Once Srila Prabhupada was speaking to a wealthy Indian woman in Malaysia. She was the wife of a government minister, and he was hoping to persuade her to help him build a temple. This was in 1971, before any ISKCON temple had been built.
As Srila Prabhupada spoke to the woman, she continually agreed and smiled. "Yes, yes, Swamiji," she said, folding her palms in pranamas. She seemed enthusiastic about Krsna consciousness, so after a while Srila Prabhupada showed her a sketch of three altars in a temple (which eventually became the Krishna-Balaram Temple in Vrndavana, India). Taking the sketch out of his white vinyl case, he handed it to her and said that since she appreciated the value of Krsna consciousness so much, she could assist in spreading it for the benefit of others.
"With your mercy, Swamiji," she replied, folding her palms.
"My mercy is already there," he said.
"With your mercy, Swamiji," she repeated. She was shying away.
Then Srila Prabhupada told a story: A man who had slipped into a well cried, "Help! Help! Get me out of the well!" Someone came with a rope and lowered it into the well. "Take the rope and I will pull you out!" he shouted. The person in the well cried out, "Help! Help me take the rope!"
Srila Prabhupada laughed warmly and said that the mercy of the spiritual master is already there and you can take it. But you have to take his mercy so he can pull you out of illusion. If you don't take it, what can be done?
Told by Amogha Dasa
From a 1991 BTG