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Fellowship Of Friends/Fourth Way School/Living Presence Discussion – Page 190 July 9, 2021

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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. Insider - July 9, 2021

The following is from robertearlburton.org, a Fellowship-sponsored website and recruiting tool (and hotbed of misinformation and outright lies):

“Year after year, Robert Burton’s students have come to him with their questions. Year after year, with unfaltering patience, he has taught that the only true solutions to any perceived ‘problem’ lie in our efforts to self-remember and to transform our suffering.”

Actually, no one comes to Burton with questions. He has disallowed this kind of interaction for 30-40 years. He cannot be approached in person, by phone, or by texting. Fact is, Burton simply does not have a Teacher-Student relationship with anyone in the Fellowship, not even with his “inner circle” or “entourage,” as was made clear on this forum by “knoti” in 2018 (page 162, #111). Any trace of such relationships back in the early days degraded and crystallized into a King-Subject relationship, or Emperor-Serf, or Dictator-Slave.

Robert Burton does not give a damn about anyone’s “evolution” or any aspect of their “spiritual work.”

Yet Burton is still universally referred to as “The Teacher” (though he teaches nothing, save how to manipulate people for one’s own selfish ends), and he refers to the Fellowsheepers as “my Students who will follow me to Paradise.” And the illusion will certainly persist right through to Burton’s physical demise, and likely long beyond.

2. diegoriverassquaretrouserleg - July 10, 2021

Insider #1

More exquisite bollocks from the propaganda dept. They’ll do and say anything to attract fresh meat for Bob or money for Bob to buy kitsch antiques with.

The fellowship has an absurd imaginary picture of itself. The miraculous conscious school guided by angels and the quintessence of sublime wonderfulness, Robert Burton. Truth is it’s a hideous cult run by a deluded and increasingly demented predator and serial abuser and a dozen or so enablers. Burton hasn’t answered a personal question in years, possibly close to two decades. Last one was at a meeting in St. Petersburg when the fiance of a Gay Hussar basically asked him why he was having sex with her lover. He stumbled to answer, told her she was poison and had her booted.

He can’t empathize, he’s a malignant narcissist, he doesn’t know how, it’s an impossibility for him. The attempt to empathize would challenge his wildly whacky notion of himself as someone the absolute visits to give a blow job to as an act of humility. To empathize would require him to enter into the place of a sub-species, a human being.

Relationship with him is conditional on the other person or sub-species simultaneously recognizing and accepting his absolute magnificence and their imperfect wretchedness. If you have a problem remember yourself and transform your suffering even if Burton is the primary cause of your suffering, e.g. if you have a problem being fucked up the ass by him and his little cocktail sausage of a dick, separate dear and transform your suffering, after all you’re being punked by a Goddess in the body of a man and shouldn’t act like an ingrate unaware of his incalculable good luck..

After said meeting, cards with sanitized pithy quotes were read out by the flock at meetings and he would wiseacre with a previously rehearsed cosmic response. No more embarrassing questions, total control re-established, Angel feathers no longer in danger of being ruffled, blow jobs after the meeting.

3. outsidelookingin - July 10, 2021

@WhaleRider

I think you are right.

Since I have a copy of “The Fourth Way” here beside me, I can see that c influence is mentioned in chapters 1 and 4.

A small description of A, B, and C influences are on pages 21-22 and a more detailed one is from pages 83 to 88.

Page 21-22:

“All people in ordinary life live under two kinds of influences. First there are the influences created in life, desire for riches, fame and so on, which we call influence A. Secondly, there are influences that come from outside life, which work in the same conditions although they are different, and we call these influence B. They reach man in the form of religion, literature or philosophy. These influences of the second kind are conscious in their origin. Influences A are mechanical from the beginning.

With ordinary people influences A can take so much of their time that nothing is left for other influences and they are hardly affected at all by influences B. But if this magnetic center of a man grows, then after some time he meets with another man, or a group of people, from which he can learn something different, something that is not included in influence B, and which we call influence C. This influence is conscious in origin and action and can only be transmitted by direct instruction. Influence B can come through books and works of art and things like that, but influence C can only come by direct contact.”

page 87:

“And if he meets a school or a man who transmits another kind of influence, influence C, magnetic center helps him to recognize this new influence and absorb it. If he has not first absorbed enough influence B, and so has no magnetic center, or if his magnetic center is wrong or too weak, a man might not recognize influence C. Or he might meet a wrong school and have wrong instruction and instead of becoming better become worse; instead of acquiring, lose. Influence C differs from influences B in that it is conscious, instead of being accidental, in both its origin and its action, whereas influences B are conscious in their origin but accidental or mechanical in their action. Influence C is school influence.

When people have tried and have realized that ordinary means do not satisfy them, do not give them what they want, they value influences C. But if they come before that, they take influences c on the same level as other influences and influences C lose their power. It is very important to understand that.”

It seems from the earliest days it was the morphing of “influence C” that grafted a religion onto fourth way ideas. Everything else follows from this.

4. diegoriverassquaretrouserleg - July 11, 2021

Message to Bob,

“When an ordinary person has Satori, he’s called a, “Zen Devil” this is because he thinks he is something”

.
SHOWING OFF

Why don’t you simply have “I have satori!” tattooed all over your body?
If you’re not conscious of your stomach, that’s proof your stomach is healthy. If you can’t forget your satori, that’s proof that you haven’t got any.

You think that you’re something special because you’ve got satori, but you’re simply showing off your sack of flesh.

When an ordinary person has got satori, he’s called a Zen-devil. This is because he thinks he’s something special.

– Kodo Sawaki, ‘To You’

5. Insider - July 11, 2021

Fellowship gatherings, no matter how large or small, formal or casual, remind me of “improv,” or improvisational theater. It’s like each person arrives and is secretly told to play a certain role. They can do or say anything, interact with each other as they wish, but they have to stay in the role assigned to them. Unbeknownst to each person, each other person is given the same role to play.

And the role that each person is given?

That of a “conscious being.” Each person is to pretend they are “conscious,” and to be as convincing as possible.

The challenge, of course, is that no one has any idea what this means. One have a more or less definite image of how to act like they just fell in love, or their preferred team just lost in the World Cup final match, or they just inherited a million dollars. But since there is no actual, inner experience of what “consciousness” feels like, or indeed who or what is able to experience “consciousness,” or whether “consciousness” is even an experience at all, each person trying to act “conscious” has little to go on, other than imitating someone else who claims to be “conscious,” or at least more “conscious” than they are.

And so, off they all go to the stage of Burton’s “galleria,” or a “meeting,” or a dinner or breakfast with Burton, or just with each other, dressed as a “conscious being” would dress, walking the “conscious” walk, talking “conscious,” putting on all the “conscious” facial expressions and smiles, acting “consciously” happy, “consciously” and conspicuously eating and digesting all the supposed “higher-hydrogen impressions.”

And then they all go back home, smug and content that they are, indeed, one step closer to permanent “consciousness” and a free pass to Paradise.

6. diegoriverassquaretrouserleg - July 12, 2021

Message to Fellowship Members.

We live in group stupidity and confuse this insanity with true experience. It is essential that you become transparent to yourself and wake up from this madness. Zazen means taking leave of the group and walking on your own two feet.

One at a time people are still bearable, but when they form cliques, they start to get stupid. They fall into group stupidity. They’re so determined to become stupid as a group that they found clubs and pay membership dues. Zazen means taking leave of group stupidity.

kodo_sawaki_zen_master

7. ton2u - July 24, 2021

diegoetc… thanks for the sawaki wisdom postings.

I still check in here from time to time looking forward to read:

8. amesgilbert - July 24, 2021

On the last page, I wrote about one of the fatal flaws of the system popularly known as, “The Fourth Way”. This flaw is the requirement that one put oneself completely in the hands of someone who claims he or she has ‘escaped’ this level of consciousness, knows the way, and is qualified to act as a guide. Naturally, this opens an aspiring ‘student’ to gross abuse by psychopaths like Robert Earl Burton, who live only for their own gratifications.
It is difficult to open one’s heart and learn to trust someone under any circumstances; when one does this as completely as required by the Fourth Way, and that trust is betrayed, the psychic wound can take decades to heal, if ever.

Many ruefully or tearfully wish they had had warnings about Robert Earl Burton, the charlatan who has ruthlessly exploited his followers in his group, “The Fellowship of Friends”, for over fifty years. Information has become much more readily available in the last twenty years, so anyone doing due diligence has a good chance of coming across this blog or another excellent source, the Robert Earl Burton blog (link at top left of this page, under the heading, “Blogroll”, third from the bottom).
Every now and then I also have to add a warning about one of his long–time followers, Asaf Braverman, who runs his BePeriod organization from Tel Aviv, and two collections of articles you can find on the Robert Earl Burton blog bring clarity to the issue of trust, in Braverman’s particular case.

One collection of articles is called, “A Lineage of Profound Deception Continues”, and another is called, “Asaf Braverman Quietly Buries Decades–long Service to Robert Earl Burton”.

These entries highlight the issue of trust in Asaf Braverman and his BePeriod organization.
For twenty years, he learned from Burton the details of how to run a spiritual scam. For two decades, he was Burton’s right–hand man and anointed successor, advertised as one of always–forthcoming “Conscious Beings”, the ultimate fruit of the Fellowship of Friends. This is where he learned all the tricks of his trade, including intentionally lying, overtly and covertly. Burton, rather than helping him work with his weaknesses, corrupted him by encouraging his vanity, self–regard, and hubris.

As these two articles and others explain, Braverman has excised two of the most important decades from his life entirely, and replaced them with exaggerations and lies. There is now no mention at all of the Fellowship of Friends, let alone Robert Earl Burton, in his literature or ‘teachings’. This is the person that aspiring seekers must place their trust in, according to the Fourth Way.

Let me remind ‘seekers’ that the Fourth Way stipulates a succession of ‘conscious beings’, essential to impart, in person, the parts that are missing from books and lectures, that is, ‘C’ Influence. As far as I can tell, Asaf Braverman avoids any claims of any lineage at all. How convenient that he can dispense with his entire history with Robert Earl Burton and the Fellowship of Friends! Not to mention any reference to one of Burton’s Founding Lies, which is that essential esoteric knowledge was passed down to him in turn from the charlatan and spiritual scoundrel, Alex Horn, who got his knowledge from his then girlfriend, who attended a course by J.G. Bennett in England. Some lineage!

My point is, when you encounter someone who deliberately lies, whether by omission or commission, it is plain idiocy to place your trust in him or her. There were bunches of us who trusted Robert Earl Burton and got burned. In the seventies and eighties, we didn’t know better, and his lies were corroborated and reinforced by a bunch of fervent and persuasive enablers, some of whom are still at it. Nowadays, any seeker doing due diligence has the opportunity to find out in advance what kind of characters Burton and Braverman (and others of the same ilk) actually are. These people lie for a living! Please pay attention, heed these warnings and avoid them like the plague they are.

By the way, if English is not your native language, there is a translation button for 107 other languages at the top of the Robert Earl Burton Blog that might be quite helpful to you.

9. ton2u - July 25, 2021

Ames @ 9

As usual, brilliant, insightful and succinct… I’ve always appreciated your postings here. It would be a public service to get word out to a wider “audience” – I wonder what’s happened to the Brooklyn based reporter / podcaster who was working up a story based on interviews (?)

My trust was broken by the FOF experience… I can say with hindsight, prior to the FOF I had “too much” trust… another way of putting it is that I was young, naive, gullible… those were the faults that allowed for exploitation by the malignant narcissist Burton…. that episode contained difficult life-lessons which very nearly killed me – and did kill my unborn offspring…. briefly sketched on previous pages here. These many years on, I can say that my trust in people and openness is permanently altered, damaged even because of involvement in the FOF. Such is life.

10. ROBERT PATTERSON - July 25, 2021

Ames said, “… one of the fatal flaws of the system popularly known as, “The Fourth Way”. This flaw is the requirement that one put oneself completely in the hands of someone who claims he or she has ‘escaped’ this level of consciousness, knows the way, and is qualified to act as a guide.”

One of the fatal flaws of the FOF is that its members relied heavily on Ouspensky’s partial understanding of G’s teaching as set out in “In Search of the Miraculous”. This resulted in a great deal of misunderstanding of G’s teaching among FOF members and created an opportunity that the charlatan RB seized upon to commence his 50 year history of lies, abuse and crime.

Gurdjieff’s aphorisms #27: If you have not by nature a critical mind your staying here is useless.

11. John Harmer - July 26, 2021

#10 Robert Patterson seems to argue that Burton distorted the fourth way, whereas the 4th way as practiced by Gurdjieff, is in his estimation not a flawed system.

Well it is very clear that Burton introduced many variations, each of these variations helped him form a cult that serves to feed Burton’s insatiable hanger for “sex with those who would prefer not to have it with him”. For example feminine dominance, the making of a spiritualistic seance element from the theory of C influence, being on a conscious being’s ladder, alchemy read as a form of fashion consciousness, the whole number sequence thing, conscience just being a collection of “i”s, etc etc.

However I remain very suspicious of the Gurdjieffian system itself. To my mind a fundamental flaw is when Ouspenky says these ideas are not mine – they come from Higher Mind. That sets up a system of knowledge that is incapable of being adjusted in the light of more evidence or experience. The flaw that Ames pointed to of having to temporarily surrender to the will of a teacher, follows from this mandating of authority in the past that cannot be disputed. I also would identify some other fundamental flaws in the system. The idea of non expression of negative emotions, taken to its conclusion results in a blocking off of our emotional responses – for me personally it led to state close to depersonalisation. The advice to do what the machine does not wish to do is also dangerous in my opinion. I also think that holding the idea in the front of our minds that all the people we ever meet are machines, is both mistaken and dehumanising. Being present or self remembering is OK in moderation, but it lacks balance to be striving after that state 100% of the time.

So yes Burton is a dangerous psychopath, but the Gurdjieff system is also dangerous in all its forms.

12. WhaleRider - July 26, 2021

Lack A Soul?

Burning House, CA-Did you wake up this morning afraid that you might lack a soul?

Are you dismayed by the hoards of soulless zombies that seem to populate the planet?

Are you willing to do whatever it takes or pay any price to grow a soul, so you can feel superior to others?

Well, there is a way, called the Fourth Way to do just that.

