Bill Cartmell, Instructor
Phone: (480) 518-3055
The Three Treasures:
The Three Treasures – Essence, Internal Energy, Spirit
Understanding Essence, Internal Energy and Spirit is one of the most important requirements for effective Qigong
training. They are the root of your life and therefore also the root of Qigong practice. In Qigong training, a practitioner
learns how to “firm his essence” and how to convert it into Chi. Then he learns how to lead the chi to the head to convert
it into spirit. Finally, the practitioner learns to use his energized spirit to govern the emotional part of his personality.
These conversion processes are what enable you to gain health and longevity. As a Qigong practitioner, you must
pay a great deal of attention to these three elements during the course of your training. If you keep these three
elements strong and healthy, you will live a long and healthy life. If you neglect or abuse them, you will be sick frequently
and will age fast. Each one of these three elements or treasures has its own root. You must know the roots so that you
can strengthen and protect your three treasures.
1) Essence (Jing)
The Chinese word Jing means a number of things depending on where, when and how it is used. When Jing is used
as “essence,” it exists in everything. Essence may be considered the primal substance or original source from which a
thing is made, and which exhibits the true nature of that thing.
In humans, essence is passed down from the parents. In the father there is sperm essence and when mixed with the
mother egg essence, a new life is generated which is, in certain fundamental respects, an inter-twining of the essence of
both parents. The child is formed, the Chi circulates, and the spirit grows. The essence which has been carried over
from the parents is called “Yuan Jing”, which means “original essence.”
Once you are born, Original Essence is the fountainhead and root of your life. It is what enables you to grow
stronger and bigger. After your birth you start to absorb the essence of food and air, converting these essences into Chi
which supplies your body’s needs. You start taking in oxygen through your nose and food through your mouth. Since
you no longer need the abdominal motion to pump in nutrients, it gradually stops, and, finally, you forget how to use it.
In Qigong, the Lower Dan Tian or abdomen is still considered the original Chi source because it is here that Chi is made
from the original essence which you inherited from your parents.
According to Chinese medical and Qigong society, the Original Essence which you obtained from your parents stays
in your kidneys after your birth. This Original Essence is the source of your life and growth. This Original Essence is
converted continuously into Chi which moves into the Lower Dan Tian, and stays stored in its residence for future use.
Essence can produce Chi, so if you handle this essence carefully, you will continue to have essence and Chi. However,
if you abuse yourself with an unhealthy lifestyle, you may damage and reduce your original essence.
Chinese doctors and Qigong practitioners are not saying that to conserve your essence, you must stop sexual activity.
The proper amount of sexual activity will energize the Chi so that it nourishes the Spirit. This will help you stay mentally
balanced, and raise your Spirit.
The second thing you must do in order to conserve your Original Essence is to prevent your Original Chi from
leaking out of your body. In Qigong practice, one of the major training goals is to learn how to lead the converted Chi
from the kidneys to the Dan Tian more efficiently.
2) Internal Energy (Chi)
Chinese medical society believes that the Chi and blood are closely related. Where Chi goes, blood follows. That is
why “Qi Xue” (Chi Blood) is commonly used in Chinese Medical Texts. It is believed that Chi provides the energy for the
blood cells to keep them alive. As a matter of fact, it is believed that blood is able to store Chi, and that it helps to
transport air Chi especially to every cell in the body.
If you look carefully, you can see that the elements of your physical body such as the organs, nerves, blood, and
even every tiny cell are all like separate machines, each with their own unique function. Just like electric motors, if there
is no current in them, they are dead. If you compare the routes of the blood circulatory system, the nervous system, and
the lymphatic system with the course of the Chi channels, you will see that there is a great deal of correspondence. This
is simply because Chi is the energy needed to keep them all alive and functioning.
In a factory, different machines require different levels of current. It is the same for your organs, which require
different levels of Chi. If a machine is supplied with an improper level of power, it will not function normally and may even
be damaged. In the same way, your organs, when the Chi level running in them is either too positive or too negative, will
be damaged and will degenerate more rapidly.
In order for a factory to function smoothly and productively, it will not only need high quality machines, but also a
reliable power supply. The same goes for your body. To maintain your organs in a healthy state and to insure that they
function well for a long time, you must have an appropriate Chi supply. If you don’t have it, you will become sick.
