensaries in their own state of California, free of prosecution from local law enforcement.

And rather than accept responsibility for her own actions, or fuck up as one might say, she turns in her own loving husband with a prior record of cannabis cultivation and also sets up her East Coast connection to take the fall with her, not out of remorse of conscience, but to save her own skin and because misery loves company.

It appears these two ardent FOFers fell prey to their own greed.

Now how evolved is that?

So whom is their role model, the person who teaches others to free themselves from the bonds of so-called, “feminine dominance”, whom also preaches that conscience is for pussies?

I guess they can always claim they were under intense and coercive financial pressure by their church to make the increasingly steep donations…

I bet they are both being very present right now, that’s for sure, as well as their neighbors with gardens of grass of their own, scanning the skies for helicopters hovering over their dinner tables. I hear the sun dried skunk is especially tasty fine! The very best on the planet!

And I’m sure throwing around lots of green sticky cash at the auctions, dinners, and other fund raising events won them both increased status in the FOF and got burton’s divided attention, too, since Mr Fairoaks probably wasn’t on burton’s desert menu.

So how did those two pay their donations?

It begs the question, have followers of the Fellowship of Friends branched out from elder abuse, human trafficking and prostitution into laundering drug money, too?

What next, Hal, bribing politicians?

187. brucelevy - September 16, 2014

Even charming people can be totally devoid of conscience. In fact that’s what allows them to appear charming. More sociopaths.

188. Tim Campion - September 16, 2014

As we learned from Robert Burton, the Fellowship operates not under life’s “mechanical morality,” but under the morality of the immortal gods.

(Thus, they can do whatever they damn well please.)

189. Ill Never Tell - September 16, 2014

Best of my info is that Fairoaks’ wife, Merry Stehling, was not FoF member. I could be wrong.

190. Mick - September 16, 2014

A traffic stop does not ordinarily include a vehicle search. So the original bust could have been a result of a tip-off, suspicious behavior by the driver or police overreach. It would be standard procedure to pressure, threaten & cajole the arrested suspect into betrayal. From the early days the Fellowship chain of command has known that some of the “donations” it collects are from illegal activity. Like corrupt people everywhere they don’t care where the money comes from as long as they get a cut.

Robert Stolzle - September 16, 2014

Yo, Ya’ll-

Interesting turn in the conversation. When I went back to sleep in 1977, pretty much everyone in the FoF was toking up. It was frowned on, but, if I remember correctly, there wasn’t even a “task” associated with smoking dope…..it was just part of a tramp feature and there were a lot of us tramps back then. Did the percentage of stoners change over the years—-there were already enough stiff necked law and order types beginning to run things.

It seems to me that burden’s operating philosophy has always been, “I can do anything I can get away with.”…..and he has! I am sure his superstitions and his belief in the whole C influence thing is because, from meeting Bonita Guido to indulging his lusts with foreign boys, things have pretty consistently gone his way. Somehow, the house of cards that is the FoF remains standing….. and seemingly no one has the capacity to initiate the collapse.

Did I get it right that they want to tear up several hundred acres of vineyard so that burden can sell everyone overpriced building lots? What happened to the ultra premium wines that C influence was going to produce? Viewed from afar, the whole FoF is laughable…..if only it hadn’t hurt so many people.

And now it seems that burdens pretense of being a Fourth Way school has been jettisoned in favor of concocting his own Koolaid. The stories of his pronouncements on the various artifacts “esoteric” meanings are really entertaining and would be laughable if they didn’t also indicate the degree to which his current followers are in his thrall. I am sure that deep in burden’s brain is the thought, “My God, they bought the crazy notion that I am a conscious being, maybe they’ll buy some scrub oak ground and build me a Farm, a Monastery, a Vineyard, an Ark….. my Pleasure Palace!”

