The Three Treasures

While reading The Shambhala Guide to Traditional Chinese Medicine by Daniel Reid, I came across this paragraph, that I thought I must share.

The Chinese view human beings in terms of three inseparable, interpenetrating dimensions of existence, called the Three Treasures (san boa): these are jing (essence, body), chee (energy, breath), and shen (spirit, mind). These distinctly different but totally interdependent aspects of human life are equivalent to the Tibetan Buddhist concept of the three kaya: dharmakaya (dimension of mind),  sambhogakaya (dimension of energy), and nirmanakaya (dimension of body). The Three Treasures compose the framework of human existence, the foundation of human life, and the basic ingredients in the “internal alchemy” (nei-gung) of traditional Taoist meditation, medicine, and martial arts. An ancient Taoist text entitled Classification of Therapies states, “Essence transforms into energy, and energy transforms into spirit.” This process of transformation and sublimation of energy is the basis of Taoist internal alchemy and is achieved by applying the corollary to the above equation, “Spirit commands energy, and energy commands essence.” Known as the Triplex Unity, this formula means that the mind controls energy and energy controls the body to ensure that the body produces energy and energy sustains the mind.

Jing refers to the physical body, particularly its “vital essence,” such as blood, hormones, enzymes, lymph, immune factors, and other essential bodily components. Chee refers to the sum total of all the vital energies within the human system, and also to the constituent energies of each internal organ, gland, tissue, and other functional part. Shen refers to pure primordial spirit as well as to the temporal aspects of spirit that define the human mind in all its various facets and functions. The Three Treasures of life are only one aspect of a basic dimensional trinity – along with the Three Powers (Heaven, Earth, Humanity) and the Three Elixir Fields (navel, solar plexus, head) – that runs throughout traditional Chinese philosophy, fusing the three major Taoist practices of meditation, medicine, and martial arts into one unified system. Internal balance on each level of existence – physical, energetic, and mental – and harmony among all three are the keys to human health and longevity.

Well, I couldn’t have said it better myself. This is the bottom step of a very long staircase when it comes to understanding Chinese medicine. What you see here is essential knowledge. If you are unfamiliar with a term or have any comments or questions I would love to hear them.


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