The spiritual leader of the World Health and Peace Organization Ziguang Shang Shi calls the shots for this organization. Six years ago the Buddhist group bought and renovated the former Jesuit dormitory at the Auriesville Shrine where they now live. Not many people knew they were there. They travelled to warmer climates in the winter because the dormitory had no heat.The situation changed last year when the group began buying properties in this area. They bought the former Masonic Temple in Fultonville and a camp in Ephratah. The WPHO bought two abandoned Catholic churches in Amsterdam and converted them to Buddhist Temples. They bought 48 derelict properties from the city and have been working to restore them to a livable condition. They won a bid awarded after voter approval to purchase the former Bacon School for $460,000. that was to ease our school tax burden. Last summer, through a translator Ziguang Shang Shi told us of the grand plans he had for Amsterdam, how he wanted to build a city dedicated to peace and health. We were shown conceptual drawings projected on a screen as he described the transformation to city residents and Chinese investors at the Best Value Inn. The WPHO held several of these informational press conferences last year as they described how the billion dollar investment would save our city. They gave free classes so that we could learn the Guang Huan Mi Zong Health Dharma that was said to cure disease and ease pain.
All that was good, but things began to change. There was a break in at one of the Temples with the thieves getting away with some Buddha statues and copper piping. The group did not migrate this year staying here to tend to their investments. Two weeks ago another property owned by the WPHO was broken into and copper was stolen. This was an abandoned factory building and warehouse. This time Zinguang Shang Shi reacted uncharacteristically for an enlightened one of his stature. He exposed his Lucas Wang for all to see as he chastised the Mayor and Police Department for not doing enough to protect their property. He announced that the WPHO was pulling out of Amsterdam as well as the promise to buy the Bacon School.
I guess even the enlightened can throw a temper tantrum but I have to admit I was astounded by the course of events. I had faith that the group would see this project through. I attended the presentations, the classes and the religious events and really began to like this group. They were friendlier and more welcoming than anyone else I met in Amsterdam.
What happened? Are they just saving face because they don’t have the money to purchase the school or the manpower to work on all the properties? My guess is that they did too much preaching and not enough listening to learn about us. Working and living in a Sanga is similar to a monastery in that your exposure to anyone outside the group is limited. They did pick up a few American members last year but language continues to be a problem. Maybe they just miss their California winters.
I am angry with you Lucas Wang!