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.

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 symbolizes the 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 other disciplines......this
is enlightenment.

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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