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The Rule of Three: The Trinity Abstracted

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posted on May, 18 2009 @ 08:42 AM
The Rule of Three pervades our society - more in fact - it pervades all societies of the human race. In traditional terms, it refers to a style of writing that decrees that things that come in threes are more effective (#1), however, it is also associated as a specific axiom with other disciplines (#2). In the context of this thread, I would clarify the word "rule" in the title as a verb rather than as a noun, differentiating its role in our lives from a simple enforceable guideline to a exercise of authority or control.

The numerous nouns associated with the number "3" are among the most widely recognised words in the English language, prefixed as they are by the Greek "tri-" or Latin "tre-". Even the most basic human social group of antiquity is associated with three: tribe (#3). Why is there such a fascination with this number? Rather than just being effective in relating a point in writing, it appears just as effective in other areas of society, immutably associated with religious and esoteric themes as it is.

The number of people familiar with the Holy Trinity within Catholic doctrine, a clear "rule of three", probably encapsulates the majority of the human race, whether by religion (1 billion +) or simply by casual knowledge. The Father, The Son and The Holy Ghost is known by most people, but so is The Kingdom, The Power and The Glory! Within esoteric circles, the number "3" is realised in the Masonic Divine Attributes, Wisdom, Strength and Beauty (#4), perhaps relating to essentially Catholic doctrine, but it is also prevalent in all manner of arcane rituals and thought. The Triangle itself is, not surprisingly, shared by Masonic iconography and Christian representation of The Eye of Providence (#5).

Mathematically, using "3" as a base and raising powers sequentially produces a large number of significant exponential values and so-called "magic numbers", also, numbers that are prevalent in arcane tradition from moon worship to the esoteric "days of the year"

Sum of 3^(0-2) = 1 + 3 + 9 = 13
Sum of 3^(0-5) = 1 + 3 + 9 + 27 + 81 + 243 = 364

This is the tip of the iceberg, square numbers, the sums of primes, Smith numbers, Friedman numbers, self numbers, they all pop up. In the context of esoteric thought and philosophy, even the values "2" and "5" have significance, whether relating to the duality of life or the classical elements. Other such numbers abound, including the value 108 (#6), sacred within Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, Sikhism and connected yoga and dharma based practices as it is. We may ask whether such magic values are a product of the manipulation of "3" or whether this is just a coincidence? Is this the Rule of Three at work?

[edit on 18-5-2009 by SugarCube]

posted on May, 18 2009 @ 09:22 AM
I was taught a rhyme as a small child...."Ever mind the rule of three, for what you send comes back to thee." That, and the Golden Rule has guided my life. Many older texts are filled with 3s, so it must be something.

posted on May, 18 2009 @ 09:30 AM
reply to post by autowrench

Yes, the Law of Return is also known as the Rule of Three. It seems that "3" is an answer to a question we haven't determined yet. To this point, we have only empirical evidence but some would say that the ancients understood some the meaning of the triad, perhaps even fathomed its mystery. It consistently appears in Hermetic traditions and is quite an enigma.

posted on May, 18 2009 @ 11:12 AM

Originally posted by SugarCube
To this point, we have only empirical evidence but some would say that the ancients understood some the meaning of the triad, perhaps even fathomed its mystery. It consistently appears in Hermetic traditions and is quite an enigma.
I'd go the other way and say that the ancients acknowledged that the triad represented that which could not be known, not that they knew an additional meaning as a result of it.

We're linguistically programmed to think in terms of binary pairs: good/evil, big/little, black/white, male/female, etc. Perhaps a tertiary element becomes that which we can't explain in binary terms?

posted on May, 18 2009 @ 01:34 PM
In the tree of life, the top 3 sephiroth are regarded as a trinity. They are a male duality, a female duality, and the transcendental unknowable that simultaneously sustains them both. So basically polarity or duality with a transcendent source.

Formal logic also occurs in a trinity: two separate ideas are compared by a 3rd-person observer. For example, when you mathematically prove something, you compare a theoretical mathematical value to a measured value, so there's your two separate ideas and you would be the observer.

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