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From One Extreme to Another

From: "Mirabai" To: Subject: From One Extreme to Another Date: Mon, 30 Aug 2010 11:17:43 Baba "Ma'nus' jeno ma'nus'er tare sab kichu kore ja'y..." (P.S. 2192) Purport: Great persons-- proper human beings-- do everything in their life for the upliftment of other human beings. In their mind they also never forget that animals, birds, and plants also belong in their vast family. For such sadhakas, no one is alien because in their heart they understand that each and every being wants to survive. Why do human beings remain crying, feeling isolated in their own suffering after losing their path in the Cimmerian darkness. Our love and care will bring everyone close to us; nobody will be left behind-- crying and suffering in frustration. On this auspicious crimson occasion we will save everyone and provide them shelter from the burning flame of illiteracy, starvation, and all kinds of troubles. Elevated human beings come on this earth to serve everyone, all humanity plus the birds, animals, plants, flora and fauna, & animate and inanimate objects-- the entire creation...
Namaskar, As we know the Tantra of AM is Madhyama Ma'rga, or 'the middle path'. Because with our rational approach, we can always find a balanced answer. This is the beauty of our Marga. Currently, right now around the globe, there are two extreme positions being put forth with regards to certain women's issue-- in particular with regards to dress. On the one side there is the suffocating approach of Islam where females are forced to be covered from head to toe in a "burka"; and in the opposite corner there is the degrading approach of western capitalistic society where females openly move around half-naked. Needless to say, neither venue is doing the world an ounce of good-- nor are either of these approaches beneficial to the healthy growth and development of our female population. So let us take a look at the forces and mind-set behind these two divergent ways as well as apply the balance of AM's middle path. By that way we can come up with a just solution: How females--and males-- can present themselves in public properly, i.e. in a comfortable yet sentient manner.
First let us take at one of Baba's famous guidelines. On 12 December 1979, while addressing issues of women's welfare, Baba beautifully expressed:
"You, as the most dignified section of human society do something for the universal human beings".
Here the point is that in our Tantra, 'motherhood' is regarded as something very special and sacred. Because it is a mother's great compassion that instills love and warmth within the heart of each and every infant that is born on this earth. Without that motherly love, children become drowned in a sea of emptiness and rejection and their whole adult life turns into an aimless search. Whereas those fortified with a mother's tender love and compassion develop into whole human beings who are ready to courageously serve the society. Hence due to their motherly status, females hold a special place in human society-- and are deserving of tremendous respect. Baba says, "Always endeavour to save the prestige of women. As the mothers of men, women can claim this much as a right. Special attention should be paid to the comforts of women during festivals, at spiritual conferences, and on other occasions." (CC-1, chap 24)
Unfortunately, due to an array of negative propaganda, the dignified and motherly status in the west is all but lost-- it is hardly present anywhere. Now the streets, homes, recreation areas, and workplaces are filled with females showing off the curves and slopes of their bodies-- leaving themselves half or 3/4 naked for all to see. This is the regular way females dress in the USA, Europe, South America, Australia etc. Again, I will emphasize that this is degrading display is totally rampant in the so-called free societies of the west. As a margii sister living in the west I find the whole thing quite appalling and outrageous-- totally intolerable. Because with Baba's guidance, we have come to elevate the standard of women yet all around us females are being more and more objectified as mere sex symbols. Even highly educated females are falling into this trap: They think their chief asset in life is to be a sensuous showpiece to the male eye.
While there are any number of avenues we can point to that are the cause of the sheer degradation of females in the west, two of the most prominent are: Hollywood and the dogma of open-mindedness. Here Hollywood refers to the whole film, advertising, and pseudo-culture industries of the west that project women as the mere sex toys of men. They have created the female icon as all legs and top-- with no real mental faculty. Just more and more skin is exposed as the competing firms dress up females in increasingly provocative outfits. And the worst part of it is that women have bought into this: Consciously or unconsciously they have come to believe that this is where their real worth lies-- in their ability to awaken and attract the male appetite. So the projected Hollywood image of the half-naked women has become an icon of western life-- deeply embedded in the female psyche. Some might say that we women are at fault-- but in truth we are victims. Victims of the male dominated capitalist society that has projected the female body as the ticket to selling anything: films, computers, shampoo, automobiles or anything under the sun. Side by side it has become proof of one's "open-mindedness" to accept this half-naked approach of female life. Because for years and years the dogmatic churches put harsh restrictions on female expression in society. So in response to that era of extreme suppression, a whole new era of so-called open-mindedness has developed. This is an opposite extreme where females can 'do what they want'-- including dress in a way that exposes all their body parts. And this is wholeheartedly supported by various western men and women who want to project themselves as being open-minded-- so as to prove that they are not shackled by church dogma. About all this much more can be said but certainly these are the two main operating factors with regards to the acceptance and support of female nakedness in the society.
In Islam it is taught that females should cover themselves from head to toe. If they do not do so it is much like displaying themselves like a "piece of meat." In that situation men will be tempted to devour them. In order to prevent this, women must fully cover themselves. Of course what so-called solutions such Muslims are going to offer we are all well aware. Their answer is to push women back in the stone ages: Dressed head to toe in a burka, locked in a dingy home, barred from education, and enslaved as one of several wives of their Muslim man. About the strict female dress advocated by Muslims, Baba has said the following. Baba says, "Females were forced to cover their whole body by using a burka', but this is not at all logical or rational. This burka has little eye holes or slits, and by looking through these holes females have to see and move carefully while walking on the street etc. These are some examples of inhuman tortures-- a kind of animalistic treatment. Those who are civilised people of a civilised society or country should not accept such type of negative dogmatic rules. These are all nothing but dogma. These are all the naked examples of dogma." (Nagpur, MGD, 16 Oct '79) So while Islam may be quick to point out the defects of the degrading style of dress in the west, the Islamic answer is not at all the guiding light. Rather it casts females into the dark.
So from one side to the other, there is just an extreme reaction going on with regards to female dress. Because when one suffocating approach has been in vogue for ages and ages then people over-react and move to the extreme in the opposite direction. That is part of the mind-set why in the west females are flaunting their new-found freedom and exposing their bellies to the world. All done as a show of their ability to 'do as they please' and as a slap in the face to centuries of religious dogma. And such over-reactions happen in numerous aspects of life. In India there is a long history of taking strictly sattvik food, but now the many people of India have taken solace in the vast array of fast-food and junk-food items. Meat consumption has increased multi-fold. So they are eating to their hearts delight and inviting innumerable problems for themselves. Although sentient food is a positive attribution whereas religious dogma is negative, still the point is that when people break away from any type of rule then often they sway far in the opposite direction. That is why we see in the west a growing number of atheists. In response to the antiquated ways of the church the people have given up God entirely. This is just an over-reaction to the suppressive mandates of the church. So this is one mental weakness where people jump far in the opposite direction in reaction to a particular set of illogical parameters.
The question then arises as to who is the big-winner in this ordeal. Some may say females, but this is not true. Their "freedom" of being able to dress half-naked has not brought many rewards. Date rape and sexual assault are on the rise as the society has become infested with sexual innuendos and it is often the females who suffer the most from the half-naked appeal. And even if they are not sexually attacked, still the female mind has become entrenched in the idea that we are mere sex toys in the hands of males. In that case all the sentientness and dignity of women has been lost. Gone is our divine motherly status and gone is the compassion of the female heart. All of that has been sold out to sexual allurement. This is the price the common women of the west are paying. So is it the male gender that has benefited. That is also not true. Now countless males have been tagged for life as wife-beaters, sexual assaulters, and rapists. Their names have been permanently printed on public websites such that they can never get a decent job again. Plus they are totally barred from so many social activities. Rather they are under constant watch by the police. Plus for all the males who have not been accused of rape etc, it is also sad to note that often their mind is just engrossed in female fantasizing. This can be evidenced by the gossip heard in any tavern, move theatre, restaurant, board meeting etc. Males too have been plunged in this degeneration. So then who are the big victors? It is those greedy capitalists who have won the game by profitting from people's indulgence in carnal pleasures. Because by this way the common public is just drowned in sunken lustful thoughts and they keep a blind eye to capitalist exploitation. So it is a big topic that is multi-dimensional in nature because the tragedy reaches to all sectors of society-- and most of all to females.
Yet Baba's divine blessing upon all females is:
"You, as the most dignified section of human society do something for the universal human beings". (12 December 1979)
Why are women the most dignified? Because of their important role as Mother. Not because of being show pieces of men's carnal pleasures. We should all keep this above golden teaching in the inner casket of our heart and make it a reality in our social life. Namaskar, Mirabai
Instead of getting stuck in the dogma of religion or being enticed by the Hollywood pseudo-culture of the west, we should adopt that Madhyama Ma'rga, or 'the middle path'. That is what we are to preach to the humanity and indeed that is what we are doing. Baba advocates that the dress of both men and women should be neat and clean, appropriate to the occasion, and ensure safety and welfare to oneself and the society. Baba says, "You should wear dress according to your own preference and convenience. It is proper to always wear clean clothes so that others do not unnecessarily form a poor impression about you. While going out of their house, women should wear simple and decent clothes and cover their bodies properly. Dress norms for women may be slightly relaxed during festivals, or when they are accompanied by male guardians, or when good security arrangements have been made." (CC-1) Here below Baba further gives His rational guidelines with regards to dress. Baba says, "There should not be any prescribed national or international dress. Selection of dress depends upon the climatic conditions of a particular place. There should be complete freedom in the choice of dress." (PNS-4) Plus we should not give in to any religious dogma with regards to dress. Baba says, "In social life no father would wish to see his widowed daughter forced to dress in an austere fashion, persecuted socially, or debarred from attending social functions. You must not support these things. Rather, you must provide equal opportunities for all." (5 November 1978, Calcutta) By all this and His other teachings we can say that males and females have great freedom in the selection of their dress. May it be comfortable, practical, and befitting of our human integrity.
In all facets of life-- including with respect to dress-- we should rise up against depraving forces and establish humanity in its glory. This is Baba's explicit directive. Baba says, "This cycle is life and life is a struggle; life is a fight. You come from the abode of peace and go to the abode of peace, but life is a constant struggle to maintain an equilibrium. Life is a fight against depraving forces and degenerating propensities. But you are not only to fight against these depraving forces, you are also to encourage elevating forces. If you try to keep at a safe distance from this fight, you cannot say that you are a human being." ('The Great Universe')
******************************************** - The Solution -
Baba says, "Whenever there is a conflict between the brain and the heart, intelligent people should respond to the call of the heart. The books in A'nanda Ma'rga philosophy are all absolute knowledge. The proper mark of identity of absolute knowledge is that it must be universal, rational and psychological. Certain instances of absolute knowledge are as follows -- the goal of human life is the attainment of Brahma; human beings are the progeny of Parama Purus' dint of sa'dhana' or spiritual practices human beings gradually become divine." (PNS-18, p.10)

Baba Story: Baba Blesses All

To: AM-GLOBAL Subject: Baba Story: Baba Blesses All Date: Sun 29 Aug 2010 11:46:53 +0500 (IST) From: Ram Sahay Kulshresth

Baba "Áma'ra jato malinatá soriye dáo prabhu ájike..." (1457) Purport:

Baba, I do not have any strength of my own-- just by Your grace I am moving ahead on Your path; but it is very difficult because of all the stains, dirt, and blemishes on my mind. O' my Lord, please bless me by removing all the impurities and stains from my mind; today make me pure. Baba, please give me more capacity to do Your work and to do Your dhyana.
O' my Lord please be gracious.
Baba, You are the Doer of everything. You have created me and brought me on this earth and by Your grace I am moving on Your path. O' Baba, I have nothing to boast about; I have no quality of my own. Just I am the dust of Your feet. I am Yours. Baba, whatever You wish is the way in which my life proceeds. Please grace me by using me for Your work; make me Your machine. Baba, please utilize me in all types of work-- small or big, whichever You wish. Baba, by Your grace, I have come on this earth to do work for You. I have come to obey Your command and follow Your order, and do whatever You wish. Baba, I want to materialize, implement, & manifest Your every plan and program. I want to bring all Your thoughts and ideas into form. O' my Lord, all these things I want to do. Baba, please be gracious on me. On my own I do not have the strength or power to execute Your tasks. O' my Lord, please shower Your varabhaya mudra [1]-- Your divine blessing-- so I can spread your ideas and teachings throughout each and every nook & corner of this universe and make You pleased. O' my Lord...

