Huston Cummings Smith is among the preeminent religious studies scholars in the United States. His work, The Religions of Man (later revised and retitled The World’s Religions), is a classic in the field, with over two million copies sold, and remains a common introduction to comparative religion.

Smith was born in Soochow, China to Methodist missionaries and spent his first 17 years there. As a young man, of his own volition after suddenly turning to mysticism, Smith set out to meet with then-famous author Gerald Heard. Heard responded to Smith’s letter, invited him to his Trabuco College (later donated as the Ramakrishna Monastery) in Southern California, and then sent him off to meet the legendary Aldous Huxley. So began Smith’s experimentation with meditation, entheogenic studies and association with the Vedanta Society in Saint Louis under the auspices of Swami Satprakashananda of the Ramakrishna order.

He has been a friend of the XIVth Dalai Lama for more than forty years and met and talked to some of the great figures of the century, from Eleanor Roosevelt to Thomas Merton.He developed an interest in the Traditionalist School formulated by Rene Guenon and Ananda Coomaraswamy. This interest has become a continuing thread in all his writings.

He now lives in the Berkeley, CA area where he is Visiting Professor of Religious Studies at the University of California, Berkeley.

Personal website:

Other websites:

Thinking Outloud Website


A Seat at the Table The Soul of Christianity : Restoring the Great Tradition
The World’s Religions
The Illustrated World’s Religions: A Guide to Our Wisdom Traditions
The Way Things Are
Why Religion Matters
Cleansing the Doors of Perception
Huston Smith: Essays on World Religion
Buddhism : A Concise Introduction
Forgotten Truth : The Common Vision of the World’s Religions
Beyond the Post-Modern Mind: The Place of Meaning in a Global Civilization
Islam: A Concise Introduction
One Nation Under God: The Triumph of the Native American Church