The Invitation

The Invitation

3.9 17
by Oriah

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Shared by word of mouth, e-mailed from reader to reader, recited over the radio, and read aloud at thousands of retreats and conferences, "The Invitation" has changed the lives of people everywhere. In this bestselling book, Oriah expands on the wisdom found within her beloved prose poem, which presents a powerful challenge to all who long to live an authentic life

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Shared by word of mouth, e-mailed from reader to reader, recited over the radio, and read aloud at thousands of retreats and conferences, "The Invitation" has changed the lives of people everywhere. In this bestselling book, Oriah expands on the wisdom found within her beloved prose poem, which presents a powerful challenge to all who long to live an authentic life.

In a world of endless small talk, constant traffic jams, and overburdened schedules, "The Invitation" opens the door to a new way of life -- a way of intimacy, honesty, and peace with ourselves, others, and the world around us. Oriah invites us to embrace the varieties of human experience, from desire and commitment to sorrow and betrayal, and to open ourselves to all that is possible. The Invitation is an invaluable guide to overcoming the obstacles that stand in our way and to discovering the true beauty that life has to offer.

Accept the invitation and open yourself to a more meaningful life.

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Editorial Reviews

This book began as a prose poem, scribbled after a disappointing party. Using the form of a poem that she remembered from a workshop, Oriah wrote The Invitation as an expression of all the things that she wanted to share with others. Since its first publication in 1999, this book has been translated into over a dozen languages.

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HarperCollins Publishers
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Some of the letters from men and women who are reading The Invitation have started me thinking about how easily we fall into viewing our spiritual journey as an endless and impossible quest for perfection. One woman wrote, "I've always imagined that those who are writing or speaking about how to live more fully do not have the same trouble with patience or discipline that I have -- that I am failing where others succeed. Reading about you meditating and then losing all tranquility when you discovered the mess your sons had made in the bathroom made me think that maybe my human failings do not exclude me from participating in a spiritual life."

I do it all the time -- equate wholeness and spirituality with perfection. At one point, knowing this was a problem and hearing the ancient adage, "All suffering comes from wanting things to be different than they are," I resolved to practice acceptance of all imperfections within myself and the world. Perfect acceptance, of course!

When I am able to accept things just the way they are right now -- my inconsistent ability to slow down, my eldest son's confusion about his future, the level of air pollution I can smell on this hot, humid day in the city -- really accept these realities without secret resentment or muttering to myself about injustice and danger, I am able to be more present. My stress level goes down, my shoulders drop, I take a deep breath, and my mind stops trying to find ways to make things better.

"But," a small voice within prods, "what about the things that really do need to be changed? Does accepting myself mean letting myself off the hook for using guilt or coercion with my teenage sons when they are making choices I am afraid will cause them difficulties? Does accepting the world mean not raising a voice when toxic waste is created and dumped?"

Part of me is afraid that acceptance will lead to inactivity, and believes that real and necessary change is created by actions that flow from the tension of discontent. And sometimes it is. Sometimes, it is my suffering over how I am with my sons when I am afraid for them that is the first step to finding a way to be calm, clear, and supportive. But this is only true if, at the same time, I can accept my limitations of the moment. If I insist that I should be less fearful than I am at the moment, I set myself up for failure. Accepting my limitations and wanting to behave differently, I am more likely to create a situation that supports the change I want to make -- making sure potentially volatile conversations do not happen when I am tired or rushed, or having them when there are others around who can mediate.

Seeking the inner peace of acceptance does not mean acquiescing to those things that can and need to be changed. It means recognizing those things, in this moment, that I cannot change and not wasting any energy railing against them -- suffering over them -- or insisting that I should be able to change them. It also means recognizing what I can change and doing it. It requires wisdom born of deep contemplation and ruthless honesty. There is a fine line between acceptance and giving up, self-acceptance and self-indulgence, and working for change -- inner or outer -- often puts us on the slippery slope of endless trying and discontent. And while taking action without attachment to the outcome helps us to accept and move forward, my human longing -- what some would call attachment -- for change in aspects of my life or the world is often what has sustained me in the actions that have manifested those changes. I have more fun when I am working without attachment to results but...well, some days are better than others. Some days, my humanness can't get unhooked and I suffer. And if I hold up the ideal of non-attachment as a goal and not a guide, I suffer over my suffering and am even further from the fullness I want to live.

Compassion, acceptance of our humanness, and a tender appreciation for our deep desire to love well and live fully help us both to let go of the judgement that paralyzes and to begin again and again. Greeting these infinite and precious beginnings with a willing heart is what it looks like to choose life, to be fully human -- a physical, emotional, mental, sexual, and spiritual being -- every day.

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What People are saying about this

Wayne W. Dyer
“Her words pierced my shell and pricked at my soul. An invitation to the ultimate dance.”
Jean Houston
"Wise. So very wise is this deep and thoughtful book. It is a wisdom born of one who knows shadows and loss and gathering foundness, joy and genuine ecstasy. The truth-telling courage of Oriah Mountain Dreamer gives us a bracing antidote to the easy answers of the pop gurus. Here is a feast of life with real food to nourish the hungry seeker."
Richard Carlson
“The Invitation is a treasure. If you want to live more deeply, honestly, and passionately, you must read this book.”
Michael Toms
“Stunning in its simplicity and power, soul food for the mind and heart, a prose poem for a new world.”

