What is Lungta?

Image of a windhorse as painted on a prayer flag thangka. Photo credit: Raven Cypress Wood

“Lungta” is a compound of two words: “lung” and “ta.” To have a deeper understanding of lungta, it is necessary to look at its two variant spellings. Both words are pronounced exactly the same, but the different spellings have different meanings. The written form “lungta” is a standard phonetic rendering of the Tibetan. To illustrate the different Tibetan spellings for those unfamiliar with the Tibetan syllabary, the standard Wylie transliteration method of Romanizing the Tibetan language can be used. The spelling difference applies to the first letter* of the first word. Transliterated from the Tibetan, the first spelling is klung rta and begins with the letter “k.” The second spelling is rlung rta and begins with the letter “r.” Although these letters are silent and do not change the pronunciation, they do change the meaning of the word.

The most commonly used spelling is rlung rta. By itself, the word “rlung” means “wind.” This refers to wind from its most subtle form of energy to the most gross manifestation as an external element. “Ta,” transliterated as “rta,” means “horse.” This spelling is the same for both words. “Horse” in this context refers to the supreme horse which is endowed with extraordinary qualities somewhat similar to the mythic horse Pegasus. Because in ancient times, the horse was the mode of traveling with the greatest speed, it symbolizes the swift reversal of bad fortune to good fortune, illness to health, poverty to prosperity, ignorance to wisdom, etc. Therefore, the compound “rlung rta” literally translates to “windhorse.” The symbol of this, also known as a windhorse, can be seen in the center of many prayer flags carrying a flaming wish-fulfilling jewel. In modern Tibetan astrological texts, all references to lungta are spelled with “r” as the first letter.

Left: klung rta with the letter “k” in red. Right: rlung rta with the letter “r” in red.

In Bön texts as well as the ancient texts, lungta is spelled with a “k” as “klung” which can be translated as “fortune,” and sometimes as “river.” Some Tibetan dictionaries list one of the meanings of “klung” as “the element of space.” For the Bönpo, the letter “k” arises from the element of space. Whereas the letter “r” arises from the element of fire. Specifically, the letter “k” is related to the vast, pervasive quality of space. This understanding points to the function of klung rta. It is a pervasive, protective force. As one of the five natal energies, it acts to support the other four natal energies of health, personal power or wangtang, vitality, and soul to have a quality of pervasiveness. The compound “klung rta” refers to an individual’s force of good fortune and field of protection. If an individual’s lungta is strong, it enlivens the other four natal energies and naturally protects from negativity. Lungta has the ability to pervade everywhere like the sun. And like the sun, even though its pervasiveness never decreases, it can be experienced as being diminished or blocked due to external circumstances.

In this way, an individual’s lungta can be experienced as being weaker or stronger. For example, astrologically, each year is associated with one of the five elements. Inevitably, certain years will be in a conflicting relationship with an individual’s natal lungta element. The year 2022 is ruled by the element of water. For individuals whose lungta is ruled by the element of fire, the element of water is in an enemy relationship with the element of fire that governs their lungta. When this happens, lungta can be experienced as having become weaker or blocked and result in chronic bad luck, obstacles to success, disharmony in relationships, etc. There are many methods to remove what is blocking the flow of energy and to strengthen the lungta. One of the easiest and most common methods is the raising of prayer flags. Particularly, raising prayer flags of the same color as the element associated with an individual’s lungta. The element:color associations are: earth:yellow, water: blue, fire:red, wind a.k.a wood:green, and space a.k.a. metal:white. Also, practices that strengthen the element associated with the lungta, rituals such as the fumigation and offering of smoke, performing acts of virtue and devotion such as circumambulating chortens or making satsa, reciting mantra and/or prayers, and practicing with the internal winds are all effective methods to increase lungta. The specific method used depends upon the knowledge, circumstance, and view of the individual.

When the force of the lungta is experienced as strong there is a feeling of ease and flow to life. There are auspicious circumstances, success, good fortune, harmony, and a general feeling of well-being and support. Any task that is undertaken is successful and supportive circumstances naturally occur.

For more information about raising prayer flags, see previous article: https://ravencypresswood.com/2020/02/15/the-immeasurable-benefit-of-raising-prayer-flags/ For more information about the ritual of fumigation and offering of smoke, see: https://ravencypresswood.com/2021/11/19/new-book-release-sacred-smoke-the-ritual-practice-of-fumigation-and-offering-in-the-yungdrung-bon-religious-tradition/

“May my life force and vitality increase!

May the strength of my body increase!

May my personal power increase!

May my lungta be well developed!

May my soul and prosperity increase!

May all lungta, soul, and prosperity that have decreased become well developed!

May external, internal, and secret obstacles be cleared!

May these wishes bring the accomplishment of all goals and intentions!”  

-Prayers on a Yungdrung Bön lungta prayer flag

*Although syllables rather than letters, Tibetan syllables are referred to as letters in this article in order to aid the understanding of those unfamiliar with the written Tibetan language.

Tibetan translation by Raven Cypress Wood ©All Rights Reserved. No content, in part or in whole, is allowed to be used without direct permission from the author.

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Posted on April 16, 2022, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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