The following excerpt is from “Our Family Business” by Vaiśeṣika Dāsa.
In the beginning days of ISV I spoke to a group of young devotees going out on book distribution for the first time on their own after four weeks of instruction. Before they left, I asked them, “So, what is your primary goal?”
“To distribute books!” someone replied.
“No,” I said, “that’s your secondary goal. Your primary goal is to leave every person you meet with a good impression. Whether the person takes a book or doesn’t take a book, whether the person is a local or a visitor, whether the person is friendly or inimical, you must do your best to leave that person with a good impression. Leave everybody with a gift, whether it be a book, some prasāda, the holy name, or simply a smile. For those who are antagonistic, your gift may simply be a cheerful ‘thanks anyway’ or ‘It was a pleasure meeting you.’ Please go out in this mood and leave every single person with the feeling that you are a sādhu, a person with spiritual values. This is the goal.”
When the team returned from their day’s work, their leader wrote: “We made a good impression on many people: the shopkeepers, the police, and everyone else we met. We distributed prasāda to all the local workers, and they were happy. And by the way, we also distributed all of our books.”
Besides building a good image of the Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement, one person at a time, the practice of leaving people with a good impression also keeps our distributors thinking in terms of our movement’s long-term interests. Leaving people with a good impression requires that a distributor check his or her false ego in the interest of the greater mission.
Here are some of the mantras we promote at ISV to remind ourselves to stay in the proper mood while going out on book distribution:
- Teaching Kṛṣṇa consciousness means giving.
- I am in the business of serving.
- I distribute books for self-purification.
- I save one soul at a time, beginning with myself.
- I treat people with respect.
- I express gratitude and thanks to the people I meet, live with, and associate with.
- I am Kṛṣṇa’s instrument.
- Every person is special, and I remind them that they are.
- I make friends with as many people as possible.
- I am a team player.
(Pg. 349-350, Chapter 18, Mood and Method)