All you have to do is believe, really believe, I mean really truly believe without any doubt or hesitation that what I’m telling you is objectively correct, even though there is absolutely no scientific research to suggest that the soul exists in the first place. But don’t you want one anyway?

Come join our group of other soulless individuals who believe they are growing souls and who work diligently to pay our leader’s extravagant expenses while our leader mercilessly demonstrates how weak and ignorant we are by sleeping with our wives, making us do stupid, pointless stuff like digging holes in the ground and filling them in, learn complex mechanical movements, inhale the fumes of cow manure for better health, and with great ceremony, compare those with tiny penises like yours to his giant one, and you can grow a soul, too.

All you have to do is admit to yourself and constantly remember that you are an idiot so our leader and those who imitate him can remind you, and you are in.

No other qualities are required except for a flush bank account, due to the fact that our leader charges by the word and can kill a yak 100 feet away with the power of his critical mind. It’s his way or the highway, no whining allowed as long as the Armagnac is flowing!

Don’t delay, time is running out, and by the way, did I mention that while you are reading this you are asleep? That’s right. Not sleeping in your bed, obviously, but asleep to the fact that you’re asleep and I’m not. How can you tell? You can’t, the lower cannot see the higher. Don’t you get it? There must be something wrong with you.

Call today! What are you waiting for, loser, roast pigeons to fly into your mouth?

13. amesgilbert - July 26, 2021

The reference to one of Gurdjieff’s aphorisms reminds me of this joke:
A guy makes an appointment with his psychiatrist to discuss a pressing problem.
“My brother thinks he is a chicken”, he says. “What can I do about it?”
“That’s easy”, replies the psychiatrist, “Just look him in the eye, and tell him firmly that he is NOT a chicken”.
“I can’t do that”, says the guy, “We need the eggs”.

So, this guy Gurdjieff appears pretty much out of nowhere, in a time of turmoil, and dispenses a mixture of received wisdom and nuggets gathered from living an exciting life. To this day, no one knows where the received wisdom originated, although several adventurers have tried to retrace his footsteps. A mythology about the sources of his wisdom grows…

He has a profound influence on many he meets. He has immense charisma.

Publically, he fails in his endeavors to form a ‘school’. But his followers claim that nevertheless, he did pass on the essentials to a select few, and the line of transmission remains intact. Arguments have abounded about exactly who those select few were, and what was passed on. Multiple ‘lineages’ spring up, and the more authoritarian branches claim an exclusive purity and adherence to what Gurdjieff taught, and special insights to what Gurdjieff really meant.

And here we are.

Good point about critical thinking, though.

Most education in the west skips over providing tools to help one think more clearly and rationally. I certainly wasn’t thinking clearly and rationally when I was looking for answers about the ‘meaning of life’, and fell for a con. And that, despite having some training in the ‘scientific method’. To me, that was a separate category of mentation, and didn’t apply to philosophy.

I have dispensed this advice before on this blog. They say that hindsight is 20/20, but I’d say at most it is 10/20, since any advice is filtered through the lens of subjective personal experience. But this is the best I can do for seekers who have not been trained to be critical thinkers, bearing in mind that this is 10/20 and this list of steps can certainly be improved. Others who want to jump in—welcome!

1) Take your time. There really is no hurry. Ask deeply within yourself what you are searching for, and why. Record your thoughts.

2) Sign up for courses in Logic and Critical Thinking at your local college. Push your teacher beyond what is presented in class, try to get your classmates to push as well. Become familiar with the ‘givens’ of your local and national cultures, the origins and assumptions, “common” knowledge and “common” sense. Become familiar with all aspects of propaganda and how it is used. The knowledge you gain will be of inestimable value for the rest of your life, in every area of your life, not just in sussing out esoteric teachings.
If you can’t do this at college, at least study some books or online courses, preferably with others to keep each other honest and spur each other to actually do the necessary work. That’s right, it takes major efforts to protect yourself and recognize the magical thinking and naïve hopefulness in oneself for what they are.

3) Sign up for a course in Comparative Religion at your local college. You will gain valuable insights into the history and setups of all religions, and you will recognize the classic appeals when you come across a new one. If you have a really good teacher, pump them for more individual insights.

4) If you decide to give any organization a tryout, write down the terms of that ‘tryout’, in detail, in advance. Write down your goals. Decide, in advance, on time limits. Decide how you will measure ‘success’. Share all this with a good, trustworthy friend who is NOT going to join, and make a deal that you will, come what may, meet and go over these goals together at intervals agreed in advance.

5) Ask the questions of the organization and ‘teacher’ previously listed on these pages. Ask every one of those questions and any more that occur to you as you go along. Write down all the answers; if not convenient or possible at the time, before the end of the day. If you don’t understand the answers or their implications, ask them again. Share these answers with the same friend you chose in #4.

If you follow this advice, it will only be through the worst of luck that you end up in an organization like the Fellowship of Friends or one of its offshoots like Spiral of Friends or Asaf Braverman’s BePeriod gig—or the literally thousands of other organizations set up by charlatans to take over your life and part you from your money.

14. amesgilbert - July 26, 2021

O.K., what were those questions I mentioned in the post above?

I made a list of possible questions on page 156, #96 of this blog. Have a look if you’re interested. Here’s the link:
goo.gl/3xW6Ma
…if this doesn’t work, paste this (Google shortened) into your browser. You may have to scroll a bit up or down to hit post #96.

I’m trying to encourage ‘seekers’ to think things through. Before you make a commitment. If you decide that you can’t continue without a teacher, I’m inviting you to sincerely ask youself, what went into that decision? And if you do go for it, what kind of questions should you ask of any prospective teacher.

• I ended the list with this comment:
…a lot of questions to be sure, but you are putting your time, money, effort, body and even your life on the line, so why not try to make the right decision? You cannot have too much information in these circumstances.

From someone who’s Been There and Done That

15. mannumbernine - July 26, 2021

#10 Robert Patterson

In Search of the Miraculous – Fragments of an unknown teaching

The warning was on the wrapper all along wasn’t it? Buyer beware. It was fragments of a teaching and the source for Ouspensky was unknown. Like the warning on a cigarette pack it was ignored, as it is by all good addicts, the temporary buzz outweighs the long term risk and hey, we live in the moment don’t we?

Burton took fragments of the fragments, blended it with his malware and sold a lethal cocktail to naive, trusting children. The Church of Bob.

16. Rich - July 27, 2021

One positive outcome of my years (about 5 or 6) in the
Fellowship of Friends which I left in 1980 is that
I no longer believe in supermen.

17. Insider - July 27, 2021

It took me a bit more than 5-6 years, but nevertheless:

I no longer believe in anyone who claims they are spiritually superior, or higher, than anyone else.

I no longer believe in anyone who allows anyone else to worship them.

I no longer believe in anyone who demands payment for their wisdom or teaching (although I’m fine with them accepting voluntary payments).

I no longer believe in anyone who is looking for financial security and/or sexual satisfaction from his/her followers.

I no longer believe in anyone who claims that they alone have a certain rare and unique development of functions, organs, capabilities, insights, perceptions, or intuition.

18. Tom Kost - July 30, 2021

Note to moderator: I posted as ‘outsidelookingin’ but the forum does not accept a post from me anymore.

Does anyone else have a problem posting?

Is there a reason for that? I don’t mind if you do not want me to post here. It is your choice.

Can you please let me know why I can’t post.

19. amesgilbert - July 30, 2021

Hi Insidelookingin/Tom Kost,
maybe the moderator has already solved your problem, or maybe your messages went to the blog spam folder. Anyway, I’ve had the same problem from time to time, WordPress not recognizing my name/password if there has been a gap of more than a few months.

The only way I could solve this was if I just started over with a new name (in my case, I wanted something recognizably related to the same ‘Ames Gilbert’ I originally posted as, for the sake of continuity. Sometimes, when it is time for me to log in again with WP, the old names will magically re–appear. Right now, the software offers me the choice of three names I have used in the past dozen years!

20. amesgilbert - August 3, 2021

Well, I’m sure there are those who wonder, “Why does Ames even bother? Asaf Braverman probably isn’t going to read this blog, and he seems to be doing quite well with his BePeriod gig (an informed estimate is that he is bringing in $250,000 a year), so those folks he has hooked don’t know or care—again, why bother?”
Yet I still feel I have to try to warn people. Probably fairly futile on average, though I have got some positive feedback and thanks for the warnings from time to time, which makes the futility worthwhile, if you see what I mean.

The phenomenon of the internet cuts both ways. A lot more people, IF they do due diligence, can be warned. But, the other side of the coin is, a lot more people can be snared.
It is a shame, and exceedingly dangerous, IMO, that there is not even one course in basic logic, let alone comparative religion, taught in US high schools nowadays. At least, not in our local high school.

I guess a fair summary is: Ames has to do what he has to do, and Asaf has to do what he has to do. The difference might be, Ames is acting according to what he perceives to be his conscience. The ability to recognize it and the acquisition of a certain amount of will, sufficient to be able to act on that conscience, is what he paid dearly for.

Asaf? What the hell do I know about his internal state and his motivations? Absolutely nothing. But the history and the external signs do not bode well, IMHO. From what I can see, he simply can’t do without followers and admirers. THIS DESIRE IS CENTRAL TO HIS PSYCHE. And at some point, he won’t be able to do without the money. And then, money and power will own him. Just like Burton and countless other con artists that have inserted themselves between ourselves and the godhead within. And, at some point, Asaf will need some help to manage the growing organization. If he follows Burton’s example, cue entry of powerful ‘invisible helpers’ to manage the flock 24/7/365…

It looks as if, right now, as part of his latest ‘come on’, one of his followers has been entrusted to tell the world something of what he has learned: JULY 2021 LESSONS – A STUDENT’S PERSPECTIVE
It begins: “There are two types of discipline, one borne out of False Personality, and the other, out of Essence. Being able to discern between these two, means being able to either benefit from discipline, or suffer under it.” … and so on. More at: https://ggurdjieff.com/end-of-month/july-2021-lessons-a-students-perspective/

Obviously, the next layer of the BePeriod hierarchy is being formed, is literally materializing according to Asaf’s vision. Meaning, Asaf has found folks who resonate with his worldview, who he trusts to act as his representatives, who will speak and write words that he is approves of (and probably edits). Maybe they will even get to ‘teach’ others in due course, always supervised by the benevolent local god. It is also obvious that they are folks who have given up a certain amount of their power and have chosen subservience; after all, they are ‘students’ and he is their ‘teacher’, and Asaf’s teacher, Robert Earl Burton, taught him everything there is to know about hierarchies and the joys of holding power over others. To please Asaf or get ahead in the hierarchy, they will study Asaf, imitate his mannerisms, memorize his words, pass on his wisdom to wide–eyed and impressionable newbies—a rinse and repeat of Asaf’s trajectory through the Fellowship of Friends.

But hey, maybe he is the avatar of a new age, purified by his experiences, consciously able to rise above his conditioning and training by Burton, maybe his ‘school’ is tasked with helping mankind get beyond the dangers it finds itself facing. It’s one minute to midnight, and we need all the help we can get!

As always, time will tell.

In the meantime, there is this, a little humor from The Onion:
Cult Leader Warns Followers Things Need To Get Way More Deranged To Be Made Into HBO Documentary Series

tinyurl.com/xstcvr46

21. baresreposting - August 4, 2021

124/96. Bares Reposting – August 19, 2012
124/80. Tempus Fugit:
‘I admire him [Meher Baba] for what he did with his life in the outer world, how he treated other people, especially those who were sick, poor, and mentally ill. In my opinion, you can tell a lot about a person and a society by how they treat the helpless and the weak.

In fact, it’s very hard if not impossible to know for certain what’s in another person’s mind or heart, but their behavior is visible.

. . .

And so how do we evaluate Robert Burton and the Fellowship of Friends? What does their behavior tell us about who they are?’

Yes, witness the way FoF/REB treated those types of people:
Loosely alphabetically:
endless number of children put up for adoption or fostered.
endless number of children aborted.
endless number of rape victims.
endless number of women, spouses, shunned.
abraham g., fof lawyer, profoundly deaf, suicide.
anna t., spousal abuse.
barbara b. l., in her own words:
‘Students were not free to seek help from mental [health] professionals; many were becoming alcoholics, and we were, generally, living in a state of fear. I was told that these problems were my imagination and the fear was only in me. I snapped! I left the group – after 12 years. I felt helpless. I had no friends and was deeply in debt. I couldn’t explain the lost years. To the outside world a cult experience itself indicates a flawed mentality.’
bengt l., apparent suicide.
brian s., suicide.
dorothy b., alzheimer’s, elder abuse.
doris e., cripple, heart disease, elder abuse.
dorota s., just plain abuse.
elena h., gerda a., steven m., blind, shunned.
eric e., suicide.
eric n., shunned.
gloria c., elder abuse, shunned.
harold w., shunned.
james b., shunned.
john w., unexplained death in foreign land.
john e., parkinson’s, estate in question.
joseph m., alcohol abuse.
kevin k., quadriplegic, suicide.
forced to give up job and home for 1998 fall of California prediction.
kimo b., possible suicide?
kiran s., severe car accident in foreign land but survived.
had near death demand by fof lawyer to sign over estate.
cassandra s., severe car accident in foreign land but died.
daniella v., severe car accident in foreign land but died.
kristina n., shunned.
lori f-s., possible suicide?
nigel p., attempted suicide.
nette o., tortured by reb’s tastes.
raymond k., psychiatrist, death by drowning, suspicious circumstances.
renato c., suspicious death, possibly aids.
rourke m., alcohol abuse.
richard f., aids, died.
richard m., deaf, missing, presumed dead, suspicious circumstances.
sharole m. (a.k.a. sheila c.), during ill from injury,
demand for teaching payments (donations); ‘hell letter.’
died 2 years later from cancer.
shelley m., spousal abuse.
stella w., shunned.
thomas n., shunned.
troy b., under age sex w/reb, rape, shunned.
see story below.

These are just examples one person knows about.

