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Michael Sheehy

Research Assistant Professor

Director of Scholarship, Contemplative Sciences Center | Affiliated faculty, UVA Tibet Center

Research Interests

Michael R. Sheehy specializes in Tibetan Buddhism with a research focus on contemplative practices. His writing and translation give attention to Vajrayāna Buddhist yogic practices, the history of thought in Tibet, and interfaces between Buddhism and science. More specifically, his work considers the generative, dynamic, and ever-evolving processes of contemplative practices detailed in Tibetan yoga and meditation manuals. Over the past several years, he has actively collaborated in dialogues about contributions of meditation research to discourses in the interdisciplinary humanities, cultural psychology, and cognitive sciences.

At the Contemplative Sciences Center, Michael leads an interdisciplinary digital research collaborative with humanities scholars and scientists as well as graduate and undergraduate research assistants to document, contextualize, and synthesize scholarship on historical and contemporary practices. As lead of an international digital portal to publish multimedia resources on contemplation and human flourishing, he is editor of the Encyclopedia of Contemplation and Journal of Contemplative Studies (launching soon).

In 2019, Michael coedited, The Other Emptiness: Rethinking the Zhentong Buddhist Discourse in Tibet (SUNY Press) that anthologizes leading international scholars on the zhentong philosophy of emptiness in Tibet. His next book, The Jonangpa: History and Philosophy of the Jonang Order of Buddhism in Tibet is a study of the little-known Tibetan Buddhist traditions of zhentong and the Kālacakra. He is also preparing a monograph study of Tibetan contemplative practices that draws from research at the intersections of mind, body, and culture.

With Professor David Germano, Michael serves as the Series Editor of both the Contemplative Sciences and Traditions and Transformations in Tibetan Buddhism book series published by the University of Virginia Press. He also serves on the Contemplative Studies unit at the American Academy of Religion.

Selected Publications



  • “The Distinctive Mindfulness of Dzogchen: Jigme Lingpa’s Advice on Meta-Awareness and Nondual Meditation.” Co-author with Marc-Henri Deroche (Kyoto University). In Religions 13, 7, 573; 2022.
  • “Images of Emptiness in a Prognostic Mirror: Tantric Zhentong Visions of Tathāgatagarbha in Early Jonang Kālacakra Yoga Manuals.” In Buddha Nature Across Asia. Edited by Klaus-Dieter Mathes and Casey A. Kemp. Wiener Studien zur Tibetologie und Buddhismuskunde. Vienna: Arbeitskreis für tibetische und buddhistische Studien. University of Vienna Press. 2022.
  • "Tibetan Buddhism and the New Science of Rebirth.” In Voices from Larung Gar: Shaping Tibetan Buddhism for Twenty-First Century. Edited by Holly Gayley. Shambhala Publications. 2021.
  • "The Offering of Mount Meru: Contexts of Buddhist Cosmology in the History of Science in Tibet.” In Journal of Dharma Studies: Philosophy, Theology, Ethics, and Culture, 3, 2. Special issue on Buddhism and the History of Science. December 2020.
  • "Materializing Dreams and Omens: The Autobiographical Subjectivity of the Tibetan Yoginī Kun dga’ ‘Phrin las dbang mo (1585-1668).” Revue d'Etudes Tibétaines, 56, October 2020.
  • "The Case of the Missing Shangpa in Tibet.” In Reasons and Lives in Buddhist Traditions: Studies in Honor of Matthew Kapstein. Edited by Daniel Arnold, Cécile Ducher, and Pierre Julien Harter. Wisdom Publications. 2019.
  • "The Philosophical Grounds and Literary History of Zhentong.” In The Other Emptiness: Rethinking the Zhentong Buddhist Discourse in Tibet. Edited by Michael R. Sheehy and Klaus Dieter-Mathes. State University of New York Press. 2019.
  • "The Dharma of the Perfect Eon: Dolpopa Sherab Gyaltsan’s (1292-1361) Hermeneutics of Time and the Jonang Doxography of Zhentong Madhyamaka.” In The Other Emptiness: Rethinking the Zhentong Buddhist Discourse in Tibet. Edited by Michael R. Sheehy and Klaus Dieter-Mathes. State University of New York Press. 2019.
  • "Traversing the Path of Meditation.” In A Gathering of Brilliant Moons: Practice Advice from Rimé Masters of Tibet. Edited by Holly Gayley and Joshua Schapiro. Wisdom Publications. 2017.


  • “Zhentong: The Philosophy of Extrinsic Emptiness.” In The Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Religion. Oxford University Press. Article published [forthcoming]. doi:10.1093/acrefore/9780199340378.013.ORE_REL-01048.R1
  • Review of Mind Seeing Mind: Mahāmudra and the Geluk Tradition of Tibetan Buddhism. In Journal of World Buddhist Cultures. Research Center for World Buddhist Cultures, Ryukoku University, Japan. March 2022.
  • "Remaking Cosmology in Tibet.” In Journal of the History of Ideas Blog. January 2021.
  • "A Buddhist Science of Mind.” Review of Science and Philosophy in Indian and Buddhist ClassicsVol. 2, the Mind. Wisdom Publications, 2020. In Buddhadharma: The Practitioner’s Quarterly. Spring 2021.
  • "The Problem with Calling Buddhism a Science.” Review of Why I Am Not a Buddhist by Evan Thompson. Yale University Press, 2020. In Buddhadharma: The Practitioner’s Quarterly, 115 119. Spring 2020.
  • Teaching Contemplation in 3D.” Spotlight on Teaching: Contemplative Pedagogy. AmericanAcademy of Religion. Religious Studies News 21.1, May 2019