JACKSONVILLE, FL—Garbed in unwashed robes and wearing a long, gray, wispy beard, former president George W. Bush returned to the United States this morning after spending four years on a spiritual journey in the Himalayas.

Sources said Bush, who hasn’t been seen in America since abandoning his Crawford, TX ranch and Secret Service detail at the end of his presidency, appeared on the shore in Jacksonville, FL, emerging from what appeared to be a crude self-built wooden boat and exhibiting a gentle, placid countenance as he addressed surprised onlookers.

“Nearly four years have passed since I embarked on my search for the answers to life's mysteries, and now the complex passages of time have returned me here once more, to my homeland,” said the bedraggled yet serenely smiling 43rd president of the United States, accompanied by a young monk named Dawa whom he met during his two years studying in a Tibetan monastery, and by a mountain goat he reportedly adopted as a spiritual companion. “I return to my home enlightened by the wisdom of 10,000 lifetimes, so that I might guide all idle souls along the oft secluded path of generosity, truth, and righteousness.”

A file photo of Bush while he was living a nomadic existence in the Himalayas.

“I am but a gently falling leaf, buoyed by mountain winds,” the 66-year-old former Texas governor continued. “To see the way forward is to be connected to your own reality and be one with your consciousness—complete and pure, unburdened and without want."

By his own account, Bush trekked across the Tibetan countryside for several months before deciding to devote his life to the study and teaching of transcendental meditation, later spending a year in seclusion during which he scaled Himalayan peaks while “guided only by the loudly whispering wind and harsh, merciless snow.” Sources reported the famed Republican is missing three toes from frostbite he suffered during his travels before mastering the ability to raise and lower his body temperature at will.

Throughout the makeshift press conference, the former president refused to respond to the name George Bush, repeatedly reminding onlookers that he now preferred to be called “Gomtesh,” a moniker reportedly bestowed upon him by members of the monastery after he “passed through to another realm of being.”

“My presidency, my wife, my daughters, and my name are all elements of a plane of existence that my fully realized soul no longer comprehends,” said Bush, describing the vows of renunciation he took upon entering the monastery, which required him to disown all vestiges of his former life. “Now I, Gomtesh, am a truer being, forgiven the sins of my past life and devoted to a life beyond the material world.”

Bush then closed his eyes and drew a deep breath, hushing bystanders who attempted to speak by telling them to “experience for a moment the expression of the universe.”

While several of the onlookers on site for Bush’s arrival were vocally critical of the former president’s administration, they admitted they were nonetheless impressed by his seeming connectedness to a higher spiritual force.

“I can’t say I ever agreed with the guy when he was in office, but he really seems be on some higher spiritual plane now,” Jacksonville resident Sean Davis said. “When someone asked him about his views on the upcoming election, he talked for 30 minutes about how power is but a raw diamond, precious when handled by an expert cutter yet, in the wrong hands, often impure and corrupting. Or something like that. It was beautiful.”

“Even being in his presence just felt…illuminating,” Davis added.

Though the former president remained relatively elusive while commenting on his eight years in office and discussing his political legacy, when asked about the thousands of casualties in the Iraq War, he reminded those gathered that “dying was not the end of life’s journey, but merely a new state of existence.”

“We are all eternal beings waiting to accept the true nature of death, which, in many ways, is merely a new beginning for the human soul,” Bush said. “And, you know, just to clarify, we know those soldiers did not die in vain because that would be saying that invading Iraq was the wrong decision, and I don’t believe that it was. When you’re the commander in chief of the most powerful nation on earth, sometimes you have to make difficult choices, and not everyone’s going to like those choices, but I’d like to see anyone else here make the call, because, I’ll tell you first hand, it’s a tough one. People who criticize the decision now speak with the benefit of a hindsight none of us had when our country was being attacked. The fact is, Saddam Hussein was a bad guy, and I think anyone would have made the same call I did, even if there were never any weapons of mass destruction. I would do it all again if I had to.”

“Aw, dammit,” Bush added after a pause. “Well, folks, it appears my journey is not yet complete.”

The former president and his companions then reboarded their vessel and drifted back out to sea.