Dr. James E. Rush

(Osel Dorje Sanghe)

1941 - 2018

My beloved husband, best friend, companion, and teacher made his transition to spirit a little after midnight on a Medicine Buddha Day, May 22, 2018, the day when healing is 100 fold for any prayer or action to aid others, self, or any being. 

Jim has been teaching full-time at Philander Smith College since 1976  where he served as Professor and Chair of the Department of Philosophy and Religion.

In 1979 Jim was asked to participate in the establishment of Arkansas Governor's School (AGS), as well as to assist in formulating the curriculum. He then taught for 35 summers at AGS beginning the inaugural summer of 1980. He is the only faculty member, thus far, to teach in all three areas of study.

He taught in Area I - Academics & The Arts, in the Social Sciences, focusing on Biomedical Ethics, in Area II - General Conceptual Development, and in Area III - Personal & Social Development. He served not only as faculty but also as Coordinator of Area II and Area III for several years.

Jim served for over 25 years as an adjunct faculty member in the Medical Humanities Division at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences specializing in Medical Ethics.  He also served on the Bioethics Committee at Arkansas Children's Hospital for 20 years.

He is known as an expert in global philosophies and religions, formative spirituality, critical thinking, moral reasoning, as well as the practices of Buddhism, Mindfulness, and Biomedical Ethics. 

Jim came by his interest in medicine and healing naturally, as his mother was a nurse and his ancestor, Dr. Benjamin Rush (1745-1813) was a prominent Philadelphia physician who served as a member of the Continental Congress and was one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence. Jim received his B.S. from Geneva College in Biology and Chemistry, continued on to Crozer Theological Seminary to receive his Master of Divinity, and received his PhD in Philosophy in the area of Human Nature and Religion from Hartford Seminary Foundation. 

As a lifelong student, Jim continued his studies throughout his life in India, China, Scotland, and throughout the U.S., including Harvard Medical School, Georgetown University, and the East-West Center at the University of Hawaii.  Jim studied with Dr. Lawrence LeShan in the art of Spiritual Healing, and Holotropic Breathwork with Stan and Christina Grof. He held breathwork workshops over the years in our home and assisted individuals experiencing spiritual crises. 

He had a loving, giving, and supportive nature of tending to everyone who approached him with their troubles in such a way that they left in a better state than they came.
— Dr. Lia Steele, Chair of the Division of Arts and Humanities at Philander Smith College

Jim received numerous awards over the years, including in February 2018 receiving the Living Legend Award at Philander Smith College from his students. Numerous times he was recognized by Who’s Who Among American Teachers as well as Who's Who in Religion. He received The Mary and Ira A. Brumley Award for Religious Education, the Outstanding Achievement by an Individual in Higher Education Award, the Lacerine Walsh Faculty of the Year Award, and twice received the Exemplary Teachers Award from The General Board of Higher Education and Ministry of the United Methodist Church.

Jim has been a Methodist Minister for over 50 years and once served churches in Connecticut, New York, and Arkansas. He was a founding member of the Ecumenical Buddhist Society of Little Rock, a Buddhist practitioner and meditator of 45 years. He was a Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction facilitator and offered meditation groups and teachings to the community and in our home.

Jim's interest and desire to learn from indigenous and minority cultures led him to travels in China, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam.

He met and received teachings from His Holiness the Dalai Lama on three occasions and traveled to Dharmsala, India where he attended the Tibetan Medical & Astrological Institute of H.H. the Dalai Lama to further his knowledge in Tibetan Medicine. Jim participated in the first and second International Congress on Tibetan Medicine in Washington, D.C., as he continually worked to foster a dialogue between traditional Asian/Tibetan and Western medicine and ethics.

Jim studied with Eastern and Western Buddhist teachers with emphasis in Mahayana and Vajrayana Buddhism, Buddhist ethics, Tibetan Book of The Dead, Phowa, Medicine Buddha, Dzogchen and Bön.  His main Buddhist teachers have been Lama Tharchin Rinpoche, Lama Dechen Yeshe Wangmo, and Anam Thubten Rinpoche. 

Jim is beloved by his family, friends, students, and colleagues. He was extraordinarily gentle, kind, and compassionate toward all those that he encountered. With great wisdom, he worked to empower his students and to bring altruism and compassion into all that he taught and did.

As a Methodist Minister, Philosopher, and Buddhist, Jim spent his life exploring the depths of who we are as spiritual human beings. He had interest in and was open to the world's religions, spiritual, and healing traditions. He emphasized asking the right questions, thinking critically, and exploring one's world and self views. Throughout his life he remained passionate about ethics, social justice, compassionate action, and alturism.

He was focused on alleviating suffering at the root cause of ignorance of one's true self. When asked the one most important teaching he could offer, he said "know thy self". He was passionate about being of service to others through his teaching, how he lived his life, and through his spiritual practices.

Thank you for loving us dear one –– you are my heart. - Kaycie

As usual, he is aiding us as we say farewell to his physical self and hello to his spirit self by reminding us as always that healing is available for our grief. Thank you so much, Dr. Rush, for being our healer, teacher, colleague, and friend. May we honor you by doing our best to emulate your love, compassion, wisdom, and faith in the goodness of us all. 
— Dr. Lia Steele, Chair of the Division of Arts and Humanities at Philander Smith College