Meeting of the Three Parts
In the history of Daoism, the Meeting of the Three Parts, as a term ( 三家相見 Sanjia Xiangjian ), has had different implications. Laozi was the first philosopher, who used “Three” as a technical term in his discussion about nourishing life. In the Book of Dao and its Virtue ( 《道德經》 Daode Jing ), “One” stood for the Supreme Ultimate ( 太極 Taiji ), “Two” stood for Yin and Yang, and “Three” for Yin, Yang and Vital Breath in Harmony. In the later periods, it developed into a typical way of thinking in Daoism. In the Three Ways Unified and Normalized of the Book of Changes ( 《周易參同契》 Zhouyi Cantongqi ), for instance, it was transformed into a mode governing the refinement of the elixir. The author said, “Three, Five and One stand for the Essence of heaven and earth. All mysterious knowledge ought to be taught by pithy formulas instead of books”. In this context, “Three” referred to an integration of “One”, namely, “water” and “Two”, namely, “fire”; “Five”, stood for “earth” in the center. From the perspective of the Five Agents ( 五行 Wuxing ), “Three, Five and One” in the Three Ways Unified and Normalized of the Book of Changes symbolized the process of mixing “water”, “fire” and “earth” into “vital breath”. On the basis of the above-mentioned ideas, On Realizing Perfection ( 《悟真篇》 Wuzhen Pian ) came up with the proverb “the meeting of the Three Parts gave birth to a baby”. “Baby” was a popularly used nickname for Inner Alchemy. In the book On Realizing Perfection, the “Three Parts” reflect a mysterious relation between “numbers” and “directions”. According to this theory, a single number points to a specific direction. The number “three”, for instance, stood for “east”, “two” for “south”, “four” for “west”, “one” for “north’, and “five” for “center”. According to the theory, when “three”, namely the “east” met with “two”, the “south”, “five” was produced; Similarly, when “four”, the “west” met with “one”, the “north”, “five” also came out. If another “five”, namely, the “center” was added, more “three” and “five” came into being. Accordingly, “three” and “five” became the symbols of completion of the elixir, which, in some books on Inner Alchemy, was compared to giving birth to a baby with a ten-month-long pregnancy. Technically, the Meeting of the Three Parts used to stand for the combination of originally separate Essential Matter, Vital Breath and Spirit into oneness, or the union of inseparable three parts in human beings, namely, the body, mind and spirit.