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

4.51  ·  Rating details ·  677 Ratings  ·  166 Reviews
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 in life.

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
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Hardcover, 304 pages
Published March 14th 2017 by Flatiron Books (first published 2017)
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Athena
Feb 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing
From the first sentence the author got my attention and kept it. "Life and death are a package deal." Like many people I don't often think about the death part of the deal. The Five Invitations is a frank yet gentle reminder that death is always with us. But instead of that being a frightening prospect, the author shows us how it is an inspiration to live the life we have with a full heart and total presence.

He addresses the deepest, most important topics with reverence, humility, and a touch o
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Mimi Morton
Feb 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This book is a terrific way to open up a conversation around death and dying with one's family. Last week my wonderful Aunt Anne (94 years old) was out visiting her sister, my mother (95 years old). Anne had mentioned that it was extremely difficult to speak about the subject of death with her children and that she really wanted to talk about it but didn't know how to begin. I had coincidentally just received a copy of this book and was familiar with the 5 invitations. We opened the book togethe ...more
Tracy
Feb 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This book is essentially Frank Ostaseski's body of spiritual teachings refined over the course of his lifetime, and tried in the fires of nearly two decades leading Zen Hospice Project. Having been a student of Frank’s for over a decade and listening to his teachings in person year after year, I assumed most of the stories in his book would be ones I had already heard. It’s true; some of them were familiar. But I was unprepared for the many the stories I hadn’t heard, and especially for the beau ...more
Rocco  Capobianco
Feb 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Ostaseski has assisted in creating a mindful death experience of over 1000 people over his life. This wonderful read culls the learnings and wisdom collected from those facing death, perhaps when life felt most valuable to them. This book is not morbid; it is insightful, interesting, funny at times and most importantly - this book will open your eyes to a new way to view your life today.

The Five Invitations is an unforgettable read. This book will stay with me for the rest of my life. You know t
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Muthuvel
Mar 11, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Muthuvel by: Waking Up with Sam Harris
Shelves: philosophy
I came know about this work from Sam Harris' Waking Up Podcast (checkout the podcast here -
https://samharris.org/podcasts/the-le... )

Being mesmerized by the way the conversation between the duo underwent regarding this final masquerade in the cycle of life, I badly wanted to try the work.

The book provides vicarious experiences concerning the death of people under various circumstances from the author's perception. Though the book structure resembles the typical self help book, the contents are
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Hajime Issan
Feb 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing
All of us who have studied with Frank Ostaseski have wanted him to write a book for many years. With the publication of this long awaited book, "The Five Invitation," our hopes have come to fruition. It is even way beyond our expectations!

I met Frank in person for the first time in 2000. From our first private conversation, I was immediately drawn to and fascinated by his teachings. Prior to meeting Frank, I had had 15 years of involvement with caregiving for those who were dying of AIDS through
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Karen
Feb 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Karen Young – Review: The Five Invitations

Frank Ostaseski is how I learned about death. I didn't want to. I didn't want my 42 year old sister Susan, who was also my best friend, to be dying. Frank quietly guided our family and helped us to be present while at her bedside at Zen Hospice. It was 1990 and my month old baby Liza was in my arms. My father, a doctor, was having a hard time since his eldest was dying and was gruff. It seemed like he had always been able to fix us, but this time there w
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Katherine James
Feb 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing
"The Five Invitations" is a beautifully written book in which Frank Ostaseski offers his wisdom on the process of dying in order to inspire all of us to live more completely in the present moment throughout our lifetime by facing the uncertainty of death.
Frank provides a powerful description of the shift in consciousness during the dying process. Through the sharing of his inspiring and touching hospice experiences, Frank teaches us how to be a more compassionate, caring, listening presence at
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Beka Tuitasi
Feb 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I met Frank at Zen Hospice Project in 1995 after I'd lost both my parents in 5 weeks and was writing a newspaper series on caregiving, death and spirituality for the San Francisco Examiner. He made it not only safe to talk about death, but he also illuminated the intimate sacredness of being at bedside. His work has midwifed countless spiritual journeys both for those who eventually passed, and for those who yet remain. The Five Invitations is such a gift to the world, a testament to the power o ...more
Alison Shapiro
Feb 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing
There are very few books that have come into my life that are as insightful and as powerful as this one. The vehicle of Frank Ostaseski's learning may have been his work with people who are dying but what he has to teach us is how to live and embrace life in any circumstance. Sooner or later all of us will face challenges. Challenges are a part of being alive. It's not our challenges that define us. It's the way we meet what life brings us that changes everything. With wit, wisdom and profound k ...more
Bryant Welch
Feb 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing
When we read The Five Invitations, we simply cannot fear death anymore. The tender and heartfelt experiences Frank Ostaseski brings to us from his lifetime of living with death so imbue us with the tender possibilities of our final moments that slowly, slowly we realize that death can be our most focused, our most present moment. In realizing the true nature of death as he presents it to us, we have a deep sense of brotherhood, that we are all traveling on the same bus and that to not reach out ...more
Sarah
This is a beautiful book about something important and inevitable, but that we’ve been socialized to dread, avoid, and flat out reject. To surrender to it is often seen as weak or selfish; to be around it in any of its forms makes many uncomfortable and distressed; even to talk about it is largely taboo from a societal standpoint. This book is about death. And, more than that, what death can teach us about life itself.

