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San-ch'ing (Chin., ‘the three pure ones’). The three Taoist heavens (t'ien) and those who inhabit them.

1. Yü-ching, the heaven of pure jade, inhabited by Yüan-shih t'ien-tsun, one of the highest deities of religious Taoism (tao-chiao). He created heaven and earth, and at the start of each new age, he gives Ling-pao ching to subordinates who instruct humans from it in the way of Tao.

2. Shang-ch'ing, the heaven of purity, ruled by Ling-pao t'ien-tsun. He is the guardian of Ling-pao ching, and regulates time and the balance of yin and yang.

3. T'ai-ch'ing, the heaven of highest purity, ruled by Tao-te T'ien-tsun, the guardian of tao and te. He is identified with Lao-tzu.

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