According to the dharma practice calendar (DPC) , today was/is an auspicious day…one of the most, in fact and an excellent day for hanging prayer flags. So that’s what I did. We’d been wanting to change our prayer flags on our deck for a time but the weather/auspicious day/life schedule never seemed to line up. The idea crossed my mind yesterday but when I consulted the DPC, it wasn’t a good day so I made the commitment to do it today.
And what a day! The morning was crisp, clear, and cold. First I cut all prayer flag ends attached to the house. Then, I had to take down the mast as the second step. Last year’s lashing had held strong so it took a bit of work climbing up, over, and down off the deck to release all of the attachments (thank goodness the neighbour keeps a ladder attached to his deck that I often “borrow” (a.k.a. climb up/down) when I need to clear the snow from the deck and we can’t get out our deck door. With all of the parts on the ground, I slid a new vertical set of prayer flags over the pole and tied on three horizontal sets. I then raised the pole once again (Marian braved the cold to hold it up for me while I secured it temporarily with cable ties) and then lashed it firmly into place. It’s not uncommon to have 80-100 km/h winds here so we can’t risk having it get lose. I then tie the horizontal strings out to their attachments and voila…windhorse is raised for 2015.
Prayer flags are raised in Tibet and Nepal after puja (blessing) ceremonies. They fly from/on mountain summits, mountain passes, and stupas. Another name for prayer flags is Lung Ta or Windhorse. On each flag is printed a prayer. When the wind blows (as it does often here), the prayer is released to do its good work. On Tibetan New Year (Losar), the prayer flags on stupas are often changed so I liked that it all came together that I changed the prayer flags here close to our new year.
As I did the work of changing the flags, I reflected some of the year past and thought forward to 2015. According to the DPC, “today was an Earth-Earth combination which can bring success, fulfilling all wishes. It is an excellent for starting activities, especially construction.” Marian and I ordered seeds and supplies for our vegetable garden today. I scored a hat trick in my hockey game tonight. I’m very close to putting some climbing plans into action…so indeed, it was an auspicious day.
Yesterday, I read a piece by Parker Palmer about questions to ask oneself on a regular basis and perhaps at the occasion of New Year’s or a birthday:
“• How can I let go of my need for fixed answers in favor of aliveness?
• What is my next challenge in daring to be human?
• How can I open myself to the beauty of nature and human nature?
• Who or what do I need to learn to love next? And next? And next?
• What is the new creation that wants to be born in and through me?”
I also recently saw some very timely thoughts for the New Year from Pema Chodron:
“When we start to meditate or to work with any kind of spiritual discipline,we often think that somehow we’re going to improve, which is a subtle aggression against who we really are. It’s a bit like saying, “If I jog I’ll be a much better person.” “If I had a nicer house I’d be a better person.” “If I could meditate and calm down I’d be a better person.” Or the scenario may be that we find fault with others. We might say, “If it weren’t for my husband, I’d have a perfect marriage.” “If it weren’t for the fact that my boss and I can’t get on, my job would be just great.” And, “If it weren’t for my mind, my meditation would be just excellent.” But loving-kindness “maitri” towards ourselves doesn’t mean getting rid of anything. Maitri means that we can still be crazy, we can still be angry. We can still be timid or jealous or full of feelings of unworthiness. Meditation practice isn’t about trying to throw ourselves away and become something better. It’s about befriending who we are already.”
I’llIn 2015, I’ll be aiming both to answer Parker’s questions while following Pema’s advice to the letter and aiming to befriend myself a little more each day! That’s my resolution and three days in, I’m going strong. All in all, it was a lovely time of raising windhorse for both today and for the year.