The World Peace and Health Organization presented their 2013 Holiday Celebration at the Goddess of Mercy Temple on 58 Grove Street in Amsterdam, New York on Saturday afternoon. It was a celebration of the Winter Solstice and Christmas bending and blending cultural barriers. There was a large representation from our local Native American tribes who shared their cultural traditions along with drumming and flute music. A local duo played their original metal composition on guitar and drums and a traditional Chinese song was sung in English by a Chinese native and in Chinese by an American. The Chinese Buddhists presented both song and a variety of costumed dance. Food and refreshments were served. It was a very colorful, festive celebration of the end of 2013.
Posts Tagged With: wpho
This post continues the ongoing unharmonious discourse between the Buddhist World Peace and Health Organization and the Catholic Shrine of Our Lady of Martyrs in Auriesville, NY.
As we learned in my earlier posts Help, Belgarde Bug Out, Buddhists Move Forward Despite Jesuit Road Blocks, and Jesuit Blocks Entrance to Buddhist Temple, Priest George H. Belgarde, S.J. has harassed the Buddhist group by erecting crude roadblocks on every conceivable entrance to the Buddhist compound and even interfering with road construction of the Buddhist owned Freedom Road.
There were problems caused by the blockade on Shrine Road including the stoppage of mail and package delivery. GPS systems brought visitors down Shrine Road only to find the road blocked. Crude signage and crime scene tape with no trespassing signs were not a very welcoming sight to visitors. The threat of arrest by the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office for Buddhists who set foot on Shrine property (that is otherwise open to the public), sort of upsets the peaceful nature of the setting and the people.
Attempts to resolve the issue through local elected officials failed with not one willing to touch the politically sensitive issue. Jenny Wong, the WPHO spokesperson sent a letter to the previous Jesuit Director, Father Peter Murray, S.J. with whom the Buddhists has a very harmonious relationship that resulted in the following response,
Jennie: I did receive your letter. Thanks for that and for this reminder here, this Email, but here’s the problem:I am no longer in charge at Auriesville, and have to be careful not to speak out since I don’t know all the angles and needs, new problems, etc. So I must pause at the present time.Maybe we can talk someday by phone. . .BUt at present, I must not write any notes of “support” etc. But, I shall pray for you! I hope the rough situation can be made better, soon.Father Murray SJ (Very busy in Buffalo).
Apparently the Provincial has been
lied to misled by Father Belgarde. Shrine Road is still blocked and access to the Buddhist Temple from Shrine Road is not possible because of both the barricade and threat of arrest initiated by Belgarde. This is not the kind of neighborly stance expected.
A hearing in Montgomery County Supreme Court today established that an agreement between the parties was not possible and dates were set for motions and discovery contemplating a trial date for the civil lawsuit of September 20, 2013, at 9:30am.
These men are religious leaders, both having reached a certain level of authority among their devoted followers. Holy Master Ziguang Shang Shi and Father George Belgarde, S.J. share the same age bracket. They are neighbors living within a few hundred feet of each other but that is where the similarities end. In reality, they are just about as different as one can get. They are from different parts of the world, have greatly differing belief systems, cultures and general demeanor. The Holy Master is jovial, kind and understanding while the Jesuit is angry, hostile and rude.
The Chinese Buddhist and the American Jesuit do not communicate and it is not for lack of trying on the part of the Buddhist. My attempts to communicate with Fr. Belgarde were also rejected. We cannot know his true motive because he refuses to communicate but it seems retaliatory and childish. His intent seems evil in nature.
The frustrated Buddhists are looking for help from whoever may be able to break through this impermeable barrier and foster the hope of a peaceful solution to this ever-increasing tension and hostility they now suffer. It has affected their overall mission and outlook on the local community. They feel the sting of discrimination and prejudice. This writer is a witness to this unholy war deployed by the Jesuit against his neighbor and fellow spiritual leader. Belgarde and his maintenance worker have erected a total of three barricades, blocking all access roads to the Western Supreme Buddha Temple and residence without any explanation or warning.
