African lion Sahar runs through his outdoor exhibit in our Photo of the Week. Besides exercise, the 5-year-old big cat can count on a special “hot rock” to stay warm in the snow. (He can always head inside too!)
A tiger (bottom left),a snow lion (bottom right),a garuda (top left) and a dragon (top right).At the center there is a lungta or windhorse.They are mythical Tibetan creature symbolizing the inner air or wind of the body and related aspects of the Buddhist path.We have four level to describe its meaning:
Outer level:the lungta is a mythical Tibetan creature from pre-Buddhist times that combines the speed of the wind and the strength of the horse to carry prayers from earth to the heavens.
Inner level: is associated with positive energy or ‘life force’ and with ‘good luck’. It is both the subduer of evil and the vehicle of enlightenment.Often it represents prayer flags, which are flown to generate merit and increase one’s life force. Lungta prayer flags typically display a tiger, a snow lion, a garuda, and a dragon, (the four dignities,see the image) with a lungta in the center.
Secret level: in this level the lungta represents the play of the five elements, out of which all phenomena are formed and the lungta symbolizes space,the ground of all manifestation.In astrological texts it is spelled longta,which means “horse of space”,the tiger represents the wind element,the snow lion represents earth,the garuda represents fire and the dragon represents the water element.
Most secret level: the lungta,in this level,represents the inner wind (vayu in Sanskrit or lung in Tibetan) or subtle energy that flows in the body and nourishes the body itself.Whether the wind-horse is strong or weak determines whether positive or negative tendencies dominate the mind.