This timeline is a chronological account intending to convey an idea of the complex unfolding of the life of Chögyal Namkhai Norbu.
We do not pretend to be able to fully describe every aspect of his multitudinous capacities and the original and ground-breaking philosophical context and important consequences of his work and research.
This is no more than an outline of the principle chapters in the life of an extraordinary man, briefly illustrated to enable a reflection.
An expert in Buddhist doctrine, he excelled in the subtle philosophical language of the Madhyamika and Yogacara schools, as well as the highest teachings, above all Dzogchen.
His deep research examined the texts and the historical traditions of the ancient kingdom of Shang Shung, demonstrating that it was from these roots that the culture of Tibet was in part derived, including its diverse religious aspects.
He was an expert in traditional medicine and natural preparations, drawing on knowledge transmitted among others by the great master and healer Changchub Dorje, and he actively promoted the dissemination and study of this tradition in the West.
His knowledge of Tibetan language and literature was unparalleled, and he taught this discipline for decades, promoting and participating in conferences in the East and the West. He also facilitated the translation into Western languages of some of the most important texts of the Dzogchen teaching.
For those who have the fortune to know the Tibetan language, Chögyal Namkhai Norbu was a refined author and poet. His prose is recognized as of the highest order, and his verses, as inspirational as they are inspired, are distinguished by a force both uncommon and incomparable.
He was one of the leading custodians in our time of the sublime teachings of Ati Dzogpa Chenpo, and brought this knowledge to thousands of fortunate disciples in the West and on the whole planet. His teachings also inspired the founding of the Dzogchen Community.
Intimately knowledgeable of human nature, he was able to transmit to all those interested in listening values that today more than ever are proving indispensable in fostering the hope that our world will evolve toward a future of peace and civility.
Born in 1938 at Geug, a small village near Changra in the county of Derge, on the tenth day of the tenth month of the Earth Tiger Year, Chögyal Namkhai Norbu is soon recognized as the reincarnation of the great Dzogchen master Adzom Drugpa (1842-1924).
Chögyal Namkhai Norbu’s paternal uncle Togden Ugyen Tendzin (1888-1962) and other members of his family, as disciples of Adzom Drugpa, have received several sacred objects from him before his death. Togden Ugyen Tendzin recognizes Chögyal Namkhai Norbu as a reincarnation of his master, and this recognition is confirmed by various important Lamas when Chögyal Namkhai Norbu was still young.
Chögyal Namkhai Norbu is interested from an early age in study and spiritual practice, receiving teachings and instruction from many masters and immediately demonstrating his exceptional capacity.
Chögyal Namkhai Norbu is drawn from his earliest years to the study and application of Buddhist doctrine and practice in some of the most important monasteries and monastic universities in Tibet. His studies are of an intensity and profundity reserved for future spiritual masters and important personages.
In 1943 Chögyal Namkhai Norbu begins to study at Derge Gonchen, where following the traditional system of learning he memorizes a wide range of classical texts. In the summer he visits a retreat place called Tsarashab, where his uncle Togden Ugyen Tendzin lives. His uncle is a great master of Yantra Yoga, a discipline combining breathing and movement, and this is the first time Chögyal Namkhai Norbu sees it in practice. He will come to deepen his knowledge of this discipline with Ugyen Tendzin in 1954, and on this occasion also takes biographical notes about his uncle’s life, later recounted in Rainbow Body: The Life and Realization of Togden Ugyen Tendzin.
In 1943 he learns to paint and create sand mandalas.
In this period he also receives teachings from his maternal uncle Khyentse Chökyi Wangchug (1909-1960), the reincarnation of Jamyang Chökyi Wangpo, in turn the reincarnation of the celebrated master Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo. In particular, in 1947 Chögyal Namkhai Norbu accompanies Khyentse Chökyi Wangchug to Galingteng, where he receives Dzogchen teachings from both his uncle and Kunga Palden. Based on his personal memories, notes taken at the time, and the recollections of other people close to Khyentse Chökyi Wangchug, Chögyal Namkhai Norbu will later write his uncle’s biography, published in 1999 under the title The Lamp That Enlightens Narrow Minds: The Life and Times of a Realized Tibetan Master, Khyentse Chökyi Wangchug.
In the course of his education, Chögyal Namkhai Norbu’s exceptional capacity to understand and memorize becomes increasingly evident. He enters the monastic college of Wöntöd, in Derge, at the age of only nine; the normal age of entry for boys is generally more than thirteen.
Here he successfully completes the study of thirteen fundamental works on Buddhist philosophy (གཞུང་ཆེན་བཅུ་གསུམ་) with their related commentaries, and deepens his knowledge of various other doctrinal texts and practices. In this period, he receives teachings from Khenpo (abbot) Khyenrab Chökyi Wözer (1889-1958)
Between 1950 and 1955 he studies the fundamental texts of Tibetan medicine and astrology. Additionally, he receives teachings and initiations from many masters who recognize his extraordinary abilities.
Thanks to his natural curiosity, united with a great acumen, Chögyal Namkhai Norbu not only studies extremely difficult academic texts at an unusually early age, but is also interested in various aspects of traditional life, such as the customs and way of life of Tibetans. He examines their history in depth, penetrating its symbolic significance and learning many related techniques.
