Robert Earl Burton


Robert Earl Burton, born in 1939, founded the Fellowship of Friends on New Year’s Day, 1970, after a period of study with the Fourth Way teacher and theater director, Alex Horn, who was affiliated with the Gurdjieff Foundation in the 1960s. Alex Horn also studied with English writer and playwright Rodney Collin, Peter Ouspensky’s pupil, late in Collin’s life, in Mexico.

The Fellowship of Friends grew so rapidly that in 1971 its students collectively purchased the land that became Apollo, located in the Sierra foothills of California. Over the decades the external form of the school—Apollo, the Fellowship’s worldwide centers, and the teaching—took shape and flowered from Robert’s conscious vision.

Basing his teaching on George Gurdjieff and Peter Ouspensky’s Fourth Way writings, Robert Earl Burton focused relentlessly on “self-remembering,” the effort to increase consciousness by a direct effort to be present within this moment. He has directed his students also to study related teachings in esoteric schools from all eras, isolating the common thread to reveal their universal message.

Robert Earl Burton lives at Apollo, together with more than five hundred members of the Fellowship, and teaches at many events each week. His students live in more than eighty cities around the world, traveling regularly for special gatherings together.

How to describe a conscious teacher? He does what no one else will or can do—teaching the most unpopular of all truths: that our illusory sense of “I” must die before presence can be born. He is a living reminder that it is possible to awaken, and that presence means humility, acceptance, and conscious love.

Robert Earl Burton has made the experience of higher states—and conscious art—his life’s work.  His recent book, Awakening, published by the Fellowship of Friends in 2016, contains his thoughts on how to recognize higher states of awareness.


Thoughts from Awakening:

  • If you want to awaken, nothing will stand in your way; if you do not want to awaken, you will stand in your way.
  • Some people awaken because they imagine it can be done, whereas others do not because they imagine it cannot.
  • It takes more to awaken than we realize. Great personal effort is needed and Influence C must help one. The teacher must be conscious, the students must wish to help other students awaken, and one must have luck. One must be a healthy seed. One needs to have quite a discipline to awaken, a patience, an industriousness.
  • The more awake one becomes, the more offended one is by one’s own unconscious manifestations. You will be upset about them in a positive, constructive way. If one is not offended by sleep, one will remain asleep.
  • What do we need to escape? Being. What prevents us from acquiring it? Lack of effort.
  • It is an inescapable fact that results will be proportional to effort.
  • The System works only if one uses it.
  • The more one changes one’s level, the more invisible one becomes. One no longer needs symbols of identity because one has identity itself.
  • Presence stretches time, and eventually one extends time to the point of becoming immortal.


Awakening through Impressions

  • It is important to be quiet and absorbent, especially around beautiful impressions. In this way one brings everything one has learned in one’s life to the present. We must absorb nature, not deflect it through false personality.
  • All conscious art was created with presence and is meant to be viewed with presence.
  • Look for the divine element in art, even in simple or coarse objects.
  • There is no higher art form than reality, which is higher centers within one.
  • The challenge for any artist is to portray the invisible and to express the inexpressible.
  • Esoteric images are only symbols of what you possess.