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Fellowship Of Friends/Fourth Way School/Living Presence Discussion – Page 185 January 1, 2020

Posted by fofblogmoderator in Uncategorized.
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Welcome to the newest page of the Fellowship of Friends/Living Presence Discussion.

Here, you can share your thoughts, your stories, your own experiences as a former member of the FOF.  If you are considering becoming a member, you are invited to read the discussion to better know the organization you are considering joining; we welcome your questions. Participants in the discussion may post under their own name, or anonymously.

The first comment of all new participants will be moderated before they can start communicating in real-time.  You will need to register with a valid email address and be able to reply to the welcome/verification email you will receive. If you are new to the discussion, your comment will appear within a day after it has been submitted; any subsequent comments will appear instantaneously.

At the Moderator’s discretion, excessive abuse, such as personal attacks, taking up too much space, as well as deliberate attempts to unmask people taking part in the discussion anonymously will prompt a warning. Continued abuse will result in your removal from the discussion.

To visit the official site of The  Fellowship Of Friends;

http://livingpresence.com/

Comments

1. Sam - January 2, 2020

Your site seems to be the dismantling of its leader, Robert Earl Burton, according to his ‘foibles’. We, on our site, are eager to know how the ‘complete paraphernalia’ of The Fellowship of Friends has anything to do, at all, with consciousness, which is a simple existive phenomenon, to be valued in simple, clarified terms?

2. Insider - January 2, 2020

1. Sam

Good question. I hope it results in a stimulating conversation for you and all of us.

For now, what is the “site” that you referred to in your post?

3. amesgilbert1 - January 2, 2020

Hello, Sam.
I can only speak for myself.

I come here to publicize the many, many faults of the Great Fraud, Robert Earl Burton, because I assume that most people who land on this site have some interest in the Fourth Way. If that is the case, then it follows that they have accepted, at least in principle, that there must be a ‘teacher’, that is, someone who has already ‘escaped’ and ‘knows the way’. Robert Earl Burton represents himself as such a person, and I attempt to show how this cannot possibly be the case. Ditto the sociopaths who, over the years, have learned from him how to extract money, sex and prestige from gullible and trusting followers, and who have set up their own fraudulent schemes.
It also follows, that if the teacher is indeed a fake, then anything that he or she claims about ‘consciousness’ can only accidentally be true, in the same manner that a clock is right twice a day. So, why bother? Why take the considerable risks? Look elsewhere.

You mention the word, ‘consciousness’, but I have no idea what you mean by that. And as for comparing your website/blog to this, who knows? You’ll have to be more forthcoming, and a good deal more specific, IMHO.

4. amesgilbert1 - January 2, 2020

…that would be “stopped clock”, above…

5. John Harmer - January 2, 2020

#1 Hi Sam

What happens in the FoF is that people who have previously been attracted to the 4th way teachings of Gurdjieff and his followers are offered a “school” in which they can practice those ideas with others similarly inclined and with the special added bonus of a teacher who has ascended all the numbers of men mentioned in the books, and maybe even beyond. I believe he reckons he is above a man number 7. To sift out halfhearted practitioners, a fairly hefty fee is charged for membership.

So how did that work out in practice.

Indeed I met many sincere seekers who were trying their best to wake up and self remember. The 2nd line of work when I was there (1977-1989) started with things called word exercises. We were asked not to say certain words, and if we forgot another who heard us would “photograph” us. (a quick chopping movement of the hand would often suffice) The words we avoided when I joined were Oh, so, up and get if I recall correctly. This was all pretty good fun. The FoF used a method of characterising people based on ideas that Rodney Collin fleshed out from Ouspensky’s teaching. The four centres intellectual, emotional, moving and instinctive, using the suits of playing cards as a quick shorthand. ie Jack of hearts moving/instinctive part of the emotional centre. We had great fun photographing each others centres of gravity. Bodytypes were based on the enneagram and used planets as a short hand. I was told I was a mercurial. The other big aspect of our mechanicality we tried to figure out about ourselves and our fellow students was Chief Feature. My first photograph was that I had a power feature, but later the consensus was that I had a vanity feature. The idea behind all these classifications was supposedly to enable us to see ourselves and others as machines, and thereby to “separate” from them by observing ourselves as “interesting strangers”

The nub of the practices though were the two conscious shocks. The first was a way to approach self remembering called “divided attention” which required that some part of our attention pointed inwards (possibly observing our centres in action or how our chief feature or bodytype was ruling us) or more metaphysically looking inward to the still small voice of conscience or even our higher centres (which were said to loom hugely behind our everyday actions) and the other part of our attention pointed out at the world, taking in impressions. The FoF has a big bias towards refining the impressions that they take in, Classical western art was highly valued when I was there. The second conscious shock was to transform negative emotions, this done by separating from the machines reaction to events and observing oneself. The first step towards that was that there was an exercise to avoid the expression of negative emotions.

My experience of this process was as follows. The bodytypes and centres of gravity and chief feature seemed to have some validity, but in the end it felt like a kind of racial prejudice. We all seemed to judge each other by what machine we thought we had and others had, and in the end when I left the school I abandoned that way of looking at myself and others. More of a problem were the effects of divided attention and separation form negative emotions. I thought I was doing quite well with all that, but when my marriage collapsed I realised I had simply learnt to block off emotions and depersonalise myself. It took a few years after I left to feel emotions freely again, and to express some negative emotions without feeling guilty.

I left when I found out that Burton had been using his position as the teacher to pressurise young men to engage in homosexual acts with him, whether or not they found that pleasant. Also a student called Miles Barth who had gained quite a reputation for his understanding of the system, helped me see it was basically a bogus made up system of knowledge.

6. fofblogmoderator - January 2, 2020

Sam is a new contributor and the site he’s referencing is samharris.org

7. Vinnie The Fish - January 3, 2020

amesgilbert1 who are all the followers who have started their own groups to rip people off? I only know of Asaf’s.

8. Sam - January 3, 2020

To most above – some sort of explanation…

We approached your group, as we had approached several others (some have been mentioned in your pages here), in an effort to come to terms with how ‘consciousness is’ as a phenomenon seemingly prevalent in beings of the higher order, including mankind and, as the precursors of your group and your leader himself have said that consciousness is a state which ebbs and flows.

One of our guests posited that the evolutionary process, which serves and is served by procreation and the furtherance of the species, is near enough blind to any prolonged or intense state of consciousness, thus paralleling the phrases by Gurdjieff that ‘man is a sleeping machine’, ‘life on earth is a pain factory’ and ‘men’s souls feed the moon’.

There are groups of study and meditation which are legitimate and have no shady past (or leader). However, those we would rightly label cults have leaders who abuse their power over their ‘flock’ (for there is no equanimity here) and most of them sexually abuse their followers – yours has been categorically uncovered, which has been the main subject of your blog.

These leads to our question of you…

What is the psychology between cult leader and follower, from the raw initiate up to the closest enabler that allows imbalance of power, culpability/responsibility and sheer inhumanity to permeate the group? Is anyone making decisions here?

9. Insider - January 3, 2020

8. Sam

“These leads to our question of you…”

Let me see if I understand your request:

You (whoever and whatever “you” represents) are attempting to interview an entire blog that has spanned a dozen years, comprised of hundreds of individuals who were, at one time in their life, a member of the Fellowship of Friends, who left the FF from a few years ago to 30-40 years ago, each of whom has his/her own unique understanding of the “psychology between cult leader and follower.”

Correct so far?

Are you looking for an official group response? Do you realize the impossibility of such a request?

10. Cult Survivor - January 3, 2020

8. Sam

First of all, welcome to this blog — it’s always refreshing to have new contributors. That being said, I have a couple of questions for you: Why did you decide to visit to this blog? Are you working on a podcast or a book about cults? Is this part of a personal research about “consciousness”? Please enlighten us, your postings are somewhat cryptic.

11. Sam - January 3, 2020

If you see the invitation by your moderator, this will indicate our blog/podcast…Sam is obviously the name of founder, although I am only representative, by way of contributor (certainly not a guest speaker)…Sam’s inroads into consciousness for its own sake have taken many paths…as said meditation,psychedelics and hallucinogens but not a rigorous dogma of a group.

So the first question is…

Why is a group with a charismatic leader necessary, with any type of form as support?

12. Vinnie The Fish - January 4, 2020

Sam is the name of the founder of your group but not your name?
Anyway I don’t think a ‘charismatic leader’ is necessary, and nobody would accuse Robert Burton of being charismatic.
But it would help to have a leader who is more advanced than the students, and someone to set exercises without a committee and the resulting arguments is good. Without someone in authority the group would probably dissolve in disagreements.

13. ton2u - January 4, 2020

John Harmer, You didn’t mention “alchemy” – another biasing “tool” used to judge the “level of being” of fellow “students.”

“Seekers” are in search of something, they may not even know what they’re looking for but they believe they’ll know it when they find “IT.” This is what motivates the seeker to keep up the search. The key is belief – the search is for something or someone to believe in – in the case of the seeker, the belief is that there is something to find even apriori to the finding. Ouspensky defined his search in terms of the “miraculous” – some find the FOF and burtonism, apparently some find “samism” – as the new contributor implies…. welcome “Sam.”

The “samist” speaks (writes) in pluralistic or collectivist terms here, rather than as an individual – “we” and “our” is used in place of “I.” What does it mean? maybe telltale signs of cult mentality….? as a source of strength and self-affirmation cultists rely on a variety of forms of groupthink.

Please consider this “sam I am,” and unbind your mind – “consciousness” as you put it above, is a biased human construct positing an exclusive club restricted to members of a “higher order“ – this is an erroneous premise based on the biases of “inherited” anthropocentric beliefs. Another way of looking at “consciousness” is that it’s something which permeates all and everything… the monster Decartes nails a wailing dog to a board, performs vivisection in order to to prove it has no soul… in so doing, he proves that it is in fact he who has no soul.

