SSP – The First 40 Years: 1983 – 2023

Dear Readers, 

We are pleased to offer an e-booklet in celebration of the fortieth anniversary of Shang Shung Publications, a publishing house dedicated to preserving and continuing the cultural and spiritual heritage of the Tibetan people as well as to exploring new frontiers of knowledge. 

Our founder, Prof. Namkhai Norbu, made unparalleled contributions in the realm of Tibetan studies and was one of the most important masters of our time of the teaching of Atiyoga (meaning “primordial knowledge” in Sanskrit).

This booklet contains a short, but profound piece composed by Namkhai Norbu for an early student. Hitherto unpublished, this concise teaching in the form of a poem reflects the Author’s supreme capacity to communicate knowledge with great beauty and with the intent of helping practitioners grasp the real essence of the Path.

We thank Master Namkhai Norbu and his student Antonio Morgione for having kindly shared this precious teaching with us.

We have also prepared a celebratory video (see links below) recalling the history of Shang Shung Publications from its beginnings in 1983, when Prof. Namkhai Norbu realized his idea to create a publishing house dedicated to Tibetan culture and the teaching of Dzogchen (“total perfection,” another term for Atiyoga). The video retraces the steps that in the course of forty years of steady work made our publishing house what it is today.

For the video we chose to use one of the songs that Prof. Namkhai Norbu collected for the Khaita Joyful Dances series, where singer Dorje Tashi sings “Last night I had a good dream, I dreamed that I was building bridges across three rivers.” We consider this song particularly appropriate for the occasion. 

To further portray our history, we sought the testimonies of some of the people who helped our publishing house, then called Shang Shung Edizioni, bring to light its first publications. We also took the opportunity to present our current activities in articles that will be published by The Mirror for this anniversary year.

Video in English: https://youtu.be/DKF4YMrIa9Q

Видео на русском языке: https://youtu.be/CnWdHoS45xQ

Video in lingua italiana: https://youtu.be/fCpM4GAtrNQ

Vídeo en español: https://youtu.be/3qZY00dAEM4

中文影片: https://youtu.be/mhO3Ry8nknQ

With happiness and gratitude for all the beneficial fruits of culture and knowledge that Atiyoga Master Namkhai Norbu has given us, in the last part of the booklet we have included a section on Namkhai Norbu and the Dzogchen Community as well as a selected list of books published in English, Italian, and Tibetan.

May the mere beholding of the meritorious activities that Namkhai Norbu accomplished during his life bring you joy and inspiration. Enjoy!

We would like to dedicate this booklet to our Master Namkhai Norbu and to all the collaborators from 1983 up to the present who contributed to this wonderful journey: a story of commitment, dedication, and culture.

The Shang Shung Publications Team

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Antonio Morgione recounts how he received the poem “Advice to Antonio Morgione, an Ornament of Vowels and Consonants” as a gift from Master Namkhai Norbu. 

We were with the Maestro in Camprodon, a famous holiday resort in Catalonia, on holiday at the invitation of the family of Ramon and Nuria Prats. It was August 1974. I was beginning to take an interest in Tibetan language and was practicing writing the alphabet, so one day the Master gave me a piece of writing with some valuable tips for practice. The text, written by the Master in poetic form, is a precious piece of advice encapsulating the essence of the teaching of the great masters of the Dzogchen lineage. The entire poem consists of a succession of verses that begin with a letter in the sequence of the Tibetan alphabet. At the time he wrote it, the Master gave me an oral commentary explaining the meaning of the various stanzas, and so I received this precious teaching and sealed it in my heart, feeling fortunate, as all of us students are, to have been taken under the care of the Dzogchenpa Namkhai Norbu.

The years passed. After his lectures at the University of Naples “L’Orientale,” the Master used to stop by the house on the Riviera di Chiaia to rest and have a meal with us. Many friends, students, and disciples were invited with him. We would chat, cook, and listen to the Maestro’s words. Very often Laura Albini, Nancy Simmons, Costantino, Enrico, Andrea, Giacomella, Fabio, Adriano, Francesco, Paolo, Sergio, Gennaro, Eugenio, Alberto, Antonio (Festa), Enzo, and many others would come. 

