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Three Treasures – Sam Bo

The Three Treasures are one of the fundamental concepts of Ki Gong and traditional oriental medicine physiology. The Three Treasures† – Ki (Qi), Chung (Jing), and Shin (Shen)–  are commonly translated as energy, essence, and spirit. Mere translation of these concepts into English is insufficient for a Ki Gong student to obtain an operational understanding of the concept. From a modern perspective, the treasures are most easily understood as energy (Ki), structure (Jing), and consciousness (Shen).

Ki (Qi) is most often translated as “vital energy”. This translation by itself leads many students to think of Ki as a mystical force. A Ki Gong practitioner should have a concrete, palpable understanding of Ki as a phenomena. All types of energy, mechanical pressure (massage), heat, light, electricity, and sound are all considered forms of Ki. The electrical conductivity of nerves and muscles are considered Ki. Ki is simultaneously both energy and matter, such that the nutrients that are carried via the blood are also considered Ki, and the body is considered to be made of Ki.

Chung (Jing) is most often translated as essence. Like Ki, Chung is a difficult concept to process from a Western perspective. In traditional oriental medicine, Chung aids in the condensation of energy into matter. One could conceptualize Chung as the thing around which Ki organizes itself to create matter. In crystalline structures, it would be like the properties that organize shape and provide unique characteristics. In organisms, it would be like DNA. In humans, seminal and ovarian secretions are considered to be Chung as they represent a distillation of humans to their essence (genetic information). Herbal essences would be considered to contain the Chung of various herbs and flowers. Chung is characteristically the thickest and most fluid like of the three treasures. In Sam Tae Kuk Theory, Chung is associated with the energy of the earth (Ji Ki).

The last of the Three Treasures, Shin (Shen), is the most difficult to convey. It is often translated as “spirit”. However, in traditional Chinese medicine it is most commonly used to express aspects of mental / emotional health and cognition. In Ki Gong, practitioners attempt to control the mind (Xin – the emotional mind) by use of Yi (will power). In traditional oriental medicine, each of the five Yin Organs has an aspect of Shin. In the oriental medical model (see page 31), the various aspects of Shin are associated with each of the Yin Organs.

text shows Korean with Chinese spelling in parentheses.

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