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The Four Rungs of Yogic Sustainable Publishing

Canadian micro-publisher experiments with sustainability

July 2, 2010 by Gef Tremblay

I have been working for timeless publishing for many years now, at first through my position at ascent magazine, and now through my involvement with the marketing and digital publishing of  books and audio recordings. Throughout all these years, the concept of ‘sustainable publishing’ has been talked about, dissected, analyzed, experimented with, and only now am I starting to have a better grasp of this multifaceted idea that is ‘sustainable publishing’.

Sustainability is a broad concept – and sustainable publishing is also quite complex. So far in my exploration I can see how it could be divided into four different layers; financial, ecological, alimental, and spiritual.

As a micro-publisher of yoga-related materials, it is also essential that we observe a sustainable practice. But what does it mean to be a sustainable publisher?

The first layer of sustainability is financial. This can be explored in many ways, but as an employer you are always bound by the fact that your staff have to earn their bread and butter,

On-line distribution

and creating enough revenue for this is fundamental. Once this is covered, we can explore different ways of cutting on operational expenses – as well as creating new revenue streams; such as smaller print-runs, a smaller distribution structure, and lately with print-on-demand and pay what you can on digital downloads.

Print-on-demand and digital downloads not only reduce the investment needed to publish or republish a book, but also supports the second layer of sustainability: ecological. For many years now, timeless publishing has endeavored to be a green publisher, and our latest print-run was completely carbon-neutral. We need to care for the environment if we want it to continue thriving and evolving on this planet. Hence, ecological sustainability is of tremendous importance to us.

The third layer of sustainability can be easily pictured by comparing publishing to ‘healthy food’ and ‘fast food’. Always eating ‘fast food’ is extremely taxing to the body and is not sustainable health-wise. If publications are only used as ‘fast food’ then the brain and the mind’s health are potentially at risk. It’s important as a publisher to know if the material distributed is for the good of the consumer or if it’s only profitable disposable goods. We believe that the quality of the content that is distributed through our publications contributes to the sustainability of health and human evolution.

Radha's Diary

The fourth layer mainly concerns the spiritual aspect of sustainability which was really interesting to observe through my growing relation to Swami Radha’s body of teachings and my work with timeless publishing. When Swami Radha was initiated into sanyas under Gurudev Sivananda, she was asked to come back to Canada to update the eastern yogic teachings for the western mind. She not only updated an ancient line of yogic practices and philosophies, but also created a system where the spiritual seeker doesn’t become dependent on a teacher or a Guru.

By offering the tool of self-discovery, Swami Radha’s approach empowers and inspires students by letting them reach their own understanding of reality, uncover their innate wisdom, and access their intuitive knowledge. Spiritual sustainability is created when the practices are pointing to the real knowledge, when the need for external sources are minimized and when the system is setup in a way that the introspection can continue as deep as the aspirant wants to go. The spiritual practices are no more dogma, but tools that can adapt to the level of understanding of the practitioner.

Sustainable publishing for a micro-publisher of a yogic tradition is indeed a multifaceted concept, but all the components of the whole is what defines timeless publishing. For me, coming to that understanding not only influences my work and intentions, but also nurtures an inquisitive mind in me that looks at sustainable systems in all aspects of my life. From that broadened perspective, lessons learned in my spiritual practice can be applied to my work with timeless.

Pay What You Can for the PDF

“Pay What You Can” for a PDF version (digital download) of Time to be Holy.

There’s only 5 days left for you to make your contribution, choosing your own price to download the PDF version of Time to be Holy. Feeling grateful? You can offer as much as you want! Feeling a bit tight in your budget? You can offer a minimum of $1! Any amount you can make will support new publications of Swami Radha’s teachings.

Time to be Holy is an opportunity to discover Swami Radha’s wisdom through 64 of her satsang talks. This portable PDF resource is one you can take anywhere. For teachers, these talks can be a source of inspiration for your classes and satsangs. Did you know that PDF’s are ‘searchable’, you can type in a key word and it will access your topic of interest for you?

We are extending this invitation to everyone ~ so please let others know. Join us in reducing our ecological footprint as we build a sustainable financial model in today’s print industry.


  1. I downloaded the PDF of Time To Be Holy, and have already found the ability to “search” keywords in the digital text to be valuable. Just last week, I used it in a group reflection: The other members of the group and I wanted to do some practices related to the topic of “expectations” but we had trouble finding anything in Kundalini Yoga for the West. And so I plugged in the word “expectations” in the Time To Be Holy PDF, and voila, we had some very interesting (and quite challenging!) quotes from Swami Radha to reflect on together at the start of our practice. This is a great resource.

    Comment by Kevi — July 2, 2010 @ 5:59 pm

  2. Thanks Kevin,
    Digital downloads have a lot of potential as reference books. We are planning to release new titles on pdf in the coming year! I think the fact that we can search all of Swami Radha’s books will make it quite accessible for teachers and people who want to learn more about her teachings!

    Comment by Gef — July 16, 2010 @ 5:00 pm

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