On one of those occasions, in Naples, at the home of Ramon and Nuria Prats at number 88 on the Riviera di Chiaia, he spoke about that same poem written in Camprodon. On that occasion, the Maestro translated it extemporaneously, and Adriano Clemente meticulously annotated the Italian translation the Maestro provided.

The first four verses, starting, respectively, with the first four letters of the Tibetan alphabet (Ka, Kha, Ga, and Nga), are salutations to the three bodies of the enlightened ones, the dharmakaya, the sambhogakaya, and the nirmanakaya, and to the first master who introduced Dzogchen in our era, the supreme Garab Dorje.

The next four verses start, respectively, with the next letters in the Tibetan alphabet in sequential order (Ca, Cha, Ja, and Nya) and remind us that although our actions appear to be satisfying, they actually cause suffering.

The next four verses start with the next letters in the Tibetan alphabet in sequential order (Ta, Tha, Da, and Na) and speak about impermanence and the fact that everything created exists in time and is not lasting.

The next four verses start with the next letters in the Tibetan alphabet in sequential order (Pa, Pha, Ba, and Ma) and warn that passions, jealousy, pride, and avarice are in fact nothing but a vortex of suffering.

The next four verses, again following the sequential order of the Tibetan alphabet (Tsa, Tsha, Dza, and Wa), warn that it is not enough to run away from everything or to make sacrifices, or to take the path of renunciation, but that we must truly attain a clear understanding of ourselves.

The next four verses, following the sequential order of the Tibetan alphabet (Zha, Za, ’A, and Ya), urge practitioners not to pretend to be something they are not since this only results in negative actions that lead to lower states of existence.

The next verses, in five lines starting with the next letters of the Tibetan alphabet (Ra, La, Sha, Sa, and Ha), mention in the first line one of the holiest places in Tibet, Ralung Monastery, the site of “an ocean of Siddhas,” whose biographies have nothing to do with the eight worldly dharmas. Indeed, in the practice of daily life, we should neither be pleased nor displeased with any worldly achievements or any suffering or loss or gain and so on. If we follow the path we must remember that bodhisattvas are capable of offering even their own bodies for the benefit of beings and do not aspire to power and dominion.

The Maestro then warns that devoting ourselves exclusively to study and neglecting practice breeds doubt and does not make us mature, so much so that later, at the time of death, it will notbe so easy for us and we will not know what to do even if we make an effort.

The following verses, starting with the last letter, A (considered a consonant in the Tibetan alphabet), and the four vowels (I, U, E, and O), offer direct advice and exhortations to enter into practice.

Specifically, the Maestro says, “Now that you have encountered the supreme path of Atiyoga, the union of method and wisdom represented by E and WAM, beyond eternity, nothingness, mental analysis, and opinion, enter into the essential practice of OṂ ĀḤ HŪṂ. A I U E O A TI OṂ ĀḤ HŪṂ.”

In the next verses, each starting with a letter with a wasur subscript, the Maestro continues his advice for daily practice, saying it is as indispensable for practitioners as sinews are for walking. Practice should be clear, pure space, beyond attachments and a limited direction. The energy of thoughts, he says, is as uninterrupted as the waves of the ocean, but if we do not stay as present as if walking on nettles, we can fall into three impediments: being too relaxed, too soft, and lacking attention; being too tense and rigid like a horn, having too much tension; and being too sleepy, like having a black hat pulled down over our eyes. This section concludes with a warning not to pursue the state of emptiness like the followers of nihilism do, seeking a meditative state by blocking thoughts, resulting in a state that is only empty and that becomes an impediment to  development in practice.

Four verses follow whose first syllables spell the word A-TI-YO-GA.

The last four lines all begin with DZOG (Dzogchen), the perfect and supreme goal of every path or way of realization, the very essence of Tantra and of the transmissions and secret instructions of the masters.

Thank you

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The First Twelve Years of Shang Shung Publications 

Giovanni Arca

In 1982 Chögyal Namkhai Norbu expressed his intention to form a publishing house to produce works of interest to the Community. He wished to avoid the formal involvement of the Dzogchen Community and also intended to create a source of income for Community members producing the publications. The ‘Cooperativa Shang-Shung Edizioni’ was formed on February 24th, 1983 in Naples. The legal status of the company allowed it to pay wages but not distribute profit, which had to be reinvested into publishing activities. Alberto Galli, an attorney, was going to be the first President of the Cooperativa but had soon to renounce because the position was not legally compatible with his profession. Andrea Sertoli, too, had to renounce after a very short time due to work commitments. I was then nominated and kept the position for about twelve years.

