A summary of Dr. Kim’s lecture on the numeral ‘3’ is as follows:
We live in a 3-dimensional space, have meals 3 times per day, sleep a third of each day, work a third of each day and take a rest a third of each day. We go through birth, growth and death. Aristotle said that ‘3’ was the first number that was suitable for the expression of unification. Plato regarded ‘3’ as the number of ‘Idea’. Pythagoras explained that the triangle was ‘the beginning of creation’ in cosmic meaning. We can find that there are lots of references to the number 3 around the world. For example, the mural painting of ‘a three legged crow in the sun disc’ inside the ancient Koguryeo’s tomb, ‘a three legged toad in the moon disc’, ‘a three legged bronze pot’, street light having 3 lamps, the 3 layered roof of the Sydney opera house, Poseidon’s trident, the 3 legged oracle chair in Delphi, the Japanese Tomoemon, Giza’s 3 pyramids, the 3 stars on Orion’s belt, a grand piano’s 3 legs, a tripod, the Christian Trinity, and so on. There are so many examples of the remarkable 3 in mankind’s culture and civilization.
The reason can be found at the inception of the universe. At the moment of the Big Bang, the universe was born in a fraction of a second and the Earth began to be formed and to exhibit gravity. Everything, even air, was affected by gravity of the Earth. The concept of balance and stability is not useful in a state of weightlessness in space, because there is no gravity and no sense of direction. The tower of Eiffel can stands with upside-down position without any problem in a state of weightlessness. But, in a state of gravity, if anything is deviated from the direction of gravity, balance is broken, and then it feels unstable. The leaning tower of Pisa is a good example. A pyramid in Egypt is one of the most suitable things for understanding of gravity as well. The triangular composition and the numeral ‘3’ began to appear in mankind’s necessities of life; food, clothing and shelter. With the development of civilization, the occurrence of 3 appeared systematically in architecture, the arts, religion, and ideology. The most stable composition is the triangle and the symmetry in the case of architecture and painting. When we build a bridge and make a ceiling, a trust method of construction using triangles is the most stable. To make one plane needs at least 3 spots in geometry. Three legs of the three legged bronze pot can fix its body on the earth in a stable fashion.
Even if one leg is short, it can lean to one side but can not tremble because the terminal points of three legs make one plane. That is the reason why people use a tripod when they take pictures. A grand piano also possesses tree legs to stabilize it during playing. The piano makes the mean sound of ‘do’ with three strings of ‘do’s. The cord is a harmonic sound with the three sound out of the scale. The numeral ‘3’ means balance, harmony and stability. This concept was coincident with mankind’s instinct to pursue stability and happiness. For example, in a family, man and woman who falls in love has their own baby. This relationship seems very stable. Ancient gods are not portrayed as different from men. Gods and goddess become married and gave birth to offspring. Their children constituted one unit with their family. The ancient Egyptian three gods (Osiris, Isis, and their son Horus) exemplify that concept. The trinity ‘God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost’ and ‘The three orders of heaven, earth, and man’ even show it. The numeral ‘3’ provides stability with the balance and harmony that define happiness. That is the beauty that we mankind are pursuing.