The Two Buddhist Participants In Muhammad Ali’s Inter-Faith Funeral Service.
Their names are Venerable Utsumi and Sister Denise (who I think is the one on the right in the YouTube video below).
The Sister by definition is not a Buddhist monk. She would be the equivalent of a nun. Not sure whether the other one is a bona fide monk. He is not dressed in the dark saffron robes we normally associate with Buddhist monks.
I could be wrong but I think these two represent Nepalese, Tibetan or Bhutan Buddhism — which is not mainstream Theravada or Mahāyāna Buddhism (my background and expertise being in the former, Sri Lanka considered the spiritual home for that school). I haven’t, as yet, been able to find anything more about these two other than that they participated in Ali’s funeral! IF you can help me here I will be most grateful. [Thanks, in advance.]
Increasingly folks in the U.S. are gravitating towards and identifying with Tibetan and Nepalese Buddhism, and creating the impression that this school represents most Buddhist worldwide. Not so. I happened to look up Buddhist temples in Louisville and discovered that they are all Tibetan-centric. C’est la vie.
One thing ironic that Ali, who is said to have arranged how this service was to conducted, may have overlooked. Tibetan and Nepalese Buddhist have zero-experience dealing with Muslims! Not so if he turned to Buddhist monks from Sri Lanka. Just something to think about.