Huston Smith is one of the most respected and beloved authorities on world religions. He has taught at Washington University, MIT, Syracuse University, and the University of California at Berkeley. In 1996, Bill Moyers devoted a five-part PBS special, The Wisdom of Faith with Huston Smith, to his life and work. Smith is a practicing Methodist who for 26 years has prayed five times a day in Arabic and, at 78, still does hatha yoga. Best known for his book The World’s Religions (published in 1958 as The Religions of Man, translated into 12 languages, and still one of the most widely used college textbooks on comparative religion, it has sold over two and a half million copies worldwide), Smith believes the role of what he calls the world’s “wisdom traditions” is a simple one: to help us behave decently toward one another. His documentary films on Hinduism, Sufism, and Tibetan Buddhism have all won awards.
Born of missionary parents in Soochow, Smith lived in China until he was seventeen. His youth there provided an appropriate background for his subsequent interest in comparative philosophies and religions. He received his doctorate at the University of Chicago in 1945, and holds twelve honorary degrees. Smith is the father of three daughters. His wife, E. Kendra Smith, Ph.D., is a psychologist.