I first heard about this book on Sam Harris’s ‘Waking Up’ podcast (for those
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Bob Mueller,
Feb 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing
In this book, Frank Ostaseski presents us with "The Five Invitations", the bedrock principles of the powerful and life-changing Metta Institute “End of Life Care Practitioner Program”. These principles come from Frank’s years of love and compassionate service at the bedside of those who are dying. He has lived these teachings. However, this book is not just about serving those who are dying; it offers us so much more – a wise and accessible guide on how we may live our life in each moment.

Being
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Carin Castillo
Feb 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I was captivated by The Five Invitations, reading it cover-to-cover in a 24-hour period. As I got closer to the end, I found myself reading much slower because I just didn't want it to end. I was inspired by the stories of people young and old at the end of their lives. The part that impressed me was that it was not just stories of inspiration on how I can embrace my days, but also I found wisdom as a new mom, and how to savor these moments with my little one more. There was a chapter about grie ...more
Megan
Oct 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I have a small but growing collection of books that make me cry in public, and this is now on the list. I think I cried outside the house at least three times while listening to this book, including being brought to gut wrenching sobs while I walked in the park one night. Luckily it was dark out and no one saw me. As painful as it was at times, this book is an epiphany. It's the basic tenets of Buddhist-inflected mindfulness told through the lens of a memoir about the Zen Hospice Project. If I h ...more
Sally Singingtree
Feb 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This book is every bit as much about living with meaning, joy and self- awareness as it is about the end-of-life journey. The pages are filled with teaching stories garnered from decades of being present with those who are dying as well as from the author’s experience leading seminars and training programs for healthcare professionals who work in palliative care. Frank Ostaseski brings the wisdom of The Buddha into modern times, distilling the ancient teachings into five concepts that offer the ...more
Kate
Aug 05, 2018 rated it liked it
A bit drawn out for my taste, but an excellent read on how to show up at the table and let the dying host the dinner party.

This book helped me to change how I approach when someone is actively passing. I am still relatively new to the field and the process does intimidate me at times. Leaving my fear and agenda of how I think the end of life process should go will ultimately aid me in helping these people pass. I've had three of my beloved residents pass all in one day this week, and in one suc
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Deb (Readerbuzz) Nance
May 30, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: old-age, death
There are nothing like stories of people in hospice to both touch your heart and motivate your inner seize-the-day. Ostaseski is refreshingly frank about his experiences as a caregiver at the Zen Hospice Project. I loved the stories. Carpe diem!
Mike Zickar
Jul 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: zen
A beautiful model of loving kindness and compassion.

The author has been practicing Zen Buddhism for over 30 years and working in a hospice for a long time as well. This book details his lessons learned from both of these experiences.

He does a great job of weaving in personal stories as well as stories of the people he has worked with over the years. The book is about death, its about life, its about suffering, and happiness. The author's gentle openheartedness comes through deeply over and over
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Salvador Casado
Dec 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
We human beings have sophisticated enough one of the capabilities that have brought us here: learning. However, no one formally teaches us to love, manage emotions, decide or become conscious. Nor to die.

