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Huston Smith

Huston Smith – The Passing of a Giant in Our Midst

Huston Smith – The Passing of a Giant in Our Midst

by Paul Chaffee

If Swami Vivekananda’s clarion voice at the 1893 Parliament of the World’s Religions introduced us to the challenge of living happily in an interfaith world, it was Huston Smith’s voice in The Religions of Man (1958) which taught us what that meant. 

Huston Smith and the Parliament of the World’s Religions

All of us can look back over our lives and identify people who have been significant role models. One of those persons for me has been Huston Smith. Perhaps the most important American scholar of religions for five decades, Smith was born the son of Methodist missionaries in Dzang Dok, China, where he spent the first 17 years of his life. Now 96 and confined to a favorite chair in an assisted-living apartment in Berkeley, California, the old gentleman – eyes sparkling – still “banters in Chinese with his friend, Mr. Lin, the maintenance man” (Lisa Miller, “Huston Smith’s Wonderful Life,” The Daily Beast, 2009).

Western Transmitters of the Dharma

Early Adopters of Eastern Wisdom

Spirituality in the 21st Century


Knowing Huston Smith

When asked how he came to be known as “the dean of comparative religions,” Professor Huston Smith explained with this image: “I drive a hybrid car, but I, too, am a hybrid. I was born in China and my upbringing was there. My first language outside the family kitchen was Mandarin Chinese, spoken with a Suzhou dialect. I have both sides of our planet inside me.