“Dinner with Buddha” is a fiction book by Ronald Merullo. It is about a 51 year old New Yorker Otto and his brother-in-law who is a Russian monk. They embark on a road trip and meet interesting people along the way while also experiencing some spiritual lessons. I happened to be reading it while on my own spiritual road trip to the Peace Pagoda and Cambridge Zen Center. Humor makes the books a breeze to read. The author has also written “Breakfast with Buddha” and “Lunch with Buddha”, which I will be reading next, perhaps on more of my own trips to visit local Zen centers and gardens.
In one example from the book, Rinpoche the monk is having breakfast with Otto. Asked why so many different kinds of people attend Rinpoche’s talks, the monk uses a jar of jam as a lesson. The label says raspberry, but what you eat is what is inside.
“You are not eating the label.” [says the monk]
“Of course I’m not eating the label.” [Otto responds] He watched me, waited.
“Black, white, American Indian, woman, man — some people think like that, like the label. Maybe Rinpoche thinks, a little more, the jam is important part. So that’s maybe why different labels come to the speaking.”
– Dinner with Buddha, page 151
As I work to learn the words to label things in different languages (Korean, Chinese, Japanese), I am reminded that it is the jam inside that is the important part. ^^