“‘Bares Reposting’ wrote on the Fellowship of Friends Discussion blog, September 8, 2011
’111/184. S. . . y – September 7, 2011

‘. . .We didn’t have much compassion in the FF. Kindness, yes, but I don’t think there was true compassion.’
Here is limited example of the kindness and compassion of the Fellowship of Friends (FoF), Pathway to Presence, Living Presence, BeingPresent.org, Church of Robert Earl Burton (REB):

For more than 10 years I worked hard, earned good money ‘in life,’ and supported FoF with my $$$’s donations and knew little of the behind the scenes activities, so to speak, but heard a little. Then my life changed and the next more than 10 years were spent living up close and personal (in other words: intimately), with how FoF operates behind the scenes. I witnessed the unbelievable. But, as long as I was not directly being abused, it was someone else’s play. Here is an example:

My friend, call them JG, was a near and dear friend. You might say I knew them intimately, without being in a sexual relationship; it was an emotional and spiritual relationship. JG had history of substance abuse, in particular, alcohol – not life threatening. In the early days of FoF, they were a pioneer and supporter of what was happening with FoF in Oregon House. They were also independent and had friends and family not in FoF. In short, they were somewhat of a rogue element. Their partner died at an early age. After that, there were times when they would, as the saying would go, get into the harem of REB by having interests in one of his young men. This represented competition. Often alcohol was of significance in these ‘dalliances.’ So, alcohol abuse became the target, since it would be difficult to make it about something else, i.e.: raiding the harem, and bring unwanted attention to this secret society that REB maintained.

Flash forward by about 30 years. JG is on a permanent task of no alcohol under any circumstances – not even to be seen with a glass, with or without alcohol in it – maybe empty would be OK, but no guarantee – might give the appearance that the glass was emptied by drinking the contents. If it appeared that it could be alcohol, someone would be reporting it. It did not require a condition of compromised behaviour due to alcohol; nor dalliance with the harem, nor DUI. Really hard to comply with this when so much of the FoF culture involved wine and toasting glasses, etc. Gradually, over the years, more and more justified, and mostly unjustified, constraints of the task were applied to my friend that eventually lead to a leave-of-absence (LOA) that I personally witnessed.

There was a time, more than once, that serious alcohol abuse developed in the FoF/O.H. community. This was a recurrent problem. There was around 1998, or so, a serious effort to address this – especially with a prediction looming – fall of California. One BE, a council member, was assigned, or adopted, the effort to convene a group that would try to ‘work’ on this problem with people. My friend decided to go since they had so much experience in this area that they thought they could help. Besides being an elder in the community, they also had some professional standing. They did not go because they needed help, nor were they under the influence, nor did they drink or appear to drink, at these meetings. Nevertheless, it was reported to REB that they were there. Boom, task violated; leave-of-absence (LOA) imposed. Over the years, ever more stringent punishment was applied to these leaves-of-absence and ever lengthening leaves-of-absence imposed and difficulty of task required. I was confided in these activities.

On this particular offense, it was 6 months LOA, as I remember it, in 1998. (The next time would be a promised permanent outing.) The requirement was, that if they were on LOA, then they could have no contact with any FoF members and that meant that any members living on their property had to move out – even though they lived in a private separate quarters by themselves and could have someone else carry on any contact with the tenants.

Several of the tenants were elderly and disabled: one was an FoF elder who was crippled and with heart condition. Another was in their 80′s or possibly 90′s and somewhat infirm. There were others of various health and wellness conditions. They all had to find new homes. This was likely the beginning of the end for one of them – they would die shortly after this episode. But, first, my friend tried to compromise or negotiate. They proposed to leave their own home and save these other people from having to leave. Some trusted person would be left in charge of the property. This was accepted. They tried to do that. They went off somewhere (and, that is another whole story), but suffice it to say, they could not manage it and came back in a couple of weeks. It was rapidly reported to the minions of flying monkeys. If they did not leave, it was curtains for all. Everyone moved out in 48 hours, as required.

That was one of the more egregious examples of things I witnessed.

It is possible that there are other sides to this story, as there almost always are other sides.”

22. baresreposting - August 4, 2021

157/15. Bares Reposting – December 14, 2016
Lest it be forgotten; the kind of person Asaf is:

“FoF blog page 156/25. Wondering Who’s Watching – October 25, 2016
Asaf Braverman: good riddance!
He gets the fate he deserves.

Thus conscience does make cowards of us all.

“Page 137/181. Wondering Who’s Watching – July 27, 2013

If you want to get acquainted with Asaf Braverman,
and the Asaf Braverman type person the Fellowship of Friends fosters,
read this:

From: Res Ipsa Loquitur
Post #142 unoanimo writes
on 01 Aug 2007 at 7:34 am
“Fraud, Fraudulent Misrepresentation, Wrongful Discharge. . .

Fellowship of Friends indeed.
Banishes its own when they become an unpleasant impression. . .

This ‘wrongful discharge’ relates to the deeper picture of such lines as “Banishes its own when they become an unpleasant impression.”

For instance ~

Take the S. Milton situation; here’s a guy who has a legally classified ‘eye disease’, had been working outside for a large part of the day, went to one of Robert Burton’s lunches the same day, was facing the hot sun and had the need to close his eyes from time to time in order to rest them from the strain of looking with bright sunlight in his face…

Later, he was asked to leave the Fellowship of Friends for ‘sleeping’ or ‘dozing off’…

I believe you can thank Asaf or some ‘boy’ for that hawk-eyed, un-conscience-able perception of S. Milton…

Who brought it to Robert Burton’s ‘attention’ is hearsay, yet, the fact of his dismissal on these grounds is not… stay tuned for the REST OF THE STORY; on a train coming to your neighborhood soon.

And, no, Steven D., your part won’t be left out of this story…stay tuned for a conscience near you.”

Matthew [KJV] 6:22-24: ‘. . . if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light. But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great [is] that darkness! No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other.’

Asaf and Robert Burton were leading an afternoon outdoor tea/meeting at Steven D.’s residence, in Oregon House. As Fellowship of Friends members know, having left-eye eye contact with Robert Burton during these events is important; so wearing sunglasses on a bright sunny summer afternoon is not really an option – even for a person who is legally blind with an eye disease. After this meeting, S. Milton was called by Linda T., the then president of Fellowship of Friends, who related this: After the meeting Asaf told Robert that S. Milton was ‘closing his eyes too much during the meeting.’ [And, thereby, disrespecting Robert.] Robert replied, ‘Have Linda T. call S. Milton for a two month leave-of-absence.’

Linda T. called S. Milton to convey the above and that: S. Milton ‘was serving the wrong master.’ That is, not serving Robert as Robert saw fit. S. Milton was given a leave-of-absence, told to leave Oregon House in 48 hours, and made homeless. S. Milton was instructed that they were to have no contact with any Fellowship of Friends members, except for Linda T., for two months. S. Milton was legally blind, could not drive, had no transportation available and lived in a very rural located home that had only Fellowship of Friends members living there – and these facts were things they all were aware of.

S. Milton was a member of Fellowship of Friends for 30 years and served the Fellowship of Friends, and Robert Burton, above and beyond the call of duty.

Later, after the leave-of-absence, S. Milton was compelled to sell property they owned in Oregon House, if they wanted to continue being a Fellowship of Friends member, and, to basically, effectively, spend the proceeds on going to meetings with Robert Burton.

This was not the first example of abusing the blind (or crippled) in Fellowship of Friends. About 10 years earlier, similar, as to the above, happened to G. A. So, it is a pattern that probably continues.

Definitely ‘un-conscience-able’ behaviour.””

23. 44thWay - August 10, 2021

#10 Robert Patterson, #11 John Harmer, #13 amesgilbert, #15 mannumbernine

I previously swallowed the idea that Gurdjieff did travel in Central Asia as suggested in ‘Meetings with Remarkable Men’ and believed by J.G.Bennett and others, possibly getting some of his ideas from Sufi groups. However when you look at the evidence, there isn’t anything to support this. G’s views as expressed in ‘Beelzebub’ are largely conservative prejudices that speak more of a village mentality than someone who professes to “… destroy, mercilessly, without any compromises whatsoever, in the mentation and feelings of the reader, the beliefs and views, by centuries rooted in him, about everything existing in the world.” (Preface to Beelzebub).
Given that, as mannumbernine points out, Ouspensky only claimed to have fragments, we actually have no evidence that G did not make the whole thing up.
It is curious that Beckwith, in his book ‘Ouspensky’s Fourth Way,’ says that Dr Roles asked the Sankaracharya (in India) whether all that Ouspensky stuff was good and the Sankaracharya gave it the ok, without any evidence that the material is to be found in the Vedanta, yet MacLaren (founder of the SES), also getting his teaching from the same source, abandoned all the Ouspensky nomenclature and most of the ideas.

24. John Harmer - August 10, 2021

#23 44thWay muses on Gurdjieff’s sources. I remember being struck by a couple of remarks in books by Ouspensky.

One was that the use of the chemical terminology carbon, hydrogen etc in the ray of creation theory indicated something about the origin of these ideas.

The second was when Ouspensky was asked if people asked Gurdjieff where he had got the system from, and he said

Yes, many times.

What did he say?

He told us a different story every time.

25. WhaleRider - August 14, 2021

Pandemic of Ignorance Becomes Endemic in Northern California Cult

House Built Upon Sand, CA-Despite readily available inoculations of truth and evidence-based revelations of fraud, followers of an obscure Northern Californian Camel Cult continue to be plagued by persistent delusions of grandeur and false beliefs of an impending cataclysmic apocalypse which has failed to materialize.

“We have spent years trying to educate and warn them about their predatory leader,” said one exasperated ex-member, “but they refuse to listen and label any rational discussion of dissent as ‘fake news’”.

Psychologists have known for years how difficult it is to rid a person of their closely guarded delusions, and there appears to be no easy solution in unraveling the Gordian Knot of what others can readily see as bizarre and erroneous beliefs.

One such outlandish belief held by followers of this particular cult is of their leader’s mental status, who often reportedly converses with “angels”, has on more than one occasion interacted with “the Absolute”, and claims to have surpassed Christ in his personal “evolution”, even though his apocalyptic predictions have yet come to pass after several revisions and has for many years manipulated his male followers to perform sexual favors under the guise of his self-proclaimed exalted status.

Followers also operate under the delusion that they alone are destined to enter an imaginary “Paradise” at death solely as a result of their magical thinking regarding their cult membership, coupled with their Quixotic efforts to remain in the “present” and out of “imagination”.

A useful indicator of a deeply held delusion is the extent to which the individual takes their delusion seriously, so seriously that the individual is unable to find humor in the human experience.

And in fact, in this particular cult laughter is outright banned, thus rendering followers incapable of intellectually or emotionally grasping how far afield their delusions have taken them, even to the point that they refuse to even discuss or reality test their “verifabrications”.

Now one might argue that human suffering and issues of mortality are no laughing matter, yet if one were to study the origin and effect of “dark humor” or “gallows humor”, one might find that humor is indeed a valid and necessary step in processing suffering on the road to healing from trauma and in acceptance of the tragic human condition.

Do followers believe that “Paradise”, if it exists, also lacks laughter…is laughter always something sinister? (IMO, the prohibition of laugher is far more sinister.)

Or is humor and the human need to laugh a hardwired means of incorporating and transcending the duality of our psyche?

Isn’t laughter also an indicator of happiness?

Can one be happy in the “present” even though happiness involves a reflection of past experiences?

Asking for a friend.

26. ton2u - August 16, 2021

27. Rich - August 18, 2021

Interesting take on gurdjieff:
gurdjieff.org/munson2.htm
by ‘armagnac’

28. Insider - August 18, 2021

26. ton2U
Is there a version with subtitles?

29. WhaleRider - August 19, 2021

Ton2u: interestingly, the appropriate response in French to “merci” is “du rien” or “it’s nothing”…and here in the film we have a group of people apparently laughing at nothing, just because it feels good to laugh. I laughed too, and I thank you for that.

The protagonist in the film arrives on the scene with a smile on his face seemingly with foreknowledge of what is about to transpire.

It appears to me, at least, that he intends to infect others with his intentional laughter, which to me comes across as sincere and not forced or sinister. He succeeds brilliantly; the whole metro car joins in.

Now FOF followers might argue that this form of laughter in the other passengers is “mechanical” or “unintentional”, yet has not the mood on the entire train been intentionally elevated beyond “gentle mirth” by the conscious act of this one character, apparently with an agenda to bring together a diverse group of people into a common human experience?

I would argue that the consciousness in the passengers has been raised out of their particular reverie in a uniquely human and enjoyable manner. What’s the lesson to the viewer? Are we not all on the same train together equally hurdling into darkness as portrayed in the film?

Contrast that with the cult’s practice of “intentional suffering” in order to raise “consciousness” and instill a sense of spiritual entitlement that separates them from everyone else on the planet, while at the same time banning laughter.

Animals appear to suffer too, but do they have the ability to laugh? What is the point of banning laughter in a cult dedicated to producing enlightenment in followers then if laughter seems to have something to do with raising consciousness?

Does not laughter make certain uncomfortable truths more palatable…is the cult in reality banning laughter in followers to prevent them from grasping the fact that they are being duped?

Better yet, is it not equally “mechanical” for some to subject his or her will to persons who present themselves as authority, father-like figures like a self-proclaimed guru claiming to be the “brightest light in 2000 years” and who calls his followers his “children”? What is the agenda there?

In my experience, the harder I laugh, the better it feels, and in some circumstances I am moved to tears…which feels cathartic and quite healthy. I feel the better for it.

30. ton2u - August 19, 2021

WR @ 29
Yes – these “exercises” given by the cult leader are designed or at least have the effect of making the cultist more mechanical, not less. Laughter is part of being human – in going against “the machine” by suppressing natural human impulses, an alternate mechanicality is created. In the process of following these exercises a cultist is being stripped of an aspect of their humanity, individuality and self-determination.

Laughter is a natural human impulse – your body knows what to do, some things don’t require thinking about… in this case the best advice might be: “the body knows what to do, go with that.” A good little cultist who continues listening to “teacher” is substituting mechanical “control” for their own natural human impulses… it’s a known fact that suppression can and does have negative effects and outcomes… so glad I live outside the emotional confines of that humorless cult.

31. Rich - August 19, 2021

I think the ‘exercise’ of no humor or laughing in FOF
was taken from one of the ‘work’ books where
G. gives a talk on ‘seriousness’. No humor goes
way back to the time I was there.

32. Rich - August 19, 2021

Sorry the talk I’m referring to was
about ‘sincerity’.

