Namkhai Norbu

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Chögyal Namkhai Norbu
Standard Tibetan: ཆོས་རྒྱལ་ནམ་མཁའི་ནོར་བུ་
Chögyal Namkhai Norbu Kunsangar North in the Moscow region 2013.07.04 18.45pm.jpg
Namkhai Norbu in Moscow region, 2013
Religion Buddhism
School Dzogchen
Personal
Born (1938-12-08)December 8, 1938
Derge, Tibet
Died September 28, 2018 (aged 79)
Arcidisso, Italy
Senior posting
Title Chögyal, Rinpoche
Religious career
Teacher Changchub Dorje
Website www.dzogchen.net

Chögyal Namkhai Norbu (1938-2018) was a Dzogchen teacher and Buddhist scholar who taught in the West from 1960 until 2018. He was the president of the International Dzogchen Community, and the founder of Merigar West Buddhist Center and the Museum of Asian Art and Culture — both of which are located in Arcidosso, Italy.

Namkai Norbu was born in Tibet in 1938, and at age of two years he was recognized as a tulku (a reincarnated lama). In 1960, at the invitation of Professor Giuseppe Tucci, he moved to Italy and worked at the ISMEO Institute in Rome for two years. From 1962 to 1992, he served as Professor of Tibetan and Mongolian Language and Literature at the Naples Eastern University.

In 1976, Namkhai Norbu began to give Dzogchen instruction in the West, first in Italy, then in numerous other countries. He quickly became a respected spiritual authority among many practitioners, and has created centers for the study of Dzogchen around the world.[1]

Namkhai Norbu was widely recognized as a leading authority on Tibetan culture, particularly in the fields of history, literature, and Traditional Tibetan medicine and astrological sciences such as the Tibetan calendar. In 1983, he hosted the first International Convention on Tibetan Medicine, held in Venice, Italy.[2]

On 10 September 2018, Namkai Norbu was bestowed the title of "Commander in the Order Of Merit of the Italian Republic" by President Sergio Mattarella. In presenting this honor, the Prefect of Grosseto recalled the importance of honoring charismatic figures such as his, capable of inspiring virtuous actions and behavior with the strength of their example and with the values ​​of an authentic testimony expressed by life choices fully coherent with the thoughts of a noble and elevated nature.[3][4]

Biography

Birth and recognition as a tulku

Namkhai Norbu was born in Derge, eastern Tibet on 8 December 1938. At birth, two of Namkhai Norbu's uncles, the Dzogchen masters Palyul Karma Yangsid and Shechen Rabjam believed him to be the reincarnation of their master, Adzom Drugpa Rinpoche (1841–1924). When Namkhai Norbu was two years old, this was confirmed by a senior tulku of the Nyingma school.[5]

Then when he was five years old, the 16th Karmapa and the Situ Rinpoche together recognized Namkhai Norbu as the mind emanation[6] of the mindstream of another well known teacher, who was in turn the emanation of Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyel, the 17th Century Tibetan-born founder of Bhutan.[5]

At a very young age, these recognitions conferred upon Namkhai Norbu a great deal of attention and prestige, as he himself remarks: "As I grew up, I was thus given quite a few names and titles, many of which are very long and grand sounding. But I have never used them, because I have always preferred the name my parents gave me at birth."[5]

Early Education

From an early age, Namkhai Norbu undertook an accelerated course of study, attending monastic college, taking retreats, and studying with renowned teachers, including some of the most important Tibetan masters of his time. Under the tutelage of these teachers, he completed the training required by the Buddhist tradition in both Sutrayana and Tantrayana.

In his early years Namkhai Norbu studied at the Derge Gonchen monastery. At the age of nine he entered a Sakya College where he studied Buddhist philosophy for many years with Khyenrab Chökyi Odzer. He also received numerous tantric and Dzogchen transmissions and teachings from many masters, including his paternal uncle Togden Ugyen Tendzin (who achieved the rainbow body), maternal uncle Khyentse Rinpoche Chökyi Wangchug, Drubwang Rinpoche Kunga Palden, Negyab Rinpoche, Drugse Gyurmed Dorje, Dzongsar Khyentse Chökyi Lodrö and Bo Gongkar Rinpoche. In 1951, he also received Chöd teachings from Ayu Khandro Dorje Paldrön (1838–1953), a woman who spent over fifty years in dark retreat and was a disciple of Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo.

