“Variegations of Mind” Article

Rangjung Dorje’s Variegations of Mind: Ordinary Awareness and Pristine Awareness in Tibetan Buddhist Literature

Available for download via

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 (1871-1922).


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 approach to the Buddhist practice lineages in Tibet.

For itinerary and details, see the Kham Pilgrimage Page.





“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 layers of data abstraction can be connected to enhance our knowledge about the book and book culture in Tibet. Querying the boundaries of the digital Tibetan book, we discuss the impact and potential of emerging research tools. Moving the book from being a cultural object to a semantic object, we examine the efficacy of searchable eTexts and how knowledge models enable us to construct and query encyclopedic data about the literary historiography of the book in Tibet.

Symposium on the Tibetan Book
The University of Virginia (UVA)
November 6-8, 2014




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 foundation.

Shangpa Sites, Tibet



Rimé Vision & History Seminar, France

On the Sources of the Rimé MovementSéminaire_Rimay_2014_pdf

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


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 Wangpo (1820-1890) run deep in the Tibetan historical consciousness, and have come to bear fruit in the digital age. Citing resonances for the Rimé sentiment among early Tibetan authors, and precedents for the preservation of the Tibetan textual tradition, we’ll consider how these historic trends shaped the mission of E. Gene Smith and the organization of Tibetan knowledge in the TBRC Library. In particular, we’ll look at our ongoing work at TBRC to preserve and model the encyclopedic knowledge of the Tibetan literary tradition, including the mapping of folk regions, tulku successions, and lineage transmissions—all based on Kongtrul’s vision.

Visualizing Early Shangpa Lineage Networks

Looking at early records of Shangpa Kagyu transmissions in the TBRC lineage module, we will trace the twists and turns of the Shangpa’s entangled history from the time of Khyungpo Neljorpa (1050-1127) to its later assimilation into mainstream Buddhist traditions with virtually no institutionalized presence in Tibet. This will enable us for the first time to visualize the early Shangpa lineage networks of esoteric transmission. In so doing, we will see a recompilation of knowledge about the early Shangpa in Tibet, untangling knots that have come to inhibit a clear historical vision of this Buddhist tradition.

The Jonang Presence in Eastern Tibet

Until recently, the Jonangpa were thought to be extinct. Though scholarship has shed some light on the early history of the Jonangpa in central Tibet during their formative period, and it is well known that the tradition thrived until its downfall in the mid-seventeenth century, little attention has been given to the survival of the Jonang transmissions from Taranatha (1575-1635) onwards. We will narrate the history of the Jonang presence in the Amdo region of eastern Tibet, based on a survey of Jonang sites and reflections from living in a Jonang monastery, to describe the continuity of the Jonang tradition up to the present.


PDF of the seminar flyer, Séminaire Rimay 2014.

The Université Rimay site page for the seminar.



Horse Year Pilgrimage to Mt. Kailash

JonangAd-2013-v1According 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 this May and June,

Trip 01: Lhasa & Surrounding Yogin Caves
May 25-June 04

Trip 02: Great Horse Year Festival at Mount Kailash
June 03-June 24

For itinerary and details see, A Pilgrim’s Journey to the Heart of Tibet.


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