33. Insider - August 20, 2021

Lots of funny stuff over at the “REB” blog:
http://robertearlburton.blogspot.com/search/label/laughter

34. 44thWay - August 26, 2021

My book, ‘The fourth way to nowhere’ is almost ready. Readers of this forum will probably feel that I pull some of my punches, and some may prefer that I would have performed a more overtly aggressive demolition. Certainly some of the material on this forum and on the REB blog would merit that. However I have explicitly confined my commentary to what I myself witnessed, referring readers to the blog in the footnotes, and I think in the end the demolition is quite thorough. Perhaps it will lure some current members into reading it. I have not used my real name for personal reasons, although I would not be ashamed to be associated with what I have written if that were my only concern. I hope at least some of you will buy the book and post honest reviews on Amazon, even if you hate the book. The files are with the printer and I am aiming for next week for publication.

35. 44thWay - August 30, 2021
36. amesgilbert - August 30, 2021

Hey 44thWay,
as of this moment, I get the message, “The fourth way to nowhere
by Martin Braybrooke | Sep 7, 2021
Paperback
Currently unavailable.”
… ditto your link to the review.
Maybe there is a delay here in the US, and it will go live for us September 7th and start flying off the shelves then?

Are you planning a Kindle edition?

37. 44thWay - August 31, 2021

36. Ames
The publication date is 7 September. It is possible to pre-order on Amazon.co.uk but not on Amazon.com for some reason, but I expect it to be availabe on all Amazon sites after 7th. I am expecting Amazon to discount the price but we shall see. As for flying off the shelves, I don’t expect that to happen, but maybe some seekers will find it before they are sucked into some cult or other. I have the technology to produce a Kindle edition but I am told that this dilutes the orders for the print edition and hence damages Amazon sales rank. All reviews, positive or negative (with reasons please), welcome.

38. Rich - September 2, 2021

34. 44thWay: I would not buy it if your not using your
real name, though the general view of most is that
if you were in a cult, you’re some kind of insane.

39. 44thWay - September 2, 2021

38. Rich
You are welcome to your opinion of course.
I do discuss how apparently sane people get involved in cults and why it may take a long time to get out. I make no claims for my own sanity except to say that if I am insane I haven’t been found out yet.
I also point out that you don’t have to be in a cult to believe unprovable and improbable things, and judging by the news, belief in the improbable is extremely common.

40. Rich - September 2, 2021

39. 44thWay: During the time I was a member of FOF
both my parents died and this year both my older
brothers passed on. I was never able to repair
the relationship with my family. Good luck with your
book!!

41. 44thWay - September 3, 2021

40. Rich,

I’m sorry to hear that.

One of the points I make in the book is to question whether the FoF (and by extension any similar organisation) is really a Fourth Way school, given that the Fourth Way ‘takes place in life.’ Other Fourth Way schools had similar rules excuding or distancing from non-members, including (according to Joyce Collin-Smith, Rodney Collin’s sister-in-law) the remnants of Ouspensky’s group, later to become the Study Society. I am inclined to think that the Fourth Way lends itself to this kind of abuse, and all manifesations of it tend to become absurdity-factories.

In the book, I make the point that ‘external considering’ is supposed to be the emotional aspect of self-remembering, and yet ‘external considering’ was hardly if ever talked about in relation to our ‘life’ families. I include more than one episode in which ‘external considering’ was either criticised or manifestly not practiced as a direct or indirect result of the requirements of the FoF.

Another point: the foundation of the Work, according to Ouspensky, is ‘good householder.’ FoF was in general not in ‘good householder’ regarding emotional connections with friends and family not in the Work.

We were hypnotised by the gradual and almost imperceptible addition of absurdity to what had seemed at the beginning to be a reasonable starting-point.

42. WhaleRider - September 4, 2021

“…in Meritor Savings Bank v. Vinson (1986), the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that acts of apparently consensual sex, when involving parties marked by a significant power differential, can in fact be instances of harassment. Mechelle Vinson was a young Black woman who said she had given into the persistent pressure to have sex with her boss because she was afraid she would be fired. Vinson’s consent to sex, the court noted, did not mean that her boss’s sexual overtures were welcome, if her consent had been secured by coercion.
… in recent years our interest in consent has become single-minded. The habit of viewing all kinds of exploitative, creepy or troubling sex solely through the lens of consent has left us unable to speak, in many situations, about what is really going wrong.

Teachers, as teachers, understand how to do certain things; students, as students, want to understand how to do those same things. The tacit promise of the classroom is that the teacher will work to confer on the student some of his knowledge and understanding. In the best case, the teacher-student relationship arouses in the student a strong desire, a sense of thrilled if inchoate infatuation. That desire is the lifeblood of the classroom, and it is the teacher’s duty to nurture and direct it toward its proper object: learning. The teacher who allows his student’s desire to settle on him as an object, or the teacher who actively makes himself the object of her desire, has failed in his role as a teacher.

Therapists are taught to anticipate and negotiate the fact that their patients will often develop feelings for them — what Freud called “transference.” They are taught that they must harness those feelings and direct them toward the therapeutic aim — the well-being of the patient — rather than responding to those feelings in kind.

I have tried to explain here, that the absence of consent isn’t the only indicator of problematic sex; that a practice that is consensual can also be systemically damaging; that the pedagogical relationship comes with certain responsibilities beyond the ones we owe one another as persons. I wanted to explain…that it was precisely because pedagogy can be an erotically charged experience that it is harmful to sexualize it.”

“What’s Wrong With Sex Between Professors and Students? It’s Not What You Think”, Professor Amia Srinivasan, New York Times, Sept 3, 2021.

43. ton2u - September 5, 2021

Whalerider, thanks for distilling the gist of the article… a link for more context – https://www.nytimes.com/2021/09/03/opinion/metoo-teachers-students-consent.html

I’ve worked as a teacher for the past 22 years – in the article I recognized the description of a “transference” that can form in some students… I feel that the abuse of power dynamics by Burton during my stint in the FOF has sensitized and informed the way I work with students who seem to be exhibiting signs of “transference.” As a result I’m very careful about the way I interact with students and I’ll add that working in close collaboration with colleagues helps in redirecting the attentions and intentions of students before unhealthy attachments begin to take root.

44. ton2u - September 5, 2021
45. ton2u - September 6, 2021

43 – addendum:

Burton on the other hand, also works with his “colleagues” toward a very different goal… and by “colleagues” in this case, I mean enablers, or as the late-great Bruce L. would say “flying monkeys.” Speaking from personal experience, his enablers were (and probably still are) instrumental in directing and helping to deliver “fresh meat” to the insatiable maw of this so-called “teacher” – a predator preying on naive and gullible youth.

46. WhaleRider - September 6, 2021

Gullible…or vulnerable? Are they the same? Yes and no.

Speaking for myself, having joined at the tender age of 21, there were core elements of the FOF doctrine of which I remained skeptical throughout my tenure, particularly when it came to burton’s warped deployment of the concept of “c-influence”, eventually appearing to me as a means to abdicate responsibility for his actions and predictions.

IMO, this is how burton exploits his followers through relying on him to interpret ideas of reference as “shocks” from disembodied spirits, as in the reading of license plates and street signs, etc., instead of acting in the best interest of his students as an ethical teacher like ton2u does in an academic setting governed by rules designed to protect vulnerable students from such sexual predators as burton.

I can honestly say that in my early twenties with the divorce of my parents, alienation I felt from my peers at the time, and identity crisis I was experiencing back then that I was ripe for cult exploitation due to my vulnerable mental state rather than inherent gullibility and naivety.

At the time I was keenly invested in my personal growth, could not afford college, and due to my emotional vulnerability, easily fell victim to cult “love bombing”.

It seems to me that the FOF’s recruitment efforts in Eastern Europe and Russia after the fall of the Iron Curtain and breakup of the Soviet Union is further evidence that cults prey upon vulnerable individuals whom have limited choices to escape the dire circumstances in which they find themselves and thereby causing them to choose in retrospect what would seem like the lessor of two evils.

It’s no wonder that the FOF currently places so much emphasis on the magical thinking that joining a cult guarantees a follower’s entry into “Paradise” after death…(not a prevalent idea during my membership) for isn’t that the internal paradigm that would drive an individual leave their destitute motherland and transition from their old way of life to the gilded labyrinth of the FOF, believing it to be a better life, only to discover after they have burned their bridges that an insatiable Minotaur who resides at its center? That’s exactly how I felt after moving out to the “golden hills of California” from my hometown.

I was only naive insofar as I was uninformed about the nature of cults and strongly believe that education regarding the honing of sharp critical thinking skills is the antidote. My desire is to educate others to the best of my abilities to avoid the trap and drain the victim pool.

Once I learned first hand what burton was really up to, I left, eventually following the deathbed advice of Mr O, the original person who lead me into that morass in the first place…to “abandon the system”.

47. John Harmer - September 6, 2021

#46 Whalerider gives a clear account of how it is possible to become entangled in a fourth way cult like the FoF. At the end he quotes the famous Ouspensky advice to “abandon the system”. I remember how FoF members interpreted this phrase as if it were a deep Zen Koan that could unlock wonders, guided by Rodney Collins’s interpretation. However there are documents available that suggest it was more that Ouspensky truly lost his way. I found Marie Seton’s account quite shocking the first time I came across it (it was quoted way back in 2007 on the predecessor of this blog), and in looking for that also came across another account of his final days that suggests the same thing, ie that Ouspensky came to see that the fourth way doesn’t result in the benefits he had hoped it would.

Here is Marie Seton’s account: http://www.gurdjieff-bibliography.com/Current/t_seton_case-of-pdo_2004-07-04.pdf

and here is the account of his final months: https://www.ouspensky.org.uk/final-months-january-to-october-194

48. 44thWay - September 7, 2021

47. John Harmer
Thank you for those links. I was aware of the Mary Seaton but not the other link.
In some ways I think Ouspensky is a bit like us: starting out with a belief that there must be some way to a better way of living, seeking some kind of spiritual enlightenment, and becoming sucked in to the first genuinely new ideas he came across in the form of Gurdjieff.
The difference is that he left his teacher after a few years. However it appears he became trapped by the teaching itself, unable to break free of the mythology he had createdand the students who had come to depend on him.
Contrast Krishnamurti, who disbanded the organisation others had set up for him to become the new Avatar.

I shall not spam this forum, but I hope readers will indulge one more plug for my book, which is available on Amazon today. In it I make a systematic attempt to analyse the fourth way, not just the warped version promulgated by Robert Burton. The fourth way acquired some good advice that you can get easily from other sources, and packaged it together with some core teachings that are simply nonsense. In order to unpack the System it is necessary to acknowledge the fragments that are actually right, and that is one of the things I have tried to do.

The fourth way to nowhere.
Publication date 7 September 2021
Book links:
USA: amzn.com/0956549780
UK: amazon.co.uk/dp/0956549780/
or search on Martin Braybrooke

Reviews, good or bad, welcome.

49. 44thWay - September 7, 2021

Sorry, one more thing: Amazon has incorrectly priced the book. The intended price is US$10.50, UK£7.50. So anyone intending to buy might want to wait until I have sorted this out.

amesgilbert - September 7, 2021

Hi Martin/44th Way,
I’ve ordered my copy, and am looking forward to reading it.
However it turns out, for me and for you and for other future readers, I commend you for taking on the project, and for the enormous efforts it must have taken you to bring it to fruition. Thank you very much!

50. 44thWay - September 9, 2021

Thank you Ames!

Also sorry for the inadvertent spamming this forum with multiple images of the front cover, which is what happened when I put in Amazon links. For me, the book is an attempt to clarify for myself how I got into this mess in the first place, and by extension how other apparently intelligent people also get sucked in. FoF members for the most part are not dunces. It is not an academic thesis on the Fourth Way, although I have done most of the demolition work that is necessary.

Looking at some of the entries in The Greater Fellowship (ning) site, some ex-members seem still to be pursuing some kind of spiritual path. That might be fine, depending on what is meant by ‘spiritual,’ but the same kinds of question need to be asked about any spiritual path as should be asked about the Fourth Way.

The link John Harmer gives in 47: to Ouspensky’s last days is from a web site that is generally not critical of the Fourth Way and by implication is saying that Gurdjieff was the real thing. The suggestion emerges that Ouspensky’s mistake was over-intellectualising instead of doing the movements and diving in to the living experience.

However, the Ray of Creation, the idea of planets as baby suns, the idea that our souls go to the moon unless we awaken, the possibility of ‘immortality within the limits of the solar system,’ and a number of other ideas are either just plain wrong or else totally without evidence or any method of testing them even in principle.

It also looks as though Gurdjieff got some of his ideas from Ouspensky and made the system up as he went along. That is perhaps material for a future essay by someone.

51. WhaleRider - September 9, 2021

44th Way:
If you were a member in the years after 1985 when I left, I want to personally apologize to you for any pain and suffering you endured as an indirect result of my silence, which in retrospect I regard as sadistic aspects of myself.

Individuals with sociopathic behavior such as cult leaders or date rapists are not providing a useful service to society by educating unsuspecting or vulnerable people of what not to do by blaming the victim! Fathering children has given me great clarity on this issue.

Had I been more outspoken sooner maybe you would not have stayed in the rape factory for as long as you did. As egotistical as that sounds, history abounds with examples of how one person can make a difference.

To be honest, I am hesitant to read your book for reasons I hope you can understand, although I believe you deserve praise for any efforts you make to warn others, if even anonymously.

52. 44thWay - September 9, 2021

51. Whalerider:
Chill! You had a bad time, I didn’t.
I was not young and I did not live at Apollo. I kept a life job and a life family. My regrets are that it took so long to leave, and that the money spent on Teaching Payments over the years would by now have been a sizeable sum. Also, like perhaps all of us, I am not sure whether I am a victim, or guilty of aiding the perpetrator (or both). My book is not to work out a horrible trauma, like perhaps you endured, but to try to come to terms with having been drawn in to irrationality when I pride myself on being rational! It turns out I am no better than anyone else in that respect.
As I write in the book, I sometimes feel that I am guilty of some unspecified crime, and when asked by the judge, say, ‘It seemed like a good idea at the time, Your Honour.’
Anyway, you can read the first few chapters for free on my web site if you want.
https://44thway.blogspot.com/

53. Nevasayneva - September 9, 2021

Re 47. John Harmer

I am glad to see Marie Setons clear-eyed and wonderfully paced essay referenced here again in these pages. It has been referenced before.

