A Doorway, Wide Open

by Jonathan Van Valin

I stood at the end of a pier, drinking it in... The snow-capped Olympics glistened over Puget Sound from end to end on this particularly warm evening in April. Rigging on hundreds of boats tinkled casually amid an occasional seagull’s cry, and in the distance… as is common if you listen around dusk this time of year… was a frisky chorus of sea lions, barking.

There was no call for urgency right now. Nothing to defend, and certainly no cause for harshness. “God… this place is SO beautiful!” I thought, absorbed for a few long moments in the mountains and water and sounds and salt air.

Even as it galvanizes us, we tend to calm down in the midst of beauty, don’t we?

Whether a captivating tableaux in nature, a favored work of art, or a special moment with a loved one, a beautiful experience tends to feel full and rich and complete. It opens wide the door to quietude, beckoning to the peace within us… from which a quiet joy leaps so easily! So naturally! Doesn’t it?

At no point did I think:
“I should try harder to focus on this.”
“Perhaps I could earn it if I struggled more.”

Nope. Just stood there. Sights, sounds and smells somehow tugged on my inner dimensions automatically, pulling gratitude and contentment from the depths that stretch well beyond the surface of this body.

I’ve noticed a big adventure is not required for this experience either. An evocative piece of music in my earbuds or beautiful photo will nudge me towards that inner quietude and peace too; as will a tail-wagging dog.

Just talking about a beautiful experience doesn’t quite carry the rich, energetic power of the direct experience. Better to be in it… soaked through.

Sure, there may be more to our stories. Life will bring other experiences, including the difficult and painful.

But from what better place could one meet whatever life brings?

In the midst of a beautiful experience, it’s almost hard not to feel loving. When really grounded in love, it’s almost impossible not to see and accept more of what’s really true.

Beauty -> Love -> Truth

I stumbled over this as a young person, though I couldn’t have put words to it. Music had been a natural medium throughout a highly fractured upbringing, and in college I poured myself into studying as a concert pianist. Thousands upon thousands of hours were spent at the keyboard, alone, very much like a monk in a cell, trying with every fiber of my being to focus the mind, train the body, and open the heart.

Frustration and disillusion were frequent. But often enough within the Bach and Beethoven and Brahms (and Chopin, and Lizst and Rachmaninoff, a bit of jazz and on and on…) were moments of grace; of Beauty, in which fingers raced effortlessly over the keyboard, the mind free, judgement silenced and the heart overflowing. I couldn’t quite articulate, at the time, how it seemed so “ego-less.” How… the struggling character of “Jonathan” seemed to disappear in these precious moments and the Beauty flowed automatically, naturally, in pure joy. And how it would tend to spread, effortlessly, to others, if they had ears to hear.

I want this to teach me how to live on this planet! …went a recurrent thought, and so the practicing kept on. Beauty could open wide the door to Love and Truth, and from that sanctum I knew I was likely to make better decisions about life. (Not that I always did.)

I never publicly described my studies as “spiritual,” though nothing else really explained them. Nor did I go on to become a concert pianist. After under-grad, there was a pivot to entrepreneurial pursuits as I continued trying to learn how to live in this world. The spiritual dimension was tucked further away as I embarked on the practical matters of adulthood. I’m sure many can relate.

Yet spirit quietly begged attention and in many ways - in the midst of all kinds of ordinary ups and downs over time - life would bring, again, some beautiful experience… in which it was almost impossible not to feel more loving; and grounded again in love, almost impossible not to see and accept more of what was really true.

Beauty -> Love -> Truth

What a funny thing, in retrospect, to recognize how much resistance I put up. And yet the inner drive towards this experience and understanding ramped up anyway, largely unrevealed to others, eventually becoming absolutely ferocious. Many awakening experiences occurred, inciting my attentions even further inward to the point that outward life began to fall apart. Ultimately, regular life was ditched entirely for a long time, during which there was awakening through a sort of “final” doorway, in which a radical falling away of egoic self became the abiding ground of being.

And what does that even mean?!? It’s always been hard to put into words, though there is much in common with the experience from years before at the piano keyboard: “egoless,” as if the character of “Jonathan” isn’t necessary for running the show, and isn’t even really there at all. In that absence the trinity…

Beauty -> Love -> Truth

…merges into something quietly infinite. “Peace” became my favorite word for it, but there are many others.

Sometimes an inner prompt would arise, advising I could be helpful to a friend or even a total stranger with this… And like during my youthful studies, there came a way in which this Beauty -> Love -> Truth, this peace, was naturally shared; radiating entirely under its own power. Sometimes, to my shock, I was invited to share by reaching out and touching someone on the head. I was tremendously awkward about this at first, yet frequently something psycho-spiritual or even physical shifted dramatically for them. I remained simply a witness to these occurrences, as did the other person. For years, I tended not to say much. Quietude always seemed a natural vessel for holding this.

Standing on a pier at Shilshole Bay breathing in the beauty of the mountains and water, listening to sea lions barking… I was reminded how natural; how absolutely automatic it is that beauty be shared!

However it arrives, you’re invited to dip your toe in these waters. Come and soak in it! This quiet peace has deeply practical implications for our daily grind. A Beautiful experience opens wide the door to Love and Truth, and from this sanctum we make better decisions about our lives.

There can be a time and place for counting one’s breath, or prayer or chanting or practices of any kind. But in the meantime, in richness and fullness, may these beautiful doors crack wide open, within you.  

On July 30th from 7-8:30pm you are warmly invited to experience a beautifully contemplative multi-sensory, multi-dimensional evening as we open musical, visual and energetic doorways to the deepest dimensions of… you. “Like taking a bath in the Divine!” Lovingly curated by energetic healer Jonathan Van Valin, there will be short dialogues, with significant time given to the opportunity of audience participation and direct healing.

You can also connect with him or find additional articles/videos/resources, etc. at www.JonathanVanValin.com 

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