Beyond being loving to our separate selves, beyond all sense of self, is the eternal loving One that sustains us: life living through us, arising in this moment. Life will always be OK without us. We, our cherished identities, are not necessary, nor will they endure. They are dreams. When we rest in divine will we feel the fullness of all life. It the source of all love. It is home. 

©John Greenleaf-Maple – text and art 7/21/17

Art and Spirituality

In one of his talks, Adyashanti says that all spirituality shares in common the practice of stillness and attention. Good writing really stems from exactly the same thing: having enough inner stillness to be an observer, and being attentive to what is arising in the moment. It is always about allowing life rather than resisting it.

In a YouTube video my beloved and I watched recently, a French reporter asked Julia Cameron, author of The Artist’s Way, what link she thought existed between artistic expression and spirituality. Julia answered that they are inseparable. If you increase your spirituality, your creativity will increase. If you increase your creativity, your spirituality will increase.

What do we even mean by creativity? It is our unique expression of who we truly are, expressions that can be manifested in a thousand different ways, many of which have nothing to do with formal art per se. In thinking about my writing and digital art in relation to my own journey, I agree completely with Julia because I think both routes, if taken seriously, require one to be in touch with one’s authentic self, the part that is in alignment with our divine nature even if it is never referred to as such.

Here is the funny/super great thing I have noticed as my spiritual practice has deepened. I’ve stopped worrying about the product, and am greatly enjoying immersion in the creative process. As Julia encourages, I am willing to write bad first drafts, lots of them, so that I capture the essence of an experience, and then come back to tinker with it later. I am finally writing every day, both the 3 pages Julia recommends and my poetry, by staying open to what I’m experiencing and noticing the details without getting distracted or overwhelmed by various forces trying to pull me into some kind of unnecessary drama or story. This is not to say that I never follow bad energy now, knowing full well I should just leave it alone but then doing it anyway, but it does happen far less frequently than in the past, and if I go into a spiral after getting emotionally triggered, writing is my way of allowing whatever emotion is being felt to be expressed in a nice, quiet, safe, peaceful environment where I can regain clarity. In any case, the beautiful as well as tragic experiences of life are less resisted, I find, within the spaciousness that a blank sheet of paper provides, and there I am able to discover “what’s really going on for me.”

And then there are those times when something so profoundly moving and transformative occurs that it pushes me right up against the limits of language, as though all of the words must dissolve into light in order for the experience to be conveyed to the reader, yet words are the tools we must use. It is in the formless magical process of pulling elements together into a metaphor to attempt to convey such feelings that I often feel an almost overwhelming appreciative awe at the relatedness of everything, yet also this yearning to more fully allow that which I can sense just on the other side of my words. In this deep reflection and listening, I am sometimes then given a gift of understanding which I never really expected.

For me, writing is kind of like meditation. It isn’t always easy to completely relax, random competing thoughts or worries arise and seek attention, but when I am centered, moments of pure bliss sometimes show up as well. It’s not something I can go running after by developing a “method of relaxation blissing out to metaphor.” I do know, however, that the more open I am to what is, the more often these periods of deep peace and real joy with writing tend to occur. It’s like a quote I heard listening to a recent Jack Kornfield podcast. “Enlightenment,” wrote one master, “is an accident. But certain efforts can make one accident prone.” Creative writing is definitely on the list of “certain efforts.”

©John Greenleaf-Maple – text and art 7/18/17

Live Here Now

The only reason we can look back at our past with regrets and wish we had been able to do some things more lovingly is that we have become more loving and aware of the consequences of our actions over time. Never find fault with your past self in light of today’s understanding. Congratulate yourself for having grown and look for the next opportunity to make life more wonderful.

