Thursday, March 15, 2012

Lesson Plan: Buddhist Prayer Flags

Of course, we couldn't complete our World Religion unit on Buddhism without doing Buddhist Prayer Flags!  This class was run by artist and teacher extraordinaire, the Reverend Donna Belt!  She explained the tradition of prayer flags, and the fact that they are hung in a set order by color, which symbolize different elements.  So the traditional order is:
Blue--representing sky
White--representing air or wind
Red--representing fire
Green--representing water
Yellow--representing earth

She discussed the fact that the flags are called "Wind Horses," and that the belief is that every time the wind moves the flag, it send the energy and prayers contained in the flag, not to a divine being, but through the space, blessing everyone.  So it is a belief practice much in line with the Buddhist tradition of universal connection and compassion.

Reverend Belt helped the students create universal healing prayers involving all of the different elements.  They they wrote those prayers on their flags, sometimes also decorating them with a horse image or other decorative elements.

Once they were completed, the teachers demonstrated the traditional way to hang a set of prayer flags...

First one

Then another

Then many

It can be a very powerful--and beautiful--way to talk about Buddhist beliefs.

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