For A Full Year, we suspended publishing Back to Godhead, so that we could improve our contents, pull our finances in order, and better organize our service to our subscribers.
While we were gone, we sent a survey to ask readers for their thoughts and suggestions about BTG. Our survey called for responses to be anonymous.
One message we got was that BTG was treating its readers too much like outsiders. "The only thing I would wish for, wrote one subscriber, "is more 'intermediate' articles. We don't need to be convinced like strangers and we're not devotees—just laity, if you know what I mean."
We do know what you mean, and we're shifting our sails accordingly.
A woman from Baltimore brought up a related point: "I wonder if others would appreciate a few more articles that would help the person who is not able to live at a temple?"
They would. Here's how another reader put it: "I would like to see articles about how householder devotees who live away from the protective temple atmosphere apply Krsna consciousness to solve problems they face at home, work, and society."
Our new column "Bhakti-yoga at Home" will be a start in this direction.
In our survey we asked our readers to tell us if they were ISKCON congregational members. This turned out to be a confusing question. "How does one see about becoming a congregational member?" one reader asked.
We didn't have anything formal in mind. To us, a member of the ISKCON congregation is anyone who wants to be. But the answers showed us: We need to talk about this.
We need to talk more about how we can come closer to one another, in relationship to Krsna. As one reader put it, "I feel that as a congregation we need more unified community, interrelationship, fellowship, apart from just morning, evening, and Sunday programs."
Other readers offered related ideas. "I would like to see some advertisements of services for devotees who live outside the temple."
So our new "Resources" page tells about books, tapes, and services, especially for readers living outside the ISKCON temples. It also tells of services you might like to take part in. Another new feature—"Project Profile"—gives a closer look at a Krsna conscious service you might like to get involved with or support.
Some subscribers asked that the magazine be longer. "The size of BTG should be increased," wrote one subscriber, "if at all possible to at least 50 pages or more." (We've done it.)
Some readers think we're too shallow. "I would like the articles to go deeper," one reader told us. "Sometimes I feel like I'm eating baby food."
I sometimes feel the same way. When philosophy is boiled down to slogans and all we hear about is simplicity, ease, and bliss, I feel like I'm reading about Lollipop Land. The spiritual world has plenty of room for depth and complexity. That's moreblissful.
Most readers gave us high marks for our artwork. But some said they'd seen it all before. "The thing that has disappointed me most in the last five years or so has been the over-use of old paintings and drawings. It would be wonderful if BTG could introduce new artists and new artwork." Agreed. You'll find new artists in this issue.
Some readers praised us: "I have enjoyed reading your magazine for some 17 years. I have saved all of them. I have seen and liked the changes over the years."
And, finally, some readers gave us healthy reminders:
"Please, whatever happens, do not become a 'new age' magazine. I would not want a wishy-washy yuppie California type of magazine. It would be dreadful."
Again: "I kindly request that the uncompromising nature of the ISKCON preaching be never sacrificed even if it meant loss of some subscribers."
One reader put it perfectly: "BTG must have its own integrity. It can't be all things to all people."