I dare you to become more than a coward and a liar

Dharamsala, India.

I felt angry last night and after waking up and reading my email I feel more of the same anger.

There is something very nice about Dharamsala. It is filled with Buddhist monks and some of them radiate peace. The Dalai Lama is very present here and you can buy souvenirs with his quotes everywhere. Also you will find his wisdom on the walls of restaurants, inside the menus and in the hostels. So it seems that people actually care about wisdom. This is already a lot better than disempowering random messages like “Jesus saves” or “Obey the Lord” or whatever.

Actually, the same was true in Leh. In even the remotest villages you would find books of the Dalai Lama together with Robin Sharma (The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari). People seem to not one dimensionally worship a man or a religion but actually want to learn about themselves. So a good book from some life coach lies brotherly next to the work of the Dalai Lama.

This is one of the most seen quotes on the merchandising:

The True Meaning of Life:

We are visitors on this planet.

We are here for ninety or one hundred years at the very most.

During that period, we must try to do something good,

something useful, with our lives.

If you contribute to other people’s happiness,

you will find the true goal, the true meaning of life.

– The IVX Dalai Lama

The fact is, almost nobody lives that way. Not here and not anywhere. This is how we do it:

The True Meaning of Life:

We are visitors on this planet.

We are here for ninety or one hundred years at the very most.

During that period we exploit.

We just care about ourselves, we benefit at the expense of others and our planet.

We know this but we deny it or justify it.

And since we don’t want to feel incompetent we don’t really contribute.

We just pretend; that is safer than taking any real responsibility.

When suffering occurs we can lie to ourselves

and say: we did everything we could.

When our lie is strong enough

we might even be able to fake a peaceful death.

This is the right way, the true way.

Me first.

– Any selfish man

I really hate the hypocrisy and cowardice I see everywhere. This place is immersed with Dalai Lama quotes but at the same time filthy, the traffic is incredibly intolerant and aggressive, wealthier Indians are too lazy to walk, look fat, spoilt and structurally dissatisfied. The monks spit everywhere and the sadhus (holy men) are just aggressive beggars trying to exploit the fear of spirituality. Western travelers pretend to have adopted the ‘shanti shanti’ life style and now carry that on their sleeve with a sense of superiority thus communicating the message of “I have transcended the Western life style, I am now officially so slow and lazy I can’t even talk normally anymore”.

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It is very nice that people admire me. I receive emails filled with respect and gratitude. But there is always the part where the person says “I wish I could do like you but I can’t because of [fill in the perceived obstacle]. This is not true. It is just fear.

Why is it so hard to be honest? Why can’t we just stop making excuses and say the truth?

I would like the rich people to simply admit that although they love the idea of world peace and a healthy planet they are way to fucking greedy to make any sacrifices or real contribution themselves.  Don’t get me wrong, I like successful people. But I would like them to see the enormous potential of their resources, their energy and their talents. I wish they would see how they are trying to fill holes in their hearts by trying to accumulate possessions. There is nothing wrong with being rich but when you can’t share you are a poor man.

I would like the poor people to admit that they are just as greedy and jealous (try asking a beggar for change and experience the generosity of those who live of generosity guilt and pity). If you feel poor most likely you feel angry and inferior too. You are blaming others for your poverty. It could very well be that you were dealt a tough hand in life but that doesn’t mean you can’t open your heart to the world and give. Compassion is free and limitlessly available in all of us.

In our society it is seen as good to be a coward. Making any form of sacrifice is seen as stupid. Taking a risk that is not in our economic interest is irrational. Investments are good; it is ok to give if we are quite sure we will receive more in return. Our idea of profit is to deplete something else. Our paradigm is based on taking, not on giving.

I think it would be good practice when every time we come up with excuses, reasons or ‘valid’ arguments not to do something we look at our fears and name them. They are always there, the mind will come up with a rational explanation to justify every fear driven decision. Examples? I won’t do the deal: I am afraid it is not profitable enough. I want to discontinue our partnership: I am afraid you are not greedy enough and fear I will lose money because of that. I don’t want to support your project: I am afraid you will use my hard earned money for some sort of holiday and I am jealous. I don’t have the courage to come: I am afraid of being tired and spending money on something I fear to be disappointing. I am bankrupt: my fear of truth and responsibility made me postpone taking appropriate action and now I pretend to be a victim instead of a perpetrator.

