Gratitude and the Mystical Number 108 – December 31 2019

If the only prayer you said was thank you, that would be enough.

Meister Eckhart

Over the years we have developed a New Year’s Eve tradition here in Studio City. We invite meditators to come for a gratitude celebration and group meditation to welcome in the new year. We begin around 10:00 p.m. with traditional Indian chai tea and very Indian sweets. People mingle and chat for a while, and then at some point, in order to be finished by 11:30 or so, those who care to pick up a worksheet we have printed out that has space for a gratitude list. The lines are numbered from 1 to 108. 

Most people, their first time here, say something to the effect of, “108! Holy cow! How am I supposed to find 108 things to be grateful for? I can barely think of ten. Why 108? That’s ridiculous!” Etc.

Why 108? In the Vedic world view, 108 is a significant number. 

Some say that 1 stands for God or higher Truth, 0 stands for emptiness or completeness in spiritual practice, and 8 stands for infinity or eternity.

The diameter of the Sun is 108 times the diameter of the Earth. The distance from the Sun to the Earth is 108 times the diameter of the Sun.

The average distance of the Moon from the Earth is 108 times the diameter of the Moon.

There are 108 beads on a mala.

There are 54 letters in the Sanskrit alphabet. Each has masculine and feminine, Shiva and Shakti. 54 times 2 is 108.

108 is a Harshad number, which is an integer divisible by the sum of its digits. (Harshad is from Sanskrit, and means “great joy”.)

Some say there are 108 Upanishads, the texts containing the wisdom of the ancient rishis and sages.

In astrology, there are 12 houses and 9 planets. 12 times 9 equals 108.

There are said to be 108 Indian goddess names.

Etc.

Whether or not you agree to the significance of the number, when you ask yourself to write 108 things you’re grateful for, something beautiful happens. You move past the obvious things like your health, your spouse/lover/partner, your children, and into the more-subtle realms like the purr of a kitten or the sound of distant thunder. And at some point you find you have tapped into an energy that carries you forward, and what was effort-full becomes effortless. You find yourself smiling at the beautiful absurdity of your list and the fact that, maybe, you could keep going. 

This, it turns out, is the way life is meant to feel. Simply by making this gratitude list, we are practicing living from the place of gratitude within.

If you can’t make it to Studio City tonight, make your own list. Enter the new year being carried by the flow of life, the flow of gratitude. Find out what’s really within. Find out what your list will look like:

spring rain

snowflakes

the stripes of a tiger

the scent of stale milk on a baby’s breath

muscle cars

support socks

good shaving cream

Western saddles

my friend, Lauren

Stickley furniture

white teeth

a B minor chord

tintypes

steam from manholes on the streets of New York

analog watches that keep good time

memories of childhood summers

sweet baby carrots

Dallmeyer brass lenses

Etc.

If you can make it, please join us. If not, then join us in the spirit of the evening.

Bring a flower. Your sweet tooth. And your gratitude.

Happy New Year.

Today I will be grateful for every breath, for every step, for every blink, for every word.

Bud Powell, LA Wash, Studio City

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