Huston Smith

(1919-2016) Born to American missionaries in Suzhou, China, Smith was a religious studies scholar  who published over a dozen books. The best known being The World’s Religions (1958) that sold over 2 million copies world wide.

Huston Smith

Smith left his birthplace of Suzhou for an American education in 1936 to study at Central Methodist University and the University of Chicago.

In his twenties, Smith left his practice of Methodist Christianity and began his journey of discovering mystic religions after being influenced by Aldous Huxley and Gerald Heard. He eventually met with the authors and began studying Vedanta, Zen Buddhism, and Sufi Islam. Though the connection he formed with Huxley and Heard, Smith was introduced to Leary and Alpert at the Center for Personality Research at Harvard.  There, Smith was one of the active participants in Leary and Alpert’s early experiments, particularly “the Good Friday Experiment.” He termed the experiments “empirical metaphysics.  His book, “Cleansing the Doors of Perception,” describes his experiences.

After publishing The World’s Religions, Smith assumed the chair of the Philosophy Department at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology until 1973.

Presently, Smith has returned to the practice of Methodist Christianity believing he was able to overcome the domination of modern secular culture.

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