Buddhist Tibetan Prayer Flags: The Real Meaning

 

Buddhist Tibetan Prayer Flags: The Real Meaning

Tibetan Prayer Flags: The Real Meaning
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Prayer Flags and Buddhism

The Tibetan people have a long history and relationship with spirituality in their culture…so much so, that almost any thought of Tibet conjures up images of monks and temples in our minds.

This is because Buddhism, the country’s major religion, has played a huge role in the development and history of Tibet since the 7th century and saturates nearly every part of the culture.

This has lent itself to many cultural norms that are inseparably linked to their daily practice of going within.

This even includes decoration.

In fact, Tibetans are known for creating decorations that remind them of Buddhism and the search for enlightenment.

The most well known (and perhaps iconic) example of this is theprayer flag.



The Origin of Prayer Flags

In many popular pictures of Tibet, prayer flags are prominently displayed…but why?

Prayer flags aren’t just reminders for faith; their presence also serves a practical purpose: to spread ancient scripture.

Prayer flags actually originated in Hinduism, with their creation rooted in the origins of the Sutras.

Since many monks would transfer the knowledge of the Sutras via the word of mouth, prayer flags became a convenient way of spreading the message of the the holy text in a broader way.

In the 11th century, Atiśa (a popular Buddhist monk) brought the practice of printing on flags to Tibet.

The practice took off, and after a period of time Tibetans began to string them everywhere.


 

Mantras and Colors

But printing didn’t just stay with pure scripture…soon the flags began to hold more meaning.

Flags were a convenient way to spread common practices, including mantras.

A Mantra is a word or words that are believed to have spiritual or psychological significance.

Often these words are repeated over and over again as a form of meditation.

Putting the mantras on flags and stringing them up is a way to bless an area, such as a house, so that practitioners never forget the power of their inward practice.

The colors of the flag also have significance- in fact, they’re arranged in a special order that represents the elements. 

Blue symbolizes sky and space, white symbolizes air and wind, red symbolizes fire, green symbolizes water, and yellow symbolizes earth.

The balance of all the elements is said to bring about inward and outward harmony; and as the wind blows through them, the vibration of the prayers and spiritual intention behind them spreads to find fulfillment.



Supporting Tibetans

Prayer flags are a powerful way to remind us of an inward journey…and a great way to support the Tibetan people.

Tibetans work hard, and that’s why we’re honored to help them spread the knowledge of their culture by bringing their prayer flags to the west.

As time goes by, we intend to expand upon our offerings of Tibetan culture as much as possible, because we believe the mark of a conscious company is to represent those that are making a real difference in the world.

Home: http://lasvegasbuddhisttemple.guru/

Buddhist beliefs to transform your life

Sometimes it seems that life is unfair, and that any attempt to change things for the better just leads you to run around in circles. But that’s not the case. Stop, take a deep breath, and clear your mind — only then you can sort things out.

To get you into the right frame of mind, here are three powerful elements of Buddhist philosophy, known as «The Noble Truths,» together with advice on how you can incorporate them into every day. This might just change your life.

Dukkha: Life is painful and causes suffering

Many people might say that Buddhism is pessimistic or negative. This is a common result of learning that one of the Noble Truths is translated as «Life is suffering.» But there’s more to this statement. It’s not just telling us, «Life is tough, so deal with it.» So what is it telling us?

We actually can create more suffering in our lives by trying to avoid or suppress difficult emotions. Yes, our lives are inevitably punctuated with various unpleasant feelings: loss, sadness, fatigue, boredom, anxiety appear and reappear during our lives.

But attaching or clinging to particular expectations, material items, and states of being is often a cause for acute frustration, disappointment, and other forms of pain. So rather than fear our suffering or seek an ultimate resolution to it (and become frustrated by our lack of finding one), we can learn simply to recognize our suffering.

How we can use this belief every day:

Try not to buy into the idea that you’re broken. Expect that death, ageing, sickness, suffering, and loss are part of life. Practice acceptance in the face of strife. Stop attaching to the idea that life should be easy and pain free, both emotionally and physically. This is a misconception made popular by the fashion, beauty, and pharmaceutical industries.

Illness, heartbreak, loss, disappointment, and frustration are parts of life that can be mitigated by practising «non-attachment.» Try to embrace imperfection, to let go of this belief that life should be a certain way. Open your heart to uncertainty.

Anitya: Life is in constant flux

Anitya or «impermanence» means that life as we know it is in constant flux. We can never access the moment that just passed, nor can we ever replicate it. As each day passes, our cells are different, our thoughts develop, the temperature and air quality shifts. Everything around us is different. Always.

When we are feeling especially uncomfortable, the concept of impermanence can be, paradoxically, comforting. In other words: if nothing is permanent, we know our pain will pass. But when we are experiencing joy, the idea of impermanence can be incredibly fear-inducing.

If we accept the idea of impermanence at face-value, it can be incredibly liberating.In the West, about 100 years after the Buddha expressed this idea, Greek philosopher Heraclitus mirrored the belief when he famously said, «You can never step in the same river twice.» All we have is the present moment.

How we can use it in our everyday lives:

Celebrate the idea of change. Accept that everything is constantly changing. It’s kind of amazing, when you just think about it! And even when the idea of impermanence might feel scary, it helps us appreciate everything we are experiencing in the present: our relationships, body, mood, health, the weather, our favourite shoes, our jobs, our youth, our minds. So let’s savour those moments we do enjoy and know that the ones we don’t enjoy will pass.

Anatma: The self is always changing

When I ask clients what they want to get out of therapy, they commonly answer, «I want to find myself.» Our culture has led us to believe there’s a concrete, constant «self» tucked away somewhere in us. Is it between our heart and liver? Or somewhere unknown in our brain? Who knows!

Buddhism, however, assumes there is no fixed, stable «self.» In line with Anitya (impermanence), our cells, memories, thoughts, and personal narratives — all of the «matter» that ultimately comprises our identities — change over time.

Sure, we all have personalities (though they can change over time). We have names, and jobs, and other titles that we use to identify ourselves, to feel a sense of «self.»

But the idea of a constant self is yet another story our culture has told us. It is a story we can change, and thereby accept the idea that we ourselves can change — at any time, in any place. As Thich Nhat Hanh says, ’Thanks to impermanence, anything is possible.’

How we can use it in our everyday life:

Instead of focusing on «finding ourselves,» we ought to focus on creating the self we wish to be at every moment. It’s possible for us to be, and feel, different today than we were and felt yesterday. Being depressed today doesn’t mean we’ll be depressed forever. We can forgive others. We can forgive ourselves.

Once we let go of our attachment to the idea of the constant «self,» we can rest more comfortably with the constant change present in all of life. In each new moment, we ourselves are new.

Source: mindbodygreen.com