The Tibetan word for prayer flag is Dar Cho. “Dar” means to increase life, fortune, health and wealth. “Cho” means all sentient beings.
Prayer flags are simple devices that, coupled with the natural energy of the wind, quietly harmonize the environment, impartially increasing happiness and good fortune among all living beings. The ancient Buddhist prayers, mantras and powerful symbols displayed on them produce a spiritual vibration that is activated and carried by the wind across the countryside. All beings that are touched by the wind are uplifted and a little happier. The silent prayers are blessings spoken on the breath of nature. Just as a drop of water can permeate the ocean, prayers dissolved in the wind extend to fill all of space.
Prayer flags typically come on ropes to be hung in horizontal displays or printed on long narrow strips of cloth that are tied on vertical poles. Prayer flags on ropes are printed on 5 different colors of cloth (yellow, green, red, white and blue) so sets are always in multiples of 5. Most of the prayer flags are printed on cotton, polyester or nylon blends.
Placing prayer flags in and around one’s home or business imparts a feeling of harmony, increases the spiritual atmosphere and brings to mind the teachings of enlightenment. By placing prayer flags outdoors their sacred mantras are imprinted on the wind, generating peace and good wishes.
When raising prayer flags proper motivation is important. If they are put up with the attitude “I will benefit from doing this” – that is an ego-centered motivation and the benefits will be small and narrow. If the attitude is “May all beings everywhere receive benefit and find happiness”, the virtue generated by such motivation greatly increases the power of the prayers.
Tibetan tradition considers prayer flags to be holy. Because of they contain sacred texts and symbols they should be treated respectfully. They should not be placed on the ground or put in the trash. When disposing of old prayer flags the traditional way is to burn them so that the smoke may carry their blessings to the heavens.
Written by Timothy Clark in the 8th month of the Water Horse year at Redway, CA. Copyright Radiant Heart Studio.