Sadly, this is the image of a Vietnamese Buddhist monk that many Americans of my generation are familiar with from the beginning of our country's involvement here.
"June 11, Thich Quang Duc, a Buddhist monk from Vietnam, burned himself to death at a busy intersection in downtown Saigon to bring attention to the repressive policies of the Catholic Diem (American supported) regime that controlled the South Vietnamese government at the time. Buddhist monks asked the regime to lift its ban on flying the traditional Buddhist flag, to grant Buddhism the same rights as Catholicism, to stop detaining Buddhists and to give Buddhist monks and nuns the right to practice and spread their religion. U.S. Senator, Frank Church, a member of the United States Senate Committee on Foreign Relations" claimed that "such grisly scenes have not been witnessed since the marched hand in hand into the Roman arenas." The self-immolation was later regarded as a turning point in the Buddhist Crisisthe critical point in the collapse of the Diệm regime. U.S. President John F. Kennedy said that "no news picture in history has generated so much emotion around the world as that one." Whilst burning, Thich Quang Duc never moved a muscle."
Today, things are much quieter in Vietnam. Every day a woman in her 60s, I call Lil' Miss Buddha, pads barefoot along my street, holding a wide brass bowl for contributions. I approach her, sometimes with very little to offer, and put what I can into her container. Hands folded, I bow my head, as she bows hers and recites a prayer, for about 30 seconds. And then we are both on our way. I feel some peace every time this happens.