In 1951 he receives teachings from the female master Ayu Khandro
Ayu Khandro, also known as Dorje Paldron, was a direct disciple of Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo, Nyala Pema Dündul, and Adzom Drugpa. During his stay with this great practitioner, Chögyal Namkhai Norbu receives many fundamental teachings and records notes on her life story. He is later able to reconstruct and write her biography, subsequently published in the book Women of Wisdom.
In the summer of the same year he travels among the nomadic populations of the regions of Dzachuka and Golok Sertha, keeping a diary of the trip that would become the basis of the work Journey Among the Tibetan Nomads: An Account of a Remote Civilization (byang ’brog gi lam yig), published in Tibetan in 1983, translated into Italian in 1990, and into English in 1997.
At Dzongsar he receives from Jamyang Khyentse Chökyi Lodrö (1893-1959) the principle teachings of the Sakya tradition. In the same year he also studies logic and receives teachings from Drugse Gyurmed Dorje Rinpoche, son of Adzom Drugpa.
Chögyal Namkhai Norbu is invited to a conference at Tartsendo; and after this meeting receives a request from the local governor to assist the master Kangkar Chökyi Senge (1903-1956) in teaching the Tibetan language.
Thus Chögyal Namkhai Norbu, even though only 15, begins to teach the Tibetan language at the Minyag Kangkar Monastery while also receiving teachings from the same Kangkar Chökyi Senge.
In this same period, he begins to collect and transcribe traditional songs from the principal regions of the Tibetan plateau (Ü, Tsang, Kham, and Amdo). The fruits of this collection and the subsequent study were published in Musical Tradition of the Tibetan People: Songs in Dance Measure (Serie Orientale Roma XXXVI, 1967).
In 1955 he meets and receives teachings from his principal master, Changchub Dorje (1863-1961), whose way of living and transmitting the knowledge of Dzogchen would be a source of profound inspiration for him throughout his life.
Through his contact with Changchub Dorje and his students he also becomes a practitioner of Tibetan Medicine.
Relocates to Sikkim in 1958. Before departing from Tibet, he dedicates to his mother Yeshe Chödron a poem summarizing in a few lines the view and practice of the Dzogchen teaching. The short composition is subsequently published in 1995 under the title From the Depth of My Heart to My Mother Yeshe Chödrön.
Between 1958 and 1959 he lives in Sikkim, visiting the principal sites of Buddhist pilgrimage and meeting masters such as the 16th Karmapa and Dudjom Rinpoche. In 1959 he works in the development office of the government, collaborating on the compilation of Tibetan texts for educational use. In this period, he also studies Sanskrit and Mongolian.
Chögyal Namkhai Norbu (right) with Geshe Jampel Senge (left) and Phala Thupten Wönden (center) visiting IsMEO, the Italian Institute for the Middle and Far East in Rome, founded by Prof. Giuseppe Tucci.
Chögyal Namkhai Norbu arrives in Italy at the end of 1959 and for the next two years assists Tucci working on a collection of Tibetan texts, continuing this collaboration in his capacity of Professor of Tibetan Language and Literature at the University of Naples L’Orientale.
In the introduction of one of his important works, The Religions of Tibet, Giuseppe Tucci writes “In my work I have been greatly aided by the counsel, always freely given of Geshe (Lha ram pa) Jampel Senge, […] and also by the assistance of Professor Namkhai Norbu, formerly a sprul sku of Gönchen monastery, who is closely familiar with all the philosophical doctrines of the rNying ma pa school and also served as a pre-eminent source of information on folk traditions. Both these two Tibetan religious scholars have lived in Rome for ten years as collaborators of the Istituto Italiano per il Medio ed Estremo Oriente ( IsMEO). Professor Norbu teaches at the Istituto Universitario Oriental in Naples. He is also responsible for the drawings which accompany the book.”
He is received by the President of the Republic of Italy, Giovanni Gronchi.
From 1962 to 1992 Chögyal Namkhai Norbu is Professor of Tibetan and Mongolian Language and Literature at the University of Naples L’Orientale.
He creates various materials for the study of the Tibetan language, among other things developing a system of phonetic transliteration aimed at enabling his students to pronounce the Tibetan language correctly.
Gives a series of ten lectures entitled “Tantric Yoga in Tibet” at the Institute for the Middle and Far East (IsMEO) in Rome.
Publication of Musical Tradition of the Tibetan People: Songs in Dance Measure (Serie Orientale Roma XXXVI, 1967), with two appendices on Tibetan customs and way of life (in particular at New Year and on methods of consecration) included in the second edition Giuseppe Tucci’s Tibetan Folk Songs from Gyantse and Western Tibet (1966). In the preface to this edition, Tucci writes "I must thank [...] Choghial Namkhai Norbu who is actually working in the same Institute [i.e. IsMEO], whose suggestion have been very useful. [...] He is the author of a chapter on the New Year's Festival and of Appendix II. With his help I could improve the literary spelling of some sentences.”
Obtains Italian citizenship. Marries and has two children.
Starts to give the first teachings on Yantra Yoga, a practice that he learned from his uncle Togden Ugyen Tendzin. This ancient form of yoga uses harmonious movements linked to various aspects of breathing to help practitioners gain awareness of their body and control the breath, one of the principal methods to coordinate the vital energy.
He is chosen as an instructor of rhythmic breathing techniques and relaxation for the national swimming team.
Completes the draft of the text The Necklace of Jewels (nor bu'i do shal), an innovative study on the origins of Tibetan civilization. His historic research on the ancient kingdom of Shang Shung on Bön and on the Tibetan language creates a commotion among the Tibetans and among Western academics.
