It is the 11th of June, 1963. A man steps into a busy intersection in Saigon. Wearing the robes of a Buddhist monk, Thich Quang Duc emerges from the car he had been riding in. The car is part of a procession; a group of a few hundred monks and nuns marching in two columns walking around Saigon protesting the Diem government and its treatment of Buddhists.
Thich Quang Duc, knowing it was his karma to be the vessel of this message sits, in the lotus position, upon the cushion that had been placed in the street. As a brother monk grabs the five gallon container of gasoline, Thich Quang Duc takes his mala in hand and begins to meditate as he speaks these words:
Before closing my eyes and moving towards the vision of the Buddha, I respectfully plead to President Ngo Dinh Diem to take a mind of compassion towards the people of the nation and implement religious equality to maintain the strength of the homeland eternally. I call the venerables, reverends, members of the sangha and the lay Buddhists to organize in solidarity to make sacrifices to protect Buddhism.
The brother monk pours gasoline over Thich Quang Duc’s head and body as he speaks.
When his last words have been spoken Thich Quang Duc strikes a match and it falls toward his fuel soaked body. He is engulfed in flames and oily black smoke pours into the sky like water.
He remains silent and unmoving as his body burns. It burns to show the world what is going on in Vietnam, it burns because we all suffer.
Silent and unmoving he remains, as bodies fall prostrate before him.
Thich Quang Duc is a Bodhisattva.