Tibetan monks to return to USAO for Ableson Religious Reconciliation Lecture

Banner for the Ableson Religious Reconciliation lecture series

Tibetan monks to return to USAO for Ableson Religious Reconciliation Lecture


The University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma welcomes the return of the Venerable Geshe Lobsang Chophel on Sept. 12 as part of the sixth annual Ableson Religious Reconciliation Lecture series. Starting at 7 p.m. in the USAO Ballroom, the Tibetan monk will give a presentation on Buddhist approaches to conflict resolution in the modern world. 

Leading up to the evening’s event, Chophel and fellow monks Dorjee Tsering and Padma Dimdul will create a mandala, a complex geometrical sand painting filled with Buddhist iconography, in USAO’s Nesbitt Gallery. After the lecture, the mandala will be swept away as a symbol of the impermanence of all things, one of the central concepts in Buddhist philosophy. 

“It’s very rare that anyone in the West gets to view a mandala in person, much less see one as it is created,” said Dr. Zach Simpson, associate professor of philosophy and religious studies. “As one of their most sacred rituals, these monks painstakingly render Buddhist figures in colored sand, only to destroy it almost as soon as it is completed. The technique and symbolism behind this ceremony is something that everyone will find fascinating.” 

Chophel entered monastic life at seven years old. After nearly four decades studying and practicing Buddhism, he attained the highest degrees offered in his lineage, similar to a Western Ph.D. He has studied with many renowned Buddhist teachers, including His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama. Since 1995, Chophel has been a professor of Buddhist philosophy at Gaden Shartse Monastery in Mundgod, India. He led the Compassion Tour in 2014 and returned to Oklahoma in March of this year to become a resident teacher at Norman Cultural Connection. 

About the Ableson Religious Reconciliation Lecture

The Ableson Religious Reconciliation Lecture is named in honor of USAO Alumni Hall of Fame member U.S. Navy Captain, Bradford Edward Ableson. A visionary in religious reconciliation, an architect of the modern model for military chaplains and a chaplain to President Bill Clinton, Ableson graduated magna cum laude from USAO in 1980.

Ableson served a 25-year naval career, providing combat ministry for the Marines during the first Gulf War, serving as an executive to the chief of Navy chaplains and, later, as command chaplain of the U.S. Strategic Command where he served as special advisor on matters of religion at the strategic level. While at the Strategic Command, Ableson was named priest-in-residence at Trinity Episcopal Cathedral – a position he held until his death at the age of 50 in 2009.