By Lobsang Wangyal
ARAMBOL, India, 24 February 2016
Tilasmi Frigge is a journalist and human rights activist, and supports the freedom of Tibet. He also imports goods from Nepal to the Netherlands. Currently he is travelling through India with his girlfriend. He does not want to go back to the Netherlands because he refuses to pay taxes to the Dutch Government, for reasons which will become clear in the interview.
For the next few months Tilasmi will be travelling around on his motorcycle, spreading the message of free Tibet. The motorcycle is adorned with lungta flags, and topped by a Tibetan national flag. People stop by to talk about the colourful flags, and then he gets to speak about Tibet.
Since he doesn’t have a home now, Tilasmi is trying to get rid of some beautiful thangka paintings that he has collected over the years. View his collection here.
At the end of his life, Tilasmi wants to die in the Himalayas.
Lobsang Wangyal met Tilasmi in Arambol, Goa, and was able to do this interview.
A big smile appears on your face, and all of a sudden you’re passionate when you speak about Tibet. How did this happen?
The first time I got to Nepal, was when I was 22 or 23 years old, with a friend of mine. And I would sit on top of the bus from Lucknow to Kathmandu. It was not allowed. It was a tourist bus, and you could only have backpacks on the top. Indians would try to get up, with a ladder, and then the bus would stop, and tell everybody to leave. Also me, I would have to get out. And when the bus was driving I would climb out the window and sit on the top of the bus.
Mountains, and deep valleys, and everything — it was beautiful. And I remember, the moment when I crossed the Nepalese border, I felt I was coming home. And my whole system was kind of in shock, because nobody welcomed me. It was kind of weird. I mean, I didn’t prepare for it, actually my friend asked me to come to Nepal, I didn’t plan it ahead.
And when I came there, I saw the faces, the Mongolian race, and I felt I was coming home. But nobody said, “Hey, I’m happy you’re home.” I was really confused. I’ve been there before, my life was there.
I don’t know how it happened. I always felt a huge attraction to Buddhism. Buddhism always struck me, so did the Dalai Lama. The way the Dalai Lama would be in an interview in Holland, in a political interview, and the interviewer would ask him how his childhood was, how did he know he was so special? And the Dalai Lama would giggle, and say, I was a normal kid, I lived on a farm. And I remember we had chickens, and I would go in the chicken house, and I would sit like a chicken, just to see what it would be like to be a chicken. And he started giggling. And I thought, if our world leaders could be like this, wouldn’t we have a better life all over?
I like the Buddhist approach. It’s very scientific, it’s not so much about believing. One of the examples that Dalai Lama always gives, is that if you help someone in need, you will feel happy afterwards. It’s a mechanism. If you do the right thing, you will become happy. So if you understand this mechanism, of course you can implement it in your life, and have a happy life. It’s not very difficult; you don’t have to do all kinds of rituals or all kinds of things to improve your life. It’s very simple.
And besides that, I’ve always loved mysticism. I’ve always felt a connection. I studied Tibetan.
You are a journalist, and keep yourself updated with the world news all the time. You are also a social activist and a free Tibet supporter. What do you know about Tibet and the Tibetan people?
Well the history of Tibet is quite long, and it has a shared past with the Chinese. It had its independence for a long time, and the Chinese suddenly decided they wanted to have this province under their rule. And with this attack, this annexation of Tibet, they killed more than a million people, and destroyed the temples and the monasteries, and many people had to flee.
The Dalai Lama has been teaching compassion. But many people find it very hard to live that way, in the conflict. I’ve seen so much sadness in the Tibetans. The Chinese are destroying the villages, and they are even claiming that only the incarnations they appoint are the real incarnations. They are trying to corrupt Buddhism, they are trying to destroy it. It’s very bad.
You used to live in Holland. How much are the Dutch people aware of Tibet and the Tibetan situation, and of the Dalai Lama?