Travels in Asia further education

Namkhai Norbu was invited to China in 1953 as a representative of the Tibetan monasteries. After visiting Chengdu and Chungching, he accepted the invitation to teach Tibetan language in Menyag. During this time Rinpoche met Kangkar Rinpoche from whom he received instructions on the Six Yogas of Naropa and other teachings.

In 1955, at the age of sixteen, Namkhai Norbu met his root teacher Rigdzin Changchub Dorje and stayed at his residence in Khamdogar for six months. From Changchub Dorje he received the authentic transmission of Dzogchen and realized the essence of the 'Dharma' (subsuming both Wylie: 'chos' & 'bon') as one state of knowledge beyond all limitations. This realization has remained a characteristic feature of his way of teaching throughout his life.

In the late 1950s, Namkhai Norbu made a pilgrimage to Tibet, India, and Nepal. Because of the turmoil and aftermath of the 1959 Tibetan Rebellion, Namkhai Norbu could not return to Tibet from Sikkim, so he stayed in the erstwhile kingdom while working as an author and editor for the Chogyal government.

Move to Italy

In 1960, at the age of twenty-two, Namkai Norbu was already recognized as extremely knowledgeable in all aspects of Tibetan culture, and he was invited to Italy by the famous Professor Giuseppe Tucci to work at the ISMEO Institute in Rome for two years. In 1962, he took up a post in Naples at the Istituto Universitario Orientale, where he taught Tibetan language and literature until 1992. From the time of his residence in Italy, Namkhai Norbu focused his research mainly on the ancient history of Tibet, investigating thoroughly the native Bön tradition. His books, which include works on history, Tibetan medicine, astrology, Bön and folk traditions such as namkha, are evidence of his profound knowledge of Tibetan culture and his commitment to preserve this ancient cultural heritage. They have been highly appreciated by Tibetans as well as scholars throughout the world.

Namkhai Norbu was widely recognized as a leading authority on Tibetan culture, particularly in the fields of history, literature, and Traditional Tibetan medicine and astrological sciences such as the Tibetan calendar.

In 1983, he hosted the first International Convention on Tibetan Medicine, held in Venice, Italy.[7]

Teaching Dzogchen in the West

Chögyal Namkhai in 2006

Trul Khor: Yantra Yoga

In 1971, Namkhai Norbu began to teach Yantra Yoga, an ancient form of Tibetan Yoga combining movement, breathing and visualization. A few years later, he started to give Dzogchen teachings to a small group of Italian students, with whom he founded the 'Dzogchen Community' (Wylie: rdzogs chen 'dus sde).[8] At that time, Dzogchen was relatively unknown in the West.

International Dzogchen Community

In 1976, Namkhai Norbu began to give Dzogchen instruction in the West, first in Italy, then in numerous other countries. He quickly became a respected spiritual authority among many practitioners, and has created centers for the study of Dzogchen around the world. [9]

As interest in his teachings grew, Rinpoche dedicated himself to spreading Dzogchen and establishing 'gars' (Tibetan), seats of the International Dzogchen Community, throughout the world. Today there are gars in Italy, the United States, Mexico, Venezuela, Argentina, Australia, Romania, Russia, Spain, Ukraine and China. Apart from his spiritual activity, he founded the International Shang-Shung Institute to preserve the cultural traditions of Tibet, and ASIA, a non-profit organization operating in Tibet, which is mainly dedicated to serving the educational and medical needs of the Tibetan people.

Honors and awards

On 10 September 2018, Namkai Norbu was bestowed the title of "Commander in the Order Of Merit of the Italian Republic" by President Sergio Mattarella, for having dedicated his life to activities that have brought benefits to the community and the nation.

