Forty years ago Robert Earl Burton founded the Fellowship of Friends as a practical school for awakening. He based his teaching on a system of ideas called the Fourth Way, brought to the West by George Gurdjieff and Peter Ouspensky.
The Fellowship grew quickly from a handful of members to several hundred. In 1971 the school purchased property in the Sierra foothills and founded Apollo—a place for students to work on themselves in an atmosphere of beauty, effort, and friendship. Centers outside California were first opened on the East Coast in 1976, then in major cities in Europe, Asia, and South America. Today there are more than 1500 members around the globe.
From the beginning Robert has emphasized “self-remembering”—the practice of being present—as the central aim of his teaching. He has always taught the great principles of the Fourth Way: the non-expression of negative emotions and the transformation of suffering. More recently, he has reached out to embrace the entire tradition of esoteric school, incorporating the symbols and wisdom of ancient teachings into the Fourth Way, including the Hindu, Buddhist, Christian, Jewish, Sufi, Egyptian, and Mesoamerican schools.
The Fellowship continues to have a single, overarching aim: to teach its members how to be present and how to prolong presence. That effort, sincerely practiced, can transform our lives. In addition to practical exercises and methods to control attention, we offer an environment that encourages effort and spiritual growth through frequent teaching events, physical labor, cultural gatherings, and study sessions. Most of all, we offer the chance to share the company and the understanding of a conscious teacher and of other sincere students.
The Fellowship of Friends is registered as a 501(c)(3) California non-profit church organization and is a member of the International Council of Community Churches (ICCC).