14. ton2u - January 4, 2020
15. Jomo Piñata - January 4, 2020

Sam, this is a campfire around which former victims of a particular confidence scheme spit watermelon seeds and tell each other stories. You can ask questions about the ideology employed in the confidence scheme, which included much discussion around “consciousness,” but the ideology isn’t of much value. Like anywhere, here there are some true believers who left still believing the ideology and continue to believe it, and others who managed to free themselves of it (although every once in a while we find a burr of ideology clinging to our thought processes — “here, let me remove that!”). But don’t assume a unified field of thought or an assembled gaggle of the doctrinaire. We here aren’t a “group” in any cohesive sense of the word, just a post-confidence-scheme campfire.

16. Honeur - January 4, 2020
17. Honeur - January 4, 2020
18. amesgilbert1 - January 4, 2020

Thanks, fofblogmoderator, that helps clarify things.

Sam Harris. That Sam Harris.

Well, assuming that he only offers up his books and his meditation app and does not gather folks into any kind of group—what’s the harm? Books are the usual price, but none attract me. The app appears to be free to start with, but you have the opportunity to upgrade to a monthly or yearly ‘subscription’, $99.99.
Darn cheap compared to the Fellowship of Friends!

I practiced meditation before, during, and after my time with the Fellowship of Friends. My finest consciousness–expanding moments nowadays come from loving interactions with my wife and friends and with nature. I am extraordinarily lucky to live on a secluded 13 acres in a beautiful part of the world. I need only step outside to be in full contact with nature, and with little effort I can have astonishing experiences like the day before yesterday, where I was uplifted with the sights of huge numbers of Snow Geese rising from the water and settling down, tens of thousands at a time, strung like pearls across the sky.

Anyway, I’m not going to decry an app that helps with meditation and becoming more present, although I’m not going to buy it myself. Even though it is a bit ironic that a mechanical algorithm might help one ‘wake up’! In the Fellowship, there was the idea of one’s fellow explorers similarly acting as ‘alarms’, which involved something more emotional. And, under ideal conditions, suited that very moment in a way a mechanical alarm could not. But that degenerated soon enough and all too often became mechanical and even weaponized. At least, that was my experience.

And, speaking for myself, I’ve read enough books, I have literally hundreds of books about philosophy, psychology, explorations of one’s internal world, and, of course, the Fourth Way. The One Way to Escape It All, to come to a Full Understanding of the local universe! But pursuing that particular avenue didn’t pan out, did it? So, it is time and long past time to put theory into practice and take some risks and finding out things first hand.

But, if Sam Harris has gathered followers (which appears to be the case, if I understand the appearance of his avatar on this blog correctly), then that is an entirely different story. In my opinion, as soon as anyone looks up to another for more than a brief time, danger follows. For the majority of folks, it seems all too easy to give up one’s power (and responsibility), and all too easy for someone else with charisma or exuding certainty to come along and pick it up. And all to easy for this to become long–term. Unless both parties were specifically trained to recognize the dangers and avoid them, then bad things can easily ensue. I’ve never heard of such training, myself. Becoming a ‘teacher’ is one of the most dangerous professions, in my opinion, because the transfer of power is so seductive for both parties.

Honeur, thanks for your timely reference, also. That article has many valuable insights. Many layers in an onion, infinitely more in our minds!
___________________________________

Vinnie, look up ‘Spiral of Friends’, ‘New American Wing’, etc., for more infamous examples. And, quite a few others who have left have tried—and failed—at forming and leading new groups. I can’t speak for their motives, but have deep suspicions. For me, the jury is still out on groups like ‘The Academy of European Arts’ (which continues past the death its founder, Mervyn B.), I just don’t know enough about them.

19. fofblogmoderator - January 4, 2020

Comments 15 & 16 had been hung in moderation.

20. Sam - January 5, 2020

Post 14. ton2u

Although thanks to others with a slightly anecdotal slant, your link about the nature of consciousness seems important to me (probably also to others on Mr Harris’ Twitter feed and blog/podcast site, including his wife, Annaka, who wrote the recent book “Conscious”).

It was googling ‘conscious’, ‘ consciousness’ in terms of a group mentality that alighted on the Fellowship. I believe Jomo Pinata (Post 15) somewhat sets out your blog format which, as he states, is very much about people, may we say (?), unravelling experiences and thoughts. This is a far cry and coming from a completely different standpoint from the ‘intellectual elite’ (academics/college professors) who are guests on Sam’s podcasts (the one on the Nature of Reality lasting almost three hours!).

I have an interest, as a layman, as to how consciousness is qualified, quantified and becomes used as a tool for the betterment of life. Like Ames Gilbert, I have tried various types of meditation (Sam’s mindfulness meditation works very well and almost runs behind the scenes of my psyche for work requiring gentle concentration. Guided meditation seems optimal, whereas meditation of silence can just plain irritate an initiate after a while. I had a Buddhist practitioner who advised against his method since it would re-awaken demons already quelled – I am glad he did not try to sell me a course, anyway).

MY QUESTION…and that of a few I discuss with is – the Fellowship (and Mr Burton) tend to bandy around this term ‘consciousness’ as though sticks of candy were being handed around for good or politically appropriate behaviour. Again, we arrive at ton2u questioning group behaviour/the collective, which is an entirely appropriate stance to take. Is there some balance to be found in an individual offering what they have to the wellbeing of a community and how do you define a community that has wellbeing?

21. Vinnie The Fish - January 5, 2020

amesgilbert1 thanks, I’d forgotten (or never read previously) that James Randazzo was a former FOF’er, Did anyone on here know him?

22. ton2u - January 5, 2020

“Sam”

You’re obviously a thought-full person – you’ve stumbled upon this sight in your own search for…? What is it you’re looking for? Answers? “Conversation”?

You’ve invited conversation through posing a couple of direct questions, you ask “why is a group with a charismatic leader necessary, with any type of form as support” and “Is there some balance to be found in an individual offering what they have to the wellbeing of a community and how do you define a community that has wellbeing?”

“Valid,” thoughtful questions.

Now you, being the thoughtful person that you are, obviously have yourself thought about the questions… questioning doesn’t come out of “thin air” and so you probably have some ready “answers” to your own questions – please feel free to make an offering here. After all, based on your interactions with Sam Harris, THAT Sam Harris, you could provide your own valuable insight and thoughts about a charismatic leader and the little community that has accreted around him, as well as opinions about community wellbeing.

23. Vinnie The Fish - January 5, 2020

amesgilbert1 – Philippe Bassat in Russia also left the FOF fairly recently and mentioned his intention to start his own group. Quite an enticing prospect I imagine, to be like a guru.

24. Sam - January 5, 2020

22 ton2u

Yes, maybe thoughtfulness about one’s community…well being for oneself and others … a group directive does not entice me, yet having the necessity of deep friendships based on mutual trust. That much I have answered for myself.

Maybe Mr Harris is ‘the charismatic leader’ of the group that bears his name…he does seem dogmatic (atheist, in one sphere) and somewhat unbending to other opinions and world views…he chooses guests that fall in line with his modus mentalis, which may point to narcissism…if anyone views his podcasts or debates/commentaries that can form ideas for themselves on his character. That is where I stand in regard to Sam Harris, the public figure.

The ‘out-take’ here that intrigues me is Mr Harris seems to think that heightened consciousness comes to its own when The Self disappears into the Pure State of Beholding (he refers to his meditation). The Fellowship (when investigated) seems to hold that The Self (are there more than one?) reaches giddy heights in the group (activity). So the question would be – “Does the Fellowship hold some special sway that non-members cannot access even a useful state of awareness?”.

25. ton2u - January 5, 2020

‘Sam’

“Does the Fellowship hold some special sway that non-members cannot access even a useful state of awareness?”

This is the “hook” – or a hook… those in the cult would answer in the affirmative, that there is “some special sway” believing as they do, that they’re the “chosen few” who follow the only “conscious being” on planet earth. Those on the outside – so-called ‘life’ people, are at best “asleep” or worse – “fodder for the moon.” Former members, those who have joined then left the “school” are in even more dire circumstances than “mere life people” – that’s according to the mind-control dogma put in place which functions as an “invisible fence” designed to keep the flock from leaving.

Of course to answer your question for yourself, you’d have to become a “member” of the cult and thereby form your own opinion…. but as a former member (my bias) I strongly advise against it and encourage the latter by other means, and in any case.

Your take on the cult of Harris is appreciated.

26. John Harmer - January 5, 2020

#24 Sam you ask “Does the Fellowship hold some special sway that non-members cannot access even a useful state of awareness?”

It is a topic that has several answers within the FoF.

One the one hand the example given in early prospective student meetings was “Can you remember where you were when you heard that John F Kennedy had been assassinated?” Those who were old enough would usually answer yes, and this was taken as a moment when external events stimulated a moment of consciousness through its unexpected “out of patterns” nature. So the official line included that nearly everyone has moments of consciousness, and the way to recognise them after the fact is that the FoF theory says that consciousness creates memories.

However the standard line after that is to point out that these moments are rare and not under our control, and that the consciousness we are aiming for in the FoF is a more permanent state that we invite/create by practicing certain exercises around self remembering and the transformation of suffering.

There is a whole area which the FoF calls B influence (always with a little sneer in the voice). It is knowledge in the world that originated with awakened men in the past, but which has become fossilised and lacks the spark of a conscious leader directly helping one to awaken. The FoF maintains their organisation is the only place on earth that currently has direct conscious connection with C influence. They expand the original Gurdjieff idea of C influence to include some spooky disembodied beings that can interfere in the lives of FoF members, but who remain curiously indifferent to the fate of the other 7 billion people on earth.

