"One evening, just after the final meditation of the day, Anne, the youngest monk at the monastery, was putting out the flame on the beautiful antique lamp that provided a flickering and meditative background in the spacious meditation hall. As she placed the snuffing tool over the flame, she was distracted by the scuttling noise of a squirrel scampering across the terra-cotta tiles of the roof. She turned suddenly and caught the edge of the lamp with the long snuffing tool. The lamp teetered for a moment, then fell onto the edge of the brass bell that sounded the beginning and end of meditation. It shattered, and Anne's heart froze.

"Tearfully she swept up the pieces of the lovely lamp and cleaned up the spilled oil. She took the pieces to her teacher and confessed her mistake in great sorrow. The teacher loved the lamp. It was a present from her own teacher and she could not hide her own sadness as she heard the news. Because everyone was aware of the value of the lamp and its special place in the teacher's heart, she knew that Anne would have great difficulty letting go of this mistake. So she spoke sternly to the young monk. 'You must find a way to experience forgiveness for this deed. I'll tell you what — each week you come to me with a list of the good acts you have done during the week and I'll give you a certain number of points for such actions. When you reach ten thousand points, you will be able to feel forgiveness.'

" 'Ten thousand points,' Anne said. 'That's a lot.'

" 'It was a very special lamp,' the teacher said in somber tones.

"Anne spent the next week doing her work with extra diligence. She diced the potatoes for dinner with special care. She polished the fixtures in the bathrooms until everything shone. She planted the spring seedlings with meticulous care. She meditated with intense concentration. When she met with the teacher at the end of the week, she told of the extraordinary care she had taken with her work and her practice. The teacher smiled and said, 'Very, very good. You have shown great care and worked very hard. I am pleased with your diligence.' She took out a small notebook, made an entry in it, and said, 'That's one point.'

"One point! Anne was in shock. She staggered back to her room in despair. 'It will be ten thousand weeks before I am forgiven. I'll never be able to get over this. I must have caused my teacher such pain.' She cried herself to sleep that night.

"Several weeks went by and Anne continued to try with all her might to earn her teacher's forgiveness. Each week, despite her efforts, she earned only one point. But a strange thing began to happen. She began to enjoy her mindful and attentive work just because it felt good to work in that manner. One week, as she showed up for her meeting with the teacher, she realized that she had forgotten to keep track of her work. When the teacher asked, 'And how have you done this week?' she replied:

" 'I didn't keep track. I just enjoyed my work.'

"The teacher's face broke into a broad grin. 'That's ten thousand points,' she announced."