Abraham Lincoln once asked one of his secretaries, “If you call a tail a leg, how many legs does a horse have?”.
“Five,” the secretary replied.
“No,” said the President, “The answer is four. Calling a tail a leg doesn’t make it a leg.”
And so it is with decisions and many other things in life. Calling a difficult choice easy doesn’t make it easy.
Some decisions are painful. No matter how you take them, they remain difficult. That, however, does not mean that there is wisdom in delaying them.
I have always believed that once you’ve made up your mind, we should have the courage and tenacity to see through our resolutions. At least, that’s how I have lived. Each one of us has a certain temperament and I am not the sort of person who can sit on a decision for a long time. I like to take swift action, even if my decisions at times seem impulsive to the outside world. Today’s decision though is not one of them. I’ve reflected on it deeply (for at least one hour… just kidding) before taking the final call. Predominantly because it’s not just about me. So, I have an update for you. But first up, let me share a little story.
A young monk named Ikkyu was waiting for his Zen master to arrive when he accidentally knocked the master’s tea cup onto the hard floor, shattering it into many pieces.
It wasn’t any ordinary tea cup either, it was a beautiful antique that his master treasured and considered his prized possession.
Upon hearing the master’s footsteps, Ikkyu panicked and did the only thing he could think of: scooped up the tea cup pieces into his hand and then tucked them into his robe, safely out of view.
“Why do people have to die?” he said to the master as soon as he entered the room.
“Everything in the world experiences both life and death,” the master said, “Everything must die eventually, it’s perfectly natural.”
“Absolutely, everything,” the master replied.
“Master,” Ikkyu said, pulling the broken pieces of the tea cup out from his robe, “it was time for your cup to die.” 1
All living entities die at some point. Either due to disease, old age, accidents or natural causes etc. Causes also die. Missions [can] also die. Or they transform.
When something has served its purpose or when it comes out to be vastly different from your vision, what are you supposed to do? Keep going with it or let it go so you may stay true to your vision. I have chosen the latter. In a nutshell:
We are sunsetting the community on os.me, effective immediately.
When I opened up os.me to the world, my vision was to create a platform where users could come to read spiritual writings. High quality, clutter free, truthful and genuine experiences by fellow seekers. In doing so, the idea was to build the kindest and most spiritual corner on the internet by growing this community. We achieved a fair bit of that to a degree (sole credit to Pankaj and Nikunj). Some highlights:
This platform receives 1.2 million page views every month. More than 3000 new (free) users sign up on a monthly basis. More than 400,000 (free) users have registered to use the astro tools on this website in the last 2 years. But, our premium users have remained flatlined below 3000 in the last three years. We added some new but more than 2500 users did not renew their membership. The community has not really grown and has remained focused on the readers of my writings or users who have been following me through other mediums.
Most importantly, whenever I would visit os.me, saving a few good writers, I felt the quality of the writing for the most part could have been better.
Granted that all these issues can most certainly be addressed over a period of time and if we continue to infuse more resources, os.me can get closer to the original vision, particularly given that we’ve had an excellent management team under Pankaj’s leadership.
So why not continue as is then, right? Um…not quite. Here are my reasons:
When I visited os.me lately, it would feel alien to me at times. Too many things happening on it. We have had to make many compromises to grow the organic traffic coming to os.me but the downside was that it was now bedecked with features. I missed that minimalist, distraction free, high quality experience. Who is responsible? Of course, I am. Everything was done with input and approval.
As I mentioned earlier, many writings here lacked depth, quality, and truth. Of late, I’ve lost the motivation to come and read on os.me. And when I create or co-create anything, my most important criterion is the benchmark of truth. That is, is this something I would use? Do I like it? Do I love it? If the answer is no then how can I recommend others to use it.
3. Reliance on my writings
Even though we were building a community, there was heavy reliance on my writing here twice a month. Every time I posted an article, the engagement would spike and then nosedive. I even asked the stakeholders if they would be keen on running os.me without me. They said, without “me”, os.me wouldn’t be the same. Fair enough. The main point here is that the community on os.me is not the primary reason for most of our readers (the majority said as much in a survey done last year). In other words, many saw it as a distraction.
As you know we kept the membership fee very low (probably, lowest in the industry by a margin) and did not revise it for more than three years. In addition to the average annual inflation rate of 6%, we also absorbed the 18% GST charge in India and a bulk of our readers are from India. We invested more than US$500,000 in os.me in the last three years. We still have outstanding liabilities of over $70k. Add to it the original investment through which I funded the first version of the Sadhana app. Running and maintaining community features requires infrastructure and a team, and it’s not really financially viable, particularly when the community is not heading in the direction we envisaged. (I take full responsibility).
