I often get asked, “Why do you choose to use the number three when teaching exercises and repeating movements 3, 6, 9 times?” Below I have listed a few personal reasons and also about The Three Treasures.
- The number three symbolizes the trinity. [mind, body and spirit]
- When two or more people gather it creates a unified synergy where a third essence is created.
- Heaven, earth, and we are the conduit that walks between both worlds.
- Linear time is divided in three; past, present and future. [Truly we are always in the present, tomorrow never comes.]
- Three is the number of perfection or completion.
- It states in the bible, Matthew 18:30 “For where two or three gathered in my name, there am I among them.” [Yes, I had to look that up ;-]
The Three Treasures: Jing, Qi and Shen
Jing, Qi (chi) and Shen are energies we cultivate in Qigong / Tai Chi and other inner alchemy practices. Although there is no exact English translation for Jing, Qi and Shen, they are often translated as Essence, Vitality and Spirit.
Jing is life essence and vitality
Of the three, Jing is associated most with our physical body, connected to earthly things and always moving downward like water, Yin energy. Jing’s home is in the lower dantian, kidney organ system, and includes the reproductive energy of the sperm and ovaries Jing is considered to be the root of our creative vitality. You can deplete your Jing through excessive stress or worry, and can restore it through a consistent Qigong / Tai Chi practice. [hint, hint ;-]
Qi is breath and energy
Our life force energy, that which animates our bodies and allows movement of breath in and out of our lungs, movement of blood through the vessels and the functioning of various organ systems. The home of Qi belongs to the middle dantian, and is considered neutral energy, neither Yin nor Yang in itself but capable of functioning in either.
Shen is mind and spirit
The third treasure, Shen is our spirit or mind. Its home is located in the upper dantian, considered to be Yang energy form of Qi, connected to heavenly things and always moving upward, like fire. Shen is associated with the heart organ system. We can see Shen in the spiritual radiance seen shining through a person’s eyes, loving-kindness, compassion, wisdom, generosity and forgiveness. When we reach a state of clarity in mediation, we nourish our Shen.
Comparing The Three Treasures to a Candle
an oral story passed down from teachers to students
Jing is the wax and wick of the candle.
Qi is the candle flame, the energy produced via
the transformation of the physical base.
If Jing is the wax and wick of the candle, and Qi its flame,
then Shen is the radiance given off by the flame …
allowing it to actually be a source of light.
And, in the same way that the light from the candle depends
on the wax, wick, and flame, so does healthy Shen
depend upon the cultivation of Jing and Qi.