As a doctor, I'm very interested in death. Everything I do is supposed to slow it down. Nor have health professionals been trained to fully help others die. It is true that we know about palliative care and we have techniques and medications that facilitate the process of dying, but there are
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Ladd
Jun 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I recommend the book to everyone. It was a truly inspiring book on the subject of death, suffering, grief and living fully. I listened to the Audible version read by the author. I enjoyed his presentation very much. I always enjoy hearing the voice of the author.
David Carr
Feb 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I bow to Frank for finally collecting the stories I asked him to share with the world 25 years ago. They are stories that pierced my heart in his first telling. I am sad that in those 25 years people were not of his invitation to attend to the majesty of the unpredictable naturalness of death.
But now I see that Frank needed to meet himself as a teacher among teachers before he could find the language that would weave the stories together. We may know our heart at an early age, but it takes prac
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Rhonda
Feb 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Having known Frank over a period of decades, I was excited in anticipation to receive this book. As a midwife, I am taken by my many conversations with him about the numerous parallels between his sheparding of folks in their final passage and my work in assisting women and families through the birth process. Being present in every breathe without expectation and not knowing what comes next ("don't know mind") is essential in the ability to be present during both transformations.
I am taken by h
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Wouter
Apr 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A gripping collection of stories of people facing death. Their own, of their loved ones, of total strangers. To quote the book itself. “Stories are a way to find meaning, but rarely ever a single meaning. Usually there are layers of meaning. Maybe things are this way, but maybe they’re not. This is where “don’t know” can help us understand ourselves and each other better. When we’re not so fixed in our views, stories can take us on a journey past bloodlines, or even facts, to reveal a truth that ...more
Mrs. Danvers
Apr 12, 2017 rated it really liked it
This is a hard one for me to review, because I'm coming at it from a particular perspective, including more than a decade of life experience in the context of the "Five Invitations" as I learned them from Frank in Zen Hospice Project caregiver volunteer training. I have long believed that the "invitations" -- or, as we called them, the "Five Precepts of Hospice" -- were really great ways to frame the experience of living fully and authentically, not merely the experience of caregiving or of hang ...more
Kathy Sebesta
Jun 01, 2018 rated it did not like it
Shelves: could-not-finish
People who like this book love it - rhapsodic and waxing poetic and I just had to read it.

But I couldn't. It's my wheelhouse, the whole concept of living and dying with dignity, so it should've been a slam dunk. But it wasn't.

The why is hard to explain. It's very Buddhic but that's OK. It's loaded with stories that show how his approach succeeds where maybe others wouldn't, and that's a great way to see from different perspectives. The problem is that I've used some of those techniques and they
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Miri
May 29, 2017 rated it really liked it
This book was much more explicitly Buddhist than I expected, and I might not have picked it up if I'd known that, but I'm glad I did. Spiritual topics kinda make me uncomfortable for personal reasons but in this case I think it was a good discomfort, because it challenged me to think about difficult things from a perspective I don't normally use.
Carol Peters
Jul 30, 2017 rated it liked it
Good reminders.
Kconrad2k
Dec 16, 2017 rated it really liked it
I got a little lost along the way trying to connect Frank Ostaseki's personal stories, Buddhist teachings, chapter titles, and five invitations. After reading his book, I went back and through it and teased out my personal take-aways which are...

1. Don't Wait until you are dying to make each moment count.
2. Work with what you've got (i.e., medical limitations of chronic illness) to make your life the best it can be.
3. Let go of feeling guilty about things you did in the past.
4. Use meditation's
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Shira
Jul 26, 2018 added it
Shelves: bookgroup
I have skimmed about half of this book after speaking with someone who has read it for a book group. I find it very interesting, but for me ironically my perspective is pretty different from that of most people about which and for whom this book is written. After many many years of wanting to die, I am finally starting to want to live, but seeing how the perspective of someone who fears death makes them push to move more is interesting. I myself have never feared death, but I have feared to live ...more
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Goodreads Librari...: Add cover 2 18 Feb 23, 2017 07:18PM  
“Do you see this glass?” he asked. “I love this glass. It holds the water admirably. When the sun shines on it, it reflects the light beautifully. When I tap it, it has a lovely ring. Yet for me, this glass is already broken. When the wind knocks it over or my elbow knocks it off the shelf and it falls to the ground and shatters, I say, ‘Of course.’ But when I understand that this glass is already broken, every minute with it is precious.” 3 likes
“The way we talk to our children becomes their inner voice. —PEGGY O’MARA” 2 likes
More quotes…