Macmillan Childrens Publishing Group
The Five Invitations

The Five Invitations

Discovering What Death Can Teach Us About Living Fully

Frank Ostaseski

Flatiron Books

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Hardcover

Death is not waiting for us at the end of a long road. Death is always with us, in the marrow of every passing moment. She is the secret teacher hiding in plain sight, helping us to discover what matters most.

Life and death are a package deal. They cannot be pulled apart and we cannot truly live unless we are aware of death. The Five Invitations is an exhilarating meditation on the meaning of life and how maintaining an ever-present consciousness of death can bring us closer to our truest selves. As a renowned teacher of compassionate caregiving and the cofounder of the Zen Hospice Project, Frank Ostaseski has sat on the precipice of death with more than a thousand people. In The Five Invitations, he distills the lessons gleaned over the course of his career, offering an evocative and stirring guide that points to a radical path to transformation.

The Five Invitations:
-Don’t Wait
-Welcome Everything, Push Away Nothing
-Bring Your Whole Self to the Experience
-Find a Place of Rest in the Middle of Things
-Cultivate Don’t Know Mind

These Five Invitations show us how to wake up fully to our lives. They can be understood as best practices for anyone coping with loss or navigating any sort of transition or crisis; they guide us toward appreciating life’s preciousness. Awareness of death can be a valuable companion on the road to living well, forging a rich and meaningful life, and letting go of regret. The Five Invitations is a powerful and inspiring exploration of the essential wisdom dying has to impart to all of us.

EXCERPT

Introduction

THE TRANSFORMATIVE POWER OF DEATH


Love and death are the great gifts that are given to us;

mostly, they are passed on unopened.

—RAINER MARIA RILKE

Life and death are a...

Reviews

Praise for The Five Invitations

“Frank is a pioneer in mindful care at the end of life. He embodies the wisdom and compassion he shares in these magical and compelling pages. You feel it instantly, because it is real, and it is really about you and your life.” —Jon Kabat-Zinn, founder of MBSR and author of Full Catastrophe Living and Coming to Our Senses

"This book distills a compassionate shepherd's lifelong experience with death and dying." —Bill Moyers, journalist, social commentator, and producer of On Our Own terms: Moyers on Death and Dying

“These moving teachings can open your heart and change your life. For decades, Frank has been a compassionate guide to thousands of people facing death. In The Five Invitations, he shares his timeless wisdom, beautifully, as a blessing to all.” —Jack Kornfield, international Buddhist teacher and author of A Path With Heart

"Written from the heart, Ostaseski's experiences and observations are invaluable." —Boing Boing

“As a physician, I often work with people who view death as the ultimate isolating experience, solitary confinement for eternity—the ultimate dark terror. In this extraordinary, eloquent, and powerful book, Frank Ostaseski reveals how we can transform this darkness into a bright light (brilliant in every way), a return to the source, the ultimate in intimacy, healing, and meaning—the essence of love. What could be better than that?” —Dean Ornish, M.D. and New York Times bestselling author of The Spectrum

"This book is an inspiring, comforting and accessible gift.” —Sogyal Rinpoche, spiritual master and author of international bestseller The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying

"Our capacity to live and love fully awakens as we open our hearts to death. Frank Ostaseski guides us in this opening with a luminous wisdom derived from his own full immersion in the journey. Please give yourself to The Five Invitations; these teachings reveal the mystery and beauty of our essential Being.” —Tara Brach, author of Radical Acceptance and True Refuge

“Stephen always had great trust in Frank’s good heart. As his teacher and longtime friend he encouraged Frank to write and share his wisdom on conscious living and conscious dying. Finally, we have this gift to the world. This book is a beautiful, loving gift and a manifestation of a lifetime of selfless service and compassionate care.” —Ondrea Levine coauthor with Stephen Levine of Who Dies: An Investigation of Conscious Living and Conscious Dying

“Frank Ostaseski is one of the great contemporary teachers of ancient Buddhist wisdom and practice. Over the years, his teachings have informed both my meditative and clinical practices. Now, through The Five Invitations a broader audience can benefit from Frank’s insights, soulful perspectives, and practical guidance. What a gift!” —Ira Byock M.D., international leader in palliative care, Chief Medical Officer for the Institute for Human Caring of Providence Health and Services, and author of The Four Things That Matter Most: A Book About Living and The Best Care Possible: A Physician’s Quest to Transform Care Through the End of Life.