So yes the FoF believes it has exclusive access to techniques to induce consciousness, to direct Teaching by an awakened man, and to the ineffable assistance of those previously alive men and woman who created immortality for themselves, and now spent their time assisting anyone who pays the monthly fee to the FoF.

27. Golden Veil - January 6, 2020

Has anyone contemplated downloading Sam’s highly rated meditation app? The appearance of Sam’s representative here could be an excellent way to spread the word, expand his followers.

28. ton2u - January 6, 2020

Golden Veil…. and to plug Harris’ wife Annika’s book.

26.

“…So the official line included that nearly everyone has moments of consciousness, and the way to recognise them after the fact is that the FoF theory says that consciousness creates memories.”

Another example of an erroneous premise which under-lies cult thinking – Memory is not the same “thing” as consciousness, consciousness is not memory… what is the “angle” here? how is this bit of misinformation used by the cult as a lure?

The fact is that memory is not continuous, consciousness is… the fact that the memory is not continuous is held up as “proof” to the prospective student that s/he is not conscious. In “proving” the lack thereof, a need is created. That’s the lure and hook; join the cult to fill the need – that is, lack / absence of consciousness.

29. ton2u - January 6, 2020

Aside from “mere” fodder for philosophical debates, there’s much scientifically based research into the question of consciousness, attention, memory, etc…

Click to access Baars1997AttentionAwarenessCcs.pdf

30. Sam - January 6, 2020

To answer Golden Veil as neatly as possible, the book “Waking Up” came first and, as popularity with that became evident, I think Sam became less inclined to ‘sweep political and cultural spheres’ with his debates and lectures (I was following Christopher Hitchens on algorithms when Sam Harris flagged up) and concentrated more on the nature of the mind (Sam trained as a neurophysicist and has meditated through various ‘practises’ for over 20 years) and our ‘darling subject’, consciousness.

Sam seems like a decent guy, although disinclined to allow counterargument. The podcast “Waking Up” has been going a few years and you now have to subscribe, although he says lack of funds should not disallow membership. Debates with Sam and famous intellectuals are stimulating since his atheist stand keep the talk basic and uncluttered.

I hope the link helps and encourages some common sense in what I can only see in the Fellowship as ‘airy-fairy dictatorship with more than a twist of perversion’ (i.e usual cult standards).

31. Sam - January 6, 2020

Both books, below, written by Sam Harris in 2012. To encounter a taste for Sam’s superb logical approach to the human condition, may I recommend you go to each book – “Waking Up”, “Free Will” and “The Moral Landscape” to uncover a man who does not exclude others, but inspires them to think robustly – the Listen Logo, when pressed, gives adequate evidence – enjoy.

32. brucelevy - January 6, 2020

Really? You’re going to use this venue to fucking advertise your fucking products? You’re a fucking shill.

33. brucelevy - January 6, 2020

As well as a common snake oil salesman.

34. Joey Virgo - January 6, 2020

Sometimes on this blog I wish there were a thumbs-up bottom.

For this page, if there were such a button, I’d give thumbs up to 17. Honeur and to 33 brucelevy.

I was a fan of Sam Harris for years (he personally autographed one of his books for me when he was in San Francisco twenty years ago — after Ayn Rand died) and I followed him all the way up to his “Moral Landscapes” book, which failed to prove itself — and continued to learn and see that his reasoning often is far less than the “superb” process “Sam”(above) wants to portray to us.

Honeur’s link really does a pretty good job of exposing some of the contradictions in Sam Harris’s thoughts, but there’s so much more to say – including his vile political points of view.

Look, Sam Harris is okay as a human being. I don’t want him destroyed here. He can be really funny with some of his quips and rejoinders. And I think his approach about it being better to try to be rational than be irrational and always emotionally wound up continues to hold weight and value over these emotionally lit times. Harris likes to play atheist and compassionate meditator at the same time, which is sort of different and iconoclastic, but he’s far from the public intellectual he poses as, and his books and ideas have no relevancy whatsoever to this blog.

35. Joey Virgo - January 6, 2020

34. Joey Virgo — the laugh is on me! No, no, no thumbs up bottom. I was imagining a button at the bottom of each comment where one might thumbs-up the individual’s idea without having to make further comment as on Yelp, but no thumbs up a bottom as might please REB or his fellow “bottoms.”

36. Cult Survivor - January 6, 2020

34. Joey Virgo

I just googled it and found that there are several “plugins” that add thumbs-up rating to a WordPress blog like this one. Most are not expensive (like $3.99 per month or $17 one time purchase) and several of them are free.

Check:
https://www.formget.com/thumbs-up-wordpress-plugins/

That’s something Steve would have to do.

37. Joey Virgo - January 6, 2020

36. Cult Survivor

Thumbs-up for that finding and link. May Steve find the idea workable or useful, time-saving even.

38. Associated Press - January 6, 2020

39. amesgilbert1 - January 6, 2020

‘Sam’, you are sounding (and acting) more and more like a fellow called Nigel Harris Price, late of somewhere in north Wales… and, under various guises, at times a frequent commentator on this blog. He also has a noted taste for the more authoritarian ‘purveyors of enlightenment’ and ‘revealed wisdom’, so you also share that in common.

If you are indeed he, kindly move on.

If I’m wrong, however, my apologies. In that case, please tell us why you use the moniker, ‘Sam’, when that Sam Harris probably not only has no idea that you are representing him and his POV on this blog, but would be unlikely to give you permission or any encouragement anyway.

40. Sam - January 7, 2020

I do not have time for argument.

I have a life to lead and deadlines at my creative work. I allied to Sam Harris, as I said, through wishing to understand consciousness, in any nature, and your blog (and the offshoot Fellowship discourses) mentioned that word and the methodology of attainment. Since it seems (after what I offered – from Amazon – it has a public platform and would certainly not mind a little ‘push’) that your blog has a way of returning to stable/neutral, there is little point in my posting here, as a representative of what Sam Harris has to offer, or to download my own comments from his Twitter feed.

Good luck with whatever efforts you see fit and your 13 acres of land.

41. We Were There - January 7, 2020

Meanwhile… Renaissance wines live (see https://vinepair.com/articles/taken-from-granite-cult-wines/)!

42. amesgilbert1 - January 7, 2020

You are right, Nigel (#40), there is little point.
Until next time (for surely there will be a next time)…

43. Golden Veil - January 8, 2020

It appears from the avatars that preview the latest blog posts on this page top right that Sam has three posts held up in moderation.

Here is a link that came up during a recent search. It’s ancient history, but I’d never seen WikiLeaks before. In case you, too, are a Wikileaks neophyte, here it is.

https://www.wikileaks.org/wiki/Bizarre_California_cult,_Fellowship_of_Friends,_attacks_GodLikeProductions.com_for_reposting_WikiLeaks_expose,_21_Jun_2009

44. Golden Veil - January 8, 2020

Looks like those three Sam posts were deleted.

45. amesgilbert1 - January 8, 2020

Nigel–posing–Sam (#43, above), your clever riposte:
“Just had a thought…
Lunar with Tramp Feature…
Can’t stand expertise…and moans about it, into the bargain!”

…is a great example of weaponizing ‘photographs’, and makes it clear, to me at least, that you have never actually psychologically left the Fellowship of Friends at all. My best guess would be, that if you had not had difficulties affording the membership fees, you would still be there, and happy as a clam. Maybe even still reading poetry to Burton before he dines each evening…

Nigel, did you know you can rejoin? Not only that, I have on the best authority that you can, if you know the right people and say the right things, you can rejoin without any fines, and without paying any more membership fees!

On this page alone, you have told half a dozen lies by omission and commission, misrepresented yourself and Sam Harris, pretended you knew nothing about the Fellowship, hid your previous membership, and shown that you still value and use the “Body Types” information you so faithfully absorbed and internalized thirty-five years ago. So, you’ll fit right in, and it will be as if you had never left.
Not only that, you qualify for the new, improved membership terms, whereby you immediately become ‘conscious’ upon admission, plus, you get a ticket to Paradise courtesy of Burton and 81 angels! Yay!

46. amesgilbert1 - January 8, 2020

Oops! It looks like Nigel’s comment has disappeared! Never mind, maybe it will reappear. The above quote is the comment in its entirety.

47. Phutatorius - January 8, 2020

Sam the scam? It doesn’t surprise me. I thought I noticed a certain “smell” hanging about those posts.

48. brucelevy - January 8, 2020

45. amesgilbert1

I was around RB quite a bit during the Nigel days. I know he said he left because of finances, but I remember how RB reacted to people that displayed mentally challenged behavior and he often sent them packing, especially when they “took up a lot of space”, and suspect that’s why he was bounced.

49. brucelevy - January 8, 2020

“Finance” was often used as an excuse for being asked to leave when it was actually something else. Nobody wants to admit they were asked to leave because they were colossal pains in the ass.

50. fofblogmoderator - January 8, 2020

I deleted the last few posts from “Sam” (Nigel). After Ames detected the familiar style I did an ip address look up, and sure enough…
I’ll have to go back to vetting new contributors.

51. amesgilbert1 - January 9, 2020

Hey, fofblogmoderator, thank you for taking on the job. I’m sorry that fending off Nigel leads to an increased workload for you.

And I’m sorry that John Harmer and ton2u’s and others’ thoughtful answers to what initially appeared to be genuine (though badly constructed and at times obtuse) questions wasted their valuable time and energies. Though, some explorers in the future may come across them in the archives and find them useful. Thank you, ladies and gentlemen, for your efforts as well.

52. John Harmer - January 9, 2020

#51 Yes thanks to alert minds for unmasking a pretender. No harm done of course, but it IS a funny feeling realising that I was responding to questions posed by a fake. But then fakery is a big part of the story of the FoF.

53. brucelevy - January 9, 2020

51. amesgilbert1

Ames, you have been the most acute Nigel spotter. Thanks. His shit makes me climb the wall.

