The three timeless treasures

The three timeless treasures


In the process of self-surrender the self is capitulated, gets lesser; in its place the pupil receives a ‘gift’: the love power of Teh is given to him. This power reveals itself within him as three precious treasures, which are characterized by Lao Zi (67) as follows:


I have three most valuable things
which I hold and treasure:
The first is mercy;
The second is thrift;
The third is unwillingness to take the lead in the world

(Gu Zhengkun)

The character that is used for ‘treasures’ shows clearly that no ordinary treasures are concerned: the character for treasures 寶  bao, is composed by four other characters: on top: the character for ‘roof: ’宀 mian, underneath mian there are two smaller characters, at the left: the character for ‘king’ and for ‘jade’: 玉 yù, at the right side: the character for pots: 缶 fou, at the bottom there is the character for shell: 貝: bei


Read as a whole this character shows that royal treasures of great value (jade) are concerned, which are very well kept and stored (in pots) and are waiting in a shell like oysters until they can be revealed. Until that time the treasure remains safely ‘roofed’.



Three times the characters refers to something safely stowed away: roof, pot, shell. Each time when Lao Tzu repeats some words in a verse three times, he therewith refers to Tao. Thus it becomes clear that with those three treasures not any common human qualities are meant, but  that he refers to expressions of Tao in matter.  There is a certain version of the Laozi in which we can read: “I have three permanent treasures that I cherish and keep”; in this verse ‘permanent’ refers to the everlasting, to Tao.


A human being becomes compassionate, sober or humble as a consequence of the three treasures as mentioned in verse 67 of Lao Tzu. Those are the effects of Teh which express themselves in matter throughout the sage. When the pupil in Tao is in Wu Wei, the three timeless treasures become active within him. They are the three timeless, omnipresent values which support him when going the path. That is why he holds and keeps them.


The three treasures are never just limited to the servant of Tao, but resonate in everything that exists, just as a vibrating piano string is resounding in the same tone of a different octave. They are revealed when a person, through practicing Wu Wei, does not place himself in the light. About this Lao Zi says in Daodejing chapter 22:

Thus the sage adheres to this One principle (Tao)
And regards it as the pattern of all things.
Show off yourself not and you become conspicuous;
Regard yourself not as infallible and you become illustrious;
Brag about yourself not and you gain achievement;
Boast of yourself not and you become a head.
One does not contend with others,
So nobody in the world can win him in contention.
The ancients’ saying “Bow down and you are preserved”
Is surely not an empty saying,
Which can be really proved effective.

                                                                  Gu Zhengkun


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