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Flavio Geisshuesler

Flavio Geisshuesler
Flavio Alessio Geisshüsler
NationalitySwiss and Italian
OccupationSenior Lecturer at the University of Sydney
Academic background
EducationUniversity of Lausanne (2008, B.A.)
University of Virginia (2013, M.A.)
HEC Paris (2025, EMBA)
Alma materUniversity of Bern (2018)
University of Virginia (2019)
ThesisPrisons of Freedom: An Interdisciplinary Study of Contemplative Practices in Great Perfection Buddhism (2019)
Academic advisorsDavid Germano
Kurtis Schaeffer
Peter W. Ochs
Academic work
DisciplineHistory of Religions
Sub-disciplineIndo-Tibetan Buddhism
Theory in religious studies
European intellectual history
Main interestsMeditation research
Dzogchen tradition of Tibetan Buddhism

Flavio Alessio Geisshuesler is a Swiss-Italian academic and writer. As historian of religions, he specializes in the study of meditation and other contemplative practices in Indo-Tibetan Buddhism.

Early life and education

Geisshuesler spent his childhood in Zürich, Switzerland. He graduated with a B.A. from the University of Lausanne in 2008, where he majored in religious studies, focusing on Judaism and Indian religions, while studying Biblical Hebrew, Hindi, and Tibetan. In 2013, he obtained an received an M.A. from the University of Virginia.[1][2] Afterwards, he earned two PhDs, one from the University of Bern[3] in 2018 and another from the University of Virginia in 2019.[4]

His 2018 doctoral dissertation, defended at the University of Bern, is titled Crisis and Critique in the History of Religions: Ernesto de Martino (1908-1965) in Italy and Beyond.[5] In 2019, he also defended a second doctoral disseration, Prisons of Freedom: An Interdisciplinary Study of Contemplative Practices in Great Perfection Buddhism, at the University of Virginia.[6] As part of his research, he also spent several years living and studying in various parts of Asia, particularly in the Himalayan regions of India and Nepal.[7]


In 2021, he published a monograph on the life and work of Ernesto de Martino.[8][9] The research project is based on 18 months of archival work in Rome, which was financed by a grant from the Swiss National Science Foundation.[9] Geisshuesler also wrote a book on Tibetan sky-gazing meditation in the Dzogchen tradition, which is based on his doctoral dissertation and further expanded during his postdoctoral research at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.[7][10] The fieldwork in Nepal was funded by a Fulbright–Hays Dissertation Research Abroad Fellowship.[11] His postdoctoral position in Israel was funded by fellowships from the Khyentse Foundation (2019-21),[12] the Lady Davis Foundation (2020-21),[13] the Azrieli Foundation (2021-23),[14][15] and the Mandel Scholion Research Center (2021-24).[16]

Throughout his career, has also taught courses at several universities, including the University of Virginia,[17][18] the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, the University of Bern,[19] the University of Fribourg in 2021,[20] the University of Basel in 2022,[21] and the Sapienza University of Rome in 2023.[22]

Bilingual in German and Italian, he has mastered English, French, Spanish, Hebrew, Tibetan, Nepali, Hindi, Urdu, and Persian. He also reads Sanskrit, Tibetan, Pali, Biblical Hebrew, and Russian.[12][23]

In 2023, he was appointed as KF-Macready Senior Lecturer in Tibetan Buddhism at the University of Sydney.[24][12]


Geisshuesler's primary research centers on the contemplative traditions of India, Tibet, and the wider Himalayas, particularly the Dzogchen or Great Perfection tradition. His most recent publication offers the first comprehensive English-speaking introduction to the Tibetan sky-gazing practice. The book's most important argument is that the Great Perfection was originally a pre-Buddhist indigenous Tibetan tradition that emerged in close contact with the early Bön tradition. He argues that Dzogchen once belonged to a shamanic cult centered on the quest for vitality, which involved the worship of the sky as primordial source of life and endorsed the hunting of animals, as they were believed to be endowed with the ability to move in between the divine realm of the heavens and the world of humans. The book also traces the historical development of the Great Perfection, delineating a process of buddhicization that started with the introduction of Buddhism during the time of the Tibetan Empire, intensified with the rise of new schools in the 11th century, and reached its climax in the systematization of the teachings by the great scholar-yogi Longchenpa in the 14th century.[7]

Geisshuesler also published about other subjects, such as the Italian anthropologist and historian of religion Ernesto de Martino,[25][26] the methodology of the cognitive science of religion, or the connection between collective trauma and the historical development of contemplative traditions.[27][28][29]



  • Geisshuesler, Flavio A. (2021). The Life and Work of Ernesto de Martino: Swiss Perspectives on Apocalypse and Rebirth in the Modern Study of Religion. Numen book series. Brill. ISBN 978-90-04-45770-6.
  • Geisshuesler, Flavio (2024). Tibetan Sky-Gazing Meditation and the Pre-History of Great Perfection Buddhism. London: Bloomsbury. ISBN 978-1-350-42881-2.


