Bruce, who had lived in Boulder since 2000, identified as Buddhist and had worked as a photographer. He referenced and shared the teachings of Shambhala Buddhism, founded in Boulder, on his Facebook page.
Jessie Friedman, executive director of the Boulder Shambhala Center, did not return a request for comment Sunday. Shambhala International is now based in Canada but maintains deep roots in Boulder.
Brianna Burch, a spokeswoman for the Metropolitan Police Department in Washington, D.C., said Sunday that, to her knowledge, investigators did not find any sort of manifesto or note with Bruce’s body. She said police were still looking into his motive.
Bruce set himself on fire in an apparent imitation of Vietnamese monks who burned themselves to death in protest during the Vietnam War. His Facebook page commemorated the death of Thich Nhat Hanh, an influential Zen Buddhist master and anti-war activist who died in January.
Thich Nhat Hanh, in a letter he wrote in 1965 to the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., had idolized those monks. Kritee cited that letter in another tweet on Bruce’s death Sunday morning.
“The press spoke then of suicide, but in the essence, it is not. It is not even a protest,” Thich Nhat Hanh wrote of the monks, adding that “to burn oneself by fire is to prove that what one is saying is of the utmost importance. There is nothing more painful than burning oneself. To say something while experiencing this kind of pain is to say it with utmost courage, frankness, determination and sincerity.”