Redeeming the World by the Mystique of Words: Tibetan Prayer Flags

“The cairns of piled stones that mark the high passes are spiked with poles where prayer flags fly. Who hung them in these lonely defiles we cannot tell. As the wind funnels through the passes, their inscriptions stream in faded tatters. With every flutter, it is believed, the wind disperses their prayer into the world, to ease the suffering of all sentient beings. And they will propitiate whatever capricious mountain gods control the pass. I touch them gingerly: the Tibetan script that I do not understand. I have seen them before in China and in regions of Tibetan exile, and every time they stir a poignant wonder. They glare in five primary colours, embodying earth, air, fire, water and sky. Like the prayer wheels that circle holy sites or turn in the hands of pilgrims, they redeem the world by the mystique of words. Some, near monasteries, are even turned by flowing water. Many are stamped with the wind horse, who flies their mantras on his jewelled back; others with the saint Padmasambhava, who restored Buddhism to Tibet. Iswor circles them reverently, clockwise. I follow him, glad, for some reason, of his faith. Sometimes the flags are so thinned that their prayers are as diaphanous as cobwebs. But this, Iswor says, does not matter. The air is already printed with their words.”

Colin Thubron, “To a Mountain in Tibet”

 

 

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One Response to Redeeming the World by the Mystique of Words: Tibetan Prayer Flags

  1. Pingback: Redeeming the World by the Mystique of Words: Tibetan Prayer Flags – lampmagician

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