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Publisher's Summary

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. As a renowned teacher of compassionate caregiving and the cofounder of the Zen Hospice Project, Frank Ostaseski has sat on the precipice of death with more than a thousand people. In The Five Invitations, he distills the lessons gleaned over the course of his career, 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"

These Five Invitations show us how to wake up fully to our lives. They can be understood as best practices for anyone coping with loss or navigating any sort of transition or crisis; they guide us toward appreciating life's preciousness. Awareness of death can be a valuable companion on the road to living well, forging a rich and meaningful life, and letting go of regret. The Five Invitations is a powerful and inspiring exploration of the essential wisdom dying has to impart to all of us.

©2017 Frank Ostaseski (P)2017 Macmillan Audio

What members say

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Another great book

Another great story teller.
I will be revisiting this one again at least once.
We could all be so fortunate to have someone around like Frank when our time comes.
Great insights on how to be with someone who is dying or has passed.
Thank you Frank for your knowing experience and your wise, honest not knowing.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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A wonderful resource for caregivers, patients

If there is one book that I can recommend for care givers, patients, or any person looking to expand their compassion, this is it. It is a true gift.
Reading The Five Invitations has changed my life in ways that I can never adequately explain.
My own experiences with death, loss, grief, despair, and helplessness unfolded in my mind and heart in a completely new way. My inner critic is becoming less loud, less controlling.

I have been open to new experiences that I never would have been open to and now my life, or at least my views on my life, have been profoundly improved.

I had been a Chicago Police Officer in 2010 when I got into a car accident at work. Although my injuries were orthopedic in nature, nothing life threatening, there were many complications during numerous surgeries. I developed a condition called CRPS or RSD. It is a horrifyingly painful disorder and is referred to as 'the suicide disease'. My boys were 2 and 3 at the time. To control the CRPS to prepare for surgery, doctors placed an endwelling morphine catheter in my back. I was in the hospital for over a month and was sent home with the catheter still there. A nurse would check on me in 3 days they said. Long story short, I developed bacterial meningitis but couldn't tell because I couldn't feel anything. I couldn't stay awake. I couldn't talk. I was hallucinating. I was taken to the hospital in ICU and isolation for weeks. I had to make a will so that my boys could be taken care of.
I survived, but was essentially nothing more than a skeleton, still with active CRPS who was unable to do anything but scream or put myself into a coma with pain pills.

The person that I was before the accident didn't exist anymore. I didn't know who I was, or if there was anything left inside of me that was worth being.

Getting better took years. More surgery, another bout of meningitis, kidney disease from the medicine, and absolutely no idea who I was, made recovery tough.

I discovered meditation. I stopped letting doctors dictate what had to happen to my body. I stopped all medication and got a medical cannabis card. After 5 years in bed, I got up.

Many events happened. Divorce, death of my mother, autism diagnoses for both of my young boys, all of these circumstances were difficult. Meditation got me through some of that, but I was terrified. Afraid to really live, but certainly better than I had been. I heard your delightful conversation with Sam Harris on the "Waking Up" podcast. I bought your book before the interview ended.

Your book really showed me that I was creating much of my own suffering and that I could live more authentically, more openly, and more lovingly. So I did.

Since reading your book I have met someone and fallen in love. He lives in Denver and I live in Chicago, but we see eachother very often. He is moving here in July. My boys adore him and his daughter. His daughter adores my boys and I.

This New Year's we all spent a week in Boulder together. It took some special modifications and a lot of patience, but I snowboarded (down a mountain!) for the first time in my life! I hadn't been outside in snow for over 7 years!!! I was so afraid that the cold would aggravate my CRPS, I stayed inside. Yet here I was, completely exhilarated, snowboarding down a mountain.
Welcome everything! Push away nothing!

My copy has been shared and enjoyed with over 25 residents at a retirement center where I volunteer.
Thank you, Frank! Thank you for what you have given me, what you have shared. Maybe one day we will meet and I can share some of the remarkable stories of people who I gave your book to!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Dealing with Death

This book is profound and I recommend it highly. It is not a spiritual book. It shows us death and how to truly live.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Powerful for those facing losing a loved one!

I read an average of a book a week. Only a handful of books do I know that I will re-read and study. This book is one of those books. I first listened on Audible, which I highly recommend. The author reads the book and his voice was soothing and brought the stories to life because I could hear his tone and his inflections of voice. I then bought a copy of the book so I could mark it up and study it in more depth in the coming months. I highly recommend this book especially if you are facing the death of someone you love.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Five Invitations

This is an important book for anyone dealing with life, death, grief, and healing. Frank Ostaseki eloquently takes provides a template to help us through this journey. For those of us who are in the helping professions, this book can help us to show up for the people who we care for with presence and compassion. It has also helped me to stay grounded and centered while caring for my declining mother, and has supported me in cultivating a willingness to stay present for difficult circumstances.

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A must read for thoughtful living

I had to take it in chunks. The material is beautiful and terrifying and inspires introspection. I found the experience invaluable, and plan to revisit this one frequently.

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Beautiful book

Everyone needs to read this book. The subject matter handled thoughtfully and insightfully, and the book is read by the author. His soothing voice and strong connection to the material makes reading the book in and of itself, a spiritual experience. We brought my mother home to take care of her when she was dying in December and this book is helping me to understand our experience and to heal. Bravo & thank you Frank.

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Life changing

This book was a priceless, invaluable gift to me in the months following the death of my 45 year old sister from breast cancer. Being broken open, I was ready to take in Ostaseski's words and teachings. Every human should read this enlightening book. I switched from the hard cope to the audiobook halfway thorough, and I'm so glad I did. Beautiful.❤️

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  • Kelli B
  • Eugene, OREGON, United States
  • 01-19-18

Life Lessons from Death Lessons

I heard the author on Sam Harris’ podcast “Waking Up,” and decided to buy this book. I thoroughly enjoyed it, and Frank’s voice is very easy to listen to.

One doesn’t have to be a Buddhist to get something from this book. In fact, not every one who went to the Zen Hospice Center was a Buddhist. One just has to want to learn how to be more open-minded and open-hearted.

Sometimes death can teach you a lot about life.

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Book For Everyone

Where does The Five Invitations rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

One of the Best Audio books I've listened to .

Have you listened to any of Frank Ostaseski’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

Glad to have happened upon him

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

No I wanted this book to last as long as possible ... so I rewound quite a bit so I would not miss anything !

Any additional comments?

Helped me re evaluate some acknowledged and some buried grief .