In the bardo of a great master

It is impossible to make everyone happy. I have tried and I have failed at that. I know for sure that teaching students is not just an art of dedicated effort to bettering humanity it is a gruelling task of patience. Chögyal Namkhai Norbu was my Dzogchen master and I am extremely happy that I got an opportunity to see him in person during a dance practice at his Tenerife Gar in 2016. Ati Guru Yoga is what I will remember the master as, along with his generosity and kindhearted, sense of humour and sound advice.

This year I went to Tenerife for a third time to meet with the Master. While I arrived on September 5th, on September 28, beloved master departed from this earth plane and into the next bardo(s) at his Italian home. Beautiful rainbow along with other signs graced his transition. World community closely gathered connected in the heart and in the oneness of the realized moment watch the 49 days of the traditional Tibetan Buddhist funeral rites.

I will not be looking for a new master, however these 49 days here on the Island of Tenerife were a very deep and personal journey into the understanding and feeling of what I want to create in my life and what it is that I am letting go off. I want to continue to keep the teachings integrated and available for the next lives. We want to make sure that we preserve the Dzogchen tradition of Buddhism as well as the linages and the lives of the masters.

A death of a Dzogchen master like  Chögyal Namkhai Norbu Rinpoche as we say in Spanish ‘es impactante’

The world feels that you are gone precious master. 

The changes are visible and felt in the minds and hearts of the entire global community.

I have experienced some unbreakable dark moments during these 49 days that I would have not experienced otherwise if Rinpoche was alive.

The 49 days that follow death, in Tibetan Buddhism are very important, Buddhanet briefly describes the Tibetan Funeral Rites.

During these days while the master is transitioning through the Bardos the community and family prays and many people experience significant initiations, maturity, heightened awareness, and other esoteric experiences related to the consciousness of the master and their individual experiences with him. I decided quickly to remain on the Island the entire 49 days after his death.

“My” 49 days were filled with integration, realization, tears, laughter, dreams, visions, trips around the Tenerife Island where the master lived for many years, teaching, writing, photographing, and experiencing the totality.

I got very clear on finalizations.

Here on Earth, death is such a final thing to go through, one day you are here in the body and doing things, and the next you are gone. Great masters live their entire lives to demonstrate their meditation skills.

Professor Namkhai Norbu Rinpoche honoured with Italy’s highest recognition, Commander of the Order of Merit of the Italian Republic on Monday, 10 September 2018. Photo/Ento Russo

Bardo is an experience of completion, planning the next rebirth and also resting in the clear light. I know I was guided through that on the island. Definitely I learned that while someone I love and care about is in a bardo not to be attached to the completion of the results. Plan anything new, new ventures, connections, meditations etc… and know that they are either going to be postponed or destroyed. This is radically different from the way that I live and plan and move about life.

If I knew that the master was ill and unwell before I would have prepared my time differently. Yet, it isn’t surprising that a master such as Chögyal Namkhai Norbu Rinpoche was receiving an commemorative award from the Italian government just few days prior to his death. Honoured with Italy’s highest recognition, Commander of the Order of Merit of the Italian Republic.

The President of the Republic of Italy, Sergio Mattarella, has conferred the honour on Prof Namkhai Norbu Rinpoche on the proposal of the Presidency of the Council of Ministers.

The Prefect of Grosseto, Cinzia Torraco, on behalf of the President of the Italian Republic, presented the award at a ceremony which was held in the presence of Mayor of Arcidosso Jacopo Marini and the president of the regional council of Tuscany Eugenio Giani.

The commendatoreate is a recognition for “rewarding merits acquired towards the Nation in the field of letters, the arts, the economy and in the engagement of public offices and activities carried out for social, philanthropic and humanitarian purposes. It is well suited to the teacher who has dedicated his whole life to culture, philanthropic and social activity, spending himself personally to keep the torch of peace always lit.”

Mayor of Arcidosso Jacopo Marini said, “The master has dedicated his entire life to cultural research, to deepening spiritual and philosophical themes. He has always pursued the goal and the dream of peace and his presence in our territory is a great honour. This honour makes him worthy and we are proud that he was awarded this recognition by the President of the Republic “.

At the ceremony, former Prefect, Marco Valentini, the president of Regional council, Mayor of Arcidossa Jacopo Marini, along with mayors of neighbouring municipalities also presented Rinpoche with a symbolic cloth, representing the community’s recognition of the added value of Rinpoche’s presence and activities in the region.

The ceremony was held at the Council Chamber of the City of Acridosso on 10 September.


Each master knows how to handle their life and their death.

Such is death; we prepare for it our entire life and every moment is a moment of either living with a knowing that we are touching humanity and working for humanity, or absent minded and away from reality.

Namkhai Norbu and I have corresponded by email before we met in person. I contacted him with a shocking accident news I had endured and support that I needed and required from him. Master answered immediately and guided me through our correspondence, practices and meditation.

I have not met his family yet I have a strong desire to get to know his son who is also an incredible teacher in his own right, as well as his precious daughter and wife.

His departure is felt for me, I tangibly am not as well as I was with him. His Holiness the 17th Gyalwang Karmapa as well as few other precious masters are doing what they can for me. He was a powerful enlightened man and a father like figure for me and he and I since connecting enjoyed many good cosmic laughs.

Dr. Wangmo

Photo: Dzamling Gar, afternoon prayer practice during the 49 days of funeral rites. (by: FBT)