Longchen Rabjam is revered as one of the greatest masters in the
Nyingma School. He wrote more than 250 treatises on a wide variety of
topics, but is best known for his works on Dzogchen.
Chgyal Namkhai Norbu
Spiritual master of the Dzogchen Community
Chgyal Namkhai Norbu Rinpoche, one of the foremost living Dzogchen
masters, was born in Derge, eastern Tibet in 1938. At the age of two he
was recognized as the reincarnation of the Dzogchen Master Adzom Drugpa
by Palyul Karma Yangsid and Shechen Rabjam. When he was three years old,
the 16th Gyalwa Karmapa recognized him as the mind reincarnation of the
first Dharmaraja of Bhutan, Ngawang Namgyal.
In his early years Chgyal 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 Chkyi
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 Chkyi Wangchug, Drubwang Rinpoche Kunga Palden, Negyab
Rinpoche, Drugse Gyurmed Dorje, and Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche. In 1951,
he also received teachings from Ayu Khandro Dorje Paldrn, a remarkable
female master who spent over fifty years in dark retreat and was a
disciple of Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo.
Rinpoche 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.
Rinpoche met his root teacher, Rigdzin Changchub Dorje, in 1955 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 teaching as the 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, Chgyal Namkhai Norbu made a pilgrimage to Tibet,
India, and Nepal. While he was residing in Sikkim in 1959, the Chinese
occupied Tibet and as he was unable to return to his homeland to join
his family, he remained in Sikkim working as an author and editor for
the government of Sikkim.
Recognized as extremely knowledgeable in all aspects of Tibetan
culture at only the age of twenty-two, 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 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, Chgyal Namkhai Norbu
focused his research mainly on the ancient history of Tibet,
investigating thoroughly the autochthonous Bn tradition. His books,
which include works on history, medicine, astrology, Bn and folk
traditions, 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
In 1971 Chgyal 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. At
that time Dzogchen was hardly known in the West and he was the first to
transmit this teaching in a way that made it accessible to Western
students according to the conditions of modern society.
As interest in his teachings grew, Rinpoche dedicated himself to
spreading Dzogchen and establishing gars, seats of the Dzogchen
community, throughout the world. Today there are gars in Europe, North
and South America, Australia and Russia.
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.