Many thanks to Hanzík for the Czech translations!

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One cold Spring morning, the nun Yíwen encountered a certain monk standing in the middle of a bridge, his face stained with tears as he gazed into the abyss below.

“What ails you, brother?” asked Yíwen, fearing for the young man’s well-being.

“The futility of existence!” sobbed the monk. “What is the point of our labors, when their fruits spoil so quickly? Nothing is forever, least of all the code I write. Whatever I do, all will end in dust... in nothing, forever.”

Remembering how master Banzen once faced these same dark thoughts, Yíwen removed the immense scarf she was wearing and secured one end to the low railing. “A good bungee jump always clears my head,” she said. “There’s nothing like the plunge to restore one’s perspective, don’t you agree?” She tied the other end tight around the monk’s ankles, and before he could ask what bungee meant she pushed him over the railing.

The monk screamed all the way down, certain of his doom. The scarf went taut—and stretched, and stretched. His fall came to a gentle stop a few dozen meters above the rocks.

The monk burst out laughing with relief. His bleak mood, which had heretofore seemed immutable, was gone. The monk was enlightened. Nothing is forever, he realized.

Upon hearing the monk’s laughter, Yíwen smiled and continued on her way.

- - -

That afternoon, Yíwen was approached by a boy of the monk’s clan.

Said he, “My brother wishes to know when you will reclaim your scarf, and him along with it; for he is still dangling below the bridge by his ankles. Though his heart appears light, his body is quite heavy and I need your help.”

“If his heart is light,” said Yíwen, “then he is in a better state than when I found him, and my work is done.”

The boy’s mouth fell open. “You cannot mean to leave him in this state forever!”

Yíwen shook her head. “Nothing is forever,” she said sadly.

Qi’s commentary

“But never say that to your girlfriend, unless you immediately follow it with ‘...except our love, of course’.”

Qi’s poem

Banzen made an ink painting, to lift his heart in hard times.
NOTHING IS FOREVER, said the painting. It gave him no joy.
One day the painting was stolen—
Now Banzen looks at the empty place, and smiles.

Topics...  legacy