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The Number 108 and Its Significance In Religion and Pop Culture

By Dustin Rowles | Industry | May 2, 2014 |

By Dustin Rowles | Industry | May 2, 2014 |

The number 108 is an important one to Eastern Religions. There are different theories on why, but some suggest it refers to the number of torments or defilements Buddha experienced and overcame to gain enlightenment, while others suggest it refers to the distinctive signs of perfection that distinguishes a Buddha from other human beings. There’s a lot of information on the Internet about the number and how it relates to several other religions, and Yoga, and Mathematics, but suffice to say, it’s a mystical and magical one.

Most people who studied Lost are quite familiar with it. The sum of “the numbers” (4, 8, 15, 16, 23, and 42) is 108, and they had to be entered into the computer every 108 minutes. It was also the number of days the Oceanic 6 spent on the island.

The number also pops up in quite a few other places in pop culture. The Evil Queen house number in Storybrooke, for instance, is 108. In Fantastic Mr. Fox, there are 108 employees at the Roaring Rampage of Revenge against Mr. Fox. Paul Edgecombe is 108 in Green Mile, Martha is 108 in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Wolf, Mother Abagail is 108 in The Stand. In Bull Durham, Annie notes that there are 108 stitches in a baseball, and its what Vicki Vale says she weighs in Batman (a lie). Connor Macleod is also shot … 108 times in Highlander 2: The Quickening.

But why bring this up now? Because once you’re familiar with the number’s significance, you may end up seeing it in the unlikeliest of places and wonder if there’s any meaning behind it. For instance, while you’re watching The Amazing Spider-man 2 this weekend note that the Oscorp building is … 108 stories high. Coincidence? Maybe. But given the importance of the number to mathematics, and the scientific themes running throughout Spider-man, maybe not.

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Dustin is the founder and co-owner of Pajiba. You may email him here, follow him on Twitter, or listen to his weekly TV podcast, Podjiba.