©John Greenleaf-Maple 6/19/17 – text and art

what i used to know about writing poetry

what i used to know about writing poetry
contained its innumerable forms and conventions,
rhyme and meter, simile and metaphor,
clever literary allusion, onomatopoeia,
hyperbole, elegiac grace, double entendre,
the myriad maps for words to trace

now i know these things only by feel
an insistent vision reflected in the sky
that lies scattered puddled in the parking lot,
this is my truest self clamoring an appeal
to be heard, teaching me what is real,
to trust in that which is beyond threat
it is the only reason for what will write
itself upon this sprawl of open space

now i feel these things only by not knowing,
by gratefully accepting the unfolding of our lives.
i tune to our channel in the perfect moment
to tell you that love is eternally flowing
between us pulling, twisting and yearning
like magnetic lines between our interstellar dust
it is irresistible this delicious peaceful rest
in the vast expanse where we are magically growing

that is all i know about writing poetry now
it is enough to receive to allow an energy
that burns its way through us somehow
until we recognize in one another the source
this fullness of being running its course
through all atoms of us everywhere all at once

©John Greenleaf-Maple 5/27/17

in a moment of grace

it is here
suspended in time
by the act of creation
that it sometimes happens
in the middle of a willing task
working without care in the green lawn
when the birds, distant sirens, hedge trimmers and barking dogs pile together

a small barely discernible voice whispers
through millions of quivering leaves, wind chimes, piling amorphous clouds,
an insistent light that seeps into our language
a white background holding these symbols
until an utterance appears at last

yes it sometimes happens then
the ineffable arises and expands until
awe stricken gratitude blazes in the heart
something which must be given away
for the fire to fully consume
thus now perhaps a gift to you

and then
the yard work continues
all of us roaming contentedly out here
in the sunlit flowing flowered breezes
breathing deeply of this moment’s grace
as though the most natural thing has occurred
new growth emerging
from long patient cycles
of giving and receiving
a silent serenity
singing riotously around us all

©John Greenleaf-Maple 5/23/17

Great White Owl

dedicated to daughter Beth

majestic snowy owl
perched in the still night
on a branch far above and safely away
from her hungry chicks

like a dappled statuette of moonlight
she sees every detail with perfect clarity

but it is her hearing that locates dinner
a rustle beneath straw hundreds of yards away
is triangulated with absolute precision and
she glides to where her memory holds her prey

and without the faintest whisper of sound
descends upon what she cannot see
pierces and ends the small life
with absolute certainty, quick finality

she lifts noiselessly the air seeming
to pull her effortlessly upward
long white snowy wings ascending
to her quiet nest her hungry brood
already learning the sustenance of stillness

©John Greenleaf-Maple 5/22/17

just after dawn

the earth again rolls
our lush green neighborhood
toward the sun

large on the western horizon
a waning gibbous moon slides
into a nebulous white envelope
of brush-stroked clouds

people out in their yards greet us with smiles
happy to be working in the night air
sighing up through the tossing sunlit trees
our collies grin in the morning breezes
lift their heads and twitch noses
to an intoxicating scent
wafting from some good person’s kitchen

my beloved plants a big kiss on me
right out in the middle of the street
on the crown of a hill above our brown house
and all around the swaying trees applaud
while hundreds of birds sing our favorite songs

and as we walk home together
our day begins like the blessing it is
trailing miracles everywhere in our footsteps

©John Greenleaf-Maple 5/17/17


sitting on the screen porch the sunlight
dances from branch to branch birdsong
hops within the vast aviary of an Osage orange
just outside this windowed nest lawnmowers are droning
in the distance and i am peacefully reminiscing
glad for all that has brought me here
out into this clear space aloft in the tree tops

every thorny wall has crumbled into the sky
and it is oh so serene here when i do not try
to understand the why or the why not nor to deify
anything beyond this holy spirit breathing in me

©John Greenleaf-Maple 5/12/17

no time to waste

there is no time to waste
that is clearly true
for if time did not suspend
these words would never come through
nor can i explain the certainty
with which i know this
for the writing proceeds faster than i know
but when open the sky does occasionally this
streams the cascade flows on leaving only
this small glowing wake of what is

©John Greenleaf-Maple 5/7/17