Well it depends on which generation. The new generation doesn’t know — people that are 20 or 30 years old, I don’t think they really realise what happened. Older people, they know. And they also know that no country ever took the side of Tibet. Not America, not Europe. No powerful country took sides with Tibet. They didn’t want to get in any conflict with China over such a “small issue”.
I mean, how many resources does Tibet have, how much money is there, how much gold is there, how much technology, how much industry? For them it’s not interesting. So Tibetan people are suffering, tremendously.
I’ve been thinking a lot, why did it happen. Of course, everybody says, there must be a reason. If it’s karma, if this is your karma, then why?
I think that one of the things that happened, after this invasion of Tibet, Tibetans are incarnating all over the world. There’s something that always comes with you when you incarnate, is your moral and ethical sense, your knowledge of right and wrong. And this is spread around the world.
Maybe this is an answer, why this happened, I don’t know.
I see a lot of bad things happening in the world, concerning the destruction of the real religion. All the authentic tribal people who are connected to the earth and spirit are being destroyed. And Buddhism is one of the biggest religions that are still connected with this, not only the purpose of our human life, but also with the spiritual life. The Bon religion and Buddhism are very much spiritually oriented. There’s a force on this planet that wants to destroy all that. And of course Tibet is one of those, that are suffering in it. You’re not alone in this, there’s many people suffering.
You are a person who likes to talk more about solutions than problems. So what could be done for Tibet to get a solution to the Tibetan issue?
If you see how the world is controlled, how our minds are controlled, our concepts about the world — these evil powers, let me call them that, they control the money system, they control the media, they control the politics, and they are creators of law. They create the law that fits them.
So for me, if it’s about solution — they only have this power because they can create money out of nothing. So we Buddhists could decide we would make our own interest-free money; as Buddhists we would only use interest-free money. This is what I’m promoting with my foundation in Holland. We could create this very easily. Who is the state to tell us what we can use in exchange for our services? If you work for one hour, and I give you a paper which we agree has the value of one hour of your work, and we only shared it within the Buddhist community, and they could borrow on it interest-free, we would have an interest-free world.
The times in the West, when we had interest-free money, we had hundreds of years of peace. This is what we want, this is one of the major things that Buddhism is promoting: Peace. This current monetary system is promoting war. War after war, crisis after crisis. So we have to change our monetary system. This is why I’m promoting this system, because this can bring our peace.
A free press. I’m writing a lot about many issues… I’m sorry to say that I’m not writing so much about Tibetan issues, because it feels already like a lost case, after 65, 70, years of Chinese occupation. Now many Chinese are born on Tibetan land, now they have a right on that land, this is one of the human rights. You are born on the land, you have a right on that land. And of course this is one of the methods of conquest — moving their own population into the occupied population. I think it should be illegal, it should be condemned, and it should be reversed.
Personally, I think that when the time comes, the Chinese people who are living now in Tibet, should have some kind of sense of the injustice that has been done to the Tibetans, and say I’m sorry and return. But they are also indoctrinated, they are also brainwashed, with their media system.
I’d been working with a Chinese girl in Holland, and she believes that it was right for the Chinese to invade Tibet. Because it was a poor province, and they brought roads and schools and good housing. So I said, it was good to kill one million people to bring road and schools and housing?!
I was very angry with her, and sad also. How can you think like that? How can you be so convinced that that was right? One million were killed!
So these people are also brainwashed, and they think that they are doing the right thing. This is the terrible thing, that your enemy thinks they are doing something good to you. How are you going to solve this?
You have to advocate, and to advocate you to have some control of media. Like you are doing, Lobsang: You are writing, you are publishing on the Web. And many people are spreading this word. We are creating our world, with our concepts.
So somehow we have to turn these stories back, if possible, in the Chinese heads. But I think it’s impossible — it’s such a strong system of mind control they have in China. I don’t think we’re going to change that with a political solution. If the Tibetans themselves think they are going to fight China with violence, I’m afraid also that’s not going to work.
