‘In the air was the smell of burning flesh; human beings burn surprisingly quickly. Behind me I could hear the sobbing of the Vietnamese who were now gathering. I was too shocked to cry, too confused to take notes or ask questions, too bewildered to even think … As he burned he never moved a muscle, never uttered a sound, his outward composure in sharp contrast to the wailing people around him.’
David Halberstam, New York Times
Today in 1963, Buddhist monk Thich Quang Duc calmly sat in the lotus position outside the American embassy in Saigon and with the help of two other monks he doused himself in gasoline and set himself alight. His act was in protest against the repression of the US-backed South Vietnamese regime. After he died, his body was re-cremated, but his heart, which had not burned, was retrieved and revered as a symbol of compassion.