Look, I know it is hard to be honest. Real honesty threatens our identity and will make us lose our ‘face’ (which is a mask anyway). It is very, very scary to let go of the nice illusions we like to have of ourselves. Also, our truth is buried in our subconscious. For 32 years I was completely convinced I was cool, confident and did not have many fears. Well, it was a lie, I was just in complete denial of everything I believed I should not be. But being honest beats being a coward and a liar. Just know that if you don’t become very honest with yourself you will remain a coward and a liar forever. You could be a nice and funny coward and liar, you could be successful in business, give to charity and pay your taxes without complaining, you could even be or become my friend. But it won’t change the fact that you are a coward and a liar. And it will be eating you. You will try everything to escape from that nagging feeling: more busy-ness, more fun, more sex, more money, more charity, more food or more self-improvement workshops. Just like the others. Unless, one day, for some reason or crisis, you surrender to your own personal truth. It starts with a decision. Do you want to remain a coward and a liar forever, yes or no? If the answer is no start facing and acknowledging your fears. I dare you!

The first parts are the difficult parts. But when you become more and more honest, you will become more and more vulnerable and compassionate towards self and others. This might sound threatening but you will be rewarded and appreciated for it. The more benefits you reap from being honest, the harder it will be to fall back into dishonesty, lying and hiding. Honesty will help you find your purpose in life and lead you towards a courageous life with high goals like harmony with self, community and planet. This journey is a lot cooler than a life of competition and survival (from behind a desk!).

Thank you for listening. I truly feel that if I had not let the steam out one of the taxi drivers would have paid the price today.

EDIT: I would like to add the comment that Pausha shared on Facebook after reading my rant. I resonate with it and it balances the anger a bit:

The more honest you become with yourself the more present and aware of yourself you become, therefore more confident, less insecure, less scared, less eager for the safety of other’s approval – and therefore less judgmental, angry, reactive.

The more comfortable with yourself you are, the more comfortable you are being open and honest with others – wonderful relationships, love and general abundance results.

– Pausha Foley

This is how I felt this morning:

Take a look at the dark side of the town (and hear me hitting the next taxi that tries to overrun me):

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A man doesn’t make the effort to actually enter the rest room but just randomly pisses into the room from the doorstep:

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  1. Ben Ralston says

    Love it Atalwin.
    Yes, it’s necessary to harness that Kali energy, that Shiva, destructive energy to manifest real change. Without a deep burning desire, sometimes coming from a place of total indignation, change will be slow.
    Glad you ranted 🙂

  2. Stefania Gelaraki says

    Wow! A great article Atalwin, after a long time, at least for me. You really spoke to my heart and mind with this one and I agree with every piece of it! It pisses me off too when people have the means to do or become the best and yet they continue choosing the easy way of becoming victims and blame their “damn luck” for not changing! And it makes me even more sad and furious when they get a chance to change their lives, perhaps for the better, and they don’t grab it! They remain stubborn to the shitty way of life that they don’t enjoy and fearful to make something to change that! How is this possible to endure?! How can pain and suffering be more bearable than a little shift for a change? I really don’t understand some people…

      • Stefania Gelaraki says

        I am about to take a huge step to change my life, risking to lose everything, in a month from now. You’ve missed some chapters of my evolution the past weeks, so I don’t blaim you for not knowing and for asking how I am different. I feel a great passion and a great fear at the same time, while taking this step, but I can’t stand the suffering anymore, so I step forward! You taught me to step forward everytime I feel the fear kicking and this is what I’m gonna do! So, yes, this time I feel that I am different from “them”! This article of yours came at exactly the right moment (again, like your coming…), cause I was reffering to a very close, dear person, who seemigly matches the profile of the people you discribe and although that person has the potential to become or to do the best, there’s a lot of fear and excuses in the way… I feel furious and sad at the same time. I chose to be valnurable and risk and there’s people that have more than me and really acknolegde that they are not happy with their lives and yet they do nothing! This is why I’m telling you that I don’t understand them. I’m not talking about those who haven’t realised their problem yet, but about the ones that know that they are not happy but they testify that they don’t want to change cause staying like this is easier and less painful!! What do we answer those people then?!

  3. Pausha Foley says

    Ah, the inevitable “God, why are we all so screwed up!” post 🙂

    I am not laughing at you but chuckling companionably with you, because I agree with every word you say and felt the same frustration oh so many times. We are such infuriating creatures, aren’t we – so incredibly capable and, at the moment at least, so incredibly lost in the web of lies and pretenses.

  4. Pim says


    Mooi verhaal, weer een eye opener!! Ook mooi filmpje, ben blij dat ze niet over je heen gereden zijn of je tussen het afval gereden hebben 🙂 Hier in Nederland alles goed, het is weer eens aan het regenen. Mijn pa zegt dan altijd; “is goed voor de natuur” haha geef mij maar de voorjaars zon.

