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Huston Smith’s life and work
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Huston Smith
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Biography of Huston Smith

Huston Smith is Thomas J. Watson Professor of Religion and Distinguished Adjunct Professor of Philosophy, Emeritus, Syracuse University. His many books include Forgotten Truth: The Common Vision of the World's Religions, Beyond the Post-Modern Mind, and Why Religion Matters: The Fate of the Human Spirit in an Age of Disbelief, as well as the classic The World's Religions. His discovery of Tibetan multiphonic chanting was lauded as “an important landmark in the study of music”, and his film documentaries of Hinduism, Tibetan Buddhism, and Sufism have all won international awards.

World Wisdom published Professor Smith's lecture entitled "The Long Way Home," which was presented at the "Paths to the Heart" Conference held at the University of South Carolina on October 18-20, 2001. His article is included in the book Paths to the Heart . He also wrote the foreword to The Essential Sophia.

Books/DVDs containing the work of Huston Smith

Forewords and Essays

Video Presentation

Huston Smith’s Writings Online
 TitleSourceAuthor 1Author 2SubjectWW HTMLWW PDFExternal Link
Famous scholar of comparative religion Huston Smith took part in an exchange of ideas in the late 1980s regarding the soundness of the central concepts of the Perennial Philosophy in the pages of The Journal of the American Academy of Religion. In this article, Smith launches a spirited defense of those concepts in an effort to correct numerous errors by Steven Katz in several of his works. Smith addresses several fundamental misconceptions and points out the bias in Katz's general framework, which he (Smith) finds also lacking in logical consistency. Along the way, Huston Smith gives a good outline of what the Perennial Philosophy is, and isn't.
Is There a Perennial Philosophy?The Journal of the American Academy of Religion, LV (1987):553-66Smith, Huston Comparative Religion, Esoterism, Perennial Philosophy, Tradition
Professor Huston Smith wrote the "Foreword" to the 1997 edition of Frithjof Schuon's "The Eye of the Heart." In it, Smith states unequivocally that he considers Schuon to be "the most important religious thinker of our century." He explains this by pointing to Schuon's solution to the thorniest issue facing those who believe in absolute Truth: Must there be only one valid Truth embodied in one religious tradition, thus excluding all others, or can there be another way in which absolute Truth can take on relative shadings, and still remain the Truth? Although Smith gives only brief attention to the specific contents of the book, he does summarize his thoughts with this: "Again in this book, as everywhere in Schuon's writing, one is struck by the hierarchical, vertical character of his thinking — his depiction of an absolute and transcendent Reality that deploys itself through All-Possibility and ultimately returns to Itself through human beings 'made in the image of God.'"
Foreword to "The Eye of the Heart"The Eye of the HeartSmith, Huston Book Review, Comparative Religion, Metaphysics, Modernism, Tradition
This article by Huston Smith is the text of the Victor Danner Memorial Lecture delivered at Indiana University in February 2003. Smith pays tribute to Victor Danner, his long-time friend and mentor, in presenting a cross-cultural study of the spiritual master that characterizes “the kind of person that fits this role”. Smith also describes the “master-disciple relationship—in Sanskrit the guru-chela relationship and in Arabic the sheikh-murid relationship—by contrasting it with the relationship between teachers and students.”
The Master-Disciple RelationshipThe Essential SophiaSmith, Huston Metaphysics
Scientism: The Bedrock of the Modern WorldviewScience and the Myth of ProgressSmith, Huston Science
This article by renowned religion scholar, Huston Smith, is a tribute to the North American Indians and the life and work of Joseph Epes Brown, the pioneering scholar of Native American Indian studies. Smith opens his article with the words of former United States Commissioner of Indian Affairs, John Collier—“They had what the world has lost…”—and then proceeds to identify the wisdom elements within the Native American worldview that have been partly forgotten in the modern scientific world. Among these Smith singles out the crucial ability to distinguish knowledge from mere information; he also mentions the importance of having a “symbolic mind” capable of viewing Reality as a “Great Chain of Being”, or a hierarchy of existence, that includes spiritual worlds “above” the material world.
What They Have That We Lack: A Tribute to the Native Americans via Joseph Epes BrownThe Essential Sophia: The Journal of Traditional StudiesSmith, Huston American Indian
TaoismLight from the East: Eastern Wisdom for the Modern WestSmith, Huston Eastern Religion
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Huston Smith’s Bibliography

Selected Books by Huston Smith

The Purposes of Higher Education. New York: Harper, 1955.

