What are three aspects of Taoism?

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The san bao, or three treasures, are an important aspect of many Chinese philosophies and traditions, including qi gong, Chinese medicine, and Taoism. The term san bao corresponds to subtly different beliefs or virtues in each of these practices—and more still if you include Chinese Buddhism—but according to the Tao De Jing, the san bao of Taoism are compassion, simplicity (frugality), and humility.

Compassion, according to the Tao De Jing, protects even those in battle. It requires understanding one’s enemy rather than simply vilifying them as an unknowable, depersonified other. Simplicity, sometimes translated as frugality, allows people to be generous because they have not wasted all of their gifts on themselves. Humility is the highest honor; one cannot be an effective leader without being humble. “When two great forces oppose each other,” Laozi writes, “the victory will go to the one that knows how to yield.”

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