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Letter of may 13, 1988
Dear devotees of the North European Zone,
Please accept my humble obeisances or blessings. All glories to Shrila Prabhupada.
I am writing this letter in a humble attempt to increase our desire to distribute the transcendental books of His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, the Founder-Acarya of the ISKCON preaching mission. We have heard about this mission before, and we have also already directly experienced the nectar of engaging in it, but owing to the terrible condition of human society, further discussion on the urgent need to distribute books is required. Awareness of Shrila Prabhupada's plan to transform this sinful world through the distribution of his books is the most auspicious means to overcome the bewildering prowess oi maya-sakti. If we examine the present situation of this planet, we find an absence of auspiciousness. Everywhere we look we see dull people concerned only with eating and having sex. Such persons are playthings in the hands of mayd. Maya, the dazzling material energy, has created an arrangement by which the leaders oi this world are pushing all people into an intolerable situation. Just consider the dilemma facing the present generation as they look into a future devoid of hope. Although as devotees we are well protected against the material energy, we have sufficient experience to understand the suffering of those who live within this material world, and we understand that the prc>ci;; ^onditnn! v<; nuiuaii .,uliuj Jatciij aliens us, as we are part of the human society. It is not only an interesting preaching point when we say that the materialists have created an intolerable situation. The air is being spoiled by defoliation of tropical rain forests and excessive exhaust fumes from factories and vehicles, the water is being polluted by unlimited chemicals, and the weather patterns are becoming most unpredictable and unfriendly. These points are documented, scientific facts. The polar ice caps are melting so fast that the sea level is rapidly changing. The instability of the earth's crust is known to all geologists, and it promises to wreck havoc without a doubt. Furthermore the mental condition of the people is deteriorating day by day. Violent and psychotic crime is increasing. AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases are laying waste to hundreds and thousands and promise to be the greatest killers of men ever. Even the Black Plague is making a comeback in some parts of the U.S.
It is becoming harder and harder than ever to even take another human birth, as the number of abortions increases exponentially. More babies are killed than are born.
The economic condition of the world, though seemingly somewhat stable, was severely rocked last year. The world economy is detetiorating at a rapid pace, and economists predict a severe crash again.What about war, atomic weapons and the fragile world of political diplomacy that can change within a moment? How about another meltdown at a nuclear reactor? Things are obviously not stable. The only thing that one can count on is that mayd will continue to suppress all beings under her immense power. The mission of mayd is to make her mystical illusion seem like reality. Most people are eager to be cheated by her false promises, and therefore her job is a somewhat simple affair. However obvious this is to the devotees, such realizations elude the karmls eager for sense gratification. They do not want to know that their mundane existence of material enjoyment is limited by time. Such persons cannot see their impending death. Although the plain truth is directly before -Keir ev"- they cannot see it became of their self-inflicted blindness. Some less experienced devotees also do not understand the dangerous condition of the world. Sometimes they take shelter of some mundane economic concept and think that by making their material situation stable, their problems of life will be solved and happiness and peace will automatically follow. But those with higher intelligence understand that there will be neither peace nor freedom from the miserable conditions of material nature until one is firmly situated in the preaching mission of Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. Those blessed with transcendental vision, as well aĞ those blessed with full faith in those with transcendental vision, see beyond the hopeless hankering of the material senses. They understand that no amount ot material arrangements will save them from impending death. Even if the world were to come to a complete halt within a fixed period of time, they would rather die on the battlefield distributing books than rot at home praying in fear for salvation. The book distributor does not require to pray for his own protection and liberation, since these things exist as by-products of his preaching mission.
Maya uses all types of subtle tricks to drag the sincere soul into illusion. Her most formidable weapon is the opposite sex. By waving the form of illusory attachment before the eyes of the sincere searcher for the Absolute Truth, she manages to divert his attention to other fields of action that have no value for saving the world. Bound by affection for wife, children, home, and the rest, a man cannot find his way past his own economic necessities, for it is not an easy task to support the ever-expanding domain of family affairs.Beware of Cupid's sharp arrows, which become more powerful in the springtime. Steady yourself against the attack of lust by becoming determined to engage in Shrila Prabhupada's preaching mission. We have seen that illusions created by lust cause book distribution to diminish. Since the conditioned souls of the late 1980's are more immersed in ignorance than ever before, new candidates for spiritual perfection are hard to find. Pressing down die slightly uiejuoiiive ^eeker of knowledge th gh demoniac propaganda supported by sinful governments, mdyd prevents the new influx of fresh troops to do battle against her. The older forces have fallen victim to maya's allurements in the form of household life, and the emphasis turns to ward comfortable living within the varnasrama context rather than the austerity and renunciation required to push on the preaching mission.
