Understanding Death – Frank Ostaseski

Thriving Launch by Kamala Chambers and Luis Congdon Understanding Death - Frank Ostaseski
00:00:00 00:00:00

understanding death

Summary-icon

SUMMARY


Understanding death is essential to understand life. It helps us to live a more meaningful and happy life.

On this episode, we are here with Frank Ostaseski. He’s an internationally respected Buddhist teacher, a visionary, and the founder of Metta Institute. Frank shares with us the Five Invitations or the lessons that he learned from being with people who are dying. Those invitations can be practiced to live our lives fully.

Keeping death at our fingertips reminds us not to hold on to things too tightly and to let go of fixed ideas which allows us to enter life with fresh eyes.

key-takeaways-icon

KEY TAKEAWAYS


arrow-iconOur definition of success is based on what we’ve seen in our culture, media, and people we’ve looked up into.

arrow-iconDeath reminds us not to hold on too tightly.

arrow-iconWhen we recognize death, we become kinder and gentler with one another.

arrow-iconThe five invitations learned from being with people who are dying:

  1. Don’t wait.
  2. Welcome everything, push away nothing.
  3. Bring your whole self to the experience.
  4. Find a place of rest in the middle of things.
  5. Cultivate ‘don’t know’ mind.

arrow-iconSaying ‘I love you’ more often to the important people in our lives is a way to practice the invitations.

arrow-iconThe growth we made in our life happen outside our comfort zone.

arrow-iconThe only thing we are each other is to be received as we are.

arrow-iconUntil you look at a challenge in your life and see through it, it will be the bane of your existence.

arrow-iconWhen we’re traveling, we feel re-alive, and our senses are awake.

arrow-iconIgnorance is not ‘not knowing.’ It’s misperception.

arrow-iconWhen we are filled with knowing, it obscures our ability to see the whole picture.

Summary-icon

TRANSCRIPTION: UNDERSTANDING DEATH – FRANK OSTASESKI


kamala-head

Kamala Chambers

We’re here to talk about understanding death today, and how it can help us live more fully.

luis-head

Luis Congdon

Today’s guest is Frank Ostaseski. He’s an internationally respected Buddhist teacher and a visionary. He’s the co-founder of the Zen Hospice Project as well as the founder of the Metta Institute. He’s lectured at The Harvard Medical School and the Mayo Clinic. He’s been all over the world to help people with understanding death. He’s been highlighted in The Oprah Winfrey Show. He’s been honored by the Dalai Lama, and now, we’re honored to have him on Thriving Launch.

All right, Thriving Launchers, we’ve got Frank on the line here. Frank, are you ready to launch?

Frank Ostaseski

Sure am. Let’s go.

Understanding Death With The Five Invitations

luis-head

Luis Congdon

Frank, I know you wrote this book about understanding death called The Five Invitations and one of the first questions I have for you is what inspired you to write such a complicated, challenging topic and to write this particular book?

Frank Ostaseski

The book is called The Five Invitations: Discovering What Death Can Teach Us About Living Fully.

For about 30 years, I ran a hospice in San Francisco called Zen Hospice Project where we took care of people living on the streets of San Francisco for the most part.

What the book is about is understanding death. It is what we learned from all those experiences of sitting bedside with a few thousand people in their final moments of life, and how those lessons we learned be a benefit to the rest of us, have relevance to the rest of us in living a more meaningful, happy, and purposeful life.

kamala-head

Kamala Chambers

That’s beautiful.

What is death and being able to see so many people close to death? What does understanding death help to teach you about living?

Understanding Death To Be A Better Person

Frank Ostaseski Understanding Death Thriving Launch Podcast

Frank Ostaseski

But when we keep death at our fingertips, it reminds us not to hold on too tightly. Maybe we take ourselves or ideas a little less seriously. We let go a little more easily I think.

When we recognize that death comes to all of us, we appreciate that we’re in the boat together, and I think this helps us to become kinder and gentler with one another.

luis-head

Luis Congdon

I like that.

Tell me a little bit about the invitations. I feel like that’s an excellent area to go into with understanding death. There are these different invitations that death has for us or the reminder that we’re not infinite as we always feel.

Frank Ostaseski

I think a lot of us have that mistaken notion that life will last forever.

Understanding Death And Learning How To Show Up In Your Lives

Frank Ostaseski

These invitations are lessons that I learned from being with people who are dying that have relevance for the rest of us. An invitation is a request for you to show up. If I invite you to my wedding or my home for dinner, it’s a request for you to show up. So these invitations are a request to show up our lives.