NOTES ABOUT PS 1457: [1] Varabhaya Mudra: (vara= blessing; a= no; bhaya= fear. Both palms are open. The left hand rests on the left thigh, i.e. vara mudra', the right hand is raised, i.e. abhaya mudra'.) This is Baba's great blessing of fearlessness that is bound in His eternal love and endless compassion. So by Baba's varabhaya mudra He is removing any & all fear by showering His divine love. This is His special blessing upon each and every sadhaka-- upon the entire humanity. Baba says, "Utilizing the vibrations created for eternal time by Shrii Shrii Anandamurtiji through januspharsha and varabhaya mudras, take yourself and the entire universe ahead along the path of welfare. Omn Shanti!" (CC-1, 'Concluding Words') Baba says, "Suppose the Sadguru is saying something, and the deaf or dumb man wants to hear it but cannot. If one concentrates the mind on vara'bhaya mudra', there will be the direct effect of positive microvita on the auricular or other nerve cells and also on the controlling cells, and it may be that all of a sudden he may get back the power of hearing. One should look towards these two mudras [vara & abhaya] and not to anything else." (MVNS)


Namaskar, Baba has always given importance to sadhana. And as we know in human life there are three spheres: physical, psychic, and the top-most level which is spiritual. Because the spiritual controls the mental sphere directly and the physical sphere indirectly. And the psychic sphere controls the physical arena. So although all are important still the most important is the spiritual realm. And that is the exact training we have directly received from our Guru. As we drift in the bliss of Baba's blessedness we should remember this divine truth. In this regard, about the importance of spirituality one story is flashing in my mind.


When Baba was living in jail, during certain periods and on various occasions He was not surrounded by so many margiis, rather only non-margiis were there. And amongst them, He used to guide some of them on various spiritual points. That time His jail doctor was Dr. Kalwarji. Now Dr. Kalwar is not the nasty jail doctor who later poisoned Baba. Rather Dr. Kalwarji was a simple and innocent man who had deep reverence for Baba. And his mother tongue was Maethillii and he was a non-margii. So when Kalwarji would get time then he would go to meet Baba and Baba would invite him to enter into his cell. And Baba would tell him tales and stories of different monks etc. And the unique thing is that in the presence of Dr. Kalwarji, Baba would sing some of the devotional songs written by Vidyapati, who of course was one great devotee of Lord Shiva and also an accomplished poet. And as you may be aware Baba has cited Vidyapati on numerous occasions in His Subhasita Samgraha series of discourses. But here the point is that Baba with full heart would sing Vidyapati's devotional songs in order to show how Vidyapati used to long for the Lord. So Baba would demonstrate this in the presence of Dr. Kalwarji. And in so doing most of the time he would sing this following song:

Vrtha' janma goina'yaluin hena Prabhu na' bhojaluin Khoya'yalu soha gun'anidhi, Hama'r karama manda na milala eka bunda Premasindhu rasaka abadhi.

Meaning: Fruitless, O Lord, hath been my life That sang not, Oh, of glories Thine; Lost in the worldly rueful strife And Lost Thee, alas, Ye Treasure-Mine. Fate's long portentous hand With compassion, cold and daft, Strayed me out of Thy Love's strand, Deprived, alas of a single draught. (SS-3, p.63)

I wasted my entire life and did not meditate on my Prabhu Running towards worldly things I lost You. I was indulged in lowly and useless pursuits. Alas, I could not get the beat of Your Grace, Oh my most Beloved Parama Purusa. And then years later Baba included some of these lines in Prabhat Samgiita #340 also: 'Vrtha' janma gama'yalun, heno prabhu na'..." So in the presence of Dr. Kalwarji, Baba would sing this above song. And Dr. Kalwar had a devotional heart and later he would recount that "I was so fortunate to hear Baba sing; the melody and sound was just like the pouring of nectar. It was so charming and attractive and it had such a divine vibration." Then with tears rolling down his cheeks, Kalwarji told that 'Even for someone who has a dry heart like me, this was very beautiful and I never felt such a quivering feeling in my heart.' So on a regular basis he would listen to Baba sing for 20 minutes or half-an-hour. All the while Dr. Kalwarji would sit quiet and listen. Then after that he would request to take leave of Baba and Baba would lovingly bless him and permit him to attend to his other duties. And like that this was happening a few times each week in the evening hours. Then on one occasion Dr. Kalwar could not reach at the proper time. He arrived a little late and he noticed that the door of Baba's cell was closed. Then after considering the situation for a moment, Kalwar thought that, 'Let me see what Baba is doing.' With strong curiosity and with one finger he tried to remove the curtain in front of Baba's cell door and saw a huge flood of light emanating from Baba's existence. It was brilliant. He could not keep his eyes open. And in that strong burst of light, and by feeling overwhelmed by the whole atmosphere, he could not remain standing, so he sat down. His whole body was shaking--in blissful state he could not understand what was happening. And that effulgent light began shining inside his mind as well. Then after 20 minutes or so, he regained his conscious state-- still divinely intoxicated by the experience. Then he did mental pranam and went away. Then Kalwarji told me, 'That day I saw Baba doing sadhana then He showered His great blessing on me and the feeling I had that day continued on and on for six months. Whenever I used to think about Baba then my whole body used to begin to quiver and goosebumps would come and a deeply soothing feeling would permeate deep into my heart and flood my entire existence. And that light I could never forget. It was a blissful feeling which I had never felt earlier in my heart. And still today these strong divine feelings come when I think of Baba's sweetness.' So this is one story how Baba blesses non-margiis also. Namaskar, Ram Sahay
Note: Baba does not just appreciate Vidyapati but so many great devotees like Bhakta Surdas, Mirabai and others-- Baba appreciates all. So this gives one picture how with devotion one can bind Him, otherwise not. So devotion is the top-most and if anyone has devotion, whether margii or non-margii, then that is great because devotion is everything. And Baba recognises and blesses all sadhakas who have a devotional heart. Note 2: In a deeply melancholic mood, Vidyapati used to express remorse that, 'My life has become wasted as I did not worship Parama Purusa.' In this way he used to cry for the Lord.


Why Have We Come on this Earth
Baba says "This Parama Purus'a is the ultimate goal of existence, and only to attain Him have human beings come onto this earth. If they fail to do so, then they do not deserve to be called human beings. Hence life devoid of dharma is worse than animal life." (SS-11, p.88)


Question of Proximity with Baba

Date: 28 Aug 2010 13:19:25 -0000 From: "Manoj Shaha" To: Subject: Question of Proximity with Baba Baba "Vrhat tumi, ks'udra a'mi, toma'r pa'ne nece ya'i..." (PS 1363) Purport: Baba, You are vast, infinite, & cosmic; and I am just one small unit-- meager. According to Your desire my whole existence revolves around You. By Your grace I have only one longing-- that is closeness at Your lotus feet. Since eternity the loving relation between us has been continuing. Even then You are cosmic and I am unit. Without me You can exist, but without You my existence cannot remain. Without You, my whole existence is meaningless. Except for You, I cannot think anything. You are my sadhana, You are my Goal of life-- my Polestar. Baba, please grace me, please bestow the devotion so with that heart I will go on singing Your glory, Your tales, and Your songs up to eternity....
Namaskar, When Parama Purusa comes in the form of Mahasambhuti, whatever He does in this form, that is called as "Naraliila of Parama Purusa". And many things which He does, usually people don't understand the reason behind that. That's why those type of things are called as "liila". The reasons of which are known to Him only. So Parama Purusa is infinite and His liila is also infinite. This is also one of His liilas, that on one side, in the scripture He has written that He lives with devotees. And that is true. Devotees can feel also. But another side is also there.
When Lord Shiva came and then Lord Krsna came. In each of those times Mahasambhuti remained engaged with various types of people. Some were very good, some were normal. And some were most normal people. But usually those who working with Him thought that they have more realization and proximity with the Lord. Such persons working around Mahasambhuti think that despite the message of Baba's writing and scripture, they are the most close to Him. Because they are very close in physical proximity - living side by side, traveling and working side by side. So they are close to Parama Purusa.
But as Baba's way is His divine liila, sometimes He reveals His ways in some by telling stories or telling some humor, giving some Prabhat Samgiita, or giving discourses. In these ways, He reveals His inner things. But how many persons can understand or are going to understand those things? Please look into this following example about those who were working along with Baba as a WT, or in any type of working relation. They were intoxicated that they are most close. But to remove their illusion, one day Baba told about the "Ringing Bell" story. (If you do not know this story then speak with senior margiis or acaryas.)
Baba has also given this following Prabhat Samgiita which reveals that those who were physically living and working around Him. They were not so close. But how many persons could understand this song. Still today we all have to study and reflect. The song is as follows. This is Prabhat Samgiita no. 3286. "Keu ka'che peyeo cinate na're, dure thekeo cene..." (PS 3286) By getting physically close they do not recognize Him, whereas some from even distance recognize His magnanimity. And some by getting His sweet touch even, they drown in staticity. And some without knowing, they unknowingly believe fully in His greatness. Oh my Lord You are doing so many things for me. You are filling my heart with the nectar. I am so unfortunate that after all this grace I do not recognize You and remain oblivious. - PS #3286 By His grace devotees know that this PS #3286 "Keu ka'che peyeo" gives this message that living physically to Parama Purusa is not the whole picture - rather just a small part. It does not mean on is close. Many physically live close but they are living far from Him. But many live physically far but keep Him in their hearts. Innumerable examples of this can be given. Those who were living physically close to Lord Shiva or Krsna or Shrii Shrii Anandamurtiji. How far they were really close, that was proved in their conduct and behaviour. To see this history one need not look far back.
Earlier in the Jamalpur days, many persons had this type of vanity-- that they were close. And later on their glory became one with the dust. One can cite the name of Pranay Kumar Chatterjee, the first GS. And then Vishokananda, the first PA. Then Madhavananda, and so many such persons. These type of events are not new. We don't know so much history of Lord Shiva, what happened around Him. But around Lord Krsna we know the history of those in the lineage of Lord Krsna, His family the Jadu (Yadava) dynasty. They killed themselves with their blindness. And they were all proud, to belong to the same lineage. This every Margii knows In Baba's physical presence, those who were physically close. We have seen their downfall. And we will go on seeing. Because, ego is the worst enemy. Baba says, "Aham'ka'rah patanasya mu'lam" ["Pride goeth before a fall"]. (NSS)
So at the time of Lord Krsna, the Yadavas drank. Now we are seeing the similar scene: Those at the top are drunk with power. Both the sides they are full of vanity. Whatever power and position they have, they are trying to root out others. They are killing each other. Looking back at the history of what happened to the Jadu dynasty -- then I feel scared and disturbed. That, in the same way these persons also will kill each other? We should do something lest history should not be repeated.
I recognize that some difficult challenges may be on the horizon. But by the following Baba's blessing, I never feel pessimistic. I know that the future is bright. Baba says,"There are some people who are pessimistic. They say that the society around us is very bleak, that it has no expression of vitality and that it seems that everyone is in a deep slumber. Pessimists say this because they have never made any detailed study of human history, nor do they care to. Had they done so, they would certainly be optimistic, because if they had looked carefully at the symptoms of pause, they would have realized that significant preparations were being made for the subsequent phase of speed. So under no circumstances should human beings be pessimistic. That is why I am always an incorrigible optimist, because I know that optimism is life." (PNS-7, p.67) Namaskar, Manoj
The history is that after the Maha'bharat was over, these Yadavas-- family members and disciples of Krsna-- they had nothing to do other than to drink wine and enjoy materially. And one day under the spell of wine they started attacking and killing each other. Civil war erupted. And it went on till everyone got killed. Here below Baba describes how the Yadavas killed each other. Baba says, "In the Jadu dynasty during the time of the Mahabharata ... Balaram was the elder brother of Krs'n'a and the king of the Jadu dynasty... Balaram was also an alcoholic. [And when Balaram and the Jadu family drank at one gathering]. The resulting drunkenness caused people to quarrel amongst themselves. Eventually they killed each other at Prabhash Tiirtha and the Jadu dynasty was destroyed." (PNS-15, p. 62) Baba's discourse continues: Baba says, "People who follow a path which is devoid of ideology are bound to meet the same fate. Eventually they will destroy themselves by their infighting... Consequently different groups are formed. We see this situation today." (PNS-15, p.62)
We should contemplate how this below teaching is related with the present situation of our AMPS: Taraka Brahma BABA says, "For example, in France no government has had the opportunity to stabilize itself for a long time since the French Revolution. That is why, in post-Revolution France, although regal authority and governmental browbeating over the people have finished, the greatest harm has been caused by the lack of a rigid social structure. In the world-famous republic of the United States of America, there is a flagrant lack of social system and discipline, although there is no dearth of education nor is there any lack of the predisposition to social service and unity amongst the general people. In the absence of any authoritative check by the state or any group over people who lack spirituality or spiritual ideal, it is quite unlikely that they will care much about discipline." (HS-2, '87 edn, p. 21)

