How much do I want to read more? 8/10
That's a profound book.
"We cannot be truly alive without maintaining an awareness of death."
"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."
"The five invitations are my attempt to honor the lessons I have learned sitting bedside with so many dying patients.
And, as it turns out, they are equally relevant guides to living a life of integrity. "
"An invitation is a request to participate in or attend a particular event. The event is your life, and this book is an invitation for you to be fully present for every aspect of it."
In his brilliant book Small Is Beautiful, E. F. Schumacher suggests that we can see only what we have grown an eye to see. He proposes that the endless debate about the nature of the world is not about differences but simply about the differing capacity of our eyes.
It has reminded me of how few things really matter and how much they matter.
I am reminded that death, like love, is intimate, and that intimacy is the condition of the deepest learning.
Introduction - THE TRANSFORMATIVE POWER OF DEATH
[quote, RAINER MARIA RILKE]
Love and death are the great gifts that are given to us;
mostly, they are passed on unopened.
Life and death are a package deal. You cannot pull them apart.
In Japanese Zen, the term shoji translates as “birth-death.” There is no separation between life and death other than a small hyphen, a thin line that connects the two.
We cannot be truly alive without maintaining an awareness of death.
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.
In the light of dying, it’s easy to distinguish between the tendencies that lead us toward wholeness, and those that incline us toward separation and suffering.
Each cell in our bodies is a part of an organic, interdependent whole that must work in harmony to maintain good health. Similarly, everybody and everything exists in a constant interplay of relationships that reverberates throughout the entire system, affecting all the other parts. When we take action that ignores this basic truth, we suffer and create suffering. When we live mindfully of it, we support and are supported by the wholeness of life.
We will never know who we are and why we are here if we do not ask the uncomfortable questions.
Without a reminder of death, we tend to take life for granted, often becoming lost in endless pursuits of self-gratification. When we keep death at our fingertips, it reminds us not to hold on to life too tightly. Maybe we take ourselves and our ideas a little less seriously. We let go a little more easily. When we recognize that death comes to everyone, we appreciate that we are all in the same boat, together. This helps us to become a bit kinder and gentler with one another.
We can harness the awareness of death to appreciate the fact that we are alive, to encourage self-exploration, to clarify our values, to find meaning, and to generate positive action. It is the impermanence of life that gives us perspective. As we come in contact with life’s precarious nature, we also come to appreciate its preciousness. Then we don’t want to waste a minute. We want to enter our lives fully and use them in a responsible way. Death is a good companion on the road to living well and dying without regret.
Shortly after the famous psychologist Abraham Maslow suffered a near-fatal heart attack, he wrote in a letter:
[quote, Abraham Maslow]
“The confrontation with death — and the reprieve from it — makes everything look so precious, so sacred, so beautiful that I feel more strongly than ever the impulse to love it, to embrace it, and to let myself be overwhelmed by it. My river has never looked so beautiful … Death, and its ever-present possibility, makes love, passionate love, more possible.”
In a way, nothing can prepare you for death. Yet everything that you have done in your life, everything that has been done to you, and what you have learned from it all can help.
“Too late,” you might say. And I might agree. However, the value is not in how long they enjoyed the experience, but the possibility that such transformation exists.
Death opens us to the deepest dimensions of our humanity. Death awakens presence, an intimacy with ourselves and all that is alive.
Being has certain attributes or essential qualities that live as potentials within each of us. These qualities help us to mature, to become more functional and productive. They fill out our humanity and add a richness, beauty, and capacity to our lives. These pure qualities include love, compassion, strength, peace, clarity, contentment, humility, and equanimity, to name a few.
These aspects of our essential nature are as inseparable from Being as wetness is from water. Said another way, we already have everything we need for this journey. It all exists within us. We don’t need to be someone special to access our innate qualities and utilize them in the service of greater freedom and transformation.
- 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.
The five invitations are my attempt to honor the lessons I have learned sitting bedside with so many dying patients.
And, as it turns out, they are equally relevant guides to living a life of integrity.
They have little value as theories. To be understood, they have to be lived into and realized through action.
An invitation is a request to participate in or attend a particular event. The event is your life, and this book is an invitation for you to be fully present for every aspect of it.