And Live Rejoicing:
Chapters from a Charmed Life: Personal Encounters with Spiritual Mavericks, Remarkable Seekers and The World’s Greatest Religiouse Leaders.
Published by New World Library ISBN 978-1-60868-071-9
“It almost seems like it was masterminded for me to be in the right place at the right time” Huston Smith San Francisco Chronicle, May 21st, 2009
I am quite embarrassed to admit, I never heard of Huston Smith before New World Library sent me And Live Rejoicing last month. How did I go my whole spiritual life without picking up one of his books, or seen his name on a quote? I guess the important thing here is I finally was introduced to one of the most “traveled” and amazing men I have ever read about. Not only has Mr. Smith gone around the world 3 times over, he has met, had lunch with, vacationed with, interviewed, toured, studied, meditated and discussed world views with some of the most spiritual and influential authors, gurus, religious leaders, and advocates of all time!
The Title “And Live Rejoicing” reflects Smith’s key values on how every moment counts. From getting a flat tire in the Serengeti Plain where lions are amok, to witnessing and experiencing many Native Rituals . The key to life, according to Smith is JOY!
Phil Cousineau, editor and friend of Smith, states that the aim of Huston’s work is “to glean the winnowed wisdom of the world.” Which I define as: The bit by bit gathering of information and separating the desirable and undesirable elements. In other words, take what you like and leave the rest. For a man who is a student, and preeminent teacher of world religions, bringing out what is best in the world around us, when it comes to religions and the likes, and passing on that information, well there is nothing than getting the “truth” about what is good in the world.
The book however, does not teach world religions directly, this book is Huston’s retelling of his life adventures, from his birth to missionary parents in China, to today. Reading these stories put me in a place of gratitude and awe. Awe of a man who experienced life to its fullest, and in turn, passed on his wisdom to those who wished to study under his wing. Cousineau writes in the introduction, a young fifth grader asked Smith, during a visit to his classroom: “What is so special about religion?” he replied “It reminds us that we are in good hands, and that we should be grateful”.
And that he is:
Gratitude spills out of this book along with Huston’s rejoicing. I was able to see, with his stories, the world through his eyes. This book literally made me Google at least 50 times over. Searching to see the places and faces of what he saw. I wanted to travel the world with him. For Huston his travels were “a pilgrims journey to find truth” p. Xxxii.
One of my awe-inspiring moments reading this book was not only is Huston Smith traveled, learned, engaging, inspiring, wise, compassionate, loving and kind, he seems to hold the key to something I am still “learning” to grasp. Pure reverence, and humility. While telling his stories of meeting, and dining with some of the worlds most prominent people, such as Aldous Huxley, Martin Luther King Jr, Pete Seeger, the Dalai Lama, and much more, it feels like I am reading about his adventures with friends. No big deal! Which makes these stories truly authentic.
The sub chapter titles also tell a story of their own, such as “Meditating in Nepal” “The Holy Land” and “Tiananmen Square”. Speaking of which, Smith was there on that historical day. Talk about being at the right place as the right time! The book is easily read, and you will marvel at the number of stories Smith writes about. Here is a small excerpt of one of his many trips to India:
“Days are never long enough for my visits to India. The exotic sights and sounds and smells completely captivate me. Early mornings and evenings in India are marked by the singular smell that arises from a half-million cow-dung cooking fires drifting through the dust. It is a smell like no other in the world, and it is not pleasant. Still, I like it, perhaps because it assures me that I am in India.” p71
There are SO many quotes, anectdotes and tales I want to share from this book, however, I’ll let you be as enchanted as I was. And Live Rejoicing will stay with me in my “favorites” library. I will refer to it many times, as the information crawling through Huston’s stories will absolutely assist me in furthering my own search for wisdom and spirtuality.
I plan to add more of Huston’s work to my library now that I have officially been introduced to him.
Huston Smith’s love for family, writing and teaching spills out like rich maple syrup on pancakes. His spiritual sense and passion for religions, his fascinating friendships, and search for truth, is brilliantly written throughout. I highly recommend it to anyone who wants to love And Live Rejoicing!