By Alicia Doyle

The Writer
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Minister gives 'purpose' message

Photo courtesy of Tarcher/Penguin

New book, 'The Art of Being,'

May 8 2008/Ventura County Star

At some point in life, many people start to question their purpose and others even go on a quest to find answers, said Dennis Merritt Jones, founding minister of the OneSpirit Center for Conscious Living in Simi Valley.

The conscious pursuit to "be on purpose" every moment of every day is the premise of his new book, "The Art of Being: 101 Ways to Practice Purpose in Your Life." The book was released April 17 by Tarcher/Penguin.

"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," said Jones, 59, of Simi Valley, who will have a book signing at 7 p.m. Friday at Borders in Simi Valley.

"People desperately want to know that who they are and that they do matters," Jones said. "The Art of Being' 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 every day of their lives."

The book features 101 writings offering "insights on how to understand one's purpose in life and how to practice it 365 days a year," said Jones, who created a six-week study guide on his Web site for free download to those who want to facilitate "being on purpose" study groups in their homes and churches.

A Ventura County resident since 1977, Jones has been married to his wife, Diane, for 14 years. He has a 23-year-old daughter, a 35-year-old stepson, a 39-year-old stepdaughter and two grandchildren, ages 12 and 15.

An influence to inquire

Jones was raised Methodist until he was about 13, when his parents became disenchanted with the dogma and politics of structured church, "and we began having our own family services in our living room at home," he said.

"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," he said.

As the founding minister of the OneSpirit Center for Conscious Living, he will leave that position Aug. 1 to create more time to spread his message through books, seminars, keynote speaking, coaching, mentoring and leading Sacred Journeys travel groups around the world.

Among those who will benefit most from "The Art of Being," he said, are people who want to deepen their sense of the sacred in everyday life, those seeking inner peace and those wanting to find direction, meaning and purpose in their lives.

Diverse list of heroes

"My personal vision is to guide people to their purpose," said Jones, who lists among his greatest influences Dr. Ernest Holmes, Jesus, Buddha, Rumi, Lao-tzu, Gary Zukav and Deepak Chopra.

Shannon Wharton of Newbury Park said each chapter in "The Art of Being" is designed to help people become more aware of themselves in ways they may have never thought of before.

"What I like about this book is that Dennis writes in a way that allows each reader to visualize, connect and respond in his or her own way," Wharton said.

In today's world, many people are in a rush and worry about not having enough time, she added.

"Each chapter in this book only takes a few minutes to read and by doing so people are able to stop for a few minutes, slow their life down, reflect and feel God's grace," Wharton said.

The book is especially timely, as more people are looking for a deeper spiritual experience, said Stuart Azarchi of Hamilton, N.J.

"Many are tired of attending church and being lectured on right or wrong behavior," he said. "This book will help introduce many people to a more open and involved spiritual experience without the moralizing aspect. We all know inside of us what the truth is; we just need a means to access it."

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