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The Three Treasures
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The Three Treasures
In Chinese medical theory, three things are essential to human life: Jing精, Qi气, and Shen神. Also known as the “Three Treasures”, each play an important role to one’s overall health and wellbeing. Their relation to each other can be easily depicted in the “Candle Analogy”. Let’s take a closer look at each treasure to understand them better.
The Candle Analogy
Jing精 can be translated as “essence”. Jing精 is the basis of growth, development, and reproduction. It is said to be the material basis for the physical body. Yin in nature, Jing精 nourishes, fuels, and cools the body.
Jing精 has strong parallels to DNA, as it is the carrier of our heritage. While the ancient Chinese did not possess technology to identify DNA, they recognised that something important was passed from parent to child, and this had a strong bearing on the child’s growth and development.
One is said to be born with a fixed amount of Jing精, which is consumed continuously through life. However, one can also acquire Jing精 from food and various other forms of stimulation such as exercise and meditation.
Therefore, just like the candle’s body, you have a finite amount of Jing精. The quality of the wax also determines the lifespan of the candle, i.e. your longevity.
The Candle Body and Your Vitality,
While Western medicine does not recognise Qi气 as a substance of the body, Qi气 is the central underlying principle in traditional Chinese medicine. Frequently translated as “natural energy”, “life force” or “energy flow”, Qi气 is an active principle present in any living being. In Chinese medical theory, Qi气 runs along meridian channels to distribute energy around the entire body.
Qi气 serves specific functions in our bodies, including warming and maintaining the body at a normal temperature, defending against pathogens, transforming food into useful substances, and helping to hold things in their proper places (e.g. containing blood within the blood vessels, and preventing organs from prolapsing).
The Qi气 is likened to the flame of a candle – it consumes the wick and wax candle Jing精. When your Qi气 is used efficiently and effectively, your Jing精 lasts longer. Your Qi气 will be depleted throughout the day, but it can be easily replenished with sleep, nourishment, and regulated breathing.
The Candle Flame and Your Life Force, Qi
Translated as “Spirit or “Mind”, Shen神 is responsible for consciousness, cognition, mental health, vitality, and our “presence”.
In Western medical thought, the body and spirit are often considered separate entities, and may be cared for by separate professionals (doctors for the body; psychologists, therapists, or religious leaders for the mind and spirit).
In Chinese medical thought however, Shen神 is regarded as an essential part of the human body. Disorders of the spirit-mind can cause illness in the body, and vice versa. For Chinese medicine practitioners, it is therefore important to address both the physical and mental/spiritual aspects of disease. For example, as Shen神 is said to retire to sleep during the night, if you are suffering from insomnia then there is a strong possibility that it is because your Shen神 is disturbed.
The light that radiates from the burning candle is the Shen神. Your Shen神 is the radiance of your spirit. When your Jing精 and Qi气 are in abundance and harmony, Shen神 is released.
The Candle Radiance and Your Spirit, Shen
How do the three treasures interact with each other physically in our body? Well, it is said that Shen神 resides in the Heart, specifically the blood vessels (part of the Heart’s system), and is nourished by blood. Shen神 is said to depend on the strength of the Jing精 and Qi气. Since Shen神 resides in the blood vessels as part of the Heart system, and blood is closely related to Qi气 and formed by the Jing精derived from consuming food and fluids, if both the Jing精 and Qi气 are healthy then the Shen神 will be nourished as well.
How can you apply the principles of the Three Treasures to your life? Sleep well, eat well, and exercise regularly. For an additional boost, take
supplements to energise you in the mornings, calm your nerves at night, and help you to reach your ideal body goals.
Let your candle burn bright and strong, and exude that natural glow that good health brings!