30 Dec Gratitude and the Mystical Number 108 – December 31 2020
If the only prayer you said was thank you, that would be enough.
Over the years we have developed a New Year’s Eve tradition. We invite meditators to join us for a gratitude celebration and group meditation to welcome in the new year.
This year, of course, we will be doing so on Zoom.
At about 11:30 we will be doing our puja ceremony, and then having a group meditation from about ten before midnight to ten after.
But before that, we offer the opportunity to take stock in what can be a fun way.
We begin around 10:30 p.m. with a brief chat, then some music playing while those who care to make a couple of lists.
In line with most other traditions, we write down three intentions for the new year. And then there is the one that sounds challenging: we make a gratitude list. We offer a pdf you can print out with lines 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 names of the goddess in Indian mythology.
Whether or not you agree as 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 and in the flow of nature.
If you can’t make it to our Zoom gathering, 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:
the stripes of a tiger
the scent of stale milk on a baby’s breath
my friend, Lauren
a B minor chord
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
large Epson printers and Kraft paper
Please join us, or join us in the spirit of the evening.
Have a flower handy. And your gratitude.
Happy New Year.
Today I will be grateful for every breath, for every step, for every blink, for every word.
Arunachala Hill, Tiruvannamalai, Tamil Nadu, India