Danger of Having & Not Having...

Date: Fri, 27 Aug 2010 13:01:28 -0000 To: From: "Hariish Dev" Subject: Danger of Having & Not Having... Baba "Esechile a'ma'r ghare kon se pu'rn'ima'y..." (PS 4075) Purport: Baba, by Your divine grace You came to my house on one full moon night. It was such a memorable and unforgettable occasion. With Your infinite grace, in song, in dance, and with the pull of the heart, You made me lose myself in Your divine splendour. Baba, I became fully enthralled and captivated by Your exquisite beauty. Baba, by Your grace on that special full-moon night You compassionately listened to all the inner feelings of my heart. You intimately understood all my suffering. Baba, by Your grace You gently removed whatever pain I had. With the august presence of Your sweetness, on that very full moon night, You created one beautiful époque in my life. Baba, it is beyond my understanding why You suddenly went away-- leaving me all alone. Since then so many seasons have passed in waiting for You. Now after such a long time, that distant memory of Your divine arrival to my house on that full moon night has become completely covered by the thick fog of time. Baba, please be gracious and come to me. Please do not forget that You are mine and I am Yours...
Namaskar, As we know, on the path of yoga, balance is the key. There must not be too much nor too little of anything. Whether it be food, sadhana & service, study, or any other endeavour, everything must be in balance. That is our approach and that is why AM is madhya ma'rga, or the middle path. Baba is also careful to point out that this balance applies to the realm of knowledge as well. Having too much or too little knowledge is dangerous. That is Baba's teaching.
According to Baba, knowledge is to be attained only for arriving at the proper path. And that proper path, of course, is the path of spirituality, or sadhana. Beyond that, the the over-accumulation or misuse of knowledge is a liability, a hazard. That is the problem with having too much knowledge, or knowledge that is misdirected Here is Baba's brief story about this. Baba says, "Physical [worldly] knowledge is like the leaf of a shala tree [a tall evergreen with large leaves] on which people take meals. As long as you have not eaten, there is a value in the leaf, but the moment you have finished your meal, the leaf goes into the dust bin to be licked by the street dogs. When you come to realize that this physical knowledge of yours is only worth licking by a dog, then devotion will arise in you. Then you will acquire true knowledge." (SS-19) In the above story: (a) The person holding the leaf is a sadhaka; (b) The leaf plate (pattal) is knowledge. (c) The food on the leaf that gets eaten represents that knowledge which we internalise and use in our practical spiritual life, i.e. sadhana. (d) The food that remains on the leaf after the meal is that mundane knowledge which has no utility in our spiritual practice. (e) MORAL OF THE STORY: The leftover food on the leaf, i.e. that knowledge which is not used for sadhana and spiritual life, is useless and should be tossed aside and licked by dogs. It has no value in our human growth and development.
Baba's basic teaching is that we should be careful not to fill our lives with excess knowledge that has no practical value in. Rather all that we learn should be internalised and used to enhance our own spiritual life and serve others. The classic example of over accumulation of knowledge is the proverbial university professor who has all kinds of theoretical knowledge and can speak Latin and Greek, but has no idea what food to eat, how to take care of himself, or how to help others. All day long he wastes his time in accumulating more and more knowledge that has no practical value nor any use in life. This is not the proper way to live on this earth. That is just like excess food that should be tossed aside and eaten by dogs.
Unfortunately we do not just see this unfolding outside AM. This over-accumulation or misutilsation of knowledge happens inside our Marga as well. Please excuse me, but we see this occurring with some, certainly not all, but with a few of our wholetimers, and even some margii postholders etc. For instance, every WT has expert theoretical understanding of yama and niyama. They teach these tenets all day long. Yet a few of our wholetimers engage in smuggling, living a luxurious lifestyle, or even skipping their sadhana lessons. In that case, all that (excess) knowledge that they acquired about yama and niyama is useless. It has no practical value. Instead it is a liability. Because those few wts think that they know everything about yama and niyama, and hence they cannot be taught by others. Such Wts have a vanity of knowledge. Yet what they "know", they do not follow in their daily life. In which case that "knowledge" is nothing but an impediment to their growth. And the worst part is that since they think they know something, then they are neither able to listen to others, nor willing to learn from others. Then of course there is the case with those few Wts who follow groupism. Each and every one of these workers (i.e. the few who indulge in groupism) can give a beautiful two-hour lecture on neohumanism and universalism, but in their own life they are confirmed groupists. And in turn, they will use their knowledge in tricky ways, i.e. to convince others with flowery language to also join their group, yet all along they will speak of the virtues of universalism. Unfortunately, this is how some WTs have lured unsuspecting margiis and field workers into their group. All this then is also just a clear-cut case of accumulating excess or misused knowledge. Knowledge for knowledge sake, or just theoretical understanding, is that which takes no proper expression in their own life. Knowledge is to be internalised, not collected, nor used to misguide others. That is Baba's teaching, nay His strict warning. Baba says, "If people have developed intellects which are not properly directed, and there is no administration of the sadvipras, people become polished satans and inflict sufferings on others." (AFPS-6) The worst outcome then is if people use knowledge to misguide and deceive others. Baba terms such persons as "polished satans". We should be wary of such beings. To the degree that we can bring theoretical knowledge into benevolent practice is the degree to which our knowledge base is useful to us. One should not thrust themselves onto the road to hell by using their hard-earned knowledge to deceive others for selfish causes. Such persons future is not bright.
The next question one might ask is why they do this. Often people, and some WTs get allured into accumulating knowledge in order to place themselves above others. They think having huge knowledge will enhance their prestige and others will come up to them and say, "Oh Sir, or Oh Dada, you are so knowledgeable and wise..." But this type of false vanity or arrogance will just turn one into a beggar for others' praise. Internally one will feel empty and dry and the so-called knowledge that they do have will not help them progress in life. Or they seek out excess knowledge in order to satisfy their selfish agenda. They search for words and phrases that support their personal or group interest, and skip over the greater meaning of the discourse. People who justify fake Ananda Vaniis, dogmas, crude programs like so-called Mahaprayan, and tirithas fall into this category. This type of manipulation of knowledge also falls in the category of over-accumulation or misutilisation of knowledge. So one must not engage in this overaccumalation / misuse of knowledge. That knowledge which helps one grow and serve others should be internalised and practiced (such as sadhana, dhyana, kiirtan, science, philosophy), and that knowledge which is superfluous to one's life should be tossed aside and licked by dogs.
From all of the above, one should be careful of their use of knowledge, but one must not then think that accumulating any kind of knowledge is therefore a burden. Knowledge is necessary and needed: It should be pursued wisely and with sincerity, not just to enhance one's prestige or to misguide others. As we know, Baba considers study to be essential. Without study or without knowledge, one will be prone to being exploited. That is His other clear-cut warning. This we see happening outside the Marga, as happened with so many native populations or in the case of people with shudra mentality. Either they sold their land for a song, or they got tricked into making a bad trade, or they got duped into sending their children to schools that did not recognise the local language etc. All these instances are cases of exploitation where one party lacked the sufficient knowledge. Unfortunately, once again we see this happening in our Marga. Of course this does not apply to everyone and since 1990 things have been getting better, but unfortunately due to a lack of knowledge a few continue to get exploited. As Baba warns us, this often happens due to a distinct lack of knowledge. Baba says, "If there is a dearth of intellectual pabulum and the intellectual standard of the people is not high, they can take “dos” to be “don’ts” and vice versa." (AFPS-6) As Ananda Margiis it is essential that we study and review Baba's ideological teachings, then we will not be prone to getting misguided by others. Then we will not get duped about the curtailment of BP rights, or false money collecting, or whatever else some Dadas do behind their tall talks. Unfortunately, due to a lack of knowledge, some become duped into fulfilling the agenda of certain crude Dadas, and in this way such innocent people degenerate terribly. Baba says, "Where the intellectual standard of the people is low, people commit blunders – prompted by such leaders they become beasts." (AFPS-6) Tragically, when some Dadas get convinced to kill one of our own acaryas as in the case of our dear brother Ac. Abhipremannda Avt, they got convinced or blinded due to their own lack of knowledge. In this way they got deceived into committing a heinous crime. Hence the cultivation of right knowledge is essential. Neither should we stuff ourselves with knowledge to create a sense of false vanity or to dupe and deceive others, nor should we remain ignorant about AM teachings and then get exploited at the hands of some opportunistic factional leaders. Regarding knowledge, we should find balance in life. That is Baba's teaching.
By His grace we are to develop ourselves in the right way, along the path of vidya, and be vigilant to expose and dethrone those who use knowledge to strangle or misguide humanity. Baba says, "When will the three causes of sin be removed? Only when the sadvipras will be ready to fight against them with an iron hand. Today, at this hour, it is my call to the sadvipras of the world not to delay any longer. They should march ahead and save humanity and make the path of humanity free of thorns." (AFPS-6) Namaskar Hariish
Baba says, "The duty of the sadvipras will be to hammer these stagnant people who are a burden to society, who suffer from inertness in their physico-psychic sphere, at the appropriate moment so that the path of human progress becomes straight, clear and well-constructed." (AFPS-6)
************************************************* Selection of Males and Females
Baba says, "It is very beneficial for society if people of sublime intelligence and brilliance reproduce more off-spring. The responsibility of rendering proper nourishment to the progeny of such persons will have to be taken by society and the government itself." (PNS-13, p.47)