Maybe it will be that the world’s going to go through a huge change, and in the chaos it’s going to happen, maybe Tibet can have their sovereignty back.
Maybe there’s some hope for that, because the world is going crazy now — Saudi Arabia wants to throw nukes on Syria and Russia. America has been fighting Iran for having nukes. And now Saudi Arabia is known to buy nukes from Pakistan, and they’re going to use them on Syria? It’s crazy.
In America, the petro dollar is going down, and they want to have another world war. They’re putting Russia and Turkey opposite each other, and they’re going to see how Russia’s going to respond. And if nukes is going to happen, they’re going to say, it was Russia and Turkey, it’s not us. It’s all bull****, you know, they’re playing us. So basically, I think people should be aware about what is going on. So it’s very important that you write about it.
And third, I’m involved in a new legal system. We say that every law honoured human rights. If a law is violating human rights, then it’s illegal, it’s criminal. The basis of our society is always to protect our human rights, our human dignity — the right to possess, the right to speak out freely, the right to travel, the right to live. Nobody can take your life just like that.
So if there’s a law that’s violating these human rights, or putting it under a certain condition, then it’s a criminal law. So in Holland, we’ve been investigating our laws, and one out of three laws is violating human rights. So we say the judicial system is illegal. Because the state is coming from the people, we are the state. We are electing our representatives to protect our human rights. So how is it possible to have a law system that’s violating our human rights. So people need to wake up.
I am writing about this, every day. Because if we can wake up to this, and we can make our own court system based on human rights, we created our own court, everyone can judge, because everybody knows what’s right and wrong. We don’t need to study to be a lawyer or judge. What do you study, you study all the exceptions on your human rights. What exceptions? How can you have a system that some people don’t have to pay taxes. The normal small people cannot afford a lawyer, they have to pay a lawyer? How is this possible? Isn’t that just wrong, and everybody knows it’s wrong. But why is it still happening, because there are laws made by big people who bought the politicians who made those laws, and they’re violating our rights. So these laws are illegal, they’re criminal, and they should be turned around. We have to take things in our own hands again.
How to do that, I think we can do that by creating our own currency. Because if we don’t borrow any more… Like in Holland, there’s only 20% of the people, don’t borrow money, they have. But 80% borrow from the 5%. So 5% — mostly 1% — have the money that the 80% have to borrow. This is same in every country. And you can work as long as you want, still there’s a very small chance you will ever become one of those 1% or 5%. For the rest of your life you’re working to pay the interest on money that they have.
And how did they get that money? They have a system that creates an inequality. And these people, with their money, they are making very bad choices. They are making choices for war, for violating our human rights. They are creating crisis, human-made crisis. So I say, let’s make our own money.
OK, now tell me about your motorcycle. Because, it has the Tibetan flags, the lungta flags, and other flags, and the Tibetan flag at the top. What does it do? Do people ask you what this is?
Of course, many people take pictures of the bike, like you did. And the note I got from you, it was great, I love that. I still have it here, I’m saving it. It was so special.
This is what I want to do. The basic idea about the flags, is that everybody who sees them, and everybody who puts them out, it brings them luck, and happiness. And I wish the whole world a better place. So what can I do, I have to put flags everywhere. This is the best message you can give. I mean, if you have good intentions, show it. Flags are not so expensive. So I put them everywhere always, and on the bike. I feel like, not only the flags make you feel happy, the colours. It’s a good vibe. And it’s the Tibetan flag. Because I support a free Tibet, always.
And besides that, I consider my motorbike to be Tibetan soil. I’m always driving on Tibetan soil, because the flag is on the soil that my bike is on. And the strange thing is, what I feel with the flags, is that I’m also protected. I feel like when I’m connected with the flag, I’m inside Tibet.
And people are watching it, I get so many remarks: “I saw you driving, great flags.” So I’m thinking to put more flags on my bike.
