Originally Posted by Rev. Kelly
On another forum, someone posted a video of a Buddhist Monk setting himself on fire in protest of something. Why would this person choose such a death? Isn't suicide considered taboo in Buddhism? Can someone explain this to me please?
His heart remained, even after his self-immolation and his final cremation. It is preserved in a Pagoda in Ho Chi Minh City; he is revered as a bodhisatva for his act of compassion.
He was protesting against the frequently violent suppression of Buddhists by the Diem government. (Diem was a Roman Catholic, and favoured the Roman Catholic minority in South Vietnam, as well as being personally corrupt). The Buddhists were, in the main, opposed to the war against the North, and wanted a peaceful solution.
He immolated himself at rush hour, in front of hundreds of on-lookers. He never uttered a sound as he burned, but remained totally composed and in the lotus position until he fell in death.
He wrote a letter explaining his action. It is called the "Letter of Heart's Blood." I have not been able to locate an English translation.
His example inspired Norman Morrison, a Quaker and anti-war activist, to burn himself to death in the same manner on the steps of the Pentagon about 18 months later.