The Three Purities, or The Three Pure Ones, are the highest deities in the Taoist pantheon. They function, for Taoism, in a similar way to the Trinity (Father, Son and Holy Spirit) of Christianity, or the Trikaya (Dharmakaya, Samboghakaya and Nirmanakaya) of Buddhism. They represent three aspects of the divinity inherent in all living beings.
The first of The Three Purities is The Jade Pure One (Yuqing), also known as "The Universally Honored One of Origin", or "The Celestial Worthy of the Primordial Beginning" (Yuanshi Tianzun).
The Jade Pure one, who is the central deity of the Three Purities, is said to have spontaneously manifested at the beginning of time. This Pure One created the first writing system, by observing the various flows of universal life-force energy, and recording these patterns of sound, movement and vibration on jade tablets. For this reason, the Jade Pure One is honored as the source of learning and the primordial author of the first of the Taoist scriptures.
The second of The Three Purities is the Supreme Pure One (Shangqing), also known as "The Universally Honoured One of Divinities and Treasures", or "The Celestial Worthy of the Numinous Treasure" (Lingbao Tianzun).
The Supreme Pure One is the attendant of the Jade Pure One, and is given the task of revealing Taoist scriptures to the lesser gods and humans. This deity is often shown holding a mushroom-shaped scepter, and is associated in particular with the Lingbao scriptures.
The third of The Three Purities is The Grand Pure One (Taiqing), also known as "The Universally Honored One of Tao and Virtues" or "The Celestial Worthy of the Way and its Power" (Daode Tianzun) or the "Grand Supreme Elder Lord" (Taishang Laozun).
The Grand Pure One is believed to have emanated in numerous forms, one of which was as Laozi, author of the Daode Jing. He is often shown holding a fan with a fly-whisk and, of the Three Purities, is the one known for his active participation in the human realm.
Suggested Reading*Lab-Grown Diamonds, Taoist Inner Alchemy & The Immortal Body
*The Eight Immortals