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The Five Invitations: Discovering What Death Can Teach Us About Living Fully

Frank Ostaseski is an internationally respected Buddhist teacher and visionary pioneer in end of life care. He is the author of The Five Invitations: Discovering What Death Can Teach Us About Living Fully.

After my mother died of lung cancer in 2013, I was captivated by death and what it could teach us about living. Soon after, I began volunteering at a local Hospice La Maison de Tara, in my hometown Geneva. One time when I was volunteering, one of the volunteers at Tara recommended I read The Five Invitations. On my home that very day, I picked up a copy at our local bookstore, and I read it with enthusiasm, from cover-to-cover over that weekend. Indeed, reading Frank’s book gave me a deeper understanding and compassion on how to “be” with loss and how to sit with the incompleteness of it all. Then in 2019, I was lucky enough to see him live and participate in an interactive workshop with him and fellow hospice volunteers at Webster University.

Learn to listen and communicate from three levels, the body, the heart, and the mind.

Frank reminds us that death is not waiting for us at the end of a long road. Death is always with us, in the heart of every passing moment. She is the secret teacher hiding in plain sight. She helps us to discover what matters most and reminds us not to squander this life and realise the wisdom that death has to offer in life

We can harness the awareness of death to appreciate the fact that we are alive, to encourage self-exploration, to clarify our values, to find meaning, and to generate affirmative action. It is the impermanence of life that gives us perspective. As we come in contact with life’s precarious nature, we also come to appreciate its preciousness. Death is an excellent companion on the road to living well and dying without regret…

The principles and practices of The Five Invitations are for developing a healthy awareness of death and the tools needed to companion others through their dying process compassionately.

The Five Invitations are:

  • 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

Frank shares the distilled, hard-won lessons synthesised from sitting bedside with over 2000 dying people during the past 30 years. It is a rare invitation to develop the radical compassion that allows us to go toward and learn from suffering. The extreme courage that enables us to act in the face of fear, risk or vulnerability. The radical connectedness that deepens our sense of trust that we are not alone, not isolated, but inseparable from a greater whole.

After working with thousands of patients at the end of their lives, Frank shares the universal questions that all of us ask at the end of life: am I loved and did I love well?

As you start this new decade I encourage you to get a copy of The Five Invitations It is not only a powerful and inspiring exploration of the essential wisdom dying has to show us but primarily about waking up fully to our lives.

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