The self-immolation of Thich Quang Duc in a Buddhist protest against Ngo Dinh Diem’s leadership, Saigon, 1963
watching the video today left me in such a state of disbelief and shame that it was all i could think about for many hours after. i felt the heat of the fire lick the back of my eyes and i nearly broke into tears in class. could i possibly imagine the variety of unhappiness and anger that must have driven Thich to set himself up in flames? the Buddhist resistance seems eerily akin to what the non-bumiputra resistance could be like. and yet of course nobody in godforsaken Malaysia today could ever be as passionate or desperate as he was, sitting calmly till his death for the sake of carrying the message of a just cause. i wanted to cry, to scream, to flail my arms in agony for him. i couldn’t believe his meditative posture, cross-legged and firm, all the way until he fell onto his back and gave himself in to the hungry flames. never before had i ever felt the blow of politics and religion so keenly on my own burning cheek. perhaps i will never understand the ridiculous technicalities of the subject within the sterile confines of academia, but i will never forget the burning motivations behind such an act.