How To Sell A Book:
8 Simple Steps To Distribute Like A Pro, Anywhere, Any Time, To Anyone
Compiled From The Teachings of Vaisesika Dasa
Table Of Contents
The 8 Steps
Trust The Hand
Give A Nutshell Presentation
Show & Tell
Maha Mantra & Prasadam
Cool As A Cucumber
Frequently Asked Questions
I offer my most humble obeisances to His Divine Grace AC Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, who invented the art of book distribution, and who taught it to all of us, and asked us to continue it. In his teachings to us about distributing books, he said a couple of things very specifically when we asked him about how to teach others to sell books. One of the things he said was teach the devotees to be sincere. He then pointed to his heart and said the master within the heart will show them how to do it. Therefore, although I’m sharing a template here, the main point is that you should be sincere, and speak from your heart, and people will get the message. Krishna will teach you how to do it, if you just practice and you try in that vein.
Nonetheless, if you have a template to work from, it gives you more confidence to start with. Just like when you’re learning to play the saxophone, you have to learn some basic skills, and where the keys are, and things like that. And after you get good at that, then you can start improvising. This template is straightforward and easy to follow. We’ll go through the steps here, so that you know how to present effectively.
We also have a card that shows the various steps. When you learn these steps, then you can even take this code with you. If you’re new and you’re presenting to people you can say, “Excuse me, I’m new. I’m a trainee.” In fact, you could put a little badge on it says “Trainee,” and say, “Don’t mind. I’m just trying this today. I don’t know how to do it.” But and you’ll find that people become very open to that and say, “Oh! No, no, I’ll help you out,” and at the end when you ask for donation they’ll say, “Yeah, of course, sure.” People are so nice, they don’t want to discourage you. So even if you’re a veteran, you can use that technique.
The 8 Steps
So here are the various steps to sell a book on its own merit. We’ll weave them together: 1. Radar, 2. Qualify, 3. Trust the hand, 4. Give a nutshell presentation, 5. Show and tell, 6. Compliment, 7. Humor, 8. Engage. Eight simple steps. Ashtanga. Keep in mind, there’s sufficient merit in our books that if you simply describe them sincerely, anyone will buy. Here we’ll be talking specifically about the Bhagavad Gita.
So the first step is radar. Now, when you get detected by a police man who’s using a radar gun, there’s a basic technology through which there’s a beam that hits your vehicle, bounces back to the machine itself, and tells how fast you’re going. And in a similar way, we use radar in order to detect whether people are ripe fruits or unripe fruits. For this you can use the power of your hand.
If you hold up your right hand, you’ll notice that there’s a beam, just like the radar gun, that will shoot out from the palm of your hand. You never knew you were such a powerful mystic, did you? When it hits somebody else, it will bounce off them, and if you watch them, you’ll notice whether they’re a ripe fruit or an unripe fruit. Okay, so when you point your radar at somebody, and say the mantra to activate it, you’ll shoot the beam. Are you ready? The mantra is “Hi.” Then look at the person who’s been hit with your beam. And what are they doing?
If they smile and say “Hi” back, they are a ripe fruit. If you shoot somebody else on the street, they might even not even look at you. Does that mean they’re ripe or unripe? Unripe. If they kind of smile a little bit, maybe they’re in the middle somewhere. But you will get a reading, and it will come back to you. So again, we’re not trying to convince everybody. That’s not our job. We’re only searching for the ripe fruits. It’s like a policeman, he doesn’t pull over everyone. He or she only pulls over those who are speeding. So we are selecting through this.
In any crowded place, you could get in anxiety by thinking, “Well, how am I going to deal with this?” Just deal with it individually. I’ll just start going like this to people: “Hi. Hi. Hi. Hi. Hi.” And you’ll notice in some places that are very passionate, fewer people will will respond. In places where sattva guna is prevailing a little more, more people will respond. But they will respond. That’s what living entities do. That’s what they do for a living, they respond. That’s a response. Response means that there’s a pulse that’s coming out. So you send a pulse, you get a pulse back. Tt’s a conscious contact to start with. And be very much aware of that in your select selection process. So hand power, activated through the mantra: “Hi. Hi, Hi.”
The next thing is to qualify, because people don’t know why you’re there. Or why they’re getting an object thrust into their hands. If they don’t know, then the confused mind usually says no. So, one way to qualify people is to tell them where you’re from, which is polite, and then ask where they’re from. So what I would say when I’m outside of California is, “California, where are you from?” And if I’m inside California, I’ll say, “Burlingame, where are you from?” Wherever you’re from, you can utilize that and then ask somebody where they’re from. And when they answer, then you can appreciate where they’re from, because wherever somebody is from is a worshipable place. It’s like H. Ross Perot, many years ago, when he was running for president, it was revealed that when he became a multi-billionaire, he went back to his original home, and he spent $2 million to turn all the bricks around in his house, because somebody had painted them. Because it’s a worshipable place. It’s his house.
So if you just simply appreciate where somebody is from, like, “Hi, California, where are you from?” “Illinois.” “I love Illinois. Illinois. That’s the home of the Fighting Illini, right?” Whatever you can say that is appreciative of the place. That’s why you’re giving them the book. That’s the qualification. “You’re from Illinois? Fantastic. I’ll show you one too.”