The Necklace of Jewels was the basis for a lecture given by Chögyal Namkhai Norbu at the annual meeting of young Tibetans in Switzerland in 1975, followed by the drafting of a text on the same subject, later published in English in Dharamsala, India, in 1981 under the title The Necklace of Zi: A Cultural History of Tibet and in Tibetan in the following year.
His historic research continues with other articles and publications, culminating in the three-volume work The Light of Kailash (ti se’i ’od), published in Tibetan in 1996 and in an English translation in the years between 2009 and 2015.
Since 1972 many people from diverse social and cultural backgrounds have begun to approach Chögyal Namkhai Norbu to ask for information and spiritual advice. These first encounters generate great interest from the outset and culminate in the organization of the first Dzogchen teaching seminar held in Subiaco in the summer of 1976.
This is only the beginning of the continuously growing interest in his teachings and his research. Over the years Chögyal Namkhai Norbu is continually invited by universities and centers of study to hold conferences and lectures, thousands of people participate in more than six hundred teaching retreats organized all over the world.
The questions that the first students asked Chögyal Namkhai Norbu inspire the publication of an explanatory text with his responses to sixteen fundamental questions, published in a translation into Italian as Introduzione allo Dzogchen: Risposte a sedici domande in 1988.
Chögyal Namkhai Norbu receives his first invitations to teach abroad, in Austria in 1977 and in the next two years in England, France, Norway, and the United States.
With some assistants he travels to India and Nepal to conduct interviews and film experts of traditional Tibetan medicine. The material is used to make a documentary for RAI television called Arura.
Begins to teach Tibetan Medicine and Astrology, holding various seminars in Naples and at the IsMEO in Rome. He also writes the article “Tibetan Culture,” published in Tibet Journal.
A major part of Chögyal Namkhai Norbu’s research activities is dedicated to the in-depth study of the ancient origins of the Dzogchen teaching. In particular, around 1980 he identifies two works relating to this teaching among the manuscripts found at Tun-Huang, a repository containing some of the most ancient known examples of Tibetan texts. The two texts are the Cuckoo of Instant Presence (rig pa’i khu byug) and the Small Collection of Hidden Precepts (sbas pa’i rgum chung).
The Cuckoo of Instant Presence is considered the first Dzogchen text translated by Vairochana and transmitted in Tibet in the eighth century; the root text and its commentary are found among the Tun-Huang manuscripts held in the British Library. The root text is composed of only six lines, called the Six Vajra Verses, encapsulating the core principle of Dzogchen Semde. Chögyal Namkhai Norbu goes on to write a study on this text (currently being translated) and give oral commentaries during individual retreats. Part of Chögyal Namkhai Norbu’s oral commentary is contained in Dzogchen: The Self-Perfected State (1986), edited by Adriano Clemente, while Rigbai Khujug: The Six Vajra Verses (1990), contains the extensive version of his commentary. It was revised and republished in 2018 as The Cuckoo of Instant Presence.
The Small Collection of Hidden Precepts by Buddhagupta can be dated to around the eighth century. Nubchen Sangye Yeshe (ninth century) cited a number of passages in his fundamental work Lamp for the Eyes of Contemplation (bsam gtan mig sgron). In1984 Chögyal Namkhai Norbu publishes a study on this text in Tibetan (sbas pa’i rgum chung: The Small Collection of Hidden Precepts. A Study on an Ancient Manuscript on Dzogchen from Tun-huang), which later is added to volume 102 (NE) of the Snga’ ’gyur bka’ ma shin tu rgyas pa, the most complete collection of orally transmitted teachings relating to the Nyingmapa school, in the revised edition published in 2009. This text, too, is commented on orally at individual retreats, and a preliminary translation by Chögyal Namkhai Norbu and Enrico dell’Angelo is published in 1996.
Chögyal Namkhai Norbu also compiles studies and commentaries and promotes the translation of several ancient Dzogchen scriptures, in particular
Chögyal Namkhai Norbu is Invited to give teachings in France and the United States as well as in Italy.
Participates in a conference on medicine at the University of Bari and gives lectures on the “Origins of the History of Tibet” in Paris, France, at the Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes and on “Ancient Tibetan History” at the Department of Oriental Languages, Berkeley University of California, and Stanford University of California (“Dzogchen Teachings”).
In 1980 the search begins for a piece of land suitable to become the seat of the growing Dzogchen Community.
From February to June 1981, the Museum of Folklore, Rome, hosts weekly teachings with Chögyal Namkhai Norbu on Meditation, Dzogchen, and Yantra Yoga, as well as seminars on Astrology and Medicine, organized in collaboration with the Department of Culture of Rome.
In October 1981 a property in Tuscany is acquired as a location for the first center of the Dzogchen Community, marking the birth of Merigar. The property was previously used as a farm and encompasses several hectares of land. The position of the land corresponds in every aspect to what the Community was looking for, and Chögyal Namkhai Norbu soon identifies a small rise that is perfectly suited as a site for the future temple.
