THE MASTER Chögyal Namkhai Norbu
For over fifty years Namkhai Norbu has dedicated his life as a master of the Dzogchen Atiyoga teaching – Atiyoga is a Sanskrit word meaning “total perfection” – to the many thousands of people throughout the world eager to receive this knowledge. Dzogchen is aimed at the inner evolution of the individual. Entering the dimension of this teaching, individuals are encouraged to open their minds and nurture within themselves a wider and more positive vision of the world. “Total perfection” is the natural condition of each of us and if recognized naturally leads to compassionate and nonviolent lives. The natural results of the practice of this path are a spontaneous respect for others and a more generous and joyful existence.
Having understood the importance of this teaching for the West where the discovery of tools in order to live peaceful and relaxed lives is of utmost concern, Master Namkhai Norbu committed himself to transmitting his knowledge, offering with profound competence and humanity his wisdom to all those who sought his help. In order to maintain intact its original source, he did his best to preserve Tibetan language and the numerous unique aspects of Tibetan culture.
For Namkhai Norbu, who studied with great masters from an early age, respecting the teaching's transmission and lineage has always been of primary importance, at the same time adapting it to today's circumstances and ways of seeing so that it may be accessible to an ever-growing number of people. With this intention, he developed a rigorous but deeply innovative method aimed at transmitting the essential knowledge of Dzogchen in effective and useful ways for those living in the modern world, maturing a system of philosophical, ethical, and psychological knowledge which is an invaluable heritage for mankind. In the course of the last years, the fruit of his vision as a master of wisdom has culminated in a corpus of teachings, a work in progress with nine volumes already published under the general title “The Longsal Cycle.” With the function of contributing to the spiritual and personal growth of each individual, these volumes are also intended to concretely help people face the particular contingencies of our world and the changes imposed by our society.
As professor of Tibetan and Mongolian language and literature at the University Institute of Oriental Studies in Naples, Italy, Namkhai Norbu carried out a long and patient research into the language, culture, and civilization of Tibet, which continued also after his retirement from his academic activities. He also studied the history of the Tibetan civilization previous to the spread of Buddhism in Tibet, proposing an innovative interpretation of the official history of his country which recognizes the value – for a long time virtually unknown – of pre-Buddhist religions. The results of his research have aroused much interest in national and international academic circles.
In order to make this culture available, Namkhai Norbu created a school of specialized scholars and translators who contribute to the development and diffusion of studies on Tibetan culture academically and through activities of divulgation for a wider public. The historical importance of Prof. Namkhai Norbu's commitment lies in the valorization of the path of language, culture, and arts as a tool to safeguard the identity of a millennial civilization at risk of extinction. It is a peaceful path of promotion of the historical and cultural heritage that the Master is spreading among young Tibetans. For instance, in 1988 in Beijing at the University of National Minorities Prof. Namkhai Norbu held a course on the ancient history of Tibet, a fundamental effort so that the risk that the young Tibetan generations not know and no longer be able to learn their own language and traditions be avoided.
Among the valued elements of the Tibetan heritage, the Master held a particular interest in safeguarding popular songs and dances, both traditional and modern, which he amassed, studied, selected, and choreographed together with his students, aware that this process may contribute in keeping the love for the culture and the awareness of their own identity alive within the Tibetan people. Such songs and dances convey universal messages of joy, respect, tolerance, and peace. In 2016 they have obtained the recognition of UNESCO as a Treasure of World Heritage of Mankind.
For many years, Namkhai Norbu promoted a number of humanitarian activities. He contributed to the social and cultural development of his country and of other populations, not only Asian, operating through the nongovernmental organization (NGO) ASIA (Association for International Solidarity in Asia), an association that works in collaboration with local authorities in the various social contexts in which it operates.
The Master spent many years traveling throughout the world to teach Dzogchen to those who were interested, tirelessly holding conferences and seminars to spread his message of the possibility of, as he called it, an authentic evolution.
Chögyal Namkhai Norbu Rinpoche is president of: 1981 CAIDC (Cultural Association International Dzogchen Community)
1988 ASIA (Association for International Solidarity in Asia – Rome, Italy)
1990 IISS (International Institute for Tibetan Studies Shang Shung – Italy, Austria, United States, Russia, Australia)
2015 IDC (International Dzogchen Community)
Dzogchen. The Self-Perfected State, Snow Lion Publications, Ithaca, New York, 1989. The Crystal and the Way of Light: Sutra, Tantra and Dzogchen, Penguin Books, 1993.
The Mirror – Advice on Presence and Awareness, Shang Shung Editions, Arcidosso, 1983.
Yantra Yoga: the Tibetan Yoga of Movement, Snow Lion Publications, 2008.