THE FIVE INVITATIONS

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.

An internationally respected Buddhist teacher, Frank Ostaseski is the visionary cofounder of the Zen Hospice Project and Metta Institute. He has sat on the precipice of death with more than a thousand people. He has trained countless clinicians and caregivers in the art of mindful and compassionate care. In The Five Invitations, he distills the lessons gleaned over decades of selfless service 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

The Five Invitations are mutually supportive principles, permeated with love that are reliable guides for being with dying. And, as it turns out, they have a relevance for all of us in living a life of integrity, meaning and purpose. They can be understood as best practices for anyone navigating a life transition, coping with loss or serious illness or a personal crisis. They guide us toward appreciating life’s preciousness. The Five Invitations is a powerful and inspiring exploration of the essential wisdom dying has to show about waking up fully to our lives.

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Read an Excerpt

Five-Invitations-Discovering-Death-Living

ACCOLADES

Jon Kabat-Zinn
Founder of MBSR and author of Full Catastrophe Living and Coming to Our Senses

“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.”

Dean Ornish
M.D. and New York Times bestselling author of The Spectrum

“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?”

Sogyal Rinpoche
spiritual master, author of international best seller The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying

"I could never say enough to praise the work of Frank Ostaseski in serving those who are coming to the end of their lives. Frank is an inexhaustible source of inspiration and help to countless people, and has shown us all how wisdom and compassion can be enacted with deep tenderness and skill, and in a way that is truly Buddhist and utterly human. This book is an inspiring, comforting and accessible gift"

Bill Moyers
American journalist and social commentator

“When I set out to produce my PBS series on death and dying – On Our Own Terms -- I called Frank Ostaseski. As co-founder of the Zen Hospice Project he was known far and wide as a wise and tender shepherd of the dying, and I considered him the one person without whose counsel the series would have been incomplete. Frank was cautious; filming the death of another human being while protecting the sacredness of the moment and the dignity of the individual could, he knew, violate the intimacy of hospice care. He finally agreed, and the experiences he shared on camera are among the most moving and instructive of the series. In one of those inexplicable convergences of fate, we were actually in the middle of the interview when word came of my mother’s death on the far side of the continent. I have never forgotten his incredible compassion and comfort, as you, dear reader, will never forget this book.”

Jack Kornfield
International Buddhist teacher and author of A Path With Heart

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.

TARA BRACH
author of Radical Acceptance and True Refuge

“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.

RAM DASS
International spiritual teacher and author of the bestseller Be Here Now and Still Here: Embracing Aging, Changing, and Dying

“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.

James R. Doty, M.D.
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

“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.”

SARK
Coauthor and artist of Succulent Wild Love

“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.”

Robert A.F. Thurman
Professor of Religion, Columbia University, and author of Infinite Life

“[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!”

Joan Halifax Roshi
Founder and abbot at the Upaya Zen Center, and author of Being with Dying: Cultivating Compassion and Fearlessness in the Presence of Death

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.”

Stewart Brand
Creator of the Whole Earth Catalog

“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.

Hosho Peter Coyote
Actor, writer and Zen priest

“There is no other way to describe this book but “beautiful". If this simple, straightforward book does not illuminate your existence, well, you may have to wait until your dying does it for you—in which case, you may be lucky enough to meet Frank Ostaseski again.”

Ondrea Levine
Founder and abbot at the Upaya Zen Center, and author of Being with Dying: Cultivating Compassion and Fearlessness in the Presence of Death

“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.

Ira Byock M.D.
Author of The Four Things That Matter Most: A Book About Living and The Best Care Possible: A Physician’s Quest to TransformCare Through the End of Life

“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!

Henry S. Lodge, M.D.
Robert Burch Family Professor of Medicine, and coauthor of the Younger Next Year series

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.

Chip Conley
Author of the New York Times bestseller Emotional Equations and head of Global Hospitality and Strategy at AirBnB

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.”

James Baraz
Author of Awakening Joy: Ten Steps to Happiness and cofounding teacher at Spirit Rock Meditation Center

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.

Chade-Meng Tan
Google’s “Jolly Good Fellow” and author of Joy on Demand and Search Inside Yourself

“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.

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

“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.

Gerald Jampolsky,
Author of Love Is Letting Go of Fear and
Diane Cirincione-Jampolsky
Coauthor of Love Is The Answer

“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."

Purchase the book

THE FIVE INVITATIONS

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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