During the first year, everyone participates in the reconstruction of the only building present on the property, and improvements are also made to the land and infrastructure. After Merigar, nine other Gars would be established all over the world: Tsegyalgar East (United States, Conway) in 1982; Tashigar Sur (Argentina, Tanti, Cordoba) in 1990; Namgyalgar (Australia), where the first seat is inaugurated in 1995; Kunsangar North (Russia, Bolshie Dvory) in 1999; Tashigar Norte (Venezuela, Pedro Gonzales, Margarita) in 2001; Tsegyalgar West (Mexico, San José del Cabo) in 2003; Merigar East (Romania, Constanța) in 2006; Kunsangar South (Crimea, Sevastopol Goncharnoye) in 2010; and Dzamling Gar (Canary Islands, Adeje, Spain) in 2013.
Invited to speak at a conference at the University of California, Berkeley, on Dzogchen and Zen, the proceedings of which were subsequently published by Shang Shung Edizioni in 1989.
Following in-depth historical and cultural research of ancient texts from the pre-Buddhist tradition, Chögyal Namkhai Norbu completes the draft in Tibetan of Drung, Deu, and Bön: Narrations, Symbolic Languages, and the Bön (sgrung lde'u bon gsum gyi gtam e ma ho). In this study, he proposes a global vision of pre-Buddhist culture, taking as his starting point the affirmation contained in many ancient texts that originally the kingdom of Tibet was based on three factors: drung (sgrung, narrations), deu (lde'u symbolic languages) and Bön.
The book is published in Tibetan in 1989 and later translated into Italian as Emaho: le narrazioni, i linguaggi simbolici e il Bön nell'antico Tibet and into English in 1995.
In the same year, the Tibetan edition of a treatise on the classic system of the Yantra Yoga of Vairocana is released, subsequently translated and published in numerous other languages. He also writes the article “Some Observations on the Race and Language of Tibet,” published in Tibet Journal.
Foundation of Tsegyalgar East (United States, Conway).
Chögyal Namkhai Norbu promotes the first International Convention of Tibetan Medicine. Among speakers at this event in Italy are the principal Tibetan exponents of Tibetan medicine as well as several European experts. The first convention on this topic in the West, it takes place in Venice and Arcidosso (GR) over the course of two weeks. In addition to the scholars, participants include various local authorities, such as the mayor of Venice and the Dean of Ca' Foscari University. The proceedings of the convention are later published as First International Convention on Tibetan Medicine.
On the occasion of this convention, Chögyal Namkhai Norbu writes a text, published in the same year, titled Birth and Life. The work is later revised, expanded, and completed in 2001, with a translation into English published in 2006 under the title Birth, Life, and Death (skye zhing 'tsho la 'chi ba).
The second International Convention of Tibetan Medicine is subsequently organized in New York in 2014. The Shang Shung Institute, founded in 1989, goes on to organize further seminars on Tibetan Medicine focusing on specific themes. It also establishes a four-year training program on Tibetan Medicine, with the first students graduating in 2013 at Amherst University (Massachusetts).
The Shang Shung publishing house is founded in 1983 with the principal purpose of publishing the teachings of Chögyal Namkhai Norbu and other masters. Topics range from Dzogchen to Buddhism, Yantra Yoga, Tibetan culture, and traditional medicine, in the form of translations, commentaries, and practice texts, as well as study materials in audio, video, and multimedia format. To date it has published nearly two hundred books in Italian and two hundred in English. Many of the works have been translated into Western and Eastern languages.
Newton & Compton publishes Il libro tibetano dei morti, of which Chögyal Namkhai Norbu is the editor. This text is revised, translated, and republished in 2015 under the title Awakening Upon Dying: The Tibetan Book of the Dead.
The publishing house Shambala releases Primordial Experience: An Introduction to rDzogs chen Meditation by Mañjuśrīmitra, translated by Chögyal Namkhai Norbu and Kennard Lipman.
Chögyal Namkhai Norbu goes on pilgramage to Maratika, a sacred site in Nepal, where a retreat of teachings and practice is organized. During this retreat of intense meditation, he receives indications for a long-life practice centered around the figure of Mandarava, which would become of fundamental importance for him and for the entire Community.
Around the mid-1980s, he also begins to teach a body of highly essential Dzogchen teachings, the fruit of his profound spiritual experience, called Longsal.
Invited to give teachings in Italy, North America, France, Great Britain, and Nepal.
Invited to give teachings in Singapore, Australia, Italy, Holland, Germany, Denmark, Norway, the United States, Brazil, France, and Great Britain.
Upon returning from Australia he writes The Little Song of Do as You Please, a poem on the importance of being present and aware of circumstances.
Routledge & Kegan Paul publishes the first edition of The Crystal and the Way of Light: Sutra, Tantra, and Dzogchen (translation into Italian published in the following year by Ubaldini as Il cristallo e la via della luce: Sutra, Tantra e Dzogchen). This book and Dzog-chen: Lo stato di auto-perfezione (English edition published in 1989) are among the first texts ever published to explain the principles of Dzogchen in a Western language.
Invited to give teachings in Italy, Venezuela, France, Italy, Greece and Holland. Lectures given in 1986 include “Tibetan Medicine” at the University of Naples Federico II, Faculty of Pharmacy; “Introduction to Dzogchen and the Ancient History of Tibet” (four lectures at the Central University of Venezuela); and “Meditation” at the Hospital University of Caracas.
Invited to participate in the First Conference on Tibetan Language in Dharamsala, India.
Invited to give teachings in Italy, France, Denmark, Spain, the United States, and Holland. Public lectures include “Introduction to Tibetan Buddhism,” University of Bologna Alma Mater Studiorum; “Tibetan Culture,” National Museum, Copenhagen, Denmark; and "Tibetan Buddhism,” Columbia University, New York, USA.