In presenting the award, the Prefect of Grosseto recalled the importance of honoring charismatic figures such as his, capable of inspiring virtuous actions and behavior with the strength of their example and with the values ​​of an authentic testimony expressed by life choices fully coherent with the thoughts of a noble and elevated nature.[3][4]

Etymology

The title of "Chögyal"

The title of "Chögyal" was accorded to Namkai Norbu when he was recognized as the "mind incarnation" of Ngawang Namgyal, the founder of the state of Bhutan.[10] Despite the fact that Namkai Norbu has no political connections with Bhutan and has no aspirations in the political sphere, he holds the title of "Chögyal" due to his connection with his previous incarnation.[10][5]

Translation of "Namkai Norbu"

Namkhai (Tibetan) holds the semantic field of "sky", "space" and "aether," and has the possessive case ending, thus it may be rendered into English as "...of the sky". Norbu (Tibetan) holds the semantic field of "jewel", "crystal", "gem", "cintamani".

Therefore, Namkhai Norbu may be rendered in English as "Jewel of the Sky", "Gem of the Aether" or "Crystal of Space".

Bibliography

Editor's note: this section needs attention. This info may be out of date Review-icon.png
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  • Dzogchen - the Self-Perfected State (1996) (Snow Lion) ISBN 1-55939-057-3, ISBN 978-1-55939-057-6
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  • Instructions for the second level Practices of Santi Maha Sangha (1996) (Shang Shung Edizioni)
  • Journey Among the Tibetan Nomads (2002) ( Paljor) ISBN 81-86470-10-7
  • Journey into the Culture of Tibetan Nomads (1983) (Shang Shung Edizioni)
  • Key for consulting the Tibetan calendar (2003) (Shang Shung Edizioni) ISBN 9788878341234
  • Lhalung Sangdag Teachings on Vajrapani (to be translated by Adriano Clement)
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  • Santi Maha Sangha Second level, New Edition (to be translated by Adriano Clement)
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  • The Autobiography of Chogyal Nankhai Norbu (to be translated by Adriano Clement)
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  • The Total Space of Vajrasattva with three Commentaries (to be translated by Adriano Clement)
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  • The Way to enter the Teaching (2000) (unpublished)
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  • Introduction: Togden Shakya Shri. The Life and Liberation of a Tibetan Yogin (2009) (Shang Shung Edizioni) ISBN 978-88-7834-103-6
  • Introduction: You Are the Eyes of the World (2011) (Shambhala ) ISBN 9781559393676

CDs and DVDs

  • Chöd: Cutting through dualism (1995) CD (Amiata Records) ARNR-0193
  • General Introduction to Dzogchen (2009) DVD
  • Music for the Dance of the Vajra (2009) CD (Amiata Records) ARNR-0200
  • My Reincarnation (2012) DVD (New York) ISBN 9781422918746
  • Purification of the Six Lokas (2001) CD (Shang Shung) 10020

See also

Notes

  1. Tsegyalgar East. Chögyal Namkhai Norbu (Biographical Sketch). Online: [1] (accessed: May 14, 2008)
  2. Dzogchen Romania. A brief biography of Chögyal Namkhai Norbu Online: [2] (accessed: May 14, 2008)
  3. 3.0 3.1 Namkhai Norbu Awarded the Honor of Commander
  4. 4.0 4.1 Italian president honors Buddhist teacher Namkhai Norbu
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 Norbu, Namkhai (2000). The Crystal and the Way of Light: Sutra, Tantra, Dzogchen. (Snow Lion Publications) pg.19-20 & Notes.
  6. Mindstream emanations may be either body, voice, mind, qualities or activities emanations; refer: Three vajra.
  7. Dzogchen Romania. A brief biography of Chögyal Namkhai Norbu Online: [3] (accessed: May 14, 2008)
  8. [4]
  9. Tsegyalgar East. Chögyal Namkhai Norbu (Biographical Sketch). Online: [5] (accessed: May 14, 2008)
  10. 10.0 10.1 Andriano Clemente (translator), Dzogchen: The Self-Perfected State, by Chögyal Namkai Norbu


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