Costica Bradatan explains why we're moved by self-immolation:
The experience is so powerful because it is so deeply seated in the human psyche. In front of self-immolation, even the most secularized of us have a glimpse into a primordial experience of the sacred. Originally, the sacred is defined as something set apart, cut off from the rest, which remains profane; what we feel towards such a radically different other is precisely a mix of terror and fascination. Self-immolation is a unique event precisely because it awakens deep layers of our ultimate make-up. In a striking, if disguised fashion, self-immolation occasions the experience of the sacred even in a God-forsaken world like ours.
(Photo: In McLeod Ganj, India, on June 15, 2012, an exiled Tibetan monk holds a picture of Tamdin Thar, a 50-year-old who burned himself to death to protest against the Chinese rule in Tibet. By STRDEL/AFP/Getty Images)