Doshi Bridgebuilder Awards

Huston Smith to receive Doshi Bridgebuilder Award
By Brigette Scobas on November 4, 2010  (Go to original)

He is 91 years old. He is a world-renowned scholar of comparative religions. And now, he is the fifth recipient of the Doshi Bridgebuilder Award. Dr. Huston Smith will be receiving the Doshi Bridgebuilder Award on Sunday, Nov. 7 at 3 p.m. in Ahmanson Auditorium, and students, faculty and community members are all welcome and encouraged to attend this event, hosted by the department of theological studies. A cash award will be presented to Smith as well.

According to Christopher Chapple, Doshi professor of Indic and comparative theology and chair of the committee that selects the awardee and individual presenting the award, claimed that candidates are “chosen from a field of nominees who are highly accomplished in the work of interculturalism and interdisciplinarity.”

Smith, according to Amir Hussain professor of theological studies, is “one of the greatest scholars of comparative religions in the United States, and someone who has been doing serious work in the area for over 50 years.” He was chosen this year to receive the Doshi Bridgebuilder Award because, “he’s done so much to foster an understanding of world’s religions,” said Hussain.

According to Chapple, Smith was born to missionary parents in China and has taught at various universities, including Berkeley, Syracuse and MIT. “A dedicated practitioner of yoga and meditation, as well as a lifelong Methodist, Huston Smith embodies the best cross-cultural understanding and bridge-building,” said Chapple.

This will be the fifth consecutive year that this award will be given out. According to Hussain, it was awarded to Dr. Deepak Chopra, Maestro Zubin Mehta, Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh and Greg Mortenson in the past. The Doshi Bridgebuilder Award was founded by donors Navin and Pratima Doshi. According to Chapple, Navin and Pratima, “are dedicated to the ideals of intercultural education and have endowed this award to be given annually.”

Smith is the author of many widely known and popularly used texts. Hussain uses Smith’s text, “The World Religions,” in his class and also incorporates videos of him into his lectures. According to Chapple, that book was published in 1958 and has sold nearly three million copies and has been reprinted more than 60 times. “This book introduced many people to the world’s great religions: Hinduism, Buddhism, Confucianism, Islam, Judaism, Christianity [and] the religions of the native peoples,” said Chapple. Smith has published more than 10 books, according to Chapple, including “Tales of Wonder,” which “recounts his encounters with Aldous Huxley, Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Dalai Lama.”

“Huston Smith is one of the giants of the study of the world’s religions [and] he has spent his life studying and learning about them, and teaching all of us,” said Hussain.

“Huston Smith inspires a confidence that the people of the world can learn to live with one another in peace,” said Chapple.

According to Chapple, introductions will be given by President Burcham, Bellarmine College of Liberal Arts [BCLA] Associate Dean Cheryl Grills, himself and Navin Doshi. Then Smith will present a lecture on “Bridges,” followed by a reception.

“The lecture will discuss the interrelationship between cultures and religions from the perspective of a philosopher, historian and theologian who has been involved with world issues for nearly a century,” said Chapple.

“You will receive the long-view perspective on world religions, as well as wisdom and insight,” said Chapple about what to expect from Smith’s talk.

Renowned scholar of religion accepts Doshi Family Bridgebuilder Award
(Go to Source)

Rather than deliver a typical lecture, winner of the 2010 Doshi Family Bridgebuilder Award Dr. Huston Smith described his most poignant “bridge building” experience as an afternoon with a third grade class.

“One day through the mail, there came a letter addressed in pencil … it was very short: ‘Mr. Smith, we are studying religion. We do not know religion. Please come tell us about religion. The third grade,’” Smith said to resounding laughter. He then spent an afternoon teaching this third grade class about how the Japanese “do” religion, which included sitting positions for meditation, and was rewarded by a follow-up present of black jelly beans.

Approximately 150 people gathered in Ahmanson Auditorium on Sunday afternoon to honor Smith for a lifetime of achievements connecting “cultures, faiths and disciplines” according to Cheryl Grills, psychology professor and associate dean of the Bellarmine College of Liberal Arts. Smith has written several books, including the world renowned and widely read “The World’s Religions” which outlines religious theories and practices around the globe and is employed in several classrooms today, as well as taught at multiple universities around the country.

Grills commented on the similarity between the aims of the Bellarmine Liberal Arts College and the values and achievements honored by the Doshi Bridgebuilder Award. “This is actually in incredible alignment with the Bellarmine College’s emphasis on intercultural empathy and interdisciplinary teaching, scholarship and development of the whole person.”

Navin Doshi, one of the founders of the Doshi Bridgebuilder Award, described his strong friendship with Smith and his admiration for him, reminiscing on being a student of his and stating that he was “propelled to the cloud number nine” when Smith approved of his book.

After the award was formally given to Smith, he began his address by mentioning that he appreciated the fact that the title of the award itself told the world what it was all about.

“What are the other awards? Nobel Prize. What does that stand for? The Templeton Award, what does that tell us? Just the name of the giver. But you … chose a word which is just loaded with significance – bridge-building. That is what life is all about. Every time I address even a stranger, I am building a bridge between that stranger and myself, and so in every act of communication, we are building bridges,” said Smith.

Smith then answered questions in a Q&A session which addressed everything from the contributions and benefits of yoga and raising children with spirituality to using drugs such as LSD to achieve connection with God and how to reconcile seemingly opposite religions.

Regarding a question asking how different religions can come together and begin a dialogue, Smith answered, “By hook or by crook! Now that sounds like a cop out … I was going to say there are no generalizations, but yes there are. The first one is listen more than you speak …. ‘Why? Why is he on the other side? Why is he different than me?’ I’m not immediately going to agree but I can say, ‘I hear you. I understand. I know where you’re coming from.’”

“I think it is very easy to say what it’s all about: two things. First thing, trying to see as much of this astonishing universe that we are privileged to live in, to see and to understand it. And the second thing, that it is all about it is to progressively grow in our understanding of how we can best live our lives in this majestic environment,” he added.

The award ceremony was followed by a reception in the atrium just outside the Ahmanson Auditorium.