The third barricade blocked an old unused access road yesterday, July 9, 2013. Yellow crime scene tape was stretched across the road with a no trespassing sign taped on a post with duct tape. This barricade came with a Montgomery County Sheriff Deputy who threatened to arrest the Buddhists for entering the Shrine’s property. The Buddhists in turn called NYS State Trooper Ramieriez who explained that once informed by a police officer, they can in fact be arrested for entering the Shrine property. Trooper Ramierez also discussed the situation with Friendship Road, an access road built by the Buddhists that was also blocked in June by Belgarde who insisted the four-year old road was partly on Shrine property according to a survey he just had done. He placed a pole in the middle of the road forcing the Buddhists to enlarge the access road.
Feeling imprisoned on their own property, the Buddhists sought help from local government officials but nobody was willing to intervene. A civil lawsuit was filed in Montgomery County Supreme Court with Judge Felix Catena proposing a meeting between the groups to settle differences. This was described in my previous post Belgarde Bug Out
The next court date is July 18, 2013 at 10:00am.
The Buddhists hope NYS Senator Cecilia Tkaczyk and NYS Assemblyman Angelo Santabarbara will intercede in this matter.
Today’s blog entry is for those readers following the plight of the Buddhist World Peace and Health Organization and their ongoing problem with Jesuit George Belgarde, Director of the Shrine of our Lady of Martyrs.
Last evening, June 24, 2013, this writer was informed by WPHO spokesperson Jennie Wong, that a meeting was scheduled to negotiate a settlement concerning the blocking of Shrine Road leading to the Western Supreme Buddha Temple and the residence of the World Peace and Health Organization. As a witness to these incidents and a spokesperson for the WPHO, I too was to take part in the negotiation. This meeting was strongly suggested by Montgomery Supreme Court Judge Felix Catena after preliminary statements were given in a civil lawsuit filed against the Shrine’s Director and maintenance man for blocking Shrine Road.
The agreed on meeting place was the Shrine office, 136 Shrine Road, Fultonville, NY 12072 on June 25, 2013, @ 10:30AM. The six of us approached the building and were met by attorney Carmel Greco and George Belgarde. “Only one!” shouted Belgarde as he raised his arm in what appeared to be a Nazi salute and yelled “Stop! The rest of you get off MY property!” When Yik Cheng explained to him that these members of our organization will attend the meeting, he stated “Then the meeting is cancelled” and went back in the Shrine office and slammed the door. His attorney and the Buddhists tried to reason with him to no avail. A July 18, 2013, court date is scheduled in Montgomery County, NY Supreme Court continuing the civil lawsuit.
The Buddhists paid $595,000 to the Shrine of Our Lady of Martyrs for this property in 2006, helping to keep the financially plagued Shrine afloat. It is despicable that they are being treated so shabbily by the Shrine’s new Director George Belgarde.
East Asian cultures celebrate the birth of Prince Siddhartha Gautama, the Buddha, on the 8th day of the 4th month in the Chinese lunar calendar. The birth of the Supreme Buddha is thought to be 563 BCE and marks the beginning of Buddhist tradition.
In Amsterdam, New York, the World Peace and Health Organization celebrated Buddha’s Birthday on May 17, 2013, at the Goddess of Mercy Temple, The Five Buddha Temple and the Supreme Western Shrine Temple. This blogger was graciously given the opportunity to photograph the lavish and detailed ceremony and performances from the vantage point of the balcony at the Goddess of Mercy Temple. The photos, equally lavish and detailed, may take a while to load, though they are well worth the wait. The ceremony began with a procession of Buddhist Monks singing and chanting as they encircled the interior of the temple. This was followed by greetings to and a message of religious harmony and peace given by Holy Buddhist Master Ziguang Shang Shi. There was also song, dance, Tai Chi, opera, Chinese lions, an American Marine/Buddhist monk singing in Chinese and two Mormon missionaries singing Mormon hymns. After the conclusion of the Goddess of Mercy ceremony, the celebrants were invited to the Five Buddha Temple where they participated in the symbolic bathing of the Buddha.
