Facing My Fears

Posted on June 25, 2012 by Anita dasi

Book distribution is extremely important. Although knowing this, I never felt motivated to do anything about it. Whenever out with a sankirtana party in the past, It was common for me to sit in the kirtana group, chant and avoid making eye contact with any passersby. I considered this sheepish approach to spreading Sri Caitanyadeva’s mission ‘good enough’. I believed in the idea of book distribution, but what was I actually doing to actively help? Not much.

When I heard about the potentiality of my hitching up with a book distribution party on a trip to Manali, I must ashamedly admit that my first thoughts were void of any burning devotional sentiment. Rather, I was thinking that it would be nice to get a break from the 50-degree Vrindavan heat. After some deliberation I decided that yes, I would go and I would distribute books. Maybe with my eyes fixed on the pavement, but in order to please Srila Gurudeva and our guru-vargas, I would do it. On their behalf I decided I would face my fears of approaching strangers and being rejected and just go for it. Of course, I can’t lie and say that the cool mountain weather wasn’t an ingredient cause.

On the bus to Manali, I decided to fan the tiny, tiny semblance of a flame of desire to distribute books by reading the new GVP publication, The Soul of Book Distribution. If anyone has even a small desire to please Srila Gurudeva and shares the same sentiments towards book distribution as me, he/she should definitely read this book. By the time the bus arrived and I finished the book, my heart was starting to change. I was now actually looking forward to distributing books and spreading the message of our guru-parampara at the cost of my selfish interests. From that book, I saw that I could be an instrument in their mission. And above all, I learned how I could please Srila Gurudeva.

On a Friday night, with a bag full of books and a nervous disposition, I proceeded towards the bustling business center of Manali and saw before me so many strangers, so many chances to be ignored, so many different ways to hear the word ‘no’. Taking a deep breath, I reminded myself that I’m not in control and whatever happens is the will of guru and Krsna. The books will go where they need to go. I just have to be the instrument to facilitate that purpose. Keeping these things in mind, I approached the first group of strangers for the purpose of distributing books in my life. “Hello, I have a beautiful book for you…”.

No. Not interested. Thank you, no. No, I’m a Muslim. No, I have it already… Of course rejection is there in abundance, but  there were people were actually asking questions with sincerity, taking the books and appreciating them. I learned very quickly that the trick to successful book distribution is to become a passive instrument and try to see how sri-guru and Krsna are doing the work. Once I was able to do that, I could see the miracle in every interaction. 

One second it seemed impossible that anyone would be capable of acknowledging me. Then all of a sudden, crowds would gather, everyone would have a book in their hands and I would be speaking about Srila Gurudeva and why I, a clumsy American, decided to leave my country and pursue bhakti in India under his guidance. I’m a terrible public speaker and I don’t have much knowledge of anything, but I learned these things don’t have any importance in book distribution. If we simply let the books speak for themselves and repeat what Srila Gurudeva has so expertly explained to us, the books will naturally find their home. After adopting this attitude, Everything became exciting. The local Punjabi newspaper even ran a photo of us doing kirtana.

I am writing this on the last day of our trip with an eagerness for our next book distribution endeavor in the coming weeks, which will be to Sri Jagannatha Puri. In The Soul of Book Distribution, Srila Gurudeva explains that happiness is a natural symptom of guru-seva. Although I was faithless in these words, Srila Gurudeva mercifully showed me how true they are. We all need some kind of a taste to help drive us to our goal, and for me, the feeling I had after distributing books is something that I want, or more correctly, need to hold on to and remember. I am convinced that by distributing books more and more, experience of the happiness of pleasing sri-guru in a selfless way will stay with me, increasing my faith in hari, guru and vaisnavas and maybe someday I’ll have a genuine desire to practice bhakti.

Approximately one thousand books were distributed on our trip to Manali, and since most of the recipients were tourists, Srila Gurudeva’s books will end up in homes all over India. None of this would have been possible without the generously kind support of all those devotees who have donated to the GVP’s Book Sponsorship Program. This program is providing so many devotees opportunities they wouldn’t otherwise have to get out there and spread Srila Gurudeva’s teachings.

If the hard heart of a selfish and faithless person such as myself can be changed even slightly by book distribution done with a begrudging attitude, then what awaits for the person who has genuine greed and enthusiasm to preach Srila Gurudeva’s message?

Praying for the desire to serve the vaisnavas,

-Sanatana dasa