– Quyen Do, True Wonder (Chan Huyen)
The bright light of Cheri Maples has just stopped manifesting. This transition brings her great energy of mindfulness into other spaces. This is what I thought when I read the news that this beloved Dharma teacher had passed away peacefully, surrounded by her close friends and Sangha members, on July 27, 2017.
Today, while sitting in early morning meditation and prayer for her, I feel as though she is sitting next to me.
I talked with Cheri just last year, after a powerful and lovely Dharma talk she offered on June 15, 2016, to many people who had gathered at Plum Village to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the Order of Interbeing. Cheri and I planned that someday in the near future, when Cheri passed through California, she would give a Dharma talk in Orange County for the Vietnamese community. It is a huge regret that our Palm Tree Sangha in Fountain Valley, California, will miss that opportunity.
I will not forget the solid and loving energy that Cheri manifested around her. At Plum Village, hundreds of friends surrounded Cheri to hear about her extraordinary transformation. In her Dharma talk, Cheri recalled how the magic of mindfulness changed her life, transforming her from a stressed and tough police officer into a lovable peace activist and mindfulness teacher.
Cheri Maples encountered Thich Nhat Hanh’s teaching through the book Being Peace, which she read in the waiting room of her chiropractor’s office. That book inspired her to attend her first mindfulness retreat, in 1991 in Mundelein, Illinois. Her life changed beautifully, step by step…
Cheri became a member of the Order of Interbeing in 2002, while on retreat at Plum Village. She later organized a retreat that was led by Thich Nhat Hanh, and that was attended by hundreds of people, including police officers, in 2003 in Green Lake, Wisconsin. Cheri became a Dharma teacher in Thich Nhat Hanh’s lineage in 2008, with the Dharma name True Precious Mindfulness (Chan Bao Niem).
For many years, Cheri practiced mindfulness as a police officer and captain. She treated criminals with understanding and compassion, and she made the atmosphere of her office less stressful and more openhearted. Eventually, the armor of mindfulness replaced the bulletproof vest that had protected her in workplaces where violence dominated the environment. Cheri became a lecturer and a trainer for social service and criminal justice professionals. In 2009, she and her friend Maureen Brady co-founded the Center for Mindfulness and Justice, which provides services for communities in Wisconsin and other states.
It is a huge loss for many people who knew Cheri that she left us so early, at only 64 years old. We hope that the light of mindfulness that Cheri received and spread out beautifully will continue to shine through her friends and her coworkers for a long, long time.