Doring Tulku

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Doring Tulku (Tib. རྡོ་རིང་སྤྲུལ་སྐུ་འཇམ་དབྱངས་ཀུན་བཟང་ལུང་རིག་ཆོས་ཀྱི་ཉི་མ་, Wyl. rdo ring sprul sku 'jam dbyangs kun bzang lung rig chos kyi nyi ma), aka Tuksé Doring Choktrul Rinpoche, (1902-1952) was born in the village of Doring (Wyl. rdo ring) in Kham, Eastern Tibet. He was recognized as a direct incarnation of Do Khyentse Yeshe Dorje. In 1933, he went to Bhutan and founded Nyimalung Monastery. While back in Tibet in 1940, he roamed widely throughout Tibet, went to Lama Ling and became a direct student of Dudjom Rinpoche.

Birth, Family & Recognition

Doring Tulku was born in the village of Doring in the eastern Tibetan area of Kham. He was recognized as an incarnation of Do Khyentse Yeshe Dorje, himself recognized as a mind incarnation of Jikme Lingpa.


Being trained in Kham

By the age of 13, Doring Tulku had already finished his basic Buddhist studies and had become acquainted with the writings and times of Longchenpa. Inspired by his life story, Doring Tulku left home at this tender age to travel around Kham and Tibet, studying with various masters in different monasteries during seventeen years.

According to Nyoshul Khen Rinpoche [1]:

At an early age, Doring Tulku entered the path of the Dharma and studied with numerous spiritual mentors.

In particular, the extraordinary masters of his Buddha family were Khenpo Shenga and Nyarong Tulku, with whom he studied the sutras and tantras, particularlry the Thirteen great texts, continuing through the great Nyingtik teachings of the Dzogchen approach; he practiced these and became his guru’s heart son.

Pilgrimage to Lhasa, Central Tibet

Later, Doring Tulku went on a pilgrimage to Lhasa in Central Tibet, ‘planting the victory banner of spiritual practice in all the hermitages he visited, as well as turning the wheel of the dharma and caring for his students’[2].


Leaving Tibet to Bhutan in 1933

While studying in Drepung Monastery and because he was appealingly tall, Doring Tulku was requested to become a personal body guard of the 13th Dalai Lama. To prevent this from happening, Doring Tulku left Tibet and fled to Bhutan in 1933, while he was in his early 30s.

His main target was to read the Seven Treasuries a hundred times, while staying in Tharpaling Monastery, a sacred place treasured by Lonchenpa and Jigme Lingpa.

Establishing a connection with Chume Drungpa Gönpo Dorje in 1933

Unfortunately, before he could complete the one hundred readings of the Seven Treasuries, Doring Tulku was called in 1933 to help perform the funeral rites for a local official named Chumé Dasho Zhelngo Kamyang, father-in-law of His Majesty Jigme Wangchuck, the Second Druk Gyalpo (or, King) of Bhutan.

At these funeral ceremonies, he met Chumé Drungpa Gönpo Dorjé, , this official’s son and hereditary heir, who would now inherit his father’s title and position as Drungpa, the regional administrator.

Founding of Nyimalung in 1934

After talking together, Doring Tulku and Chumé Drungpa Gönpo Dorjé decided to establish a new monastery at Nyimalung (Wyl. nyi ma lung), only a few kilometres from Tharpaling, to further the teachings of the Buddha in general, and of the Longchen Nyingtik lineage in particular. The actual name of the monastery is Shedrup Dargyé Ling Monastery, in Nyima Valley, commonly known as Nyimalung Monastery. Since Chumé Drungpa Gönpo Dorjé was a descendent of Bhutan’s great tertön Pema Lingpa (1450-1541), it was decided that the Peling lineage practices would also be taught in Nyimalung.

In 1934, the construction of the main temple began. From 1934 to 1940, Doring Tulku assumed the head position of Nyimalung, while Chumé Drungpa Gönpo Dorjé remained its founding sponsor.

Each day, Doring Tulku gave teachings from the precious texts he had brought from Tibet. These texts include the Zabchö Shitro Gongpa Rangdrol, aka Karling Shitro, terma of Karma Lingpa, who was first brought to Bhutan by Doring Tulku himself [3].

He also established a Karling Shitro drupchen, still held at Nyimalung during the first fifteen days of the first lunar month of each year.

According to Nyoshul Khen Rinpoche [4]:

He stayed there for a long time, giving many explanatory teachings on the sutras and tantras, instructions in fields of secular knowledge, as well as maturing empowerments and liberating instructions.

Doring Tulku was a perfectionist and capable of doing everything by himself, because he was skillfully practical and manual.