There are five of them. We won’t go into all of them, but I’ll name them here.

Understanding Death – Don’t Wait

Frank Ostaseski

  1. Don’t wait.

Waiting for the next moment, we miss this one.

  1. Welcome everything, push away nothing.

To welcome something doesn’t mean we have to like it or necessarily agree with it, but we have to be willing to meet it. It’s at our front door, are we ready to meet it?

luis-head

Luis Congdon

That first invitation struck a chord with me, but I want to hear the rest of them before I ask you my question here.

Frank Ostaseski

  1. Bring your whole self to the experience.

We have to think it’s our strength or expertise that will help it; bringing our whole being forward. Even our fear and our helplessness help.

Understanding Death – Find A Place Of Rest In The Middle of Things

Frank Ostaseski

    1. Find a place of rest in the middle of things.

We’re always thinking about taking a rest later when we go on vacation, or a list gets checked off. I don’t know about you, but my list never gets checked off.

Learn to find a place of rest right in the middle of what we’re doing.

We have to think it’s our strength or expertise that will help it; bringing our whole being forward. Even our fear and our helplessness help.

Understanding Death – ‘Don’t Know’ Mind

Frank Ostaseski

  1. Cultivate ‘don’t know’ mind.

This is not an encouragement to be ignorant. It’s an encouragement to be open, receptive, and curious. A ‘don’t know’ mind is a mind that’s ready, fresh, and alive. It’s full of wonder.

These are five practices if you will, or five ways that we can go about our lives and all of them were lessons that I learned from understanding death and being with people who are dying.

Luis, you had a question coming from the first one. Don’t we?

luis-head

Luis Congdon

Yeah. I’m curious how do you on a day to day basis keep yourself with these reminders?

Getting Caught Up And Not Understanding Death

luis-head

Luis Congdon

I know that for me, it’s easy to get caught up and the pull of everything, and to forget that maybe things aren’t quite as important as I’m making them out to be or that I should let go of a problem a little sooner.

Frank Ostaseski

I think that’s a typical experience we have. We’re pretty loyal to our suffering or things that are difficult for us.

Understanding Death and Practicing The Invitations

Frank Ostaseski

I think “Don’t Wait” is a reminder if you will that if we embrace the truth that all things inevitably end. It encourages us not to wait to begin living our life moment and in a way that is genuinely engaging. We stop wasting our lives and the meaningless activities.

We learn not to hold our opinions, our desires, or even our ideas too tightly. Instead of pinning our hopes on a better future, we focus on the present and being grateful for what we have right in front us.

We say “I love you” more often to the people that are important to us in our lives. That’s one of the ways I practice it.

kamala-head

Kamala Chambers

These five invitations on understanding death remind me of when I studied Tantra oddly enough.

Understanding Death Welcome Everything

kamala-head

Kamala Chambers

The second one, “Welcome everything,” what I see that as from my background, and I’d love to hear from your perspective is to be willing to have an internal spaciousness for all that is, and you become the meeting point for the duality.

I’m sure you’re talking about something a little different, but I would love to hear more about “Welcome everything.”

Frank Ostaseski

The great African American writer James Baldwin said, “There are a lot of things in this life that we must face that we cannot change, but nothing can be changed until we’re willing to face it.”

I think ‘welcome everything’ has that quality about it. It’s the willingness to meet. Something’s at our front door. It’s the willingness to meet it to see what it has to teach us, the one that has to show us.

Understanding Death And The Willingness To See What Life Has To Teach Us

Frank Ostaseski

Do we know what’s going to wake us up? Do we know what’s going to transform our lives? I don’t think so. I think often times, we’re surprised by things.

It’s often true that the changes in our life, the growth we’ve made in our life doesn’t happen in our comfort zones. It often happens times in the edges or in the places that are a little difficult for us.

Frank Ostaseski Understanding Death Thriving Launch Podcast

Frank Ostaseski

So the “Welcome everything, push away nothing” means that all of life is here to teach us, to show us, and to help us develop in our lives.

kamala-head

Kamala Chambers

I’d love to hear any other tips or practices that you encourage to apply some of these principles into our daily lives?

Frank Ostaseski

Welcome everything and push away nothing. That’s a good one.

