He has played vigorous part in the campaign to publicise China's brutal policy towards Tibet and while in Nepal last week he visited a Tibetan refugee camp. His demeanour in the monastery was modest and unassuming.
Steven Seagal's is a different kind of piety. The action star of Under Siege, On Deadly Ground and Hard To Kill has long been a student of Japanese Buddhism, but several years ago he started getting into Tibet, too.
Last year, the martial arts hunk was declared to be the reincarnation of a great lama. Accordingly, he showed up for last week's ceremony with his 6ft 4in frame draped in a monk's robe. The elevation of the "ballistic mystic", as Esquire magazine has called him, shocked and divided Buddhists around the world. Some were inclined to indulge him, claiming he is a devout Buddhist.
Others were less happy. A senior foreign monk said: "People here thought his teacher could have said, `keep quiet and do your practice', but instead Seagal made quite a thing about it. The point is that being anointed that way means he has potential; it doesn't mean he can teach.
"The mistake on his part will be to start saying `I'm a guru'. In my opinion his behaviour is mixed up with a lot of ego business."Reuse content