Say, “Show.” Say it louder. Say it again. Say two more times. Yeah, what are we doing? We’re showing. We’re not giving, we’re not selling, we are showing. “Show” is an innocuous term. It doesn’t obligate you to anything. It’s a simple thing. It’s what we all do in life, we like to show things to people. So the reason we’re showing it to you is because, “You’re from Illinois? Fantastic. Illinois? I’m going to show you one too.”
Trust The Hand
So, next thing is to trust the hand. Now, I want you to look at this iconic picture (on page X), which was taken about 15 years ago. But you’ll notice that lady’s hand and the look on her face. Do you see her countenance? Her face is not saying, “Oh, I’m really into this,” but look at what the hand is saying. The hand is saying, “I don’t care. I’ll take it anyway.” So, you’ll notice that oftentimes, when you encounter people, you’ll say, “Oh, good, I’ll show you one too.” And their mind is going, “Don’t do it.” But the hand goes, “No, I’ll do it!” Because that’s what hands do: they grab stuff. So, if you just put the book out… You notice that it’s a simple, visceral reaction, that if somebody hands you something, the hand will generally go for it, because that’s its Dharma. It grabs stuff. So let it do its Dharma. The hand will get purified and the person will get purified too, so trust the hand. Trust Krishna, also, that if you hand it over, nothing bad’s gonna happen.
Give A Nutshell Presentation
Next thing is, when you’re handing the book over, give them a reason to take it. Let their mind absorb something also: what’s in it for them? So here’s a mantra that works quite universally, although there are many, many mantras, here’s one that you can try: “Books on yoga and meditation that show you how to get free from stress.” Everyone say. Two more times. Two more times.
Good. It’s helpful to have that right on the tip of your mind, because when you start dealing with live people, your mind will be in a different state than it is now sitting peacefully in your own environment. If you’ve practiced that, and you have a mantra ready, when you’re handing the book over, you can say, “Books on yoga meditation that show you how to get free from stress.” And you’ll notice that he took the book. And now as I’m handing the book over, the book’s making an ark, and it’s on its way, right? Here comes to delivery. Federal Express. “Books on yoga and meditation that show you how to get free from stress.”
Try it again. “Books on yoga meditation that show you how to get free from stress.” I’m saying it while I’m handing the book over, because that helps them to understand: “There’s something in this for me.” And it helps to align the hand with the mind. Because even if the hand’s into it, if the mind isn’t into it, as soon as they get the book in their hand, then the mind can overrule and they’ll say “Take it back.” So you’re giving him an excuse, why they should take a look at it while you’re handing it over. To get free from stress. That’s an offer.
Questions Are The Answer
Now, one of the ways in which one communicates effectively in any circumstance, but especially here, is by asking questions, because questions are the answer. Make a question mark with with your fingers. Now, what does that resemble? A hook. So, a hook can drag the conversation in the way that you want it to go. And it also resembles a tennis racket. It also puts the ball back in their court. So if they ask something, or say something, that is either leading things in the wrong direction, or a question you can’t answer, you can answer a question with a question. Use your tennis racket or hook either to pull the conversation in the direction you want it to go or hit it back into their court. Don’t try to answer things you don’t know how to answer. And if you want a generic way to do that, if someone asks you something that you either don’t know how to answer, you don’t want to answer, you can just say, “How do you mean that?” So ask me a question. Any question?
How do you mean that? Anything that anybody asks you, in any circumstance, you can say, “How do you mean that?” Then they’ll have to redefine it, they’ll go, “Well, how do you mean ‘how do I mean that?’” You just hit the ball back at them. “I mean it like, you know, what city are you from?” “Oh, okay!” With any kind of question… “Are you a Hindu? “How do you mean that?” Then it’s like, “Uh, I don’t know how I mean that.” “Oh, okay, well, that’s all right then.”
So, “Books on yoga and meditation that show you how to get free from stress.” And as soon as the book touches their hand, then a question comes out, because questions are the answer. They’re also hooks, and they’re also tennis rackets. As soon as the book goes in their hand, you ask them a question to control the conversation. And that is, “You’ve heard of stress before, right?” Whether they say yes or no, it’s inconsequential. Because the next follow up is, “Really? You don’t look stressed. You look spiritual.” So, most people say “Yeah, I’ve heard a stress, of course, I’ve heard of stress.” And then we say, “Really? You don’t look stressed, you look spiritual. Or some people say, “No, I’m not stressed at all.” Then we say, “I know, I can tell. You don’t look stressed at all. You look spiritual.”
Now there’s a there’s a very powerful implication in this statement, “You look spiritual.” They are spiritual, they have forgotten. I also deal with people in a materialistic way, because I’m looking at their body. I can’t see their soul. But the Sri Isopanisad says that you should systematically see people as spiritual, anupasiti. And that means when you say, “You look spiritual,” what happens is: they change their mindset and they start thinking of themselves as spiritual, which is quite natural, because they are.
If you get up in the morning and walk out your door, and someone comes up to you and goes, “Oh, you look tired.” How do you feel? You start going like, “I guess I am tired.” Or if you wake up in the morning, you walk out your door, someone looks at you and goes, “You look terrible!” How do you feel? Terrible. Rest of the day, you’re thinking, “God, I feel terrible.” And if somebody comes up to you and looks at and goes, “You look spiritual!” How do you feel? You’ll notice it, it happens in an instant. When you tell people this: “You look spiritual.” They transform suddenly, in front of your eyes, and they achieve self-realization within a half a second, just by you telling telling them that, “You look spiritual!” “Oh my God, I forgot Krishna. I came from the spiritual world.” You know, all these thoughts that come to their mind just by this one statement.
