American founder of Fellowship of Friends
Robert Earl Burton is the founding minister of the Fellowship of Friends, a religious movement based in California.
He was born in Little Rock, Arkansas in 1939 but the family soon moved to Berkeley, California. His father was a butcher and he had two sisters and a brother.
He graduated in 1963 from San Jose State University and became a fourth-grade public school teacher in Springhill Elementary in the Lafayette in the bay area.
At that time, he spent eighteen moths in a Gurdjieff group of the Fourth Way led by the spiritual teacher Alexander Francis Horn. He studied intensively the teachings of the Fourth Way, as presented to the West by George Gurdjieff and Peter Ouspensky. He focused on the practical side of this teaching, and quickly grasped that self-remembering was the basis of the system.
Soon he returned transformed to the school after a school break. He was dressed like a hippie, complete with headband.
Burton resigned his teaching job early in 1967 and six months later what he calls "Influence C" - 44 angels who include Walt Whitman, Buddha and Abraham Lincoln — revealed themselves to him.
"Life after death instantly became a fact," he stated.
In 1970 he founded the Fellowship of Friends while living intermittently in a Volkswagen bus in Berkeley and doing housesitting. Within a decade he already had a blue Rolls Royce with the personalized license plate "Oracle."
On March 19, 1976, a "crystallization" occurred, Burton declared.
I experienced a conscious birth, like a woman delivering a baby," Burton wrote. "It came upon me. There was a bolt of lightning, smoke and an earthquake. My higher centers fused. World 6 and 12 were there. It lasted for about 15 seconds. The smoke then vanished.
Originally, the Fellowship of Friends mainly followed Gurdjieff's Fourth Way tradition, while currently it also emphasizes other spiritual schools and religions, such as the Egyptians, Judaism, Christianity, and Hinduism. The Fellowship of Friends has 60 centers in more than 40 countries worldwide.
In 1991 his book, Self-Remembering was first published.