Tales of Wonder: Adventures Chasing the Divine, an Autobiography

Tales of Wonder Adventures Chasing the Divine an Autobiography In this delightful autobiography Smith tells us how he became the dean of world religion experts Along the way we meet the people who shaped him and shared his journey a Who s Who of th century spi

  • Title: Tales of Wonder: Adventures Chasing the Divine, an Autobiography
  • Author: Huston Smith
  • ISBN: 9780061154263
  • Page: 247
  • Format: Hardcover
  • In this delightful autobiography, Smith tells us how he became the dean of world religion experts Along the way we meet the people who shaped him and shared his journey a Who s Who of 20th century spiritual America the Rev Martin Luther King Jr the Dalai Lama, Aldous Huxley, Timothy Leary, T.S Eliot, Thomas Merton and Pete Seeger A valuable master class on faith In this delightful autobiography, Smith tells us how he became the dean of world religion experts Along the way we meet the people who shaped him and shared his journey a Who s Who of 20th century spiritual America the Rev Martin Luther King Jr the Dalai Lama, Aldous Huxley, Timothy Leary, T.S Eliot, Thomas Merton and Pete Seeger A valuable master class on faith and life San Francisco Chronicle Book ReviewAs Stephen Hawking is to science as Peter Drucker is to economics and as Joseph Campbell is to mythology so Huston Smith is to religion Tales of Wonder is the personal story of the author of the classic The World s Religions, the man who taught a nation about the great faiths of the world, and his fascinating encounters with the people who helped shape the 20th century.

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    About “Huston Smith

    • Huston Smith

      Smith was born in Suzhou, China to Methodist missionaries and spent his first 17 years there He taught at the Universities of Colorado and Denver from 1944 1947, moving to Washington University in St Louis, Missouri for the next ten years, and then Professor of Philosophy at MIT from 1958 1973 While at MIT he participated in some of the experiments with entheogens that professor Timothy Leary conducted at Harvard University He then moved to Syracuse University where he was Thomas J Watson Professor of Religion and Distinguished Adjunct Professor of Philosophy until his retirement in 1983 and current emeritus status He now lives in the Berkeley, CA area where he is Visiting Professor of Religious Studies at the University of California, Berkeley.During his career, Smith not only studied, but practiced Vedanta Hinduism, Zen Buddhism studying under Goto Zuigan , and Sufism for over ten years each He is a notable autodidact.As a young man, Smith, of his own volition, after suddenly turning to mysticism, 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, and association with the Vedanta Society in Saint Louis under the auspices of Swami Satprakashananda of the Ramakrishna order.Via the connection with Heard and Huxley, Smith eventually experimented with Timothy Leary and others at the Center for Personality Research, of which Leary was Research Professor The experience and history of the era are captured somewhat in Smith s book Cleansing the Doors of Perception In this period, Smith joined in on the Harvard Project as well, an attempt to raise spiritual awareness through entheogenic plants.He has been a friend of the XIVth Dalai Lama for 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.In 1996, Bill Moyers devoted a 5 part PBS special to Smith s life and work, The Wisdom of Faith with Huston Smith Smith has produced three series for public television The Religions of Man, The Search for America, and with Arthur Compton Science and Human Responsibility His films on Hinduism, Tibetan Buddhism, and Sufism have all won awards at international film festivals.His latest DVD release is The Roots of Fundamentalism A Conversation with Huston Smith and Phil Cousineau.



    359 thoughts on “Tales of Wonder: Adventures Chasing the Divine, an Autobiography

    • Huston Smith has led a remarkable life. He has conversed with the Dalai Lama, lived as a monk in Japan, done LSD with Tim Leary and introduced America to Hinduism, Buddhism and other religions considered exotic in the fifties. But I had hoped that his autobiography would bring these stories to life, instead they were a laundry list of accomplishment. He writes his autobiography from his nursing home at the age of ninety, and as a result the book reads more the musings of a man at the end of his [...]


    • I seldom read biographies, and still less often, autobiographies, making exceptions only for those subjects who truly fascinate me or who I believe have much to teach. Huston Smith falls squarely into both categories.Many years ago, my husband and I took a class on World Religions being given at the local high school by a professor from the nearest state university. The text was Smith's The Religions of Man, since revised, enlarged, and retitled The World's Religions. So I was familiar with Smit [...]


    • A very personal, end of life summing up of the events and principles that most influenced his work, marriage and community. A bit slow at times, but the end chapters were so powerful that it brought tears to my eyes. I provide a spoiler here, but four stars really are for those last chapters. I did enjoy the meandering of the autobiographical, learned a lot from precises of the important parts of his scholarship. Probably not for everyone, but a good read for Huston Smith fans or folks intereste [...]


