The Five Precepts: Lived Into & Communicated Through Action

2 Comments October 31, 2007 / Posted in Mindfulness



The First Precept: Welcome Everything. Push Away Nothing
The Second Precept: Bring Your Whole Self to the Experience.
The Third Precept: Don’t Wait.
The Fourth Precept: Find a Place of Rest in the Middle of Things.
The Fifth Precept: Cultivate Don’t-Know Mind.

Several years ago Betty Denny, a dear friend who has been a critical care nurse for over 25 years, was accepted into the year long program at the Alaya Institute to become an End-of-life Counselor. As she shared with me, it was and continues to be an inner journey for herself and for those she has been privileged to attend as a compassionate guide to the dying.

Alaya Institute was an outgrowth of the Zen Hospice Project (ZHP) and chose a name that would reflect the heart of its work. Metta Institute became the new name effective on April 15, 2007.

That date is significant for me. People joke about death and taxes as something we never escape. For me and our family that is true. My Dad died on April 15, 1994. And nine years later to the day my brother, Jimmy died. They truly lived full and fulfilling lives and were life travelers. It is interesting that a traveler is someone who suffers travails. They both traveled and never went tourist. Their lives reflected a core of loving-kindness.

For my Dad, Peter, and brother, Jimmy, the answer to the two fundamental questions listed below is: Yes!

Frank Ostaseski, the Founder and Director of Metta Institute talks about why the name was chosen:

Metta is an ancient Pali (Buddhist) term meaning loving-kindness, friendliness, benevolence and non-violence. It is a strong wish for the welfare and happiness of others. We chose it as our name because we believe it expresses the essential human quality that is most beneficial in the lives of those who are dying and their caregivers. We also wanted a name that reflected our intention to have our work be guided by Buddhist teachings and ethics.

In our experience we have noticed many dying people form two fundamental questions. “Am I loved” and “Did I love well”?

So we asked ourselves what might be universally valuable at the time of dying? The answer was simple, loving-kindness. Metta is a love without attachment, a non-exclusive love, independent of self-interest. It fosters a sense of belonging and a feeling of safety, reducing feelings of isolation. It calms a distraught mind and serves as an antidote to anger and fear. Through the practice of Metta we cultivate the qualities of ease and well-being. It encourages us to express our generosity and kindness for all beings.

And so taking Metta as our name reminds to go to the heart of the great matter of life and death.

It is now November 2013 and in speaking with Frank he is doing some revisions on his work. One of the pieces he is revising is The Five Precepts of Service from 2007.  If you want to find out more about the work that Frank is doing in his own private teaching and consulting work you can visit his individual website.

Here is a list of Workshops being offered and information about the End-Of-Life Care Practitioner Program

Here is an interview by Tara Brach with Frank:


2 Comments... What do you think? Subscribe via RSS
  1. frank ostaseski said on November 4th, 2013 at 6:02 am

    In doing a simple google search I found this page

    It displays an out of date and copyrighted version of my Five Precepts of Service. While I may have allowed the posting in the past I am now doing some revision work on the material. I am asking those who have posted the “Five Precepts of Service” to remove the material from their sites and blogs.

    Thanks I appreciate your cooperation in clearing up this matter. I would be grateful for a confirmation.

    Sincerely, Frank

  2. Mindful Service & Joy: Where is Frank Ostraseski? said on February 9th, 2010 at 10:36 am

    […] Five Precepts of Service have remained with me since I was first introduced to them by Betty […]

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