Just got back from eight days and nights distributing the transcendental literature of His Divine Grace A.C Bhaktivedanta Swami Srila Prabhupada. I traveled with the expert distributor himself, HG Ananda Vidya Prabhu, disciple of HH Danavir Goswami, in the legendary white Dodge Sprinter sankirtan van.
Being quite an independent-minded person, this is a very ideal service for me. No spaced-out hassles. No uncontrollable disorganization. Just you, the books, Krishna and Prabhupada's mercy, and the people of the world.
We began on "Black Friday", the dreaded day-after-Thanksgiving shopping-a-thon in the assorted malls of Pittsburgh PA, getting out a lot of books and hopefully pushing a few more people away from the dying goose that is materialistic culture.
We also enjoyed HG Caitanya Prabhu almost getting tasered by some serious rent-a-cops, and also some serious "life stories" from our main man, Bhakta Cosmo.
The rest of the week was spent in various colleges in Ohio (The University of Akron, Kent State, Youngstown State). As Ananda Vidya truthfully stated, the kids in Ohio are real sweet and open to higher knowledge.
The real treat for myself was meeting so many different people and sharing a few moments of loving interaction beyond the material mundane. Even if they couldn't take a book, there was a lot of warmth shared in the early-winter wind.
My personal M.O was to find the main library, stand outside of its main doors for hours straight, and sublimely shove Gitas and Isopanisads into the hands of many who walked by. My "sales pitch" was to tell the kids these books were about higher knowledge, and practical techniques, like mantra meditation, to get rid of stress and come to a clearer view of reality.
I always tried to make the exchanges personal, asking them their name and what they were studying (biology and arts mainly). I even met a gentleman from Ann Arbor, Michigan, my abode of the last seven years of my life.
The only real difficulties were a lot of second-hand cigarette smoke, the occasional uncomfortable conversation with a "born-again" (hey, I got no problem with reading the Bible!), and the sometimes austere traveling conditions (cold sleeping conditions, in-van heaters that took a bite out of your sleeping bag if you got too close, and no hot-and-spicy maha-prasad).
But these were small sacrifices to make, and I surely got the purifying effect I was looking for before heading off to India next week.
My main realizations were that so many of these bright, young students are like "ripe fruits", waiting for something higher to guide them forwards. As they took Prabhupada's books, we leave it in his capable hands to give them that new vision into what is real and what is love.
Also, I realized more and more that Krsna is certainly the doer. Even at my most spaced-out and unmotivated, still some books left my cold hands, for warm, new hands. I take no credit (I've always had quite an aversion to being a salesman), and I pray to be able to become more and more of an instrument for the mercy of Lord Caitanya. Indeed, I have no other alternative in this world.