On the way to teach at our Spring Retreat I had run a few errands, and took a long-cut to visit a friend, and look at some harmoniums.
When I pulled up at the retreat center and shut off the car, I looked down to see a perfect 108 on my odometer.
I teach Japa Meditation to Yoga Students, where we use a Mala, a string of 108 beads to count the recitation of a chosen Mantra, or sacred word.
In the Yoga Asana communities you'll often see people practicing 108 sun salutations for a cause, or on the change of seasons.
Invariably the question: "Why 108?" comes up. There are many opinions about Why 108, but here I'll mention a few that people tend to agree upon.
108 comes from multiplying 9 times 12. Two sacred numbers in many traditions.
9 is the number of planets that are said to rule us (the grahas), and 12 is the number of zodiacs in Hindu astrology. This allows 108 combinations of planet – in – signs.
The ancients measured, quite accurately, that the distance between the earth and the sun as 108 times the sun's diameter.
The distance between the earth and the moon is just about 108 times the moon's diameter. (some say it moved)
The diameter of the Sun is 108 times the diameter of the earth.
Like the Beatles song from The White Album, this number 9 just keeps coming back:
9 x 1 = 9
9 x 2 = 18, 1 + 8 = 9
9 x 3 = 27, 2 + 7 = 9
9 x 4 = 36, 3 + 6 = 9
9 x 5 = 45, 4 + 5 = 9
9 x 6 = 54, 5 + 4 = 9
9 x 7 = 63, 6 + 3 = 9
9 x 8 = 72, 7 + 2 = 9
9 x 9 = 81, 8 + 1 = 9
9 x 10=90, 9 + 0 = 9
9 x 11=99, 9 + 9 = 18, 1 + 8 = 9
9 x 12 = 108
and… 1 + 0 + 8 = 9
A baseball has 108 stitches. In Ayurveda and martial arts, there are 108 marma, or pressure points on the body.
Have you heard any others? click on the comment link to share what you've heard. Japa Mala can be a very powerful, and comforting form of mediation. in a future post I can go over the details, but it's best learned in person.
I'd be glad to teach you the basics to get you started, shoot me an email. You can see some nice malas on the link to the left.
Om Shanti, -j
9 thoughts on “Why 108?”
Yes! love that number 9 and number 12.
…and Buddhist Meditation: 108 bead mala for mantra practice,
om mane, shukriya
I’m told that there are 108 seeds on the inside ring of a sunflower… anyone have one to count?
Now I lay me down to sleep—I pray the Lord my soul to keep–If I should die before I wake- Put 50 cents on 108 .
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I've heard 1 to the first times 2 to the second times three to the third. Also mystical! Om Shanti
you can confirm the relationship between the distance to the Sun and the diameter of the Sun at Wolfram Alpha:
According to the gnostic tradition, we have 108 possible lives, possible chances of liberation, after which, if we fail, we step back in evolution (hell), at a lower vibratory level (to cleanse us of our stubborn egos) and begin the journey again! Or something like that…
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