It had an influence on me around the time I was leaving but just one of many influences. Another influence I remember was the cognitive dissonance that I had so many long long deep friendships and yet they were dependent on me writing a check every month. Without the check they would disappear. They did.

Great title for Martin Braybooke book “Triumph of the Ordinary”!
That alone would make one want to read it.

I think in the end somehow one has to forgive oneself for wasting so many years and so much money in FOF. The past is the past what is done is done.

54. ton2u - September 10, 2021

44th way

I’ve read the excerpts from your book – thanks for that and I appreciate the effort it takes to organize experience in a way that’s cogent enough for “publication.”

The rehashing of FOF experience through blogging / writing is a means of processing and making sense of things, giving it a context, even “justifying” – certainly rationalizing is involved… that can’t be helped, we humans are after all, rational animals.

I recognize in your effort at processing the experience a means of what Neva says here @ 53 – “…in the end somehow one has to forgive oneself for wasting so many years and so much money in FOF. The past is the past what is done is done.”

My inner response after reading these excerpts – it was all very familiar, it describes a part of my life fully invested a lifetime ago… the feeling produced upon reading is deadening, an image of grey ashes after the remains of a flame long burnt out. That’s no criticism of your presentation, it’s my reaction because of my experiences…I can imagine for someone unfamiliar with the 4th way or the FOF, your book might be a very useful and insightful tool.

Now I’m sitting at the computer, take a few minutes to look away… from an open window a cool fall breeze plays with the curtains, beyond a blue sky golden sunlit morning. So good to be alive and to be free…

“…you’ll be absolutely free only if you want to be” – so the song goes.

55. diegoriverassquaretrouserleg - September 12, 2021

Presence is the object. It is desireable and valuable and worthy of long term investment. Like the Fellowship membership, there are only 1,000 of them

56. diegoriverassquaretrouserleg - September 12, 2021

p.s. regarding the above. “The object is in the building,….. I have to have it, I don’t know why, I just have to have it”.

p.p.s. In case you’re in the Fellowship, relax, consciousness is what you already are, always were and it’s absolutely free. and it’s not an object and totally beyond any concept of acquisition. Good Luck with your investment.

57. John Harmer - September 12, 2021

“This obelisk is made of pure ‘Uncreated Light’ captain!”

58. diegoriverassquaretrouserleg - September 13, 2021

Robert Burton is a dangerous case.

Cognitively impaired, cannot think clearly,

Cannot grasp complex situations

Unable to engage in dialogue, or “give and take”

Unable to process new information,

Unable to remember key facts,

Demonstrates hostility, ignorance, confusion

Demonstrates mood swings, memory loss,

Perseveration (repeats grievances, “old tapes” obsessive ideas)

Prevarication, (lies, misstatements, falsehoods)

Confabulation ( imaginary stories, tall tales, baseless statements)

Poor impulse control, poor judgement, poor risk management,

Loss of ability to think in abstract terms, to reason, to use logic,

Loss of memory, loss of language fluency, loss of vocabulary

59. Rich - September 13, 2021

58. diegoriverassquaretrouserleg: plus uncle bob is
not going to get better

60. WhaleRider - September 13, 2021

Cult Leader Remains Silent About Anti-Cult Conspiracies

Covid House, CA-Several bizarre anti-cult conspiracies have been circulating on social media lately and followers in one particular Northern California cult are wondering when their aging cult leader will take a public stand and push back against such obviously misleading and unscientific misinformation.

One such anti-cult conspiracy, that “being in a cult for long periods of time alters one’s RNA”, is easily refuted by long time followers who point out that those followers who have left the cult eventually regrow a conscience and their balls, proving there was no permanent damage done.

One anti-cult conspiracy claims that “being in a cult can effect a woman’s fertility”, but that is patently false in light of all the abortions the cult leader has requested his female cult followers obtain, accounting for the absence of more children among followers.

Another anti-cult conspiracy claims “being in a cult inserts a micro-chip into your brain to track you”, but of course that is completely unnecessary because all cult followers carry cell phones and eventually develop a steward.

As one follower points out, those whom claim “cults are poison” are forgetting that kool aide also contains added beneficial vitamins and minerals, and when mixed with certain other additives will simply get you into paradise sooner than smoking cigarettes which followers are not allowed to do.

When anti-cult conspiracy theorists claim that “being in a cult means you give up your freedom”, cult followers will readily use the oft repeated phrase, “nobody is holding a gun to your head to stay” and yet the cult leader has said “if you leave it would have been better not to have been born”.

Some critics say “with freedom comes responsibility”, but apparently these cult followers must believe our hard fought freedom is somehow overrated, allowing this cult leader to micromanage their lives while he has made a career out of disavowing all responsibility for his actions, asserting “it was c-influence that made me do it.”

The sugar coated cognitive dissonance is just plain irresistible!

61. 44thWay - September 14, 2021

58: DiegoRiverasSquareTrouserLeg
Just wanted to say what an excellent pseudonym that is. I did wonder at the time why Diego Rivera was supposedly a conscious being and Frida Kahlo not.

62. diegoriverassquaretrouserleg - September 14, 2021

61, 44th Way
I assume Burton felt that in their relationship, Diego Rivera wore the trousers. Very special, secret, cosmic trousers.
His misogyny is a compensation for his inadequacy. He’s frightened of women. In the FOF he deems them to be second class beings, fit for breeding, useful as camouflage and props, tolerated if wealthy or skilled in raising money, unworthy of awakening, a fate reserved by him only for the rarest, most corrupt, compliant and obsequious of males.

63. Insider - September 18, 2021

Deleted at the author’s request

64. John Harmer - September 20, 2021

#49 I have just read the book “the fourth way to nowhere”, thanks for writing it and getting it published. The culture and life you described was spookily familiar, I also joined the FOF in London, left just before you joined, from the timings in your book. I enjoyed best the descriptions of events at both SES (which I also was in before the FoF) and at the London Centre.
A particular thing you mention, that intrigued me most, was that you say you ran the Prospective Student Meeting that started off the whole Blog all those years ago. And that you remembered it differently from the description on the blog. One could imagine that report of the meeting might never have been posted up, as a result there would have been no blog as we know it. Strange that one day 14 years later another participant would post to the current incarnation of the blog.
I have posted a review on amazon, I hope you sell plenty of copies, as the book gives a good warning of the dangers of the FoF.

65. 44thWay - September 21, 2021

#64 John Harmer

Thank you for reading the book, and for your review on amazon.co.uk.

I didn’t run the prospective student meeting that started the blog, but I was present at it. Robert Taylor led the meeting. Some of the people who were there subsequently left, including the beautiful young woman referred to in the blog (not actually Southern European), who as far as I know is now married and was also for a time running a theatre company. The man described as a doorman, many years later announced in a low-key way in a meeting that he was leaving. I asked him afterwards what he was going to do next, and he intimated that there were other paths. I wondered whether he meant Asaf’s organisation but he didn’t say, and as I had no intention of joining Asaf I didn’t press the point. I think I was already beginning to be disaffected at that time.

One memory I have of Asaf is that he got quite negative when boarding a London bus because the driver required either a magnetic card payment or exact cash, and didn’t (for reasons that are not hard to understand) carry a float. I paid the magnificent sum of 50 pence for him. At that time I felt surprised that someone of such esoteric eminence was not working with the non-expression of negative emotions.

In the book, I touch on the fact that students are on the whole not in good householder with regard to their ‘life’ relationships, and that this bad householder is encouraged by the Fellowship. But I forgot to mention that the Fellowship is not in good householder with regard to material things either. For example, even though I was still a committed member at the time, I was surpised that there was a fund-raising effort to re-build La Cucina after it burned down. I did not contribute, feeling that it was truly bad householder not to have buildings insurance in place. Do the students on salary have medical insurance? I suspect that, for the Fellowship, the only ‘good householder’ that counts is being on time with Teaching Payments.

66. 44thWay - September 23, 2021

I thought I’d share a ‘shock’ with you. Today I decided to find out how many copies of the book have sold so far. The number in the UK is 8, which of course is the number of inbreaths and outbreaths in the four wordless breaths. However the number sold as of today in the USA is a miraculous 44.

Make of that what you will.

67. WhaleRider - September 23, 2021

44th Way:
Ok, let’s talk about “shocks”. You raise a good point. Thank you for that.

With all due respect for your personal integrity, and after all your efforts at debunking the “fourth way”…that you appear to be still tracking FOF cult numbers comes as a sad “shock” to me.

What’s the point, really? Is your intention to inspire current FOF followers to read your book, the work of a disgruntled ex-member…to somehow convince them “c-influence” is “working” with you instead of their dear leader?

Where in the so-called “fourth way” does the tracking of delusional ideas of reference indicate the presence of “higher powers” or substantiate burton’s warped version of “c-influence”?

If I’m not mistaken, the only “shock” to the “system” as outlined in Mr O’s so-called “food diagram” comes from the so-called practice of “dividing attention” at the point of receiving so-called “impressions”, a practice which burton totally corrupted for his own benefit (I mean, WTF do fourth way “shocks” have to do with burton’s mother anyway?) and IMO either way the practice serves only to feed the false impression of an individual’s grandiosity, of being “more present” more special than others, thus contributing to an “imaginary picture” of oneself. I have personally witnessed this superstitious practice time and time again in persons suffering from mental illness. They too, believe they are special.

If I may invoke the voice of the dearly departed Miles Barth, an imperfect being like everyone else including myself, for your own sake and that of others you may influence, I highly recommend you abandon this practice of burtonism from your intellect, disengage from any emotional response that might somehow contribute to your self-esteem, and instead use it as a means to more deeply understand how the practice might contribute to furthering more delusional thinking, especially in those still mired in the FOF.

68. amesgilbert - September 23, 2021

humor (British spelling “humour”)
noun
1. The quality that makes something laughable or amusing; funniness.
2. That which is intended to induce laughter or amusement.
3. The ability to perceive, enjoy, or express what is amusing, comical, incongruous, or absurd.

sarcasm
noun

1. A cutting, often ironic remark intended to express contempt or ridicule.
2. A form of wit characterized by the use of such remarks.
3. A biting taunt or gibe, or the use of such a taunt; a bitter, cutting expression; a satirical remark or expression, uttered with scorn or contempt; in rhetoric, a form of irony; bitter irony.

irony
noun

1. The use of words to express something different from and often opposite to their literal meaning.
2. An expression or utterance marked by a deliberate contrast between apparent and intended meaning.
3. Incongruity between what might be expected and what actually occurs.

69. amesgilbert - September 23, 2021

Insider (#63, above),
regarding Fellowship of Friends silence over the killing of the motorcycle rider and serious hospitalization of the lady accompanying him on her separate bike…
I am rather surprised that Burton has not milked this incident to his advantage as he did the death of Peter Morrow, but then again, the overwhelmingly important thing is that Dorian Matei is fine and it was only ‘life people’ who were injured or died, so from his perspective, there is nothing worth talking about.

I’m sure that, behind the scenes, stories are being constructed and evaluated (“intentional insincerity” writ large) so as to put the best light on the circumstances of the killing and the worst light on the victims. It is going to be hard to alter the fact that the weather at the Brown’s Valley junction on the afternoon of July 26 was a warm cloudless day, that there is a clear stop sign in good condition, that the lines of sight both ways from Marysville Rd onto Highway 20 are extensive. In other words, there is no rational excuse for Dorian running into the two motorcycles, who presumably had the right of way. We can assume that, being a ‘conscious being’, he was present and aware of everything around him. Yet, how to explain his remarkable and deadly lack of situational awareness? Time to start inventing excuses. Glare from the sun? Nope, should have been wearing shades if it was that bad. Dust devil? Nope, should have waited until it passed. And so on, great minds are at work to find a viable excuse.

There is also the serious question of whether Dorian Matei was on Fellowship business, since that has a bearing on any lawsuit and the Fellowship of Friends insurance. Apparently, he was driving a Fellowship vehicle, so that is a strong connection right there. He is the anointed successor to Burton and a minister in the Fellowship religion, thus central to the power structure. As the second most important person in the hierarchy, he is likely paid a salary, and if so, a substantial one, or maybe he is remunerated with generous ‘expenses’, like Burton. Or, there is some other subsidy, perhaps for his bakery business, setting it up to begin with, and a guaranteed clientele at the weekly market on the property. Or ‘help’ with acquiring his house and land; after all, he probably came to the U.S. with little money, houses aren’t cheap, and even down payments require substantial cash.

I would guess that this is the area where most of the serious thinking is going on, not only amongst the honchos of the FoF and the FoF lawyers acting on Dorian Matei’s behalf, but also the lawyers representing the FoF’s insurance company or companies. How to separate Dorian Matei the person and any of his personal liabilities in the killing and the injuries, how to shield the FoF as a corporate entity, especially if he was indeed on Fellowship business. This is where a lot of “intentional insincerity” might play an important part of the defense. Because, if the lawyers behind the lawsuit can establish a connection, then the Fellowship entity itself will probably also be liable to some extent, and the victims and their families more able to exact at least some kind of imperfect justice and restitution.

70. diegoriverassquaretrouserleg - September 23, 2021

The 76 gas station at the junction of Hwy 20 and Marysville Rd. Browns Valley, scene of Dorian Matei’s recent accident, has long been a favorite “shock” location for Burton.
He used to announce frequently, that “C” influence put the gas station there, to celebrate his crystalization in 1976. It’s one of the many and frequent lies he concocts, to amplify, magnify and super-size himself. He uses the bogus self-aggrandizing nonsense he creates to stun the average guy or gal with his importance, and demonstrate the classy company he keeps.
It’s absolutely absurd of course. He would have you believe that 44 disembodied artists writers and politicians from history, who are now angels and who work with him to create and lead a civilization, that will rise from the ashes of armaggedon, placed a gas station 16 miles from his house, to mark the awesome fact that his higher centers or functions had crystalized or fused into a permanent astral vehicle, thus making him the brightest light since Jesus Christ, in 1976.

He is a supremely confident and ludicrous liar.

For Dorian of all people, his secretary, heir to the throne, future conscious being and chief enabler to kill and maim two life people at the celestially enshrined memorial to his magnificence must have sent Burton into paroxysms of deceit, concoction and self serving rhetoric. It’s a story with all the elements and raw material he loves. Dead and injured people, snuffed out by “C” influence, this time to create a shock for his heir and confirm Burton’s intuition regarding the future king’s conscious destiny.

