Dzogchen is a Tibetan spiritual path that traditionally cultivates nondualism and yoga in the midst of life.
Chögyal Namkhai Norbu Rinpoche is the undisputed master of the Dzogchen School, a school that in the world was understood to be part of Vajrayana but which the Master considered to be in its own right.
The Dzogchen lineage also contains the great yogi master Padmasambhava, who is considered a Vajrayana master.
Regardless of these aspects, this Great Spiritual Master – almost contemporary with us – was a high-level,academically recognized spiritual fighter.
He revived the Dzogchen tradition and developed it a lot, being, in many ways, a model for many of us.
He was born on December 8, 1938 in the Derge district of Kham province, in eastern Tibet.
When he was only two years old, he was recognized by two Tibetan masters as the reincarnation (tulku) of a tibetan grand master who had passed away a few years before: Adzom Drukpa (1842-1924), a famous teacher Dzogchen who had also lived in eastern Tibet.
At the age of eight he was recognized by two other great Tibetan masters as the reincarnation of the mind of Ngawang Namgyal (1594-1651, also known as Lhodrug Shabdrung Rinpoche), the first ruler of Bhutan, a Tibetan llama who conquered, unified and founded the small Bhutanese state.
This is how it is that since childhood Namkhai Norbu received the very honorable title of chögyal (or dharmaraja, that is, king of the faith).
Due to his status tulku Namkhai Norbu had a special childhood to other Tibetan children
Between the age of eight and sixteen, he studied systematic Buddhist studies in monastic colleges in eastern Tibet, with the young Tibetan scholar proving to be much faster in progress than his older peers.
He received teachings and initiations from several Buddhist masters of the time, starting with his two uncles, both Dzogchen practitioners: Khyentse Chökyi Wangchug Rinpoche, his maternal uncle, and Togden Ugyen Tendzin, the paternal uncle who is known to have realized the miraculous rainbow body,the body of light.
In 1951 Namkhai Norbu received teachings and initiations from a famous yogimaster named Ayu Khandro (1839–1953), who two years later also made a rainbow body.
And in 1954, when he was sixteen, Namkhai Norbu visited communist China as a representative of Tibetan youth; here he served as an instructor of Tibetan languages at the university of Chengdu, in the Chinese province of Sichuan, becoming an expert in Chinese and Mongolian languages.
But the learned young man also continued his Buddhist studies in China,taking advantage of the fact that he had met a great Tibetan master here.
All in all, by 1955 Namkhai Norbu had already received a lot of Buddhist teachings and initiations from several very famous masters of eastern Tibet.
In 1955 he returned to his native Derge and set out to look for his master master, following a premonitorial dream
He found him in an isolated valley in the person of Changchub Dorje (1826-1978), also known as Nyala Rinpoche, a master of Dzogchen teaching and traditional Tibetan medicine who ran a small lay settlement of Dzogchen practitioners called Khamdogar. Changchub Dorje was certainly still an exceptional character in the long string of exceptional characters that appeared in Namkhai Norbu’s life.
The seventeen-year-old spent six months with him, receiving from him the direct introduction into Dzogchen and several important teachings. He is considered the main disciple of Changchub Dorje, and Namkhai Norbu Rinpoche often says that Changchub Dorje is for him root master,the essential master or the master of the root.
In 1960, due to the deterioration of the social and political situation in Tibet, Chögyal Namkhai Norbu Rinpoche settled in Italy
He accepted the invitation of the famous Orientalist Prof. Giuseppe Tucci, thus contributing directly to the spread of Tibetan culture in the West.
In the early sixties he worked for the Ismeo institute (Istituto per il Medio e l’Estremo Oriente) in Rome, and later, from 1962 to 1992, he taught Tibetan and Mongolian language and literatureat the Istituto Universitario Orientale in Naples.
His academic works reveal a deep knowledge of Tibetan culture
Constantly fueled by his unshakable determination to preserve in life the extraordinary cultural heritage of Tibet.
For many years she taught Yantra Yoga , a special form of Tibetan yoga that combines movement, breathing and visualization.
As a result of growing interest, Chögyal Namkhai Norbu began teaching Dzogchen teachings, first in Italy, and then throughout the world. In 1981 he founded the first centre of the Dzogchen Community in Arcidosso, Tuscany, Italy, under the name of Merigar.
Over the years, thousands of people around the world have become members of the Dzogchen Community
He founded centers in the United States, various European countries, Latin America, Russia, Australia, and China. Such a center of the Dzogchen Community was founded in 2007 in Romania in the locality of 23 August (Merigar Est).
In 1988 Chögyal Namkhai Norbu founded the organization ASIA (Associazione per la Solidarieta Internazionale in Asia), an association whose main concern is to support the educational and health needs of communities in Tibet and the Himalayas
In 1989 Chögyal Namkhai Norbu founded the Shang Shung Institute, with the main objective of preserving Tibetan culture, seriously endangered after the tragic events in Tibet after 1959.
And to this day Chögyal Namkhai Norbu has continued to constantly travel around the world, holding conferences and retreats with the participation of thousands of people.
Starting with 2007 he founded Merigar East in Romania, in the locality of 23 August. There Chögyal Namkhai Norbu Rinpoche regularly held summer seminars.
On September 27, 2018, he left his physical body at the age of 79 and was buried in the Stupa of the Merigar West Buddhist center in Italy.