    Ciao Pimmos

  5. Justyna says

    Hmm… I agree that we are mostly cowards and liars but why being pissed of with people? Those cowards and liars are us and what we need the most is care, love and compassion so that we can have some help and support in facing those fears and lies. And why being bothered by other people? Let’s look at ourselves first. If we are peace, that peace would radiate… if we are not bothered by others we stop the aggression and anger and all the negativity that we send into the universe. My response is love and compassion.”All we need is love”

    • says

      Thank you. And I agree that compassion is the appropriate response. But compassion can be ruthless and is not necessarily always lovey dovey. Obviously I hope we all transcend our fear and open up. Why I was pissed off? Too many things happened at once, I reached my limit of tolerance and had it with the (subconscious) hypocrisy.

      Why being bothered by other people? Come to India and see for how long you can remain Zen. Everybody snaps sooner or later.

      I went for a walk today and felt my tolerance coming back.

      • Justyna says

        Hey Atalwin 🙂 My comment was directed at Stefania’s words, whose experience, I think, was a bit different to yours. I didn’t mean to devalue your feelings. I think they are very valid. And it looks like they were important for you too as you transcended them 🙂 I’ve been to India and I understand your frustration. But, I was told once that “our mind, not other people, or our surroundings, is the source of our moods”. I’m happy your tolerance is coming back 🙂 love J.

  6. Eduard says

    “I don’t have the courage to come: I am afraid of being tired and spending money on something I fear to be disappointing. I am bankrupt: my fear of truth and responsibility made me postpone taking appropriate action and now I pretend to be a victim instead of a perpetrator.” Ik lees hier een verwijzing naar Bas en mij in. Kan een speling van mijn gedachten zijn. Maar als ik er niet ver naast zit…., was dit dan nodig? In een vrije val zoals ik die nu mee maak ga ik door velen lagen. Het besef dat ik daar mijn eigen aandeel in heb is daar zeker een van. Maar ook dat streng zijn niet altijd voorkomt uit liefde. Niet naar onszelf noch naar anderen. Geniet van je reis. En even een vrolijkere noot, heb je nog iets liefs gedaan…, lees gedeeld, met het geld dat ik je had gegeven. Het sam-sam principe? Groet Ed

    • says

      Het gaat niet altijd over jou, Ed. Nu ook niet. Maar het is mooi als je je aangesproken voelt, dan raakt het een snaar. En nu ik de zin herlees snap ik ook waarom. Maar nee, ik had jou niet op mijn netvlies.

      Jazeker, ik heb iemand die in nood zat € 50,- gegeven. Althans nood, nood.. dat bleek betrekkelijk. Want het bleek per ongeluk toch een Oost Europese oplichter te zijn. Shit. Terwijl ik grote haast had werd ik op Istanbul Airport aangesproken door een paniekerige, zweterige dikzak die beweerde beroofd te zijn en niet naar huis kon. Of ik hem € 170,- kon lenen voor een ticket, hij zou het maandag terugstorten. Die € 170,- had ik niet paraat. Maar wel die € 50,- van jou. En hoewel ik het een ongeloofwaardig verhaal vond heb ik de gok genomen want misschien was het wel waar. Maar helaas, nooit meer iets van gehoord. Ik vind het wel heel erg dat die € 50,- in verkeerde handen terecht is gekomen en ben er ook nog niet uit. De andere € 50,- heb ik nog en ik herlees je brief ook nog zo nu en dan.

  7. Eduard says

    Hoi Atalwin, Fijn dat het niet altijd over mij gaat 😉 en jammer dat het boefje met de sam van sam sam er van door is. Maar wie weet doet hij er toch ook weer iets goeds mee. Bijvoorbeeld zijn familie te eten geven. Hier onderga ik mijn bevrijding met steeds meer rust. 12 juni komt er iemand in mijn huis en ik heb zowaar gisteren een tijdelijke plek voor mezelf gevonden. De afgelopen dagen veel spullen lopen uit sorteren: meenemen, opslaan, weggeven, weggooien. Zit verder om de tien dagen bij een psychologe en dat werp zijn vruchten af. Ook de opleiding die ik doe maakt dat ik over dingen nadenk en doorvoel. Al met al veel gevoelens die loskomen. Nou wel weer even genoeg over mij ha, ha. Ik ga zondag Simone even helpen met je spullen verhuizen naar je moeder en kan ik meteen de lampen meenemen. Geniet van je reis!

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