Sunday, October 6, 1996, was an important day at the Berkeley Buddhist Monastery. Although the monastery and the Institute for World Religions that it houses have been functioning for the past two years, the monastery's Buddha images had not yet been dedicated. Now this solemn ceremony took place in the presence of numerous Sangha members and honored guests, as well as an assembly that numbered nearly 300 people.
The ceremonies began at 9 AM, starting with the Incense Praise and Invocation, and continuing with the Dedication Ceremony in Chinese and English. As the whole assembly vigorously chanted the mantra, the image of Amitabha Buddha was slowly exposed to view. The ceremony was followed by introductory talks by Dharma Master Heng Sure and the president of Dharma Realm Buddhist University, Dr. Snjezana Akpinar. When the Institute for World Religions was established in 1994, the Venerable Master's vision for it was broad and universal: "The purpose of the Institute is to study religions in harmony with other faiths. We do not oppose anyone's religion, nor do we reject anyone's religion. Rather, we investigate the truths of religion together with other creeds and schools. The capacity of our minds should expand to propagate the limitless and boundless spirit of the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas."
The dedication ceremony was followed by the High Meal Offering and a sumptuous vegetarian banquet, during which many distinguished visitors and friends of the Berkeley Buddhist Monastery extended their congratulations to the monastery. In the afternoon, a Liberating Life Ceremony was held, and afterwards about thirty young pheasants were liberated among the beautiful, untouched hills of eastern Oakland. The heartwarming sight of the birds flying off to freedom concluded this very special day.