Friday, March 23, 2012

The Realizing Power of Symbols

One remembers that on June 11th, 1963, a 66 year old Vietnamese Buddhist monk, Thich Quang Duc calmly walked to the center of a busy Saigon intersection and set himself aflame.
Some of his friends had taken a jerry can of petrol from a car and poured it over Quang Duc, who had begun meditating in padmasana.
A mala in his right hand, Quang Duc lit himself the fire; he was soon engulfed in flames.It marked the beginning of the revolt against the Diem regime who fell a few months later. 
Duc's last words were: 
Before closing my eyes and moving towards the vision of the Buddha, I respectfully plead to President Ngo D├Čnh 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 organise in solidarity to make sacrifices to protect Buddhism.
Yesterday's images of Duc, like today's pictures of the Tibetans monks and nuns immolating themselves, have a great symbolic power in their struggle for justice. 
In fact, they have a Power of Realization: through these pictures, the prayers and aspirations of these monks and nuns will eventually materialize.
Do the Chinese regime understands this?
 
   
 

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