At Merigar the Zikhang building is inaugurated, which from 1990 would include a hall for the Dance of the Vajra (Mandala Hall) and the Library, housing a collection of texts, mainly in Tibetan, accumulated by over the years by Chögyal Namkhai Norbu and his students.
In August 1988 Chögyal Namkhai Norbu and a group of his students go on a pilgrimage to sacred Mount Kailash. He writes a poem on the experience of this journey, The Song of the Bee, including some of the difficulties encountered.
He also visits Khamdo Gar, in eastern Tibet, the former residence of his teacher Changchub Dorje. At the moment of departing, several students of Changchub Dorje ask Chögyal Namkhai Norbu for advice on practice, which gives rise to Three Songs Dedicated to Disciples of Changchub Dorje, a poetic work of spontaneous verses encapsulating the essence of Dzogchen.
In September, an expedition is organized focusing on the historical exploration and research of traces of the ancient Kingdom of Shang Shung in the Valley of the Garuda (khyung lung) in the western region of the Tibetan plateau. The photographic documentation, accompanied by explanatory texts and a study on the origins of Tibetan culture and thought, is published in 2010 under the title Zhang Zhung: Images from a Lost Kingdom.
In 1988 Chögyal Namkhai Norbu founds A.S.I.A, Association for International Solidarity in Asia, an NGO that works in Tibet, India, Nepal, Myanmar, Mongolia, and Sri Lanka to promote projects of cooperation and long-distance adoptions. Since its founding, A.S.I.A. has guaranteed the right to study for more than 3,000 Tibetan children and has realized more than 200 humanitarian development and emergency aid projects.
Chögyal Namkhai Norbu is invited to give teachings in New Zealand, Australia, China, Nepal, Switzerland, and Italy.
He is invited to participate in a conference on the future of Tibetan Buddhism held in Bodhgaya and Sarnath, India, a gathering of all the main Tibetan masters of the time.
In Chengdu, Sichuan, he participates in a conference of writers and editors from the five autonomous provinces.
In October construction begins of the Gönpa of Merigar, conceived by Chögyal Namkhai Norbu. The first phase of construction would be completed in May of the following year. He is editor of Gangs ti se’i dkar chag: A Bon-po Story of the Sacred Mountain Ti-se and the Blue Lake Ma-pang (Serie Orientale Roma LXI), a critical edition of the Tibetan text with extracts translated in English, published in collaboration with Ramon Prats.
Shang Shung Institute
In 1989 Chögyal Namkhai Norbu founds the Shang Shung Institute, based in Italy, dedicated to enabling scholars from around the world to pursue and develop important activities of research and study on Asian art and culture. In particular, the department of Traditional Tibetan Medicine (primarily based in the United States, Russia and Spain) and the department of Tibetan Language promote conventions and study events around the world and regularly organize educational courses for future translators from Tibetan and doctors of Tibetan Medicine. The Ka-ter project, established in 2002, is dedicated to the translation of works by Chögyal Namkhai Norbu and ancient Dzogchen texts.
In 1989 Chögyal Namkhai Norbu is invited to give teachings in Italy, Greece, Switzerland, Germany, France, Venezuela, the United States, Japan, Taipei, Australia, New Zealand, Angentina, and Malaysia.
Chögyal Namkhai Norbu starts to teach the Dance of the Vajra, a form of meditation in movement expressing the principle of Dzogchen practice: contemplation.
“Any Vajra Dance is generally considered a sacred dance and is presented as such. This Dance of the Vajra is connected to the practice of contemplation.”
The Temple of the Great Contemplation (in Tibetan ཏིང་འཛིན་ཆེན་མོ་) conceived, designed, and developed by Chögyal Namkhai Norbu, is inaugurated by His Holiness the Dalai Lama in the presence of local authorities in May 1990.
At the moment of the inauguration, the decorations, paintings, and inscriptions that today adorn the Gönpa do not yet exist. To facilitate the work of decorating the temple, Chögyal Namkhai Norbu writes a text explaining the symbolic meaning of the decorations and paintings. He illustrates the text with color drawings by his own hand. The text serves as a guide for the many painters and artists who come from all over the world to decorate the temple. The translation of this text, The Temple of the Great Contemplation, was published in 2014.
Foundation of Tashigar Sur (Argentina, Tanti, Cordoba)
Lecture topics include “Different Places and Cultures, Same Objective of Peace,” with the participation of His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama and the Honorable Giorgio Napolitano, member of the Senate of the Republic of Italy, at Palazzo Giustiniani, Rome.
The 2nd International Conference on Tibetan Language takes place from August 30 to September 4, 1992, and is attended by scholars from all over the world. The event, promoted by Chögyal Namkhai Norbu, is the fruit of the collaboration between the Shang Shung Institute and Siena University, with official recognition of UNESCO, UNICEF, the European Parliament, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, IsMEO (Institute for the Middle and Far East), the Region of Tuscany, the Comunità Montana del Monte Amiata, the Province of Grosseto, the Province of Siena, and the Municipality of Arcidosso.
The third conference was to take place in 2011 at Columbia University of New York, USA, and would be organized by Columbia University, Shang Shung Institute, the Tibetan Buddhist Resource Center, and Trace Foundation.
Meets film director Bernardo Bertolucci, who consulted him for his work on the film The Little Buddha.