71. amesgilbert - September 23, 2021

Diego,
In the interests of strict historical accuracy, I have to point out that, AFAIK, Burton’s prognostications revolved around the Union 76 gas station opposite Ellis Lake in Marysville. It cannot have been the Union 76 at the corner of Marysville Rd and Hwy 20, since that did not exist at that time, it is a relatively recent construction.
You may not know, but the Union 76 @ Ellis Lake was torn down a few years ago, which I believe is Leonardo’s way of telling Burton that he was as deluded then as he is now, and should just shut the fuck up, and stop talking about, well, anything. But, he is too obtuse to take a hint, even one as clear as that.

72. diegoriverassquaretrouserleg - September 24, 2021

Ames, 71

Thanks for the info regarding the union 76 Ellis Lake, hadn’t heard of it. I can however verify from personal experience, having been told directly by Burton, that the 76 at Hwy.20 and Marysville Rd. was put there as described in my post at #70. “Did I know that the 76 garage on Marysville Rd. was put there by “C” influence to honor my crystaliszation”? was how the celestial, put you in your place and establish superiority interaction went.

My guess is that he simply switched locations and kept the story intact or used both? The 76 at Hwy.20 became an Exxon for a time, but is now once again a 76.

73. 44thWay - September 24, 2021

#67 WhaleRider, #68 amesgilbert

My mistake for not putting in the appropriate 😉 emoji.

Further explanation here:
https://44thway.blogspot.com/2021/09/call-time.html

74. ton2u - September 24, 2021

DRSTL @ 70

“He is a supremely confident and ludicrous liar.”

Something I’ve wondered for some time is whether he truly believes his ludicrous lies?

Is he:

A garden variety sociopath who “consciously” creates fictions for his own “benefit” at the expense of others – i.e. knows he’s lying?

A psychopath who believes his delusions – what an outside observer can plainly see as a spider’s web of lies but which he believes to be truth and reality?

A little of each? It seems the former would come under criminal jurisdiction whereas the latter is a (mental) health issue… either way, for the welfare of the general public he belongs in one institution or another.

75. WhaleRider - September 24, 2021

diegoriverassquaretrouserleg:
Thank you for amplifying the hidden agenda of burton’s use of “shock”…awe.

If one examines closely his use of the word, “shock”, starting with the reference to his mother, it is apparent that to him a “shock” is employed not as a “third force” to “remember oneself” but as a so-called “verification” for his delusional system…which through repetition he indoctrinates his awestruck followers to effortlessly adopt as validation for his outlandish and grandiose claims.

So one might inquire, what goes on in the head of a follower when they are exposed day in and day out to such imaginary nonsense? I seriously doubt it’s critical thinking!

To an ex-follower ideas of reference may now seem funny or ironic…I find it toxic. It took decades to shut that off in my head!

Now if I remember correctly, the act of “self-remembering” is supposed to be an effort, a so-called “first force”, is it not?

As I mentioned above in Mr O’s so-called “food diagram”, it is theoretically one’s effort to “remember oneself” applied at key moments as “shocks” that refine so-called “hydrogens”. IMO, that’s the only “shock” that matters in the so-called “fourth way”. That would constitute a proper “triad” in the use of “shocks”.

burton unconsciously warped the idea to reference his personal need for self-aggrandizement, IMHO.

76. amesgilbert - September 24, 2021

Diego,
I think your take that Burton just switched locations is the right one. After all, it is all the same to him, he is aiming for effect, not substance.

When I came to the U.S. in 1978, as one of the first visitors from Europe, I was met by Guinevere and her brother Klaus and sister–in–law Margaret (who were then in the Fellowship), and I stayed overnight at their house in Marin. The next day, we drove in his Mercedes up to Renaissance, stopping on the way to illicitly visit her children (Burton had told her to give them up). The day got hotter and hotter, over 105 degrees, and when we finally reached Marysville, there was also a dust storm. This was due to the fact that Ellis Lake was dry and empty, and all the soil in the basin was being bulldozed and taken elsewhere, in order to eradicate some noxious weed. So, my impression generally was, coming from a cool fall in London, ‘hell on earth’, but hotter. After a very slow journey through the dust, we rounded the corner where the 76 station was, and that is when I got Burton’s confabulation, from Guinevere herself.

One has to take into account the times. The Fellowship had only just expanded to Europe. Burton’s “Crystallization” was the hot topic, the infamous Crystallization party at Renaissance had recently occurred, and all true believers were still on that high. And Burton’s story was presented as one ‘theory’ amongst many, by serious people I liked and trusted.

77. amesgilbert - September 24, 2021

I want to add, to make things clearer to newer readers, that there is a critical difference between the two ‘Union 76’ fairy tales. The first one was a prophecy, that is, Burton pointed out the Marysville Union 76 gas station sign before 1976 and claimed that it was a signal that he would ‘crystalize’ in 1976. Diego’s version of the fairy tale was that the Browns Valley station was miraculously placed there by assorted angels after the fact, to honor his past ‘crystallization’. I think I have that right, but corrections to this summary welcome!

Anyway, lo and behold, Burton did ‘crystalize’ in 1976—according to him—so that was an accurate prophecy, among the first in a long line. It’s kind of neat how it all ties together in a self–referential circle, isn’t it? So, he prophesizes he will permanently advance to the next level of consciousness, and when, he announces he has ‘crystalized’, his gift of prophecy is confirmed, and since he has proven to have these paranormal powers, that shows he is indeed ‘conscious’. QED. And on to the next fairy tale. The little detail that no one bothers to question is, according to the ‘Fourth Way’, he is supposed to put someone in his place (in the spiritual hierarchy) before or at the same time he advances. Maybe it is not relevant because he is so special?

BTW, Burton is at it again, predicting that California will fall into the ocean. The new dateline is sometime in 2026. Followed by a nuclear holocaust in 2027. I’m sure the Fellowship of Friends will be preparing for both events with the same intelligence as previous occasions, which is to say, none at all except for spending lots of money pretty much at random and getting as many baubles as possible on credit. Mark your calendars…

78. Rich - September 24, 2021

uncle bob calls ‘wolf’ again……

79. Tim Campion - September 24, 2021

Regarding Ames’ note above, the following is based on my journal at the time, February 1975 notes

80. diegoriverassquaretrouserleg - September 24, 2021

Ames 76,

Yes, as you say, he aims for effect not substance, the shocks themselves are puerile associations, they purportedly reveal significant hidden meanings behind number plates, street signs, actions of football players etc. always unverifiable and in terms of prophetic accuracy, always wrong. In Burton’s mind, nobody is actually saying or writing or painting what they are actually saying or writing or painting, there’s always a hidden, secret message embedded which Burton deftly and nonsensically uncovers. The author, painter or commentator is merely a sleeping dupe, a talented but dumb carrier pigeon, hands, tongues, pens and paintbrushes all invisibly manipulated by malevolent angels.

If through one’s inherent gullibility and need one has been duped and absorbed into the hive mind of the blessed congregation of the duped and now believes that he is conscious and therefore somehow special, and gifted, then his word games or ideas of reference, reinforce the mistaken foundational belief, that he is somehow a rare living conduit for celestial conspiracy theories. One doesn’t need ones own smart phone to connect to heaven when for 120 bucks one can eat steak in a tuxedo and listen to Dear Leaders voicemail. After a while one can imitate the shock deciphering routine and create one’s very own psychosis.

The voluminous, relentless assertions that he is different from you, a persecuted conscious being enacting and suffering the burdensome role of savior of humanity also all originate with him in and from him. They are also unverifiable and are also wrong. We can accurately say his prophecies are false because he’s made many and they never come true.

If you are told the world will end on Monday and you reach breakfast on Tuesday unscathed, and can still watch CNN, then you are within your rights as a living thinking being to conclude that there was something radically wrong with the prophecy and the prophet. We can by extension then legitimately propose that anything else he imperiously claims is a message from above is also likely to be B.S. None of the calf splatter originates in a “higher center” unless there is a “higher lying center” that has uniquely crystalized in him.

Along the same stretch of rd. more or less, between Burtons brothel and the 76 at Highway 20, is Paynes Peak in Loma Rica at 342 metres above sea level. This was to be, the “Peak of pain” after the fall of California, the highest point that the Ocean would extend after a massive earthquake swallowed most of the state.
The babble is endless, it all serves to set Burton apart from and above others. Indeed one could lay out a decent argument, that ALL of his persona is an invention, a massive delusional compensation for his otherwise bland, beige, predatory, malignant, dysfunctional being. A glorious act by a traumatized, being to ensure and attract wealth, admiration and sex by a man otherwise incapable of attracting much of any.

At a time when he still travelled to Europe, (he would be arrested at an immigration point if he tried to do so today) He liked to tell the paying dinner attendees, that Paris, was actually “Perish” and London, was “Long done” both references to his prediction that nuclear warfare was imminent and that Europe would be wiped out. To say that the associations are stretched and far fetched is to be mildly complimentary, they are stupid lies, yet he continually spews them out with a straight face is course is never ever wrong and still attracts an adoring audience.

The cognitive dissonance required to swallow whole the garbage verbiage unquestioned, is worthy of twisted admiration. People kid themselves that they are taking everything with a pinch of salt and are just there for the altered state, your comment Ames that, whatever it is this time, it is “one theory among many” is a popular disclaimer intended to reassure that while one is glibly repeating the nonsense one still has half a brain with which to discriminate. The fence sitters sit on imaginary fences and could never actually leave, they are victims of collective stupidity and haven’t figured out yet that the congregation doesn’t need the priest.

81. diegoriverassquaretrouserleg - September 24, 2021

74, Ton2U,

Ton writes, “Something I’ve wondered for some time is whether he truly believes his ludicrous lies?

Is he:

A garden variety sociopath who “consciously” creates fictions for his own “benefit” at the expense of others – i.e. knows he’s lying?

A psychopath who believes his delusions – what an outside observer can plainly see as a spider’s web of lies but which he believes to be truth and reality?”

It’s a question I’ve often asked myself. I’d say some of both, though with the passing of years and the development and refinement of his Schtik, it increasingly falls into the deliberate lying in order to mislead category.

The most glaring example of the deliberate lie, is his fairly recent claim to have been visited by the Absolute, with the accompanying staged photograph of him on his knees bowing to no one and nothing. His delusions of grandeur are becoming more and more exaggerated and implausible as he struggles to assert omnipotence in the face of his own obvious decline. He has since doubled down on this particular absolute fantasy and declared the visitation worthy of commemoration as an FOF national holiday.

He’s fundamentally delusional and without functioning conscience. The lack of conscience he regards as a strength and a hallmark of superior being and functioning, It affords him freedom from female domination. This is imo an example of insanity and malignant normality. Serial killers function well courtesy of an absence of conscience. He is potentially dangerous at this point and this shouldn’t be underestimated as he becomes increasingly demented and paranoid. His malignancy has become normalised within the FOF thanks to the shared psychosis of his close enablers and gullibility of the flock. He is now the original psycho priest. Only thing working in the favor of humanity in general is the speed with which he is both losing his marbles and capacity for independent functioning. How crazy are the enablers at this point, is a legitimate question to ask

Conscience is something he recommends all his followers should dispense with, the remnants of a magnetic centre to be discarded. This is a glaring example of the danger of the Psycopath as Priest. An incurable personality disorder is offered up as a spiritual teaching and the means and method of salvation. This is what happens when a damaged individual becomes a spiritual leader and teacher.

I believe that years ago, the balance leaned more in the direction of verbalized delusion than calculated deception. Very quickly though I believe he recognized that his ability to wax delusional was actually the means whereby he could wield power and fulfill his kinky desires with the eager participation of others.

He deludedly believes that he is a conscious being and the savior of mankind and he uses “intentional insincerity” to manipulate the minds of the flock for their own good and his own purposes. In his imagination he is bestowing immortality upon them and his abusive demands are chicken feed in comparison to the gifts he brings. He actually needs the flock more than they need him, but the flock hasn’t twigged that yet and to keep them in check and safeguard his privileges he continues the tall tales and wild fantasies of armageddon.

So I came to the conclusion that it’s intentional lying by someone incapable of an objective reality check. It’s lying by a madman who believes his lies are divine and noble lies intended for the common good. Lies for the children in his care.

82. diegoriverassquaretrouserleg - September 24, 2021

Whalerider #75

Yes agreed that Burton warped the meaning of key ideas in the 4th Way among them the idea of shocks. Examples of burtonwarp are a’plenty.

The original exposition was the idea of a first and second conscious shock. The first conscious shock is remembering myself and the second is transformation of negative emotions.

These original ideas imo have some depth and substance unlike for example a claim that “C influence”, possibly Leonardo Da Vinci is stamping my library card to indicate the future date of armageddon.
and not the return date of my book as is the generally expected fate of lesser mortals. Laughable though the example may be, this is a true example of Burton delusion. The original date set for his first failed armageddon prediction came from the stamp of his library card!

Self remembering has never been properly understood by Burton. This is an assertion which would no doubt elicit gales of laughter from his sheeple. Self remembering or the first conscious shock is regarded by Burton as his speciality. imo he hasn’t a clue and much of his evil is rooted in his misunderstanding and lack of comprehension. He never became free of Robert Burton, choosing instead to become a spiritual grifter.

The Self in need of rememberance is otherwise referred to in the 4th Way as the Absolute. Eveything is That, that is what everyone and everything is at the core. If I can remember or recognize that in the moment then I can make a good stab at transforming my negative emotions, such emotions being an expression of my separateness and
ignorance, they can be released back into awareness. The realisation of unity then is the cure for separateness as embodied in negative emotions, that’s basically what the two shock sequence is about. The shocks are energetic ones that potentially lead to absorbtion into the 4th state.

The 4th state doesn’t exist in Burtons teaching. he would occasionally make absurd references to it such as, “it is difficult to evoke” or “it is steely” I never heard a single sentence indicating he experienced or understood it and his obsessive need to be someone special is all the proof one needs that it’s nothing that he embodies. I agree wholeheartedly that in the Gurdjieff Ouspensky cannon the only worthwhile description and application of shocks is found in this nugget of the 1st and 2nd conscious shocks.

