Some time ago I discovered the delightful artifacts known as prayer flags, those humble yet amazing pieces of cloth whose purpose came to fill me with delight. Their roots are in India, they blossomed in Tibet (known as lung ta or darchor depending on the style) and somehow ended up flying in the cool winds caressing the Mount Everest of my mind.
It is my understanding that traditionally, the flags are used to promote compassion, strength, wisdom and peace. The idea is that the prayers and mantras written on the flags will be carried by the wind into the surrounding space. Thus, by power of the wind, good will is carried to all. Hanging the flags in high places, especially those with frequent or powerful winds, is considered to be especially effective.
Lately I find myself struggling with the ideas of compassion, strength, wisdom and peace. How to find them within myself, and how to help spread them throughout the world. It seems to me that all of us could use more of each. I am acutely aware of the struggle within myself to overcome the base impulses that led me away from those four elements. I see and hear what is happening in the world and am saddened but also amazed at the feelings created within my head and heart.
I have written "flying some prayer flags for you on the Everest of my mind" quite often in my correspondence with my friends and acquaintances over the interwebs. I don't recall the first time I used those words, but I do recall thinking I was quite clever in my turn of phrase. It has not been until recently that it occurred to me it was more than triteness meant to convey solidarity or sympathy. I mean, it is that, but has also become much more to me.
I know now that I will almost certainly never climb Mount Everest, or even venture into the foothills of that majestic, legendary mountain. My life path and circumstances will most likely not allow it. At one time, that notion made me very sad; I don't have to climb it, but I would love to at least see it with my own two eyes, breathe the cold crystalline air sweeping down it flanks.
At the same time, I know that I may never get to see some of the dear people I consider to be my friends of the electronic age, as much as the notion pains me. This does not stop me from wishing them love, peace, and good fortune in whatever life is serving up to them. So if I can't get to the mountain, I will bring the mountain to me.
The space within my mind may be infinite if I wish it so. I could build cities marching to the horizon, oceans unbounded or invisible forests if I so desired. But with all that is going on in our lives, dear ones, I have chosen to create a shield against the negative energy that threatens us. I am forcing up a mountain range from the tectonic plates of my soul, the anchor of which is this Everest I think has grown from my heart.
It fits there, in the space behind my eyes, a stereo vision overlay on the shared hallucination that is our world. The winds blow strong and swift in the crystalline cerulean sky around the Everest I see. The flanks of the mountain are dotted with bits of bright fabric, seeming almost alive as the flags I have hung for you swirl in their eager arabesques and tarantellas and tangos upon the wind.
Lately my heart has grown weary of the hardness and stone of its typical existence. There are cracks, like those of a shell surrounding a chick. My heart is trying to break out so as to share in this world...to share with you, my fellow humans. In the foothills, I kneel and turn my gaze toward the mountain. In my hands are lung ta, inscribed with prayers and the names of those I know and those I wish to know.
The shadows hang blue upon the valley, dear ones. I fly my flags in the wind. May they bring you compassion, strength, wisdom and peace.