03/25/1996 at 01:00 AM EST
PBS (Tues., March 26, 10 p.m. ET)
Does a dog have Buddha nature?" asks a Zen teacher. "This needn't be defined definitively," concludes Huston Smith, a noted scholar of major religions who has visited the world's monasteries and mosques in search of spiritual truth. Alas, zingers like that will not bring enlightenment to viewers of this ambitious five-part series. In the first program, on Hinduism and Buddhism, Smith, 76, gives rambling answers to host Bill Moyers' reverent questions about the esoteric extremes of mystical experience. His narrative briefly comes to life when a group of Tibetan Buddhist monks visit Grateful Dead drummer Mickey Hart in California for basketball and chanting. Subsequent Tuesday episodes will deal with Confucianism, Christianity and Judaism, Islam and Smith's personal religious philosophy, a mixture of the above.