“Be alert as you watch a dog at play or at rest. Let the animal teach you to feel at home in the now, to celebrate life by being completely present. You just watch the tail … with some dogs you just look at them — just a little look is enough — and their tail goes …’Life is good! Life is good!’ And they are not telling themselves a story of why life is good. It’s a direct realization.” ~Eckhart Tolle

The philosophy of Zen comes to mind when I witness dogs “being” themselves. My understanding of Zen (in part) is that it is the practice of “be-ing” 100 percent present and one with what is in the field of my awareness, or whatever I am doing. Given that meaning, it’s safe to say I have a new Zen master in my life. His name is Mac Doodle, aka, “Master Mac.” He is an 18 month old, half Goldendoodle and half Labradoodle. I receive new teachings from him daily. Today he taught me the importance of spontaneously taking a time-out from my usual busyness to play a little, which I did because he wouldn’t leave me alone until I did. This was a win/win for both of us. I was a bit tired and losing my focus anyway. Now I feel twice as alive, energized and connected to what needs to be done … and he is taking a snooze so I can get my work done.

It’s interesting how the universe knows how to balance the energy for all living things when they are willing to “be” in the moment. Mac naturally knows when to play and when to take a time-out to rest his mind and his body. We, on the other hand, are not always that in touch with our true nature. Being present in the moment seems to take much work for us because we exist on a linear pathway of doing. Regardless of whether it’s work related or walking through the supermarket, while our bodies are always present in the moment, quite often our minds are either out in front of us or behind us doing something else. It would seem the practice to master would be to successfully integrate our doing with our “present moment being” 24/7. Would you like to know how to achieve that? Just “be” the dog!

As an example, see if you can relate with this: Master Mac is so much in the present moment that he will walk from one room into another, then stand there with a curious look on his face. My human interpretation of his look is, “Humm, now … why did I walk in here?” Have you ever done that? I have. When that happens it’s because I am usually on a mission for something my mind has instructed my body to fetch, and my mind has decided to do something else while waiting for my body to return. The only difference between Mac and you and me is, when we do that, it’s because we failed to consciously keep our mind and body in sync and, as a result, we think we are experiencing a senior moment.

When Mac does it he has no agenda; his thinking mind hasn’t gotten in the way — he is simply experiencing the moment and where it takes him, period. It doesn’t matter what mission he may appear to be on, whether it’s fetching the ball or just running wildly through the yard, his mind and body are so much in sync in the present moment that he will often stop on a dime, turn, and begin intensely sniffing the scent of some “mysterious” creature, chase an errant wind blown leaf or follow the sound of something into the bushes. Mac’s ability to be open to the present comes naturally, and as a result the “direct realization” that life is good is always at hand. Is it possible that we too could have that direct realization more often? Perhaps so.

Granted, dogs may find it easier to be in the moment because they don’t have to go to work, pay taxes or change the baby’s diaper, but then again, that is not why they were sent here. Tolle refers to dogs as the “Guardians of Being” — I like that a lot. If we are open to it, having a dog in one’s life can be a sacred experience, always reflecting back to us our own spiritual nature. (We all know what we get when we spell DOG backwards.) Master Mac’s “soul” puppy-purpose is to help me remember that every moment of my life is good, if for no other reason than I am alive; it’s up to me to “be” in the present moment long enough to realize that it’s good. Mac faithfully reminds me of this every day.

So, the next time you are around a pooch, invite him or her to teach you about the art of being a dog. If you pay attention you’ll discover that life isn’t nearly as “rufff” as you might think.

Be the dog, indeed.

Book Reviews
“From the day we are born—when we enter into the mystery of not knowing—until the day we leave the planet, the only way to grow is to step into the unknown time after time.”

Uncertainty wears many faces. It can be thrust upon us by external forces beyond our control, such as losing a job, or it can be something we worry about that might happen in the future, or it can be something we shy away from, such as letting go of familiar but unhealthy habits. Jones points out that most of our uncertainty anxieties are based upon a fear of loss. But what we perceive or project as loss also cracks us open to newness, to unforeseen gifts, to the richness of life. Driving this point home, the author asks readers to imagine themselves ten years ago and notice the ways in which life has changed in that time, how many uncertainties were faced, overcome, and embraced. How we respond to uncertainty, to life, is a matter of choice—or “the altitude of our attitude,” as Jones says, as well as ample doses of faith, consciousness, intention, patience, and mindfulness—and more.

Life is a glorious mystery and The Art of Uncertainty is like having a spiritual primer for gracefully leaving behind our coveted, safe—but stifled—comfort zones and being liberated to love the ride of our life.

Julie Clayton
New Consciousness Review

Do you approach changes in your life with fear and trepidation or with joy and enthusiasm? As we face life’s challenges, one thing is certain—we must navigate a sea of uncertainty. In The Art of Uncertainty: How to Live in the Mystery of Life and Love It, Dennis Merritt Jones offers tools to become wise mariners of that sea and know, “Every action you take moves you one step closer to either evolution and expansion or redundancy and a reduction of your life force.” Each beautifully written chapter draws on the wisdom of the sages, both past and present, and contains straight-forward, practical strategies illustrated with real-life examples that are relevant to readers. Jones addresses our fears, potential, habits, intentions, patience, and perseverance, reminding us, “The only thing we can control is our next thought.”

A “Points to Ponder” section at the end of each chapter clearly summarizes the concepts presented and offers questions to help one personalize the information. Also at the end of each chapter, Jones’s “Mindfulness Practices” guide one in anchoring the learning and stepping into an awareness of our oneness with source. When we are centered in that knowing, living in the mystery of what is yet to be becomes a joyous adventure.

With The Art of Uncertainty, readers can chart a course for learning how to live in the “I don’t know” while maintaining a sense of inner-peace and optimism. This simple but beautifully wise and practical book is a gem. Don’t step into the unknown without it.

Claudia Abbott
Editor, Science of Mind Magazine