Going back to Tibet in 1940

In 1940, Doring Tulku decided to make a short trip back to Tibet in order to collect ritual objects required to conduct large pujas at the Nyimalung Monastery. Immediately before leaving on his trip, Doring Tulku had an audience with His Majesty Jigme Wangchuck, the Second Druk Gyalpo of Bhutan. When the King asked what he might do for Doring Tulku, he received a very heartfelt response: Doring Tulku requested His Majesty’s assistance in finishing the construction of Nyimalung monastery. In response, The King promised to do whatever he could.

Doring Tulku then departed to Tibet during Saga Dawa of 1940. He roamed widely throughout Tibet, seeking out teachers and opportunities for extended meditation practice in seclusion. He also gave teachings to many people along the way.

Tutoring the young 10th Rigdzin Chenpo in Dorje Drak Monastery

Eventually he was requested to tutor the reincarnation of the tenth Rigdzin Chenpo, Namdrol Gyatso aka Tubten Jigme Namdrol Gyatso, who was born in Lhasa in 1936. Because he felt connected to Dorje Drak Monastery, Rigdzin Chenpo’s monastery, he accepted this responsibility, despite his personal preference for solitary retreats.

It was during this time that Doring Tulku heard the news that the Second Druk Gyalpo had indeed sent assistance to Nyimalung Monastery in the form of painters and carpenters to finish the construction of the first and second floors of the main building, both inside and out. Doring Tulku was overjoyed to hear of this, and dispatched his close Bhutanese disciple Lama Pema Tsewang, who had joined Doring Tulku in Tibet some time earlier, to the King with a letter of Thanks.

Lama Pema Tsewang travelled to Bhutan to deliver the letter of thanks to the King. He later joined again Doring Tulku in Tibet for further pilgrimage, study and meditation.

Meeting and receiving teachings from Dudjom Rinpoche in Lama Ling

At this time, Doring Tulku also met and received teachings from Dudjom Rinpoche, in Lama Ling. Doring Tulku was one of the presiding teachers during the consecration of the new builfing of Lama Ling, in Kongpo. In the biography of Lama Chime Rinpoche, one can read:

In that way, the latter Nyayab Zangdopalri ‘s construction began the first month [of the year] and by the fifth monkey month, as if transferring to the three kayas pure realm, Nyayab Zangdopalri’s support and objects [were completed]. On the auspicious 10th day of the monkey month, the auspicious door [was opened] and they consecrated [the temple.]
In the upper floor, the Dharmakaya’s pure realm, Gendu Gyatso, Tokden Shakya Shri’s close disciple, oversaw the accomplishment of the practice of Tsedrup Chime Soktik.
In the middle floor [representing] the Sambhogakaya’s pure realm, Doring Tulku Rinpoche[4], a close disciple of Khenpo Shenga, was the presiding lama and oversaw the accomplishment of the practice of Pakchok Namkhai Gyalpo.
On the lower level, [representing] the Nirmanakaya pure realm, Dudjom Rinpoche’s himself presided ass the leader of The Guru Sadhana of the Compendium of Seven Treasuries.
With that, a great accomplishment was bestowed. Furthermore, when the blessings descended, the accomplishment practice in the three directions were allowed to be bestowed all at the same time. And when they went to circumambulate the bestowed blessings, the gathered assembly delighted on the vast festival of the consecration and thanksgiving verses.
Then, Dudjom Rinpoche said, “Now, the time has come to open the door of the dharma treasury of ripening and liberating”. Some trained in liturgy recitation, and some in the preliminary accumulations and purifications and so forth.

Lama Pema Tsewang returned to Bhutan. The two were never to see each other again.

Final Years

In 1952, Doring Tulku died suddenly of an illness in Tibet, aged approx. 51, among amazing signs. According to Nyoshul Khen Rinpoche [5]:

Doring Tulku then returned to Tibet, where the display of his emanated form resolved back into its ultimate nature, as he rested in meditation for many days. When his remains were cremated, the amazing signs and the large and small relics that appeared inspired many faithful people to enter the path of liberation.


Among Doring Tulku ‘s students are:


  1. Nyoshul Khenpo, A Marvelous Garland of Rare Gems: Biographies of Masters of Awareness in the Dzogchen Lineage, translated by Richard Barron (Junction City: Padma Publishing, 2005), p507.
  2. Nyoshul Khenpo, A Marvelous Garland of Rare Gems: Biographies of Masters of Awareness in the Dzogchen Lineage, translated by Richard Barron (Junction City: Padma Publishing, 2005), p507.
  3. This practice has since hen spread to many of Bhutan’s monasteries.
  4. Nyoshul Khenpo, A Marvelous Garland of Rare Gems: Biographies of Masters of Awareness in the Dzogchen Lineage, translated by Richard Barron (Junction City: Padma Publishing, 2005), p507.
  5. Nyoshul Khenpo, A Marvelous Garland of Rare Gems: Biographies of Masters of Awareness in the Dzogchen Lineage, translated by Richard Barron (Junction City: Padma Publishing, 2005), p507.

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