Inner Secret of US Democracy

To: AM-GLOBAL From: "Phoenix Chapman" Date: Thu 26 Aug 2010 22:34:08 -0700 Subject: Inner Secret of US Democracy Baba
Namaskar, As early as the 1950's, Baba put forth the ideas of Prout and issued grave warnings about the dangers of capitalism. Now, more than 50 years later in this 21st century, look at what is going on within the capitalist framework. All that Baba told decades ago is now coming true in corporate America: The US democracy is run by big business. This posting contains two parts: 1) A few paragraphs from Baba's teachings about the vaeshyan mentality which detail how the capitalists purchase control of and mercilessly exploit the society; 2) An excellent investigative article of the mega-billionaire, libertarian Boch brothers, Charles and David, who have their reach deep into US politics in an effort to wipe out nearly all government controls so big business can run wild.
(The following are the final series of paragraphs of Baba's discourse, "The Vipra Age".)
The predominance of dishonest people over honest is far greater in the Vaeshya Age even than it was in the Vipra Age. The vaeshyas use most of their capital and privileged status to deprive others of the wealth they earn through their hard labour. (Here "labour" certainly includes intellectual labour.) Just as the vipras use their intellects to stupefy and manipulate the kśatriyas’ vitality, the vaeshyas still more ruthlessly turn the vipras, as well as everybody else, into beasts of burden. When the Vaeshya Age begins after the Vipra Age, and the vipras and kśatriyas helplessly sell themselves to the vaeshyas, the vipras and kśatriyas clearly understand that they are sold. They are like chickens that have just been sold to the hungry chicken-fancier. Only the shúdras fail to realize that they are sold. Although the vipras and kśatriyas know what is happening, they nevertheless accept the dominance of the vaeshyas due to selfishness, infighting and a lack of economic knowledge. The vaeshyas are fully aware of the disunity and other weaknesses of the vipras and kśatriyas, and they use this knowledge to perpetuate their hold on power; they use their financial power to incite one group against another. The kśatriyas, out of obligation to the vaeshyas, lose their lives in needless battles and fracases of different kinds; while the vipras, similarly fed and sheltered by the vaeshyas, keep such factional conflicts permanently alive by creating various types of sentiment such as casteism, communalism, provincialism and nationalism, and by composing the necessary scriptures to accomplish this. It should be clearly understood that the vaeshyas encourage all isms that divide people. Casteism, communalism, provincialism and nationalism are supported mainly by the money of the vaeshyas. They finance such isms to keep people divided so that they cannot unite and protest against their exploitation. The funny thing is that the vaeshyas purchase the vital energy of the kśatriyas and the intellectual skills of the vipras with money and use that energy and those skills to perpetuate their hold on power and turn the kśatriyas and vipras into long-term slaves. The vaeshyas’ financial power carries more weight than the power of speech and intellectual power of the vipras, not to mention the physical power of the kśatriyas; therefore the vaeshyas have no trouble buying the vipras’ brains and the kśatriyas’ brawn with their money. Among those who possess knowledge, intellect, great courage or physical strength, there is hardly anyone who has the courage, or sometimes even the intelligence, needed to take the financial risks necessary to earn money. The vaeshyas understand this weakness of the vipras and the kśatriyas. They lull their discrimination to sleep by praising the kśatriyas’ valour and the vipras’ intellect. Then afterwards they can easily buy them off. In a vaeshya state, poets, scientists, [[authors]] and great heroes are awarded prizes, medals and titles for this very reason. By participating in all this, the vipras and the kśatriyas surrender all their endowments at the feet of the vaeshyas for a little money or some name and fame; and at the same time feel they are fortunate. They fail to realize that they are digging their own graves.
(Human Society, The Vipra Age)

Covert Operations

The billionaire brothers who are waging a war against Obama.

by Jane Mayer

On May 17th, a black-tie audience at the Metropolitan Opera House applauded as a tall, jovial-looking billionaire took the stage. It was the seventieth annual spring gala of American Ballet Theatre, and David H. Koch was being celebrated for his generosity as a member of the board of trustees; he had recently donated $2.5 million toward the company’s upcoming season, and had given many millions before that. Koch received an award while flanked by two of the gala’s co-chairs, Blaine Trump, in a peach-colored gown, and Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg, in emerald green. Kennedy’s mother, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, had been a patron of the ballet and, coincidentally, the previous owner of a Fifth Avenue apartment that Koch had bought, in 1995, and then sold, eleven years later, for thirty-two million dollars, having found it too small.

The gala marked the social ascent of Koch, who, at the age of seventy, has become one of the city’s most prominent philanthropists. In 2008, he donated a hundred million dollars to modernize Lincoln Center’s New York State Theatre building, which now bears his name. He has given twenty million to the American Museum of Natural History, whose dinosaur wing is named for him. This spring, after noticing the decrepit state of the fountains outside the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Koch pledged at least ten million dollars for their renovation. He is a trustee of the museum, perhaps the most coveted social prize in the city, and serves on the board of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, where, after he donated more than forty million dollars, an endowed chair and a research center were named for him.

One dignitary was conspicuously absent from the gala: the event’s third honorary co-chair, Michelle Obama. Her office said that a scheduling conflict had prevented her from attending. Yet had the First Lady shared the stage with Koch it might have created an awkward tableau. In Washington, Koch is best known as part of a family that has repeatedly funded stealth attacks on the federal government, and on the Obama Administration in particular.

With his brother Charles, who is seventy-four, David Koch owns virtually all of Koch Industries, a conglomerate, headquartered in Wichita, Kansas, whose annual revenues are estimated to be a hundred billion dollars. The company has grown spectacularly since their father, Fred, died, in 1967, and the brothers took charge. The Kochs operate oil refineries in Alaska, Texas, and Minnesota, and control some four thousand miles of pipeline. Koch Industries owns Brawny paper towels, Dixie cups, Georgia-Pacific lumber, Stainmaster carpet, and Lycra, among other products. Forbes ranks it as the second-largest private company in the country, after Cargill, and its consistent profitability has made David and Charles Koch—who, years ago, bought out two other brothers—among the richest men in America. Their combined fortune of thirty-five billion dollars is exceeded only by those of Bill Gates and Warren Buffett.

The Kochs are longtime libertarians who believe in drastically lower personal and corporate taxes, minimal social services for the needy, and much less oversight of industry—especially environmental regulation. These views dovetail with the brothers’ corporate interests. In a study released this spring, the University of Massachusetts at Amherst’s Political Economy Research Institute named Koch Industries one of the top ten air polluters in the United States. And Greenpeace issued a report identifying the company as a “kingpin of climate science denial.” The report showed that, from 2005 to 2008, the Kochs vastly outdid ExxonMobil in giving money to organizations fighting legislation related to climate change, underwriting a huge network of foundations, think tanks, and political front groups. Indeed, the brothers have funded opposition campaigns against so many Obama Administration policies—from health-care reform to the economic-stimulus program—that, in political circles, their ideological network is known as the Kochtopus.

In a statement, Koch Industries said that the Greenpeace report “distorts the environmental record of our companies.” And David Koch, in a recent, admiring article about him in New York, protested that the “radical press” had turned his family into “whipping boys,” and had exaggerated its influence on American politics. But Charles Lewis, the founder of the Center for Public Integrity, a nonpartisan watchdog group, said, “The Kochs are on a whole different level. There’s no one else who has spent this much money. The sheer dimension of it is what sets them apart. They have a pattern of lawbreaking, political manipulation, and obfuscation. I’ve been in Washington since Watergate, and I’ve never seen anything like it. They are the Standard Oil of our times.”

A few weeks after the Lincoln Center gala, the advocacy wing of the Americans for Prosperity Foundation—an organization that David Koch started, in 2004—held a different kind of gathering. Over the July 4th weekend, a summit called Texas Defending the American Dream took place in a chilly hotel ballroom in Austin. Though Koch freely promotes his philanthropic ventures, he did not attend the summit, and his name was not in evidence. And on this occasion the audience was roused not by a dance performance but by a series of speakers denouncing President Barack Obama. Peggy Venable, the organizer of the summit, warned that Administration officials “have a socialist vision for this country.”

Five hundred people attended the summit, which served, in part, as a training session for Tea Party activists in Texas. An advertisement cast the event as a populist uprising against vested corporate power. “Today, the voices of average Americans are being drowned out by lobbyists and special interests,” it said. “But you can do something about it.” The pitch made no mention of its corporate funders. The White House has expressed frustration that such sponsors have largely eluded public notice. David Axelrod, Obama’s senior adviser, said, “What they don’t say is that, in part, this is a grassroots citizens’ movement brought to you by a bunch of oil billionaires.”

In April, 2009, Melissa Cohlmia, a company spokesperson, denied that the Kochs had direct links to the Tea Party, saying that Americans for Prosperity is “an independent organization and Koch companies do not in any way direct their activities.” Later, she issued a statement: “No funding has been provided by Koch companies, the Koch foundations, or Charles Koch or David Koch specifically to support the tea parties.” David Koch told New York, “I’ve never been to a tea-party event. No one representing the tea party has ever even approached me.”

At the lectern in Austin, however, Venable—a longtime political operative who draws a salary from Americans for Prosperity, and who has worked for Koch-funded political groups since 1994—spoke less warily. “We love what the Tea Parties are doing, because that’s how we’re going to take back America!” she declared, as the crowd cheered. In a subsequent interview, she described herself as an early member of the movement, joking, “I was part of the Tea Party before it was cool!” She explained that the role of Americans for Prosperity was to help “educate” Tea Party activists on policy details, and to give them “next-step training” after their rallies, so that their political energy could be channelled “more effectively.” And she noted that Americans for Prosperity had provided Tea Party activists with lists of elected officials to target. She said of the Kochs, “They’re certainly our people. David’s the chairman of our board. I’ve certainly met with them, and I’m very appreciative of what they do.”

