Joining a Conscious School: What is the Fellowship
What is The Fellowship of Friends?
The Fellowship of Friends is a Fourth Way school that was founded in 1970 by Robert Earl Burton. The Fellowship's mission remains unwavering: to help its members awaken and to fulfill the aims of C Influence.
Although the school studies and applies the many ideas of the Fourth Way system, the foundation for all work lies in the moment-to-moment efforts to remember oneself and to transform suffering. Students are taught how to divide attention and to sustain higher states of consciousness. The school provides activities and impressions that educate and nourish essence and promote higher centers. Each student learns to develop a true personality and Work I's to help one to awaken.
Students also learn to struggle with and transform negative emotions first by not expressing them, and then by separating from the subject of the identification through the creation of right attitudes. As one becomes free from the grip of negativity, one begins to distinguish between real and imaginary suffering. "Everyone suffers, with or without a school," Robert Burton has said. "We are trying to use our suffering, rather than be used by it."
The Art of Self-Remembering The Fellowship of Friends specializes in the art of self-remembering. Being present to one's life is a moment-to-moment endeavor that cannot be reserved for special occasions. As Robert Burton comments, "One definition of success is being present as much as you can each day." Continuing further, he says, "Mr. Gurdjieff advised us that we need to create our own shocks. A little shock I have used for several years is to close doors by their handles, because mechanical parts of centers will use any part of the door. We can bring self-remembering to virtually anything if we wish to."
Using Impressions to Awaken Members of the Fellowship of Friends use not only the transformation of suffering but also beautiful impressions created by art and culture to generate energy for self-remembering. Art civilizes and inspires one's soul. Robert Burton says, "We talk about culture a fair amount, but its highest achievement is to lead to self-remembering. When we speak about art, we must remember it is a distant second to self-remembering, and we must use it as a medium to divide attention. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe said about looking at art, "In the end we return to a wordless beholding."
The Form of the Teaching Three lines of work are available in each Fellowship center throughout the world. Activities such as dinners, receptions, meetings, and artistic events provide each member with the opportunity to be present and study their particular type of mechanicality, share observations with others, and make efforts to support the growth and development of the Fellowship's headquarters at Isis. The School is created entirely through the efforts of its members. Mr. Ouspensky said, "If we want to create a school, because we have come to the conclusion that we cannot change by ourselves without it, we must take part in the building of the school. This is the method of the Fourth Way." Members of the Fellowship understand this principle, and make the school their own responsibility.