Rinjing Dorje is the son of Sherab Dorje from Kham, eastern Tibet, and Choe Gyalmo, a nomad lady from the foothills of the Himalayas. Sherab Dorje was recognized as the reincarnation of a Sherpa lama, Khamsum Wangdu, and in the 1930s he moved from his native land to northern Nepal.
Sherab Dorje was a highly esteemed practitioner of Tibetan medicine in healing the mentally ill. His uniquely unconventional techniques made him prominent throughout the region. Although the practice itself was a traditional Tibetan one, he formulated his own method, which called for keeping the patient in total darkness providing only light from a flickering butter lamp. He would then walk on the patient while reciting incantations and burning an intoxicating incense of Gugul, a powerfully scented sap. Finally, he would glance commandingly into the eyes of his patient, while giving him counsel. After that, he would prescribe some mineral and herbal medications. As a reward for curing a prince of Nepal’s royal Rana family, he was made governor of an area in northern Nepal.
In the course of his official duties, he traveled extensively throughout that region. He met a beautiful young nomad lady, Choe Gyalmo, in the village of Shabru, and they were soon married. She gave birth to Rinjing Dorje in 1949, the Tibetan year of the Earth-Ox.
As a young boy, Rinjing Dorje tended his family’s live stock, herding their yaks, dris, sheep and cows on the high pastures of the Himalayas. It was then, sitting around the crackling camp fires, that Rinjing heard the amusing tales of the ever-popular Uncle Tompa from the other herders.
At the age of eleven, young Rinjing fell ill with some unknown malady. His father was unable to cure him. As a last resort, his parents consulted a renowned astrologer who advised Rinjing to become a monk. “Only then he will enjoy his full life,” was the celestial computation.
Rinjing Dorje took the vows of a novice monk and joined Muen Monastery in Tibet. When Rinjing was thirteen, his father suddenly passed away. He and his mother moved to Katmandu where his father had built a monastery.
There Rinjing attended western-style schools and came into contact with westerners. Later, in the hopes of becoming a writer, he went abroad to further his education.
To date, he has published two books in English. He is currently completing the manuscript of his first novel. He and his two children live in the Seattle area, where he is also a noted storyteller of Tibetan tales.