Venable honored several Tea Party “citizen leaders” at the summit. The Texas branch of Americans for Prosperity gave its Blogger of the Year Award to a young woman named Sibyl West. On June 14th, West, writing on her site, described Obama as the “cokehead in chief.” In an online thread, West speculated that the President was exhibiting symptoms of “demonic possession (aka schizophrenia, etc.).” The summit featured several paid speakers, including Janine Turner, the actress best known for her role on the television series “Northern Exposure.” She declared, “They don’t want our children to know about their rights. They don’t want our children to know about a God!”

During a catered lunch, Venable introduced Ted Cruz, a former solicitor general of Texas, who told the crowd that Obama was “the most radical President ever to occupy the Oval Office,” and had hidden from voters a secret agenda—“the government taking over our economy and our lives.” Countering Obama, Cruz proclaimed, was “the epic fight of our generation!” As the crowd rose to its feet and cheered, he quoted the defiant words of a Texan at the Alamo: “Victory, or death!”

Americans for Prosperity has worked closely with the Tea Party since the movement’s inception. In the weeks before the first Tax Day protests, in April, 2009, Americans for Prosperity hosted a Web site offering supporters “Tea Party Talking Points.” The Arizona branch urged people to send tea bags to Obama; the Missouri branch urged members to sign up for “Taxpayer Tea Party Registration” and provided directions to nine protests. The group continues to stoke the rebellion. The North Carolina branch recently launched a “Tea Party Finder” Web site, advertised as “a hub for all the Tea Parties in North Carolina.”

The anti-government fervor infusing the 2010 elections represents a political triumph for the Kochs. By giving money to “educate,” fund, and organize Tea Party protesters, they have helped turn their private agenda into a mass movement. Bruce Bartlett, a conservative economist and a historian, who once worked at the National Center for Policy Analysis, a Dallas-based think tank that the Kochs fund, said, “The problem with the whole libertarian movement is that it’s been all chiefs and no Indians. There haven’t been any actual people, like voters, who give a crap about it. So the problem for the Kochs has been trying to create a movement.” With the emergence of the Tea Party, he said, “everyone suddenly sees that for the first time there are Indians out there—people who can provide real ideological power.” The Kochs, he said, are “trying to shape and control and channel the populist uprising into their own policies.”

A Republican campaign consultant who has done research on behalf of Charles and David Koch said of the Tea Party, “The Koch brothers gave the money that founded it. It’s like they put the seeds in the ground. Then the rainstorm comes, and the frogs come out of the mud—and they’re our candidates!”

The Kochs and their political operatives declined requests for interviews. Instead, a prominent New York public-relations executive who is close with the Kochs put forward two friends: George Pataki, the former governor of New York, and Mortimer Zuckerman, the publisher and real-estate magnate. Pataki, a Republican who received campaign donations from David Koch, called him “a patriot who cares deeply about his country.” Zuckerman praised David’s “gentle decency” and the “range of his public interests.”

The Republican campaign consultant said of the family’s political activities, “To call them under the radar is an understatement. They are underground!” Another former Koch adviser said, “They’re smart. This right-wing, redneck stuff works for them. They see this as a way to get things done without getting dirty themselves.” Rob Stein, a Democratic political strategist who has studied the conservative movement’s finances, said that the Kochs are “at the epicenter of the anti-Obama movement. But it’s not just about Obama. They would have done the same to Hillary Clinton. They did the same with Bill Clinton. They are out to destroy progressivism.”

Oddly enough, the fiercely capitalist Koch family owes part of its fortune to Joseph Stalin. Fred Koch was the son of a Dutch printer who settled in Texas and ran a weekly newspaper. Fred attended M.I.T., where he earned a degree in chemical engineering. In 1927, he invented a more efficient process for converting oil into gasoline, but, according to family lore, America’s major oil companies regarded him as a threat and shut him out of the industry. Unable to succeed at home, Koch found work in the Soviet Union. In the nineteen-thirties, his company trained Bolshevik engineers and helped Stalin’s regime set up fifteen modern oil refineries. Over time, however, Stalin brutally purged several of Koch’s Soviet colleagues. Koch was deeply affected by the experience, and regretted his collaboration. He returned to the U.S. In the headquarters of his company, Rock Island Oil & Refining, in Wichita, he kept photographs aimed at proving that some of those Soviet refineries had been destroyed in the Second World War. Gus diZerega, a former friend of Charles Koch, recalled, “As the Soviets became a stronger military power, Fred felt a certain amount of guilt at having helped build them up. I think it bothered him a lot.”

In 1958, Fred Koch became one of the original members of the John Birch Society, the arch-conservative group known, in part, for a highly skeptical view of governance and for spreading fears of a Communist takeover. Members considered President Dwight D. Eisenhower to be a Communist agent. In a self-published broadside, Koch claimed that “the Communists have infiltrated both the Democrat and Republican Parties.” He wrote admiringly of Benito Mussolini’s suppression of Communists in Italy, and disparagingly of the American civil-rights movement. “The colored man looms large in the Communist plan to take over America,” he warned. Welfare was a secret plot to attract rural blacks to cities, where they would foment “a vicious race war.” In a 1963 speech that prefigures the Tea Party’s talk of a secret socialist plot, Koch predicted that Communists would “infiltrate the highest offices of government in the U.S. until the President is a Communist, unknown to the rest of us.”

Koch married Mary Robinson, the daughter of a Missouri physician, and they had four sons: Freddie, Charles, and twins, David and William. John Damgard, the president of the Futures Industry Association, was David’s schoolmate and friend. He recalled that Fred Koch was “a real John Wayne type.” Koch emphasized rugged pursuits, taking his sons big-game hunting in Africa, and requiring them to do farm labor at the family ranch. The Kochs lived in a stone mansion on a large compound across from Wichita’s country club; in the summer, the boys could hear their friends splashing in the pool, but they were not allowed to join them. “By instilling a work ethic in me at an early age, my father did me a big favor, although it didn’t seem like a favor back then,” Charles has written. “By the time I was eight, he made sure work occupied most of my spare time.” David Koch recalled that his father also indoctrinated the boys politically. “He was constantly speaking to us children about what was wrong with government,” he told Brian Doherty, an editor of the libertarian magazine Reason, and the author of “Radicals for Capitalism,” a 2007 history of the libertarian movement. “It’s something I grew up with—a fundamental point of view that big government was bad, and imposition of government controls on our lives and economic fortunes was not good.”

David attended Deerfield Academy, in Massachusetts, and Charles was sent to military school. Charles, David, and William all earned engineering degrees at their father’s alma mater, M.I.T., and later joined the family company. Charles eventually assumed control, with David as his deputy; William’s career at the company was less successful. Freddie went to Harvard and studied playwriting at the Yale School of Drama. His father reportedly disapproved of him, and punished him financially. (Freddie, through a spokesperson, denied this.)

In 1967, after Fred Koch died, of a heart attack, Charles renamed the business Koch Industries, in honor of his father. Fred Koch’s will made his sons extraordinarily wealthy. David Koch joked about his good fortune in a 2003 speech to alumni at Deerfield, where, after pledging twenty-five million dollars, he was made the school’s sole “lifetime trustee.” He said, “You might ask: How does David Koch happen to have the wealth to be so generous? Well, let me tell you a story. It all started when I was a little boy. One day, my father gave me an apple. I soon sold it for five dollars and bought two apples and sold them for ten. Then I bought four apples and sold them for twenty. Well, this went on day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year, until my father died and left me three hundred million dollars!”

David and Charles had absorbed their father’s conservative politics, but they did not share all his views, according to diZerega, who befriended Charles in the mid-sixties, after meeting him while browsing in a John Birch Society bookstore in Wichita. Charles eventually invited him to the Kochs’ mansion, to participate in an informal political-discussion group. “It was pretty clear that Charles thought some of the Birch Society was bullshit,” diZerega recalled.

DiZerega, who has lost touch with Charles, eventually abandoned right-wing views, and became a political-science professor. He credits Charles with opening his mind to political philosophy, which set him on the path to academia; Charles is one of three people to whom he dedicated his first book. But diZerega believes that the Koch brothers have followed a wayward intellectual trajectory, transferring their father’s paranoia about Soviet Communism to a distrust of the U.S. government, and seeing its expansion, beginning with the New Deal, as a tyrannical threat to freedom. In an essay, posted on Beliefnet, diZerega writes, “As state socialism failed . . . the target for many within these organizations shifted to any kind of regulation at all. ‘Socialism’ kept being defined downwards.”

Members of the John Birch Society developed an interest in a school of Austrian economists who promoted free-market ideals. Charles and David Koch were particularly influenced by the work of Friedrich von Hayek, the author of “The Road to Serfdom” (1944), which argued that centralized government planning led, inexorably, to totalitarianism. Hayek’s belief in unfettered capitalism has proved inspirational to many conservatives, and to anti-Soviet dissidents; lately, Tea Party supporters have championed his work. In June, the talk-radio host Glenn Beck, who has supported the Tea Party rebellion, promoted “The Road to Serfdom” on his show; the paperback soon became a No. 1 best-seller on Amazon. (Beck appears to be a fan of the Kochs; in the midst of a recent on-air parody of Al Gore, Beck said, without explanation, “I want to thank Charles Koch for this information.” Beck declined to elaborate on the relationship.)

Charles and David also became devotees of a more radical thinker, Robert LeFevre, who favored the abolition of the state but didn’t like the label “anarchist”; he called himself an “autarchist.” LeFevre liked to say that “government is a disease masquerading as its own cure.” In 1956, he opened an institution called the Freedom School, in Colorado Springs. Brian Doherty, of Reason, told me that “LeFevre was an anarchist figure who won Charles’s heart,” and that the school was “a tiny world of people who thought the New Deal was a horrible mistake.” According to diZerega, Charles supported the school financially, and even gave him money to take classes there.

Throughout the seventies, Charles and David continued to build Koch Industries. In 1980, William, with assistance from Freddie, attempted to take over the company from Charles, who, they felt, had assumed autocratic control. In retaliation, the company’s board, which answered to Charles, fired William. (“Charles runs it all with an iron hand,” Bruce Bartlett, the economist, told me.) Lawsuits were filed, with William and Freddie on one side and Charles and David on the other. In 1983, Charles and David bought out their brothers’ share in the company for nearly a billion dollars. But the antagonism remained, and litigation continued for seventeen more years, with the brothers hiring rival private investigators; in 1990, they walked past one another with stony expressions at their mother’s funeral. Eventually, Freddie moved to Monaco, which has no income tax. He bought historic estates in France, Austria, and elsewhere, filling them with art, antiques, opera scores, and literary manuscripts. William founded his own energy company, Oxbow, and turned to yachting; he spent an estimated sixty-five million dollars to win the America’s Cup, in 1992.

