Why 108 & 18 Are Sacred Numbers

The number one hundred and eight appears frequently in history and religions around the world.  It is commonly found in Buddhist meditations.  This number is reached by multiplying the senses (smell, touch, taste, hearing, sight, and consciousness) by whether they are painful, pleasant or neutral, and then again by whether these are internally generated or externally occurring, and yet again by the past, present and future, finally we get one hundred and eight  feelings.  Six times three times two times three equals one hundred and eight.

Tibetan Buddhist rosaries are usually one hundred and eight beads, reflecting the words of the Buddha, in one hundred and eight volumes.  Zen priests wear a ring of prayer beads around their wrists, which consists of one hundred and eight beads.  There are one hundred and eight Buddhist “Holy Ones”.

There is a section in the Lankavatara Sutra where the Bodhisattva Mahamati asks Buddha one hundred and eight questions and another different section where Buddha lists one hundred and eight statements.  The Sanskrit word “pada” can be translated as “statement” or as a “foot-step” or “a position.”  This confusion over the word “pada” explains why some have mistakenly held that the reference to one hundred and eight statements in the Lankavatara Sutra refer to the one hundred and eight steps that many temples have.

In Japan, at the end of the year, a bell is chimed one hundred and eight times in Buddhist temples to finish the old year and welcome the new one.  Each ring represents one of one hundred and eight earthly temptations a person must overcome in order to achieve nirvana.

In Jewish tradition, gifts and charitable donations are often given in multiples of the number eighteen, associated with the Hebrew word chai, meaning alive, living, or life.  The number one hundred and eight is a multiple of eighteen (six, which stands for imagination in the Children’s Count, times eighteen) and it contains the numbers one and eight that compose the number eighteen.

In the Bible Jesus says at the end of the book of Mathew that he wants his word to be spread to the four corners.  There are twenty-seven books in the New Testament.  Four times twenty-seven equals one hundred and eight.

In Hinduism, Shiva has one hundred and eight names.  Reciting these names and counting on the one hundred and eight beaded mala is a sacred act often done during ceremonies.  There are also said to be one hundred and eight homes of Vishnu. Krishna is said to have one hundred and eight servants.  A famous bas-relief carving at the Angkor Wat temple in Cambodia depicts the Hindu story of a serpent being pulled back and forth by one hundred and eight gods and demons.  Fifty-four gods pull one way and fifty-four demons pull the other direction to churn the ocean of milk in order to produce the elixir of immortality. There are five gates to the temple city of Angkor Thom.  In front of each gate are statues of fifty-four gods to the left and fifty-four demons to the right, which represent the churning of the ocean.

According to Ayurveda practitioners, there are one hundred and eight pressure points in the body, where consciousness and flesh intersect to give life to the living being.  The Chinese school of martial arts and the south Indian school of martial arts both agree that there are one hundred and eight pressure points.  The number 108 is also found in karate, particularly the Gōjū-ryū discipline. The ultimate Gōjū-ryū kata, “Suparinpei” literally translates to one hundred and eight. “Suparinpei” is the Japanese pronunciation of the number one hundred and eight. There are one hundred and eight moves of the Yang Taijiquan long form and one hundred and eight moves in the Wing Chun wooden dummy form.  The Eagle Claw Kung Fu style has a form known as the one hundred and eight Locking Hand Techniques.  This form is considered the essence of the style, consisting of an encyclopedia of Chin Na techniques, and is said to be passed down from the founder General Yue Fei.

Paek Pal Ki Hyung, the 7th form taught in the art of Kuk Sool Won, translates literally to “one hundred and eight techniques” form.  It is also frequently referred to as the “eliminate one hundred and eight torments” form.  Each motion corresponds with one of the one hundred and eight Buddhist torments or defilements.

In Homer’s Odyssey, the number of suitors coveting Penelope, the wife of Odysseus, was one hundred and eight.

The distance of the earth from the sun is about one hundred and eight times the diameter of the Sun.  The actual ratio varies between 105.7 at perihelion and 109.3 at aphelion.  The diameter of the sun is 108 times the diameter of the earth.

There are fifty-four letters in the Sanskrit alphabet and each has a masculine and feminine form making one hundred and eight in all.

There are said to be one hundred and eight energy lines converging to form the heart chakra.  There are also thought to be thirty-six feelings relating to the past, thirty-six to the present and thirty-six to the future equaling one hundred and eight total feelings.  Chinese Buddhists and Taoists have a mala, or string of prayer beads, of one hundred and eight with three dividing beads so each section has thirty-six.

In Islam, the number one hundred and eight refers to God.

In Native American tradition, 10 refers to completion and the number 8 refers to patterns.  So we have the completion of a pattern, indicating the pattern will be repeated, as in reincarnation.  In the Children’s Count, the meaning of numbers as they relate here on Earth, 18 refers to the circles of law, our book of life, and the Chuluamahdah-hey or the karma masters and magical teachers, meaning these teachers are not always in physical form.  It is also where we plan for what we want to accomplish, we make plans for our next life based on what our soul needs to learn to achieve unity with The Creator.



  1. Wow Hyapathia! Always learn something reading you. We re all connected. Thanks for bringing that out. I hAd no idea about all of this. You grow the more you write. Thanks again looking forward to more Muuah!


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