The Divine Power of 108 in Buddhism

The Divine Value of 108 in Buddhism

By Ethan Indigo Smith

Contributing writer for Wake Up World

What’s in a number? Only what we project and apply to that number, some would say. I would argue that numbers provide windows for comparative understanding of relationships or similarities, at least.

The number 108, its symbolism and its origin, is of metaphysical intuition. In Buddhism there are 108 paths to god, and in contrast 108 defilements or sins.  But these theological celebrations of 108 are just the tip of the theological iceberg.

The Esoteric Value  of 108

Buddha is known to have pointed to 4 aspects or stages of love related to The Four Immeasurables;  Love of self is the first aspect, love of others is the second, love for the happiness of others is third and love of all things in equanimity is the fourth.

Each stage of the following stage requires the preceding stage of love to be put forth. The Golden Rule is one element; love results from loving others as you would be loved. Just contemplate love for yourself, for others, for the happiness of others so they can find enlightenment/dharma — and all things can change for you and your surroundings.

See the divinity in the relationship between the Sun, Moon and Earth in the ratio of 108.  The diameter of the Earth at the equator is 7926 miles. The diameter of the Sun is 108 times that: about 865,000. The average distance between the Earth and the Sun is 108 times the sun’s diameter: 93,020,000 miles. The average distance from the Earth to the Moon is 238,800 miles, about 108 times the moons diameter: 2180.

See the divinity of yourself with all of humanity and all living beings, with the entirety of the planet as equally and divinely balanced.  The relationship of the Sun, Earth and Moon provide for all life and moreover all consciousness on Earth. And the size and distance between the familiar celestial objects are all in the divine proportion of 108. Through this astronomical, divine and miraculous positioning, 108 is symbolic of celestial order and perfection, our microcosmic position in the macrocosm.

108 can be seen as illustrating love; 1 for unification and acceptance, 0 representing that nothing matters compared to love and 8 representing eternal, immutable compassionate love, no matter what.  108 is  the key to metaphysical intuition.  108 links the micro and macro further in its representation of time: 1 for the present, 0 for the past and 8 for the infinite future.

The Antidote to Corruption

Buddha’s dharma lessons are said to be the antidote to the corruptions, in the same way compassionate love counters confrontation.

It’s said that Buddha revealed 84,000 lessons in dharma, or 82,000 lessons and that 2,000 more were later added for a total of 84,000 dharmas or meditations — antidotes to what are called the 84,000 corruptions. His teachings are divided into four parts; 21,000 teachings on each of the three baskets of teaching (Vinaya, Sutra and Abhidharma) and their combination, which counter and cure the gross corruptions of this plane.

There are four types of corruptions; 21,000 of passion, 21,000 of hatred, 21,000 of ignorance and 21,000 of a combination of the three equally.

Buddha taught that the way out of suffering is not to cause suffering and that the way to happiness is to choose happiness; to cease allowing passion, hatred and ignorance to rule one’s consciousness. Question yourself and others acting in these states. These states of consciousness are reflected in the center of an ancient mandala of reincarnation, and in the cycle of Saṃsāra (the birth/death cycle) as the passion of the pig, the hatred of the snake and ignorance of the rooster.  They are depicted in a cycle, or reaction, chasing each other’s tails. The lesson? Instead of chasing tails, be compassionate for all, as 1, exclude 0 living beings from your compassion, and be accepting of infinite (8) alternative compassionate form and function: 108.

The Meditative Value of 108

84,000 is 108 multiplied by 777.7777777777777….

7, 777 and sevens in multitude are symbolic of angelic being, ascension and transmutation of self into a spiritual being with heightened awareness. And perchance, 7+7+7=21.

There are 84,000 loving ways to counter 84,000 corruptions; 84,000 compassionate forms to choose from, instead of 84,000 causes for suffering. There is always a way to respond lovingly, in angelic being, rather than to react hatefully, in a trained reaction, in accordance to the scripting of another’s corrupt play. There is always a way to respond rather than react.

The number 84,000 is more of a metaphor than a specific count of course. It is a metaphor expressed in its angelic numerical relationships perhaps, but more importantly, it is reflective of the near limitless corruptions on this gross plane and that, for each one, there is a dharma lesson. For every problem and for every corruption there is a compassionate, caring, wise solution.

One of the most popular figures in Tibetan Buddhism is the Green Tara . Known as the Buddha of  “enlightened activity”, Tara is  a female  Bodhisattva  and  represents the virtues of success in work and achievements.  Tara has 21 aspects, Green Tara being the most frequently praised, and represents the ultimate feminine compassionate energy.

Tara is a  meditation deity  whose practice is used to develop certain inner qualities, and to understand outer and inner teachings of  compassion  and  emptiness.  There are many ways to connect with Green Tara. One meditation I learned, with accompanying ritual, reveals two main mantras to connect with Green Tara;  the heart mantra and the activating mantra. It is said when the heart mantra is repeated 700,000 times, and for each thousand that the activating mantra is also said three hundred times, one can call on Green Tara with ease and obtain her assistance for compassionate acts.

300 multiplied by 700 is 210,000, giving a total of 910,000 mantra repetitions. 910,000 divided by 84,000 equals 10.83333333333333…. another fascinating result which, despite the decimal point, depicts 108 before the following neat sequence of repeated threes. The Activating Green Tara mantra is commonly used on its own: Om Tare Tu Tare Ture Swa Ha.

108 Steps to Be In The Zone

108 steps to be in the zone - ethan indigo smith

Want to learn more about the metaphysical relationship of 108, and how it can help you live “in the zone”? Check out Ethan Indigo Smith’s book 108 Steps to Be in The Zone.

In this work, Ethan  provides a set of 108 meditative practices and steps toward self discovery and individual betterment, including techniques to develop balance, transmute sexual energy and better the self.

“Ethan’s work on meditation achieves a level of  rarefied  quality so necessary to metaphysical writing and teaching. The 108 Steps is simple and profound, and rich in details and analogies that bring the inner truths of diverse traditions into usefulness in the present time. Ethan’s writing…  lays out a system that can be used beneficially to reveal one’s inner nature and the truths we all seek sooner or later.” ~  Laura Peppard, Founder and Director of the Reno Psychic Institute.

“108 Steps to Be in The Zone” is available here on

About the author:

Ethan Indigo SmithAuthor, activist and Tai Chi teacher  Ethan Indigo Smith  was born on a farm in Maine and lived in Manhattan for a number of years before migrating west to Mendocino, California. Guided by a keen sense of integrity and humanity,  Ethan’s work is both deeply connected and extremely insightful, blending philosophy, politics, activism, spirituality, meditation and a unique sense of humour.

Ethan’s publications include:

For more information, visit Ethan on  Facebook  and check out  Ethan’s author page  on

Recommended reading by Ethan Indigo Smith:


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