What’s Your Secret?
So now you bring in other questions, like “What’s your secret?” Everyone say that. And if you don’t learn anything else, you don’t remember anything else today, if you remember this one question, and you ask that to people when you’re distributing books, you’ll notice that it’s the most powerful of all the questions you can ask them. The reason is because there’s a dynamic when we’re out distributing books that we’re trying to intervene in their lives. It’s just by context: we’re walking up to them, they’re going in their own direction, and we walk up and say, “Hey, come over here, I’m going to change your life.” People don’t like to have their lives changed. And there’s a subtlety there, where they’re thinking like, “Why are you trying to tell me anything?” And you’ll notice, that’s one of the main reasons that people back off and they say like, “Leave me alone,” or “I don’t want to read this,” or “I don’t need to read it,” or “I don’t want to give any money.” The reason is, there’s a stubbornness there. Like, “I’m okay, why are you telling me I’m not?” Because basically we are saying, “You should read this because it will make you better.”
So now when I’m asking them, “What’s your secret?” We’re changing the relationship, suddenly, within an instant. Now they’re becoming my teacher. I’m looking up to them because, number one: they are spiritual, and we just recognized that and they recognize it, and number two: I want to know what their secret is, how did they get that way? And that makes me their disciple, and they now become the guru. And this, they very much appreciate. All living beings do. So, “What’s your secret?” Now, they’ll start thinking of their secret, and it takes him a second. So people in the mode of ignorance will say, “I smoke a lot of marijuana.” People in the mode of passion will say, “I work out every day.” People in the mode of goodness will say, “I meditate and I read the Bhagavad Gita.”
You’ll notice a variety of answers. A portion of people, at least 30% will say, “I have no idea.” And then you’ll have to suggest something for them say, “Oh, you must come from a good family.” And if they say, “No, I don’t.” 10% of people say, “No, I don’t come from good family.” Other people will accept that. The other people, you could say, “You must just be a natural.” They’ll accept that. Okay, so let them be spiritual and let them have a secret. And if they don’t have one, fill it in for them. Okay so far? Say yes.
Show And Tell
Next is you take the book back. You just gave the book but in essence, basically, you’re taking back their book, just to show them their book. And now comes show and tell. So show and tell means “Here, I’ll show you really quick.” How fast are we telling them? Say “Really quick” five times. How fast are we showing them? Really quick. And the reason is, they’re thinking, “Is this a Bhagavatam class? Do I have to be here forever? Am I gonna be converted here on the spot? What’s gonna happen?” You just say, “Everything’s really quick. This is going to happen so fast, you won’t even believe it. Really quick, really quick, really quick. I’m just going to show you.”
So here’s a few things that you show them that are in and on the book. On the back cover of your Bhagavad Gita, you’ll find some names. What are they? This one book says Thoreau, Emerson, Gandhi. I add in a few more people who have read Bhagavad Gita that are well known. Dr Martin Luther King, Jr., Albert Einstein, The Beatles, and Tupac Shakur. Tupac was a big fan of the Bhagavad Gita. He was a philosophical person and he’s well known in some cultures. Good to add in a little bit of everybody. And if you’re dealing with another culture, then you can add in names that people are more familiar with. Go with their culture. So all you have to do is just drop the names as if you’re taking them and throwing them up to the air. You don’t have to explain each one, just tell them, and you’ll notice that their mind starts catching on those names.
The next thing is to open the book and show them the Sanskrit writing, which is very beautiful in itself. And you’ll say, “Can you read this?” What will they say? 99.999% of the time, they’ll say no. And then you say, “Oh, I was just testing you. And that leads to the next point, “This has been translated into English over 400 times.” And now you’re turning to the front of the book, and say, “Out of all the translations, this is the most popular in universities.” Now you’ll find, in the front of your book, a list of universities, some of which at the bottom of the page are very well known. Like, here we have University of Southern California. Have you ever heard of USC? And also you’ll find down here Georgetown University. You know, the Hoyas, right? All you have to do is again, drop names. You’re pulling them out of hat” “You know USC?” “Yeah.” “You’ve heard of Georgetown University?” “Yeah.” That’s all you have to do.
Now, the next thing is, we’re still showing, and we turn to the changing bodies picture. So get good at finding this because you’ve got to get there fast. Because how fast are you showing them? Really quick, really quick, really quick. So here we have a picture. And when you’re showing them, you hold it up so they can see it very well and say, “Listen, we start here, we end up here, we’re all just passing through.” And then you can ask them a question, “Where are you in all this?” People will look at that. It gets their mind engaged, they get to participate a little bit and show where they’re from.
On the next page, you can show and tell. This one shows the sage, and the sage is looking at the various entities in the world. And here’s another mantra, “A self-realized person treats everyone with respect because he or she sees God, or the spirit, within everyone’s heart.” When you show them that you tell that a spiritual person respects everybody, they like that point very much. Next comes another question. You don’t want to go too long without asking a question, because a question holds everything together. So the next thing you ask is, “You’ve heard of karma, right?” “What does it mean to you?” That’s another question. So asked one question, she answered, I’m asking another, “What does it mean to you?”