In the years 1991-1992 Chögyal Namkhai Norbu is invited to give teachings in Italy, Germany, France, Spain, Greece, Switzerland, Poland, Lituania, Latvia, the United States, Russia, Buryatia, Canada, Japan and Argentina.
Snow Lion publishes Dream Yoga and the Practice of Natural Light.
Having left his teaching activities at the Orientale University of Naples, his travels, teachings, and lectures intensify and expand throughout the world. In the years 1993 and 1994 Chögyal Namkhai Norbu is invited to give teaching retreats, talks, and lectures in Peru, Venezuela, the United States, Australia, Italy, Israel, Austria, Thailand, Japan, India, Nepal, Singapore, Mongolia, Buryatia, Russia, Poland, Switzerland, France, South Africa, Germany, Denmark, Great Britain, and Holland.
A selection of his works is published in Tibetan under the title Nam mkha'i nor bu'i gsung rtsom phyogs bsgrigs.
Inception of Santi Maha Sangha, a training program for deepening the theory and practice of the three series of the Dzogchen teaching.
On October 23, 1995, Chögyal Namkhai Norbu receives honorary citizenship from the town of Arcidosso for his humanitarian commitment, his contribution to society, his function as a bridge between East and West, and his ongoing activities for the conservation of Tibetan culture.
Invited to give teachings and lectures in Peru, Italy, Malaysia, Thailand, and Australia, where the first seat of Namgyalgar is inaugurated in Tilba.
On June 15, 1996, Chögyal Namkhai Norbu, in the presence of the Mayor of Arcidosso and local authorities, places the first stone of the Great Stupa of Enlightenment at Merigar. The Stupa is completed in 1998 with the contributions and support of local communities. Between 1996 and 1998, the Stupa is consecrated on numerous occasions with visits from several renowned Tibetan masters.
Also on June 15, 1996, at the Municipality of Arcidosso, he presents the book Drung, Deu and Bon: Narrations, Symbolic Languages and Bon in Ancient Tibet.
Invited to give teachings in Australia, Japan, Russia, Italy, the United States, Venezuela, Mexico, Peru, and Argentina.
Invited to give teachings and lectures in New Zealand, Australia, Singapore, China, Nepal, and India.
The Supreme Source, a presentation of Dzogchen on the base of one of its most ancient texts, the Kun byed rgyal po, is published; written and translated in collaboration with Adriano Clemente.
Lecture topics include “Tibetan Arts and Culture,” at the Tibetan Institute of Performing Arts, Dharamsala, HP, India; “Tibetan Medicine”; and “Yoga” at the Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China.
On June 28, 1998, His Holiness Sakya Trizin and Chögyal Namkhai Norbu officially consecrate the Great Stupa of Enlightenment at Merigar in the presence of local authorities.
Invited to give teachings and lectures in Australia, Thailand, Singapore, Japan, Taipei, Italy, Russia, Poland, Austria, Germany, Great Britain, France, Brazil, and Portugal.
Foundation of Kunsangar North (Russia, Bolshie Dvory).
In the last week of May, Merigar is the site of celebrations for Vesak, the anniversary of the birth of Buddha, his enlightenment, and his parinirvana. The event is organized in collaboration with the Italian Buddhist Union and is attended by more than three hundred and fifty Buddhists, including monastics and laypersons from the Vajrayana, Zen, Theravada, and Chan traditions.
In 1999 Chögyal Namkhai Norbu is invited to give teachings and lectures in Argentina, Peru, Venezuela, Italy, Russia, the United States, Mexico, New Zealand, and Australia.
Lecture topics include “The Three Gates” at the First Unitarian Universalist Church of San Francisco and “The Three Paths of Liberation” at the First Unitarian Universalist Church of Houston.
Chögyal Namkai Norbu is invited to Istituto San Leone Magno (Rome) to give a lecture entitled “Introduction to Tibetan Buddhism.”
Also in Rome, he is invited to inaugurate an exhibition realized with the support of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs entitled “The Celestial Treasure: The Tibetan Art of Medicine” at the Luigi Pigorini Museum of Ethnography, where he gives a lecture on Tibetan Medicine.
Starting in 2000, the teachings and lectures of Chögyal Namkhai Norbu are also transmitted remotely, using a system that is steadily improved over the years. With the introduction of webcast, his teachings and lectures are able to reach thousands of people all over the world.
Invited to give teachings and lectures in Australia, Singapore, New Caledonia, Japan, Taiwan, Italy, Russia, Nepal, South Africa, and Argentina.
Invited to give teachings in Chile, Peru, Venezuela, the United States, Russia, Italy, and Argentina.
Foundation of Tashigar Norte (Venezuela, Pedro Gonzales, Margarita).
Invited to give teachings and lectures in Peru, Venezuela, Italy, France, Germany, Ukraine, the Czech Republic, Slovenia, Austria, and Australia.
Establishment of Ka-ter, a project dedicated to the funding of translations into Western languages of key Dzogchen texts as well as the translation of the complete works of Chögyal Namkhai Norbu. Starting in 2003, Ka-ter organizes the annual Training for Translators from Tibetan.
Invited to give teachings and lectures in Australia, New Caledonia, Japan, Russia, Italy, the United States, Mexico, Venezuela, Chile, and Argentina.
Lecture topics include “Tibetan Culture” and “Development Education” at the Luigi Pigorini National Museum of Prehistory and Ethnography; “Tibetan History” at the University of Miami; and “Tibetan Medicine and Its Origins” at the Italian Consulate in Chile.