54. Cult Survivor - January 10, 2020

The part that says “he likes to speak, and he loves to be spoken to (In his Work)” is a clear shock from Influence C.

55. John Harmer - January 10, 2020

And a song about joining a cult from Goldfrapp:

Join our group and you will find
Harmony and peace of mind
Make it better
We’re here to welcome you

We can see your troubled soul
Give us all your money
We’ll make it better (make it better)
We’re here to welcome you

56. amesgilbert1 - January 11, 2020

John Harmer, you so rightly say, “But then fakery is a big part of the story of the FoF”.
The fact is, Burton the Arch–Liar infects the thinking of everyone who has ever entered his fantasy, and one dangerous meme is, “The ends justify the means”. The form I encountered right from the start was, nothing, but nothing should get in the way of achieving “consciousness”.

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

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

In this new, improved version, there is no mention whatsoever of the Fellowship, or Robert Earl Burton, or Alex Horn, or Gurdjieff (though G. is mentioned on other pages), or anything related to lineage, a highly significant departure from his earlier autobiography.
There is also no mention of Apollo, the headquarters of the Fellowship of Friends, or its location, only that he eventually met the ‘founder’ in 2000. No mention of ‘The Sequence’, the ridiculous and superstitious numerology he co–invented with Burton, and that was the central teaching of the Fellowship religion for a dozen years.
 
He fabricates out of whole cloth an explanation of why he was forced to leave (Apollo) in 2007, but says nothing about his return 2 years later, and his subsequent final parting from Burton in 2016.

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

I can well understand Asaf Braverman’s aversion to admitting his connection to the Robert Earl Burton and the Fellowship of Friends. Who would not want to shuck off this sordid and inconvenient history? Particularly when setting out to gull fresh recruits? Yet this dishonesty speaks for itself. And lies of omission are still lies. I suspect he is attempting to put part of Plato’s philosophy, whereby the prevailing authorities are permitted their Noble Lies for the ‘greater good’, into practice. Certainly, Asaf leaves no doubt that he is on an important mission, and he learned from Burton over two decades that ‘intentional sincerity’ is necessary, and that big lies go over better than small lies. From the page linked above:

So along with my exploration grew a sense of responsibility that urged me to record my findings methodically. The end and crowning episode of my travels was the revelation of a calendrical system that lay at the base of all ancient teachings. This would become the foundation of BePeriod.

One has to read the whole ‘autobiographical note’ to get the extent of these Big Lies of commission and omission. Like I said, Braverman obviously believes the ends justifies the means, and in his particular case, such Noble Ends justify frontal assaults on a host of Inconvenient Truths.

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

BTW, in a minor key, Nigel’s little saga on this page might be another example of how this kind of thinking might infect one’s worldview for a long time. Of course, I have no direct knowledge of Nigel’s motivation, but whatever his aim was, it justified subterfuge and confabulation, presumably for some ‘greater good’ that I can only guess at. Again, “the ends justify the means”.

57. amesgilbert1 - January 11, 2020

Oh dear, the words, “Read the full autobiographical note by Asaf Braverman for yourself” in the post above were supposed to contain a live, clickable link to the page. That did not work out (at least the way it is displaying on my browser. So, here is the link, spelled out. Copy and paste if it isn’t “live”:
https://asafbraverman.com/en/

Hope that works!

58. Joey Virgo - January 11, 2020

“what harm would it do, if a man told a good strong lie for the sake of the good and the faith of the Christian Church…a lie out of necessity, a useful lie, a helpful lie, such lies would not be against God, he would accept them.” — Martin Luther

Martin Luther thought that lying (intentional insincerity) was okay sometimes, so long as it was for a higher purpose.

https://books.google.com/books?id=e3PDT-N_b74C&pg=PT14&dq=martin+luther+lies+of+necessity&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjD9PrgtNzWAhUr1oMKHe4oDoEQ6AEIPjAE#v=onepage&q=martin%20luther%20lies%20of%20necessity&f=false

https://www.ranker.com/list/insane-martin-luther-stories/melissa-sartore?utm_source=sendgrid_newsletter&utm_medium=WeirdHistory&utm_campaign=Uber

59. amesgilbert1 - January 11, 2020

Joey, as far as I am concerned, Luther was wrong, wrong, wrong on that point (and many others)!
I think that most thoughtful folks can find examples of how ‘the means shape the end’ for themselves, if they care to look. Not only that, but examples of how the ends thus shaped not only turned out entirely differently from expectations, but even the exact opposite of expectations.
And obviously, he was delusional if he thought he could make interpretations, even judgements and decisions on behalf of what he called, ‘God’. ‘God’ on his terms, moreover. The icing on the cake is, if I understand your (admittedly out–of–context) quotation correctly, he was arguing that lying was o.k. on behalf of an institution, the Church, such authoritarian institutions being a pretty low form of human organization, IMO. Compare that with the actions on the level of an individuated human being responding to an informed and functioning conscience.

60. Associated Press - January 11, 2020

Ames, recently:
“Asaf leaves no doubt that he is on an important mission, and he learned from Burton over two decades that ‘intentional sincerity’ is necessary, and that big lies go over better than small lies.”

I think you meant: ‘intentional insincerity’
[Which is just a polite term of the Fellowship of Friends for lying;
which, in itself, is more lying, by not being direct and truthful.]

as you stated earlier in that post:
“Much has been said [about] this, and about the use of nools [perhaps you meant ‘tools’] such as ‘intentional insincerity’ on previous pages.”

But the general gist of your message gets across. thank you.

61. amesgilbert1 - January 11, 2020

Thanks, AP, you are quite right.
I need an editor, both for accuracy and length. Failing that, at least some kind of an edit function for blog entries would be welcome!

62. Joey Virgo - January 11, 2020

59. amesgilber1

Ames, you get no argument here from me. None. I hear you and “feel ya.”

I should perhaps earlier have put “higher purpose” in quotes, but religions of all sorts justify horrendous actions against life and liberty throughout history, and Martin Luther started that ball rolling loudly and clearly — with the printed word.

I recently talked with a Lutheran member from her church, and she admitted Luther advocated lying but it made her uncomfortable discussing the ramifications of that position. The quotation is genuine, not fake.

There are many who say Martin Luther suffered from depression and even mania. (For me, he did one good thing — publishing the sins of the Pope and the Church for everyone to hear and see. End of story.). Luther even believed in polygamy because he couldn’t prove God disapproved of it Yet, this madman was responsible for dividing the dominant unity of the Roman Catholic church and its concomitant super-ego over the Western world, and then spawning many denominations of Christianity in the West, none of which agree with one another while the leaders of said denominations were often delusional and self-serving — up till today. (I’m not saying the Popes and the Catholic Church were any better choice or alternative, but in the Middle Ages there was only one “earthy power” to contend with, not hundreds and even thousands, as today, including the Fellowship of Friends).

A fully individuated human being responding to an informed and functioning conscience? Great words and a great idea, but who today can step forward and make that claim for himself or herself and also prove it, if only so that all can know it or at least feel it?

I think even Carl Jung had some “issues” with young female patients . . . . and he was the biggest proponent of individuation I’ve ever encountered.

Anais Nin had a reputation for having become individuated human being, having studied under (and slept under) Otto Rank, a student of Carl Jung and having read Jung and espoused his theories while also seeking psychological support through many therapists over a long period time. She became a role model for conscience and integrity in an artistic and emotional sense, but she too suffered from bipolarity, nympomania, and she found lying appropriate when it helped someone suffer less or when it served her own bigamist purposes.

Becoming individuated with a fully functioning conscience I think is more of a goal, an aspiration, rather than a reality for many of us.

Just saying … I’m certainly not defending REB or excusing his behavior. Being faked out by him was my first experience with any form of serious, long-term betrayal and trauma, but he wasn’t the first to do so on this planet, and I was young, naive, and illiterate in terms of history, particularly the history of religions. REB’s “teachers” were many, I think, not just Alex Horn or the Gurdjieff system, and he proved himself to be a very good student — of crime and immorality.

63. Cult Survivor - January 11, 2020

56. amesgilbert1

Asaf has no chance of keeping up with his cover–ups, explanations and obfuscations—unless he can somehow take control of the search engine algorithms and fool anyone doing due diligence.

I did a search on Google for “Asaf Braverman” and the only two critical links I saw on the first 3 pages (nobody goes beyond that) are from Tim’s REB/FOF site (“Robert Burton attacks Asaf Braverman for being unfaithful”) and from a site called “False Prophets Part III — A Cult Survivor’s Handbook” that has a lot of text extracted from this blog. Here is the site in case somebody is curious:
http://www.survivorshandbook.com/false-prophets-part-iii/

The good news is that the link to Tim’s site is the third on the first page (the other one is on page 3). Without that link Asaf would have no critical sites displayed on the first page (that’s all most people check). Keep up the good work, Tim!

64. amesgilbert1 - January 11, 2020

Joey, yes, of course the idea of someone in a state where they always trusted in and acted on an informed conscience is aspirational, I was only comparing that level of aspiration to Luther’s standard, where he demands that the laity subsume their individuality and messages from their consciences in favor of a dead organization that by and large existed only to perpetuate itself and the supremacy of its constituent power–possessors and professional intermediaries, rather than serve the spiritual welfare of its congregants.

That is not the same as saying that conscience is not accessible to most of us, I believe it is. It requires some study of oneself and of the prevailing cultural soup to recognize the ‘small, still voice’ for what it is and filter out some of the surrounding noise, and that effort is within everyone’s reach. Except for the few that were simply born without the organ at all, a.k.a. psychopaths.

By the by, it is rather noticeable (to me) that Asaf Braverman merrily skips over discussions of conscience in his ‘school’—as far as I can tell from his videos and online writings. A couple of mentions for form’s sake, and that’s it. Fits in with the way he was taught by Burton: a conscience is a nuisance to be ignored or discarded. How can he teach about it after twenty years of being indoctrinated, by word and example, that it has no relevance?

