Many who wear the mala beads are asked about
their significance. Why are there 108 beads strung on a thread and exactly what
is the true meaning of it all? I usually keep the answer short, not wanting to
give a discourse on Eastern philosophy, Buddhist or Indian.
Here's a longer answer...
Firstly, the number 18 (18 Hands of the Lohan for instance) is considered sacred and the root of the number 108 and 1008, another sacred number.
Soon after the birth of the Buddha, 108 Brahmans were invited to the name-giving ceremony.
The number 18 is holy because there are 18 Puranas and 18 chapters in the Bhagavad Gita. By adding a zero we get 108, and 2 zeros gives us 1,008. There are other correspondences from a numerological standpoint where 1 plus 8 equals 9 which is a wholly different subject.
The 108 Salutations to the Sun is very popular and represents another use of this number.
Early Indian astronomy divides a 'DAY OF BRAHMA ', the time between a period of universal pralaya (sleep), activity (manifestation into an objective universe) and back to pralaya, into yugas or cycles, periods of time. There are 1,008 yugas in a Day of Brahma.
The japamala, the string of 108 beads, signifies many things.
Indian/Buddhist thought states that the outer universe is mirrored in the inner man. He is the microcosm and the objective universe is the macrocosm. The number 108 represents the distance between the devotee and the God within.
The chain of 108 links is held together by 107 joints, the number of marmas, or weak spots, in the body according to the Ayurvedic way.
The 108 sacred meridians points on the human body in Traditional Chinese Medicine.
The 108 Karanas of dance, with 108 movements.
The Chinese, very aware of the esoteric and the use of this same symbolism employed it also in their various systems, Taoist and Buddhist. The Yang style form with 108 moves is an example.
The 108 stations a candidate had to go through to leave the temple, the 108 steps through danger and death, which also signifies the level of the spiritual adept who must overcome on the spiritual planes the 108 intermediate regions of danger and trial.
The distance between the earth and sun = 108 times the diameter of the sun.
Distance between the earth and the moon = 108 times the moon's diameter
The diameter of the sun = 108 times the diameter of the earth.
Lastly and most importantly, the beads represent, in a simple yet powerful way, the ideas of
karma and reincarnation--a rarely disclosed fact. The thread that the beads are strung upon
Sutratma, the Spirit or Thread Soul. This is the reincarnating Ego, our true
Self, that dons a new garment, a new personality for each lifetime. Each bead
strung on the thread is one of those lives that has served its purpose in the
evolution of the Higher Self, our God within. We are supposed to join with that
inner divinity by building a bridge, called Antahkarana, through meditation and
We practice kung fu, chi kung, meditation, mindfulness, love and compassion to build character. We should study and contemplate the meaning of life, why we are here and who we really are.
We should make use of every moment of each day while focusing on the big picture.......service to and love for humanity. We are more than just 'connected' to each other. Much, much more.
Ping An, brothers and sisters, from Myrtle Beach.
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