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Michael R. Sheehy is currently a visiting scholar at the Divinity School at Harvard University. He is a specialist on Buddhism and the literary in Tibet, and his writing and research give attention to the literatures and histories of marginalized esoteric Buddhist movements and their networks of transmission in Tibet and Inner Asia. 

Trained by the late Tibetologist E. Gene Smith (1936-2010), Michael was the chief scholar for eight years at the Tibetan Buddhist Resource Center, an encyclopedic digital library of Tibetan literature, where he directed the research department and facilitated collaborative scholarly projects at Harvard University and with academic partners.

Having spent years studying and conducting fieldwork in Buddhist monasteries in Tibet, and returning regularly since, Michael’s work has brought him up-close to previously undocumented traditions of Tibetan Buddhism.

Together with friends and senior Jonang exemplars, he co-founded the Jonang Foundation in 2005, an international nonprofit that supports the Jonang tradition of Tibetan Buddhism through education and cultural heritage initiatives, the application of digital preservation technology, and by promoting research and scholarship on the Jonang and associated minority lineages. As executive director of the foundation, he facilitates digital scholarship online and cultural preservation projects on-the-ground in Tibet. 

Michael conducts lectures and workshops on Tibetan Buddhism, and has taught a variety of innovative courses on Buddhist literature and historiography, manuscript culture and the history of the book, comparative philosophy of mind and contemplative science at Manhattanville College, The New School University and Boston College. He is co-editor of a collected volume on the zhentong philosophy of emptiness and his forthcoming monograph is an intellectual history of the Jonang tradition of Tibetan Buddhism.

He regularly leads customized small group pilgrimage programs to heritage sites throughout Tibet, the Himalayas and Buddhist Asia.

 

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“Variegations of Mind” Article

“Rangjung Dorje’s Variegations of Mind: Ordinary Awareness and Pristine Awareness in Tibetan Buddhist Literature” Available for download via Academia.edu. A discussion on Tibetan Buddhist understandings about the nature of consciousness or “awareness.” An examination of a root psychological text composed by the Tibetan scholar and meditative adept, the Third Karmapa Rangjung Dorje (1284-1339) with reflections from its commentaries by Jamgon Kongtrul (1813-1922) and the Fifteenth Karmapa Khakyab Dorje...

Rimé Pilgrimage to Kham 2015

Across the Rimé Landscape Pilgrimage to Kham, Eastern Tibet July 29 — August 15, 2015 [18 Days] A Cultural & Educational Travel Program Hosted by Jonang Foundation Led by Michael Sheehy Travel on pilgrimage to sites of the Rimé renaissance movement, to the heart of Vajrayana Buddhist revival, across the frontiers of the Kham region of eastern Tibet. Sparked in the Dege Kingdom during the latter half of the 19th century, the Rimé renaissance fused artistic, spiritual and intellectual traditions, and gave birth to a highly ecumenical...

“An Ontology for the Digital Tibetan Book”

What happens when a Tibetan book is abstracted and reduced from its material form and cultural setting? How does the practice of digitizing transform the way that we think about and handle Tibetan books? Thinking through these and related questions, this paper examines current modes of representing and accessing the digital Tibetan book. We consider what tangible features, aesthetic and codicoligical information is lost in the transformation of a book into its digital version, the E. Gene Smith ontology of the Tibetan book, and how...

Shangpa Sites on Tibet Map

The Jonang Foundation has published the historical and active sites of the Shangpa Kagyu tradition on its online map. See the post, Shangpa Sites on Tibet Map. Field work began on this project this past summer on the Jonang Foundation pilgrimage to central Tibet when we were able to locate several Shangpa sites. We hope to extend this research on and preservation of the Shangpa as an integral part of our ongoing work at the...

Rimé Vision & History Seminar, France

On the Sources of the Rimé Movement Along with Dr. Marc-Henri Deroche, we will present a three-day seminar on the Rimé movement, sparked in eastern Tibet during the 19th century by Jamgon Kongtrul and associates, but with deep roots in the Tibetan tradition. August 15 to 17, 2014 Université Rimay Domaine d’Avalaon France   Presentations during the seminar include, Kongtrul’s Rimé Vision and TBRC’s Organization of Tibetan Knowledge The roots of the Rimé project undertaken by Jamgon Kongtrul (1813-1899) and Jamyang Khyentse...

Horse Year Pilgrimage to Mt. Kailash

According to the Tibetan calendrical cycle, 2014 is the Year of the Horse. This is the year during the 12-year long astrological cycle during which the effects of pilgrimage are considered to be multiplied manifold, particularly by circling around Mount Kailash. Pilgrimage around Mt. Kailash is a Tibetan pilgrimage tradition since the time of Milarepa in the 12th century, and continues on to this day. See, 2014 Horse Year Festival at Mt. Kailash. I am thrilled to be leading two back-to-back specialized Jonang Foundation pilgrimage programs...

The Dreams of Trinlé Wangmo

American Academy of Religion (AAR) Conference Baltimore, 2013 Writing Tibetan Women Materializing Dreams and Omens: Narrative Devices in the Autobiographical Writing of the Tibetan Yoginī Trinle Wangmo This paper presentation explores dream as it pertains to the interior life of a Tibetan woman, the seventeenth century author, Jetsunma Kunga Trinle Wangmo (c.1585-c.1668). Drawing from a rare unpublished manuscript that I acquired in eastern Tibet some years ago titled, Gsang ba’i ye shes or The Secret Wisdom, this paper reflects on Trinle...

TBRC Tibet Printery Project

We in the Department of Literary Research at TBRC have completed an initial survey of printeries (par khang) in Tibet, based on TBRC Library holdings of xylographs, and coordinated these printeries to GIS locations on the Harvard WorldMap. This is part of an ongoing project to create a TibetMap that locates cultural sites from the TBRC Place database. View the layer of Printeries in Tibet on the Harvard WorldMap. (select Printeries overlay in lefthand column) Read the full post on the TBRC blog, TBRC Tibet Printeries on WorldMap. See also the...

Pilgrimage to Mt. Kailash & Zhang Zhung

We’re gearing-up for the summer excursion to Tibet this August 02-25. The trip is designed as a pilgrimage, every step of the way. We conceive it as a full-immersion educational program on the ground, in the heart of Tibet’s culture. The climax of this year’s journey will be a 3-day circumambulation around Mount Kailash or an exploration around the sacred Lake Manasarovar. We’ll take a few days to explore the art and ruins at the ancient kingdoms of Guge and Zhang Zhung. Though we’ll be accepting enrollment...

Translating Buddhist Luminaries Conference

“Translating Buddhist Luminaries: A Conference on Ecumenism and Tibetan Translation” At the University of Colorado, Boulder April 18-20, 2013 The conference includes a distinguished panel that is free and open to the public: Ecumenism in Tibet A Panel with Ringu Tulku & Visiting Scholars 7pm on Thursday, April 18th British Studies Room on 5th floor of Norlin Library at UC, Boulder Panelists: Sarah Harding, Naropa University Michael Sheehy, Tibetan Buddhist Resource Center Douglas Duckworth, East Tennessee State...