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Michael Sheehy, Ph.D. is a scholar of Tibetan Buddhism, contemplative sciences and literature. He is the Director of Programs at the Mind & Life Institute where he leads the collaborative design and implementation of interdisciplinary dialogues and educational programs in contemplative sciences. Concurrently, Michael holds a faculty appointment in the Department of Religious Studies at the University of Virginia where he collaborates with the Contemplative Sciences Center and Tibet Center. He was a 2016 Visiting Scholar at Harvard Divinity School.

Michael trained in monastic settings throughout Asia, including three years studying in a Buddhist monastery in the Golok region of far eastern Tibet. For eight years, Michael directed research at the Tibetan Buddhist Resource Center where he led initiatives to digitize rare manuscripts in Tibet and architect the encyclopedic digital library of Tibetan literature, founded by the late Tibetologist E. Gene Smith (1936-2010). Together with Jonang exemplars, he co-founded the Jonang Foundation, an international nonprofit that preserves and promotes research on the little-known Jonang tradition of Tibetan Buddhism.

Michael’s writings and research give attention to Buddhist contemplative techniques and first-person Tibetan life writings on consciousness and its transformations.

 

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TALK: “Contemplation and the Sciences in Dialogue”

Dr. Sheehy presented at the Science and Spirituality Conference. The Medicine of Mind: Healing Physical and Emotional Pain. Ligmincha International. Serenity Ridge, VA. October 2017. “Contemplation and the Sciences in Dialogue: On the Horizon of New Ways of Knowing” With an understanding that pain is perhaps the most salient and undeniable indicator of consciousness, this talk provides a framework for Buddhist responses to physical and existential pain, and explores the interface of contemplative and scientific...

TALK: Summer Institute on Buddhism & Science

Dr. Sheehy presented at the Summer Institute on Buddhism & Science: Putting the Buddhism / Science Dialogue on New Footing. Mangalam Research Center for Buddhist Languages. Berkeley, CA. July 2017. “Inner Knowing and the Way of Humans: Epistemologies on the Horizon of the Buddhism / Science Dialogue” Considering the interface of Buddhism / science, we begin with historical and semantic reflections on Tibetan Buddhist understandings of science (tshan rig) and inner knowing (nang rig) in contrast to “the way of being human” (mi...

TRANSLATION: “Traversing the Path of Meditation”

Dr. Sheehy published a translation and introduction to two Tibetan texts, “Traversing the Path of Meditation” on Bamda Thupten Gelek Gyatso’s (1844-1904) concise meditation instructions. Published in the book collection, A Gathering of Brilliant Moons: Practice Advice from the Rimé Masters of Tibet. Wisdom Publications, 2017. Bamda  Thupten Gelek Gyatso  (1844-1904)  was  born  in  the  hamlet  of  Bamda  in  Amdo,  a  short horse ride through the...

TALK: International Chöd / Zhije Conference

Dr. Sheehy presented at the First International Chöd / Zhije Conference. Tara Mandala. Pagosa Springs, CO.  July 2017 “Severing the Body as Object: Contemplative Dynamics of the Simulated Self and Altered Embodiment in Tibetan Chöd Practice” In “Severing the Source of Fear: Contemplative Dynamics of the Tibetan Buddhist gCod Tradition” (2005) Dr. Sheehy describes the first-person meditative processes that transform the self within the active imagination of a Chöd (gcod) practitioner. Extending this work more...

BLOG: “The PhenoTank” – Microphenomenology of Contemplative Experience

Blog article about a Mind & Life Think Tank on the microphenomenology of contemplative practice, and the language of experience: “What happens when an experience is described?  Does the very effort to find words deepen practice, sharpen awareness, clarify an experience? Imagining a lens through which to deepen access to contemplative experience, these were among the questions that drove the conversation at Mind & Life’s first funded Think Tank, the ‘PhenoTank …” “The PhenoTank: A Mind & Life...

REVIEW: “Investigating the Rainbow Body”

Review of the book, “Rainbow Body and Resurrection” by Francis V. Tiso. From the Winter 2016 issue of Buddhadharma. If we look across spiritual traditions, we find the human body is broadly envisioned to be a vessel that contains the essence of existence and transformation—a container, likened to clothes that are to be stripped off or a boat that is to be abandoned once one has reached the breaking shore at death. Similarly, there are modern philosophical and scientific models that conceive the body to exist separately from the...

GUEST EDITOR: Religions Journal, Special Issue – “Pedagogy and Performance in Tibetan Buddhism”

With colleague Dr. Joshua Schapiro, Dr. Sheehy guest edited the special issue of the journal Religions on the topic, “Pedagogy and Performance in Tibetan Buddhism” Articles are Open Access and free to download. ………. This Special Issue explores a wide range of Tibetan Buddhist teaching practices, from the fourteenth century to the present, paying particular attention to the categories of “pedagogy” and “performativity.” The volume addresses, both Tibetans’ strategies for effective teaching, and their...

VIDEO: “Revival of the Bodong Tradition of Tibetan Buddhism: An Interview with Geshe Pema Dorjee”

Interview with Geshe Pema Dorjee about the history and revival of the Bodong tradition of Tibetan Buddhism. Conducted by Tibet scholar Dr. Michael R. Sheehy at Wellesley College, February 2016.  Interview Contents: (1) Early Life in Bodong Village, Tibet (2) History of the Bodong Tradition (3) Life and Writings of Bodong Chokle Namgyal (1376-1451) (4) Preserving the Distinct Aspects of the Bodong (5) Women’s Reincarnation (6) Current Revival and Humanitarian Work (7) The New Generation of Bodong Special thanks to the Tibetan Buddhist...

ARTICLE: “Variegations of Mind”

“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...