I guess I needed the education,

Bob Stolzle

191. paul gregory - September 16, 2014

I was just talking to someone who’s daughter works in a cannabis pharmacy. She didn’t know about the Endocannabinoid System. A world without it is unimaginable. And it’s supposed to be around six to seven hundred million years old, and originated in early oceanic animal life, in sea-squirts and sea-sponges, and other early invertebrate and vertebrate animals. In all animal life since then, so a kind of infinity and eternity of animal life. Slugs and earthworms have this system inside of themselves – that surprised me because I had never considered them as animals before. You have cannabis receptors in your bones, brain, liver, peripheral and central nervous system… you are saturated with it, and endogenously produce Anandamide, which resembles THC, along with a number of other cannabis like substances.
Cannabis is the only plant that has substances akin to the endocannabinoid system. When the ECS formed, there was no cannabis plant – it’s reputed to be around 50 million years old, though there must of been antecedents. It is therefore a contradiction to name something after the plant when it is much older than it. But, to state it again, without these cannabis like substances, produced endogenously, there would be no animal life at all as we recognize it on planet earth. Not a single thing you’d want to hold or touch, but insects. Moths and butterfly’s. God would be homeless.
As with all new things, the significance of this discovery is yet to become a kind of accepted miracle because of the cannabis prohibition. Doesn’t it seem a miracle to you that you have a seven hundred million year old system that’s common to every animal that ever lived, and you are the apotheosis of it? It pays to look deeper into things rather than defer to ‘contempt prior to investigation’, as we generally do. There’s more to it than meets the eye.

192. WhaleRider - September 17, 2014

@Paul Gregory
You undoubtedly won’t find anyone here who will argue with you about the medicinal benefits of cannabis.

But I don’t think Mr Fairoaks and his dutiful wife were driven by pure altruism to grow and transport their product to Philadelphia and hook up with a person who also deals in heroin just to relieve the suffering of the poor people on the East Coast.

Someone please correct me if I’m wrong, according to my sources, 35 pounds of top grade product would sell in California for about $52,500. Their connection in Philadelphia had $90,000 in cash on hand. So they were probably getting almost double the price. God forbid heroin was part of the deal.

And if Mr Fairoaks still has a tree trimming business established in Philly, well, as you can probably guess, it was going to be a good year on the books.

No, this is about trickle down greed from you know who at the top…his lord and master, Robert E Burton.

193. paul gregory - September 17, 2014

I know. I didn’t think I would! Is this guy still in the fellowship then? All of this corruption is ignorance. I wonder if there is a ‘C’ influence connection to the fact of the fellowship being so utterly corrupt? Maybe ‘C’ influence is trying to tell the Fellowship something, but they’re so glued to Hydrogen 12 Robert Burtonism Sequences they’ve lost, slightly, ‘their moral compass?’ Rape, heroin, and a picture of a man, clutching a toy, all alone with only a dog for company in a dark and nightmarish room. ‘In the kingdom of the blind, the one-eyed man is king’.

194. ton2u - September 17, 2014

rather, the blind leading the blind.

195. paul gregory - September 19, 2014

by ‘one eyed man’ I meant his wee-wee, and his strange relationship to other peoples wee-wees when they don’t belong to him. And then it did seem to say a lot about cults, or many of them.

196. Mick - September 19, 2014

The following quote reminded me of a drive I took along Rice’s Crossing Road in July of this year.
“Later, while passing the mansion of a foreign magnate,
he poignantly remarked regarding the obvious greed,
“Lust wants possessions. Love gives possessions.””

197. paul gregory - September 20, 2014

A ‘voyage priveé’. Like the ad’s, but with added ‘possessions’, wine and olive oil tasting. ‘Hydrogen 12’, indeed. Because your worth it. Kerching.

Free the Hydrogen 12.

198. WhaleRider - September 20, 2014

What FOF followers fail to see is that burton needs his followers far more than they need him.

Robert Stolzle - September 20, 2014

That is certainly true, knowing now that we’re every bit as “conscious” as burden, isn’t it a little bewildering that he has made such a fine living promulgating a simple little lie? It seems to speak to human’s need to believe in a magical world beyond the senses and that comes from where? Just because we can imagine something doesn’t make it real.

I’m reminded of an old joke I heard in high school: Out in the sticks an old woman sells smart pills. When you buy them at her house she disappears out the back and returns with a bottle. After several jars, most customers comment that they taste like rabbit shit. To which she replies, “Now you’re getting smart!”

I knew this joke and still joined!

Bob Stolzle

199. Ill Never Tell - September 20, 2014

Robert Stolzle:
‘Out in the sticks an old woman sells smart pills. When you buy them at her house she disappears out the back and returns with a bottle. After several jars, most customers comment that they taste like rabbit shit. To which she replies, “Now you’re getting smart!”‘

You’re sure she didn’t reply:
“You don’t know sh!t!”
That way the customers will think they are not smart enough yet and would want even more ‘smart pills.’