Understanding Death And Being As Is

Frank Ostaseski

I used to go shopping with my daughter in consignment shops. She found a great little paisley scarf or a leather jacket or a cooper shoes. While she was trying things on in the dressing room, I push the racks for the next thing. We’re in this one particular shop and I noticed on this scarf, there was a price tag 9.95, and then it said, “As is.”

These scarfs, they have a little stain on them maybe or maybe the button machine from a shirt, something like that, but I like these tags. They say, “As is.” I think we should get these tags to ourselves and each other.

Understanding Death And Being Known As You Are

Frank Ostaseski

It would be a remarkable gift if we were willing to receive and take each other as is. What an extraordinary gift that would be in our lives.

I think it’s the only thing we’re asking each other; to be received as we are and to be known as we are. I think that’s one way to think about this ‘push away nothing.’

‘Welcoming everything’ is the opposite of rejecting. Denial breathes ignorance and fear. I can’t be free of anything if I’m rejecting any part of my experience. I can’t be free in this life.

Understanding Death And Seeing Through The Challenges in Life

Frank Ostaseski

The rejected experiences like to keep showing up like a bad penny, and they come back over and over again finding some way to express themselves.

Until I know and look at a difficulty or challenge in my life, and see through it, and it will be the bane of my existence. It will be a cost of my suffering. And so, to welcome everything is to investigate, to inquire in an open-ended way. In the course of doing that, I think we understand what matters most.

Understanding Death – Practicing Open Curiosity

Understanding Death – Traveling with ‘Don’t Know’ Mind

kamala-head

Kamala Chambers

The last invitation, I love it because I think we could benefit from meeting the world as though we’re experiencing it for the first time.

When I know I practice that open curiosity, things are just more magical. I’m more engaged with life. I don’t look at the mundane, and that’s part of the reason I love to travel so much. It is because I get to remember that practice of seeing things for the first time because I am.

Can you talk a little bit more about that last invitation?

Frank Ostaseski

Yeah, that’s beautiful. You gave a great example.

When we’re traveling, we feel re-alive. Our senses are awake. We smell, taste, and see more.

Why is that? Partly, it’s because we’re not so stuck in our knowing and in our fixed idea about how things are. We’re in a different environment. And so, it’s fresh and alive.

“Don’t know’ mind is not an encouragement to be ignorant.

Ignorance is not ‘not knowing.’ Ignorance is a misperception.

Ignorance is ‘I know something but it’s the wrong thing, and then I insist on it.’ There’s a lot of that going on in the world right now.

Continue Learning And Understanding Death

Frank Ostaseski

‘Don’t know’ mind is not limited by agendas or rules or expectations. We need to discover.

When we’re filled with knowing and our minds are made up, it narrows our vision and obscures our ability to see the whole picture. I think it limits our capacity to act in a fresh and alive way.

We only see what the knowing allows us to see.

A wise person I think is both compassionate and humble about what she knows and what she doesn’t know. This moment right before is this problem that we’re trying to tackle right now; this person that’s dying in my case or this relationship that we’re in the midst of.

We’ve never been here before. We don’t know exactly how it will go. So can we join it? Can we enter the situation without so much attachment to a particular view or outcome?

Understanding Death And Letting Go of Control

Frank Ostaseski

We won’t throw our knowledge away. It’s always there in the background helping us to guide us in a way, but we let go of fixed ideas. We let go of control.

I think ‘don’t know’ mind is an invitation to enter life with fresh eyes, to empty our minds, and open our hearts.

luis-head

Luis Congdon

Thriving Launchers, I think that’s a great point, and it’s an excellent point to close out.

Understanding Death And Asking Questions

luis-head

Luis Congdon

I don’t know what you guys have gotten out of the show today, but whatever it’s been, I hope it gave you something to think about. It’s because I know I got an opportunity to reflect on my studies of Socrates, especially when he went into that space where he just started asking a lot of questions and admitted that he didn’t have the answer. There is a great wisdom in that.

For me, that’s been today’s reminder. It is to be a little bit more curious and acknowledge that I don’t have all the answers nor do I have to. That gives me a great a certain freedom.

Thriving Launchers, it’s been great to be here with you all, and keep thriving.

Thriving Launch by Kamala Chambers and Luis Congdon Understanding Death - Frank Ostaseski
00:00:00 00:00:00

Start a Podcast From ZERO That 5x’s Your Following and Attracts New Customers! -
GET THE WORKBOOK FOR FREE


Start a Podcast From ZERO That 5x’s Your Following and Attracts New Customers! - Get The Free Workbook For FREE

You have Successfully Subscribed!