With Charles as the undisputed chairman and C.E.O., Koch Industries expanded rapidly. Roger Altman, who heads the investment-banking firm Evercore, told me that the company’s performance has been “beyond phenomenal.” Charles remained in Wichita, with his wife and two children, guarding his privacy while supporting community charities. David moved to New York City, where he is an executive vice-president of the company and the C.E.O. of its Chemical Technology Group. A financial expert who knows Koch Industries well told me, “Charles is the company. Charles runs it.” David, described by associates as “affable” and “a bit of a lunk,” enjoyed for years the life of a wealthy bachelor. He rented a yacht in the South of France and bought a waterfront home in Southampton, where he threw parties that the Web site New York Social Diary likened to an “East Coast version of Hugh Hefner’s soirées.” In 1996, he married Julia Flesher, a fashion assistant. They live in a nine-thousand-square-foot duplex at 740 Park Avenue, with their three children. Though David’s manner is more cosmopolitan, and more genial, than that of Charles, Brian Doherty, who has interviewed both brothers, couldn’t think of a single issue on which the brothers disagreed.

As their fortunes grew, Charles and David Koch became the primary underwriters of hard-line libertarian politics in America. Charles’s goal, as Doherty described it, was to tear the government “out at the root.” The brothers’ first major public step came in 1979, when Charles persuaded David, then thirty-nine, to run for public office. They had become supporters of the Libertarian Party, and were backing its Presidential candidate, Ed Clark, who was running against Ronald Reagan from the right. Frustrated by the legal limits on campaign donations, they contrived to place David on the ticket, in the Vice-Presidential slot; upon becoming a candidate, he could lavish as much of his personal fortune as he wished on the campaign. The ticket’s slogan was “The Libertarian Party has only one source of funds: You.” In fact, its primary source of funds was David Koch, who spent more than two million dollars on the effort.

Many of the ideas propounded in the 1980 campaign presaged the Tea Party movement. Ed Clark told The Nation that libertarians were getting ready to stage “a very big tea party,” because people were “sick to death” of taxes. The Libertarian Party platform called for the abolition of the F.B.I. and the C.I.A., as well as of federal regulatory agencies, such as the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Department of Energy. The Party wanted to end Social Security, minimum-wage laws, gun control, and all personal and corporate income taxes; it proposed the legalization of prostitution, recreational drugs, and suicide. Government should be reduced to only one function: the protection of individual rights. William F. Buckley, Jr., a more traditional conservative, called the movement “Anarcho-Totalitarianism.”

That November, the Libertarian ticket received only one per cent of the vote. The brothers realized that their brand of politics didn’t sell at the ballot box. Charles Koch became openly scornful of conventional politics. “It tends to be a nasty, corrupting business,” he told a reporter at the time. “I’m interested in advancing libertarian ideas.” According to Doherty’s book, the Kochs came to regard elected politicians as merely “actors playing out a script.” A longtime confidant of the Kochs told Doherty that the brothers wanted to “supply the themes and words for the scripts.” In order to alter the direction of America, they had to “influence the areas where policy ideas percolate from: academia and think tanks.”

After the 1980 election, Charles and David Koch receded from the public arena. But they poured more than a hundred million dollars into dozens of seemingly independent organizations. Tax records indicate that in 2008 the three main Koch family foundations gave money to thirty-four political and policy organizations, three of which they founded, and several of which they direct. The Kochs and their company have given additional millions to political campaigns, advocacy groups, and lobbyists. The family’s subterranean financial role has fuelled suspicion on the left; Lee Fang, of the liberal blog ThinkProgress, has called the Kochs “the billionaires behind the hate.”

Only the Kochs know precisely how much they have spent on politics. Public tax records show that between 1998 and 2008 the Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation spent more than forty-eight million dollars. The Claude R. Lambe Charitable Foundation, which is controlled by Charles Koch and his wife, along with two company employees and an accountant, spent more than twenty-eight million. The David H. Koch Charitable Foundation spent more than a hundred and twenty million. Meanwhile, since 1998 Koch Industries has spent more than fifty million dollars on lobbying. Separately, the company’s political-action committee, KochPAC, has donated some eight million dollars to political campaigns, more than eighty per cent of it to Republicans. So far in 2010, Koch Industries leads all other energy companies in political contributions, as it has since 2006. In addition, during the past dozen years the Kochs and other family members have personally spent more than two million dollars on political contributions. In the second quarter of 2010, David Koch was the biggest individual contributor to the Republican Governors Association, with a million-dollar donation. Other gifts by the Kochs may be untraceable; federal tax law permits anonymous personal donations to politically active nonprofit groups.

In recent decades, members of several industrial dynasties have spent parts of their fortunes on a conservative agenda. In the nineteen-eighties, the Olin family, which owns a chemicals-and-manufacturing conglomerate, became known for funding right-leaning thinking in academia, particularly in law schools. And during the nineties Richard Mellon Scaife, a descendant of Andrew Mellon, spent millions attempting to discredit President Bill Clinton. Ari Rabin-Havt, a vice-president at the Democratic-leaning Web site Media Matters, said that the Kochs’ effort is unusual, in its marshalling of corporate and personal funds: “Their role, in terms of financial commitments, is staggering.”

Of course, Democrats give money, too. Their most prominent donor, the financier George Soros, runs a foundation, the Open Society Institute, that has spent as much as a hundred million dollars a year in America. Soros has also made generous private contributions to various Democratic campaigns, including Obama’s. But Michael Vachon, his spokesman, argued that Soros’s giving is transparent, and that “none of his contributions are in the service of his own economic interests.” The Kochs have given millions of dollars to nonprofit groups that criticize environmental regulation and support lower taxes for industry. Gus diZerega, the former friend, suggested that the Kochs’ youthful idealism about libertarianism had largely devolved into a rationale for corporate self-interest. He said of Charles, “Perhaps he has confused making money with freedom.”

Some critics have suggested that the Kochs’ approach has subverted the purpose of tax-exempt giving. By law, charitable foundations must conduct exclusively nonpartisan activities that promote the public welfare. A 2004 report by the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy, a watchdog group, described the Kochs’ foundations as being self-serving, concluding, “These foundations give money to nonprofit organizations that do research and advocacy on issues that impact the profit margin of Koch Industries.”

The Kochs have gone well beyond their immediate self-interest, however, funding organizations that aim to push the country in a libertarian direction. Among the institutions that they have subsidized are the Institute for Justice, which files lawsuits opposing state and federal regulations; the Institute for Humane Studies, which underwrites libertarian academics; and the Bill of Rights Institute, which promotes a conservative slant on the Constitution. Many of the organizations funded by the Kochs employ specialists who write position papers that are subsequently quoted by politicians and pundits. David Koch has acknowledged that the family exerts tight ideological control. “If we’re going to give a lot of money, we’ll make darn sure they spend it in a way that goes along with our intent,” he told Doherty. “And if they make a wrong turn and start doing things we don’t agree with, we withdraw funding.”

The Kochs’ subsidization of a pro-corporate movement fulfills, in many ways, the vision laid out in a secret 1971 memo that Lewis Powell, then a Virginia attorney, wrote two months before he was nominated to the Supreme Court. The antiwar movement had turned its anger on defense contractors, such as Dow Chemical, and Ralph Nader was leading a public-interest crusade against corporations. Powell, writing a report for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, urged American companies to fight back. The greatest threat to free enterprise, he warned, was not Communism or the New Left but, rather, “respectable elements of society”—intellectuals, journalists, and scientists. To defeat them, he wrote, business leaders needed to wage a long-term, unified campaign to change public opinion.

Charles Koch seems to have approached both business and politics with the deliberation of an engineer. “To bring about social change,” he told Doherty, requires “a strategy” that is “vertically and horizontally integrated,” spanning “from idea creation to policy development to education to grassroots organizations to lobbying to litigation to political action.” The project, he admitted, was extremely ambitious. “We have a radical philosophy,” he said.

In 1977, the Kochs provided the funds to launch the nation’s first libertarian think tank, the Cato Institute. According to the Center for Public Integrity, between 1986 and 1993 the Koch family gave eleven million dollars to the institute. Today, Cato has more than a hundred full-time employees, and its experts and policy papers are widely quoted and respected by the mainstream media. It describes itself as nonpartisan, and its scholars have at times been critical of both parties. But it has consistently pushed for corporate tax cuts, reductions in social services, and laissez-faire environmental policies.

When President Obama, in a 2008 speech, described the science on global warming as “beyond dispute,” the Cato Institute took out a full-page ad in the Times to contradict him. Cato’s resident scholars have relentlessly criticized political attempts to stop global warming as expensive, ineffective, and unnecessary. Ed Crane, the Cato Institute’s founder and president, told me that “global-warming theories give the government more control of the economy.”

Cato scholars have been particularly energetic in promoting the Climategate scandal. Last year, private e-mails of climate scientists at the University of East Anglia, in England, were mysteriously leaked, and their exchanges appeared to suggest a willingness to falsify data in order to buttress the idea that global warming is real. In the two weeks after the e-mails went public, one Cato scholar gave more than twenty media interviews trumpeting the alleged scandal. But five independent inquiries have since exonerated the researchers, and nothing was found in their e-mails or data to discredit the scientific consensus on global warming.

Nevertheless, the controversy succeeded in spreading skepticism about climate change. Even though the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration recently issued a report concluding that the evidence for global warming is unequivocal, more Americans are convinced than at any time since 1997 that scientists have exaggerated the seriousness of global warming. The Kochs promote this statistic on their company’s Web site but do not mention the role that their funding has played in fostering such doubt.

In a 2002 memo, the Republican political consultant Frank Luntz wrote that so long as “voters believe there is no consensus about global warming within the scientific community” the status quo would prevail. The key for opponents of environmental reform, he said, was to question the science—a public-relations strategy that the tobacco industry used effectively for years to forestall regulation. The Kochs have funded many sources of environmental skepticism, such as the Heritage Foundation, which has argued that “scientific facts gathered in the past 10 years do not support the notion of catastrophic human-made warming.” The brothers have given money to more obscure groups, too, such as the Independent Women’s Forum, which opposes the presentation of global warming as a scientific fact in American public schools. Until 2008, the group was run by Nancy Pfotenhauer, a former lobbyist for Koch Industries. Mary Beth Jarvis, a vice-president of a Koch subsidiary, is on the group’s board.

Naomi Oreskes, a professor of history and science studies at the University of California, San Diego, is the co-author of “Merchants of Doubt,” a new book that chronicles various attempts by American industry to manipulate public opinion on science. She noted that the Kochs, as the heads of “a company with refineries and pipelines,” have “a lot at stake.” She added, “If the answer is to phase out fossil fuels, a different group of people are going to be making money, so we shouldn’t be surprised that they’re fighting tooth and nail.”

David Koch told New York that he was unconvinced that global warming has been caused by human activity. Even if it has been, he said, the heating of the planet will be beneficial, resulting in longer growing seasons in the Northern Hemisphere. “The Earth will be able to support enormously more people because far greater land area will be available to produce food,” he said.

In the mid-eighties, the Kochs provided millions of dollars to George Mason University, in Arlington, Virginia, to set up another think tank. Now known as the Mercatus Center, it promotes itself as “the world’s premier university source for market-oriented ideas—bridging the gap between academic ideas and real-world problems.” Financial records show that the Koch family foundations have contributed more than thirty million dollars to George Mason, much of which has gone to the Mercatus Center, a nonprofit organization. “It’s ground zero for deregulation policy in Washington,” Rob Stein, the Democratic strategist, said. It is an unusual arrangement. “George Mason is a public university, and receives public funds,” Stein noted. “Virginia is hosting an institution that the Kochs practically control.”