200. Tim Campion - September 26, 2014

Like a good neighbor, the Fellowship of Friends sues Yuba County over tax status. Maybe we could get some volunteers to describe for the Court the typical Galleria Bacchanalia that the Fellowship would have Yuba County taxpayers subsidize.

Robert Stolzle - September 26, 2014

There was a time when it seemed to me that the “tax free church” designation was justified. Now, I’d say that if the FoF can get a tax exemption, so should the Hells Angels and the Tom Cruise Fan Club.

When did burden cook up “the sequence”? No one ever heard of this home made mantra before I left in 1977. Don’t remember ever seeing it in any of my O-G reading either. Anyone here claim any benefit from it?

Wouldn’t it be possible for some of the ex FoFers to testify as “friends of the court” on behalf of Yuba County? Surely burden’s arrogance has caused enough illegal behavior and questionable dealings to start a review of the tax status?

Bob Stolzle

201. Ames Gilbert - September 26, 2014

From the Appeal-Democrat article Tim linked to above (referring to ‘The Academy’):

… The Fellowship closed the property to the pubic and it now “remains exclusively a place of religious worship and ceremonial religious events.”

Ha, ha, ha!

Of course, I have no idea what the layout is now, but for many years after ‘The Academy’ was built, the north wing was devoted solely to the use of Burton, including the ‘emergency escape tunnel’ leading from under the floor of his bedroom. IIRC, there was also a TV/entertainment room, and certainly lots of storage for clothes and shoes. There was the brick-lined cellar where wine was stored, with enough space for two bedrooms used by the ‘boys’ in favor at the time. The south wing contained a kitchen, ‘Wordsworth dining room’, a library, and a couple of rooms decorated with Egyptian furniture, mostly used for Burton and small FoF business meetings, where he gave out the day’s orders.

The main central part consisted of an ornately decorated entrance foyer, and the large events room. On the west side, there were large doors leading to a covered semi-circular portico area, the roof supported with pillars. This was used for outdoors dining, and from there steps descended to the enclosed, rather formal, rose garden.

So, the north wing was devoted solely to Burton’s comforts, and was the scene of many of his ‘religious events’ of a sexual nature. The south wing was also devoted to Burton’s comforts, though followers were invited to share in the dining experience and fruits of the kitchen from time to time (but now also transformed into a lucrative fundraising gig). The cellar held his collection of expensive wines and housed his sexual playthings of the moment. And the main center room was used for concerts and other events, including ’symposiums’ and more prodigious fund-raising.

In reality, pretty much the entire building centered on Burton and the attempt to satisfy his insatiable desires and proclivity for dominance and control.

Admittedly, there were a lot of possessions there, paintings by third-tier artists, gaudy (but always expensive) trinkets that happened to catch Burton’s eye, plenty of ormolu. In various places on the GF site are some photo updates since that time, including one of a fresco on the ceiling celebrating the rampant erection of a particular (and easily recognizable) follower—perhaps caught in a religious sexual ceremony that was particularly memorable for Burton. And there is always the oil portrait of Burton-and-dog as a reminder of the ‘brightest light in 2,000 years if one tires of the rest.

Back to the article. I remember the furor over the Yuba county tax claims on real property—which included the contents—this is usual. Abraham Goldman came up with the scheme to make it into tax-exempt museum. That left a small problem: it was actually mainly the luxurious residence of Conscious Bob. So, Dr. Ethan H., offered his splendid, just completed, residence half a mile away, to Burton (I have no idea what the quid pro quo was). Burton accepted, and the circus had its base there for a number of years, and Ethan rented another house in the meantime.
So the FoF applied for a permit to make it into a museum, ostensibly ‘open to the public’, which AFAIK was a requirement for tax-exempt status. That didn’t sit well (one of the ‘onerous conditions’, I suppose; another may have been a requirement to upgrade the access road to the museum to make it fit for the public to use, I don’t know). Long story short, it didn’t suit the FoF to meet the conditions. Later, Ethan got his house back, and Burton returned to the Academy.

So now the FoF is making what seems to me to be a rather weak claim for a tax refund. This is odd, since they requested the change to ‘museum’ status in the first place. They didn’t meet the terms, which means the county taxed them in the meantime at the usual rate for the value of the building and the contents. Now the FoF wants a post-dated religious exemption. But, if the county wishes to look more closely, they will discover the reality: this is just another facet of the ongoing and illegal inurement. That is, the building is mostly used, IMO, for the pleasure of Robert Burton, not for the benefit of the members of the church, and should not have tax exempt status. Moreover the private use value to Burton should be added to his personal income and taxed as such.

