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I do know that the major activity for preaching in Los Angeles is book distribution. The distribution of the transcendental literature of Shrila Prabhupada is considered by spiritual authorities to be the highest form of sankirtana. Indeed, it was the way in which you became interested in Krsna consciousness! So you can have practical realization of the potency of this mission. Throughout the world, this movement in its various affiliated branches distributes many millions of books. This is a very big venture. Sometimes we cannot collect back the printing coat of these books, since the people of Kali are so unfortunate and impious that they cannot even see fit to properly donate enough for the books. It is obvious that because of this, some temples might be forced to subsidize their book distribution by either doing some business or perhaps by asking people to donate for other things. Of course, such activities seen by themselves could be taken to be materialistic, but when seen in relationship to the san-klrtana means of distributing books, it is a perfectly spiritual activity. Certainly such distribution, when simply done to further one's own bodily maintenance or further one's own opulences, is not very spiritual, and this type of activity is to be avoided according to the instructions of Shrila Prabhupada.
There is a verse in Rupa Gosvaml's writings that speaks about real renunciation. He says that simply renouncing something because it seems to be material is not sufficient renunciation, it is false renunciation. And after all, almost everything that we deal with in the world can be seen as material, since this world is a product of the external potency of the Lord, mdyd. So where do you find spirit in this world of material names and forms? Through spiritual practice and advancement one can see the spiritual energy working everywhere, but when one becomes advanced, he will see that everything is usable in the service of the Lord by one with the pure spiritual motive to please. We do not use everything that exists in Krsna's service, since there are many things that are exceedingly impure and unusable for us. But we can say that there are many things that can be used without compromising our spiritual principles .For example, one cannot build a temple of Krsna with good intentions only. It would be wonderful if we could simply go on the street, chant Hare Krsna, and people would come forward desirous of building a temple for Krsna, but alas, it is only a dream at this point. In this modern world of opulence and material enjoyment, if one is a spiritual beggar, he is not listened to! It is sad, I know, but that is the fact. People only stand up and take notice of you when you have something wonderful to present to them. Rooks are rprrainly rbe rnosr wonderful thing, but some people are just dull and cannot appreciate them. For that class of men — perhaps eighty percent of the population, if not more — wonderful temples and dioramas are the key to bringing them closer to Krsna.
Therefore, the best preaching program is one that nicely balances the need to distribute a mountain of transcendental literature, and the need to create wonderful temples for people to see. To this end, some temples have had to resort to other propositions rather than just straight book distribution and chanting on the street. Of course, this program is risky and perhaps some have forgotten about the books, but certainly not all. (Undated) It is very nice that you are enthusiastic about book san-klrtana. It is the actual mission started by Shrila Prabhupada. Doing paraphernalia is riot sankirtana, but a business activity. Because it is helping to maintain the temple, it is also devotional service, but it is not sankirtana. Therefore, you may go on and perform your devotional service as you have been requested by your temple authorities, but always try to engage in book distribution as much as possible as well, for this is the life of the Krsna consciousness movement. (June 19, 1991)