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Invitation 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 17 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is THE book of books. My introduction to this book has changed my perception of the world and myself in it.
Anonymous 6 months ago
Have just ordered however the recent featured book of hours for autumn which follows both the monestic days readings and church seasons a structured book
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Guest More than 1 year ago
You can NOT read this book in one sitting. The teaching and the life truths that you learn are so emotionally drawing, that you must take reflection breaks. If your heart is hurting and your soul has been crushed - turn to this book for a hope that is shared from the most intimate portions of a woman's pain and joy. It is one of those books where you will be wishing you had read it... 'before' the circumstances in your life tested you beyond belief. The author is a physician of the human spirit - she proposes not only a diagnosis... but cures. She brought me the medicine. Thank you Oriah.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Until, I read this book I thought there to be no hope on my path. I have given myself up so many times to help others achieve their inner most desires. This book gave me the strength to reach inside and unlock so many cages. It will inspire you to balance, it will catapult you into a realm of living you thought only existed in fairy tales. Oriah has shared the very core of her being to heal others and for that she is a blessing but she has choosen not to be in disguise.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The book is written from the viewpoint of real experience. It is worth the price.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I was driving the one hour home from work the other night listening to public radio out of washington, DC. There was an interview with Oriah Mountain Dreamer about her book, THE INVITATION, and I was mesmerized. I pulled over, got out a pen and tried to put down some inspiring quotes. I am facilitating a personal growth group for a group of Jewish Women at my temple tonight, 1/9/00. I was searching for ideas to get this diverse group to a more spiritual connection. Suddenly it all fell into place. Instead of going to Sabbath Services that night, I took a detour and went to the book store and found, THE INVITATION. I read for 3 hours and then bought the book. I am reconnecting to my own temporarily lost center as a result of reading it. My husband was even willing to listen to several chapters. It is an important book, so honest, so inspiring. ( I want to contact Oriah to ask about something she said in the interview but cannot find her address on the internet.........can anyone help?)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Please don't put the entire book in your review. We would like to read it too. Duhhhhhhhhhhhh
Guest More than 1 year ago
Ms. Oriah Mountain Dreamer has created a pathway beyond the comforable and the mundane into that which challenges and repels you. By addressing the edges of your personality and sensitivities, you can build on and extend your awareness and your reality in honest ways that better fit your inner self. The book is propelled from the author's emotionally intense vision of her life as expressed in this question: 'Did I love well?' Although her personal examples are simply there to help your own journey, their poignancy touched me deeply. If you are like me, you will admire the honesty and openness of her sharing. Ms. Dreamer has had two failed marriage and many failed relationships. She has had friends who experienced horrible personal setbacks. You will be seared by the pain, the truth, and the beauty in these experiences. And you will be the better for the vicarious experience. Above all, this book is a call to have courage, courage to go beyond the comfortable into the important. Because of the examples chosen and her personal perspective, this book will probably speak more eloquently to many women than to many men. The book is broken down into the statement of her invitation to follow her spiritual path by dealing with longing, fear, sorrow, joy, betrayal, beauty, failure, commitment, and fire to develop the deep sustenance to allows you to go to your true inner home. Each section contains personal experiences of her point, and ends with valuable meditation exercises to help you find your own 'truth' in these areas. Although the book sounds like another New Age tract, it is actually anti-New Age in many ways . . . especially in favoring emotional and physical reality over spiritual vagueness. Here is a little of what she has to say on these subjects: Accepting the Invitation: ' . . . [Y]ou will experience, not just read about, the ache, the sorrow, the joy, the courage, the peace . . . .' The Longing: 'This is what I ask for: intimacy with myself, others, and the world . . . .' The Fear: 'We are afraid we will not be enough.' ' . . . [D]esire . . . brings the ecstasy of falling more deeply in love with my own life every day . . . .' The Sorrow: 'If we are strong enough to be weak enough, we are given a wound that never heals.' '[That wound] is the gift that keeps the heart open.' The Joy: 'The enemy of joy is the litany of 'not good enough' . . . .' The Betrayal: 'Sometimes, to choose life, we must break agreements; sometimes we must keep them although they are hard to keep.' The Beauty: ' . . . [G]ratitude expands my ability to receive beauty.' 'It is what pulls us towards life.' The Failure: ' . . . [O]ften an attempt to avoid the paralysis of shame.' The Commitment: ' . . . [F]eed the children when [they] thought they could not.' The Fire: '[D]ifficult to keep our hearts open, to feel the fear and pain.' Finding Our Way Home: 'Are you willing to meet yourself and not turn away from what you are?' As you can see, Ms. Dreamer sets a high standard, but one that you will probably be proud to match. I particularly recommend the meditations in the book. My own meditation routine repeats the same process. I found it rewarding to use different methods. Many new thoughts occurred to me as a result. It was a deeply moving experience in each case. After you have finished your spiritual journey with this book as a guide, I suggest that you write out your own examples to match these topics from your own experience. This will make the material more accessible, especially if loving well is not your core reason for being. Be yourself, in more ways and more fully! Donald Mitchell, co-author of The Irresistible Growth Enterprise and The 2,000 Percent Solution