So do you drive this motorcycle around India, or where?
We are planning to go north, to Nepal, Sikkim, and Ladakh for the next few months. After that — I don’t want to go back to the West. The West is a sinking ship. It’s going down. And the people are not even aware it’s happening. Or if they’re aware they’re not doing anything. Economically, the banking system is broken, it’s going to collapse, it’s collapsing at this moment. And people are still thinking that some miracle is going to happen. The refugee crisis, and this war with Ukraine and Syria. Europe is going to be a war zone. I don’t want to be in it. I did my best to make people aware of what’s happening, and we have a choice. But everybody’s afraid, we’re all in fear. In fear you cannot change. So what are you going to do?
My dream is always that I’m going to die in the Himalayas. I don’t want to go back, I want to live here. I want to go home.
And the people who ask about the bike, you have interaction with them, you tell about Tibet?
Actually, there’s nobody ever asking about Tibet. Really, I’m sorry to say. You see people hanging the flags, and I think they know what it means. But people feel hopeless about it. What can we do? So they forget about it. They love the Tibet, to talk about it, the culture, the heart in the message, but what can we do?
We have been protesting, doing so much petitions, and writing to politicians. And they say ok, we want to meet with the Dalai Lama, and then you get in an argument with China, because if you talk with the Dalai Lama you’re talking with “terrorists”.
So they’re always been politicians who will sit with the Dalai Lama, just making a statement. But it didn’t change anything.
So who’s going to change that? Is India ever going to fight China, or is Nepal? No, I don’t think so. Do you think the Americans are going to come for Tibet, get in an argument with China over Tibet? No.
It’s not like the Ukraine, [unintelligble] the Crimea. They’re choosing to get in a fight over the Ukraine, with Russia. So they created a situation in the Ukraine. They knew of course that Crimea used to be Russian, that Sepastopol was one of the hero cities of the Russian empire fighting the Nazis. That there’s a military base of Russia in the Crimea.
So the moment they’re going to try to get Ukraine into Europe, they knew they were going to get in a fight with Russia. So in this sense, they’re picking a fight, and trying to make it look like Russia is picking a fight. They’re bad guys, America, really.
But what is their interest in Tibet? Can they get gold there? Can they get uranium? What can they get out of Tibet? It’s politically and economically not interesting, so they’re going to leave you alone. This is how the world works.
And China, is just not somebody you can have a decent discussion with.
So what do you suggest? What should Tibetans do to make their dream come true. Free Tibet is what Tibetans want because it’s their right. So what do you think?
You see it with the Palestinians. How many generations they are fighting and dying for this cause, and they’re fighting a war machine, which is incredibly powerful, so much money is going in there. They are sacrificing their children, generation after generation, and they are losing it, terribly losing it.
And we are, at this moment in time, we are all suffering from this monster. Most people don’t even realise what is happening in this world, that there is a mechanism that is trying to suck us all dry — that wants everything we have, that wants to take all the value we create. And they don’t care if they kill a few million or ten million, they don’t care.
So what do you do if there’s Tibetan people there?
One of the most beautiful things that happened actually, is that now there are many Tibetans who went all around the world, and people can actually relate to them. Now, for example, if I go in a Tibetan shop, and the shopkeeper starts to do his ritual, you get into an atmosphere, a little Tibet, you feel like you are connected. Instead of Tibet keeping everything for themselves, now they are spreading it. People can start to relate, and become more part of that maybe. Because it’s one thing that Tibet was very rich in, is spiritual development. So Tibetans are sharing it now.
So this is very hard. I can’t tell, I falter when I see the suffering of the people who want to go back, and their families have been killed there and their houses and their temples destroyed — it’s terrible.
But I think that one of the things you can do now is teach. Teach people the Buddhist way. Go out and let people adapt to that, learn, live with Tibetans. Become so familiar with that, that so many people will start to carry the atmosphere of Tibet, and out of that you will win the world.