Wednesday, February 4, 2009

108 Bows

So last night we were talking about bowing meditation. During early morning practice, it is common to do 108 bows/prostrations. For those who don't know what a prostration is, it has nothing to do with with a guy's butt-gland.  It is when you get down on all fours and stick your forehead on the floor, or in the case of morning practice, on the cushion. The question came up as to why we do 108. What is the significance of the number 108? Well, being a research geek, I decided to do a little snooping around. Here is what I found.
  • The ancient Indians were excellent mathematicians and 108 may be the product of a precise mathematical operation (e.g. 1 power 1 x 2 power 2 x 3 power 3 = 108).
  • Hindu and Buddhist prayer bead (malas) have 108 beads.
  • There are 54 letters in the Sanskrit alphabet. Each has masculine and feminine, shiva and shakti. 54 times 2 is 108.
  • 9 times 12: Both of these numbers have been said to have spiritual significance in many traditions. 9 times 12 is 108. Also, 1 plus 8 equals 9. That 9 times 12 equals 108.
  • The chakras are the intersections of energy lines, and there are said to be a total of 108 energy lines converging to form the heart chakra. One of them, sushumna leads to the crown chakra, and is said to be the path to Self-realization.
  • Some say there are 108 feelings, with 36 related to the past, 36 related to the present, and 36 related to the future.
  • In astrology, there are 12 houses and 9 planets. 12 times 9 equals 108.
  • The diameter of the sun is 108 times the diameter of the Earth.
  • According to Atman, the human soul or center goes through 108 stages on the journey.
  • In Pythagorean, the nine is the limit of all numbers, all others existing and coming from the same. ie: 0 to 9 is all one needs to make up an infinite amount of numbers.
  • There are 108 Upanishads in the Muktikopanishad.
  • There are 540 (108 * 5) doors to the Great Hall of Valhalla in Nordic mythology.
  • The number of stitches on a baseball and also the name of a popular baseball magazine.
  • The sum of "The Numbers" in the TV show Lost (4, 8, 15, 16, 23, and 42). It is also the number of minutes within which these numbers must be entered into the computer and the button must be pushed. 108 is also the number of days the Oceanic 6 spent on the island.
  • There are 108 cards in an Uno deck.

So who knows exactly why 108 bows.  It appears to have been a mystical number back in the day.  But if anyone asks, I'm either going with Lost or Uno.

1 comment:

Ruta said...

Hi there, i found on internet about 108 bows. you can read it here: http://zenmirror.blogspot.com/2010/02/why-108-bows.html :)

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