Ok, so self-immolation has been going on for centuries, particularly in India. But for most of the western world, the first time we ever heard of this type of protest was when a buddhist monk in Vietnam sat down at a crossroads in Saigon on 11th June 1963, had 5 litres of gasolene poured over him and dropped a lit match into his lap. He did this in reaction to the Buddhist Crisis and treatment by the ruling administration in South Vietnam, Ngo Dinh Diem being the president at the time. It was caught on film for the world to see:
I’m not posting this for shock value or for any political reason. I simply think it needs sharing. I think the world needs to see what true devotion and true belief means. Granted, I can’t believe Thích Quảng Đức did such a thing or why ANYONE would do such a thing, but it is amazing what people will do and the lengths they’ll go to for a cause they truly believe in.
I think the other amazing thing about this particular case is Thích Quảng Đức didn’t move or make one sound while he burned. He fell over after his death, but the whole time he sat in the lotus position and never moved a muscle.
This also got me to thinking of the student protests going on in London of late over the increase to university fees. The students have resorted to violence to try to get their message across. This, historically, has never been a useful tool in protesting or getting what you want. Generally speaking, it has the adverse effect. I wonder what Thích Quảng Đức would have made of these protesters and their methods. Probably agree that it was pointless and will achieve nothing, but I’m not sure how many people would agree that his way was better (although it could be argued he helped the coup take place)