The angry Leprechaun pictured is Fr. George H. Belgarde, S.J. Director of Our Lady of Martyrs Shrine in Auriesville, NY, who recently ordered a barricade built on Shrine Road, blocking access to the Western Supreme Buddha Temple and headquarters of the World Peace and Heath Organization adjacent to the Shrine. The barricade, built with tree trunks and a sawhorse, was adorned with a large black sign with the word CLOSED painted in red.
This blogger received a call today from WPHO spokesperson, fellow Buddhist and friend Jennie Wong who had just returned to this area from another mission in China. She asked if I would meet her at the WPHO headquarters to help figure out why this barricade was blocking access to their property at 174 Shrine Road. This barricade not only blocks Buddhists it also prevents mail from being delivered and emergency vehicles from reaching the Temple.
I arrived before Ms Wong and decided to go to the Shrine Office and ask about the barricade. A pleasant receptionist greeted me and I introduced myself stating my business. She entered the next room informing the occupants and told me I could go right in. I saw a small man dressed in black talking with someone else and heard him state “…and he has a camera”. As I approached the next room he stated, “You can wait” and went on with his conversation for another five minutes. I was met by a visibly angry and generally disagreeable little man who I found out later was Fr.Belgarde, the Shrine’s Director. I introduced myself and asked about the barricade. He declined to answer any of my questions stating he would need to see my identification. I gave him my driver’s license which he stared at for about a minute. He then asked me for documentation stating I was a Buddhist. Apparently my physical appearance differed from what he assumed a Buddhist should look like. Another man wearing a red plaid shirt entered the room and stated, “I think I’m the person you want to talk to, I put up the barricade”. He was then silenced by Belgarde, still clinging on to my license, who told the worker he (Belgarde), was taking care of this. After refusing to answer any of my questions, it appeared that Belgarde was enjoying trying to antagonize me. I then asked for my license back and left the building.
Jennie Wong and three other members of the WPHO arrived and we all took another trip down to the Shrine Office only to be met outside by the Jesuit and maintenance worker. Once again they refused to answer any of our questions, referring us to their lawyers. Ms Wong tried reasoning with the Jesuit, asking him to remove the CLOSED sign as it looked as if the WPHO headquarters was closed and not just the road. The antagonistic Jesuit then ordered us to leave HIS property. We then took a trip to the NYS Troopers headquarters in Fonda. Trooper Matt Wheeler, a true professional, listened to the story, made suggestions and agreed to take a look at the barricade and talk to Belgarde. When we returned to Shrine Road we were greeted by a Montgomery County Sheriff who quickly entered his vehicle and moved it to further block the road when he saw us coming. He then exited his vehicle and was in the process of telling us to leave when Trooper Wheeler arrived explaining the other side of the story.
The result of the debate between the law enforcement officers hinged on whether Shrine Road was a County road or a private road. It appears on maps as a County Road, in which case the barricade is illegal. Part of the original deed agreement was that an alternate access road would be built. While this road was built connecting the Temple with Ridley Road, it has not been graded or paved and does not appear on official maps, GPS or EMS response systems. The steep base of the road makes it difficult to travel without sliding.
What was once a harmonious relationship under the Shrine’s former Director Fr. Murray is now antagonistic and non-communicative under the direction of Fr.George H.Belgarde who appears to have an ax to grind.
Can’t we all just get along?
Journalist Ed Munger Jr. wrote a great, objective article about this incident titled “Surprise barricade cuts Buddhist Temple access”. It is published in the April 8, 2013, edition of the Daily Gazette. The article can be found at http://www.dailygazette.com.
One of the many stars that make up the constellation that we call the World Peace and Health Organization is Liu Nai Hui a World Class table tennis champion. She now holds the title of 2012 US Open Women’s Doubles Champion having won the title in July with Jenny Zhao. In 2011 Liu was the US Open Women’s Single Champion and has won Table Tennis Championships around the World. As a Table Tennis Coach Liu had the pleasure of seeing her student Michele Luo win the 2012 AAU Junior Olympic Games.
Today the World Peace and Health Organization celebrates Liu Nai Hui by opening The World Table Tennis Championship Training Center at 10 Main Street in the village of Fultonville, New York. The building a former Masonic Temple, was completely renovated with regulation lighting and tables that occupy two floors of the building. They hope to provide world class table tennis instruction for the public in the near future.
