Sam (삼 三) means “three” and sin (신 神) means “spirit.” Inner meaning of Sam is “three attribute” and sin is “one primordial spirit.” Direct translation of Samsin (삼신 三神) would be “Spirit of Three” The meaning of Samsin (삼신 三神) would be “One primordial God having three attributes.”
Samsin (“Spirit of Three”) is the One Spirit, the universe’s Holy Spirit of Creation-Transformation. Samsin gave birth to heaven and earth and begets all that exist. (Dojeon 1:1:1)
Samsin (삼신 三神) is the Primordial God that is one with the universe and is the source of all existence. The term Sam (삼 三), meaning “three” in Samsin, does not mean that three distinct spirits form one spirit nor does it refer to three separate gods. Rather, the word signifies the three-part function of the one Primordial Spirit that impels all existence via three means: by creating, by edifying, by governing. It is the One Spirit, the Primordial Spirit having three attributes, functioning in three ways of Creating, Edifying, and Governing. Later, emphasizing the creating role of the Primordial Spirit, people started to call the spirit that confers descendants as Samsin. That is why ancestral spirits acting on behalf of Samsin are also called Samsin.
What is the central theme of the ancient primordial (archetypal) culture? That is the culture of Samsin (삼신 三神). The ancient Korean history book Hwandan Gogi discloses that the universe itself is the living Samsin.
The ancient Northeast people thought that the universe as a whole is a living God or living spirit itself. They called this One Spirit, the primordial God as a whole, as “Samsin” (“Spirit of Three”). Notably, the Korean people of the ancient Northeast Asia divined that the primordial source of life and change was Samsin. They also believed that Samsin was itself the universe, and hence that Samsin was both within the universe and throughout the universe.
The reason why they called this One Spirit as Samsin is that though it is One spirit as a whole, it reveals it self in three ways, by creating all existence. When the One Spirit functions in reality and within the history of humankind it always manifests as the Samsin. Samsin is One substance as a whole which is acting in three different ways or manifesting in 3 different component. The Primordial God which is the source of all existence, is One Spirit in substance, and Samsin in function. Since the Primordial God is one, and since it impels all existence via these three means, the one spirit, the source of all existence, is called Saminin.
This characterization was an articulation of a superlative reverence toward the three divine ways of Samsin, not an assertion that Samsin was comprised of three separate spirits with separate spiritual authorities. Since Samsin is the source of all life’s creation and all life’s ongoing change, and since Samsin is the universe itself, this Primordial God has been known as “Samsin the Creator” and as “the Holy Spirit of Creation-transformation.”
There are 2 different aspect of Samsin. Samsin as “the Spirit or the source of change”, and Samsin as “the manifestation of Universe.” In the view of the Spirit or the source of change, they characterized Samsin’s three guiding ways as Jowhasin (조화신 造化神), the Spirit (or Divinity) of Creation-Transformation, Gyohwasin (교화신 敎化神), the Spirit (or Divinity) of Edification, and Chihwa (치화신 治化神), the Spirit (or Divinity) of Governance.
(1) Samsin actualizes the One Spirit’s creative nature in three ways: jowha (조화 造化) meaning “by creating all existence”, gyohwa (교화 敎化) meaning “by edifying all existence”, and chihwa (치화 治化) maening “by governing all existence.
(2) It can be understood as “creative force in Samsin, evolutionary force in Samsin, and maturation by transformation force in Samsin.”
(3) It can also be understood as “the very source of creation”, “the very source of evolution”, and “the very source of maturation by transformation.”
(4) By these three instincts of the Samsin, universe evolves in pattern of cycle namely as “birth, growth, harvest (and rest as returning to the original state of the primordial God Samin)”
Another aspect is that the universe itself is the living Samsin and Samsin manifest itself in the universe as three components; Heaven(天), Earth(地), and Humanity(人). Universe is a manifestation of Samsin.
In the East, the Creator God is the faceless primordial God: Samsin. It is the manifestation of Samsin. The primordial God manifested itself into Heaven, Earth and Humanity, which are always infinity great and Those Three are in an eternal perfect state of harmony. The Three are in a relationship of oneness. Samsin manifest into Heaven’s radiance, the Earth’s radiance and the Human’s radiance.
As the functions of Samsin are birth, growth and governance, it is also called the Creation, Edification, and Governance Samsin. Looking at the ancient civilizations of the East on a large scale, Hwanguk was the civilization of creation-transformation, Baedal was the civilization of edification and Dangun Joseon was the civilization of governance. We are told that the political systems of humanity and the fundamental principles of human history have been established by the will of Samsin.
Looking at household items, the artifact definitively symbolizing Samsin culture is the tripod vessel: the three-legged clay pot, The tripod vessel has been a very important symbolic tool for heavenly ritual ceremonies throughout the Chinese dynasties ever since.