A brief dharma talk given by Jesse Cardin, Sensei, at It’s Alive! Zen’s weekly meditation group in San Antonio, Texas.

The koan:

A young woman named Chien was in love with a young woodworker, but was arranged to be married to a rich merchant. The night before the ceremony, the woodworker, heartbroken, packed his things into a boat to leave the village. As he was about to leave, Chien came running after the boat and they eloped together.

Years later, she and her lover, now married, returned home to make amends to her family for their sudden departure. Chien waited in the boat while her husband approached her father to take responsibility. Her father seemed bewildered. “What are you talking about? After the night you left, she refused to marry and has laid ill in bed ever since.” The father showed the husband to Chien’s bedroom, where she lay unconscious, pale and emaciated.

Astonished, the husband went to tell his wife of this strange happening.  Right before his eyes, the Chien he had married came running from the boat where she had been waiting, and the Chien he had left behind came running from her bedroom.  Running toward each other, they collided and became one.

Which is the true Chien?

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