Huston Smith

Huston Smith

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Huston Smith

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Huston Cummings Smith (born May 31, 1919 in Suzhou, China) is a religious studies scholar in the United States. His book The World's Religions (originally titled The Religions of Man) remains a popular introduction to comparative religion.


Smith was born in China to Methodist missionaries and spent his first 17 years there. Upon coming to the U.S. for education, he studied at Central Methodist University and the University of Chicago.


He taught at the University of Denver from 1944 to 1947; then at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri for the next ten years. He was then appointed professor and chair of the philosophy department at MIT from 1958 to 1973. While there, he participated in experiments with entheogens that professors Timothy Leary and Richard Alpert conducted at Harvard University. He then moved to Syracuse University, where he was Thomas J. Watson Professor of Religion and Distinguished Adjunct Professor of Philosophy until his retirement in 1983 and current emeritus status. At University of California, Berkeley he was visiting professor of religious studies.

Religious practice

During his career, Smith not only studied, but practiced Vedanta Hinduism, Zen Buddhism (studying under Goto Zuigan), and Sufism for over ten years each.

As a young man, he suddenly turned from traditional Methodist Christianity to mysticism...
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