202. nevasayneva - September 27, 2014

Reminder for any current FOF members who may be reading (you never know maybe there are 1 or 2)

If you want to start 2015 on a fresh footing
Next week, Oct 1 you need to not make that payment
Nov 15, you will be 6 weeks “behind”
Dec 31 – 3 months “behind”- you are “released”

Although it is hard to leave these type of organizations, all you have to do is nothing- nothing on Oct 1, Nov 1 and Dec 1, 2014 and before you know it, you will be wake up to a New World on Jan 1, 2015.

203. paul gregory - September 27, 2014

You can always rejoin. God is kind like that. You can rejoin twice, maybe three times. You may make Leonardo cry, but he’ll get over it.

204. Tim Campion - September 27, 2014

In our civilization, ninety percent of the city taxes will remain locally to beautify the city and the rest will be sent to Apollo, the capital. – Robert Earl Burton

So, when “C Influence” directs Yuba County to collect its taxes, how does The Fellowship of Friends react? It sues the county.

Burton has always stressed the “principle of payment.” Yet, when it comes to payment, The Fellowship of Friends is perpetually seeking exemption.

205. Mick - September 27, 2014

More Fun with Payments
1. Ask your “friends” how much their payments are.
2. If they are “on-salary” ask them how much.
3. Shortchange your check by 5%.
4. Be intentionally insincere and tell your friends you are not making payments.
5. Post the results of these experiments.

Thanks Tim & Ames I hope the lawsuit opens the proverbial can-o-worms.

206. Associated Press - September 28, 2014

Thank you:
200. Tim Campion – September 26, 2014
‘Like a good neighbor, the Fellowship of Friends sues Yuba County over tax status. . .’
link to newspaper article. $600,000! sought.

You can Google Map:
‘12607 Rices Crossing Road, Oregon House, CA’
from the article, and see where and what it refers to.

More info:
zillow.com/trulia.com reports:
‘Value: $2,281,334
This is a Farm/Ranch located at 12607 Rices Crossing Road, Oregon House CA. 12607 Rices Crossing Rd has 4 beds, 2 1/2 baths, and approximately 4,480 square feet. The property was built in 1971.’
This may not be entirely accurate.

County property records:
Assessor Parcel Number: 048-260-008-000
Net Value: $3,379,840
Lot Size: 3.1 Acres.
Property Type: Single Family Home.
This may not be entirely accurate.

Thank you:
201. Ames Gilbert
for your perspective.

My perspective:
In my days in Fellowship of Friends (FoF), this location was occupied by a mobile home, called ‘The Blake Cottage,’ and was the primary residence of Robert Earl Burton (REB). Many young men FoF members also lived there, by invitation of REB. They very often were there so REB could have his sex partners close by.

Way back when, a garage addition was made that became the pressroom for printing the FoF publications. Gradually the ‘Academy’ was built on the spot. The bragging rights, at the time, was that The Academy was built on a building permit for a ‘garage addition’ to the mobile home; do not tell anyone about that, least of all Yuba County. 😉 County already probably knows that, but that is the way it was.

Still it was primary residence of REB until, as Ames describes, the circus moved to the Cambridge Circle residence nearby. One reason for the move was The Academy and FoF was seeking museum status and property tax exemption on that basis. REB still used The Academy as if it was his personal property. For museum status certain things were required, like demonstrating that it was open to public for certain days/hours and that people actually came, museum was the primary purpose, not being used as residence, etc. Museum status with property tax exemption did not happen after a few years so REB moved back. That was during the Ming Chinese furniture era.

AFAIK, it has been primary residence of REB since and the harem follows him – many young men FoF members continued to live there. Later another mobile home has placed on the grounds for more boys; called the annex. The ‘Academy’ residence changed names over time and became the focal point of almost all FoF/REB activities in Oregon House.

So, in that sense it is FoF Headquarters but it is also REB’s head quarters, where ‘head quarters’ is defined as:
‘Head: slang term used for a blowjob. Fellatio.’
As REB had/has insatiable lust for performing oral sex on the male FoF members (and, likely, other sexual proclivities).

In case you want to see who is in charge in FoF these days, see this image:

or click on my name above.

