Born in New Mexico in 1971, Dorje Kirsten~Shinno grew up in Seattle. As a child, he listened to many wonderful and enriching tales of Japan and Asia told by his grandfather, Richard Daiensai Kirsten. Adjacent to the house in which Dorje was raised was the Kirsten Gallery, curated by his uncle Rick Kirsten Kyozen, and his father Nicholas Kirsten Honshin, who is himself a tremendously accomplished visionary painter. The artist tradition, the mystical legends of Japan, and the practices of Buddhism, the wafting of incense, the ringing of bells, the chanting of the sutras and tantras have been part of Dorje’s life for as long as he can remember.
At the age of 18, Dorje received his first initiation in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition. Since then, he has had the good fortune to study under the guidance of many great and realized Nyingma Buddhist masters, including His Eminence Chagdud Tulku Rinpoche, Tulku Sang Ngag Rinpoche, H.E. Namkha Drimed, Jigme Tromge Rinpoche, Lama Padma Dorje Rinpoche, and Lama Drimed amongst many other accomplished and trained masters and magicians. Trained extensively in the ritual arts of the Nyingma school of Tibetan Buddhism as a “chopen,” (ritual shrine assistant), Dorje lived at a Rigdzin Ling, a Buddhist retreat center for more than fourteen years, studying, doing retreat, and perfecting his relationship to the nature of emptiness and the magical display that is the known world.
Roshi Daiensai Kirsten decided to train Dorje in Sumi-e painting in 2005. Dorje furthered his studies under Master Shozo Satsereo. According to Daiensai, who has traveled extensively throughout Japan for over 40 years, there is not another living being in Japan who continues to unite Buddhist spirituality with serpent painting. Daiensai thus said Dorje is the only current living “Serpent Painting master,” and has urged Dorje to sustain the life force of the sacred serpent lineage. Daiensai conferred the Japanese name of “Shinno” upon Dorje, meaning “ Heart/Mind King.”
Working further with Sumi-e he also paints mountains, beaches, and plum blossom scenes, as well as abstract Sumie and acrylic
In addition Dorje is working on a body of art that relates to the western path of mystic evolution through the symbols of alchemy. This body of work is an abstract minimalist style. They are meant to let the mind find its own way into meditation through aesthetic beauty as well as appreciation for the transformation of the soul from a fractured fallen state to a whole state.
Dorje Shinno is also a certified tea master and owner of Planet Teas, Planet Teas is dedicated to promoting the Way of Tea as a method of bringing mindfulness into western culture every day through meditation and the appreciation of the ancient tea plant, which has been imbuing man with wakefulness and energy for as long as history has been recorded.
Dorje now lives with his family in the Humboldt Bay area of Northern California, a short walk away from the grace and beauty of the majestic Pacific Ocean. The natural beauty of the ocean, the fog, the mountains, combined with the mighty Redwoods and the vital spirit and chi of the land in this remote corner of California deeply inspires his practices of Buddhism, painting, astrology, tea, and writing poetry.