Selected articles by Geisshuesler include:[16][30]


  1. ^ "UVA Tibet Center, Academic Research, Programs, Events & Collaboration, Tibetan Studies in Charlottesville, VA". Retrieved 2 October 2023.
  2. ^ "Bio | Flavio A. Geisshuesler". GeisshueslerCopy. Retrieved 2 October 2023.
  3. ^ "Equipe". Institut de sciences des religions. February 3, 2022. Retrieved 2 October 2023.
  4. ^ "ORCID". Retrieved 2 October 2023.
  5. ^ "Dissertationen". Institut für Religionswissenschaft. April 1, 2015. Retrieved 2 October 2023.
  6. ^ Virginia, Geisshuesler, Flavio, Religious Studies - Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, University of. "Prisons of Freedom: An Interdisciplinary Study of Contemplative Practices in Great Perfection Buddhism". Retrieved 2 October 2023.((cite web)): CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  7. ^ a b c Geisshuesler, Flavio (2024-02-08). Tibetan Sky-Gazing Meditation and the Pre-History of Great Perfection Buddhism. London: Bloomsbury. ISBN 978-1-350-42881-2.
  8. ^ Geisshuesler, Flavio A (2021). The Life and Work of Ernesto de Martino. Leiden Boston (Mass.): Numen Book. ISBN 978-90-04-45770-6. Retrieved 2 October 2023.
  9. ^ a b "SNSF Data Portal". Retrieved 2 October 2023.
  10. ^ "Flavio Geisshuesler". Retrieved 2 October 2023.
  11. ^ "IFLE Grantee Institutions - FY 2015". Google My Maps. Retrieved 2 October 2023.
  12. ^ a b c "KF News | The University of Sydney Appoints KF-Macready Senior Lecturer in Tibetan Buddhism". Khyentse Foundation. July 5, 2023. Retrieved 2 October 2023.
  13. ^ "Post-Doc 2020/21". Retrieved 2 October 2023.
  14. ^ "The Azrieli Foundation is delighted to announce the selection of the 2021-2022 International Postdoctoral Research Fellows". May 3, 2021. Retrieved 2 October 2023.
  15. ^ "Postdoc in Israel on LinkedIn: Dr. Flavio Geisshuesler: Become The Monkey! A New Paradigm For Meditation…". Retrieved 2 October 2023.
  16. ^ a b "Flavio Geisshuesler". Retrieved 2 October 2023.
  17. ^ "UVa Class Schedule - Schedule for RELB 2054 - Fall 2011 (Unofficial, Lou's List)". Retrieved 2 October 2023.
  18. ^ "Flavio Geisshuesler - theCourseForum". Retrieved 2 October 2023.
  19. ^ "Conference". Retrieved 2 October 2023.
  20. ^ "Flavio A. Geisshuesler". Retrieved 2 October 2023.
  21. ^ "Recherche | Vorlesungsverzeichnis Universität Basel". Retrieved 2 October 2023.
  22. ^ "Teorie e metodi della ricerca negli studi orientali - Venerdì 28 Aprile 2023 | Facoltà di Lettere e Filosofia". Retrieved 2 October 2023.
  23. ^ "Flavio A . Geisshuesler | The Hebrew University of Jerusalem -". Retrieved 2 October 2023.
  24. ^ "Khyentse Foundation Announces the Appointment of KF-Macready Senior Lecturer in Tibetan Buddhism at the University of Sydney". Retrieved 2 October 2023.
  25. ^ Geisshuesler, Flavio A. (May 2, 2019). "A Parapsychologist, an Anthropologist, and a Vitalist Walk into a Laboratory: Ernesto de Martino, Mircea Eliade, and a Forgotten Chapter in the Disciplinary History of Religious Studies". Religions. 10 (5): 304. doi:10.3390/rel10050304.
  26. ^ Geisshuesler, Flavio A. (July 29, 2021). "The Life and Work of Ernesto de Martino: Italian Perspectives on Apocalypse and Rebirth in the Modern Study of Religion". The Life and Work of Ernesto De Martino. Brill. ISBN 9789004457720. Retrieved 2 October 2023 – via
  27. ^ Geisshuesler, Flavio A. (March 2, 2020). "Luminous Bodies, Playful Children, and Abusive Grandmothers: Trauma, Dissociation, and Disorganized Attachment in the Early History of Great Perfection (rDzogs Chen) Buddhism". Religions. 11 (3): 114. doi:10.3390/rel11030114.
  28. ^ Geisshuesler, Flavio A. (June 2, 2020). "From Grounded Identity to Receptive Creativity The Mythical-Historical Formation of the Nyingma School and the Potential of Collective Trauma". International Journal of Buddhist Thought and Culture. 30 (1): 233–270. doi:10.16893/IJBTC.2020. S2CID 225752308. Retrieved 2 October 2023 – via
  29. ^ Geisshuesler, Flavio A. (January 1, 2019). Cerniglia, Luca (ed.). "When Buddhas dissociate: A psychological perspective on the origins of great perfection Buddhism (rDzogs Chen)". Cogent Psychology. 6 (1). doi:10.1080/23311908.2019.1707055. S2CID 210127102.
  30. ^ "Flavio A. Geisshuesler". Google Scholar. Retrieved 2 October 2023.
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Flavio Geisshuesler
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