Master Namkhai Norbu, (1938-2018) eminent scholar of the Tibetan culture and profound guide to wise living, unique in spiritual domain. In the course of years his fame has become worldwide because of the extraordinary value of his research on the Tibetan culture and through his mastery of the ancient Dzogchen Atiyoga teaching, an authentic heritage of mankind, of which he was one of the great representatives.
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 many thousands of people throughout the world eager to receive this knowledge. Dzogchen is aimed as 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 it 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 peacefully and in a relaxed way is of utmost concern, Master Namkhai Norbu has committed himself to transmitting his knowledge, offering with profound competence and humanity his wisdom to all those were seeking his help. In order to maintain intact its original source, he has also done his best to preserve the Tibetan language and the numerous unique aspects of the Tibetan culture.
For Namkhai Norbu who has 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 has 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.
As professor of Tibetan and Mongolian language and literature at the University Institute of Oriental Studies in Naples, Italy, Namkhai Norbu has 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 has 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 he has created a school of specialized scholars and translators who contribute to the development and diffusion of studies on the Tibetan culture academically and through the 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 was spreading among young Tibetans. For instance, in 1988 in Beijing at the University of National Minorities he 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 had a particular interest in safeguarding popular songs and dances, both traditional and modern, which he has amassed, studied, selected, and choreographed together with his students, being 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.
The Master has traveled 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 was calling it, an authentic evolution.
For many years Namkhai Norbu has also been promoting a number of humanitarian activities. He has 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.
Chögyal Namkhai Norbu Rinpoche was a founder of:
- 1981 CAIDC (Cultural Association International Dzogchen Community)
- 1988 ASIA (Association for International Solidarity in Asia – Rome, Italy)
- 1990 SSI (Shang Shung Institute – Italy, Austria, United States, Russia, Australia)
- 2015 IDC (International Dzogchen Community)
- 2016 SSF (Shang Shung Foundation)
- 2018 ATIF (International Atiyoga Foundation)