The beginning...

We met Robert Burton in July 1970, as described somewhat in the next page in this sequence.

The following here is a "new beginning particulars" as the result of inquiries received about the early days of our experience with the start up of the Fellowship of Friends.

My reply to inquiries sent to me:

Subject: Re: RB in the beginning
Date: Sat, 20 Sep 1997 01:36:17 -0700
From: Stella Wirk

> Stella,
> >Maybe read the pages about the FOF and early years at
> > the web site:
> >http://www.xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx(OLD URL)
> >(follow link "About CULTS")/Stella
> So it started out as a kind of study group?...

No. Burton said he had started a "school." He said that someone at a party had asked him a question and that's when he knew he was to be the teacher and the questioner was to be the student, starting the "school."

The person who asked the first question was Bonita.

> Did RB say that he had "passed his teacher" from
> the very beginning?

Yes. We were not at all sure what was meant by that, except in the ordinary sense -- as we had no understanding then of ideas about knowledge, being, and levels of consciousness. We guessed that maybe Burton had learned all he could learn from his former teacher.

> How did RB become the leader?

and from Xxx:

> Good question from Xxxxx. I also would be very interested in the
> very beginning of the FoF. It seems that Robert was the only
> single person in the group. Did you pick on the single guy? "Hay,
> your [sic] single, you be the teacher!"

Hahaha! No, read on.

Xxx also wrote to first inquirer:

> Great questions. I have a lot of imagination about the beginnings.
> Insights would be much appreciated.

One suggestion in the activity of seeking insights about past events is to keep in mind that the responses from me, although most sincere and intended to convey "how it went" are necessarily the "tip of the iceberg," as we are dealing with memory, some admixture perhaps of what is known "now" with my early less informed reactions. Then, of course, the imagination already occurring can "click" on something written by me, and what I write is susceptible to misunderstanding because I have no control over what is added to this by you.

Thus what you are receiving is "the likely story" not what could be classified as "verifiable facts." This means that what you may think about my posts at best is, "according to Stella...(blahblah)" if you wish to exchange your "insights" derived from this sketchy (at best) information. That is, there is not really a way for me to transmit the whole and exact picture in the course of an inquiry into what happened in 1970. I'll do the best I can, of course.

Burton started his "school" so, naturally, *he* was the leader. We called him by his first name, and referred to him as "the teacher."

It was at this first meeting with him he also told us his birthday was May 4, but that he changed it to May 5 because "5/5" sounded better as he was a "budding Man No. 5." (I'm surprised now that we didn't hear "Outer Limits" music at the time. ) (As I've mentioned before, his birthday actually IS May 5; we didn't know that then, though. Thus, we accepted that he LIED about his birthday for effect, and later found out he LIED about LYING! We never did understand this game.)

> When you first became involved with him, did he seem (or did he
> present himself) to be someone who had attained a special
> degree of consciousness?
(again from first Xxxxx msg)

He said he was a "budding Man No. 5." Now, I'd like you to think back when you first heard of these ideas what you might have thought of someone saying they are very close to being Man No. 5. It would depend on what you understood at the time about this concept.

Basically, we could not know much about what he meant by that. We weren't even familiar with the idea of Man No. 1, 2, 3, 4, and so on, at that time. We also didn't know *then* what was meant by "man is asleep," or "man is a machine."

We had been spending a lot of time reading J. Krishnamurti, and had attended his talks in Santa Monica earlier in 1970. Krishnamurti's theme was that one did "not need a teacher." We thought, "maybe not, yet it might be easier for a little while; after all, we were listening to and reading Krishamurti!" haha We figured we had to "get a handle on this" some way or other.

Mostly what we knew was that we were interested in the 4th Way ideas we had started reading a little about, maybe half-way through "In Search of the Miraculous," and he talked about them a little, as well as telling us something about himself.

The claim of being a "budding Man No. 5" meant very little to us, except that whatever it was, he said he was close to being it.

We did notice that he *noticed* a lot of little things. He gave Harold an observation. "Are you 'a-where' that every time you sip your coffee, after you swallow, you give off a little smack and 'ahhhh' sigh?" Harold was surprised to find that he was doing that! As nobody had ever done that with us before, RB seemed pretty observant to us at the time.

We also noticed, of course, that he spoke with an Arkansas accent when he said "a-where." We were being much too polite to mention it then, and when he again said at a meeting, "You must be *a-where* of yo-sef" we decided to speak up. This *emphasis* on "a-where" is because he did sort of emphasize that word in his tone of voice.

We told him the word was "Aware" and this activity eventually became personalized "elocution lessons" for Robert at meetings with the group!

(Later years among old friends we've joked about the possibility that WE created what you see today in the form of a Burton well spoken. We were joking, of course, although it certainly was part of it. Still later, he imitated a dapper doctor's expensive three piece suits, and we were off onto the "impressions octave.")

More years later, with some experience, certainly we saw that we were easily impressed. All of this, the ideas, meeting him, etc., were very new to us, in spite of my brief experience with his former teacher, Alex Horn, whom he claimed to have "passed," whatever that actually meant.

At that first meeting, he pointed our attention to various things in the restaurant, an announcement over the loudspeaker, a bird outside the window, and other things like that. His demeanor was calm, polite, pleasant, and he explained that he was celebate, with lengthy comments about how this saved vital energy, sex enery - "the energy of creation," for the development of consciousness by controlling attention.

[Hindsight is 20/20 vision, of course, and now I realize I could do the same act myself today. I might have been able to do it in 1970, too, if I knew that was the "act of looking awake." That he was lying about being celebate was discovered ten years later when he admitted to me he always had a *big problem* keeping his "task" in this area.

[The "task" to which he referred was given to him by his former teacher, Alex Horn, and the task was to NOT pester the young men in the group for sexual encounters, and eventually we found out that Alex had expelled him from his school for not being able to keep this task!

[*Anybody* can *pay attention* to various ticks and habits people may not be aware of, and point them out to their surprise; anybody can point out things other people are not noticing -- if that's the game -- and it *does* look impressive to we uninitiated, sleeping neophytes we were at the time. EST and various "self improvement" groups do similar acts.]

Basically, Harold and I had no pre-conceived notions about how a "conscious being" would behave or somehow demonstrate himself as such. Without any criteria of this sort, we were just "there" with him as one would be in an ordinary conversation with someone just met. We were considering his offer to teach the ideas and help people to find their way through practical work to understand them.

We were not internally dissecting that he "did this" or "did that" as we went along. We were not thinking at all about how to "test" him, in other words, having had *no* prior experience of this nature (no gurus, no swamis, not even a psychology oriented person). In other words, we were dummies, and we were *ripe.*

So, at $40/month, we said we would join, and our first meeting was at the home of a doctor in Orinda, where Harold and I were the 6th and 7th people to join. We sat around kitchen table, and Burton read aloud some passages from "Search" and explained how we could observe and verify them. He didn't tell us "what" to look for; he stressed just looking to see what we are able to see.


Perhaps it seems I have explained more than necessary for folks interested in this information -- don't take it personally, of course, because it's my nature to try to curtail loose ends and the above is being incorporated into the web site for this subject, for further clarification.

Hope this is helpful here, folks. Further questions or comments are welcome, too. Email me

[Drawings of principal characters start on next page.]

Continued...Next Page
Copyright © Stella Wirk, April 1997

Go to next page with above link.
Other Links will be repeated there also, so you won't get lost!

E-Mail!] comments or questions!

This page hosted by
Click on URL and get your own free home page!