All this—and every other one of my posts—IMHO, of course!

65. ton2u - January 12, 2020

Ames @ 56,

Thanks for doing some of the ‘dirty’ work in exposing this FOF spinoff perpetrated by Asaf. I wish / hope your insights might reach those who have joined or are thinking about wasting their time with the “promises” of another garden variety charlatan.

I did take 5 minutes to look at the be. site – the impression was that Asaf is a sort of travel guide wrapped in typical “esoteric” claptrap – that’s the packaging which, as evidenced by the small group of people pictured, does lure a certain “type” of person to invest in the far-flung adventures as advertised in the be. introduction.

My impression of the information presented is that it’s nothing new or unique, it’s an exercise in recycling and repackaging some of the usual “esoteric” memes…. It’s obvious in this day and age, that the “esoteric” is not hidden, not sure it ever was – certainly don’t have to go running around the globe to find “truth” but if that’s the sort of thing that “floats the boat” for some folks, who am I to argue.

Information spewing from a talking Asaf head did not impress, what did make an impression was the pictured backdrop images of a small gaggle of folks gathered ‘round this self-glorifying travel guide – who are these people, what are they about… obviously they could be loosely considered to be “seekers” – but seekers of what?

Groups of folks forming around an idea or a notion of “revealed truth” or with notions of “revealing” hidden truth, may have something in common, they’re looking for something that unifies…

IMO there’s something that may resonate for the individual when the promise of a “teaching” is to provide an experience of unity to inner chaos, the “many I’s.” A promise of inner unity by way of involvement in a group, goes together hand-in-glove and is reinforced by feelings of unity that comes from outer / group bonding with “like-minded” individuals. Somehow a sense of inner unity is supported and bolstered by the sense of outer unity that comes with participation in the group dynamic.

There is a “hidden curriculum” to consider… IMO what draws people to these groups is only partly about the lure of “exotic esoteric teachings” – as a social animal, the shared sense of community and feelings of unity with others which comes with group bonding is a basic human need which is at the root of what the “seeker” seeks – whether s/he’s aware of it or not.

The “meta-data” of human DNA is what really, truly and deeply in-forms being human… the pre-historical/biological imperative to survive on planet Earth evolved as a progression of family, clan, tribe, state, nation, it’s a sort of baked-in visceral memory that in-forms the basis of a human need for the unifying sense of shared community. The “esoteric” drivel in this case is just window dressing…. IMO.

66. amesgilbert1 - January 12, 2020

Thanks Ton, but you shouldn’t give me too much credit. The fact is, most of the thanks are due to the unceasing vigilance of alert readers. From the wilds of Solano county to offices in New York and Los Angeles, tips pour in unceasingly, at the rate of a dozen a year or more. Some sources even have tentacles reaching deep inside the Fellowship of Friends itself!

Others agents monitor the interwebs for signs of Asaf Braverman and his endless proliferation of websites. And, from time to time, fearless investigators come across the strange spoor of exotic species, like the Brian Flynns, the Benjamin Yudins, the William Pages, the Gilbert Moores, the Nicolas Walkers, the Girard Havens of yore and lore. They are everywhere—and nowhere.

I merely assemble the pieces in some order, add a patina of righteous indignation, and offer up the results to the discerning readers of this blog.

67. amesgilbert1 - January 13, 2020

Speaking of Brian Flynn, there is another one who appears to have started his own group, and has certainly accumulated some followers and admirers. Let’s see… yes, an artiste, joined the Fellowship of Friends in 1980, moved to Apollo for many years, and has finally ended up in Egypt, still a member AFAIK, and still ‘pursuing his art’. Fell in with a lady by the name of Tracy Ash, who found this blog and told us her tale of woe in 2013 (page 138, #40). Granted that she was a very angry woman, it still seems clear that he was a habitual and deceitful liar—excuse me, displayed a remarkable grasp of the utility and advantages of ‘intentional insincerity’:
https://fofdiscussion.wordpress.com/2013/08/02/fellowship-of-friendsfourth-way-schoolliving-presence-discussion-page-138/#comment-53309

Resides in Luxor, claims to be a ‘Sufi’ and in touch with the ‘ancient spirits of Egypt’, esoteric schools of the past, and so on. Sound familiar? Yes, and he also makes a nice living as a sort of ‘spiritual tour guide’, just like Asaf, even makes videos, also available on YouTube.
In fact, the connection is closer than that, Brian Flynn was actually part of Braverman’s ‘Ark in Time’ network for a time as well!

Anyway, another alert reader tells me there is a post on Facebook by another current member of the Fellowship, which post gushes thusly:
#AshrafEzzat is currently filming a new documentary about Brian Flynn. An extraordinary character. A painter, born in England, drifted around for many years until he came to Egypt. That’s where he found his lost soul. We are revealing many aspects of his rich/productive life experience after he came to Egypt and became permanently established in Luxor for almost the last 20 years. In the documentary you will get to meet #BrianFlynn; the man, the painter and most of all the Egyptian Sufi. Photo is taken at the amazing “Sultan Hassan Mosque” in Ancient Cairo.
(Ames: photo is of Brian, looking extremely gaunt, scraggy, and spiritual, seated cross–legged on the ground, complete with patented ‘thousand–yard’ stare into the infinite Empyrean blue yonder that most gurus learn to adopt)

Somehow, I doubt that Flynn is going to mention his long history in the Fellowship and his relationship with Burton in this documentary. Anyone want to bet? Hey, if Asaf Braverman is going to edit out twenty years of his life to suit his new ends, why shouldn’t Brian Flynn edit out forty years to suit his?

The mind reels and gently boggles! But this is a clear example of what hanging out with Robert Earl Burton for nigh on forty years will do to one, especially if one is naïve and susceptible (and sufficiently vain) to begin with.

68. ton2u - January 14, 2020

Burton’s sordid “legacy” – spawning more cults… just what the world needs.

69. Joey Virgo - January 15, 2020
70. Cult Survivor - January 16, 2020

67. amesgilbert1

Photo is of Brian, looking extremely gaunt, scraggy, and spiritual, seated cross–legged on the ground, complete with patented ‘thousand–yard’ stare into the infinite Empyrean blue yonder that most gurus learn to adopt)

A picture is a thousand words as they say.

71. WhaleRider - January 18, 2020

Marshall Applewhite

72. Associated Press - January 20, 2020

73. Tim Campion - January 20, 2020

56. amesgilbert1

It should be noted that Asaf Braverman has not (yet) completely eliminated Robert Earl Burton and The Fellowship of Friends from his many active websites.

Asaf’s new autobiographical note, which you cite in #56 and #57, provides a Fourth Way School link. On the Fourth Way School page, there is an About link, that leads to Braverman’s longstanding representation of the Fourth Way lineage that includes (for the moment, at least) Burton and the Fellowship.

Just like Burton’s, Braverman’s “teaching” has assumed so many guises, it has littered cyberspace with fragments of a better-left-unknown teaching.

74. Insider - January 20, 2020

73. Tim, et al

Somewhat along these same lines, there is a Fellowship marketing effort underway in Russia which is quite careful not to mention the Fellowship or Robert Burton. The site is here: http://ru.4thway.org/.

The individual named on the site is Alexander Komov, quite definitely a Fellowship member, and all the “center” phone numbers match phone numbers in the current Fellowship phone directory.

The only mention of Burton is in the “workbook” list, where Burton’s books are titled “Self-remembering” and “Little goals” (??).

75. Insider - January 20, 2020

Pretty interesting that the only way the Fellowship of Friends and Robert Burton can attract new followers is by not mentioning Burton or the Fellowship. Hook them, shower them with love and uniqueness and community, and only then inform them that they are members of the Fellowship and Burton followers. “But, see, it’s not really so terrible, is it?”

76. Cult Survivor - January 20, 2020

I found today an interesting article from a former member named Vaillant Gicqueau titled “The Use of Anchors in Cults.” The article is from October 12th, 2018.

Here is the definition of “anchor” from the article: “In NLP (neuro-linguistic programming), ‘anchoring’ refers to the process of associating an internal response with some external or internal trigger so that the response may be quickly, and sometimes covertly, reassessed.” Some examples of FOF “anchors” are license plates, the number 44, etc.

I know from my personal experience that “anchors” are very powerful: I left the FOF more than 3 years ago and I still catch myself noticing coincidences on license plates, outdoor signs, music lyrics, etc. This phenomenon is decreasing with time but is still fairly frequent.

I have a question for the blog: How long does it takes for the so-called “anchors” to stop working? Do people that left decades ago still feel their action sporadically?

Back to our friend Vaillant’s interesting analysis, this is the part of the article that mentions the FOF:

“(…) I was in a cult called the Fellowship of Friends from age 20 and 23. According to its leader Robert Burton, there were 44 angels, or ‘conscious beings’ directly working with his ‘conscious school’. He claims to be personally guided by Leonardo da Vinci. According to Burton, these disembodied beings were the ‘Higher Forces’, or ‘C Influence’ supporting him in his mission and helping all cult members to awaken.

Any of you reading this, may think that people joining this cult would be simple-minded and foolish. This was not the case. The Fellowship of Friends had many members that had a high IQ and who would be regarded as very intelligent by the rest of society. There were engineers, entrepreneurs, teachers, business executives and many of them had university degrees. As people, we typically hold as truth what other people we trust believe, even if we have no direct experience of it. For example, we adopt the Big Bang theory as absolute truth while it is just that, a theory, plus most of us have not studied all the hypotheses that come with it.

Silly beliefs like the 44 angels of Burton get propagated not only for peer pressure but because they meet important emotional needs in followers:

1 – The need for significance.

