Essential Mystery with Huston Smith, Ph.D.

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The life of Huston Smith reads like an adventure novel. One of the foremost religious scholars in the world today, Smith  lived in a missionary household in China, monasteries in Japan, and a sweat lodge in North America. Introduced to Vedanta, through the 20th Century spiritual pioneers, Aldous Huxley and Gerald Heard, he  engaged many of the contemporary wisdom giants, including Thomas Merton and the Dalai Lama. You’ll hear about the remarkable experiences of a profound and compassionate thinker in this moving dialogue about the place of religion in our culture, history and human experience. Smith believed in the eternal mystery of life, cautioning against our “tendency to reduce the Divine to where it is easily manageable by our finite mind.” (hosted by Michael Toms)


Former professor at Washington University, M.I.T., and U.C. Berkeley, Smith has also been the Thomas J. Watson Professor of Religion, Emeritus, at Syracuse University. His compelling classic, The World’s Religions: Our Great Wisdom Traditions, has been the preeminent text for introducing the world of religious wisdom to millions, and its subject and author were the focus of a highly acclaimed 1996 series of interviews with Bill Moyers on PBS.

He is the author of many books, including:

To learn more about the work of Huston Smith go to

Topics Explored in This Dialogue

  • Which book changed Smith’s life
  • Highlights from conversations with Thomas Merton and H. H. the Dalai Lama
  • Why it is important to honor our elders and ancestors
  • What caused the split within the Catholic church
  • What is the deep wisdom exemplified by H. H. the Dalai Lama
  • Why expressing Mystery is so difficult and challenging
  • How women are changing religious thought and traditions
  • What is the difference between esoteric and exoteric

Host: Michael Toms               Interview Date: 7/8/1999             Program Number: 2783  

Music Included

From Album: Wind and Reed
Artist: Nancy Rumbel
1993 Narada Lotus #ND-61037
Track 6 - The Night Tribe

From Album: Notes From the Tree of Life
Artist: Nancy Rumbel
1995 Narada ND-61050

From Album: Stories: A Narada Artist Collection
Artist: Bradley Joseph
1998 Narada #72438-46700-2-3