The Unburnt Heart of Compassion - Science and Nonduality (SAND)

The Unburnt Heart of Compassion

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Warning: Graphic Content

The heart relic of Quảng Đức

Thích Quảng Đức (chữ Hán: 釋廣德; born Lâm Văn Túc; 1897 – 1963) was a Vietnamese Mahayana Buddhist monk who died by self-immolation at a busy Saigon road intersection on 11 June 1963. Quảng Đức’s protest was against the corrupt regime of Ngô Đình Diệm, who controlled South Viet Nam. All the while, his disciples prayed and made a cordon around him to prevent police interference while taking beatings on themselves without striking back — as the master taught.

Photographs of his self-immolation circulated around the world, drawing attention to the policies of the Diệm government. John F. Kennedy said of one photograph, “No news picture in history has generated so much emotion around the world as that one.” Malcolm Browne won the World Press Photo of the Year for his photograph of the monk’s death.

The body was re-cremated during the funeral, but Quảng Đức’s heart supposedly remained intact and did not burn. It was considered to be holy and placed in a glass chalice at Xá Lợi Pagoda. The intact heart relic is regarded as a symbol of compassion.

From Lion’s Roar:

“Quảng Đức drove hundreds of miles to the intersection in Sai Gon. There, he poured fuel on himself, sat in the lotus position, and lit a match. It was an extreme act in the Buddhist tradition of taking all suffering upon oneself to protest the suffering of others.

As he burned alive, Quảng Đức sat. He never cried out, but softly chanted Buddhist sutras. As his body turned to cinder and began to collapse, he reached out an arm to push himself up and keep chanting. In the fire, he remained calm, accepting, and immovable.

Since Quảng Đức’s demonstration, thousands of protestors have self-immolated for various causes, including more than a hundred Tibetans who have burned themselves alive in protest of their homeland since 2009. The Dalai Lama has discouraged Tibetans from such acts, as self-immolation today garners little attention from the media, and often the demonstrator is left alive but horribly maimed.”

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