The teacher asked a monk, “The woman and her spirit separated. Which is the true Ch’ien?”

~ The Gateless Barrier, Case 35

In Buddhism, it is a feeling of separation ~ between self and other, heart and mind, spirit and body ~ that is the source of human suffering. This koan has been calling to me in recent weeks, beckoning me to revisit a time of feeling a deep sense of separation in my own life.

The True Ch’ien referred to in the above koan, is a longer folk tale of a young woman, who runs away from home with her childhood friend, has a family, and returns after six years to apologize for eloping, only to find that her spirit laid comatose in her bed all these years. 

When she returns, the two merge. So the question is, who was the true person, the spirit in the bed or the girl who ran off to have a family? Let’s investigate this in our lives this Wednesday at Rockridge!


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