Keep Death Close

This evening we began to bring death into the meditation hall and explored its clarifying power.

I find that when I keep death close at hand….I say I love you more often. I take myself a little less seriously and learn to not hold to opinions so tightly. Maybe we let go a little more easily. Curiously, I find we become a bit kinder to each other.

In this sense, the reflection on death is a beautiful, life-affirming practice. In its light, what matters most becomes evident. Death cuts through our treasured beliefs, well-protected identities and clarifies and illuminates the tendencies that lead us toward wholeness and those that contribute to separation and further suffering.

I know that I will die one day, although I don’t know how, or when. There’s a place deep inside me where I know this….all of us know this…. We know we will have to leave the people we love, unless, of course they leave us first. It is an immense mystery, a great question mark that we carry in our very marrow.



Frank Ostaseski is the founder of the Metta Institute and cofounder of the Zen Hospice Project and author of The Five Invitations: Discovering What Death Can Teach Us About Living Fully.

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Discovering What Death
Can Teach Us About Living Fully

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.


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