Foundation of Tsegyalgar West (Mexico, San José del Cabo).
Invited to give teachings and lectures in Argentina, Peru, Venezuela, and Mexico.
Chögyal Namkhai Norbu is invited to give teachings and lectures in Peru, Venezuela, Mexico, the United States, Hungary, Ukraine, Italy, Spain, and Brazil.
Starting in fall 2005, Shang Shung Institute USA, inspired by Chögyal Namkhai Norbu, launches a four-year program for the study of Tibetan medicine under the direction of Tibetan doctor Phuntsog Wangmo.
Invited to give teachings and lectures in Venezuela, France, Italy, Spain, Brazil, Argentina, and Uruguay.
Foundation of Merigar East (Romania, Constanta).
Merigar celebrates its twenty-fifth anniversary with the participation of local authorities.
Invited to give teachings in Peru, Venezuela, Romania, Italy, Spain, and Argentina. During the retreat in Barcelona he explains and comments on Longchenpa’s Advice from the Heart (snying gtam sum bcu pa), subsequently published in 2010.
Candidate for the Nobel Peace Prize.
Invited to give teachings and lectures in Argentina, Peru, Venezuela, the United States, Canada, Romania, Italy, Russia, Kalmykia, Spain, Brazil, and Chile.
Invited to give teachings and lectures in Argentina, New Zealand, Australia, Singapore, Japan, Russia, Germany, Romania, Italy, and Venezuela.
Invited to Sapienza University of Rome to present the first volume of The Light of Kailash: A History of Zhang Zhung and Tibet. Speakers include Federico Masini (Dean of the Faculty of Oriental Studies), Matthew Kapstein (Professor Emeritus of Tibetan Studies at the École Pratique des Hautes Études, Paris and Numata Visiting Professor of Buddhist Studies at the University of Chicago Divinity School), Per Kværne (Professor Emeritus at the University of Oslo), and Charles Ramble (University of Oxford and President of the International Association for Tibetan Studies).
Invited to give teachings and lectures in Venezuela, Argentina, Spain, Great Britain, Russia, the Ukraine, Italy, France, Costa Rica, and Peru.
In London he presents The Light of Kailash: A History of Zhang Zhung and Tibet at SOAS University of London and at Amherst University, Massachusetts, USA, is the keynote speaker at the graduation of the first twelve candidates in Traditional Tibetan Medicine.
Invited to give a lecture on “Tibetan Medicine: Heritage of Humanity” at the University of Bologna Alma Mater Studiorum.
Gives inaugural speech at the first Tibetan Culture Week, a cultural event organized by the Shang Shung Institute, the Dzogchen Community, ASIA, the Fundació Casa del Tíbet of Barcelona, the University of La Laguna, and the municipal council of La Laguna, with the participation of local authorities. The second edition was to place in 2011 and the third in 2013.
Named honorary citizen of Tanti, the seat of the Tashigar Sur center in Argentina.
Foundation of Kunsangar South (Crimea, Sevastopol Goncharnoe).
Begins to collect popular contemporary songs performed by young Tibetan artists, selecting them on the basis of their meaning, their melodies, and the origins of the singers. Together with his students, he recreates existing dances and in some cases develops entirely new sequences of steps and movements. This is the beginning of Khaita Joyful Dances.
Beyond the preservation of the culture, language, and traditions of Tibet, his objective is also to use music and dance as a form of meditation. Chögyal Namkhai Norbu was to dedicate himself to Khaita Joyful Dances until the beginning of 2018. Hundreds of people have brought his message around the world, performing at the British Museum in London, the MADRE, Museo di Arte Contemporanea Donnaregina in Naples, and the Dora Stratou Theater in Athens, among other venues.
Invited to participate in Bon, Shang Shung, and Early Tibet at SOAS, University of London, an international conference celebrating 60 years of Tibetan studies at SOAS, 50 years of Bönpo studies in the West, and the foundation of Shang Shung Institute for Tibetan Studies in London.
In 2011 Chögyal Namkhai Norbu receives an honorary degree from the International East European University, Izhevsk, Russia, for his studies of communication and evolution.
Merigar celebrates its 30th anniversary with an event titled The Joy of Being Here: From Monte Amiata to the Whole World. This event received the High Patronage of the President of the Republic of Italy. To celebrate, the post office produces a commemorative stamp.
Invited to give teachings and lectures in Argentina, Australia, Singapore, Taiwan, Russia, Ukraine, Romania, Italy, Great Britain, France, Spain, the United States, and Venezuela.
The new seat of Namgyalgar is inaugurated in the Glasshouse Mountains, Australia.
Among other things, he gave a lecture entitled “How We Can Be in the Condition of Evolution” at the Moscow State Institute of International Relations (MGIMO) and participated in the Tibetan Cultural Week at La Laguna, Tenerife, with a lecture on the Tibetan Book of the Dead.
Invited to give teachings and lectures in Argentina, Australia, Singapore, China, Taiwan, Japan, the United States, Russia, Ukraine, Romania, Italy, Greece, and Spain.
Invited to present the book The Lamp That Enlightens Narrow Minds: The Life and Times of a Realized Tibetan Master, Khyentse Chokyi Wangchug at Aldobrandesco Castle in Arcidosso (Italy). In Hong Kong he gives a lecture entitled “Dzogchen, the Essence of All Buddhist Teachings” (University of Hong Kong).
