The Three Treasures or Three Jewels are theoretical cornerstones in practices such as Traditional Chinese medicine, Neidan, and Qigong.
This Chinese term ''sanbao'' "" first occurs in ''Tao Te Ching'', referring to compassion, frugality, and humility, and it was later used to translate the Buddhist Three Jewels of Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha.
In Taoist healing traditions, the "Three Treasures" are the essential forces sustaining human life:
*''Qi'' "vitality, energy, force; air, vapor; breath; spirit, vigor; attitude"
*'''' "nutritive essence, essence; refined, perfected; extract; spirit, demon; sperm, seed"
*'''' "spirit; soul, mind; god, deity; supernatural being"
Besides this common ''qi-jing-shen'' ordering, both ''jing-qi-shen'' and ''shen-qi-jing'' also are used.
The Taoist text ''Gaoshang yuhuang xinyin jing'' is a valuable early source about the Three Treasures . Louis Komjathy describes it.
Probably dating from the Southern Song dynasty , this anonymous text presents a simple and concise discussion of internal alchemy . In particular, it emphasizes the so-called Three Treasures , namely, vital essence , subtle breath , and spirit .
Frederic Balfour's brief essay about the ''Xinyin jing'' contains the earliest known Western reference to the Three Treasures: "There are three degrees of Supreme Elixir – the Spirit, the Breath, and the Essential Vigour".