SCHENECTADY -- Prayer flags -- in bright reds, blues, greens, yellows and whites -- have brought extra color to Aqueduct Road in Schenectady this weekend.
Dozens of the small flags are hanging from lines tied to two trees in front of Cairy Britton's residence at 2536 Aqueduct -- located near the Schenectady-Niskayuna border.
There's a reason for the new decorations. Britton, the organizer of the White Yak Buddhist Center, is conducting a spiritual retreat inside his home this weekend.
Followers of Tibetan Buddhism gathered inside the house Friday for a session on healing meditation taught by Florida-based Buddhism instructor Drupon Tinley Ningpo Rinpoche.
Healing meditation will be taught again Saturday during a session that will begin at 10 a.m. and run until 5 p.m. A blessing initiation of the "Buddha of compassion" will be the subject for the Sunday program, which also will run from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m.
The sessions are open to the public. Donations are suggested -- $100 for the full weekend, $50 per session.
"There are prayers written on the flags and the prayers are to benefit all living beings, not just human beings," said Britton, who said his group generally meets a couple times a month at a city church.
"The five colors symbolize the five elements of the environment and also the five inner elements of our bodies," Britton explained. "That's fire, water, air, earth and space."
The White Yak group is a Dharma group in the "Drikung Kagyu" lineage of Tibetan Buddhism. The lineage is more than 800 years old and part of a Buddhist tradition that goes back 2,500 years. The tradition includes spiritual teachings, practices and techniques for development of the mind, love, compassion and wisdom.
Rinpoche believes Buddhism is becoming more popular in America. He said the practice is more of a way of life rather than a belief system, especially during times when many people are very busy.
"Meditation helps," Rinpoche said.
Britton said the flags, on which Tibetan words are printed, will fly throughout the weekend. They might fly even longer.
"We'll see what happens," Britton said.
Reach Gazette reporter Jeff Wilkin at 518-395-3124 or at [email protected]