Sānyī 三一 Three Ones, Three-in-One

In general

Livia Kohn opens the encyclopedia entry: “The Three Ones, or Three-in-One, emerge when the original Oneness (yi) of the cosmos first divided into Yin and Yang, and then rejoins these forces in a new harmony. In this way a set of three is created that recovers a renewed original Oneness. The notion of the Three Ones also applies to the three fundamental powers (sāncái 三才) of the universe—Heaven, Earth, and Humanity—and to the basic factors of human life—essence, pneuma, and spirit (jing, qi, shen).”

In Shangqing Taoism

Livia Kohn writes: “The Three Ones are deities who reside in the Cinnabar Fields (dantian), the main energy centers of the body.” And the description how visualization of the gods works follows, and in the end we have a statement: “The Three Ones with their attendants thus control the entire body. They are present in all human beings but seldom display their immortal powers because ordinary people are likely to ignore or even harm them. As one neglects this power of cosmic purity within, one’s body becomes weaker and sicker and eventually dies.”

So Taoism goes. To death for those who do not belong to it.

When I see myself in the mirror I don’t see a Taoist, I see a man who belongs to Humanity (y’know, no choice) and what enjoys me more that is the facts: (1) I walk on the surface of the Earth (and run when I want to run) and (2) I can breathe air and watch Heavens with a deep, deep amusement and gratitude (I know exactly how people die when they cannot breathe anymore). Thus again: Heaven, Earth, and Humanity.

So I go. And never die.

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