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“Whatever grounds there are for making merit productive of a future birth, all these do not equal a sixteenth part of the liberation of mind by loving-kindness. The liberation of mind by loving-kindness surpasses them and shines forth, bright and brilliant.”
~ The Buddha
It 27

(source)
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Buddha Puja

Right before the meal, a small amount of each dish is put on a tray and offered up to the Buddha image.  In this photo you can see in the background someone walking the tray past all of the lay people.  Everyone touches the tray so they can be a part of the offering.  Although we know that the Buddha cannot receive our offering, we make it out of respect and generosity for the great gift he gave us: the teaching of the Dhamma.