207. Parson Yorick - September 28, 2014

Blake cottage was not a mobile home. It was a typical 3 bedroom ranch style. The living room area was sunken. The garage was demolished circa 1981 so the central section of the Academy or whatever it’s called could be built in it’s place.

208. jomopinata - September 28, 2014

N.B.: The Tom Cruise Fan Club, aka the Church of Scientology, actually has a tax exemption. They engaged in a long-term campaign of harassment of the IRS agents assigned to the matter, which culminated (as I understand it) in the agency’s caving and granting the exemption.

They won that battle. But the war ain’t over.

209. Associated Press - September 28, 2014

207. Parson Yorick:
‘Blake cottage was not a mobile home.’

You could be right about that. What I remember is that it was wheeled away and moved to an FoF member’s property off Candlewood Way/past back gate of FoF property.

210. brucelevy - September 28, 2014

The mobile was where the store, hair salon and the architects were. The Blake Cottage (or as we called it The Boy Cottage) was the house described above. But I think it was a 2 Bd rm 2 bath. Unless you count the livingroom where the harem slept.

211. Parson Yorick - September 28, 2014

Most definitely 3 bedrooms. I don’t know about the number of baths. I was never in RB’s bedroom so I don’t know if he had a private bath. I tended to wash dishes at the lodge ’till late on Saturday nights when I visited on weekends. One early Sunday morning I walked in after washing dishes until the last dish was put away and as I was walking up the hall, the door to RB’s bedroom opened and out walked a student wearing just his underwear, whom I recognized (but who’s name I’ve forgotten.) He smiled and turned right into the bathroom. I thought, “now that doesn’t look right.” That is the closest I ever came to figuring out what went on there, which makes me one of the lucky ones.

212. J.D. - September 29, 2014

Message from the Whitman Glen Office:
“Galleria property tax exemption effort”

“Dear Friends,

We would like all of you to be aware of a legal action the Fellowship initiated earlier this week. A suit was filed against Yuba County for the recognition of our Religious Property Tax Exemption for the Galleria. You may read about it in today’s Appeal Democrat front page top or online at the Appealdemocrat.com.

We have tried very hard to work with Yuba County to obtain the religious and welfare exemptions that we are due under the law, but we have been denied at every turn. We are now forced to sue the County, incurring additional legal expenses for both the Fellowship of Friends and the County’s other taxpayers, in order to receive the tax-exempt property status granted to dozens of other religious organizations in Yuba County.

As part of our court filing, the Fellowship is seeking a refund of property taxes that have been erroneously and illegally collected by Yuba County over the last four years. Recently, there has been some misrepresentation by others about our intentions for this property, so we want to be clear: this property is used as our primary place of worship and other ceremonial religious events. Our intention is that this property remains exclusively a place of religious worship and ceremonial religious events. The County should live up to its obligation to provide the Fellowship of Friends with the same property tax exemptions afforded to other places of worship in Yuba County.

Please be advised that now that this is an open case in the courts that we will not be talking about it any further. You may refer any inquires to me at 530-692-2222 ext. 8217 or my cell phone 530-301-2820.

Thank you,
G. H.”

213. Ames Gilbert - October 1, 2014

J.D. (#142-212 or thereabouts),
Thanks for the update on the latest intra-organization propaganda and group thought-orientation exercise. The message is clear: here is the official story, the only story, get with it. Note that, being a Man Number Five, Haven has taken it upon himself to decide precisely when he or the organization can stop talking about it. The trouble is, an observer using the same reasoning could not help but notice that this official letter to all members itself was delivered after it became an open case, thus undoubtedly breaking the implied rule (presumably that a party to the case cannot comment while the case is open?).
Moreover, it has a whiff of witness tampering. If anyone from the FoF is called as a witness during the case, they will have probably already have read the letter and understood what they are supposed to say. Add the knowledge of the liberal permission for ‘Intentional Insincerity™’ that Burton’s religion has clearly espoused from its founding, and an impartial observer might deduce that the chances of the witness telling the truth and nothing but the whole truth approaches 0%. Not to mention the shining example of the low, low standard of truthfulness demonstrated by Burton himself over the last forty-three years or more.

The trouble with this narrative is that it is false. It is no more used as a place of worship for the members than as a museum for the benefit of the general public. Here’s the way I see it.

