Wisdom from Dr. Huston Smith

from the collection of

Arthur Vyn Boennighausen


.October 12th, 1997

We attended a conference on Spirituality in Education sponsored by the University of Colorado at Boulder's Naropa Institute. Guest speakers included His Holiness - Tensin Gyatso, the XIV Dali Lama of Tibet and Dr. Huston Smith, Professor of Comparative Religion and author of: "Religions of the World".

During the course of the five day, thirteen hour a day conference, I had a chance to spend a quiet moment with Huston Smith while he was sitting alone on a stone bench in a small garden. Boldly approaching Dr. Smith as he reflected on some book he was reading I introduced myself and asked for some advice.

"Dr. Smith." I asked. "We talk to a lot of people each day using the Communication technology of the Internet. We try and Teach people things that are important to us. Things that we think people would like to Learn. However, sometimes we see people use what we Teach them in ways that do not seem to follow the Spirit of our original Teachings.

"Arthur." Huston began in his distinctive voice. "Those of us like yourself but who have more experience have been exposed to this challenge before and we can offer you a good answer to your question in the form of a parable of sorts."

"Pouring the same water in three different cups" Huston began. "Will often times result in three quite different tasting beverages."

"Even pouring water in the same cup at three different times of day will result in three quite different tasting drinks." Huston taught me.

"Even pouring water in the same cup and having the same person drink it at the same time of day will often result in different tastes depending on what the person has done before he has drunk the water." Dr. Smith explained.

And here is the most important thing to remember, Huston said quietly. "The Water is always the same...."

Of course, for me the Water was Knowledge Communicated over the Internet and the cups were different people accessing the Knowledge. No wonder I was getting different reactions to the same information.

"Dr. Smith" I asked. "When you are Communicating with large groups of people, how can you make sure that they Hear what you really wanted to Communicate."

"Arthur." Dr. Smith quietly explained. "All you can do is to try and Teach things that are positive, Loving and have the goal of offering personal growth and Transformation. If your intentions are for the Good of the audience, then you have done your best and doing your best in life is all you can really do."

"Hmm" I Thought. "So there is a funny kind of filter that information goes through as it enters the Mind of each person. A filter that changes the original information into what the person needed or wanted to Hear. Each person in a audience will Hear a different message contained in the same Words."

Another example of the challenge of "Communicating"..... and "Listening" in today's culture.