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The Art of Caring: An Interview with Frank Ostaseski

Frank Ostaseski on boat

Credit Doug Ellis Photography

"In Buddhism, we often talk about enlightenment or awakening, but words like that feel far away to me. I speak about intimacy."

In his new book, The Five Invitations: Discovering What Death Can Teach Us About Living Fully, Frank Ostaseski shares the lessons he has learned through a lifetime of work with the dying. Ostaseski is the cofounder of the Zen Hospice Project and founder of the Metta Institute, and AARP has named him one of the America’s Fifty Most Innovative People. We spoke with him recently about how we might live in harmony with the truth of dying, the importance of recognizing that death is happening in every moment, and tuning in to what matters most. S&H: In The Five Invitations you write, “We can’t be truly alive without maintaining an awareness of death.” Can you say more about that?  Frank Ostaseski: Life is meaningful and valuable to us because it’s precarious. Death pulls us into what matters most by clarifying, whether you’re a prince or pauper, the fact that your life is temporary. Once you realize that your life is temporary, you can begin to reflect on what you want to do with it. The book is organized around five lessons that you have learned sitting bedside with so many dying patients. These les …

Sam Mowe is a writer living in Portland, Oregon. His interviews have also appeared in Tricycle: The Buddhist Review, and The Sun. He is also the editor of Lineages, a publication of the Garrison Institute. Sam is a regular contributor to Spirituality & Health. 

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