Buddhist monk will try to put peace back in peace officers

___The Associated Press___

MADISON, WISCONSIN— Madison police Capt. Cheri Maples wants to bring peace back to police work.

She helped recruit Thich Nhat Hanh, an internationally known Buddhist monk and scholar, to shed light on how police officers and other community workers can achieve peace.

“It’s hard to do this work and not close down emotionally over time,” said Maples, who is captain of personnel and training for the department. “My focus is on how to help people do this job with an open heart, to deal with what we deal with and not pay a price themselves.”

Thich Nhat Hanh, a peace activist and poet, was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 1967 and is a proponent of “engaged Buddhism,” a spiritual practice that seeks active engagement with the world.

He’ll offer a nonsectarian program Aug. 24-29 in Green Lake, targeting police officers, firefighters, health care workers, educators and others who want a more peaceful, nonviolent life.

Maples studied with Thich Nhat Hanh (pronounced tick not hawn) and was ordained as a lay member of his Zen Buddhist order. She said she struggles with ways to help officers handle the stress of police work.

Instinct and training teaches them to take charge — which is good for police work but can be hard on relationships, she said.

“What police officers deal with over and over and over again is misplaced anger,” Maples said. “And then our families deal with our misplaced anger and frustration.”
Thich Nhat Hanh has been exiled since the 1960s from his native Vietnam because of his anti-war views. He lives at Plum Village, a retreat near Bordeaux, France, and in 1997 founded a center and monastery in Vermont.

His Wisconsin appearance is organized by Snowflower Sangha, a group of Madison people dedicated to the practice of mindfulness.