While this was going on, Robert Burton was applying his entrepreneurial energies and his limited knowledge of the system in another way with even more commercial success. Taking his cue from his sometime teacher Alex Horn, a notorious untrained "faux-Gurdjieffian," he organized "Gurdjieff-Ouspensky Centres" in many large cities across America and Europe, offering a utopian vision of the work which was, in reality, a great pyramid scheme. Enormous amounts of money were taken from innocent seekers. One of his trademark devices was the use of bookmarks with contact numbers for potential students to call. His students would place these bookmarks in books on Gurdjieff and his Work, sitting on the shelves of bookstores and libraries. This gave the impression that Burton's organization was somehow "official," legitimatized by the authors who often really were in the direct line of transmission from Gurdjieff. -Peter Breeden source
"A friend in the work pointed out to me that although "lineages," and for that matter, "certificates" and "diplomas," don't guarantee ability, they do indicate what someone may have been exposed to in passing. This may provide insight into what the someone has or lacks, what may be present or absent in a teacher.
I knew Horn and was present when Pentland visited TAP on Bleeker St. in New York City on May 1, 1966. I didn't know all the behind-the-scene details, but I clearly saw that Pentland disapproved of what he saw. Horn seemed a supplicant. Within a few months that group ended and Horn left New York.
As of the moment I type these characters, I believe the Pentland-Horn connection was minimal--so tenuous that no connection in the sense of lineage existed.
The Fellowship is not now nor was ever a fourth way school. It does not now and never did have any connection to Ouspensky or Gurdjieff. Ouspensky and Gurdjieff are the bait in the Fellowship “Bait and Switch” spiritual program. The Fellowship is Robert Burtonism plain and simple. Always has been. The ideas of Gurdjieff and Ouspensky have been distorted beyond reasonable recognition.
Robert Burton was in a pseudo school conducted by Alex Horn who was never in a school himself. His wife was a student of John Bennett, I don’t know for how long. Alex Horn was not ever in any kind of Gurdjieff work. We were led to believe that Horn had come through the Gurdjieff Work, ie, some connection to the Foundation. He was, I was told, acquainted with Lord Pentland but never participated in group work. This info was given to me by a woman in the Gurdjieff work who had been a movements teacher for 20 years and a group leader for many years after that. She had known Horn through a friend who had dated him briefly in the 50’s or 60’s. She was also close to Lord Pentland so I trust her opinion on this.
Robert Burton was in a pseudo school where the teacher, Alex Horn, made things up as he went along. Using In Search of the Miraculous as his guideline. According to Dave Archer, Horn never read anything by Gurdjieff. Burton was in this school for sometime over a year and was kicked out for overt homosexual predatory behavior. This according to Pat Patterson. Alex Horn had an anti-homosexual rule in his school. Again see Dave Archer’s website.
So we have a guy who never really studied with anyone who understood the ideas of Ouspensky and Gurdjieff, started his own school using ideas that he did not really understand and any time he came across a question he couldn’t deal with either made something up or deferred to “higher forces”. A con is a con is a con. A cult is a cult is a cult. And each and every one of us fell for it in some way or other.
Gurdjieff or Ouspensky or any of their students or any legitimate teacher of the Fourth Way.
Check the references for yourself.
Read. Ask Questions. Explore the Internet.
Every esoteric school of Buddhism, Sufism, Hinduism, every Shamanic teacher or Reiki teacher, every Christian and Jewish teacher of an esoteric tradition can trace their lineage back to the origin of their teaching and thereby verify and validate their own connection to the source of their knowledge. The lineage of a teacher is very important. It establishes their legitimacy and their connection with the authentic sources of esoteric wisdom. The Dalai Lama can trace his spiritual lineage all the way back to an incarnation of Avalokoteshvara, the Buddha of Compassion.
Sharon and Alex have no connection, no lineage, no legitimacy.
Gurdjieff, Ouspensky and Nicoll and the other great teachers of the Work have all been straightforward about recounting who their teachers were and for how long they studied, the history of the tradition they are involved with and their methods and aims. Why are these teachers so withholding about all levels of information, including their last names?
Below you will find references to what is known about Sharon and Alex's connections to the Work.
"What is known is that Sharon Cans was never a member of an authentic Fourth Way group. A stage actress with one film credit - she played Valencia Merble in the film version of Kurt Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse Five - Gans' only connection with the Fourth Way is through her former husband, Alex Horn, who also was never a member. Horn's first wife, Anne Burridge, as a teenager, is said to have attended one of John Bennett's groups in England for about three years. Three years or not, her training can at best only have been preparatory as no deep understanding can be assimilated in such a short time. Vanity and self-love are simply too strong. During her time with Bennett, sometime in the 1960s, Anne met Alex Horn who had come to England in the hopes of working with Bennett. Bennett refused and warned Anne against any involvement with the American."
