From Upaya Zen Center, this is a nice teaching from Cheri Maples, a dharma teachert ordained by Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh. Here is a bit from the introduction to this teacher:
Compassion contains elements of patience, receptivity, awareness, forgiveness, and radical honesty, all of which Cheri discusses in her talk. Cheri defines equanimity as the “ability to be equally near all things.” Compassion involves our tender responsiveness to suffering, our open heart, which can burn if not checked by the cool spaciousness of equanimity. Through developing equanimity, we learn to relax in the midst of suffering.Difficult work - and a very clear teaching that is useful for a lot of us.
Speaker: Cheri Maples
Recorded: Wednesday Aug 14, 2013
Episode Description: In this wide-ranging and personal talk, Cheri discusses the crucial balance we need to cultivate between compassion and equanimity in our work in the world. Compassion is difficult to define because it incorporates so much. Compassion contains elements of patience, receptivity, awareness, forgiveness, and radical honesty, all of which Cheri discusses in her talk. Cheri defines equanimity as the “ability to be equally near all things.” Compassion involves our tender responsiveness to suffering, our open heart, which can burn if not checked by the cool spaciousness of equanimity. Through developing equanimity, we learn to relax in the midst of suffering. We learn to “withdraw our insistence that the present moment be something other than it is.” In the end, through balancing compassion and equanimity, we become exquisitely sensitive to suffering without getting lost or overwhelmed by it. We learn to respond to life from a place of calm openness.
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.
For 25 years Cheri worked in the criminal justice system, as an Assistant Attorney General in the Wisconsin Department of Justice, head of Probation and Parole for the Wisconsin Department of Corrections, and as a police officer with the City of Madison Police Department, earning the rank of Captain of Personnel and Training.
Cheri has been an active community organizer, working in neighborhood centers, deferred prosecution programs, and as the first Director of the Wisconsin Coalition Against Domestic Violence. As Past President of the Dane County Timebank, Cheri was instrumental in creating its justice projects – the Youth Court, which is based on a prevention and restorative justice model; and the Prison Project, a prison education and reintegration initiative supported by multiple community groups.
She has incorporated all of these experiences into her mindfulness practice. Cheri’s interest in criminal justice professionals comes from learning that peace in one’s oown heart is a prerequisite to providing true justice and compassion to others. Her initial focus was on translating the language and practice of mindfulness into an understandable framework for criminal justice professionals. Cheri’s work has evolved to include other helping professionals – health-care workers, teachers, and employees of social service agencies – who must also manage the emotional effects of their work, while maintaining an open heart and healthy boundaries.
Cheri holds a J.D. and a M.S.S.W. from University of Wisconsin-Madison and is currently a licensed attorney and licensed clinical social worker in the state of Wisconsin.
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