Smith, Huston, Richard T. Heffron, and Eleanor Weiman Smith, eds. The Search for America. Englewood Cliffs: Prentice-Hall, 1959

Condemned to Meaning. New York: Harper & Row, 1965.

The Religions of Man. New York: HarperCollins, 1970.

Forgotten Truth: The Primordial Tradition. New York: HarperCollins, 1976.

Griffin, David R., and Huston Smith. Primordial Truth and Postmodern Theology. New York: State University of New York P, 1989.

Glasse, Cyril, and Huston Smith. The Concise Encyclopedia of Islam. New York: Stacey International, 1990.

The World's Religions : Our Great Wisdom Traditions. New York: Harper San Francisco, 1991.

Forgotten Truth : The Common Vision of the World's Religions. New York: HarperCollins, 1993.

The Illustrated World's Religions : A Guide to Our Wisdom Traditions. New York: Harper San Francisco, 1995.

Huston Smith : Essays on World Religion. Bryant, M. D., ed. New York: Paragon House, 1992. (second edition) London: Burns & Oates, 1995.

Smith, Huston, Reuben Snake, and Daniel K. Inouye. One Nation under God : The Triumph of the Native American Church. Santa Fe: Clear Light, 1996.

De La Cuesta, Ismael Fernandez, and Huston Smith, eds. Gregorian Chant : Songs of the Spirit. Bay Books, 1996.

Glazer, Steven. The Heart of Learning : Spirituality in Education. Ed. Huston Smith and Steven Glazer. New York: Tarcher, 2000.

Why Religion Matters : The Fate of the Human Spirit in an Age of Disbelief. New York: Harper San Francisco, 2001.

Islam : A Concise Introduction. New York: Harper San Francisco, 2001.

Cleansing the Doors of Perception : The Religious Significance of Entheogenic Plants and Chemicals. New York: Tarcher, 2001.

.The Way things Are - Conversations with Huston Smith on the Spiritual Life. Ed. Phil Cousineau. New York: University of California P, 2003.

Beyond the Post-Modern Mind : The Place of Meaning in a Global Civilization. New York: Quest Books, 2003.

Smith, Huston, and Philip Novak. Buddhism : A Concise Introduction. New York: Harper San Francisco, 2004.

Smith, Huston, and Gary Rhine. A Seat at the Table : Huston Smith in Conversation with Native Americans on Religious Freedom. Ed. Phil Cousineau. New York: University of California P, 2005.

The Soul of Christianity : Restoring the Great Tradition. New York: Harper San Francisco, 2006.

“Introduction.”Talking to God : Portrait of a World at Prayer. Ed. John Gattuso. Minneapolis: Stone Creek Publications, 2006.

Smith, Huston, and Kendra Smith. “The Almost Chosen People.” Essays On Deepening the American Dream. Kalamazoo: Fetzer Institute, 2006.

Las Religiones del Mundo (The Religions of the World) : Hinduismo, Budismo, Taoismo, Confucianismo, Judaismo, Cristianismo, Islamismo y Religiones Tribales. Buisan, Beatriz L., trans. Madrid: Editorial  Kairos, 2007.

Smith, Huston, and Henry Rosemont. Is There a Universal Grammar of Religion? Chicago: Open Court, 2008.

Online Resources about Huston Smith

Huston Smith's website is at, describes itself as "the official Huston Smith website. It is noncommercial and meant to facilitate the finding and, if desired, ordering of Huston Smith's works in various media and translation via third party fulfillment." The site includes descriptions of selected books, audio materials, and DVDs (and ordering links), and a listing of appearances. Although it lacks anything substantive demonstrating his ideas, such as long excerpts from his writing, the site is still useful due to the descriptions of his books, etc.

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