In a typical 24-hour period when Burton is in residence (that is, not taking a luxurious all-expenses-paid vacation somewhere else), the Academy is, on average, populated only by God Emperor of Oregon House and his harem. It is true that there are other servants floating about ministering to his needs, cleaning, screening his phone calls, preparing meals or arranging flowers, but they are not free agents or visitors. And it is true that various minions scurry in and out on Fellowship business throughout the day, seeking directions and instructions from the Oracle of Apollo. The exceptions are when the gates are flung open for a few hours to host fund-raising; concerts, meals and meetings. Almost all of these are paid events (the lavish scale of payments has been documented extensively previously in this blog), and all the money in effect accrues to Burton to dispose of as he wishes. I make no claims as to whether he pays taxes in the full amount—or at all—on these large sums, but I’m certain that a substantial portion of the take is spent on his personal expenses and those of his entourage.
And when Burton is not in residence, the fundraising activities may continue under the auspices of Asaf Braverman, Girard Haven, or other anointed representative.

Now all this can be crammed under the rather broad cloak of ‘religion’, but my point is this: most of the benefits of this building accrue to Burton himself, not his followers. Paying the minister a reasonable salary for services rendered is one thing, but payments whether in cash, kind, or sperm on the scale that Burton demands is another. I’d hazard that an investigator who had access to all the records, Burton’s tax return, and financial details involving him, would find a clear case of excessive compensation, that is, illegal inurement. The IRS puts it this way: “…prohibition against private inurement means that individuals within that organization may not receive excessive compensation or benefit from their employment or association, because such arrangement would contravene the supposed mission of the organization.” That is, the organization cannot be set up to especially benefit particular members or the founder.

When the Fellowship of Friends was incorporated, the Article VII of the Articles of Incorporation specifically pointed out the prohibition against inurement. It states: The property of this corporation is irrevocably dedicated to religious purposes and no part of the net income or assets of the organization shall ever inure to the benefit of any director, officer, or member thereof or to the benefit of any private persons.

Two of the nine members who signed that document in 1979 are still around, Linda Rockwood (former name) and Ethan Harris. They know better. Of course, not being present at the signing does not in the least absolve present and past members of the Board of Directors and the Fellowship Council of their responsibilities, as the letter sent to the Board by David Springfield made clear (curious readers may Google ‘David Springfield Letter’ or ‘david-springfield-letter-2009.doc’ to find a copy of this remarkable and revealing document on the internet).

Note to those exploring these pages for the first time: ‘Intentional Insincerity™’ is Burton-speak for lying when it suits himself or a follower, which is most of the time. This is supposedly done as a deliberate act of will, ‘in the moment’, which makes it o.k.

P.S. The Legal Eagle site nicely displays the arguments of the case the FoF lost in 1991, concerning whether the Academy qualified as a museum:

214. Jomo Piñata - October 1, 2014

thus undoubtedly breaking the implied rule (presumably that a party to the case cannot comment while the case is open?)

No such rule.

215. Mick - October 1, 2014

Real property taxes have been a bone of contention between the Fellowship and Yuba County for more than 40 years. One might ask why the long wait to assert their “religious” status? It is telling to me that G.H. (does he still have any cachet?) finds it necessary to tell members that the intended purpose of the Galleria is “worship & ceremony” when they know it to be otherwise. Not only is the Galleria not open to the public, it is not open to members. It’s business as usual. Another round of Viagra & vino for the boys. Mind the emergency escape tunnel and don’t forget to pull up your pants.

216. Tim Campion - October 1, 2014

Good point Mick. The Galleria is more akin to a rectory (or in this case, an erectory) and tax-exemption for such properties is more controversial, especially if also used for social functions that are incidental to the primary religious mission. In any case, it seems the burden of proof is on the Fellowship, not the county.

217. Wouldnt You Like To Know - October 1, 2014

213. Ames Gilbert:
‘Note that, being a Man Number Five, Haven has taken it upon himself to decide precisely when he or the organization can stop talking about it.’

‘G. H.’ does not necessarily mean the message is from Haven.

‘Paying the minister a reasonable salary for services rendered is one thing, but payments whether in cash, kind, or sperm on the scale that Burton demands is another.’

I thought I heard a rumor that Fellowship of Friends was going to start a non-profit sperm bank. The cash flow could be enormous.

Thanks for the The Legal Eagle link.

218. fofblogmoderator - October 2, 2014

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