Due to the many constant demands on my time, I have been consolidating as much as I can as well as cutting out whatever I can so I may focus on the top priorities to maintain quality. In this process of synthesis and amalgamation, I do not have the bandwidth required to grow os.me as a platform. And it’s not fair to the leadership team if I am just not around. Besides, I won’t be able to do justice to you if I continued to spread my time across many things. Starting at 4:40 AM on most days and finishing at 1 AM (often, 2 AM) should be an exception and not the norm in my diary. I hope to change that significantly next year, btw. This is one of the steps in that direction.
There are better and more mature alternatives where you can share your writings with the world and build a community of your choice. You can write on Medium. You can start your own blog on wordpress.com or blogger.com. You can start your own newsletter using Substack. Or for microblogging and multimedia content, you can also use Wildr which uses state of the art AI (constantly improving) to keep the platform free of toxicity. All of the above (except Wildr, as of now) offer you monetization tools of all kinds.
os.me will once again become a repository of my writings and will host no other content from other members. I wish to take it back to a simple, truthful, clutter-free, immersive reading experience. We will retain courses, hotline, and live transmission. I have been writing here for the last 12 years. Although my workload has increased significantly compared to the past, I will continue writing on os.me as long as I reasonably can. For now, I’ll maintain my frequency of two posts a month.
On the bright(er) side, from 1-Apr-2023 (or earlier, if technically possible), I will be removing any preset membership fee/plan on os.me. You will have the option to pay nothing-or-whatever-you-like (of course, existing and life members don’t have to pay anything at all). I feel great joy in sharing this with you because no one will have to be deprived of anything on os.me on account of money. You can pay, good, can’t pay, no problems. It’s all there for you (including courses). I trust you.
Must-read Important Points
- The cup broke. Effective immediately, the karma program and all community features cease to exist on os.me. This means that you cannot write new posts or participate in Q&A on this platform.
- Diamonds are forever but your writings on os.me are not. Any posts written by you will remain on os.me till 31-Mar-2023. Please copy-paste or download them locally if you want to retain them. After 31-Mar, we will not be able to recover any of your writings for you. They will be gone from os.me, forever.
- Karma always catches up as you know. If you have any karma earnings, you must withdraw them by 31-Mar-2023. After that date, we will not be able to process any withdrawals. If your earnings are below the threshold and/or too small to withdraw through the form, you can either write to us or forgo it thinking you donated it to the Universe. If you write to us for a withdrawal, please give us up to ten days.
- You pay peanuts you get monkeys, but here you have almonds. Still, if you feel your membership to os.me is no longer worth it and you’d like a refund, please write to us and we will issue you a refund on a pro-rata basis. Please be considerate, as I will be funding the refunds and karma withdrawals in a personal capacity.
- Contact me if you can. If you are contacting us for anything related to today’s post, most notably your karma earnings or membership refunds, please use the contact form on os.me.
- 4-Mar-2023. Today. Sunsetting of all community features including members’ writings.
- 31-Mar-2023. Last date to apply for a membership refund, to withdraw your karma earnings, and to download your posts on os.me.
- 31-Mar-2023. Your profiles and writings will be auto-deleted from os.me.
- 1-Apr-2023. A new membership system based on an honor code. That is, pay-nothing-or-whatever-you-like. No paywall, no restrictions. Just based on love and trust.
- Your birthday. ’cause it’s important, I’m sure.
A big thank you to Pankaj and Nikunj for their unrelenting hard work, support and for accepting my decision. (Their kindness is unearthly. They even offered to absorb the losses and liabilities, but I know we’ll sail through. The thought is enough.) My heartfelt gratitude to the entire team at os.me including our editor-in-chief, Medha Shri, our developers and our Samurai who left no stone unturned to grow os.me.
I unreservedly apologize for the inconvenience it has caused you. I reiterate, if your primary motivation was the community, karma points or writing on os.me, you are welcome to contact us for a refund of your membership fee and we will process your pro-rata refund within one week (or ten days at the most depending on the volume of requests).
I should have been more thoughtful but your love took my thought away. I know some of you must be upset with me and please do not hesitate to express your frustrations or disagreements in the comments below. I take total responsibility for first building os.me the way it was and then moving towards a community and now back to basics. If you are disappointed or simply wish to vent, go on, lay it all out in the comments below. I am your culprit. You are the judge today. But I hope that one day you will look back and see the merit in the direction taken today.
It was time for the cup to die.
See you in two weeks’ time… if you still care to visit, that is.
|↟1||I read this story in a Zen book once but couldn’t trace the source. I even shared this one in a discourse probably eight or nine years ago. I went googling and found it on this website. This is not the original source but in the absence of one, just letting you know that it’s from where I’ve quoted the anecdote. Paraphrased.|
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