Before Shang Shung Edizioni started its activities, material for the practices was mainly handwritten by Rinpoche himself, who would painstakingly sit for hours, discarding any sheet of paper with even the slightest imperfection, even if it was on the very last line. The manuscripts were then photocopied and distributed to practitioners, although at that time, in the seventies, we were only a small number.

At the very beginning, besides Tun practices and so on, we limited our activities mainly to producing a ‘Newsletter’ and then the ‘Merigar Letter’, the humble predecessor of The Mirror, initially edited by Bruno Irmici. 

Our first publications were Rinpoche’s Yantra Yoga and Tibetan Nomads, In Tibetan, both in 1983, followed by L’oro raffinato (…) secondo la Mahāmudrā, by Kun dga’ bstan ‘dzin, in Italian and English editions, and Lo specchio – Un consiglio sulla presenza e la consapevolezza, which was the first book in a western language by Chögyal Namkhai Norbu to be widely available to the general public. In 1984 we published another Rinpoche’s book in Tibetan, The Small Collection of Hidden Precepts, based on a text by Buddhagupta, the sBa pai rgum chung.

In 1985 we published Il Rosario d’oro di Tara (The Golden Rosary of Tara) by Taranatha. I have a vivid and fond memory of that, because at that time I had no publishing experience and Rinpoche helped me choose the illustrations at the Yellow House, still dilapidated at the time. The book on Tara worked a bit as an icebreaker, also because it was produced for the first time by a professional printer, the 2A, which had us as clients for a few years, before we replaced it with the Tipografia Vieri, much bigger and able to print at market level quality (at the beginning we still hand wrote the diacritics). After that book we increased our production, which began to require more time and commitment because there was much to prepare for retreats, as well as for general information and public relations. We had our first computer, a small Macintosh 128Kb., on a raised timber platform I shared with my friend Enrico Dell’Angelo, in a room on the 1st floor of the Yellow House. In the summer that space was an extremely effective sauna, impossible to forget…

As time passed things began to be progressively less amatorial, and I was struggling to cope with my Gakyil commitments, the recently founded The Mirror (initially co-managed by the publishing house) and the publications, so Rinpoche asked Karin Koppensteiner to assist me. With her help our production started to take off. Karin and I worked in the ‘Capannone’, where we established our first real office, which soon included the editorial staff of The Mirror. 

In an interview with The Mirror (December 1990, Issue 6) Rinpoche stressed the aims of Shang Shung Publications: “Basically we should concentrate on providing a service for people of the Dzogchen Community who are interested in the teaching. That is the main aim. But if we only publish books of the teachings and practices there will be no possibility to continue because there will be no income. So without forgetting our main aim we should also prepare something for making money, so that there will be some income. We don’t need to make lots of money like a big publishing house but we do need enough to continue our main aim of publishing translations and teachings”. 

Following Rinpoche’s original idea, Shang Shung Publications tried to enter into a wider market. Although we were a micro-publisher, we constantly strived to improve the quality and presentation of our books, as well as diversifying in order to sell also outside the Community. Our design started to be more consistent and recognizable, thanks in particular to Bruno Irmici, who designed many covers of our early series. Several years after Fulvio Ferrari and Paolo Fassoli took care of many new graphic designs. In 1991 we reached an agreement for an Imprint with Station Hill Press, an American publishing house owned by George Quasha, a Community member. We could therefore distribute and sell in the U.S. through their national catalog. 

At the same time we started our video production and distribution with four films, Timeless Present, A Lama around the World, Yantra Yoga, and Tun Medio e Posizioni del Londé. We also distributed the film Kailash. People involved were Paolo Brunatto, Gualtiero Cocco, Fulvio Rossi, Gaetano Ruvolo, Alex Siedlecki and Manuel Tòdaro. We also started to collaborate with several audio-visual archives: Tibet House-New York,  Meridian Trust-London,  Station Hill Press-N.Y.,  Mystic Fire-U.S., Istituto Lama Tzong Khapa, Italia-Tibet, ISMEO and others. More information on this early video section can be read on p. 4 of Issue 9 of The Mirror. An ‘International Video Committee’ was formed, with Fabio Andrico, Giovanni Arca, Enrico Dell’Angelo and Rosa Tolli Namkhai.

