108, the magic number?

The arahat, whose asavas are gone, who has been totally emancipated from a 108 craving and who is dissociated from every kind of mental defilement, him naturally do I declare a true Brahmana!

Extracted from the Chronicles of the Buddhas

I read this yesterday and it occured to me that the number 108 correspond to the number of beads on my Mala.

So what is 108 cravings? According to the Theravadian tradition. (I just google and found the following.)

If you have prayer beads (Mala) with 108 beads, it’s a good thing to recall the significance behind those mantra recitation.

Here’s another version

In traditional Buddhist thought, people are said to have 108 afflictions or klesas. There are six senses (sight, sound, smell, taste, touch, and consciousness) multiplied by three reactions (positive, negative, or indifference) making 18 “feelings.”

Each of these feelings can be either “attached to pleasure or detached from pleasure” making 36 “passions”, each of which may be manifested in the mind stream as past, present, or future.

which corresponds to:

{sight, sound, smell, taste, touch, and consciousness} × {positive, negative, indifferent} × {attached to pleasure, detached from pleasure} × {past, present, future}
= 6×3×2×3 = 108

Wow! That’s what holding us back from Enlightenment!


Categories: Articles, Chanting

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7 replies »

  1. Thank you for sharing your link. In there is the ringing of a bell/gong 108 times at the New Year, some of my Kyudo mates and myself have a practice of shooting 108 arrows at the end/start of the year.
    May all being be free form suffering
    (Fuu from the Buddhism course)


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