The Symbolic Meaning of the Number 108

108 is built into stonehenge

The symbolic meaning of the number 108 is one of the most sacred numbers of Eastern traditions and is said to represent the whole of existence.

However, the number 108 is also found in the West, most notably built into the pre-historic structure of Stonehenge. Four station stones from a rectangle measuring 108 feet. The use of esoteric symbolism to reflect nature is that old.

So what if I were to tell you the ancients calculated the diameter of the Sun is 108 times the diameter of the Earth? Modern calculations say this is “about” 109 or 110. We don’t have a precise measurement that everyone agrees on!

Ancient symbolism uses the macrocosm to reflect the microcosm, ‘as above, so below.’ Furthermore, ancient astronomers were master mathematicians and worked out measurements and facts about nature that were then recorded in sacred texts such as the Rig Veda, Upanishads and Puranas. Modern science wouldn’t discover these same measurements until thousands of years later.

The esoteric values of ancient text teach us about the inner workings of mankind; the psyche, subconscious and the electro-chemical processes of human biology. Everything in the Universe is energy, including thoughts, emotion and actions.

How we think feel and behave is what defines us as a person. These subtle energies shape our personality, our perceptions and how we interact with others. They forge our reality in every way. It is therefore important to understand how bio-energy works.

108 Delusion of the Material World

Eastern religions reveal there are 108 sins or delusions of the mind, some of which are karmic energies from past lives. It is considered that once initiates have overcome these weaknesses, you complete your spiritual journey and reach Nirvana.

The number 108 is therefore connected with dharma and other related practices typically performed by yogis. There are sometimes 108 beads on Buddhist and Hindu praying beads so that practitioners can count the 108 mantras associated with prayers for dissolving maya.

Ancient sages from the Vedic traditions recognised that 108 is a ‘Harshad Number’ in that it is divisible by the sum of its digits. In Sanskrit, Harshad means ‘joy-giver.’ Subsequently, the number 108 is found in many forms in eastern traditions:

  • Hindus have 108 dance forms
  • There are said to be 108 paths to god
  • Chinese astrology has 36 beneficial stars and 72 malevolent stars constituting a total of 108 stars
  • In Japan, there are 108 celebrity saints known as the Vajradhatu
  • Tibetan legends count 108 great Initiates and 108 Masters
  • In Hinduism, there are 108 Upanishads and 108 Puranas
  • In the Mahabharata, there are 108 names for Lord Vishnu and 108 names for Lord Shiva
  • The Buddha also has 108 names and 108 lamps devoted to him

It is clear to see from the list above that the number 108 is related to absolute consciousness. In gematria, 108 = 9 and nine is also a reflection of absolute consciousness; the ultimate end of a cycle. This idea is reflected in the numerical system from 0-9.

The Path of Transcendence

The Rosicrucian Order also recognised the number 108 as a symbol of absolute consciousness and karmic healing. These wisest of Medieval Knights associated the number with ultimate achievement and said it was the summit of the path man can reach during this reincarnation on earth.

Here we see the esoteric meaning behind the number 108 leaning towards transcendence, the ability to rise above the mind of ego that keeps us rooted to the material world into the Universal mind whereby we are able to consciously respond to any situation and be assured we are doing the right thing.

Buddha lives in Universal mind

This concept can be observed in the division of Christian holiday’s from Soul’s day on the 2nd November to Christmas day on the 25th December. There are 54 days and 54 nights between the two dates symbolising the process of transforming darkness into light and light into darkness 108 times.

The soul in western religions is the equivalent to the Hindu atman, the god within. Essentially, it is the core of our energy centre that impacts the subtle energies that forge our personalities and experiences. It is the essence of our basic nature that is destined to return to Christ consciousness – the absolute manifest in man. On the 25th December, the 108th transformation, Christ is born and the initiates spiritual journey is complete.

Samael Aun Woer, an author and lecturer of gnostic teachings said we have 108 chances to eliminate ego and transcend the material world. According to Aun Woer, these chances are given to us in different lifetimes, again underscoring the connection between 108 and karmic energies.

108 and Buddhism

Buddhism teaches 108 defilements or delusions. They are sometimes called the 108 “lies” which is closer to the truth. They are the 108 potentially faulty programs in the subconscious which you need to master. These are the emotions and personality traits you need to be consciously aware of.

Zen Buddhists in Japan typically ring a bell 108 times at the end of each year. Each ring is said to represent the 108 “earthly temptations” a person must overcome in order to achieve nirvana.

The doctrines preached by Buddha Gautama, the historical Buddha, is said to have been collected by his disciplines and written down in 108 volumes known as the ‘Gandjour.’

These 108 texts deal exclusively with the metaphysical creation of the Universe and thus the perishable and frail nature of mankind. The Buddha describes the virtues you must adopt to emancipate the soul and transcend the “lies” of the material world.

The Tibetan guru, Buddha Padma-Sambhava, revealed 108 sacred writings he claimed were accessed from the akashic files in the celestial worlds. Tibetan folklore claims the Buddha hid these scripts on the border of Nepal and North Tibet.

In both Hindu and Tibetan traditions, there are 54 energies associated with Shiva and Shakti, male and female energies which manifest as reality.

Sri Yantra

Sri Yantra design by Ms Sarah Welch

There are also 108 nadis, or energy lines through which these 108 manifestations of energy flow converge around the heart chakra. We see this reflected in the image of the Sri Yantra – also known as the Yantra of Creation.

The same principle is observed in the Sanskrit alphabet. This ancient language has 54 letters, each of which can be spoken two ways according to gender, masculine and feminine, Shiva and Shakti.

Modern scholars have a tendency to call our ancient ancestors “primitive” yet science is only beginning to reveal what the wise men of antiquity understood thousands of years ago. In comparison, it is modern man that is primitive.

The majority of the world’s population are vibrating at a lower frequency and living in a world of delusions, lies we are struggling to overcome. We should be asking how this is possible given the profound wisdom recorded by our ancient ancestors.

When you understand the symbolism and reveal the knowledge of Truth, you will see that it makes perfect sense. In your quest for Self-Improvement identify how many of the 108 delusions you have mastered and how many you need to overcome.

Interested in Self Development?

Master Mind Content offers an 11-step self-development program which includes easy-to-learn yet powerful techniques to change mental conditioning. Our teaching combines modern science with ancient wisdom. The science explains ancient myth from a psychological and biological point-of-view, but the visualisations within ancient myths help you remember the science. Click anywhere in this text to find out more.


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