Tiziana Gottardi using a vertical monitor with a protective screen.

Gennaro Palladino and Anna Eid at work in the Capannone office.

Around 1990 Rinpoche assigned Tiziana Gottardi as the first full-time staff member of Shang Shung, after me. Up to that moment no one working for the publications had received any money and Tiziana was the first to be minimally (almost symbolically) paid and immediately started studying desktop publishing, which at that time we greatly needed, and collaborating at several other levels. For many years she provided a fundamental contribution to our publications. Gaetano Ruvolo, then a professional editor, also started to collaborate on production and editing, while I continued to be the legal representative, editing and coordinating all the activities. At that stage there were already a number of people who helped in various ways, and it would be hard to mention each name. Among them Gennaro Palladino (who organized and produced almost full time the transcripts of the teachings), and then several translators and copywriters who also supervised the quality of English and Italian language. More information about this can be found in Issue 11 of The Mirror. 

During the initial seven or eight years the number of publications increased dramatically, in line with the equally dramatic increase of the number of Community practitioners worldwide, thanks to the tireless efforts of Chögyal Namkhai Norbu. For many years the publishing house had very relevant sales during the crowded retreats held by Rinpoche at Merigar, and was one of the main financial resources of the Community. 

Due to this great development, in 1993 it became clear that we needed to coordinate the efforts of the various Gars and Gakyils, creating a world-wide net of practitioners, with the aim of establishing a coherent and shared program related to publications of the Teaching: “During the course of a meeting at Merigar, presided by Chögyal Namkhai Norbu, the responsibility of drawing up a basic project for all the various aspects related to the management of the material regarding the teachings of Namkhai Norbu Rinpoche was given to John Shane, of the Blue Gakyil, Giovanni Arca of Shang Shung Edizioni and Adriano Clemente, Tibetologist” (The Mirror, Issue 21).

One or two years earlier the expanding activities of the publishing house had meant finding a larger space to have all those working under the same roof in order to coordinate the different activities and stages of production more effectively. I asked Igor Legati (translation and editing), Anna Pucci and Clara Iuliano (graphics) to join Tiziana, Gennaro and me, with the intent of expanding our production to the national market. Silvana Pisani managed our public relations. From then we also started to retribute those working on the publications. 

The publishing house was finally starting to work according to Rinpoche’s original idea, and also according to how the structure of a Cooperative is ideally meant to work, but it had taken roughly eight years. A space on the ground floor of the Residence Lo Scoiattolo, in Arcidosso, became our office, a professional printing machine was purchased (operated by Gennaro, who was in constant struggle with the mechanical ‘monster’), and an agreement was signed with a national distributor, Albolibro. 

Giovanni Arca and George Quasha in their shared stand at the Frankfurt International Book Fair in November 1993.

We signed the agreement together with many other Italian mini-publishers, in a common effort to overcome the challenges of national distribution for small publishing companies. Albolibro offered the presence of eleven regional promoters in exchange for 9% of the cover price, which brought our costs for the bookstores, promotion and distribution to 37%, rather in line with the market. We had to guarantee a minimum of one new title per month in 1500/2000 copies, which was quite a challenge for us since it had to be on top of our already very busy activity of publications for Community members. To promote our publications we also went to the 1993 Frankfurt International Book Fair, together with Station Hill Press, which distributed our books in English. At the same time we started buying rights for the Italian market from mainly American publishers specialized in Buddhism. 

We were all working hard, and on multiple fronts, until one day we unexpectedly received the news that Albolibro had gone bankrupt. It was a relatively big deal that made headlines in the media, because it dragged many small publishers, including us, into a nightmare of problems. When we received the news that Albolibro was winding up, we discovered that our books had not been distributed or sold for several months, and we found ourselves owing money to printers, accountant, bills and so on. 

Due to those unfortunate circumstances, we received some financial help from the Community, but after a few months it became clear that the wish to sustain the publishing house as a Cooperative was not present anymore. It was then decided to continue publications with the Shang Shung brand, but as a publishing section of the Dzogchen Community. I accepted to be the liquidator of the company and proceeded to its dissolution. Tiziana and Igor continued to work for the publications for many years after that. The remaining debt was completely repaid after about two years by selling part of the books in stock during retreats. That completed the first chapter of Shang Shung Publications, but not its whole story.