If I have angels working directly with me to wake-up, I am suddenly someone very important. If the cult has 5,000 members, it means I am one out of a million to be selected by higher powers. If I am connected to someone who says he is even higher than Jesus, that makes me that much more important. If Leonardo Da Vinci works with me, then I must be a very special person. In this way, we develop the cult personality to suppress our hurt inner child that sees itself as worthless.

2 – The need for belonging.

Now I belong to a special group of people so this means that I am not alone anymore. I finally have a family and I have friends. I have people that I love and love me in return (not knowing yet consciously this is conditional love dependent upon my membership to the cult). I belong to a community that is guided by another community of supernatural angels guiding the earth. The cult personality is then a way to suppress the hurt inner child that sees itself as unlovable and miserably lonely.

3 – The need for meaning.

If I am supposed to build an ark to save the earth, then my life has suddenly become meaningful. I have a mission on this earth to fulfill. I have a purpose and I am out of confusion as a result. I can finally make sense of life complexity by understanding the cult dogmas. The cult personality to gain meaning is a way to suppress the hurt inner child that sees itself as irrelevant, confused, meaningless and lost.

Being part of a cult is a coping mechanism not to face some deeply and painful feelings from the inner child. The cult is able to provide beliefs and experiences that repress these aspects of us we are so afraid to bring to conscious awareness. All these fears are the incentives for creating within ourselves the cult personality.

Anchors created by the cult then reinforce these beliefs. In NLP (neuro-linguistic programming), ‘anchoring’ refers to the process of associating an internal response with some external or internal trigger so that the response may be quickly, and sometimes covertly, reassessed.

Any time we would inadvertently see the number 44 whether it was on a license plate, a street address or any other impression, we would think ‘Influence C’ was speaking to us, reinforcing the belief we were special, on the right track and that we belonged. These emotions are very addictive especially as we feel the exact opposite deep within us in our hurt inner child. Furthermore, when we would see 44, we would mention it to other cult members as it gave us a sense of superiority. In order not to face these painful repressed feelings, some people get addicted to alcohol, legal and illegal drugs, porn, video games or food. Other people like me join a cult.

This is another reason why it is so difficult to leave cults. Leaving the cult means losing the 44 angels that were there before to protect you. There is no bigger fear in the human psyche than being abandoned by God. Leaving the cult means stopping feeling special and significant. It means losing your friends and family. You are now back in the mass of regular people that you used to despise and feel superior towards. As you leave the group, the anchor now acts in reverse reflecting your own loneliness, purposelessness and nothingness. (…)”

Here is the link to the article (reading recommended):
https://www.elephantjournal.com/now/the-use-of-anchors-in-cults-3/

77. Cult Survivor - January 20, 2020

REB imprinting an “anchor” in his followers’ minds.

78. WhaleRider - January 21, 2020

Cult Survivor:
“Anchors” are cues that trigger a particular thought or feeling and are effective only insofar as a strong feeling is associated to the anchoring event and the anchor is reinforced a few times. An anchor can be anything, a word, gesture, image, logo, color, smell, ritual, or handshake, etc.

The process of “anchoring” can be intentional or unintentional. IMO, anchors or triggers may or may not fade away over time depending upon the strength of the associated feelings in the anchoring process, the frequency, and the individual’s personal narrative about the triggered thought or feeling.

This could be seen IMO as one of the reasons for all the emotional intensity in the FOF: it aids in the “anchoring process” or cult indoctrination.

To deal with anchors and triggers the first step is to raise awareness. (Which the FOF claims to do about our “mechanical” anchors, triggers or associations.)

The second step to override an anchor or trigger is to intentionally associate a stronger feeling to the anchor through a “corrective emotional event” which then “updates” an individual’s personal narrative to include how they dealt with it. (This the FOF claims to do through the process being “present” and “resisting feminine dominance or the lower self”.)

79. amesgilbert1 - January 21, 2020

I’m pretty sure that ‘Vaillant Gicqueau’ is the same as the ‘Ale Gicqueau’, who made a brief appearance on a past page of this blog. A search brings up lots of hits, including videos he did with Teal Swan, another ‘professional guru’, made while he was involved with her (including a brief marriage and divorce).

Now appearing as “Coach Vaillant” (Gicqueau) with a blog, Facebook page and followers. ‘Coach’ meaning, AFAIK, ‘life coach’ and ‘spiritual advisor’.
https://vaillant.blog/2018/06/09/vaillant/

Apparently he offers retreats, and also consultations (90 minutes):
Session types 
In person or through video call (WhatsApp, Skype, Messenger or FaceTime)
Healing Session: I specialize in soul retrieval and trauma healing using some of the most advanced and proven spiritual techniques.
Business and Entrepreneurship: I have created and built 5 successful businesses in my life (one of them grew to over 100 employees in the Silicon Valley and had a successful exit). I have an in-depth understanding of the challenges founders, entrepreneurs and executives face every day. 
Love & Intimacy: attract love into your life, heal existing relationships, develop intimacy skills, move from codependency to authenticity
Cult Deprogramming: counseling or intervention with support of the family to help a loved one leave a toxic cult. There is no coercion. It is all about bringing new ways of thinking to support the cult member to free his own mind.

80. amesgilbert1 - January 21, 2020

nsider (#74 above), thanks for the heads–up.

Other signs it is a Fellowship of Friends front are the ‘golden sailing ship/barque’ logo, and the unique ‘bookmark portraits’ of Ouspensky and Gurdjieff by the then artist–in–residence from forty years ago.

I get what you are saying about the organizers studiously avoiding all mention of Robert Earl Burton and the Fellowship, that makes perfect sense, but I don’t understand how the organizers of the Russian website could avoid these topics for very long. Surely there are going to be questions about the source and transmission of knowledge and authority within a couple of weeks, if not actually during the ‘introductory meetings’? And, don’t the ‘center directors’ worldwide gather the flock together to show videos of the meetings either in real time or soon after? Or are new initiates kept ignorant or lied to for many months as deliberate policy? I can see how this is more possible if the recruit takes up the offer of ‘remote, web–based membership’, but even then, only for a limited time.

I can’t help noting some of the more brazen claims on the website, as in one section, ‘Learning Myths and Symbols’:
“Studying ancient traditions, starting with the prehistoric Chauvet caves, ending with 20th-century teachers such as Meher Baba and Siluan Athos, allows us to see that schools of the past directly or indirectly rely on the five main symbols of inner work. Their trace can be found in painting, poetry, architecture, dance, sculpture, and even in the drawing of the carpet. To see symbols, a person needs to be conscious.”
(courtesy of Google Translate)

Revealed knowledge by the bucketful, masterfully interpreted by the God–Emperor of Oregon House and licensed minions…
…and you get to be ‘conscious’ as soon as your first check clears the bank!

BTW, does anyone happen to know how much the ‘teaching payments’ are, there in Russia, nowadays?

81. Insider - January 21, 2020

80. amesgilbert1

Hard to figure out what’s going on with these online lectures. It seems that signing up for them is not (yet) joining the Fellowship. Or perhaps it is a membership category for people who live too far from the established centers in Russia. So, I don’t know when Burton and the Fellowship are finally revealed to these cyber-students.

I noticed that there are 3 levels of membership/indoctrination:

3.2.1. “Introductory level.” Services are provided free of charge, the User is given access to video tutorials to form a general idea of ​​the operation of the Site and its Services, an opinion on the posted Content and a decision to continue using the Site. Technical support for Users regarding the functioning of the Site and its Services, other emerging issues at the email addresses indicated by them is not provided.

3.2.2. “Permanent level.” The user is provided with the opportunity to access training video broadcasts, video conferences and other Content of other Users, the schedule of video conferences, recordings for participation in video conferences, technical support by e-mail.

The cost of services for this type of subscription is 1,000 (one thousand) rubles 00 kopecks per month. The first payment is made by the User upon registration on the Site, the second and subsequent payments are made no later than the corresponding date of each subsequent month.

3.2.3. “Thematic lectures.” The user is provided with the opportunity to access a series of twenty-two video conferences for 6 months from the date of registration on the Site, to the schedule of video broadcasts, recordings for participation in video conferences, technical support by e-mail.

The cost of services for this type of subscription is 4,500 (four thousand five hundred) rubles 00 kopecks per month and is paid monthly after the registration of the User on the Site or with subsequent subscription to this level.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * *
And for anyone thinking to sign up for level 3, it is well worth noting the following command (although there are many more):

“We ask you not to participate in a meeting with a naked torso, in a T-shirt or bathing suit, participants should be dressed.”

82. Cult Survivor - January 21, 2020

80. amesgilbert1
81. Insider

Here is the value of each level of membership in US Dollars adjusted to the cost of living in Russia:

1. Introductory level – Free
2. Permanent level – $44 / month
3. Thematic lectures – $198 / month

By the way, I happen to know the responsible for the site (Alexander “Sasha” Komov) from the time I was a member. He is a yoga teacher located in Russia — I remember that every time he was visiting Apollo he would organize a “yoga workshop.”

IMO Komov is doing this by himself using the umbrella of the FOF just like Braverman did with he started his Beperiod.com site: Komov’s name appears several times on the site including the Terms of Service. Besides, the site seems too technically refined to be an official FOF project.

83. John Harmer - January 21, 2020

#80 Interesting that one of the people named in the banner page is Siluan Athos, a name I had not come across before. He was a Russian monk, his story reminded me of the monk in Dostoevsky’s Brothers Karamazov, and might be included because it is a name that resonates with Russian seekers

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Silouan_the_Athonite

84. amesgilbert1 - January 21, 2020

Cult Survivor,
Thanks for the info about the fees. They seem rather high, but what do I know? I mean in terms of the income of an ordinary Russian. I know things have come a long way and there have been many improvements since the days of Yeltsin and the oligarchs, who, with the help of the ‘Harvard Boys’, looted the Russian economy and reduced most folks to penury, but still.