Of course the grand opening included a traditional Chinese Lion accompanied by gongs, drums and cymbals to ward off any residual evil spirits left in the century old building. A formal introduction was given by Buddhist Holy Master Zinguang Shang Shi and the Table Tennis tournament began. The Center also had a visit from Fultonville Mayor Robert Headwell. There was truly a sense of joy and accomplishment that was palpable in the center today. At one point I felt as if I no longer needed the service of my wonderful translator Jennie Wong as the communication was understood on a higher level. This is really the beginning of something greater, a starting point that is fully supported by the local community who appreciate the opportunity presented.
A two-hour hike in Fultonville, NY along a ridge overlooking the Schoharie Creek, provided a great opportunity to get some exercise and take some photos. Jennie Wong of the World Peace and Health Organization was gracious enough to invite me to join the Buddhist group as they hiked along their property line. We were able to see the damage done by last year’s flood. Large sections of land were wiped out as the creek’s ravaging waters uprooted century old trees.
The Chinese Duanwu Festival was held by the WPHO at 10 Leonard Street in Amsterdam, New York on June 23, 2012. The second floor of the former factory building was transformed into a performance space where Buddhist Master Ziguang Shang Shi gave an invocation welcoming guests and monks to celebrate the life of poet Qu Yuan that was briefly described in yesterday’s blog post. There was song, dance, Tai Chi, an interpretive reenactment and plenty of zongzi for everyone to enjoy.
Duan Wu Jie, which literally means Double Fifth Festival, is a Chinese festival celebrated on the fifth day of the fifth month based on Chinese calendar. Duanwu is celebrated to commemorate the life of poet Qu Yuan, who was both a scholar and a public official born into the royal Chu clan. Qu Yuan (339BC-278BC) regarded as one of the greatest Chinese cultural icons that ever lived, he was the first author in China to have his name associated with his verse. Qu’s unique style of verse (sao), broke traditional four character verse by adopting verses or varying length. His works are known as the Chu-ci or Songs of the South.
Legend has it that Qu Yuan suffered with depression after being slandered by corrupt public officials and went into exile. Anxiety and depression coupled with the military capture of his country’s capital, caused Qu Yuan, to commit ritual suicide by holding a large rock and wading into the Miluo River in protest. According to folklore, people threw rice into the river to keep the fish and evil spirits away from Qu Yuan’s body. Qu Yuan’s spirit appeared to his friends and asked them to wrap the rice in silk packages to ward off the dragon.
These rice packages became the traditional food known as zongzi. During Duanwu, people will prepare and eat rice dumpling (zongzi) made of sticky rice wrapped in bamboo or reed leaves. It is often stuffed with meat and vegetable fillings.
Duanwu is also often called Dragon Boat Festival since Chinese communities in many countries hold Dragon Boat races in spirit of Duanwu celebration.
The World Peace and Health Organization would like to invite the public to a Duanwu Festival on Saturday, June 23, 2012, at 10:00am. The free Festival and Open House is being held at 10 Leonard Street in Amsterdam, New York. The WPHO celebration of Duanwu will include a Chinese cultural exchange of song and dance as well as the traditional zongzi.
The building at 10 Leonard Street is a 44, 527 square foot, former home of Breton Industries. The WPHO envision it as a place for cultural exchange and worship. This building along with every other property purchased by the WPHO in the City of Amsterdam had all the copper stripped from it. That did not alter the mission of the WPHO to continue moving forward with their goal of making Amsterdam a city of peace and health. They have been dutifully working on this property along with others to realize their mission.
This week the WPHO has concentrated their efforts on 10 Leonard Street to hold their first public festival there. Like a well oiled machine they work together cutting about an acre of weeds from the yard and building performance platforms on the second floor. They tell me I won’t recognize the place when finished and decorated for the festival.
Please join the members of the WPHO for this Chinese cultural event! It is free of charge and a great opportunity to meet the members of the WPHO, learn about Chinese culture or just see the factory building and discuss plans for its future use.