The significance of 108
The number 108 has long been considered a sacred number, not only in yoga but in many spiritual traditions around the world. But what is the significance of 108? Why is it recurring in so many places?
Symbolically, 1 can be said to stand for Truth or God, 0 for Emptiness or Completeness as defined in spiritual practice, and 8 for Infinity and Eternity. Or, 1 can be said to stand for the individual soul, 0 for the whole, or God, and 8 for eternity.
108 appears in many places in the Vedas, ancient scriptures which form the basis of yoga philosophy and spiritual practice.
- There are 108 Upanishads, texts of wisdom of the ancient sages.
- There are 108 chapters in the Rg Veda.
- There are 108 Primary Tantras.
- There are 108 Marma points in the body.
- There are 108 Gopis of Krishna in Vrindavan.
- Prayer malas have 108 beads.
But the significance of 108 extends to other spiritual traditions:
- Christian rosaries are made up of 54 beads (two rounds make 108).
- The diameter of Stonehenge, which is associated with Druidry, is 108 feet.
Interestingly, in mathematical terms, 108 is also a natural division of circle (see diagram) into a pentagram, where the circle symbolises eternity and infinity, and the cycles of life and nature, while the circle touching all five points indicates that earth, water, fire, air and spirit are all connected.
Also, 360 degrees divided by 108 = 3.33, whereby the repeated number 333 is considered to carry the vibration of remembering one’s life purpose and soul mission. Furthermore, in 108=36+72, the ratio of 36 and 72 is 1:2, while in 108=9×12, the ratio of 9 and 12 is 3:4). Nothing more than fun facts, perhaps.
And the significance of 108 extends to other aspects of human knowledge from different parts of the world, for example:
- In yoga, it is estimated that our breathing is made up of 10,800 solar energy breaths and 10,800 lunar energy breaths per day.
- In Chinese astrology there are 108 sacred stars.
Even in modern astronomy, we know that:
- The diameter of the sun is 108 times the diameter of the earth.
- The distance from the sun to the earth is 108 times the diameter of the sun.
- The distance of the moon from the earth is 108 times the diameter of the moon.
Coincidence? It depends on your perspective. But 108 appears often enough in different scenarios involving mathematics, heavenly bodies and spiritual enhancement to suggest that the significance of 108, simply, is.
Some quantum physicists interpret the world as information in 1s and 0s, for eternity (information cannot be destroyed), which could be represented by the symbol 8. From quantum physicists to pagans to Hindus, the world is viewed as energy vibration, with everything having its own frequency.
Numbers are therefore believed to resonate with a particular frequency (hence their use in Angka Meditation). An entire school of thought revolves around the significance of numbers, and this is known as numerology.
According to numerology:
- 1 resonates with the vibration of new beginnings. It carries the energies of masculine attributes and plants the seeds of creation, with authority, direction, strength and love.
- 0 resonates with a wholeness, where there is no beginning and no end, a God force whose centre is everywhere and circumference is nowhere. It also symbolises freedom from limitations.
- 8 resonates with personal power, confidence, ability and inner strength. It resonates with the energies of giving and receiving both material and spiritual wealth. Number 8 is also the number of karma – the universal spiritual law of cause and effect.
There are many representations of the number 108 and many interpretations of the significance of 108. But what will be more real to you is what it means to you.