Whatever they say, here’s my answer: “Whoa, what a great explanation. I really like the way you put things. If more people thought like you, the world would be a better to live in.” You’ve really got to lean into it. This is a time in your presentation to add a little energy to it, and to appreciate them. After all, they’re your guru. They’re teaching you. You asked them what their secret is for being spiritual. And now you’re asking them questions, and when they give you answers, you really appreciate them heavily. Okay? You can’t overemphasize when you do this. Go into your “Bozo Zone.” That means you go more than you thought was necessary. “Wow, what a great explanation!” That will get them ready for the next part.
Here is another mantra you can use anytime in your presentation. It goes well in this part, but “What’s your secret?” and this mantra will get you through practically any presentation. So please repeat after me: “If more people in the world thought like you, the world would be a better place to live.” So when people bring up things, you can use this mantra. So I showed them karma, I said, “Look, generosity breeds generosity, violence breeds violence.” And I show them this cow with a man’s head and man with a cow’s head. If you feel squeamish about this picture, you can skip it.
The next part is humor. So we ask people another question, “What do you do professionally?” They say “I’m a civil engineer, I’m Sunday school teacher, I’m a dancer,” and then I show this picture of the yogi with the soul leaving through his head and say, “Really? This guy used to be a civil engineer.” Or, “Yeah, this guy used to be a Sunday school teacher.” Or, “Yeah, this guy used to be a dancer.” And then what do they do? They laugh 50% of the time. The other 50% of the time they say, “Really?” And then you say, “No, not really.” And then they go, “Ha ha ha,” and just as they’re laughing, that’s when you hand the book back.
As I’m handing it, I say, “We don’t sell it like in a bookstore.” So now that’s important, as I’m saying this, watch the timing. As I’m handing the book back, I’m saying, “We don’t sell it.” Those are the words they want to hear. When the book is halfway to their hand: “We don’t sell it.” And they’re going, “Okay, hand, go ahead, you can take it.” Hand’s going, “Can I take it?” You go, “We don’t sell it,” and they go, “All right, take it.” “We don’t sell it like in a bookstore, we just ask for donation.”
Now comes the rest of the mantra. They have the book in their hand now. Say, “We don’t need the money.” Use your hands. “We don’t need the money. The only reason we ask is that it’s an ancient tradition: When you give something in return for spiritual knowledge, it connects it to the previous teachers who have passed it down over many generations, and allows you to enter deeply within the knowledge.” And then point to the book. Okay, let’s try it again. “We don’t need the money. The only reason we ask, it’s an ancient tradition. When you give something in return for spiritual knowledge, it connects you to the previous teachers who have passed it down over many generations, and allows you to enter deeply within the knowledge.” Try it again, read it off the script, use hand gestures. One more time.
If you’d like, you can always say how much it costs. “It costs $10 to print, ship, and anything you give over that is a donation.” Or, you can just let them give whatever they want to give. You can go either way, and you can practice both ways. When you say, “It costs $10 to print, to ship…” then it gives them something for the mind to shoot for. Because oftentimes, the reason people don’t give donations is because they’re thinking, “I don’t know what to give.” So if you give them something to shoot for, you say $10, then they’ll give more than $10. You say, “Anything you give over that is a donation.” Or they’ll give less than ten, then they’ll say, “Is this okay?” But at least it gives them the range. Or you can just leave it open to them, either way.
And a few comebacks. They say, “I already know all about this.” We say, “That’s great. I could tell by looking at you.” Or I say, “I know, that’s why I picked you out. I could tell! You look like somebody knows everything about everything.” And then, “I’m a blank. I’m a Buddhist, I’m a Muslim. I’m a Christian.” Okay, so, “Oh, great. I’ll show you this one.” I’m going to hand them a different book. But whatever they say: “I’m a Buddhist, I’m a Christian, I’m a Muslim,” don’t force them to take the book. Once their hand starts rejecting it, once they’ve rejected it, take it. Respect the rejections. Respect their objections. Always honor their objections and honor their rejection. Don’t resist, because whatever you resist will grow. It will just make them more determined to resist it.
So as I’m handing it, and I notice they’re resisting – their hand’s already coming back – I just take it right back, go with the flow, this is the martial arts or Aikido of book distribution. Take it back, go with their flow, and then hand them another one. They will take a different book. And then you start giving context. This is one of the times to use this mantra that, “If there were more people like you in the world, it would be a better place to live.” Like, I was in front of the museum in Toronto, and handed the book, someone said, “Oh, I’m a Christian.” And so I gave him a different one and said, “If there were more people like you in the world, more people of faith, it would be a better world to live in. You’re what’s keeping the world alive,” and he took the book. So just replace it with something else.
“Are you selling this?” Anybody ever asked you this? Here’s the answer: “We refuse to sell it. It’s too valuable. We just take a donation.” And be adamant. They say, “You selling this?” “We refuse to sell it. It’s too valuable. We only take a donation.” Okay, “How much should I donate?” “We try to keep it under 100, but in your case, we’re thinking about making an exception.”
