The course consists of viewing and discussing five interviews (55 minutes each) held by journalist Bill Moyers with Huston Smith, renowned scholar of world religions and pioneer of interfaith understanding. Smith reviews his lifelong search for ever deeper wisdom in the world’s major religions and notes that “if we take the world’s enduring religions at their best, we discover the distilled wisdom of the human race.”
Each week focuses on a different religion in this order: Hinduism & Buddhism; Confucianism & Taoism; Judaism & Christianity; and Islam & Sufism. The last week discusses Huston Smith’s “A Personal Philosophy,” a summary of the world’s “distilled wisdom.”
The interviews contain Smith’s presentation of the various faiths’ core beliefs and practices, as well as his own personal experiences and interpretations of their meanings. Smith seeks to teach, not preach. No religion is attacked or put down. Positive aspects are found and presented from each. It is his desire that the world will come to believe, like himself, that all religions have a similar basis, and that all mankind can get along, accepting religious differences. The video sessions are a friendly back-and-forth between two well-spoken associates; they are like listening in on a rich, informative, and lively conversation. The series itself was very highly rated and considered by many as one of the best presentations on the wisdom of the great faith paths.
Facilitators for the course are Len Bowman and David Roell LeClaire. Len currently teaches at Johns Hopkins University, and has taught world religions and the philosophy of religion for over forty years. His PhD is in religion and literature, and he counts Huston Smith among his teachers. David followed his spiritual and metaphysical path for 50 years, travelling to India, Europe, Africa, and China exploring world religions, philosophy, and metaphysics. After 18 months in an ashram in Delhi, he returned to the U.S. to complete doctoral studies at Westbrook University. In his late 30’s David reconnected with his quest and studied with Bonpo Tibetan monks. In his journey, he has traversed the United States teaching classes, giving lectures, and leading spiritually oriented tours to Egypt. In 1982, he developed the Mantrika meditation series using sound to energize and deepen self-discovery.