In Buddhism the number 108 is considered an important number. There are 108 beads on a nenju (mindfulness beads) that represent our blind passions. these passions are comprised of six sets of 18 defilements that arise from sleepiness, greed, lust, desire, anger, and ignorance. These passions together comprise 108 delusions. Each bead on a nenju represents one of these delusions. When we rub our hands together around the nenju, we are grinding our delusions up and removing past karmic hindrances accumulated from our actions of greed, anger, and ignorance. We hold the nenju in our hands, being aware of the delusions and how we must live within the world of birth and death in order to experience Nirvana. No other place can we experience the awakening to our Buddha mind, than right here and now within samsara. When we understand that through the eyes of Buddha we cast off dualistic views and can see that the blooming of sweet blossoms, the warmth of the sun, the cool breeze in the trees, all exist within the world of suffering.
During the new year celebration of Joya no Kane, we ring the temple bell 108 times. This too represents the 108 blind passions. When we hit the bell, through its reverberation and the mindful experience of our senses we can sever our connection to the past karma of our body speech and mind from the last year. We are able to move freely into the new year with a fresh start, working in the world from the 6 paramitas of generosity, discipline, patience, exertion, meditation, and wisdom. Living by these 6 paramitas (perfections) we can transform our karma (actions) of greed, hate, and ignorance that keep us tied to experiencing life as Dukkha (pain). The view from our own Buddha eyes enables us to see this very world of pain is the pure world of the Buddha. taking care of others around us we do what needs to be done to alleviate the suffering that keeps all beings from experiencing joy, calm, health, safety, and support. All beings are capable of looking through the eyes of Buddha, as there is no being that is not Buddha. Happy New Year and may your year be safe, joyous, and healing.
Namu Shakyamuni Buddha,