Maha-Mantra & Prasadam
Okay, so when you get the donation, then you teach them the maha-mantra. You can ask them this question, “Do you believe in the power of prayer?” Say it. They say, “Yes,” and you move on. They say “No,” and you say, “Perfect. I’ll teach you a mantra instead.” So, do you believe in the power of prayer? “No? perfect. I’ll teach you a mantra. Do you believe in the power of prayer? Yes? Perfect. Repeat after me. This is a beautiful prayer, it’s meant to wake up love for God in your heart. You show them the mantra card and say, “Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama, Rama, Hare Hare.”
And then, you give them prasadam. So, they get the book, they give you a donation, they learn the mantra, and then you give them prasadam at the end. And then you get their contact information if they’re up for that. And then you thank them for taking their valuable time. So the way you do that is to say, “Thank you for taking your valuable time,” and if it’s appropriate, you shake their hand and say, “It’s been a pleasure meeting you.” Leave them with a good impression. And our prime directive is what? To leave everyone with a good impression. Very good.
So I’m going to just go through the steps really quick. Practice going through these steps with a friend. Are you ready? Say yes. Okay. Here are the steps: Radar. Qualify. Trust the hand. Give a nutshell presentation. Show and tell. Compliment. Humor. Engage.
First thing is radar. Use your hand. “Hi. Hi. Hi. Hi. Hi. Hi. Hi.” Yeah, you meet a ripe fruit. Then you say, “I’m from Chennai, where are you from?” And they’re like, “I’m from California.” “California. I love California!” When I was just in Tokyo, practically everybody’s Japanese in Tokyo. I’d walk up the street and go, “Are you Japanese? Fantastic. This is for you.” So when you qualify them, it’s like, “I’m from, where you from?” When they tell you where they’re from, just appreciate the place they’re from, wherever it is. “I’m from Connecticut.” “Connecticut? Fantastic. I love Connecticut. This from San Francisco to Connecticut.” That’s the whole thing. It’s the whole context: Where are you from?
Trust the hand. You put in their hand, but while you’re handing the book over, as it’s making its arc, say, “Books on yoga and meditation that show you how to get free from stress.” Bring out your hook, “You’ve heard of stress before, right?”
They say yes. You say, “Really? You don’t look stressed, you look spiritual.” Here comes the biggest hook of all: “What’s your secret?” Say it. Yes. And now, take the book back for show and tell. “Here, I’ll show you really quick.” How fast? Really quick.
On the back, we’re just name dropping. Thoreau, Gandhi, Emerson, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr, Einstein, The Beatles and Tupac Shakur. Don’t forget Tupac. Okay, now show them the Sanskrit inside and say, “Can you read this?” They say no, say “I was just testing you. Don’t worry, it’s all been translated into English in over 400 translations, and out of all of them, these have become the most popular in universities. Now show them the universities in the front of the book. You can show them USC, Georgetown University.
Next you show them a picture, changing bodies, and say, “Look, we start here, we end up there, we’re just passing through, where are you in all this?” That’s the next question. They show you and then you say, “Here, look at this: a self realized person treats everyone with respect – that’s the key word – because he or she sees God within everyone’s heart.” Next, another question, “Youve heard of karma, right? What does it mean to you? Woah! I love the way you put things. What a great explanation. If there were more people like you in the world, it would be a better place to live.” Now I ask them, what do you do professionally? Software engineer, what kind of software? What kind of computer science? What kind of hardware? What kind of chips? What kind of microchips? What brand? Broadcom? Listen, this guy used to be in Broadcom.” Pointing at the picture of the yogi.
The more specific you can make it. Like if somebody says, “I’m a teacher.” “What kind of teacher?” “I teach zoology.” “Get outta here! This guy used to teach zoology!” That’s when they laugh. 50% of the people laugh, and the other 50% of the people say, “Really?” And then you say, “Not really.” And then they laugh. It’s funny. And people get it. As soon as they laugh, then you hand the book back. When you hear the “Hahaha,” that’s when you’re handing the book back.
And as you hand it back, as the book’s making its arc, you say, “We don’t sell it like in a bookstore. We just asked for donation. We don’t need the money. The only reason we ask, it’s an ancient tradition, when you give something in return for spiritual knowledge, it connects it to the previous teachers who have passed it down over many generations, and allows you to enter deeply within the knowledge.” And then you could say, “It costs us $10 to print, ship and store. Anything you give over that is a donation.” And then they give a donation.
Next point, give them the maha-mantra. “You believe in the power of prayer?” “Yes.” “I’ll teach you this beautiful prayer, meant to wake up love for God in your heart, you teach the maha-mantra, then you say, “This is for being so nice.” And you give them some prasadam. That’s self explanatory. Then get their contact information. And lastly, thank them for taking the valuable time and say it’s been a pleasure meeting you shake your hand. The prime directive is to leave everyone with a good impression.
Cool As A Cucumber
Here’s what I see many devotees doing. They got the book out like this. And walking in the street. People see him coming from a mile away and they go, “Okay, cross the street before we get to that guy.” What you want to do is keep the book out of your hands. So they’re thinking, “Oh, that guy can’t hurt me, he doesn’t have any books in his hands.” You can either keep it under your arm, or you keep it on the table, or you keep it in your book bag. It’s not visible. It’s not in your hand like this, like you’re trying to attack somebody with it.
