Blessings on the Wind: Prayer flags in the garden

(I took these photos of Tibetan prayer flags at gardener David Brown's farm in Old Saybrook last summer.)

A friend has asked me about the use of Tibetan prayer flags in the home. Indoors, they are a lovely reminder of our interconnectedness. Without getting into too much explanation, the Indian Buddhist Sutras are inscribed on each flag. Traditionally, prayer flags come in sets of five, one in each of five colors. The five colors represent the elements. The center of a prayer flag traditionally features a Lung ta (powerful or strong horse) bearing three flaming jewels (specifically ratna) on its back. The Ta is a symbol of speed and the transformation of bad fortune to good fortune. The three flaming jewels symbolize the Buddha, the Dharma (Buddhist teachings), and the Sangha (Buddhist community), the three cornerstones of Tibetan philosophical tradition. The flags are made of a very lightweight material; in this way, wind and rain and other outdoor elements will disperse flag fragments; the Tibetans believe the prayers and mantras will be blown by the wind to spread the good will and compassion into all pervading space. So yes, they are made for outdoor use. But no worries about stringing flags indoors! But they really function OUTDOORS, and where else? In the garden! I have flags in both the Guilford and Clinton gardens. They last about 1 year or so before completely breaking down.

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