The Art of Being

Interview with Dennis Merritt Jones

What made you decide to write this book?
I wrote this book because I discovered that people just like me are seeking deeper meaning in their lives and an understanding of their purpose for being on the planet. People desperately want to know that who they are and what they do matters. The Art of Being, 101 Ways To Practice Purpose In Your Life, offers those with open minds and willing hearts the opportunity to, not only discover who they are and what their purpose for "being" is, but also the tools to activate their purpose everyday of their lives. What teachers and spiritual leaders have had the greatest impact on you? Dr. Ernest Holmes, Jesus, Buddha, Rumi, Vivekananda, Lao-tzu, Thich Nhat Hanh, Gary Zukav, Don Miguel Ruiz, Wayne Muller, Jean Huston, Deepak Chopra and many others.

Were you raised in a particular faith?
My two sisters and my brother and I were raised as Methodist. At the age of about 13 my parents became disenchanted with some of the dogma and politics of structured church and we began having our own "family services" in our living room at home. That break from the traditional church became the entry point into metaphysics and the study of western and eastern mysticism for my parents, which has at some level clearly trickled down to me.

Do you feel you were always spiritually inclined, even as a child?
From the day I was born I seemed to be drawn to the Arts because it made me feel closer to "some creative process" happening in me which I knew was much larger than I, and yet, I also knew I was in It even as It was in me, and that it created through me. Today I would refer to this as the Omnipresence, Omniscience and Omnipotence of God operating at the level of the individual. When we were born we were 100% spirit, and we still are - we can't get any more spiritual than we already are. True spiritually is simply sensing our oneness with the Divine in every holy instant and practicing being present in It. I believe that all children are born with this awareness but soon begin to forget it the moment the world starts to cover the child with various labels that identify him or her with the material world.

How and when did you come to discover New Thought as the foundation for your current system of belief?
In 1977 I was working as a professional musician. I was in a marriage that should never have been and it seemed that the world I had created for myself was not only non-rewarding but it was metaphorically "on fire". To say I was unhappy would be a gross understatement. I was in immense emotional pain that was being driven by a lot of fear, some real but most imagined. I had tired going the traditional religion route, but I just couldn't get behind the whole "damnation, shame, guilt, hell and devil", being motivated by fear thing. Then, one evening while watching TV a man named Dr. Frank Richelieu appeared and with the first words out of his mouth, I was transformed. He said, "Friends, there is no devil, there is no hell...we create our own devil and personal hell in our own minds by our misguided thinking and beliefs." The rest is history. I called his church, The Redondo Beach Center for Spiritual Living and obtained information regarding the life altering classes and philosophy of Science of Mind. That was 32 years ago and I have never looked back.

Do you feel that a person can have a fulfilling spiritual life without participating in organized religion?
I absolutely do believe a person can have a fulfilling spiritual life without participating in an organized religion, however there is great value in belonging to a spiritual community. There is a big difference between religion and spirituality. Religions are systematic and are, by their very nature, structured to keep people involved within a specific religion and doctrine to keep it alive. Too often religions become more about dogma and doctrine rather than practicing the awareness of the presence a universally available God. Religions tend to want to place themselves between God and the people, sort of like a middleman through whom the people must go before they can have a personal relationship with God. On the other hand, spirituality needs no building, no structure, no rules and no leaders. Spirituality is a mindfulness practice that allows us to remember that whoever we are, wherever we are or whatever we are doing, God's Presence is fully there. That is the richness of "Being" on purpose. Every holy instant offers us another opportunity to have a spiritual experience. It's a choice we make.

Do you feel that in recent times, people have misused the Law of Attraction purely for material gain?
I am not sure one can misuse the Law of Attraction any more than one can misuse the law of gravity. The Law of Attraction has really become another a "buzz word" for the one and only Law there is, which is the universal Law of Cause and Effect. The Law of Cause and Effect can be used in many different ways, however it can never be manipulated. Because we have been imbued with freedom to choose our own thoughts we shall always attract to us that experience which most accurately reflects our thoughts and deepest beliefs about life and ourselves, irrespective of whether we are conscious of them or not. Therefore, if out of our own ignorance of the Law we draw to us an experience of lack or limitation, it is not because we have intentionally misused the Law, it is because we have failed to use it correctly because we didn't understand how it works. Regarding using the Law of Attraction purely for material gain: As an entry level teaching device, some teachers have begun calling the Law of Cause and Effect the Law of Attraction because it implies you can use it to magically draw "stuff" to you. That does seem to be what captures the imagination of many people, most of whom are in search of the magic bullet to success and happiness. With the recent overwhelming popularity of the movie and book, The Secret, the Law of Attraction has garnered a lot of attention. Can the Law of Attraction be used for material gain? Certainly, if the one using the Law fully believes he or she is worthy of having what they are trying to manifest. Is the use of the Law of Attraction to get "stuff" a misuse of the Law? No, however it may be misguided. At the end of the day we'll discover that the greatest use of the Law of Attraction comes into play when we realize that we can draw to us whatever is required to create a life truly worth living - a life centered in an awareness of God's presence. Those qualities most often show up as loving kindness, generosity, sacred service to others and reverence for life. Oddly enough, this is when the Law of Attraction becomes our servant, not our master.

What kind(s) of people do you think will benefit most from your book?
People who are seeking to deepen their sense of the sacred in everyday life.
People who are seeking direction, meaning and purpose in their lives.
People seeking inner peace.
People who want to know how to live more fully from their authentic self.
People who want to make a difference in the world.
People who want to see peace on the planet as a reality.
People who wish to deepen their relationship with their significant other.
People who desire to bring peace and equanimity into their home.
People who desire true abundance in the broadest sense of the word.
People who are seeking to establish meaningful and authentic relationships.
People who want to make their work, their passion.
People who seek physical healing, balance and wholeness.
People who are seeking a sense of common ground, unity and oneness with others through spiritual connection.