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Three Treasures of Man

By Michael Carr and Philip Tai Foo Lai
© Philip Lai Qi Gong Association


Ancient Chinese philosophers developed a theory that humans are affected by three outer forces consisting of Heaven, Earth and Man. These forces show themselves through secondary triads of Treasures. The Three Treasures of Heaven are the energy fields of: sun, moon and stars. The Three Treasures of Earth are the energy of: soil and rock, wind and water. The Three Treasures of Man are: jing (essence), qi (energy) and shen (spirit).

The Three Treasures of Man have two forms: Prenatal, which is present before birth and postnatal which is something that can be received, generated and developed after birth.

Jing (essence) is the basic stuff of life. It is a form of potential energy which the body can draw upon as required. Each person receives a fixed amount of prenatal jing from their parents. The prenatal jing is stored in the kidneys and reproductive organs and passed on to the next generation through sexual reproduction. Thus prenatal jing is immortal and self-perpetuating. Postnatal jing is created by the body from nutrients in food and drink and is stored in the liver, blood and bone marrow. It takes the form of fluids such as blood plasma, spinal fluid, lymphatic fluid and hormones. It shows itself through gender and sexuality and provides vitality, strength and immunity. Digestive and sexual functions are governed by postnatal jing.

Qi (energy) is the vital force that activates every function and drives every process in the body. Prenatal qi is the primal power of the universe which shows itself as light, heat and motion. Prenatal qi is derived from prenatal jing which is inherited from the parents. Therefore the amount of prenatal qi is basically limited as well, although advanced qi gong practitioners are capable of enhancing it somewhat. Postnatal qi is derived from two sources. Earth energy is absorbed by the body from food, drink, herbs and dietary supplements. Air energy is taken in through the lungs during breathing. The two energies are combined in the body to make human qi, which is the fundamental force of human life. Cultivating and moving qi in the body is central in the practice of qi gong.

Shen (spirit) refers to the mind and its functions. Prenatal shen or “the mind of Tao” is the eternal spark of awareness or immortal soul which existed before we were born and remains even after we die. It resides in the heart. Postnatal shen manifests itself through thought, the senses, ego, self-awareness and personality. Postnatal shen resides in the brain. Our conscious mind, through our sensory perceptions and conflicting emotional responses, blinds us to the eternal “mind of Tao.” Most people are unaware of their true primordial spirit until the moment of death, when it is briefly revealed.

The practice of qi gong can calm the emotions and balance the energies to allow us to see beyond what our conscious mind allows and bring us closer to recognising our true spirit.

The Three Treasures Qi Gong exercises use the principles of Tai Chi, I Ching and Yin Yang theory to decide posture, movement, breathing and intention. They are intended to cultivate the qi of Heaven, Earth and man, balance yin and yang energy, smooth blood circulation, relax muscles, tendons and ligaments and improve nervous complaints. The exercises are powerful in combating health complaints such as diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure, inflammation of the pericardium and the effects of stroke. Working with the three yin meridians (heart, lung, and pericardium) and the three yang meridians (large and small intestine and Triple Burner) cultivates universal energy very quickly and is ideal for people who are health care practitioners or body energy workers. The “push hands technique” used in the exercises expels bad qi. In general the exercises increase spiritual, physical and mental energy.

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