Of course, it is easy to say that no one wants to join an austere movement. One could try to make a case that people will only join a perfectly comfortable village arrangement. However, we ha^e not seen rfns happen anywhere in the world. Although occasionally some family will join a farm community, most new devotees still come through the austere preaching centers. Usually the farm communities are composed of older devotees who have found their niche in life there. Although nothing is wrong with that, and it is probably good for them, a severe problem arises when the number of devotees engaged in non-sahklrtana activities is far larger than the number engaged in distribution. I have concluded that all our endeavors at perfecting the living accommodations for our members has not made an increase in the success of our preaching efforts. Indeed, the preaching mission seems to have rapidly diminished proportionate to the increase of material facility. Opulence seems to be contrary to the revealed principles of Lord Chaitanya's mission of vairdgya-vidyd-nija-bhakti-yoga. After all, one can get a comfortable situation within the material world, therefore there is no need to join ISKCON just to become comfortable. Maybe comfort is a factor for some people, but most come to us because they require a comfortable spiritual atmosphere, a real shelter from the scorching fire of material nature. According to observable reality, those places that are still inspired to distribute books are still alive and well, but those places that have been diverted into other areas of activity are plagued with problems. One could conclude from such observations that the austerity and renunciation found in the sankirtana mission, when combined with the development of ;;e transcendental knowledge found in our books,form a solid basis for long-term development and success in Krsna consciousness. When we engage in the book distribution mission, even if only for a short time, we capture the transcendental energy that flows from the mercy river emanating from the lotus feet of the Lord. Although we may have other engagements, and some of us shall, since every temple requires pujaris, cooks, managers, and so on, if the mood of the temple is based on the desire to expand the preaching mission, the temple will nmw and nrosner.
If the temple is supported by the effort* of the book dis tributors, then automatically book distribution is seen as the life and soul of the temple's existence. Naturally the temple managers will want as many book distributors as possible, in any case, our temple managers have to become first-class leaders of the sankirtana mission. The temple president does not merely delegate this responsibility to some sankirtana leader and forget dbout it. Sankirtana leaders may be there, but the temple president in tune with the beautiful harmony vibrating from the Lord's brhad-mrdanga will never allow this most important service to be taken away from him. The temple president is the most important sankirtana leader, for through his managerial efforts, the sankirtana mission is supported. But the purpose of this letter is not only to push the temple president to lead the sankirtana movement but also to increase the awareness of each devotee within the temple. We are, after all, a sankirtana movement. This means that the movement is based on and supported by sankirtana. Sankirtana means chanting congregationally and distributing Shrila Prabhupada's transcendental books. The preaching mission is the mission of this movement. Each devotee must accept that mission in his heart if he desires success in spiritual life. Unless we accept this mission in our hearts, and unless we make the mission of our spiritual master our mission, we cannot conquer over that most clever enemy of spiritual advancement, maya-sakti. Many have tried to brave the onslaughts of may a while meditating on the sankirtana mission, and most have tailen within the urst moments oi die fight. Even if you are not able to engage one hundred percent on the front lines of the sankirtana mission, still you should make it your life and soul to support that mission by all means.
Everyone can support the mission of the sankirtana movement. Feed a sankirtana devotee, make him a beadbag, give him nice clothing, or praise him with fitting words, for he is a hero. Show your support by assisting him in his work. Go out yourself and taste the nectar first hand. You do not have to sit in your corner, internally lamenting over your inability to he parr ot the direct preaching. Get out the uooi and help the people of this world. There is no other means to help people than to give them the holy tidiue of the LuiJ, k.^nu prj,sadarr. and, abrvc all, ?. book (or a set!). What will an introductory talk do compared with a hard-bound piece of literature? Give them prasadam. Get them to chant. But when you give them a book, it is complete victory for Lord Chaitanya and Lord Nityananda.Now we are realizing that the book distribution results have diminished over previous years. In fact, they are on the same level as 1986, when everyone went to the festival and stayed there, though their bodies seemingly returned. Usually at times like this I would beat the mrdanga drum of book distribution loudly in all the temple halls, crying, "Wake up, O warriors. Now is not the time to rest while the forces of may a are laying waste to the remaining preaching fields." This year I am a victim of my body. Shot and wounded on the battlefield when I wasn't looking, I remain in the background, trying to encourage the troops with these words. Please take up this mission with all determination. There is no other mission that even comes close to being as important. It is the only way to prevent total chaos in an already chaotic world. Please take this seriously and distribute books. I hope this meets you all well and eager to distribute the mercy.