by Myren Allen
The Venerable Master Hsuan Hua and President George H. Bush
November 30th, 2018. News broke out throughout the world that George Herbert Walker Bush, the 41st President of the United States, had passed away at his home in Houston, Texas, at the age of 94.
I am writing this to mention that our teacher, the Venerable Master Hua had a friendship with Professor John B. Tsu who helped the president during his first election campaign and actually invited the Master to give a brief Dharma talk when the President (actually he was Vice President at that time) visited San Francisco Chinatown on September 14, 1988. The following is an excerpt from an article that was published at that time in our monthly journal of Buddhist Studies, Vajra Bodhi Sea.
In a recent campaign tour, on September 14, 1988, American Vice-president and Republican Presidential Candidate, George Bush, was welcomed in Chinatown, San Francisco, by the Asian-American community. After touring the main thoroughfares of Chinatown, Mr. Bush made his way to Portsmouth Square, where he was greeted by close to two hundred leaders of the Asian community, representing those of Chinese, Japanese, Vietnamese, Korean, and Filipino origin. The gathering, several thousand
strong, clapped and cheered and gave Mr. Bush, his wife Barbara, and California Governor Mr. Deukmajian an exuberant welcome.
Professor John B. Tsu, National Chairman of the National Republican Asian Assembly and an administrator at John F. Kennedy University, Orinda, introduced the Venerable Master Hua, who had been especially invited up to the podium to welcome Mr. Bush. Professor John Tsu introduced the Venerable Master as follows: “Right now in the world, there is a holy man, who by means of the silent power of his teaching, imperceptibly turns around the tide of adversity that is upon us. Quietly he puts a stop to disasters, which would otherwise devastate the world, so that we can still enjoy peace and prosperity. The General Abbot of the Sagely City of Ten Thousand Buddhas and Gold Mountain Monastery has taught in America for many years. He is someone who has the greatest wisdom and intelligence in the world. If he supports you in his campaign, you will certainly win.”
Amidst loud applause and cheering, the Venerable Master addressed the crowd:
All of you fellow overseas Chinese, we are living in America, and we should elect the President who is the most intelligent and has the greatest wisdom; one who is public-spirited and unselfish; one who is fair and unprejudiced. Someone who is President should not fight, should not be greedy, should not seek, should not be selfish, should not pursue personal advantage, and should not lie. Someone who can meet those conditions is the best- qualified person to be President.
In a similar vein, during the recent Graduation Ceremony of the Dharma Realm Buddhist University and the Sangha and Laity Training Programs, and the Conference, “Tapping the Potential for Inherent Wisdom” held at the Sagely City of Ten Thousand Buddhas on August 20-21, the Venerable Master made the following statement:
Whoever is elected as American President, and this includes other government officials as well, should be incorruptible and not take bribes. In fact, they should not even take a salary. They should never lie or try to cheat the people. If the leaders of a country engage in fraud and corruption, the people and the young will certainly follow suit. The leaders of a country should act in a completely just, public and unselfish way. That way, they can become living examples of virtue. That is truly serving the people. Anyone who can do that, without having to resort to campaign tactics, will surely win the trust and support of the populace. Such a person will win the election.
Although those were brief words, for those who attended the Conference, they constituted a powerful statement. Many professors and scholars went away inspired, convinced that there is still hope and that we can still find ways to rectify educational trends and restore the crumbling social structure.
(Excerpt from Vajra Bodhi Sea, Issue #222, November 1988)
Official welcome. of the Vice-President of the United States George H. Bush to San Francisco’s Chinatown. Shown from left to right are: the Venerable Master Hua (speaking), Barbara Bush, California Governor Deukmejian, and the Vice-President.
George Herbert Walker Bush was born on June 12, 1924, in Milton, Massachusetts. Bush lived a relatively easy life for most of his childhood. His father, Prescott Bush, was a successful businessman, who later served as a Senator from Connecticut. During his time in school, he held a number of leadership positions that included president of the senior class, secretary of the student council, and captains for both the soccer and baseball team. His easy life would soon take a dramatic turn, as the Second World War broke out for America when Japan bombed Pearl Harbor. Bush decided to enlist in the U.S. Navy as a navy aviator on his eighteenth birthday, becoming the youngest aviator during World War 2. Bush took on many dangerous missions during his service from 1942-1945 — many of which he was shot down. He persevered throughout the war, receiving many awards for his heroism such as the Distinguished Flying Cross and the Air Medal. It was also during the war he met the love of his life, Barbara Pierce. The two were married in January 1945, and had six children. After the war concluded, he attended and graduated from Yale University with a degree in economics just over an unprecedented 2.5 years. Later, he moved his family to West Texas with his father’s business connections to get into the booming oil industry there. In 1964, Bush attempted to follow in his father’s footsteps and become a politician. He tried and failed running for the U.S. Senate seat for Texas, getting 43.6% of the vote. He then ran and won for the 7th Congressional District in Texas in the Houston area, getting 57% of the vote, and served a congressman for four years. He tried running for the U.S. Senate again in 1970 at the urge of President Nixon, but lost once again, this time getting 46.6% of the vote. Appreciating Bush sacrificing his political career, President Nixon appointed him the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations in 1971. His tenure saw the UN recognize the mainland Chinese Government as the true China rather than Taiwanese Government. After the fallout of the Watergate Scandal in 1974, President Gerald Ford named Bush as the U.S. Envoy to China, and later Director of the CIA in 1976. After leaving Government for two years, Bush announced he would run for President in 1980. He lost the Republican nomination to former Governor of California Ronald Reagan, but was chosen by Reagan to serve as his Vice Presidential candidate. Both were elected President and Vice President in 1980 and re-elected in 1984 by landslide margins. Riding off of Reagan’s popularity, now Vice President Bush ran for the presidency in his own right once again. After battling a difficult opponent, George HW Bush was elected the 41st President of the United States in a landslide. His Presidency oversaw the fall of the Berlin Wall that divided the German city for over 20 years, the collapse of the Soviet Union, ensuring the US won the Cold War, and a successful military campaign against Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait. Despite his foreign policy successes, his failure to keep a concrete promise he made to not raise taxes, the charismatic popularity of his opponent, and his political support being split by a 3rd party candidate, costed him winning re-election in 1992. After the conclusion of his presidency, he help start numerous charitable organizations, such as Points of Life. He also remained strongly involved in politics, attending political conventions, ceremonies, and endorsing candidates, including both his sons, George, who became Governor of Texas and also President of the United States, and Jeb, who became Governor of Florida.