Rosie, Sharon, Alex, Robert & The Work
The Gurdjieff Journal, Vol. 8, Issue 1, Number 29/2002
From what I understand the contact between Lord Pentland and either of them (Alex and Sharon) was somewhere between slim and none, and certainly no transmission of anything significant relating to the Work was ever thought to have gone on. They were among hundreds if not thousands who were with John Pentland for a meeting or talk, or two.
-Eric Barnhill, JP Society (personal correspondence)
"I have just had a letter from James Tomarelli asking if I know anything about a connection between Alex Horn and J.G. Bennett. I can confirm from my own memory that Alex Horn did come to Coombe Springs in 1960, where he ran some workshops under the title of the theatre of all possibilities. I was only eight years old at the time, but I remember finding him creepy and the workshops sleazy. I remember only one occasion when my father came to watch for a few minutes and his presence clearly made Alex Horn uneasy. He left soon after." -Ben Bennett, son of J.G. Bennett source
I first met Robert Burton at Red Mountain Ranch in Sonoma County, 48
miles north of the Golden Gate Bridge in California in 1969.
He was a 'tennis bum' at the time and when he saw how much money
Alexander Francis Horn was racking in from gullible people who knew
their lives were crap, he became a 'work bum'.
And he was very successful until some of his male students started
questioning getting anal sex as spiritual enlightenment. There were many
stories in major newspapers about him molesting the young boys of his
Alex Horn used to have him beaten up regularly as Alex was very
homophobic. Of course most of what Alex called his students got beaten
There is another "work" website claiming that Lord Pentland and John
Bennett were Alex Horns teachers, allowing Burton People to claim a
legitimate connection to the 'fourth-way' for Burton. It is true that in
the late 50's Alex did attend an open meeting with Lord Pentland, and he
actually shook John Bennett's hand in England as he was about to marry
and take to American one of Bennett's students of a few months, Anne.
Though Burton claimed to be a Fourth Way teacher, he himself never had an authentic Fourth Way teacher. The level of his understanding of the teaching was based on what he could pick up from Fourth Way books and from his one-time teacher, the actor-director Alexander Francis Horn. Horn, himself a faux-Gurdjieffian without any real connection to the Fourth Way, had based his own understanding on books and on that of his first wife Carol, a student of John Bennett's ten month experimental program - an eclectic melding of the Fourth Way with other teachings and practices. Horn first taught in New York and later in San Francisco where he created the Theater of All Possibilities, a theater which purported to double as a Fourth Way school. Horn financially exploited his students, manipulated their lives, often physically brutalizing them - all in the name of the teaching. The thirty-one-year-old Burton, dismissed by Horn for not "staying on task" apparently picked up enough from Horn to start his own teaching.
Alexander Francis Horn. Not much is known about Horn, but, according to the San Francisco Chronicle, his dinner theater "Fourth Way School" operation, known as the Theater of all Possibilities (the name taken from the Herman Hesse novel, Steppenwolf), had an income of $40,000 per month or some $500,000 a year. Of this, $20,000 was from student dues and $20,000 from the sale of theater tickets. Students, required to sell tickets to the weekly productions, were harangued and physically beaten if ticket quotas were not met. At Horn's instigation, all-night drinking marathons culminating in fist fights were common occurrences, all in the name of the teaching. Punishment, in many forms was a feature of Horn's teaching. A local drama critic wrote, after sitting through three hours and leaving at the end of Act II of Horn's three-act play, The Fantastic Arising of Padraic Clancy Muldoon - "In more than ten years of reporting on the local theater scene, I remember no more punishing experience." Burton had long before been dismissed from the group, but this gives a portrait of Horn's psychology and his approach.
Burton never had a genuine Fourth Way teacher. Burton'sonly teacher was Alex Horn who was never in the Gurdjieff Work. A martial arts expert and actor-director with a dramatic flair, Horn learned of the Fourth Way teaching through his second wife who spent a number of months in J. G. Bennett's International Academy for Continuous Education at Sherbourne, England. For information on Alex Horn see "Theater Group: Cult or Stage?" by Jack Brooks, San Francisco Progress, December 22, 1978. Horn is criticized for financially exploiting his students and subjecting them to psychological abuse, even beatings. See also "Real-Life Drama in a S.F. Theater Group," by Michael Taylor and Bernard Weiner, San Francisco Chronicle, December 23, 1978. The story focuses on allegations of "beatings, child neglect and a student fee structure that yielded high revenues."
From: Taking with the Left Hand by William Patrick Patterson
NOTE: Robert Burton, a "student" of Alex Horn's, founded the Fellowship of Friends in 1970. Sometimes known as Renaissance or Apollo or the Gurdjieff-Ouspensky Centers, students were instructed to place promotional bookmarks in relevant books at bookstores and libraries.