Tibetan Prayer Flags

While visiting a friend one evening last week, I admired the prayer flags that graced her already beautiful outdoor space.

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“Traditionally, prayer flags are used to promote peace, compassion, strength, and wisdom. The flags do not carry prayers to gods, which is a common misconception; rather, the Tibetans believe that the prayers and mantras will be blown by the wind to spread good will and compassion into all pervading space. Therefore, prayer flags are thought to bring benefit to all”.

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My friend’s husband had recently had surgery and the prayer flags were hanging to promote healing and peace during recovery.

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Prayer flags come in sets of five colors.  These colors, arranged from left to right in a specific order, represent the five elements.  Blue symbolizes the sky and space, white symbolizes the air and wind, red symbolizes fire, green symbolizes water, and yellow symbolizes earth.

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By hanging flags in high places, the blessings depicted on the flags are carried to all beings.  As the wind passes over the surface of the flags, the air is purified and sanctified by the mantras depicted on the flags.

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While I was familiar with these flags, I did not realize the meaning of them.  The information in this post was gleaned from Wikipedia.  I’d love to hear your thoughts or experiences with these flags

31 thoughts on “Tibetan Prayer Flags

  1. I love the idea that the prayer flags blow such goodness to everyone. I’ve seen them but never thought further on them. Thank you and I hope your friend’s husband heals beautifully!

  2. We had both indoor and outdoor prayer flags. The indoor ones fared better than the outdoor, due to the wind and sun damage.
    The indoor ones did little but promote the gathering of dust and cobwebs, as they hung on a beam in our living room, so I took them down, but I’ve missed their bright presence in our home.
    Fitty is such a hippie, and I’m a fan of clean, uncluttered space, so our home reflects a hoarder/OCD vibe. (NOT kidding!)
    After seeing this Laurie, maybe I need to let a bit of control go? Bring back an essence of whimsy and spirituality?

    • That hoarder / OCD vibe makes for an interesting home :-)
      I’ll have to keep an eye on my friend’s flags and see how they hold up to wind and sun.
      And yes! Bring back the whimsey!!

  3. I am a big believer that western culture has SO much to learn from the spiritual practises of the East – and specifically Buddhism. I studied the great religions of the world when i was young – much of it self driven in my attempt to understand what on earth life was about – and came across prayer flags then. I had some for many years and gave them away on one of my many moves….. and have always felt their absence since. I love that they are not about ‘help me’ or ‘give me’ but ‘help us all’ and ‘send us all’ – love, peace, health, healing, compassion, understanding and growth.

    Your photos are beautiful Laurie – that last one especially is perfect to me! And I love that you did your research too – good old Wikipedia – whatever did we do before? :-)

    • I too love the greater good … help all, promote peace to all, care for all.
      How great that you studied the eastern religions! I think I could stand some of the calm and peace the Buddhism promotes.

  4. Great post and photos Laurie :) I love the idea that the flags don’t carry prayers to the Gods. I agree with The Contented Crafter that Western culture has so much to learn from the East specifically “it’s not all about me”. Imagine how much less violence, wars, preconceived ideas there would be if we all adopted these practices. Have a great day :)

  5. Thank you for your beautiful photos of the prayer flags in our courtyard. I learned is much from your research and posting!

  6. Your friends seem both creative and spiritual. I haven’t any experience with the tradition or meaning of them before but they certainly give off a happy vibe. Your first photo is really striking and crisply focused, bravo! I know that’s tricky with moving objects. Thanks for sharing such a cool custom LB. xoK

  7. My SIL had prayer flags at her farm for a good many years until they fell apart. And there is a home in the next street over from mine that has them in the front garden. I like the idea of them but in our harsh sun they fade so quickly.

    • I’ve been thinking about the fading flags as a few folks have mentioned it … I wonder how that could be prevented. I sure do love the philosphy behind them

  8. Thanks so much for the Tibetan flags entry. Great information on the personal and background levels.

    We are in a little restaurant in Newport waiting for supper to arrive. Kate left to take Bob to a meeting in Eugene and we are eating before another walk on the beach.

  9. Lots of these flags hung around Portland, and they do fade fast, but it could be an excuse to put up new ones and dedicate them to a new cause? I found prayer flags at a tiny shrine on top of Mt. Fuji, and wondered if they even make it a week up there in that crazy weather. Maybe visitors bring flags as part of their journey.

  10. Thanks for the explanations. I would have thought they were prayers/messages to their god(s). Being high in the mountains, let’s hope the goodwill is spread around the world.

  11. Like Mae, I’ve seen these in my periphery vision, but not thought about them. Thanks for this post. The photos, as always, are beautiful; the insight and information so appreciated.

    You open my eyes to knew things every single time I visit your blog, Laurie. I love that about you!

  12. I’ve been vaguely aware of these flags, but didn’t know their history or their meaning. They symbolize so much hope. I love the openness, the direction of goodwill outward instead of inward.

    I wish the very best to your friend as she heals.

Because Boomdee dared me: Lay a little sugar on me :-)

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