The founder of the Mercatus Center is Richard Fink, formerly an economist. Fink heads Koch Industries’ lobbying operation in Washington. In addition, he is the president of the Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation, the president of the Claude R. Lambe Charitable Foundation, a director of the Fred C. and Mary R. Koch Foundation, and a director and co-founder, with David Koch, of the Americans for Prosperity Foundation.

Fink, with his many titles, has become the central nervous system of the Kochtopus. He appears to have supplanted Ed Crane, the head of the Cato Institute, as the brothers’ main political lieutenant. Though David remains on the board at Cato, Charles Koch has fallen out with Crane. Associates suggested to me that Crane had been insufficiently respectful of Charles’s management philosophy, which he distilled into a book called “The Science of Success,” and trademarked under the name Market-Based Management, or M.B.M. In the book, Charles recommends instilling a company’s corporate culture with the competitiveness of the marketplace. Koch describes M.B.M. as a “holistic system” containing “five dimensions: vision, virtue and talents, knowledge processes, decision rights and incentives.” A top Cato Institute official told me that Charles “thinks he’s a genius. He’s the emperor, and he’s convinced he’s wearing clothes.” Fink, by contrast, has been far more embracing of Charles’s ideas. (Fink, like the Kochs, declined to be interviewed.)

At a 1995 conference for philanthropists, Fink adopted the language of economics when speaking about the Mercatus Center’s purpose. He said that grant-makers should use think tanks and political-action groups to convert intellectual raw materials into policy “products.”

The Wall Street Journal has called the Mercatus Center “the most important think tank you’ve never heard of,” and noted that fourteen of the twenty-three regulations that President George W. Bush placed on a “hit list” had been suggested first by Mercatus scholars. Fink told the paper that the Kochs have “other means of fighting [their] battles,” and that the Mercatus Center does not actively promote the company’s private interests. But Thomas McGarity, a law professor at the University of Texas, who specializes in environmental issues, told me that “Koch has been constantly in trouble with the E.P.A., and Mercatus has constantly hammered on the agency.” An environmental lawyer who has clashed with the Mercatus Center called it “a means of laundering economic aims.” The lawyer explained the strategy: “You take corporate money and give it to a neutral-sounding think tank,” which “hires people with pedigrees and academic degrees who put out credible-seeming studies. But they all coincide perfectly with the economic interests of their funders.”

In 1997, for instance, the E.P.A. moved to reduce surface ozone, a form of pollution caused, in part, by emissions from oil refineries. Susan Dudley, an economist who became a top official at the Mercatus Center, criticized the proposed rule. The E.P.A., she argued, had not taken into account that smog-free skies would result in more cases of skin cancer. She projected that if pollution were controlled it would cause up to eleven thousand additional cases of skin cancer each year.

In 1999, the District of Columbia Circuit Court took up Dudley’s smog argument. Evaluating the E.P.A. rule, the court found that the E.P.A. had “explicitly disregarded” the “possible health benefits of ozone.” In another part of the opinion, the court ruled, 2-1, that the E.P.A. had overstepped its authority in calibrating standards for ozone emissions. As the Constitutional Accountability Center, a think tank, revealed, the judges in the majority had previously attended legal junkets, on a Montana ranch, that were arranged by the Foundation for Research on Economics and the Environment—a group funded by Koch family foundations. The judges have claimed that the ruling was unaffected by their attendance.

“Ideas don’t happen on their own,” Matt Kibbe, the president of FreedomWorks, a Tea Party advocacy group, told me. “Throughout history, ideas need patrons.” The Koch brothers, after helping to create Cato and Mercatus, concluded that think tanks alone were not enough to effect change. They needed a mechanism to deliver those ideas to the street, and to attract the public’s support. In 1984, David Koch and Richard Fink created yet another organization, and Kibbe joined them. The group, Citizens for a Sound Economy, seemed like a grassroots movement, but according to the Center for Public Integrity it was sponsored principally by the Kochs, who provided $7.9 million between 1986 and 1993. Its mission, Kibbe said, “was to take these heavy ideas and translate them for mass America. . . . We read the same literature Obama did about nonviolent revolutions—Saul Alinsky, Gandhi, Martin Luther King. We studied the idea of the Boston Tea Party as an example of nonviolent social change. We learned we needed boots on the ground to sell ideas, not candidates.” Within a few years, the group had mobilized fifty paid field workers, in twenty-six states, to rally voters behind the Kochs’ agenda. David and Charles, according to one participant, were “very controlling, very top down. You can’t build an organization with them. They run it.”

Around this time, the brothers faced a political crisis. In 1989, the Senate Select Committee on Indian Affairs investigated their business and released a scathing report accusing Koch Oil of “a widespread and sophisticated scheme to steal crude oil from Indians and others through fraudulent mismeasuring.” The Kochs admitted that they had improperly taken thirty-one million dollars’ worth of crude oil, but said that it had been accidental. Charles Koch told committee investigators that oil measurement is “a very uncertain art.”

To defend its reputation, Koch Industries hired Robert Strauss, then a premier Washington lobbyist; the company soon opened an office in the city. A grand jury was convened to investigate the allegations, but it eventually disbanded, without issuing criminal charges. According to the Senate report, after the committee hearings Koch operatives delved into the personal lives of committee staffers, even questioning an ex-wife. Senate investigators were upset by the Kochs’ tactics. Kenneth Ballen, the counsel to the Senate committee, said, “These people have amassed such unaccountable power!”

By 1993, when Bill Clinton became President, Citizens for a Sound Economy had become a prototype for the kind of corporate-backed opposition campaigns that have proliferated during the Obama era. The group waged a successful assault on Clinton’s proposed B.T.U. tax on energy, for instance, running advertisements, staging media events, and targeting opponents. And it mobilized anti-tax rallies outside the Capitol—rallies that NPR described as “designed to strike fear into the hearts of wavering Democrats.” Dan Glickman, a former Democratic congressman from Wichita, who supported the B.T.U. tax, recalled, “I’d been in Congress eighteen years. The Kochs actually engaged against me and funded my opponent. They used a lot of resources and effort—their employees, too.” Glickman suffered a surprise defeat. “I can’t prove it, but I think I was probably their victim,” he said.

The Kochs continued to disperse their money, creating slippery organizations with generic-sounding names, and this made it difficult to ascertain the extent of their influence in Washington. In 1990, Citizens for a Sound Economy created a spinoff group, Citizens for the Environment, which called acid rain and other environmental problems “myths.” When the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette investigated the matter, it discovered that the spinoff group had “no citizen membership of its own.”

In 1997, another Senate investigation began looking into what a minority report called “an audacious plan to pour millions of dollars in contributions into Republican campaigns nationwide without disclosing the amount or source,” in order to evade campaign-finance laws. A shell corporation, Triad Management, had paid more than three million dollars for attack ads in twenty-six House races and three Senate races. More than half of the advertising money came from an obscure nonprofit group, the Economic Education Trust. The Senate committee’s minority report suggested that “the trust was financed in whole or in part by Charles and David Koch of Wichita, Kansas.” The brothers were suspected of having secretly paid for the attack ads, most of which aired in states where Koch Industries did business. In Kansas, where Triad Management was especially active, the funds may have played a decisive role in four of six federal races. The Kochs, when asked by reporters if they had given the money, refused to comment. In 1998, however, the Wall Street Journal confirmed that a consultant on the Kochs’ payroll had been involved in the scheme. Charles Lewis, of the Center for Public Integrity, described the scandal as “historic. Triad was the first time a major corporation used a cutout”—a front operation—“in a threatening way. Koch Industries was the poster child of a company run amok.”

During the Clinton Administration, the energy industry faced increased scrutiny and regulation. In the mid-nineties, the Justice Department filed two lawsuits against Koch Industries, claiming that it was responsible for more than three hundred oil spills, which had released an estimated three million gallons of oil into lakes and rivers. The penalty was potentially as high as two hundred and fourteen million dollars. In a settlement, Koch Industries paid a record thirty-million-dollar civil fine, and agreed to spend five million dollars on environmental projects.

In 1999, a jury found Koch Industries guilty of negligence and malice in the deaths of two Texas teen-agers in an explosion that resulted from a leaky underground butane pipeline. (In 2001, the company paid an undisclosed settlement.) And in the final months of the Clinton Presidency the Justice Department levelled a ninety-seven-count indictment against the company, for covering up the discharge of ninety-one tons of benzene, a carcinogen, from its refinery in Corpus Christi, Texas. The company was liable for three hundred and fifty million dollars in fines, and four Koch employees faced up to thirty-five years in prison. The Koch Petroleum Group eventually pleaded guilty to one criminal charge of covering up environmental violations, including the falsification of documents, and paid a twenty-million-dollar fine. David Uhlmann, a career prosecutor who, at the time, headed the environmental-crimes section at the Justice Department, described the suit as “one of the most significant cases ever brought under the Clean Air Act.” He added, “Environmental crimes are almost always motivated by economics and arrogance, and in the Koch case there was a healthy dose of both.”

During the 2000 election campaign, Koch Industries spent some nine hundred thousand dollars to support the candidacies of George W. Bush and other Republicans. During the Bush years, Koch Industries and other fossil-fuel companies enjoyed remarkable prosperity. The 2005 energy bill, which Hillary Clinton dubbed the Dick Cheney Lobbyist Energy Bill, offered enormous subsidies and tax breaks for energy companies. The Kochs have cast themselves as deficit hawks, but, according to a study by Media Matters, their companies have benefitted from nearly a hundred million dollars in government contracts since 2000.

In 2004, Citizens for a Sound Economy was accused of illegitimately throwing its weight behind Bush’s reëlection. The group’s Oregon branch had attempted to get Ralph Nader on the Presidential ballot, in order to dilute Democratic support for John Kerry. Critics argued that it was illegal for a tax-exempt nonprofit organization to donate its services for partisan political purposes. (A complaint was filed with the Federal Election Commission; it was dismissed.)

That year, internal rivalries at Citizens for a Sound Economy caused the organization to split apart. David Koch and Fink started a new group, Americans for Prosperity, and they hired Tim Phillips to run it. Phillips was a political veteran who had worked with Ralph Reed, the evangelical leader and Republican activist, co-founding Century Strategies, a campaign-consulting company that became notorious for its ties to the disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff. Phillips’s online biography describes him as an expert in “grasstops” and “grassroots” political organizing. The Kochs’ choice of Phillips signalled an even greater toughness. The conservative operative Grover Norquist, who is known for praising “throat slitters” in politics, called Phillips “a grownup who can make things happen.”

Last year, Phillips told the Financial Times that Americans for Prosperity had only eight thousand registered members. Currently, its Web site claims that the group has “1.2 million activists.” Whatever its size, the Kochs’ political involvement has been intense; a former employee of the Cato Institute told me that Americans for Prosperity “was micromanaged by the Kochs.” And the brothers’ investment may well have paid off: Americans for Prosperity, in concert with the family’s other organizations, has been instrumental in disrupting the Obama Presidency.