Around 1991, a business lunch near Conway, Mass., with various people of the Community discussing how to organise an effective way of distributing all publications (internal and public) within the American Community in the US.

In those early years we had learned everything from scratch, and managed to publish dozens of books and hundreds of booklets on the Teaching with very limited resources. The first twelve years represented much more than the start of an ordinary publishing house. Many things were beginning at the same time: Merigar, the Community, publications, Coabit, A.S.I.A., the Shang Shung Institute, and this explosion of activities was deeply perceived and shared by all these different, but intimately connected, organizations. Many of the founding principles, policies, agreements, statutes and regulations that we now take for granted were established for the first time. From the beginning activities were based on the principle of volunteer collaboration, and at the start Shang Shung Publications consisted of mainly complete amateurs, whose pioneer work laid the ground for future development of our publishing activities, which are still continuing and evolving thanks to the commitment of many. It is undeniable that the beginnings were hard in many ways, but we learned much more than just making books. Many more people than what has been possible to mention here have collaborated, and I am sure that all those involved at that time would agree that it has been a great privilege that we owe to the vision, tireless dedication and sacrifice of Chögyal Namkhai Norbu.

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Shang Shung Publishing Continues   

By Gaetano Ruvolo, 

Managing director 2014-2018

The Shang Shung stand in the big tent at Merigar during a retreat.

Early in 2013 I received a phone call from Enrico Dell’Angelo asking me if I wanted to collaborate with him to give a firmer structure to Shang Shung Publishing. I immediately said yes, since my history with SSP dated back to the 80’s, when I volunteered to lend my editorial skills. At the time I helped Giovanni Arca with proofs, editing, organizing the layout, getting the book covers from the graphic designers, selling the books through personal visits to the few bookstores in Rome and doing some foreign rights international agreements at the Frankfurt Book Fair, where I went due to my regular job.

By the end of 2013 I agreed to commit to a more stable presence and responsibility in leading the change of the organization to become a full fledged publishing house, both for Dzogchen practitioners around the world and for everybody interested in the Teachings. Our main mission was, and still is, to make the original Tibetan texts written by Rinpoche available in English and Italian. This mission involved many different processes and we tackled them one by one, doing our best with the limited resources available.

The first one was to make the editorial process, from the choice of the books to publish every year to the number of copies to print, including marketing and sales, more transparent.

The second task was to modernize our website, simplifying the choice of the books and separating general publications from those reserved for practitioners. We decided to start from scratch and build a new website using an open source e-commerce platform used by many businesses around the world. This task proved to be quite complex, but thanks to the efforts and strong commitment of our IT manager, Kamil Selwa, we managed to create our new website in less than a year, opening up the possibility to sell our books internationally online.

A third very important task was to find a proper location for the storage of our books, at the time spread in different places in Merigar 2, in a very humid unsuitable environment which was damaging our stock. Again a radical decision was made and we found a local office in Castel Del Piano. We moved all our books to the new location, which became the new seat of the administrative, logistical and distribution center of Shang Shung Publications. This move gave our distribution and logistics manager, Mateusz Kocylowski, the possibility to centralize stock receipt from printers, order preparation and shipment to our customers in one single place. Furthermore, due to our new e-commerce website creation, we had to assign a barcode to all our books in order to manage them properly. We also started doing the annual stock taking required legally and for accounting purposes.

We formalized the interaction of all the members of the Editorial Board, including translators (Adriano Clemente and Elio Guarisco) and editors (Tiziana Gottardi, Igor Legati, Artur Skura, Nancy Simmons, Susan Schwarz), through regular monthly meetings in order to plan and adjust the release of the titles in the pipeline according to their editorial status and the needs of the SSP, which took special care to insure that the related titles corresponded with the Teachings scheduled by Rinpoche at Merigar and Dzamling Gar.

Another important task that we had to tackle was to formalize, through the drawing up of foreign language rights contracts, the administrative and legal processes related to the translation of our Master’s books, mainly under the supervision and responsibility of local Gars and Lings everywhere in the world, in various European and Far East languages.