Foundation of Dzamling Gar (Adeje, Spain).
Chögyal Namkhai Norbu and the Mayor of Adeje, José Miguel Rodríguez Fraga, officially present what would become Dzamling Gar, the global center of the International Dzogchen Community. Other participants in the ceremony include Francisco Diez de Velasco, professor at the University of La Laguna, Joelle Schneider, representative of Karma Ling (France), Benedetta Tagliabue, architect and president of the Enric Miralles Foundation, and Giovanni Boni, engineer of Meriling SL, as well as many local representatives and more than one hundred members of the Dzogchen Community.
Invited to give teachings and lectures in Spain, Venezuela, Argentina, Peru, Mexico, the United States, Russia, Ukraine, Romania, Germany, Italy, and Great Britain.
At the Rubin Museum of Art in New York he presents The Light of Kailash: A History of Zhang Zhung and Tibet, vol. 1: The Early Period, and at the Asia House of London he presents The Light of Kailash: A History of Zhang Zhung and Tibet, vol. 2: The Intermediate Period.
In Moscow he gives two lectures: “How We Can Be in the Condition of Evolution” at the Moscow State Institute of International Relations (MGIMO) and “Open Tradition for the Open World” at the Dzogchen Forum. In Lima, Peru, he gives a lecture at the Ministry of Culture entitled “The Real Condition.”
Invited to present the illustrated monograph The Temple of the Great Contemplation: The Gönpa of Merigar at the University Bologna Alma Mater Studiorum as part of the conference The Mysteries of Ancient Tibetan Sacred Art Unveiled in Bologna and at Aldobrandesco Castle in Arcidosso.
Other lectures include: “Tibetan Cultural and Spiritual Heritage” at the University of La Laguna (ULL), Tenerife; “Peace and Evolution” at the B.M. Birla Science Centre, World Buddhist Culture Trust, Hyderabad, India; “Yoga” at Fudan University, Shanghai; and “Health, Well-Being and Evolution According to Tibetan Medicine and the Dzogchen Teaching” at the University of Cordoba (UNC), Argentina.
Invited to give teachings and lectures in Spain, Italy, Romania, Russia, the United States, India, Bhutan, Singapore, China, Australia, Argentina, Brazil, Peru, and Mexico.
Invited to give teachings and lectures in Spain, Great Britain, Greece, France, Italy, the United States, Russia, Poland, Romania, Bhutan, Singapore, Malaysia, China, Japan, Australia, and Argentina.
The complete works of Chögyal Namkhai Norbu are published in Tibetan as Chos rgyal nam mkha’i nor bu’i gsung ’bum. The collection is composed of five volumes and contains all his main writings published to date.
At Merigar, the Cinerarium is inaugurated. It is the first structure of its kind in the Dzogchen Community.
Lectures in 2015 include the presentation of The Light of Kailash: A History of Zhang Zhung and Tibet, vol. 3 The Later Period, at INALCO (Institut National des Langues et Civilisations Orientales) in Paris; “Death and the Afterlife in Tibetan Culture,” roundtable, Università La Laguna (ULL), Tenerife; “The Knowledge of our Real Condition,” Ying Jie Communication Center, Beijing University, Beijing; and “The Tibetan Yoga of Movement,” University of Cordoba (UNC).
Chögyal Namkhai Norbu “The Knowledge of Our Real Condition,” Ying Jie Communication Center, Beijing University
Invited to participate in Looking Beyond, an interfaith conference at Merigar West on the theme of death. In this context a book by the same title was also presented.
Invited to give teachings and lectures in Spain, Italy, the Czech Republic, and Slovakia. In Tenerife, at the Dzamling Gar center, he places the first stone for the future Gönpa.
Gives a lecture on Tibetan medicine for the third Jornadas de Medicina integrativa at Casal del Metge in Barcelona.
In Italy, the Museum of Asian Art and Culture (MACO) is inaugurated in Arcidosso and the Palbar Chörten at Merigar West.
Publication of Sharro: Festschrift for Chögyal Namkhai Norbu, a compilation of academic articles by various scholars of Tibetan culture, created to honor the studies, teachings, and research of Chögyal Namkhai Norbu.
Gives teachings and lectures in Spain. Lectures: “The Relationship Between Body, Energy, and Mind from the Point of View of Tibetan Medicine” at Juan Ramón Jiménez Theater, Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, and “Tibetan Buddhism: Sutra, Tantra, and Dzogchen” at the Autonomous University of Barcelona.
Inauguration of the International Atiyoga Foundation, a cultural foundation dedicated to the preservation and promotion of traditional cultures such as that of Tibet but also to the encounter between the new frontiers of culture and science in the contemporary world.
On June 2, 2018, the award of the Commander Order of Merit of the Republic of Italy to Chögyal Namkhai Norbu is declared; the honor is conferred on September 10 in the Council Chamber of the Town Hall of Arcidosso by Prefect Cinzia Torraco. It is awarded to recognize “merit contributed to the nation in the fields of literature, the arts, economy, public service, and social, philanthropic, and humanitarian activities and for long and conspicuous service in civilian and military careers.”
On Thursday, September 27, 2018, at 9 pm, in a serene and peaceful state, Master Chögyal Namkhai Norbu left this earthly existence in his Gadeling residence at Merigar (Arcidosso).
A heartfelt thanks to all the individuals and institutions who have contributed their support, their skills, their memories, photos, and materials to the creation of this time line.