Chi is effected by the quality of the air you inhale, the kind of food you eat, your lifestyle, and even your emotional
make-up and personality. The food and air are like the fuel or power supply, and their quality affects you. Your lifestyle is
like the way you run the machine, and your personality is like the management of the factory.
According to its function, Chi can be divided into two major categories.
The first is called “Ying Qi” (Managing Chi), because it manages or controls the functioning of the body. This includes
the functioning of the brain and the organs, and even body movement. Managing Chi is again divided into two major
types. The first type circulates in the channels and is responsible for the functioning of the organs. The circulation of
Chi to the organs and the extremities continues automatically as long as you have enough Chi in your reservoirs and you
maintain your body in good condition. The second type of Managing Chi is linked to your “Yi” (mind, intention). When
your mind decides to do something, for example, lift a box, this type of Managing Chi will automatically flow to your
muscles needed to do the job. This type of Chi is directed by your thoughts, and therefore is related closely with your
feelings and emotions.
The second major category of Chi is “Wei Qi” (Guardian Chi). Guardian Chi forms a shield on the surface of your
body to protect you from negative outside influences. Guardian Chi is also involved in the growth of hair, the repair of
skin injuries, and many other functions on the surface of the skin. Guardian Chi comes from the Chi channels, and is led
through the millions of tiny channels to the surface of the skin.
In order to keep your body healthy and functioning properly, you must keep the Managing Chi functioning smoothly
and, at the same time, keep the Guardian Chi strong to protect you from negative outside influences such as the cold.
Chinese doctors and Qigong practitioners believe that the key to doing this is through the Spirit (Shen). Spirit is
considered to be the headquarters which directs and controls the Chi. Therefore, when you practice Qigong you must
understand what your Spirit is and know how to raise it. When people are ill and facing death, very often the ones with a
strong Spirit, which is indicative of a strong will to live, will survive. The people who are apathetic or depressed will
generally not last long. A strong will to live raises the Spirit, which energizes the body’s Chi and keeps you alive and
In order to raise your Spirit, you must first nourish your brain with Chi. This Chi energizes the brain so that you can
concentrate more effectively. Your mind will then be steady, your will strong, and your Spirit raised.
There is another way to categorize the body’s Chi: Fire Chi and Water Chi. Chi generated from the food and air you take
in warms the body, and so it is called Fire Chi. This Chi is associated with the emotions. The second type of Chi is
called Water Chi. It is also called Original Chi because it is generated from Original Essence. It has its root in the
kidneys, and it has a cooling effect on the body. It is associated with your mind and wisdom. As a Qigong practitioner
you want water Chi and Fire Chi to be balanced, so that your body and mind are centered and balanced. It is also said
that your mind should be in the center of your emotions. This way wisdom rules and the emotions are controlled, not
As a Qigong practitioner, in addition to paying attention to the food and air you take in, it is important for you to learn
how to generate Water Chi and how to use it more effectively. Water Chi can cool down Fire Chi and, therefore, slow
down the degeneration of the body. Water Chi also helps to calm your mind and keep it centered. This allows you to
judge things objectively. During Qigong practice, you will be able to sense your Chi and direct it effectively.
3) Spirit (Shen)
Spirit or Shen is the force that keeps you alive. It has no substance, but it gives expressions and appearance to your
Essence (Jing). Spirit is also the control tower for the Chi. When your Spirit is strong, your Chi is strong, and you can
lead it efficiently. The root of Spirit is your mind (Yi, or intention). When your brain is energized and stimulated, your
mind will be more aware and you will be able to concentrate more intensely. Also, your Spirit will be raised. Advanced
Qigong practitioners believe that your brain must always be sufficiently nourished by your Chi. It is the Chi which keeps
your mind clear and concentrated. With an abundant Chi supply, the mind can be energized, and can raise the Spirit
and enhance your vitality.
The Chinese believe that you are able to use your mind (Yi) to protect your Spirit and keep it at its residence; the
Upper Dan Tian. Even when your Spirit is energized, it is still controlled. However, when you are very sick or near death,
you mind (Yi) becomes weak and your Spirit (Shen) will leave its residence and wander around. When you are dead,
your Spirit separates completely from the physical body. It is then called a Soul (Hun).