The magic of the number 3 in Taoism

daoism for dummies May 04, 2021

In my last article, I introduced the idea of three’s. I wrote about the Three bodies; the Three forces, the Three Treasures and the Three Dan Diens.

3 is a powerful number, it is said that from the first three numbers, all other numbers are synthesized.

From the Taoist classic Tao Te Ching, it was written that;

The Tao Produced One;
The One Produced Two;
The Two Produced Three
And The Three Produced All things.

In China, the number three represents good fortune.

The three is an important number in Daoism and is worth a bit more exploration. First I will give you a review from the previous article of the important trios in Daoist philosophy.

The ancient Taoist wrote about the significance of focusing on all 3 states of our being;
  • The physical body,
  • The energy body,
  • The spirit body.
The 3 Body Systems match up with the 3 Forces:
  • The Earth Force is matched with the physical body.
  • The Cosmic Force, which is Yin/Yang combined is matched with the energy body. (the energy body can be of Man and can also be of Nature).
  • The Heavenly Home is match with the spiritual body.
There are three Forces within the human body which we call The Three Treasures (San Bao):
  • Jing is the life essence and sexual energy
  • Chi is the energy of the breath
  • Shen is the spirit or cognizance.
The three Forces in the universe and in the human body match up with the 3 Dan Diens;
  • The Lower Dan Dien with the Earth force and Jing treasure,
  • The Middle Dan Dien with the Cosmic force and Chi treasure,
  • The Upper Dan Dien with the Heavenly Home and Shen treasure.

Spiritual realms and the physical world

As students of Daoism, our goal is to climb this ladder that begins in the Earth element and rise until the heavens. The ancient Taoists had a clear path to ascend purposefully into the spiritual realms and in the same way they had a clear path back into the physical world.

In this way, they would bring back with them spiritual knowledge that allowed them to live more creatively on Earth in the human plane.

It is important to understand that we cannot skip any of the steps on the ladder. We must begin by preparing the body in the earth plane. Through the practice of Tai Chi and Qigong we unblock the energy in and around our bodies. If you try to ascend to the heavens without doing the work first here on earth, you will not be grounded enough and it could make you crazy.

For example, when you meditate you must focus on your breath and the movements of your belly and your lower Dan Dien. This will ground you to the earth element. If you focus on your third eye which is your upper Dan Dien that can cause you to be flighty and unstable.

Learning to work with the three life forces is a both an energizing and balancing process. In the practice of Tai Chi and Qigong we learn to enable a soft, sturdy stream of energy.

The body system gains a feeling of being rooted intensely in the earth; As a result, one can take advantage of the Mother Earth healing force.

Some of us may only stay on the first step our whole lives and that is ok too.


There is magic in the number three. Have you heard the expression, third time is a charm or three times lucky?

There are so many ways to describe the number 3. Often we speak about the connection between the body, mind and spirit.

In some philosophies, they considered the number three to represent harmony, wisdom and understanding.

In the Zen philosophy, the key to a peaceful and tranquil life is to hear nothing, see nothing and speak nothing.

It is said that the three large petals of the iris flower symbolize: Faith, Wisdom and Courage

Three comes packaged is so many ways;

  • Past, present and future;
  • Birth, life and death;
  • Beginning middle and end.

Have you ever noticed how the hero always must overcome three obstacles?

Three is a very spiritual number for many religions besides Daoism. Have a look around in your life and see where it comes up.  Where does it bring you luck? Where does it deepen your spirituality? Where does it appear to teach you how to evolve? Send me an email and let me know, I would love to hear.

My ex-husband, the WuWei specialist, used to always say to me, ‘Never two without three’ but in French of course ‘Jamais deux sans trois’. I guess there is something reassuring in knowing that you get three tries!

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