Neidan Dictionary


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sanbao 三寶

three treasures

This term is first used in the Daode jing, sec. 67: I have three treasures, and hold to them and protect them. The first is compassion, the second is frugality, and the third is daring not be at the forefront in the world. 我有三寶,持而保之,一曰慈,二曰儉,三曰不敢為天下先。


① Essence (jing), Breath (qi), and Spirit (shen).

The formation of the Medicine involves Essence, Breath, and Spirit, which the alchemical texts call the “three treasures”. (Wang Mu, Foundations of Internal Alchemy, p. 36)

② Essence (jing), Spirit (shen), and Intention (yi).

The Way of the Elixir takes the Essence-Water (jingshui), the Spirit-Fire (shenhuo), and the Intention-Soil (yitu) as the three supreme treasures. . . . The Spirit-Fire is the operation (yong), the Intention-Soil is the foundation (ti), the Essence-Water is the base (ji). 丹道以精水神火意土,三者為無上之寶。. . . 以神火為用,意土為體,精水為基。 (The Secret of the Golden Flower, chap. 2)

③ The three Cinnabar Fields.

Within the three Fields, essence and breath are subtle. 三田之中精氣微。 Comm. Liang Qiuzi: The Daoji jing says: Heaven has three luminaries: Sun, Moon, and stars. Human beings have three treasures: the three Cinnabar Fields. 《道機經》云:天有三光日月星,人有三寶三丹田。 (Book of the Yellow Court, "Inner" version, poem 4)

④ Ears, eyes, and mouth.

Ears, eyes, and mouth are the three treasures: shut them, and let nothing pass through. 耳目口三寶,閉塞勿發通。 (The Seal of the Unity of the Three, sec. 58)