Thursday, May 21, 2009

Huston Smith: pessimist or optimist?

In today's San Francisco Chronicle or the online version at, Heidi Benson writes about Huston Smith, one of the preeminent religious studies scholars and writer of The World's Religions. I'd like to share this one piece of the article that I loved:
Today, on a sunny morning in Berkeley, he reiterates his belief in the power of human intention. "The Buddha is in me, the Buddha is in you," he says, with a dazzling smile and a bit of a challenge. "Live up to it."

Is he optimistic about the future?

'On the hook'

"I am neither an optimist nor a pessimist. An optimist says, in effect, 'Don't worry, it's going to turn out all right.' A pessimist says, 'It's going down the drain, and there's nothing you can do about it,' " he said.

"Both get us off the hook. Our place is on the hook. Whether things turn out for the better depends on what we do. We ought not spend our time masterminding the future, but recognize our marching orders: to do the best we can for history and the planet.

"One of my favorite prayers was written by a 9-year-old. His mother found it scribbled on a note beside his bed: 'Dear God, I'm doing the best I can.' "
Want to read more about Huston Smith? Click here.

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