Robert Earl Burton

Average: 3 (22 votes)
Fast Facts
Fellowship of Friends, Fourth Way, Self Remembering
Main Countries of Activity: 
Date of Birth: 
Place of Birth: 
Little Rock, Arkansas, USA
In His/Her Body ("alive"): 
Other Related Gurus: 
Alex Horn, Sharon Gans, Jim and Carolyn Kuziak, James Randazzo


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 months 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.


Robert Earl Burton's main teachings are based on the Fourth Way, as presented to the West by George Gurdjieff and Peter Ouspensky.

He focuses on the practical side of this teaching, and puts special emphasis on Gurdjief's Self Remembering which constitutes the basis of his system.

Self Remembering

Self remembering is a state originally introduced to the west by G. I. Gurdjieff. It is somehow difficult to exactly describe it in words. Basically, it is a state of being aware in real-time not only of the action but also of the actor, the I, the presence that does the action.

In Gurdjieff's own words:

There are moments when you become aware not only of what you are doing but also of yourself doing it. You see both ‘I’ and the ‘here’ of ‘I am here’- both the anger and the ‘I’ that is angry. Call this self-remembering if you like.

and another quote of Gurdjieff explaining Self Remembering:

What is the first characteristic of self-remembering? In this state (the individual person) is not the center. He or she is not 'separate'. Sitting in a room... they are aware of the WHOLE ROOM, of them-self as only one of the objects in it. They are likewise aware of others and do not put them-self above others, or criticize or judge. This is not love but is the beginning of love. In this state a person has no 'self' as they usually are aware of it. It is quite impossible for them to consider or become negative, for the moment they do, the state will vanish.


The Fellowship of Friends has 60 centers in more than 40 countries worldwide.

Books & Media

Recommended Books: 
Cover image


by Robert Earl Burton


This teacher of the Fourth Way Tradition shows how self-remembering, similar to Buddhist mindfulness and Orthodox non-attachment, relates to every aspect of the student's life and work. This book gives Burton's students an accurate transmission of his teaching on the core idea of self-remembering. Unique in the spiritual literature, this book is destined to become a classic. Glossary.

Pro Opinions

C for yourself

agrippa's picture

If your aim is awakening, there is only one question that matters: is this helping me to awaken, now?

When I joined the Fellowship in London some twenty years ago I did not even know the Teacher's name. I joined because

Con Opinions

Serious Allegations

Tania's picture

There have been serious allegations over the years by former followers of Burton.

Caution to prospective members

Timtraveler's picture

Anyone considering joining this organization must first research its controversial history.