I recently caught up with dharma teacher Cheri Maples, who appeared in our 2003 program “Brother Thay: A Radio Pilgrimage with Thich Nhat Hahn.” Back then, Maples was a police captain (later an assistant attorney general) in Madison, Wisconsin. She spoke with Krista about what it means to be a compassionate cop who practices mindfulness awareness on the job.

We’ve re-aired “Brother Thay” seven times (!) since its inaugural broadcast, and noticed that people consistently resonate with Maples and her personal story. Maples was in town recently to deliver a dharma talk (PDF) so I decided to go and see what’s changed in her life since she and Krista last spoke.

Maples reflected on the surprising ways in which her life changed course after she accepted an invitation from Thich Nhat Hahn to travel together to Vietnam in 2007. The following year, the Zen master formally ordained her as a dharma teacher through a ceremony called “The Transmission of the Lamp.” She is no longer employed by the state, but she’s still involved with the criminal justice system through a new organization she co-founded called The Center for Mindfulness and Justice.

Maples drew a standing-room only crowd for her dharma talk that evening. She spoke about gratitude, joy, wonder, tenderness, and mystery. Here’s something I jotted down that stuck with me: “The hell in your life is the compost of your enlightenment.”


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Reflections

Cheri Maples is the real thing. Her incomparable life story and transformative experience through the practice is embodied in her sharing of the dharma that inspires and empowers others to face their own suffering with deep courage, compassion, kindness, and understanding. And she does this convincingly because she's done so herself. Definitely one of the most profound teachers I've found in my lifetime. Deep bow of gratitude, Cheri. May many others benefit from your consciousness, presence and teachings.

Cheri Maples is the real thing. Her incomparable life story and transformative experience through the practice is embodied in her sharing of the dharma that inspires and empowers others to face their own suffering with deep courage, compassion, kindness, and understanding. And she does this convincingly because she's done so herself. Definitely one of the most profound teachers I've found in my lifetime. Deep bow of gratitude, Cheri. May many others benefit from your consciousness, presence and teaching.

MN Public Radio is the absolute best - makes me want to visit MN more often, so I can listen as I drive through your state. Thanks for the awesome programming - and blog updates!

I was among those fortunate to have heard Cheri speak. She truly walks her talk and is just awesome! What a positive influence she'll be on the corrections system! Nemaste.

I was fortunate to be able to attend Cheri Maples' public presentation. Cheri walks her talk and is truly awesome! She is going to have such profound influence on the criminal justice and corrections systems! And on the rest of us...

Social Justice Expert to give Women in America Lecture. Cheri Maples, co-founder of the Center for Mindfulness and Justice in Madison, Wis., will present the annual Women in America lecture on March 27 at Simpson College. The talk will begin at 7 p.m. in Pote Theatre on the Simpson Campus, with a reception following. ... Maples is a dharma teacher, keynote speaker and organizational consultant and trainer. 

Cheri Maples is a dharma teacher, keynote speaker, and
organizational consultant and trainer. In 2008 she was ordained a dharma
teacher by Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh, her long-time spiritual teacher.

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