In January, 2008, Charles Koch wrote in his company newsletter that America could be on the verge of “the greatest loss of liberty and prosperity since the 1930s.” That October, Americans for Prosperity held a conference of conservative operatives at a Marriott hotel outside Washington. Erick Erickson, the editor-in-chief of the conservative blog, took the lectern, thanked David Koch, and vowed to “unite and fight . . . the armies of the left!” Soon after Obama assumed office, Americans for Prosperity launched “Porkulus” rallies against Obama’s stimulus-spending measures. Then the Mercatus Center released a report claiming that stimulus funds had been directed disproportionately toward Democratic districts; eventually, the author was forced to correct the report, but not before Rush Limbaugh, citing the paper, had labelled Obama’s program “a slush fund,” and Fox News and other conservative outlets had echoed the sentiment. (Phil Kerpen, the vice-president for policy at Americans for Prosperity, is a contributor to the Fox News Web site. Another officer at Americans for Prosperity, Walter Williams, often guest-hosts for Limbaugh.)

Americans for Prosperity also created an offshoot, Patients United Now, which organized what Phillips has estimated to be more than three hundred rallies against health-care reform. At one rally, an effigy of a Democratic congressman was hung; at another, protesters unfurled a banner depicting corpses from Dachau. The group also helped organize the “Kill the Bill” protests outside the Capitol, in March, where Democratic supporters of health-care reform alleged that they were spat on and cursed at. Phillips was a featured speaker.

Americans for Prosperity has held at least eighty events targeting cap-and-trade legislation, which is aimed at making industries pay for the air pollution that they create. Speakers for the group claimed, with exaggeration, that even back-yard barbecues and kitchen stoves would be taxed. The group was also involved in the attacks on Obama’s “green jobs” czar, Van Jones, and waged a crusade against international climate talks. Casting his group as a champion of ordinary workers who would be hurt by environmentalists, Phillips went to Copenhagen last year and staged a protest outside the United Nations conference on climate change, declaring, “We’re a grassroots organization. . . . I think it’s unfortunate when wealthy children of wealthy families . . . want to send unemployment rates in the United States up to twenty per cent.”

Grover Norquist, who holds a weekly meeting for conservative leaders in Washington, including representatives from Americans for Prosperity, told me that last summer’s raucous rallies were pivotal in undermining Obama’s agenda. The Republican leadership in Congress, he said, “couldn’t have done it without August, when people went out on the streets. It discouraged deal-makers”—Republicans who might otherwise have worked constructively with Obama. Moreover, the appearance of growing public opposition to Obama affected corporate donors on K Street. “K Street is a three-billion-dollar weathervane,” Norquist said. “When Obama was strong, the Chamber of Commerce said, ‘We can work with the Obama Administration.’ But that changed when thousands of people went into the street and ‘terrorized’ congressmen. August is what changed it. Now that Obama is weak, people are getting tough.”

As the first anniversary of Obama’s election approached, David Koch came to the Washington area to attend a triumphant Americans for Prosperity gathering. Obama’s poll numbers were falling fast. Not a single Republican senator was working with the Administration on health care, or much else. Pundits were writing about Obama’s political ineptitude, and Tea Party groups were accusing the President of initiating “a government takeover.” In a speech, Koch said, “Days like today bring to reality the vision of our board of directors when we started this organization, five years ago.” He went on, “We envisioned a mass movement, a state-based one, but national in scope, of hundreds of thousands of American citizens from all walks of life standing up and fighting for the economic freedoms that made our nation the most prosperous society in history. . . . Thankfully, the stirrings from California to Virginia, and from Texas to Michigan, show that more and more of our fellow-citizens are beginning to see the same truths as we do.”

While Koch didn’t explicitly embrace the Tea Party movement that day, more recently he has come close to doing so, praising it for demonstrating the “powerful visceral hostility in the body politic against the massive increase in government power, the massive efforts to socialize this country.” Charles Koch, in a newsletter sent to his seventy thousand employees, compared the Obama Administration to the regime of the Venezuelan strongman Hugo Chávez. The Kochs’ sense of imperilment is somewhat puzzling. Income inequality in America is greater than it has been since the nineteen-twenties, and since the seventies the tax rates of the wealthiest have fallen more than those of the middle class. Yet the brothers’ message has evidently resonated with voters: a recent poll found that fifty-five per cent of Americans agreed that Obama is a socialist.

Americans for Prosperity, meanwhile, has announced that it will spend an additional forty-five million dollars before the midterm elections, in November. Although the group is legally prohibited from directly endorsing candidates, it nonetheless plans to target some fifty House races and half a dozen Senate races, staging rallies, organizing door-to-door canvassing, and running ads aimed at “educating voters about where candidates stand.”

Though the Kochs have slowed Obama’s momentum, their larger political battle is far from won. Richard Fink, interviewed by this spring, said, “If you look at where we’ve gone from the year 2000 to now, with the expansion of government spending and a debt burden that threatens to bankrupt the country, it doesn’t look very good at all.” He went on, “It looks like the infrastructure that was built and nurtured has not carried the day.” He suggested that the Kochs needed “to get more into the practical, day-to-day issues of governing.”

In 1991, David Koch was badly injured in a plane crash in Los Angeles. He was the sole passenger in first class to survive. As he was recovering, a routine physical exam led to the discovery of prostate cancer. Koch received treatment, settled down, started a family, and reconsidered his life. As he told Portfolio, “When you’re the only one who survived in the front of the plane and everyone else died—yeah, you think, ‘My God, the good Lord spared me for some greater purpose.’ My joke is that I’ve been busy ever since, doing all the good work I can think of, so He can have confidence in me.”

Koch began giving spectacularly large donations to the arts and sciences. And he became a patron of cancer research, focussing on prostate cancer. In addition to his gifts to Sloan-Kettering, he gave fifteen million dollars to New York-Presbyterian Hospital, a hundred and twenty-five million to M.I.T. for cancer research, twenty million to Johns Hopkins University, and twenty-five million to the M. D. Anderson Cancer Center, in Houston. In response to his generosity, Sloan-Kettering gave Koch its Excellence in Corporate Leadership Award. In 2004, President Bush named him to the National Cancer Advisory Board, which guides the National Cancer Institute.

Koch’s corporate and political roles, however, may pose conflicts of interest. For example, at the same time that David Koch has been casting himself as a champion in the fight against cancer, Koch Industries has been lobbying to prevent the E.P.A. from classifying formaldehyde, which the company produces in great quantities, as a “known carcinogen” in humans.

Scientists have long known that formaldehyde causes cancer in rats, and several major scientific studies have concluded that formaldehyde causes cancer in human beings—including one published last year by the National Cancer Institute, on whose advisory board Koch sits. The study tracked twenty-five thousand patients for an average of forty years; subjects exposed to higher amounts of formaldehyde had significantly higher rates of leukemia. These results helped lead an expert panel within the National Institutes of Health to conclude that formaldehyde should be categorized as a known carcinogen, and be strictly controlled by the government. Corporations have resisted regulations on formaldehyde for decades, however, and Koch Industries has been a large funder of members of Congress who have stymied the E.P.A., requiring it to defer new regulations until more studies are completed.

Koch Industries became a major producer of the chemical in 2005, after it bought Georgia-Pacific, the paper and wood-products company, for twenty-one billion dollars. Georgia-Pacific manufactures formaldehyde in its chemical division, and uses it to produce various wood products, such as plywood and laminates. Its annual production capacity for formaldehyde is 2.2 billion pounds. Last December, Traylor Champion, Georgia-Pacific’s vice-president of environmental affairs, sent a formal letter of protest to federal health authorities. He wrote that the company “strongly disagrees” with the N.I.H. panel’s conclusion that formaldehyde should be treated as a known human carcinogen. David Koch did not recuse himself from the National Cancer Advisory Board, or divest himself of company stock, while his company was directly lobbying the government to keep formaldehyde on the market. (A board spokesperson said that the issue of formaldehyde had not come up.)

James Huff, an associate director at the National Institute for Environmental Health Sciences, a division of the N.I.H., told me that it was “disgusting” for Koch to be serving on the National Cancer Advisory Board: “It’s just not good for public health. Vested interests should not be on the board.” He went on, “Those boards are very important. They’re very influential as to whether N.C.I. goes into formaldehyde or not. Billions of dollars are involved in formaldehyde.”

Harold Varmus, the director of the National Cancer Institute, knows David Koch from Memorial Sloan-Kettering, which he used to run. He said that, at Sloan-Kettering, “a lot of people who gave to us had large business interests. The one thing we wouldn’t tolerate in our board members is tobacco.” When told of Koch Industries’ stance on formaldehyde, Varmus said that he was “surprised.”

The David H. Koch Hall of Human Origins, at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History, is a multimedia exploration of the theory that mankind evolved in response to climate change. At the main entrance, viewers are confronted with a giant graph charting the Earth’s temperature over the past ten million years, which notes that it is far cooler now than it was ten thousand years ago. Overhead, the text reads, “HUMANS EVOLVED IN RESPONSE TO A CHANGING WORLD.” The message, as amplified by the exhibit’s Web site, is that “key human adaptations evolved in response to environmental instability.” Only at the end of the exhibit, under the headline “OUR SURVIVAL CHALLENGE,” is it noted that levels of carbon dioxide are higher now than they have ever been, and that they are projected to increase dramatically in the next century. No cause is given for this development; no mention is made of any possible role played by fossil fuels. The exhibit makes it seem part of a natural continuum. The accompanying text says, “During the period in which humans evolved, Earth’s temperature and the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere fluctuated together.” An interactive game in the exhibit suggests that humans will continue to adapt to climate change in the future. People may build “underground cities,” developing “short, compact bodies” or “curved spines,” so that “moving around in tight spaces will be no problem.”

Such ideas uncannily echo the Koch message. The company’s January newsletter to employees, for instance, argues that “fluctuations in the earth’s climate predate humanity,” and concludes, “Since we can’t control Mother Nature, let’s figure out how to get along with her changes.” Joseph Romm, a physicist who runs the Web site, is infuriated by the Smithsonian’s presentation. “The whole exhibit whitewashes the modern climate issue,” he said. “I think the Kochs wanted to be seen as some sort of high-minded company, associated with the greatest natural-history and science museum in the country. But the truth is, the exhibit is underwritten by big-time polluters, who are underground funders of action to stop efforts to deal with this threat to humanity. I think the Smithsonian should have drawn the line.”

Cristián Samper, the museum’s director, said that the exhibit is not about climate change, and described Koch as “one of the best donors we’ve had, in my tenure here, because he’s very interested in the content, but completely hands off.” He noted, “I don’t know all the details of his involvement in other issues.”

The Kochs have long depended on the public’s not knowing all the details about them. They have been content to operate what David Koch has called “the largest company that you’ve never heard of.” But with the growing prominence of the Tea Party, and with increased awareness of the Kochs’ ties to the movement, the brothers may find it harder to deflect scrutiny. Recently, President Obama took aim at the Kochs’ political network. Speaking at a Democratic National Committee fund-raiser, in Austin, he warned supporters that the Supreme Court’s recent ruling in the Citizens United case—which struck down laws prohibiting direct corporate spending on campaigns—had made it even easier for big companies to hide behind “groups with harmless-sounding names like Americans for Prosperity.” Obama said, “They don’t have to say who, exactly, Americans for Prosperity are. You don’t know if it’s a foreign-controlled corporation”—or even, he added, “a big oil company.”

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