    • It was an interesting read. He catalogs his faith journey from traditional Christianity to a more unitarian faith perspective. He claims he did a deep exploration of other major religions without leaving "Christianity" and even offers a "curse" on traditional/fundamental Christians. Aside from that one harsh line, I think many Christians may be unknowingly persuaded toward a more flimsy faith because his decades in academia and compassionate engagement of other religions suggest he is a very qua [...]


    • I keep wondering how much more detailed this memoir would have been if Smith had started writing it several years ago -- or if, perhaps, he were less modest. He is a fascinating, charming, very humanistic person who has lived an incredible life, one which would have easily filled out a memoir four or five times the length of this and remained interesting. But these anecdotes merely provide a graceful outline of his life; they don't dig into the details which would have taken it from "interesting [...]


    • A Very Interesting LifeHouston Smith's book on his life was a delight to read, not only because a biography allows the reader to peek into a person's intimate life, but because it describes in detail the role of religion in his daily business. Furthermore, the book is written with humour and abounds in deep reflections about existence.


    • I've heard that some books find you, and I can count on my fingers the ones that have truly found me when I was ready. I was not ready for this book to be one of them but it was. I'm not sure how much more to review a book whose words blend in with the soul of the reader, at least this reader. I am humbled at his life and Huston is high on my list of people I'd share a beer with.


    • Some lovely thoughts, some odd thoughts - but overall, very open minded man.Quite enjoyed first half, then got bogged down a bit. But overall, would recommend this for lovers of memoir or religion.


    • An autobiography of a man who made the world's religions his lifelong study, not in any impersonal way, but with a child's wholehearted delight. Before I had finished the book, I already knew I wanted a copy of my own.


    • Man. This book is fantastic. Wonder and gratitude ooze out of every page of this Religion scholar (and practitioner)'s wonderfully written reflection of his 90+ years spent taking it all in.


    • Huston Smith has always been a fascinating figure to me. On the one hand I have always admired his ability to see the good in every religion, and I appreciate the fact that he has actively practiced many of the religions he writes about. But I’ve also been frustrated by Smith’s tendency to turn a blind eye toward the troubling aspects of religion. I also find him to be extremely slippery when elucidating his own beliefs, as he is committed to maintaining that all religions are true in their [...]


    • Many years ago when visiting a nursing home, I met man who at the age of 101 was writing his first book. I met him again two years later and he was working on his second book. Like this nursing home patient, Huston Smith wrote this book shortly before turning ninety while living in an assisted living facility. He wrote this autobiograpy after a lifetime of studying, participating in and writing about the religions of the world. This is his fifteen book. If you are looking for a memoir of his spi [...]


    • This book was Terribly Wonderful!I say terribly wonderful because my heart breaks as he related his wife's upbringing and the deaths of one daughter and a grand-daughter. Yet it's also terrible because it is forcing me to re-examine what Christianity really means for the 1 Millioneth time in my life.Thst is both terrible and wonderful. The reason unlike many of Smith's books that I would not give it 5 stars is that I wanted more discussion of the people that he met.I also would have liked to hea [...]


    • I ran across this autobiography and was intrigued. Huston Smith had a most unusual life, born in the 1920's in China, the son of Christian missionaries, sent to America to live with grandparents and study at a conservative Christian college, transferring to the University of Chicago, and later to Berkeley and learning all that rational humanism had to teach from professors like Henry Weiman, a self described socialist and naturalistic theist (whose daughter he married) and meditating at a desert [...]


    • I adored Huston Smith before I finished the first chapter of "The World's Religions," which I read for my Comparative Religion class. Smith is a sort of hierophant, revealing the invisible beauties embraced by each of the world's religions. His focus is on the positive, essentially showing why the adherents of a religion adhere to it, the experiences provided by it. I knew I wanted to know more about Smith's life just from "The World's Religions." He grew up as a missionary's child in China, spe [...]


    • Huston Smith wrote The World's Religions which sold 2 1/2 million copies & was the subject of a 5 part special on PBS wherein Bill Moyers interviewed him about the world's religions. He is now 90 and this is his new autobiography. For someone whose spent his life pondering the depths of Islam, Hinduism, and other religions, this book is surprisingly conversational in tone. It feels very much like you're just sitting down listening to someone tell stories about their life. I had never heard o [...]