For Burton, the Absolute, instead of being absolutely everything including by definition Burton himself, is actually in his delusion and deceit, some awesome bloke, CEO of the universe, who descends to visit and give him a blowjob, an event, (the visitation not the blowjob) caught on camera and now celebrated each year. A shock is something Burton gives the unsuspecting male sitting alongside him when he pushes his hand into his crotch during a formal public teaching dinner. Or it is his Mother’s surname, proof that he was born to be a shock for humanity. Or Dorian hitting two motorcyclists. It may come as a shock but is not a shock in the sense of additional energy imparted in a process to help it on it’s way.

83. WhaleRider - September 24, 2021

diegoriverassquaretrouserleg:
“The Self in need of rememberance is otherwise referred to in the 4th Way as the Absolute. Eveything is That, that is what everyone and everything is at the core. If I can remember or recognize that in the moment then I can make a good stab at transforming my negative emotions, such emotions being an expression of my separateness and
ignorance, they can be released back into awareness. The realisation of unity then is the cure for separateness as embodied in negative emotions, that’s basically what the two shock sequence is about. The shocks are energetic ones that potentially lead to absorbtion into the 4th state.

The 4th state doesn’t exist in Burtons teaching. he would occasionally make absurd references to it such as, “it is difficult to evoke” or “it is steely” I never heard a single sentence indicating he experienced or understood it and his obsessive need to be someone special is all the proof one needs that it’s nothing that he embodies. I agree wholeheartedly that in the Gurdjieff Ouspensky cannon the only worthwhile description and application of shocks is found in this nugget of the 1st and 2nd conscious shocks.”

ok, I have to ask, do you really believe this? Just checking. Because when you write in the first person, that’s what it sounds like to me.

If not, maybe you can add an emoji next time? 😉

84. diegoriverassquaretrouserleg - September 24, 2021

Hi Whalerider,

Yes, I feel that’s a reasonably accurate expression not of a belief but of an understanding born of experience found outside the Fellowship. I feel it’s an important statement to make, i.e. that Self Remembering as taught by Burton is a hideously stunted expression of the central concept underpinning the FOF and his teaching. It needs to be said, and brought to light even at risk of attracting disdain and scorn from the many peers here who long ago discarded the 4th Way. I have too by the way abandoned it that is.

It always struck me as odd that Burton was entirely focused on the third state and pretty much ignored the fourth. The 4th Way Is actually a brutal descriptive language, but here we are in the FOF discussion blog discussing a 4th Way cult and I assume the common language is that of the 4th Way. Nonetheless, it’s really important I feel if you want to understand what’s wrong with the FOF that you include what’s wrong with Burton’s understanding of consciousness and hence what’s wrong with that of anyone in the FOF who imbibes what he teaches. Hope that clarifies and am entirely open to discussion.

Also I don’t mind any emoji’s either! Slings and arrows etc…..

85. John Harmer - September 25, 2021

re the 1st and 2nd conscious shocks:
I see them as the core elements in the Gurdjieff system. However I do not see them as beneficial practices.

Self remembering or being present may be fine to dip into from time to time. However if it is pursued in the fanatical way recommended by Gurdjieff and his followers I see a big danger of reducing the ability to take in the full richness of our lives. I also think it likely that a wordless state renders us more susceptible to suggestions from others.

The transformation of negative emotions I see as particularly dangerous. It has the potential to render its (again fanatical) practitioners docile in the face of situations where active steps are demanded, such as hearing that the cult leader is exploiting young men for sexual purposes. But my own personal experience is that it can push one towards a state of depersonalisation, where nothing feels real, and nothing can hurt one. In other words I find the demonised state of identification is healthier than lofty detachment.

Diego observes that Burton in his opinion has misunderstood consciousness and the fourth way. Maybe so. Since I see the fourth way as a bogus system, it seems to me to be a side issue though.

86. amesgilbert - September 25, 2021

Thank you all for sharing your points of view, I value the give and take. Myself, I don’t worry about “throwing out the baby with the bathwater” as regards my misadventures in the FoF, because from my POV, a “house built upon the sand” has no viable foundation, so any building on that foundation is of no use. Burton is the be–all and end–all of the Fellowship of Friends, despite his claims that his efforts will be the seed of “the next civilization” or whatever. He is a criminal, plain and simple. He is irredeemably corrupt, and always has been. He is irredeemably selfish, and always has been. Everything to do with him, his works and the fruits of his entire adult life are also irredeemably corrupt, so IMHO there is no baby to throw out with the bathwater.

Going from the general to the particular, I have to say that I do feel rather sorry for Dorian Matei as an individual, given the fact that he appears to be responsible for killing one person and at the least ruining the life of another, and also for bringing huge suffering to both victims’ families and all who know and care about them. Whether the lady does or does not come out of her coma, I guarantee that there is already a minimum $1 million bill to pay, and $1 million per year for effective therapy, much more if there are further surgeries. That is a heavy and inescapable burden on Dorian’s shoulders, and I wouldn’t wish that on anyone.
There is also the question of support from his peers in the FoF, and I wouldn’t be surprised if that is not conditional, like ‘friendship’ itself is conditional in the FoF. That is, if Burton withdraws support for Dorian, then probably most of the flock will follow suit. Apparently, Burton has not said anything on the subject so far, but I can imagine Burton “cutting his losses” by demoting Dorian or re–evaluating his role entirely, especially if Dorian is found guilty of manslaughter. If he goes to prison or has a lengthy probation, then he is no longer of any use to Burton. Since Dorian himself was very actively involved in the making of Asaf Braverman into a ‘non–person’ when he went into exile, he knows very well that this treatment can be applied to anyone, even the heir to the throne….

87. ton2u - September 26, 2021

DRSTL writes (among other things);

“How crazy are the enablers at this point, is a legitimate question to ask… His malignancy has become normalized within the FOF thanks to the shared psychosis of his close enablers and gullibility of the flock… ”

Over the years this blog has directed outrage toward the “antics” – past, present, future – of Burton. This seems to me totally justified… but a couple of things might be recognized and taken into account in the process… that is, to paraphrase the words of DRSTL again; Burton’s “incurable personality disorder” – and as alluded to, the role of enablers.

I agree that there is no “cure” for burton’s malignancy – a remedy could be found via the “justice system” – through prosecution and dismantling the organization around him… and ideally he could spend what little time he has left locked down in “the pokey” – er, ah… maybe he would enjoy that too much and it would simply be another perversion of “justice.” Whatever… I doubt this will happen anyway and can only hope for his speedy demise and departure from terra plane.

Regarding the enablers; in expressing outrage toward Burton (don’t get me wrong, I’m all for it), something that tends to get ignored is the role and culpability of his supporters and followers. I can speak of this since I was one who believed in the lies and as such, because of my “blind faith” I was an unwitting supporter of the deceit, a low-level co-conspirator in the scam.

With hindsight it’s easy enough to direct vitriol toward the sick, pathetic, incurable individual at the center of the FOF scam but the other part of the equation involves the support of you and I and all the others in FOF herd over these many years… it, the flock – they/we helped contribute to create a Burton…

Why? What is it about otherwise seemingly bright and well-meaning people, that would cause them to follow and support the lunacy….? Obviously there is no single answer applying to everyone who’s drawn into the web of delusion… however there may be a shared thread.

As DRSTL puts it “He actually needs the flock more than they need him…” I think that’s always been the case, without us, without his flock past-present-future, Burton might’ve otherwise ended up as another delusional street person ranting about end times… and etc. But it seems moot at this point, so we here from the vantage of outside looking in, having learned our lessons, are simply left to rant and rave.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Lately I’ve been reading some of Henry Corbin’s writing… his research into islam and sufism, I came across this section of writing about the sufis – to paraphrase:

“They (sufis) seek truth… in this path are many dangers, for false teachers and deceived seekers vainly pursue the desert vapour, and wearied return, the dupe of their own imagination. The religious teacher is sometimes: a) the willful dupe of his own imagination; b) the willful deluder of his own followers. He desires to abolish the form of religion; allows no name to come between himself and God, and yet desires to come between all others and God…” (no pun intended) “…destroys reverence in order to substitute reverence for himself.”

This seemed somehow familiar.

What does “the seeker” seek… Truth? So why invest trust, faith, belief in deceit? A situation rich in irony… and vitamins too.

88. amesgilbert - September 26, 2021

I have found out that I have made a serious mistake, and I wish to point it out, and I apologize for it, without reservation.

In various posts above, I refer to Dorian Matei as having killed a man riding a motorcycle in an accident on July 26th. This is incorrect. The fact is, no one died at the scene, the two motorcycle riders, a man and his wife riding their separate Harleys on a road trip from Seattle, were seriously injured and both taken to hospital. Two months later, according to a GoFundMe page set up by their daughter to help with expenses, the man has been discharged (though with further surgery on his leg, and rehabilitation to follow). However, his wife is still in hospital, and still in a coma.

I relied on secondary sources that have been very, very accurate in the past. I think what happened is that there was initially a genuine belief amongst those in the Fellowship who would know best, that the husband had died at the scene, and that was passed on. But, when the order of events became clearer, that particular update did not find its way to me.

Again, I apologize to readers for bringing confusion rather than clarity to the conversation, and to Dorian Matei for misrepresenting what happened on July 26th, including any references to manslaughter, which obviously, at this time of writing, are not pertinent.

89. Tim Campion - September 26, 2021

Ames,

Thank you for correcting the record regarding the injuries sustained by the two motorcyclists. I will also correct the story that appeared on the “Robert Earl Burton blog” and its Facebook counterpart.

Here is a link to the GoFundMe campaign you referred to: Mike and Sherri’s Medical Fund

(Note: I believe the couple in the photo are Mike and Sheri’s daughter Shannon and her partner.)

90. Tim Campion - September 26, 2021

Ames has been sleuthing (borrowing his term) and found the above-mentioned photo on Sherri Tomack’s Facebook page. Dated 2012, it is no doubt Mike and Sherri, not their daughter and her partner. Thanks, Ames!

91. WhaleRider - September 27, 2021

Cultists Resist Inoculations of Truth

Animal House, CA- County Mental Health Department Officials are concerned that cult members clustered in a rural Northern Californian hamlet have refused to be vaccinated against viral lies and falsehoods being spewed and spread by their dear leader, Robert E Burton, every time he opens his mouth and who also refuses to wear a mask of civility.

Even more concerning is the group’s practice of promoting the use of animal dewormer among their flock in a vain effort to protect themselves from what they erroneously believe is their demonic “lower self” worming its way into their brains, ignoring the risk of depersonalization, psychosis, and other potentially harmful side effects.

When asked why a person would want to turn against themselves by ingesting such self-defeating untruths, one follower claimed he had heard a prominent member of the group with a flatulence disorder once stated that cult followers are “like dogs”, so it just made sense to use the dewormer, since dogs get worms, too.

On a side note, one former member who had left the group a few years ago recently admitted publicly that he had made a mistake by spreading a falsehood based upon faulty second-hand gossip about a terrible traffic accident caused another prominent cult member driving with his head in the clouds, thus proving that it is entirely possible even for cult long haulers to completely recover from cult indoctrination, humble themselves and tell the truth, something the cult’s role model is apparently unwilling or unable to do.

As a result of this prominent member’s traffic incident that left a victim in a coma, one of many traffic and airplane accidents that have been fatal for members in the past, despite the group claiming to be “above the Law of Accident”, an insider has also revealed that all cult followers are now required to attend a cult-sponsored, insanely expensive, mandatory driver’s education workshop fittingly entitled “Driving With Presence”, in order to “keep their I’s on the road”.

92. richard - September 27, 2021

That irrepressible pundit Mr. John Harmer . Comment 85 . Never one to mince his words. His words delivered with clarity of thought . Being English myself also probably affects my bias . Om , the essence of the ultimate reality . Most peculiar , as far as people I’ve met in this life You are quite oddly one with whom my response is almost entirely one of neutrality . However your act of what I consider one of the most kindness in the late ’80’s is etched in my memory . My contention regards identification , allow me , is similar to yours . Show me the human being who is not identified and that person must surely be very close to God . However , he or she will not be closer or nearer to God if , for them God does not exist .I think deeper down I was perplexed when in the Fellowship as why it should matter so much as to whether you were identified . As if for some preposterous notion one could consider oneself not identified . As soon as that happens as soon as being identified is . Bingo . My consideration in the main has been and will probably be maintained is the absurdity in my mind of there being a competition in the realms of consciousness . Obviously for some types their whole lives are consumed in being in competition with other human beings , and from there see their whole existence , material and spiritual , whatever that is ,as some perpetual battle in whatever realm they find themselves . Its like , hey , ever thought of chilling out for a couple of minutes . Fill your lungs , breathe in , its ok . Then , no prizes for getting this right , breathe out . But back to the plot Healthy
negative emotions . Feel like ripping the head off of someone , its your choice . Think of the consequences .Will it clear the air , maybe it’ll make your life worse . I digress . Your description of reducing the ability to take in the full richness of our lives, well if anything gets in the way of that its only sensible and logical to discard it .

93. 44thWay - September 30, 2021

82 diegoreverassquaretrouserleg, 83 WhaleRider, 85 John Harmer

For me, coming to terms with 27 years of believing I was in a fourth way school has involved questioning, not just Robert Burton as a teacher (that was the easy part), but also the principles and assumptions of the fourth way proper.

To do this properly one can neither simply accept the fourth way and reject Burton’s misunderstanding of it, nor throw the whole thing out, unanalysed.

I was looking at a big art book of paintings from Jodhpur. One striking series of images starts with a blank rectangle covered in gold paint and with no other image. The next frame shows a god standing for some cosmic principle, and in the third the god is supported on a sea of silver, representing the universe beginning to come into manifestation.

The philosophy implied by these paintings is that of everything emerging from an undifferentiated sea of consciousness. This is the fundamental assumption underlying, not only Advaita Vedanta but, arguably, any religion or philosophy in which consciousness is taken as prior to matter.

By contrast, Western philosophy often makes the assumption that consciousness arises out of particular arrangements of matter, or else it is dualistic, imagining that there are two different substances, matter and spirit.

Which of these assumptions you make will determine a lot of things in relation to the fourth way, for example whether it is possible by consciously lifting yourself up by your own bootstraps to become “immortal within the limits of the solar system” [P.D.Ouspensky].

To cut a long story short, my own take on it is that there are a few things in the fourth way that can be adapted to good use, and these are no more than the advice you can get from ordinary psychology and mindfulness techniques. There is no useful distinction to be made between ‘awakening’ and healing. There are good things that we could have got without belonging to the fourth way, without belonging to a religion, and without spening loads of money.

