The Five Invitations

Discovering What Death Can Teach Us About Living Fully
by Frank Ostaseski

None of us gets out of life alive. But we often live as though we’ve got all the time in the world. We might waste hours or years in activities or relationships that aren’t fulfilling, or stumble along with no clear direction on where we want to arrive. We tell ourselves death is something that happens in the far-off future, and prefer not to discuss it. But what if we welcomed death as a companion on our life’s journey, a guide who helps clarify our values and goals, find meaning, and relish the preciousness of each moment? What if we viewed death as a master teacher, and, as Frank Ostaseski writes, invited her to tea?

Ostaseski is no stranger to death. He witnessed his parents’ passing at an early age, co-founded the Zen Hospice Project, aids those who are dying, and is a leading voice in contemplative end-of-life care. What he learned at the bedside of dying patients taught him how to live. The five invitations he writes of—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; and cultivate don’t know mind—are invitations to help us live fully present in every aspect of our lives. These practices also help us deal with loss of any kind, such as illness, divorce, or a job layoff. At heart, The Five Invitations is a life-affirming book about death as a transformative power. It will appeal to those interested in Buddhist practices, and anyone wanting to experience a more meaningful life. Flatiron Book.

-Reviewed by Diane Holcomb, East West Bookshop


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