Best is to hang back, because you’re actually looking for the ripe fruits. You don’t have to chase after them. Stand back. You got to be cool as a cucumber in an ice box. And then from here say, “Hi. Hi. Hi. Hi.” Don’t be chasing after them. Just stay back and then watch and see who’s out there. See who looks at you. And once you see them respond, then you can use your mantras to continue the conversation.
Find a friend to practice with. Go through it as quickly as possible. Just try to do the reps. Don’t think about it. Just do it. When receiving, don’t give them any trouble. Give them straightforward answers and if they forget something, help them through. What you’re trying to do right now is just get one repetition. So you go through it fast. You just take a couple of minutes. On your mark. Get set. Distribute!
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Why show changing bodies? Can we teach them other lessons from the Gita?
A: Yes, it’s a very deep concept that most people very much appreciate. Although we’ve seen changing bodies many, many times, when you show to other people, it’s a revelation. They see it for the first time. And that’s one of the very important aspects of Bhagavad Gita is, we’re on a continuum. So basically, yes, we’re giving the essence of the philosophy. We’re also bringing up karma as well. These couple of things are giving the basic philosophy of Bhagavad Gita and you don’t need to give them a lot more than that in order for them to appreciate and take the book. There’s no harm in teaching other things, but I suggest you learn this template because it will work everywhere, every time, to all the people that you meet, and you will be very satisfied with it. After you learn to use this template, which flat out works, then you can innovate in any other way that you like. You could start bringing up more intricate philosophy and see if they appreciate it. Okay. All right. Any other things before you go the other way? Yes.
Q: So we are not allowed to speak our own realizations on Bhagavad Gita knowledge?
A: Yes, you may speak all your realizations to the whole world. I just recommend that you learn this template, and then work off the template to innovate after that. Because once you have a basic track, and you know how it works, then you can start inserting things. It’s like learning to play an instrument. First you learn your scales, then you can start playing jazz and everything else.
Take five more minutes to practice. Just get the rep in and make sure you practice one time because we’re going to go out and we’re going to touch the pavement. We’re not going to distribute any books, but if you feel like it after you touch the pavement, then you can try doing this if you feel like it. On your mark, get set, go.
Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama, Rama, Hare Hare
Gaura Premanandi. Haribol. Now we’ll just take a few questions or reflections you have from the presentation places where you thought there was a gap, or you weren’t sure about what to do.
Q: In the past, sometimes when I tell people about how specifies people are able to see God in everyone, and they’re atheists, they start challenging the philosophy and they start coming right at you.
A: I put in that presentation, “Spirit.” Oftentimes, if you eliminate the word “God” from your vocabulary when you’re talking to people in the Bay Area, and some other places -In Illinois, it will work okay. You can say “God” all day long and people take the book – but in California, generally if you say God, then that’s a buzzword that irritates them. So, “This self-realized person treats everybody with respect because he sees the spiritual value of everyone.” Just change “God” to “spiritual,” and that that should usually be acceptable. That can even be accommodated sometimes by atheists. They can justify the idea of being spiritual as being part of mindfulness or something like that.
Q: Suppose when we get some mothers or, you know, parents of children, so can we emphasize that Bhagavad-Gita will help your kids?
A:Yes, you may.
Q: What is the person is being especially difficult?
A: Don’t worry about special cases, everyone has some idea in their mind about some special case that comes up. They’re one in 1000 or one in 100. It doesn’t matter. You’re looking for the general presentation. Sometimes people have objections that fall into a particular category, and you’ll learn how to deal with those things. But those very specific special things that somebody made up just to throw you off – they’re not that important.
But in general, the principle is: If somebody gives an objection, then honor the objection. Appreciate it. Like if somebody says, what’s a common objection, “I don’t have time,” or something like that. Say, “I can appreciate that, you look like a very productive person, you’re probably really busy, right?” I’m honoring the objection rather than saying, “No, no, you should take some time,” or something like that, then they’re resist it more.
Which pictures are most important to show?
A: Most important is the changing bodies, and also just ask about karma, you only have to actually show them one color plate. If you if you show them, “Look, we’re passing through, life’s like a quick journey, right?” And then after that, you just say, “You’ve heard of karma?” They say yes. And you say, “What does it mean to you?” “What goes around comes around.” “What an amazing answer. You’re amazing. If more people thought like you it would be a better world to live in. What do you do professionally?” You can cut right to that.
And also, if you walk up to somebody and you show them the Bhagavad Gita, and they say, “Bhagavad Gita! I’ve been looking for this, how much is it?” Don’t say, “Hold on a second, I gotta do my thing.” And you start going through the whole thing. No. Just as soon as you see daylight, go for it. If halfway through the presentation he says, “How much are you selling it for?” Say, “We won’t sell it, we refuse to sell this, it’s too valuable. We just take a donation. And we don’t need the money.” Meanwhile, they’re digging in their pocket, they’re giving, so you don’t have to drag out the rest of your presentation. Use use your common sense.
