From “House of Happiness” by Dr Bhagat Singh Thind
“I had lost all my money, excepting for thirty-five dollars and just enough to buy me a ticket for Des Moines, Iowa, from Salt Lake City. That was around December 10. I landed in Des Moines, and by that time some more money was gone because I had to eat meals in the car. I landed there and went to a nice hotel and said: “Have you got any room with a bath?” and they said: “No they are all taken.” They gave me a room without a bath and even that worked to my advantage because there was a public bath there. I would take my bath every day, and then afterwards when the manager told me: Dr. Thind, we have a room with a bath that you can have,” I said: How much is that?” “Three dollars and a half.” I was paying a dollar and a quarter so I said: “No, I have a nice room and the bath is all right. Nobody ever takes a bath there anyhow.”
The next thing I did was to find a hall. I went from place to place asking how much they were. A hundred dollars a day; fifty dollars; two hundred dollars a day. I told them I did not want to buy the hall, but only to rent it. Nobody gave me spiritual prices. I searched all day and was tired and sore. I had landed about seven o’clock in the morning and until seven in the evening I kept running from place to place. Always I felt within me that God would point the way. I said to myself that my right was only to action and not to results. Finally I got results. I felt I must go into a certain building. I went and saw a nice gentleman and said: “Sir, have you got some halls?” He said: “Yes we have four or five halls here. What size do you want?” “Anything that will seat from three to five hundred people.” So many people come regularly. If you take a big hall, you cannot fill it up every day. He showed me the place. I said: “How much for that?” He said: “Eight hundred dollars.” I didn’t say a word and he looked at me and I looked at him and he said: “Does it sound too much?” I smiled; that is the best thing to do. I said: ‘My work is spiritual. I give everything free. I do not charge anything at all.” “How do you conduct your work?” he asked me. I said: “On a free-will love-offering basis. I am giving sixty lectures to begin with and I cannot pay that much money.” He said: ‘How about five hundred?” Still I did not say anything. Finally he made the whole thing for one hundred and seventy-five dollars. He said: “If your work is spiritual, we are spiritual too.” He looked at me and I was about to ask: “When shall I pay you?” He said: “You don’t have to pay me now. You can pay me anytime you want to.” I said: “Bless your dear heart, God is arranging everything.” I got the hall without paying a single penny.
The next thing was to go and have the handbills printed. There are lots of hold-up men in the printing world. In the end I came across a good, God-fearing printer. He said he wanted ten dollars for a thousand. If I wanted more he could lower the rate. I gave him ten dollars cash that left me altogether a little over twenty-three dollars or so and I had to eat afterwards. I went to the hotel and then to the newspapers. I went first to the big fellow, who was the big stick there, the managing editor or the owner of a certain paper, I do not have to mention his name. I talked with him. He listened to me standing, and when I was through, he turned and walked away without saying a word. I smiled to myself. I went to the advertising department. You know, this newspaper group is the most heartless group in the whole world; they are heartless, dried-up mummies. You can’t get blood out of turnips. They will give a whole page of scandal free but they would not give you one line of free publicity for spiritual work. I have tried it several times without success. Sometimes I am even tempted to go and punch the editor on the nose, and thus get a front-page story,–“Hindu lecturer knocks down editor.” I would get lots of publicity. Most of these newspaper people are tenth-rate men and women. They do not know what it is I am giving. They are saturated with business ideas only, nothing else. You know, they have been and have to be greased a lot. There is a way of greasing them. I have come to know that lately. I never contributed anything toward the greasing because the only kind of greasing I believe in is spiritual greasing. I went to the advertising department. I had prepared a nice advertisement and said: “How much for this ad.?” “Fifty-five dollars and fifty cents.” I had not that much money. I finally reduced the advertisement to the smallest possible size. “Now, how much for this one?” He said, “Twenty-two seventy-five.” That left me about seventy-five cents. I said: “All right, take it.” Even when you have paid money for an advertisement you are not at all sure where that advertisement is going to be put. It so happened that they put my advertisement with Al Jolson, in the amusement column. Nobody saw it. Maybe some few saw it and thought I was one of those fellows in the theatre, a helper of Al Jolson or something. I did not eat anything on Saturday. I said: “There is no use spending the seventy-five cents. . .” I went on a water diet. On Sunday at three o’clock I began my lecture; you will be surprised of my audience that afternoon, —-just one man! I always start my lectures on time, so that right at three I announced my series of sixty lectures. That man said, before I began: Dr. Thind, you do not have to talk to me. I can go.” “You can do if you want to.” I told him. I will talk just the same to empty chairs.” I spoke for an hour and a half, just as if the hall was packed. Then I announced: “This work is conducted on free-will offering basis. There are no special charges. Give as the divine spirit directs you.” That man was sitting on the first chair and I was next to him. A basket wasn’t passed that day. He didn’t want to put anything into the basket and went away. He said: “Dr. Thind, I am going to bring six more people tonight.” I knew he wasn’t coming by himself. Often people judge teachers by the audience: it is not the number, but the quality that counts.
Next day again I waited until nine thirty that night and nobody came. I went away. I was still on a water diet. Five days passed and nobody came. One morning I took about five hundred of those handbills; it was forty-one degrees below zero, and, with my empty stomach and the forty-one degrees below, you can imagine how I felt. I put my overcoat on and took a bunch of the handbills and distributed them. If the people looked spiritual, I asked them: “Are you interested in lectures on divine realization?” If they looked business-like, I asked: “Are you interested in lectures on applied psychology?” I distributed many of the handbills. Finally one man came, shivering. I said: “Sir, are you interested in lectures on divine realization?” He said: “No, not at this time.” It excited my laughter. I said to myself: “You can still enjoy the humor, it makes no difference.” That night again there was nobody, and I felt so terribly hungry. I said to myself, as Ingersoll had once said: “Spend your last nickel like a king.” I said: “Thind, you haven’t any faith in God; you are keeping faith in the seventy-five cents. Renounce it. Let it go. Maybe something better will come tomorrow.” I was so hungry I could eat a shoe. My bowels were singing the Hallelujahs. There was no lecture. Sometimes I sat on one chair, sometimes on another.
I went to a restaurant in a cheap quarter where lots of beans and other similar foods were served. I had a hearty meal. I said, “How much do I owe you?” He said “Sixty-five cents.” That left me a dime. “How much for this pie over here?” He said: “Ten cents.” “Let it come.” I finished that too and gave him the seventy-five cents and walked many blocks in the cold, below zero weather, and I said to myself: “Now Thind, the Lord is my shepherd. I have utterly renounced everything. That seventy-five cents was keeping me down. Tomorrow something will come.” I felt it. In the morning I received mail. There was a five dollar bill from an old student, and I said: “Does not God always come forth to help?” That afternoon thirty people, as a result of distributing the handbills, came, and that night the thirty had risen to a hundred. Within a week to ten days I had my hall jammed up and when the time to pay for the hall came, I had enough and to spare. They did not have to ask for the rent.
This is a great example of how Dr. Thind depended on the law. He said: “I wanted to depend on the law. It is a fact that the Lord is my shepherd that He will always take care of me, why should I worry?”