During the five years of my time at SPP some very important books were published. In 2014 The Temple of the Great Contemplation, which vividly illustrates with pictures and graphics the origin of the Merigar Gönpa, designed by our Master and decorated with paintings of the main Masters from all the different schools of Tibetan Buddhism was finally published. This book was one of the most important, both in content and graphics, books ever published by SSP. Other important books released that year were Shine and Lhagthong in the Dzogchen Teaching, The Light of the Sun, and Message from Tibet Through Songs and Dances, which contained all the initial set of songs and dances of the Khaita Joyful Dances series.

In 2015 many different books were published including Secret Map of the Body. Visions of the Human Energy Structure by Gyalwa Yangönpa, translated and edited by Elio Guarisco. The long awaited The Dance Of The Vajra was also published, together with The Dance Of The Vajra – Mandala Diagrams. Another important historical book by Rinpoche found the light that year, completing the three volumes series, The Light of Kailash Volume Three. Among some restricted books published in 2015, there was The Long-Life Practice of the Immortal Dakini Mandarava, to guide the actual practice of the Mandarava Thun.

In 2016 twenty-three books were released. Many of them were the Italian translations of books already published in English. Among the English language books there was the Dorje Sempa Namkha Che – The Total Space of Vajrasattva, Healing with Yantra Yoga, and Kumar Kumari YantraThe Garland of Lotus Flowers  Yantra Yoga for Children and Mount Kailash and the Lost Kingdom of Shang Shung; the latter one being the actual story of the journey to Mount Kailash in the 80’s of the Master Chögyal Namkhai Norbu with some of his students. SSP also published the DVD of the teachings which Rinpoche had given in Bhutan the year before: Bhutan Teachings – Paro 2015.

In 2017 a few very important books for Dzogchen practitioners were released, such as Teachings on Thun and Ganapuja, Outer Rushen, Going Beyond Limitations and Yangti Experiential Instructions. On the public books side we released Breathe As You Are, by the long time student and Yantra Yoga teacher Fabio Andrico. This book typifies SSP’s intention to reach a larger audience by bringing some of the treasures of Rinpoche’s teachings to all.

In 2018 this trend of spreading the teachings to a wider audience continued with three books. One was The Spiritual Odyssey of Freda Bedi, the biography of one of the first Western women to receive teachings from highly renowned Tibetan Masters. Another was a collection of Rinpoche’s teachings to provide a basic introduction to Dzogchen teachings: Starting the Evolution. An Introduction to the Ancient Teaching of Dzogchen. The third one, by Chögyal Namkhai Norbu, was Freedom from Attachment – Integrating a Classic Buddhist Teaching into Daily Life. Within the restricted section of books reserved for practitioners there were some important releases: The Upadesha on the Self-Perfected Thögal, The Crucial Preliminaries of the Path of Ati and The Long-Life Practice of Amitayus and the Chülen of the Three Kayas.

I wish to thank our precious Master, Chögyal Namkhai Norbu from the bottom of my heart, for having so generously shared with us the vastness of his knowledge with so many precious gems of his teachings. I regard myself as a very lucky individual for having had the possibility to be part of this editorial project, born out of his vision, and for having worked together with so many dedicated practitioners who have made history and will be the future of this Publishing House.

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We are deeply thankful to Professor Namkhai Norbu for his vision and generosity, and grateful to the Namkhai Family for their guidance and for authorizing us to publish the words of Professor Namkhai Norbu.

We are grateful to:

  •  all our authors and readers,
  • all the donors of Shang Shung Publications and Ka-Ter,
  • our main translators from the Tibetan (Adriano Clemente, Elio Guarisco, and Jim Valby),
  • all our support teams: translation, transcription, editing, correction, layout, graphic design, web design, social media, office, and administration, the entire Dzogchen Community, including all Gars, Lings, and organizations,
  • current founding members: International Atiyoga Foundation, International Dzogchen Community, and Merigar West.

We thank all the hundreds of collaborators of the past, present, and future for contributing to this wonderful story of commitment, dedication, and culture.