94. John Harmer - September 30, 2021

#93 44thway says “Western philosophy often makes the assumption that consciousness arises out of particular arrangements of matter”. Well it certainly seems the most likely way things happened as current knowledge stands. We have in Darwinian evolution an elegant, simple system that can produce complex beings from simpler beings. At some point the complexity was enough for it to be true to ascribe sentience to the animal. Everyday evidence that consciousness depends critically on the body are within our own experiences. When the hospital anaesthetist administers a precise dose, consciousness is removed utterly from the subjects timeline, restored when a certain chemical balance is restored in the brain. The conclusion can be drawn that the material world precedes consciousness. However if we include the mystery of origins, ie the answer, if there is one, to the question “why isn’t there nothing at all?” Our current knowledge can not rule out strange and wonderful things lying behind the universe, but that lies beyond our ken.

95. WhaleRider - October 1, 2021

Movie poster I happened to pass by the other day….

Aware: Glimpses of Consciousness

What is consciousness? Is it in all living beings? Why are we predisposed for mystical experience? And what happens when we die? AWARE ultimately leads one on a voyage onto the ocean of consciousness, contemplative, sensual meditation: the networks of consciousness are
reflected in ‘grand’ cinematographic imagery revealing the vast interconnectedness of Nature – from the smallest organisms, to the world of plants and animals and on to the cosmos. It invites one to experience the awe and mystery as the researchers do, to dive in with them, returning to see the world anew, to review long-held beliefs and assumptions and initiate one’s own oceanic journey. Ultimately, to be aware one is aware.”

96. ton2u - October 1, 2021

Round and round we go… the interminable debate between spirit and matter…. a formulation of categories which in itself tends to put limitations on the possibilities of perception. Re-minded of a slim book I read some years ago called “Human and Cosmic Thought” in which the author identifies “world views” in-forming the variety of orientations involved in human precepts / interpretation / perceptions. It may be a bit too neatly “formulaic” however there seems to me to be certain elements of “truth” therein… albeit not so defined and packaged in practical, everyday, walkabout, experiential reality… for what it’s worth here’s a bit of extract:

MATERIALISM
There are people so constituted that it is not possible for them to find the way to the Sprit, and to give them any proof of the Spirit will always be hard. They stick to something they know about, in accordance with their nature. Let us say they stick at something that makes the crudest kind of impression on them—Materialism. We need not regard as foolish the arguments they advance as a defense or proof of Materialism, for an immense amount of ingenious writing has been devoted to the subject, and it holds good in the first place for material life, for the material world and its laws.

SPIRITISM
Again, there are people who, owing to a certain inwardness, are naturally predisposed to see in all that is material only the revelation of the spiritual. Naturally, they know as well as the materialists do that, externally, the material world exists; but matter, they say, is only the revelation, the manifestation, of the underlying spiritual. Such persons may take no particular interest in the material world and its laws. As all their ideas of the spiritual come to them through their own inner activity, they may go through the world with the consciousness that the true, the lofty, in which one ought to interest oneself – all genuine reality—is found only in the Spirit; that matter is only illusion, only external phantasmagoria. This would be an extreme standpoint, but it can occur, and can lead to a complete denial of material life. We should have to say of such persons that they certainly do recognize what is most real, the Spirit, but they are one-sided; they deny the significance of the material world and its laws. Much acute thinking can be enlisted in support of the conception of the universe held by these persons. Let us call their conception of the universe: Spiritism. Can we say that the Spiritists are right? As regards the Spirit, their contentions could bring to light some exceptionally correct ideas, but concerning matter and its laws they might reveal very little of any significance. Can one say the Materialists are correct in what they maintain? Yes, concerning matter and its laws they may be able to discover some exceptionally useful and valuable facts; but in speaking of the Spirit they may utter nothing but foolishness. Hence we must say that both parties are correct in their respective spheres.

REALISM
There can also be persons who say: “Yes, but as to whether in truth the world contains only matter, or only spirit, I have no special knowledge; the powers of human cognition cannot cope with that. One thing is clear—there is a world spread out around us. Whether it is based upon what chemists and physicists, if they are materialists, call atoms, I know not. But I recognize the external world; that is something I see and can think about. I have no particular reason for supposing that it is or is not spiritual at root. I restrict myself to what I see around me.” From the explanations already given we can call such Realists, and their concept of the universe: Realism. Just as one can enlist endless ingenuity on behalf of Materialism or of Spiritism, and just as one can be clever about Spiritism and yet say the most foolish things on material matters, and vice versa, so one can advance the most ingenious reasons for Realism, which differs from both Spiritism and Materialism in the way I have just described.

IDEALISM
Again, there may be other persons who speak as follows. Around us are matter and the world of material phenomena. But this world of material phenomena is in itself devoid of meaning. It has no real meaning unless there is within it a progressive tendency; unless from this external world something can emerge towards which the human soul can direct itself, independently of the world. According to this outlook, there must be a realm of ideas and ideals within the world-process. Such people are not Realists, although they pay external life its due; their view is that life has meaning only if ideas work through it and give it purpose. It was under the influence of such a mood as this that Fichte once said: Our world is the sensualised material of our duty.* The adherents of such a world-outlook as this, which takes everything as a vehicle for the ideas that permeate the world-process, may be called Idealists and their outlook: Idealism. Beautiful and grand and glorious things have been brought forward on behalf of this Idealism. And in this realm that I have just described—where the point is to show that the world would be purposeless and meaningless if ideas were only human inventions and were not rooted in the world-process—in this realm Idealism is fully justified. But by means of it one cannot, for example, explain external reality. Hence one can distinguish this Idealism from other world-outlooks:

MATHEMATISM
We now have side by side four justifiable world-outlooks, each with significance for its particular domain. Between Materialism and Idealism there is a certain transition. The crudest kind of materialism—one can observe it specially well in our day, although it is already on the wane—will consist in this, that people carry to an extreme the saying of Kant—Kant did not do this himself!–that in the individual sciences there is only so much real science as there is mathematics. This means that from being a materialist one can become a ready-reckoner of the universe, taking nothing as valid except a world composed of material atoms. They collide and gyrate, and then one calculates how they inter-gyrate. By this means one obtains very fine results, which show that this way of looking at things is fully justified. Thus you can get the vibration-rates for blue, red, etc.; you take the whole world as a kind of mechanical apparatus, and can reckon it up accurately. But one can become rather confused in this field. One can say to oneself: “Yes, but however complicated the machine may be, one can never get out of it anything like the perception of blue, red, etc. Thus if the brain is only a complicated machine, it can never give rise to what we know as soul-experiences.” But then one can say, as Du Bois-Raymond once said: If we want to explain the world in strictly mathematical terms, we shall not be able to explain the simplest perception, but if we go outside a mathematical explanation, we shall be unscientific. The most uncompromising materialist would say, “No, I do not even calculate, for that would presuppose a superstition—it would imply that I assume that things are ordered by measure and number.” And anyone who raises himself above this crude materialism will become a mathematical thinker, and will recognize as valid only whatever can be treated mathematically. From this results a conception of the universe that really admits nothing beyond mathematical formulae. This may be called Mathematism.

RATIONALISM
Someone, however, might think this over, and after becoming a Mathematist he might say to himself: “It cannot be a superstition that the color blue has so and so many vibrations. The world is ordered mathematically. If mathematical ideas are found to be real in the world, why should not other ideas have equal reality?” Such a person accepts this—that ideas are active in the world. But he grants validity only to those ideas that he discovers outside himself—not to any ideas that he might grasp from his inner self by some sort of intuition or inspiration, but only to those he reads from external things that are real to the senses. Such a person becomes a Rationalist, and his outlook on the world is that of Rationalism. If, in addition to the ideas that are found in this way, someone grants validity also to those gained from the moral and the intellectual realms, then he is already an Idealist. Thus a path leads from crude Materialism, by way of Mathematism and Rationalism, to Idealism.

PSYCHISM
But now Idealism can be enhanced. In our age there are some men who are trying to do this. They find ideas at work in the world, and this implies that there must also be in the world some sort of beings in whom the ideas can live. Ideas cannot live just as they are in any external object, nor can they hang as it were in the air. In the nineteenth century the belief existed that ideas rule history. But this was a confusion, for ideas as such have no power to work. Hence one cannot speak of ideas in history. Anyone who understands that ideas, if they are there are all, are bound up with some being capable of having ideas, will no longer be a mere Idealist; he will move on to the supposition that ideas are connected with beings. He becomes a Psychist and his world-outlook is that Psychism. The Psychist, who in his turn can uphold his outlook with an immense amount of ingenuity, reaches it only through a kind of one-sidedness, of which he can eventually become aware.
Here I must add that there are adherents of all the world-outlooks above the horizontal stroke; for the most part they are stubborn fold who, owing to some fundamental element in themselves, take this or that world-outlook and abide by it, going no further. All the beliefs listed below the line have adherents who are more easily accessible to the knowledge that individual world-outlooks each have one special standpoint only, and they more easily reach the point where they pass from one world-outlook to another.

PNEUMATISM
When someone is a Psychist, and able as a thinking person to contemplate the world clearly, then he comes to the point of saying to himself that he must presuppose something actively psychic in the outside world. But directly he not only thinks, but feels sympathy for what is active and willing in man, then he says to himself: “It is not enough that there are beings who have ideas; these beings must also be active, they must be able also to do things.” But this is inconceivable unless these beings are individual beings. That is, a person of this type rises from accepting the ensoulment of the world to accepting the Spirit or the Spirits of the world. He is not yet clear whether he should accept one or a number of Spirits, but he advances from Psychism to Pneumatism to a doctrine of the Spirit.
If he has become in truth a Pneumatist, then he may well grasp what I have said in this lecture about number—that with regard to figures it is somewhat doubtful to speak of a “unity”. Then he comes to the point of saying to himself: It must therefore be a confusion to talk of one undivided Spirit, of one undivided Pneuma. And he gradually becomes able to form for himself an idea of the Spirits of the different Hierarchies. Then he becomes in the true sense a Spiritist, so that on this side there is a direct transition from Pneumatism to Spiritism.

MONADISM
Now there is still another possibility: someone may not take the path we have tried to follow to the activities of the spiritual Hierarchies, but may still come to an acceptance of certain spiritual beings. The celebrated German philosopher, Leibnitz, was a man of this kind. Leibnitz had got beyond the prejudice that anything merely material can exist in the world. He found the actual, he sought the actual. (I have treated this more precisely in my book, The Riddles of Philosophy.) His view was that a being—as, for example, the human soul—can build up existence in itself. But he formed no further ideas on the subject. He only said to himself that there is such a being that can build up existence in itself, and force concepts outwards from within itself. For Leibnitz, this being is a “Monad”. And he said to himself: “There must be many Monads, and Monads of the most varied capabilities. If I had here a bell, there would be many monads in it—as in a swarm of midges—but they would be monads that had never come even so far as to have sleep-consciousness, monads that are almost unconscious, but which nevertheless develop the dimmest of concepts within themselves. There are monads that dream; there are monads that develop waking ideas within themselves; in short, there are monads of the most varied grades.”
A person with this outlook does not come so far as to picture to himself the individual spiritual beings in concrete terms, as the Spiritist does, but he reflects in the world upon the spiritual element in the world, allowing it to remain indefinite. He calls it “Monad”—that is, he conceives of it only as though one were to say: “Yes, there is spirit in the world and there are spirits, but I describe them only by saying, ‘They are entities having varying powers of perception.’ I pick out from them an abstract characteristic. So I form for myself this one-sided world-outlook, on behalf of which as much as can be said has been said by the highly intelligent Leibnitz. In this way I develop Monadism.” Monadism is an abstract Spiritism.

DYNAMISM
But there can be persons who do not rise to the level of the Monads; they cannot concede that existence is made up of being with the most varied conceptual powers, but at the same time they are not content to allow reality only to external phenomena; they hold that “forces” are dominant everywhere. If, for example, a stone falls to the ground, they say, “That is gravitation!” When a magnet attracts bits of iron, they say: “That is magnetic force!” They are not content with saying simply, “There is the magnet,” but they say, “The magnet presupposes that supersensibly, invisibly, a magnetic force is present, extending in all directions.” A world-outlook of this kind—which looks everywhere for forces behind phenomena—can be called Dynamism.
Then one may say: “No, to believe in ‘forces’ is superstition”—an example of this is Frits Mauthner’s Critique of Language, where you find a detailed argument to this effect. It amounts to taking your stand on the reality of the things around us. Thus by the path of Spiritism we come through Monadism and Dynamism to Realism again.

PHENOMENALISM
But now one can do something else still. One can say: “Certainly I believe in the world that is spread out around me, but I do not maintain any right to claim that this world is the real one. I can say of it only that it ‘appears’ to me. I have no right to say more about it.” There you have again a difference. One can say of the world that is spread out around us. “This is the real world,” but one can also say, “I am clear that there is a world which appears to me; I cannot speak of anything more. I am not saying that this world of colors and sounds, which arises only because certain processes in my eyes present themselves to me as colors, while processes in my ears present themselves to me as sounds—I am not saying that this world is the true world. It is a world of phenomena.” This is the outlook called Phenomenalism.

SENSATIONALISM
We can go further, and can say: “The world of phenomena we certainly have around us, but all that we believe we have in these phenomena is what we have ourselves added to them, what we have thought into them. Our own sense-impressions are all we can rightly accept.” Anyone who says this—mark it well!—is not an adherent of Phenomenalism. He peels off from the phenomena everything which he thinks comes only from the understanding and the reason, and he allows validity only to sense-impressions, regarding them as some kind of message from reality. This outlook may be called Sensationalism.
A critic of this outlook can then say: “You may reflect as much as you like on what the senses tell us and bring forward ever so ingenious reasons for your view—and ingenious reasons can be given—I take my stand on the point that nothing real exists except that which manifests itself through sense-impressions; this I accept as something material.” This is rather like an atomist saying: “I hold that only atoms exist, and that however small they are, they have the attributes which we recognize in the physical world”–anyone who says this is a materialist. Thus, by another path, we arrive back at Materialism.

etc.

97. Rich - October 1, 2021

reject -ism & -ist and the like

98. Tim Campion - October 2, 2021
99. Rich - October 2, 2021

98. Tim Campion:
Do you have a link for the podcast?

100. fofblogmoderator - October 2, 2021

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