This is one complete presentation, but it can be parsed. You can break it into pieces and present it in any way that you see fit. And that’s where the genius comes in. At least it gives you a track because when you get out there, and there’s live bullets flying and people going every which way, your mind kind of goes a little haywire. “What do I do now?” And I see devotees all the time, they learn the presentation and they get out in the street and they start doing something else completely different. I recommend at least where you get out there, try to do this all the way through until you get it down one rep. And that’s when I guarantee that you’re going to sell the book. I don’t gaurantee it if you make up your own stuff. Don’t come crying back to me, “It doesn’t work!” What doesn’t work? All the stuff you made up. Just follow this. You follow this and I promise you, you’ll sell Bhagavad Gita’s out there and people will take them. Do it, just like I said, and it’ll work.
And then you’ll start to see why it works. And then you can start innovating and changing it, doing whatever you want, and you’ll be off on your own. Otherwise, you can just stick to this. And you’ll just sell books day after day after day. And when that gets boring, you can try something else.
Q: When we are showing it to Indians…
A: Yes. Thanks for bringing that up. So with Indians, I wanted to point out that I don’t show them a book. Because it’s an insult to their intelligence. I mean, it’s like if I stood in America and I started selling Bibles and said, “Hey, here’s the Bible,” people would be like, “What are you talking about? I already know the Bible.” And so, with Indians, when you thrust a book at them, they’re take it as you trying to bring them back to something they have guilt about, that they’re not following anyway, and it gets really complicated in their mind. So don’t offend them, don’t complicate their lives.
What I do when I meet Indians is I don’t hand them a thing. I just stand there, and talk to them, and I tell them what we’re doing. I acknowledge the fact that they know more than me. That’s a standard principle with anybody. They’re the guru, I’m just explaining what they already know. That’s the psychology. And with Indians, I just tell them, “As you know, better than I, the Bhagavad Gita solves the problems of life from a spiritual level.” I’m not handing it to them. I say, “But what we’re doing is, we’re making Bhagavad Gita available to people all over the world. And not only in English, but also in Russian and Japanese and Chinese. And we’re setting up centers to teach Bhagavad Gita to help people all over the world. So, what we’re doing out here is a fundraiser. And for those who already know about Bhagavad Gita, like you – your mother knows Bhagavad Gita, your grandmother memorized the Bhagavad Gita – we just ask for money, we just ask for donation.”
And you didn’t hand him anything. So it’s not tit for tat, you’re not giving back for something, you’re just telling him what you’re doing, and saying, “We ask you for a donation, it’s a fundraiser.” And Indians, when you do that, they’ll be very happy to give you a donation. They’ll give you lots of money. And then, after they give the donation, then you can pull out the book and say, “Here, by the way, this is for you.” And they’ll be very pleased to take more. So even when I go to doors, and I meet Indians, unless I’m selling sets of Bhagavatams, I resist from handing them things, because that’s what ruins it for them. It becomes a mental block. Indians are different. It’s a cultural thing.
Q: How much eye contact is important when selling the book?
A: You should be aware of that. If they look at their watch, that’s a real sign that you should cut to the chase. So that means if you’re talking to somebody, say, “Really quick,” and they look at their watch, you say, “So, I’ll just finish up right now because I think you have to go. and they’ll go, “Yeah, I gotta go.” “Okay, we don’t sell it. We just take a donation.” Boom, just finish right there. So be very aware of what their body language is.
Q: Is it okay to sell multiple books at once?
A: Yes. Always sell in bunches, like bananas.
Q: When we ask for donation, what if they say, “I don’t want the book?”
Well, then they don’t want the book. That’s okay. You can take it back. The reason we’re asking for donations is… we don’t need the money. That’s a fact. That’s why we’re saying that. We don’t need the money. Krishna will supply money in any which way in order for us to spread the Krishna consciousness movement. The reason we ask is, in the Gita Krishna says, “Don’t give this to somebody who’s not devoted or austere.” So how are you going to tell? And if you ask for donation, they give something in return, then that’s an austerity. And it also shows a little bit of devotion.
Also, if they give their undivided attention, but they don’t have any money at the end, that’s okay, too. They gave their attention, they paid attention. That’s why we use that phrase. And then you can use your discretion and say, “You can keep it anyway.” What we don’t want to do is give it to people who aren’t interested in it. We want to find good homes. And generally, when somebody gives something in return, anything, then it makes them more attached to the book because they gave something in exchange.
And your specific question was, if they say, “No, I don’t want the book,” then just take it back. Always honor their objection. And if the energy is coming back at you take it, don’t try to force it on them because it won’t stay, it’ll just build up even more. You could always, if they give the book back, as I mentioned before, they hand this one back, just without saying anything, hand them the next size. You can give them a Sri Isopanisad or something else.
I had a guy, I was in Hong Kong, and it was down by the wharf. And some guy, he was he was very cynical, but I kept showing him. I showed him one book, he handed it back. I showed him another book, I showed him another book. And because they were different books, he kept taking them in his hand. And he got to the seventh book, and he finally just reached in his pocket and gave a donation. And so you’ll find that oftentimes this will work.
But if someone just says no, they’re not interested, leave them with a good impression. Thank them for taking their valuable time. Our goal isn’t to sell a book to every person. It’s to make a positive interaction with them, and leave them with a good impression. So if they want to get away, let them get away clean. And leave them with a strong impression that you cared about them, not about winning in the transaction. You didn’t have to win the transaction to be their friend. Let him go. And what you’ll find is, that keeps the atmosphere clean. And you’ll be in a nice, blissful state of mind because you’re detached, because you’re thinking, “Krishna will send me the people. I don’t have to convince every person. If somebody rejects it, that’s fine, too.” Just don’t grab onto that rejection energy, let it go. And what will happen then is, all kinds of miraculous things will start happening. You’ll see the miracle.