Dedicated to:

Mario Maglietti (September 26, 1938–February 02, 1999)
Igor Legati (January 17, 1943–July 16, 2023)
Enrico Dell’Angelo (September 11, 1954– December 26, 2016)
Elio Guarisco (August 05, 1954–November 27, 2020)

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Shang Shung Publications,

Social Enterprise, Limited Liability Company and NON-PROFIT Organization: 2018-2023

Giovanni Totino
for the Shang Shung Publications Team

In the previous two articles Giovanni Arca and Gaetano Ruvolo described the birth of Shang Shung Publishing House (1983-1995 ) and also the development of the period 2014-2018.

In the next issue of The Mirror we will also publish the part of the story from 1996 to 2013, which is the central period of the Publishing House that coincided with the greatest development of the Dzogchen Community and the birth of many other Shang Shung brand publishing houses. Autonomous, independent publishing houses, linked to local Lings or Gars, entrusted with translating the Master’s teachings into other languages and publishing his books in various European countries and on different continents of the world. 

Just to mention, Shang Shung Russia, Shang Shung Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovakia, Germany, Poland, France, Spain, Japan, Romania, China, Taiwan, all publishing houses with which Shang Shung Publications promotes the translation and publication of “public” and “reserved” texts by Master Namkhai Norbu, originally on the basis of contracts with the Master and currently with the Namkhai Family.

In the period 2019-2020, just to give an idea, about 29,000 books were sold in various languages in different countries around the world. So it would not have been possible to recount all 40 years in a single article in The Mirror.

So we are reserving, as of now, a space in the next issue of The Mirror, to explain how the Publishing House was managed, in the years from 1995 to 2013, by people who worked hard to ensure the continuation of this important activity: Luigi Ottaviani, Igor Legati, Salima Celeri, Tiziana Gottardi and others. 

We thank not only the main translators from Tibetan (Adriano Clemente, Jim Valby and Elio Guarisco) but also the translators from English and Italian and those from other languages, equally important to ensure the correct translation of the meaning of the teaching transmitted by the Master.

In addition, let us not forget all the people who ensured, and still ensure, the operational, less obvious, quieter but fundamental activities such as administration and accounting, logistics and shipping, graphics, text editing and proofreading and, since the 2000s, information technology.

Finally, a thought to the donors and readers, of the past of the present and the future, hundreds of people, without whom this wonderful story of continuous commitment, deep dedication and culture would not have been possible.

So now as the Group that runs the Shang Shung Publications Non-profit Social Enterprise today, we would like to tell you what we have done in the past years (2018-2023) and what we will do in the next three years (2024-2026).

Photo by Paolo Fassoli

This is our office and bookshop in Arcidosso, which is also a warehouse and shipping hub.

Shang Shung Publications is now a small organization, incorporated as a Limited Liability Company to operate more easily in the market and is, at the same time, also a non-profit organization, with all the benefits that come with it.

Its founding members are the Atiyoga Foundation, International Dzogchen Community and the Dzogchen Community of Merigar West. Their representatives sit on the Board and ensure the full cooperation of the Publishing House with the entire Dzogchen Community. 

The chosen formula is working, and with the help of Ka-Ter ( https://ka-ter.org/), an organization of the Dzogchen Community coordinated by Oliver Leick, engaged in fundraising to ensure the sustainability of translations from Tibetan and the publication of the Master’s texts, the management of the small Publishing House is able to meet its economic and operational goals.

Obviously, the passing of the Master in 2018 and then the Covid pandemic in 2019, and, I would add, also the recent wars and new world situations, have not facilitated our activities.

In line with the new organization of the Community desired by the Master, i.e. the establishment of the International Atiyoga Foundation, and the historic activities of the International Dzogchen Community, in 2020 the publishing house made an addition to the existing webshop, which, up to then, had been reserved for practice texts and thus for Dzogchen Community practitioners. This innovation was a public webshop to enable people outside the Community to be able to learn about and buy the public texts written by the Master; about 60 titles in English and about 40 in Italian. These public texts, pertaining to the various disciplines related to Dzogchen Atiyoga, medicine, dance, and yantra yoga, were promoted by organizing free in-person and online events featuring book presentations and short workshops.

Photo by Paolo Fassoli

Promotional activities will continue in 2024 and 2025 in cooperation with the founding members (ATIF- IDC and Merigar West).

To promote dissemination to external audiences, co-publishing contracts have been signed with publishing houses for the Italian and Spanish languages:

Italian language: co-publishing with Om Edizioni Publishing House in Italy began in 2020, and we have already published 20 public texts by the Master; in 2022, about 1,500 books were sold to an audience outside the Dzogchen Community.

