by Robert Thurman
Oh my heart! Oh, my life! How can this happen! What can I do? I’m overwhelmed as I watch a video of the brave and passionate Tibetan Buddhist nun Palden Choetso standing in the street, burning herself as a human torch. I want to respond, to douse her flames. It’s impossible. So too is it to salute her for her bravery, for her faith in love, for her determination, and her belief that peace is possible. Did she cry out for freedom? For herself? Her people? Her land? Her nation? For her beloved lama, teacher, and savior?
I watch as an elegant laywoman, a passerby startled and gripped with horror, manages to quickly take a white khata greeting scarf out of her bag, a traditional offering of goodwill and respect. She waves the scarf toward the stock-still flaming nun and then offers it into the fire as Palden Choetso passes out, dying in agony, her body crumpling to the ground. I also offer a khata from my heart.