    • "In the Scarlet Letter Hawthorne cautions us to show the world, if not our worst, at least that by which our worst can be inferred.""In Buddhism monks daily recite the Five remembrances, which are: I will lose my youth, my health, my dear ones and everything I hold dear, and finally lose life itself, by the very nature of my being human. These are bitter reminders that the only thing that continues is the consequences of our action. The fact that all the things we hold dear and love are transien [...]


    • Huston Smith doesn’t know it, but he’s been my mentor for the past decade and a half – ever since I took a job as religion reporter at a local newspaper. The religion beat has a steep learning curve, I quickly discovered, and Smith’s authoritative book "The World’s Religions" became my bible. It has remained so all these years.Studying it, I often find myself trying to read between the lines – who is this man who speaks so fluently of Islam and Judaism, Hinduism and Taoism? What did [...]


    • I was about to give this book five stars, but then realized that I am probably not going to read it again, and I think the "amazing" should be reserved for those. But the life of which it tells is absolutely amazing, at least for those of us who appreciate a rich inner life at least as much as an eventful outward life. In the case of Huston Smith, both are true. He was present at pivotal moments, met and got to know influential people, and had the ability to make use of all this. Regardless of w [...]


    • What a life!Huston Smith grew up a child of missionaries to China, went on to discover the value and beauty of other religions, beginning in college. This is a guy who basically put himself in good places and then said yes to the opportunities he found around him. It put him in the most interesting places to see history being made and describe it back to people wanting to know what was going on around the world. He never criticizes anybody (except a little jab at Alan Watts for being the meditat [...]


    • Very personable, likeable account with some great anecdotes and points raised, including the symbolism of the cross and the final chapter on the religious 'grammar' and its comparability to that of quantum physics as an example. Some really great characters introduced surpassing any novel, Watts, Buddhist monks, Huxley and the like. We may have a few theological and other divergences but great respect is due to a man who immersed himself so fully in the traditions of 'the other' without losing h [...]


    • I came to this book through the Harvard Psychedelic Club. I'm usually not a huge fan of autobiography, but this was ok. Lots of pictures. I enjoyed thinking about what it must have been like to grow up in rural China in the 1920s. He definitely has had a fascinating life. Smith talks about a friend of his that did a pilgrimage on the west cost from Los Angeles to Ukiah. He took a vow of silence and it took him three years because for every third step they would bow down on the ground. I'm still [...]


    • Easily the best book he wrote and considering I've read every book he's written I highly suggest you read this if you want a clip of all of his book and more of his background. This man is one of my idols thanks to dr ruff history professor introducing him to me when I started working on my psych and Spanish degree. My interest in religion and cultures of the world keeps my soul alive and so do these books that tell me there's so much more to learn


    • Huston Smith wrote the textbook I used in college on world religions. I loved the course and learned a lot about Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism and more. This book is a memoir and he has met son many interesting and great people. Joseph Campbell, Pete Seeger, the Dali Lama and on and on. At 90 year he has stories and I loved curling up and reading them from a man who has lived such a rich and full life.


    • Even after reading his autobiography, I'm surprised I hadn't heard of Huston Smith. It sounds like his whole life would've fit right into the things I was reading about in college and after. Basically, he's a religious scholar who has explored the world's religions very open-mindedly while retaining his ties to Christianity. Very interesting take on everything - I wish there would have been a little more about his travels, but perhaps that's in one of his other books


    • As always, Huston Smith was awesome in the true sense of awe inspiring. Reading this brought me back to the mid 90s when I met him during one of his speaking engagements in Syracuse, NY. I loved listening to him then and I loved reading of his journey in Tales of Wonder. For anyone who loves to learn of the World's religions and wishes to learn more of how one man experienced them, this is an excellent read!


    • This is an excellent book, educational and inspiring. It is also a compelling story of a fascinating individual. The only reason I am not giving it five stars is that I found myself at times wanting more detail, more analysis, more reflection from Mr. Smith. Still, though, I would recommend this book heartily to those with an interest in religion -- not just theology or doctrine, but religion as a vital part of life and culture.


    • I read Huston Smith's The Illustrated World's Religions in college and, so, when he published his memoir, I was intrigued to learn more about his history with the world's religions. I really enjoyed learning about his life path and his interest in religion - and in promoting an understanding of religions.


    • Have been fascinated by Huston Smith's work in the field of comparative religion for years. This book includes some great stories of his early life in China, his travels to many parts of the world, and his student experiences at Central Missouri State! He surprised me by stating, "I never met a religion I didn't like."


    • Though I give this five stars without hesitation, much of the reason I loved it so much is because I have already appreciated the author for quite some time, so reading his autobiography was significant for me. I'm not sure how good it would be if you didn't know his work. And some of you reading this would NOT like this book.


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