Spanish language (South America): in 2022, contacts were initiated with Casa Editrice Editorial Del Fondo, based in Argentina, and in the first half of 2023 we started publishing; public books will be sold in Argentina, Chile, Colombia and also in Mexico. The same Spanish texts will then be promoted in Spain and other Spanish-speaking countries.

From the perspective of innovation, we will be creating a new webshop in 2024. The existing one, created by our Kamil as recounted by Gaetano, was a very important insight and performed an outstanding service, allowing Shang Shung Publications to be visible and present everywhere thanks to the Internet. Unfortunately, the functions to be added, new fiscal rules, and the need to have a more flexible tool make it necessary to replace it.

Regarding the translation of new texts written in Tibetan by the Master, just a few days ago Adriano presented us with a proposed publishing plan. The work to translate and publish them is enormous and will take about 15-20 years. 

As a group of people in charge of Shang Shung Publications, either as part-time workers or volunteers, we guarantee the utmost commitment and dedication in continuing the many ongoing activities and initiating those that have been planned. 

We are also confident that you, our readers, and all the hundreds of people who have supported us for the first forty years, from 1983 to 2023, will continue to do so for the coming decades.

Thank you all for your continued support.

If you would like, you can download a free e-booklet, created especially for the first forty years of the Publishing House initiated by Master Professor Namkhai Norbu, from this link.

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Update on the ‘Shang Shung Publications’ Spanish Publications

Spanish Language ChNN’s Books Project Shang Shung Publications Team

Following the passing of the Master, Shang Shung Publications has continued to work on the translation and publication of Chögyal Namkhai Norbu’s texts, both public and reserved for members, with the mission of ensuring their translation from Tibetan into English.

Thanks to the support of Ka-Ter (the project created by the Master to raise funds for the Tibetan translation work) we are able to cover the costs of his Tibetan texts to English translations, layout and printing of the first edition, as well as the costs of the web store, storage, administration and coordination.

Unfortunately, however, we cannot cover the costs of translations and publications in other languages, such as Italian, Spanish or Chinese, but we want to collaborate with the various Gars and Lings. From 2021 we are committed to rebuild the teams of translators and to provide support for layout and printing.

For the publication of the books in Italian we organized a team of translators and asked Merigar West for financial support to cover the costs of translation, editing and printing of the Maestro’s books. Since 2022, Merigar West has accepted to support us for the books in Italian, because Merigar West gakyil has become aware that ensuring the translation and publication of the Master’s books in the most widespread languages is a service to the members of the Community and also a contribution to the diffusion of the teaching of Atiyoga Dzogchen. With the help of Merigar West we have published some new books in Italian on the following topics: Namkha, Bardo, Yangti, Longsal and we are working on the Tregchod, and other texts.

At what point are we at with the project of translating Master Namkhai Norbu’s texts into Spanish?

For the Spanish language, we have finally managed to create a well-­structured working group willing to work under the principle of karma yoga, consisting of Mayda Hocevar, Clara Bordeu, Adriana Battisti, Marisa Alonso, Yolanda Bravo, Martin Fernandez, Pedro Molina, Giovanni Boni, as well as some of the SSP staff. In Spanish we have recently published some books such as Evolucionar and Abriendo nuestra mente. We are very grateful to the whole group for the work they are doing and for their availability.

However, there are some activities that cannot be done on the basis of karma yoga and that we must remunerate, such as graphics, editing, book layout, printing, coordination and shipping. So just as Merigar West supports the Italian publications, we would like to ask all Spanish speaking Gars and Lings, and all people interested in the Spanish language, to support us in our work.

For any clarification please send an email to: mayda.hocevar@gmail.com and to director@shangshungpublications.com

For donation: https://shangshung publications.com/en/donate
Reason for donation: Spanish language ChNN’s books project

Editorial plan for 2024 in Spanish Language
* El yoga de Tara verde (incluye la melodías)
* SMS nivel 1 * Guru Yoya
* El cucú de la presencia instantánea
* El Upadesha sobre el Tregchöd primordialmente puro.
* Comentarios Longsal Volumen cinco
* El Upadesha del Ati primordialmente puro.

 

 

 

 

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