After a dozen years of airport book distribution and tens of thousands of books put in the hands of just as many people I had an epiphany on June 9th, 2003 which led to a conversation with a wonderful devotee named Atmarama last Spring when he and his wife had just gotten back from an amazing preaching tour in China where they captivated thousands of people with the Atmarama’s wonderful guitar playing and the chanting of the holy name.
Atmarama mentioned to me that he had given up his karmi clothes and only warn a dhoti for the last thirteen years. Inspired by that and a few very successful excursions into Coconut Grove in my dhoti doing books, I took all my western style clothes and pitched them into a dumpster. Two things have been very much positively affected: One ~ my quality of book distribution has improved and become way more personal and Two ~ my quality of life and my Krishna consciousness has improved immensely.
It’s a natural screening process. If people don’t want to talk with me because of the dhoti and shaved head, then it’s easy for me to move on to a better, potentially more postive person who is interested in talking because of my appearance. That’s someone I’d rather talk to anyway. I paid my dues running after cigar smoking alcoholics in the airports. Sometimes they would end up taking a book and even giving a nice donation but now I’m nearly 60 and I don’t have the same abundant surplus of energy and I’d like to actually get to know these wonderful people that seem to love us.
Prabhupada said that initially people in general would be amused by us and then we’d experience a phase when they would hate us. That happened in O’Hare during the 80’s under the direction of Morris Yanoff and Dorathy in the USO, I even had a few people come up and tell me that they wanted to kill me. It made for a real sense of urgency when I’d chant my rounds the next morning but it’s not something I’d like to have to go through on a regular basis. The final stage Prabhupada described is that people would begin to love us. So they laughed at us during the early days, then during the 80’s they hated us and now they seem to have entered that last period where they want to hear from us and are genuinely interested in what we have to say and more and more likely to accept us as legitimate authorities on spiritual life. I’m wearing my dhoti from here on out and I’m loving it.
Yours in Their service, (Sri-Sri Kishore-Kishori Ki Jaya!)
Sarvopama dasa ACBSP