So maybe Komov is thinking of going independent? I could understand a desire to have a community that is reasonably healthy and balanced, which is to say, without Burton and his layers of enablers and followers hungry for his approval, yet advocating and encouraging a more contemplative and thoughtful outlook. Yet, how to do this without repeating the errors of Burton? I have always been hungry for a meaningful non–authoritarian community myself, but simply cannot see how it would function. There are so very few successful examples to look to for inspiration and practical knowledge.

But if Sasha Komov is intending to go the route of Burton and Braverman, then curses be on him.

85. Insider - January 21, 2020

82. Cult Survivor

Are you using about 62 rubles per dollar? If so, your numbers are much to high.

86. Cult Survivor - January 21, 2020

85. Insider

For countries with weak currencies we need to consider the cost of living when converting dollars into their local currency. Russia has one of the weakest currencies in the world so we need to use the “real” exchange rate that considers the cost of living in Russia, not the “official” exchange rate (62 rubles per dollar).

A popular way to do that is to use the so-called “Big Mac Index” (BMI) that compares the cost of a Big Mac in USA and Russia:

Big Mac in USA (average): 5.76 dollars
Big Mac in Russia (average): 130 rubles
BMI exchange rate: approx 23 rubles per dollar

That being the case, the “Permanent level” at 1,000 rubles per month is equivalent to 44 dollars and the “Thematic lectures” at 4,500 rubles per month corresponds to 198 dollars.

87. Cult Survivor - January 21, 2020

83. John Harmer

Interesting that one of the people named in the banner page is Siluan Athos, a name I had not come across before.
When I left the FOF in 2016 Burton was mentioning him often — he was one of the “44 (81) conscious beings” helping the FOF. I remember Burton saying once “Silouan the Athonite is one of the most recent angels, he died when I was in my mother’s womb” (Silouan died in September of 1938 and Burton was morn in May 1939).

88. Golden Veil - January 23, 2020

Has anyone ever attended the Sierra study group which, according to this article written by one its founders, is connected to the Gurdjieff Foundation?

If they are legitimately connected to the Gurdjieff Foundation, it may be a worthwhile community to participate in.

https://www.theunion.com/entertainment/activities-and-events/sierra-gurdjieff-study-group-to-hold-presentation-in-grass-valley/

89. Phutatorius - January 23, 2020

I don’t know who Ellen Reynard is, but Paul Reynard was one of the GF’s leaders up until his death. Probably legitimately connected to the GF in my opinion. (I was in the GF for a while after the FOF.) It shouldn’t be too hard to figure out if they’re legit. The GF doesn’t charge exorbitant fees, by the way.

90. ton2u - January 24, 2020

Golden Veil

Some time ago I worked with Malka who in her past had been involved with the Gurdjieff Foundation… she introduced me to James George who was also a GF affiliate… he made a strongly positive impression on me, he had no type of recruitment or prosteltyzing agenda. I don’t mean this as an endorsement of the organization, I know nothing about it but from my encounters with these two souls it seems a much less nefarious enterprise than is the FOF.

Of course I’m not sure what you might be searching for through your interest in another Gurdjieff group…?

Whatever the endeavors or intentions of a group involving “the work” a cult of personality has accreted around the by now “legendary” character Gurdjieff… attracting all sorts of people for all sorts of reasons.

91. Cult Survivor - January 24, 2020

90. ton2u

James George was 94 at the time of the video above — he is 101 now. This is from his Wikipedia article: “He married Barbara Brady Wright in San Francisco on 1 January 2005, at the age of 86.” He is in very good shape for his age, that’s for sure.

92. amesgilbert1 - January 24, 2020

Thoughts about joining a new group…

I and my wife are in our 70’s. We met in and were part of the Fellowship cult/scam for sixteen years and twenty years respectively. We emerged much poorer financially, but relatively unscathed compared to many. We learned many lessons about ourselves and about that particular authoritarian group, some of which can be generalized to apply to many similar kinds of groups.

From now on speaking only for myself, I was the kind of person who fancied themselves reasonably intelligent, but also extremely unsure of myself and my place in the world. Which world seemed to be somewhat of a madhouse. So, ripe to fall for some kind of explanation of what was going on, internally and externally. Seemed like good, sincere folks at my introductory meetings in London, so I went along. And got sucked in…

Given these circumstances and history, why would I go to go to this meeting announced in the Union (the local paper that reports on events in Nevada City and Grass Valley, where I live)?

If I attend, it seems to me that I am voluntarily giving up some power in advance. That is, there will be some ‘leader’ or ‘spokesperson’ who will tell me some things that he/she presumes I don’t know, some new knowledge. Whose authority will be reinforced by the presence of others of like mind and aims, up there on the podium, or whatever form it takes. And I will be passive while this is going on, a position of acceptance and weakness, if only to be polite.

But hey, maybe there will be some knowledge or claims new to me. But, so what? I have plenty of knowledge and experience of my own. More than enough to be getting on with. My own, that I paid for. That is very important, IMHO, because it was hard won, and as such is ten thousand times more valuable than revealed knowledge, even from a saint.

Plus, even if what this group offers is actually practical, there is no time. I don’t have enough time left in my life to fully apply what I already know, let alone experiment with what someone else claims. Why would I put aside what I know in favor of someone else’s claims?

The ‘Fourth Way’ was correctly described as, ‘fragments of an unknown teaching’, and I haven’t met anyone who has collected all the missing fragments. Claims are just that, claims, and by their very nature unprovable, at least to my personal satisfaction.

I regret the time and energy and money I spent supporting Burton and his scam. I took a dozen years too long to apply either common sense or the scientific method to his claims, and more years to gather up the courage to act. But at least I came away having learned something about myself and about groups and the transmission of illusory authority. I’m not going to give up my agency or disregard my experience.

93. Phutatorius - January 24, 2020

James George wrote a book titled “The Little Green Book on Awakening,” which you might want to check out. I think I met two of his children in the GF. All in all, I wouldn’t agonize too much over whether or not to check this Grass Valley group out. The won’t abduct you. I’m no longer affiliated with the GF, but I have no bad things to say about them. I got tired of driving hundreds of miles on a regular basis to attend meetings and other activities. Fourth Way groups are not the only “way.”

94. Golden Veil - January 24, 2020

I think a community is only as good as its members. But a community led by a narcissistic sociopath or authoritarian regime is destructive and has zero appeal for me. Because I was living outside of my native country at the time I met the FoF, far from family and friends, I was particularly vulnerable to the School (cult). I’d read In Search of the Miraculous, The Psychology of Man’s Possible evolution and Meetings with Remarkable Men – and found the small group very enticing. For the most part, I only heard of REB from the center directors. Fancy brochures arrived every so often with enigmatic “angles” by the “Teacher” printed on an old handset-type press with nice tip-mounted Old Master painting reproductions. I never saw REB until I was at Apollo, shortly before I left the cult, after being a member for only about a year. Although my stay with the FoF was short-lived, I definitely experienced many of the classic cult manipulations, from love bombing to a gradual, slow brainwash that included temporarily perceiving my friends and family at home as “life people”.

I don’t think that my center directors were bad people. I think that they were unknowingly complicit. I think that because I was in such a small group outside of my normal life milieu – their elegant trappings and interests matched mine (at the time), and my cult indoctrination was more swift and insidious than if I had been at home. Luckily, I woke up upon returning back home, I’d describe my stay with the FoF as relatively short to that of many who write here ~ but it was emotionally intense, maybe because of my participation within an such intimate group, so far from home. The cut-off of friendships when I left was weird, although on a later visit, one of the center directors had coffee with me. In fact, he said that a student or two he knew was studying with the Gurdjieff Foundation, and seemed to be doing quite well.

My opinion of the Gurdjieff Foundation, is colored by a five year experience with them (not in Yuba County) – after my sojourn with the Fellowship of Friends. To me, it seemed to be a much more egalitarian, democratically run organization, one that would be suitable for someone seeking a community whose focus is to study the “Gurdjieff Work”. The work is centered around study groups, team research projects, days working as a team on home improvement at a couple of teaching houses (where no one seemed to live) and the practice of Movements.

There was no aura of “specialness”, no luxury items flaunted. People with skills shared them with others as part of a way to work with others who have a similar aim. The Gurdjieff Foundation had a very slow introduction process – in my case. I would not call it an indoctrination. But, my experience was many years ago; it may have changed. I am not sure if the group in Yuba County is actually even part of the “authorized” foundation. That is why I am curious to know if anyone reading here has met with them. Overall, the foundation did seem to have an esoteric, hidden aspect – and was fairly private. But, I think that public talks are occasionally given. I cannot recall how I found it myself!

Below is a link to the foundation’s website. I do not see the “Sierra Gurdjieff Study Group” name on it. That is why I am curious to know if any of the former Fellowship of Friends visited the Yuba County-based group. I would think that some former FoF students might be involved with them because of its proximity. On the Gurdjieff Foundation website each group has a note explaining when it was founded and its ties to other groups, ie. “The Gurdjieff Foundation of Los Angeles was established in 1959 under the guidance of John Pentland, then President of the Gurdjieff Foundation of New York, and other students of Gurdjieff. The Los Angeles group maintains close ties to the Gurdjieff Foundations in San Francisco, New York, and Paris.”

Personally, I have a hard time with “group membership”. The suggested ‘verification for oneself” often seems to give over to subjective (has to be) leadership and the rank and file can have a herd mentality. I think that community, though, as long as it is benign and not led by a charismatic but immoral teacher like REB (or, dare I say, GG himself?) could be conducive to mental health for people otherwise socially isolated – and of course with the time to be involved. The Gurdjieff Foundation group I was in had very busy people who worked full-time who commuted long distances in order to work with others at the teaching house.