The Five Invitations is a remarkable book, one that is deeply needed by all of us. Five invitations to live our lives fully, in the present, all the way through. Frank Ostaseski, whose journey spans over three decades of creating and participating in the hospice movement, imparts timeless wisdom that should inform our every day: How to embrace uncertainty and live with joy, peace, and acceptance. This is not a book about death, it’s a book about life and living. Buy it, share it, live it—I know I will.” —Henry S. Lodge, M.D., Robert Burch Family Professor of Medicine, and coauthor of the Younger Next Year series

“A powerful book by my good friend Frank Ostaseski, who has brought together wisdom and compassion in his life and his long years of work with the dying. We will all be enriched, inspired, and edified by his extraordinary book on how facing death can enrich our life.” —Joan Halifax Roshi, Ph.D., founder and abbot at the Upaya Zen Center, and author of Being with Dying: Cultivating Compassion and Fearlessness in the Presence of Death

“As a physician and neurosurgeon, I have learned that those who have truly lived are those that understand death as an integral part of life. In Frank Ostaseski’s profound book, The Five Invitations, he shares this reality, giving us insights and wisdom on the nature of dying but more importantly on how to truly live.” —James R. Doty, M.D., Professor of Neurosurgery, founder and director of the Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education, Stanford University School of Medicine, and New York Times bestselling author of Into the Magic Shop: A Neurosurgeon’s Quest to Discover the Mysteries of the Brain and the Secrets of the Heart

“Frank is a very dear friend. I have worked in the field of death and dying close to Frank and this book represents the distillation of many years of his efforts. He shows us that if you are to die consciously, there’s no time like the present to prepare. This book is a loving, compassionate reminder that the best preparation for death is a life fully lived” —Ram Dass, international spiritual teacher and author of the bestseller Be Here Now and Still Here: Embracing Aging, Changing, and Dying

“Frank inspires us to live with joy by fully embracing all facets of life including our dying. With heartfelt compassion and wisdom gathered over thirty years as a Buddhist teacher and hospice founder he helps us understand that love matters most.” —Chade-Meng Tan, Google’s “Jolly Good Fellow” and author of Joy on Demand and Search Inside Yourself

“Exquisitely profound and gut-wrenchingly real, I’m not sure a wiser book has been written in the digital age. Frank’s storytelling helped me to see that to step fully into life we need to embrace death as an adventure rather than an adversary.” —Chip Conley, author of the New York Times bestseller Emotional Equations and head of Global Hospitality and Strategy at AirBnB

“How to die and how to be with the dying are questions everyone faces. Here are sharp, insightful answers from one of the great end-of-life counselors.” —Stewart Brand, creator of the Whole Earth Catalog

“This is a gem of a book! With a lifetime of inspiring service and deep spiritual wisdom to draw from, Frank Ostaseski has given us all a gift straight from the heart.” —James Baraz, author of Awakening Joy: Ten Steps to Happiness and cofounding teacher at Spirit Rock Meditation Center

“Frank Ostaseski speaks with clear wisdom and deep compassion. Sharing stories and insights from his decades of working with people at the very end of their lives, his ultimate revelation has to do with how meaningful, in both our living and our dying, is the capacity to be open to and present in grace. His words offer much worthy of contemplation and his service to all of us is worthy of deep respect.” —Kathleen Dowling Singh, author of Grace in Dying: How We Are Transformed Spiritually As We Die and The Grace in Aging: Awaken As You Grow Old

“This book is deep, right and rare. The compelling lessons shared in The Five Invitations are valuable to people at any phase of life. Whether facing your own imminent death or that of a loved one, navigating a crisis, or looking to embrace and enjoy living your life more fully, you will find the wisdom lovingly offered in these pages inspiring and enlightening.” —SARK, coauthor and artist of Succulent Wild Love

"Every sentence in this book is written with a velvet pen from deep within Frank Ostaseski’s heart. The authenticity of his life and his work is on every page. It is a sharing that, ultimately, our own reality is love and that when we remember that, fear has a way of disappearing by becoming valueless. It takes a lot of courage to write a book that is so beautifully transparent." —Gerald Jampolsky, M.D., cofounder of Attitudinal Healing and author of Love Is Letting Go of Fear and
Diane Cirincione-Jampolsky, Ph.D., cofounder of Attitudinal Healing International and coauthor of Love Is The Answer

“[Frank Ostaseski] has found the space where awareness of death is revealed as a powerful elixir for living more abundantly, and he shares that secret brilliantly in this landmark book. If you want to live fully and free from fear, read it and give yourself and those who love you a rare gift!” —Robert A. F. Thurman, Professor of Religion, Columbia University, and author of Infinite Life.

Reviews from Goodreads

About the author

Frank Ostaseski

FRANK OSTASESKI has dedicated his life to service. He is the cofounder of the Zen Hospice Project, founder of the Metta Institute, a Buddhist teacher, an international lecturer, and a leading voice in contemplative end-of-life care. He has been honored by His Holiness the Dalai Lama, and AARP named him one of America’s Fifty Most Innovative People. He has offered seminars at Harvard Medical School, the Mayo Clinic, and Heidelberg University, and he teaches at major spiritual centers around the globe. His work has been featured on the Bill Moyers PBS series On Our Own Terms and The Oprah Winfrey Show, among other programs.

Frank Ostaseski

A. Raja Hornstein

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