Teacher Apollo
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Robert Earl Burton

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Robert Earl Burton founded the Fellowship of Friends in the San Francisco Bay Area in 1970, with the aim of teaching the Fourth Way principles of Georges Gurdjieff and Peter Ouspensky. Over the years the non-profit organization expanded to embrace a global membership, with Fellowship centers in cities round the world—from Buenos Aires to Mumbai, from Rome to Tokyo. The Fellowship’s community of Apollo, California, is a place where students can have a more intensive opportunity to practice self-remembering and other exercises that lead to a more conscious life. Apollo is home to vineyards and a winery, an art collection and sculpture garden, a meeting hall, and the Theatron, an outdoor theater for enjoying music, dance, and theatrical performances with presence.

Burton has always insisted that he and his students are ordinary people with no special talents, marked only by an unquenchable desire to pursue a path of spiritual awakening. He was born in Little Rock, Arkansas, in 1939, and moved to California with his family four years later. He received his bachelor’s degree in education from San Jose State University in 1963, and became a competitive tennis player as well as a schoolteacher.

In the 1960’s, he gave up his teaching career and, after exploring different spiritual paths, met the Fourth Way teacher, Alexander Francis Horn, and knew that he had found what he sought. He immediately threw himself into the Gurdjieff-Ouspensky work as taught by Alex. Three years later, he created the Fellowship of Friends, taking a more compassionate approach to awakening than his teacher did. Hence, he has termed the Fellowship a “School of Love,” in which he gently but relentlessly reminds his students to remember themselves, to be present, to be.