"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. She helps us to discover what matters most. And the good news is we don't have to wait until the end of our lives to realize the wisdom that death has to offer," writes Frank Ostaseski. He is an internationally respected teacher of compassionate caregiving and cofounder of the Zen Hospice Project. He has offered his guidance and received the wisdom of more than 1000 dying individuals. In this poignant and practical book, Frank Ostaseski has bequeathed to us a reverent and incredibly deep meditation about what death can teach us about living life to the fullest.
The great Korean Zen master Seung Sahn used to frequently say "Soon dead" as a way of keeping the image and thought of death in his mind and heart. Yet many of us raised in Western culture are more likely to try to keep death at arm's length or try to flee from it.
In the East, death is a constant companion and impermanence is woven into rituals, art, and cultural happenings. One of these is the creation of sand mandalas by Tibetan Buddhist monks. They are meant to help us see that creation and destruction give us the lessons we need to learn about life.
The author presents "Five Invitations":
1. Don't wait.
2. Welcome everything, push away nothing.
3. Bring your whole self to the experience.
4. Find a place to rest in the middle of things.
5. Cultivate don't know mind.
These lessons are meant to serve as practical guidelines for dealing with death and equally relevant guidelines to living a life of integrity. These principles incarnate love and are permeated by love.
In his explorations, Ostaseski excels as he presents a rounded assessment of the spiritual practices of openness, forgiveness, hope, love, compassion, and X - the Mystery. Of the last quality, the author writes: "Not knowing is a gateway to a deeper appreciation of the potency of our basic nature, which cannot be known by the conceptual mind alone. It takes us beyond our ordinary way of thinking and seeing things, and into intimacy with this very moment."