October 24, 2012

Dear Devotees,

Jaya Srila Prabhupada.

As you know, I have been struggling for many years with imperfect health. In the last few months, Krishna has revealed to me, through reliable medical exams, what my basic health problem actually is. I feel it is my duty to all those devotees associated with me to explain my condition, so you will understand how it affects and determines choices I must make in my devotional service to Srila Prabhupada’s mission.

Several months ago, I was clinically diagnosed with a very severe case of central sleep apnea. Basically, this means that when I sleep, the central nervous system does not efficiently tell the body to breath. Thus my body does not receive enough oxygen when I sleep. Since the body depends on oxygen to properly rest and restore all the vital organs, this lack of oxygen can lead to stroke, heart attack etc.

Krishna saved me from these consequences, however for many years this lack of oxygen caused exhaustion which I could not overcome by rest or sleep. I am now using a small machine that supplies oxygen as I sleep. However my condition went undiagnosed for many years, probably two to three decades, and the cumulative effect of living a very active, stressful life for 20-30 years without sufficient oxygen has left my body seriously weakened. As a result, I simply do not have the stamina of normal people. Traveling, especially by air, public speaking, and generally any stressful situation, affect and tire me much more than they would affect an ordinary person. I have tried many treatments and remedies, and will continue to search for a way to recover my strength. But in the meantime, I must accept this condition as Lord Krishna’s special mercy, and adjust my life accordingly. Also good doctors have confirmed that a life of stress is probably the original cause of this medical condition. Continued stress can only make it dangerously worse.

As you also know, my heart is fixed on producing certain books in service to Srila Prabhupada and Lord Caitanya. In order to keep my health, and finish this service before I leave this world, I must simplify my life. Perhaps the biggest complication of my life comes from the internet. As we all know, the internet has greatly accelerated the pace of life, and made all of us easily accessible to people all over the world. On the one hand, this is a tremendous blessing, giving us the opportunity to bring knowledge and comfort, to bring Krishna’s mercy, to people around the world. On the other hand, I simply do not have the energy to keep up with the demands of a huge internet correspondence, and at the same time keep my health and complete my writing. We all know that many times in the past, I have gone off the internet for a relatively short period of time, perhaps a few months. In fact this was helpful, but when I returned, all of the stress and demands quickly returned.

I want to emphasize with all my sincerity that I have a profound affection for the Lord’s servants, and I feel a great concern and love for those who somehow depend on me, or look to me for spiritual inspiration. I am eternally grateful to Prabhupada and Krishna for giving me the chance to serve my disciples and other devotees who approach me. I am inspired more than I can say when I see that a few words, a little kindness and advice, can do so much to help a sincere devotee in his or her service. I have never been able to really take the time and rest I need because of my concern for the devotees, but now Krishna is mercifully forcing me to serve you in what is hopefully a better way.

Through continuing health problems, Krishna is forcing me to see that in order to do the highest good to the greatest number of devotees, I must change my life, before my life in this world ends. To maintain my health, I must live peacefully and limit traveling and public speaking. I have to minimize my time on the internet and dramatically reduce communication by email. I will stop regular email on November 18, the day after my (lunar calendar) birthday.

However, it will remain extremely important to me to encourage those devotees who somehow have faith in me, and I hope to do this in various ways. After November 18, I want to do the following to stay in touch with the devotees:

  1. I will send regular reports of what I am doing, and how Krishna is blessing me in my work and realizations.
  2.  I will give occasional classes on ustream, or other digital media. Our practical experience is that these classes inspire all of us.
  3. I want to finally complete books that I hope and pray will inspire the devotees.
  4. On a regulated basis, I will welcome devotees to visit me.
  5. I will speak to devotees by phone or Skype, by appointment. Devotees can schedule a time by writing to hrid@ivs.edu.
  6. I will of course continue to help devotees who are experiencing genuine emergencies. They should also write to hrid@ivs.edu.
  7. Devotees who have philosophical questions can also write to hrid@ivs.edu. I will try to answer as many as possible. Preserving the anonymity of the person asking the question, we will continue to regularly share these exchanges in the Q&As we publish in multiple languages.

I am deeply grateful for your understanding and support. Service to other Vaishnavas is our life, and I am making this adjustment only because I believe that it is necessary in order to serve the devotees, and the world, in the best way.

With best wishes,
Hridayananda das Goswami
October 24, 2012

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