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


What is the book “The Five Invitation” about?

Frank Ostaseski, an author of «The Five Invitations», is a Buddhist teacher. He is a co-founder of “Zen Hospice Project” and “Metta Institute”, which trains specialists for the care of dying people. He reads lectures at HMS and also in one of the most progressive medical institutions in the world which is “Mayo Clinic”. In 2001, he received a commendation from the Dalai Lama for care about dying people and their families.

At Zen hospice, the author and colleagues help the terminally ill patients to spend their last days in an environment of love, understanding, and warmth. The author created a hospice as an alternative to those medical institutions where terminally ill patients have to be alone, feeling that everyone turned away from them.

The author writes that he spent the last journey of several thousand people. And each of them in various ways was his teacher. In his book, the author shares personal experiences and stories of many people. As for those who died in front of him, and members of their families who had to live with their loss. The author is Buddhist, but he treated people with different beliefs with different types of faiths, atheists, agnostics. And author’s book can be read by people with different beliefs, and by those, who do not believe in any higher power. Because the main theme of the book concerns everyone. It is a death which, paradoxically, can teach us how to live.

Despite the topic, the book will not cause depression but certainly will force you to think deeply. It is filled with faith and warmth. The author believes we should not deny death because denial itself becomes a source of suffering. The adoption of the finiteness of existence, on the contrary, enriches life.

Summary and Ideas of “The Five Invitation”

Idea № 1. Reflections on death can have a profound and positive impact not only on the way we die, t on the way we live

Idea № 2. In the face of death, people are discovering the impermanence of life. But impermanence is the basis of life; it is always with us

Idea № 3. Accept your impermanence. At the time of death, everything we thought is us just falling apart

Idea № 4. Rejecting false hope, you can find a mature hope

Idea № 5. Forgiveness is the medicine that forgiving person needs

Idea № 6. Let everything is, nothing rejecting because avoidance exacerbates the suffering

Idea № 7. You are not a part and not the role. Take your integrity

Idea № 8. Appease the inner critic

Idea № 9. Even in the most difficult circumstances you can find a quiet place inside yourself

Idea № 10. Cultivate an open mind

Review “The Five Invitation”

Frank Ostaseski’s book is that rare case when the readers are almost unanimous in their feedbacks. Many say that the book has shaken them to the deepest parts of the soul, and despite the topic, gave inspiration and energy.

Of course, many stories which describe an author are complicated to read. Because he touches the themes of aging, serious illness, violence, death, loss of abilities. But what is surprising is that the author’s personal experience has not hardened him. It didn’t make him cynical. On the contrary, he talks about how obstacles teach to keep going; vulnerability makes us stronger; as recognizing our defeat in the fight with reality, we gain a significant victory; as a betrayal transforms in love; and how death teaches us to live.

Pros and Cons:

  • Deep ideas; Examples that will not leave anyone indifferent; simple exposition.

About Author Frank Ostaseski

Author The Five InvitationsFrank Ostaseski is a Buddhist teacher and leader in contemplative end-of-life care. In 1987, he co-founded of the Zen Hospice Project and later created the Metta Institute to train professionals in compassionate, mindfulness-based care. He has lectured at Harvard Medical School, the Mayo Clinic, Wisdom.2.0 and teaches at major spiritual centers around the globe. His work has been featured on the Bill Moyers PBS series On Our Own Terms, The Oprah Winfrey Show, and in numerous print publications. In 2001, he was honored by the Dalai Lama for his compassionate service to the dying and their families. He is the author of The Five Invitations: Discovering What Death Can Teach Us About Living Fully.

Watch and listen to his thoughts 


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