I only brought up the Sierra group because of a fragment in the No. 84 post above: “I have always been hungry for a meaningful non–authoritarian community myself, but simply cannot see how it would function. There are so very few successful examples to look to for inspiration and practical knowledge.”

https://www.gurdjieff.org/foundation.htm

Re: Post 89 – Ellen Reynard is mentioned here:

https://www.gurdjieff.org/index.en.htm

95. Phutatorius - January 24, 2020

Gurdjieff International Review, I don’t know who is editing it now, but in the past it was edited by a former FOFer; Greg. Very nice, smart guy with a lovely spouse, June. I hope they are still doing well but I’ve had no contact with them for quite a long time. Gregg’s brother David is well known in Zen circles.

96. amesgilbert1 - January 24, 2020

Phutatorius, I’m not worried about being abducted, I just want to make the best use of the limited time I have left. For example, I’d rather be laying out a new painting or enjoying some poetry with my wife or going for a hike in the woods. But, I’ll check out the book—found a copy on eBay for $4 including shipping. This is much less of an investment than the hours of time, not to mention energy, spent on some kind of “introductory meeting”. Thanks for the recommendation.

Golden Veil, I meant a ‘full on’ community, where I live, work and play with in a like–minded group of folks full time.
I have all editions of the “Communities Directory”, and every copy of “Communities Magazine” from the first, thirty years or more ago, to about two years ago, when I decided there was no more point hoping, and dropped the subscription. I’ve visited organized communities on the west side of this country, attended western regional get–togethers, researched many more. I guess I’m just too fussy, naïve or unrealistic!

97. Golden Veil - January 24, 2020

Ames, you clearly don’t need a community, but I, a single person and long-time member of a community that is part of a major metropolis, am in search of a community in a smaller city! But I’d be more than a bit hesitant, as you clearly are, to join up with a formally organized one, even if the community seems to be guru / religion / dogma free. There always seems to be a few people at the top with the tendency to control, be in charge and promote their own agenda. To be perfectly frank, I’d probably be in danger of becoming one of them myself! Better to save others from Me! I would like to see the Communities Magazine though anyway. Will check it out. Thanks!

98. amesgilbert1 - January 25, 2020

Golden Veil, the “Communities Directory” is a good way to start with, IMHO. The first decades were in print, but there is an online version now:
https://www.ic.org/directory/
Anyway, there is a whole section in the printed edition where the various (1,759 around the world) communities are listed with associated characteristics in columns. One of those is the leadership structure. All the characteristics are self–reported, but when you see, “charismatic leader”, you can be reasonably sure what that implies. Then there is a section where each community describes itself and its purpose in prose. Other sections have some general information about reaching consensus, decision making, and so on, but most of those kind of articles are in “Communities Magazine”, usually based on real life in actual communities, and mostly very current and pertinent. Lots of stories of heartache and sorrow, but also lots of joy and realizations.

The Fellowship of Friends used to be listed in the directory, but the lies were so egregious (and provable as such) that I was able to persuade FIC (Foundation for Intentional Community) to delist them. They may have straightened up their act and be included again; I’ll have to go have a look.

Up here in the Grass Valley/Nevada City area, there are two co–housing communities, and we are friends with a couple in one. They used to be members of the FoF, so they know all about that. They love it there, it is just the right mixture of community and independence for them. Lots of community projects like shared gardens, workshop areas, a community dining hall and meeting room. Required communal cooking duties once a month. Each house or apartment also has its own kitchen, of course. Decisions by consensus, then down to volunteer committees to actualize.
But… these are relatively recent developments, the land was extremely expensive, so the units perforce are expensive. No young people, and few older people, can afford these prices, so most of the people are older and well off. There are a few kids, but no–one in their twenties or thirties. And so it goes…

There are several ‘Gurdjieff groups’ up here, at least two of them run by ‘charismatic leaders’, both named, ‘Gold’, but unrelated. Bruce has described them elsewhere on these pages. Run along the same lines as Burton and the Fellowship of Friends, as far as I can tell.
Then there is the Ananda community twenty miles outside town, another in NC run by an actual goddess, and so on.

99. brucelevy - January 25, 2020

98. amesgilbert1

E. J. Gold. As toxic as they come. Another sexual predator. They’re all the same.

100. ton2u - January 25, 2020

Re: one of the Golds Ames mentioned –

A number of years ago, a friend “D”, also ex-FOF but at that time still searching, encountered the J. Jaye Gold group… D was enthusiastic enough about it that he convinced me and my wife to attend one of Gold’s open air meetings on a Sunday in a Grass Valley park. From there we drove over to visit a rural property where there was some type of group living arrangement, and another nearby property which was being developed by the group for more cohabitation. From what I recall, Mr. Gold conducted the meeting alone from a dais, a rambling vaguely philosophical “spiritual” monologue interspersed by his riffing on a transverse flute. At the “compound” there was a lot of reefer smoking and a pot garden out back. I wasn’t positively impressed, nor was my wife… seemed in general like another exercise in narcissism and although Gold tried to come off as a cool ex-hippie, my bullshit alarm was triggered – the impression was he’s a little man with something like a napoleon complex. D, who was so enthusiastic about the group later lost interest.

I think Bruce has posted here about the other Gold Ames mentions.

Re: community

In general unless you’re trapped by a coercive authoritarian cult you make your own (community) by choices and affinities in relations.

A lot has been said and written about the importance of a sense of community as an ingredient in psychic / emotional health and well-being. There is a lot more to the equation obviously, but an essential aspect comes from a sense that one is an integral part of “something greater” than the individual self. But things become problematic when the individual self loses a sense of individuality in becoming subsumed by this “something greater.”

When I was in the FOF one positive experience was working as the beekeeper there at “Renaissance.” As beekeeper I worked alongside “K” who subsequently left the FOF some years after I did… although we live on opposite coasts, we’ve stayed in touch and we’re still good friends…. I count that enduring friendship as one positive from my time in the FOF.

Working as a beekeeper I read a book titled 9 Lectures On Bees by Rudolf Steiner…. a very curious book to me, I didn’t know quite what to make of it… nonetheless I found the thinking and insights interesting and thought-provoking. Though I don’t remember the specific details, that book must have made a strong impression on me because…

After about 15 years of being out of the FOF and having moved to the east coast USA, I happened upon a Camphill community about an hour away from where I lived. It piqued my interest but it didn’t go much further than putting the place in my awareness. A couple years later I worked part-time in a little health food store near me… Willard was a character who came into the store regularly, we chatted when he came in and became friends… he was another of those remarkable people who enter one’s life. In our conversations he mentioned he was leaving his job as a one-to-one aide for an autistic boy, and asked if I might be interested in taking over for him. I wasn’t thrilled about stocking shelves and running a cash register, so out of curiosity I agreed to visit his workplace and see what the job might entail. It turned out the job was at the Camphill community that had piqued my interest some years prior. Willard worked at the school there, the curriculum is based on Waldorf education which brings the tale back round to Steiner.

When I visited Willard at Camphlll School I was positively impressed with what I saw going on, impressed with the people and the “village” lifestyle that was created there as a sort of matrix for the inclusion of students with special needs. I did some further research into the place, and found out they offered a foundation course which went into some depth and detail regarding Steiner’s thinking…. that got my interest, and so I began investigation into the mind which produced the enigmatic book on bees that I’d come across many years prior while working as a beekeeper at “Renaissance.”

Willard left his job and moved to Ecuador, I took over for him and enrolled in the foundation course. That was 20 years ago. I’ve been gainfully employed as a wood working and hand craft teacher there ever since. At first I was leery of the possible cult-like trappings, but I was and am careful about avoiding certain situations and relations after the FOF – and there can be cult-like aspects to the community, this may go for almost any community IMO… or maybe I’m just extra-sensitive and self-protective post-FOF? I was asked early on by Elsa, one of the long-time residents there “do you think this is a cult?” it was a bit of a shock to hear – did she pick-up a vibe from my reticence to engage in certain ways? Was this a question she wrestled with herself needing another outsider’s perspective ? My reply was something like “not all cults are destructive, in certain parts of the world the word “cult” is not necessarily pejorative…” or words to that effect.

Anyway this community is a much different thing, a much different experience than the FOF. For one, it’s about helping others, “the least among us” who happen to be in need of “special care” – actually after doing this work for a while and interaction with these special folks and their families I find they’re not at all “the least among us” and in certain ways some are closer to being unpretentious and naturally “authentic” than so-called “normal” folks.

Although there is a bit of Steiner worship amongst some of the dyed-in-the-wool, there is no “charismatic” leader… The Foundation for Intentional Community description of the organization lists governance as by “Consensus (everyone agrees)” with no identified leader. In actuality there are a few folks who carry more weight and tend to influence the consensus, but all-in-all the decision making process at least has the egalitarian gesture. There is a freedom about participation in the community which the FOF lacked… but maybe in part that was just a difference in my approach… there’s a little of that, the enthusiasm and naivety of youth compared to where I’m at now in life. Anyway, I’m able to treat my involvement in the community life there as well-paid work I do for a lovable cause… and what I get back is more than a paycheck it’s not about that, it’s about the love. Beyond my teaching duties 180 days a year, there is no sense of coercion – quite the opposite, I have a strong sense of freedom in my involvement… that sense of freedom and individual agency is all the difference in healthy relationship to community.

101. brucelevy - January 25, 2020

100. ton2u

E.J. Gold is a snake oil salesman. He purchased his “compound” when his mother hit a lottery win and he received some money. Most of the children running around his compound, belonging to many different women, are all fathered by him. He’s a creep and a predator, and his flock ain’t too bright. He’s a pathological liar, as most “gurus” are. I met him at a coffee shop in the 80’s. He told me he had an unpublished manuscript from Gurdjieff. He invited me to one of his self masturbatory ass kissing meetings to see the manuscript. I asked to see the manuscript. He had nothing.

102. brucelevy - January 25, 2020
103. brucelevy - January 25, 2020
104. fofblogmoderator - January 25, 2020

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