Text Size: 
Return to Home Page:  Window on the World
Navigation:Allow scripts to run for mouse rollovers.




Eclectic Potpourri:
The Ubiquitous "108"

When practicing Buddhism, one encounters the number 108: 108 prostrations and 108 beads on a string of prayer beads. Why 108? Why not an even 100 or perhaps 183? The answer lies somewhere in the mystic relevance of the number "3" in a variety of environments, as well as in Buddhism:

3 digits add up to 9 1 + 0 + 8 = 9

3 is a multiple of 9   9 ÷ 3 = 3;  9 − 3 − 3 − 3 = 0

3 and 9
 are multiples of 108 108 ÷ 3 = 36;  108 ÷ 9 = 12

The expression 11 × 22 × 33 = 108
 is known as the hyperfactorial of 108

108 feelings (Buddhist concepts):

6 × 3 × 2 × 3 = 108 
6 senses of hearing, seeing, touching, smelling, tasting
  and having consciousness
3 sensations of pain, pleasure, or neutral
2 origins of internal or external sensory perception
3 time periods of past, present, and future


References to "108":


* the number "108" appearing in a fair number of video games, including Pokoman and Batman

* 108 bodily pressure points targeted in East Asian martial arts

* 108 degrees of each interior angle of a pentagon (five sides; five angles Pentagonare each 108 degrees)

* 108 degrees Fahrenheit (42°C) is the threshold temperature for human internal organs to begin failing

* 108 suitors pursuing Odysseus's wife in Homer's Odyssey

"1-0-8", the toll-free emergency telephone number in India

* 108 earthly temptations that a practicing Bud­dhist must overcome to achieve Nirvana

* 108 gongs of a Japanese Buddhist temple bell usher­ing in the New Year; each gong represents one of the 108 earthly temptations

* 108 defilements defined in Buddhism

* 108 steps leading up to some temples


References to "3":

* "3" is the "smallest odd prime number" (0 and 1 are not considered); the "smallest even prime number" is "2"

Three-legged chair * 3 support legs (or pods), such as three-legged tables, chairs, or tripods, is the most stable arrangement of ground contacts;  four-legged tables can wobble; three-legged tables cannot wobble

* 3-dimensional space is our normal view of the world (Length, Width, and Height) Cube

* "3", to some people, is the number that represents the "Supreme Balance" of Mind, Body, and Spirit

* "3" represents the three entities of the "Holy Trinity" (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit)

Hindu-Arabic numerals * the symbol "3" has three angles in the Hindu-Arabic forms of these number symbols; "0" has zero angles, "1" has one angle, and "8" has eight angles

* "3" is the number of primary colors seen by the human eye: red, green, blue ("additive colors"), not to be confused with the "subtractive colors" of magenta, cyan, yellow. All colors of the rainbow are a blend of the the three additive primary colors; the subtractive colors are used in printing and in both film and digital photography

* 3, pi=3.14159265359…, as an approximate ratio of the circum­ference to the diameter of a circle.

Further Explorations of 108

* Surf here for excellent graphic and video lessons that reduce the mystique of mathematics

* An extended and fanciful excursion into the number 108 is at Math Hombre; also worth viewing is a discussion about the Greek Golden Ratio

* Informative text and interesting graphics are presented at Magic-African-Creative-Energy