One hundred and eight

One can find the number one hundred and eight in all Eastern religions and it refers to controlling the passions. In Buddhism, it refers to the idea of the one hundred eight defilements. The Journey from Chang`An in China to Vulture Peak in India, where the Buddha lives, is also one hundred and eight thousand miles, which symbolizes that if one controls the passions, one can reach presence.

The Buddha of the West lives in the Great Thunder Monastery in the land of India, one hundred and eight thousand miles away from here. -- Journey to the West

The Pure Land (Amida Buddha`s Pure Land, symbolizing the state of Presence) is not far from here, for the distance in mileage is 108,000, which really represents the 'ten evils' and 'eight errors' within us.
-- Huineng (6th Partriarch of Zen Buddhism, 7th c.)

On December 31st monks ring the temple bell 108 times, symbolizing purification from the one hundred and eight defilements

The passions, symbolized by the demons in the Journey to the West, refer to the many desires from the lower self that prevent us from being present. When one pursues the passions, the desire to be present has no chance to manifest itself. Therefore, one needs to learn to control the passions. A few examples of passions are negative emotions, judgement, vanity, imagination, over–indulgence in eating food, attachments etc. In fact, with passions are meant all thoughts, emotions and desires, all the many I`s that keep one attached to the lower self.

A person who obeys the passions of his lower self needs spiritual training, purification of the lower self, and dedication to the practice of remembrance. -- Al-Jilani (12th c. Persian Sufi)
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