Q: What if people don’t stop when you say “Hi?”
A: So generally they don’t stop. But you’ll notice that there’s a ratio that do. That’s the whole point. It’s the point isn’t that if you say “Hi,” everyone’s going to stop, that’s not what I said. What I said was, you’re selecting out of the crowd when you shoot your radar. I specifically mentioned when the highway patrolman is shooting his radar gun, he doesn’t get everybody. He gets one out of 1000. So when you’re standing down on the street, or wherever you are, and you say, “Hi, hi, hi.” Everyone’s going to go by except for the ones you want to talk to. And they’re going to look at you and go “Hi!” They’re open, they’re ripe fruits. That’s when you start talking to them.
Q: What if they say “Hi” back and keep moving?
A: Now that’s when you ask them a question, because a question is a hook. If you want to catch somebody, use a hook. So here’s two hooks to use. So if I say, “Hi” and they smile, they’re still moving a little bit, I say, “California, where are you from?” Or “Burlingame, where are you from? Chennai, Where are you from? India, Where are you from?” And then they’ll say, “Such and such,” right? “You’re from India? I love India!”
Now, here’s another hook. The Fist Bump. It’s irresistible. People can’t resist this. When you put your fist out like this, it’s a very non-committal handshake. And from across the street, sometimes I’ll hold out the fist bump, and people go, “Alright,” and they’ll come through traffic, risking life and limb, “Okay, I got it!” Because people want that. They want a little connection with another living entity, and you’re going like, “Hey, hey, hey, here I am, come on now!” and they’re like, “Yeah, alright!”
And so then then once you get them over there, then you’re saying, “You’re from India? I love India, great! This is from America to India, books on yoga and meditation, shows you how to get free from stress. You’ve heard of stress before, right?” And you’re off with your presentation, which has intermittent questions, which hold the whole thing together. It’s just like when you put the yeast in a cake, it holds the whole thing together. So the whole thing is like a structured house, it has all the questions and all the presentations that you need to live in a decent house.
So use the question as a hook. Like, “I’m from India, where are you from?” “I’m from Illinois.” “Illinois? Are you serious? You’re from Illinois?” Ask him again. “Yeah.” “Fantastic. I love Illinois. Great. This is from Chennai to Illinois. Books on yoga and meditation, shows how you get free from stress. You’ve heard of stress before, right? Really, you don’t look stressed, you look spiritual. What’s your secret?” You go on from there, and you’re off and running.
Q: Some people say they are reading Bible. So is there any way we can connect Bhagavad Gita to Bible?
Sure, it’s all about God. Main thing is, when somebody says, “I’m reading this, or I’m reading that,” they’re saying, “I already have something.” So again, you honor the objection. So someone says, “I’m reading the Bible,” say, “I could tell, you look spiritual.” That’s one of the things that you tell people when they use a particular thing to tell you that they’re not interested. Basically, they say, “I already do this, I already do that. I already have this.” Say like, “I know, I could tell by looking at you. If there were more people like you in the world, reading the Bible, it would be a better place to live, it’s people of faith, like you that are keeping the world afloat.”
So acknowledge immediately, whatever designation or objection that they offer. You fully acknowledge it, you appreciate it. And then it leaves an opening for you to present what you have. Once you honor what they have, then you can present what you have. And if you reject it, that’s just what they’re resistant to. Everyone’s walking around and they have a little protective shell around them like, “This is my identity, this is who I am.” And if you challenge that, and you don’t honor it, they will not be open to what you have to offer. So you have to be beyond ecumenical, you have to be downright universal and appreciate where everybody’s coming from.
And that’s one of the reasons that this is high sadhana, you have to develop that kind of vision. And you have to extract the spirit from the matter. You have to extract the pure devotion from the mixture of everything else that anybody has that’s going on. You’ll find that little spark in there, and you just fan it. And once you fan it, then miracles happen by Krishna’s arrangement. Krishna is in there helping you. He’s sitting in their heart going like, “Take it, take it, take it, take it, take it, take it,” and they’re like “Who said that?” You’re going, “You take it,” and Krishna’s going, “You take it,” so they go, “All right, I’ll take it.”
It’s a transcendental process. You have to depend on Krishna. You have to be ready for it, and you go out and you practice, and you’ll see, it’ll all come together. It’s like a symphony happening out there. And you’ll realize that, “I’m part of something way bigger than myself. It’s not all about me.” There’s five factors of every action. You go out and depend on Krishna and do the best you can, and Krishna will supply the people. That’s why you’ll feel a relationship with the Lord by doing this kind of work. Like, “It’s not me that’s doing it. Krishna’s arranging these things. I am insignificant, I don’t know how to do it.”
Get Out There!
So now we have the opportunity to go out and touch the pavement. That means we’re not going out to distribute any books today. We’re just going out to see if we can move from this place to the place that we’re designated to go, and once we touch the pavement then we’re done for the day. And if you want to try anything after that, it’s completely up to you, and it’s completely extra. No expectation of selling a book, performing, doing well. Just feel free to have fun today.