The Rev. Susan Sims Smith is the Executive Director of the Interfaith Center. Smith was a Jungian oriented psychotherapist for 25 years, and has been an Episcopal priest since 1999. She founded Seedwork, a project to teach people how to listen to wisdom from their dreams and from meditation. She spearheaded the foundation of the Arkansas House of Prayer, an interfaith center for prayer and meditation, and serves as a life-time board member. She started the Interfaith Center in 2011.
The mission of the Interfaith Center is to reduce the hatred and fear among the world religions. It is a part of the Institute for Theological Studies at St. Margaret’s Episcopal Church in Arkansas. The first year was used to learn more about the current interfaith work in the community. They engaged in a series of one-on-one meetings with leaders in congregations, schools and organizations who were involved in or interested in being involved in interfaith work.
The Rt. Rev. Larry E. Maze, Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Arkansas, said, “Seldom have I known another person as dedicated to her own self-understanding and more willing to let that understanding be distilled into teaching in order to benefit others. She has remained a dedicated priest of the church even while pushing limits of belief and understandings. I heartily endorse her work.”
Up In Your Business is a Radio Show by FlagandBanner.com
[00:00:08] JM: Welcome to Up in Your Business with Kerry McCoy, a production of flagandbanner.com. Through storytelling and conversational interviews, this weekly radio show offers listeners firsthand insight into starting and running a business, the ups and downs of risk-taking and the commonalities of success people. Connect with Kerry through her candid, often funny and informative weekly blog where you’ll read and comment on life as wife, mother, daughter and entrepreneur.
Now, it’s time for Kerry McCoy to get all up in your business
[00:00:42] KM: Thank you, Jayson. Like Jayson said, I’m Kerry McCoy and it’s time for me to get up in your business. Before we start, I want to introduce my newest cohost who you just heard from, Jayson Malik, from Arise Studios in Conway, Arkansas.
Say hello, Jayson.
[00:00:56] JM: Hello.
[00:00:57] KM: And we have a new comer today. Son Gray is joining us for the first time. He’s with other son Matt in the studio. Matt broadcast the Facebook Live. Are we doing Facebook Live, Matthew?
Oh, good! I got that thumbs up. We were kind of screwing around. It’s always fun to watch what’s going on in this room. Gray will be live tweeting throughout the show. Daughter Meagan is our product director, and the only one that lives out is their brother and my youngest son, Jack. So I told Jack through a text this morning that I’d give him a shout out if he’s listening. Hey out there, Jack McCoy, who’s saving the world. He’s getting a PhD in horticulture. He’s leaning or his testing, trying to figure out how to – Researching how to figure out how to brow without water, because that is going to be the future. If we don’t figure out global warming, we’re going to have to have plants that don’t need water.
If right now you’re sitting at your computer, you want to watch us live on Facebook’s flagandbanner.com’s page. It’s kind of fun to see what goes on behind the scenes and at the breaks. It’s real-time reality radio. If for some reason you miss any part of this show, want to hear it again or share it, there is a way, and Jayson is here to tell you how.
[00:02:14] JM: Listen to all UIYB past and present interviews by going to flagandbanner.com and clicking on Radio Show. Also by joining our e-mail list, or liking us on Facebook, you’ll get a reminder notification that day of the show with a sneak peak of that day’s guest. Back to you, Kerry.
[00:02:32] KM: This show, Up In Your Business with Kerry McCoy, began as a platform for me, a small business owner and a guest, to pay forward our experiential knowledge in a conversational way. Originally, my team and I thought it would speak to entrepreneurs and want to be entrepreneurs, but it seems to have had a wider audience appeal, because after all who isn’t inspired by everyday people’s American-made stories? To see people in their totality is humanizing.
We all thirst to connect and make sense of an overcomplicated world, and on this show, we have the luxury of time to go deeper than a mere sound bite or a headline, and it’s always we’re learning something. It’s no secret that successful people work hard, but other common traits found in many of my guests are the heart of a teacher, belief at a higher power and creativity, because a successful life or business is usually creative.
My guest today, Reverent Susan Sims Smith is teaching the world and acceptance for all religions and cultures through her work at the Interfaith Center in Little Rock, Arkansas. Her belief in a higher power has guided her in all aspects of her life and creative is what she was when in 1999 she reinvented herself and left the comfortable and successful practice as a young yin-oriented psychotherapist and became an episcopal priest cofounding the House of Prayer at St. Margaret’s Church in Little Rock, Arkansas.
Today, we’re going to hear about her extraordinary story. She has prayed with Tibetan monks, resided in India. I think she said something like 15 times she’s visited, and I just found out that she’s currently working on a project in Mongolia with the Dalai Lama’s – What do you call the Dalai Lama’s?
[00:04:30] SS: The Oracle of Tibet.
[00:04:32] KM: The Dalai Lama’s Oracle of Tibet. How about that? She is going to explain how we can listen to our soul through our dream work and explain the commonalities of all religions and how they can live together in perfect harmony. Thank you, Sir Paul McCartney for that quote.
Get a pen and paper ready. You may want to take some notes. It is a pleasure to welcome to the table the worldly reverent, intelligent and lifelong seeker of truth and happiness, Reverent Susan Sims Smith.
[00:05:01] SS: Sounds like I need a Volkswagen van with some happy things painted on the side of it, doesn’t it?
[00:05:07] KM: Yeah, it does. Doesn’t it? I know.
[00:05:10] SS: The Buddhist have an interesting concept called merit reduction.
[00:05:16] KM: Called what?
[00:05:16] SS: Merit reduction.
[00:05:18] KM: Okay.
[00:05:18] SS: So each day a devout Buddhist, if they have done something that makes a positive contribution to society, they pray that any merit that might come to them for having succeeded, that that gets converted to the energy of payer for people on the planet who have no one for whom to pray – Have nobody that will pray for them. So they take any merit of their success and transform it and send it out to humans that have nobody praying for them.
So any merit from anything that I’ve done that we might talk about, let’s just set the foreground before we get started that that energy is going to get transformed and become prayer for people that are isolated or only or afraid or ill and we’re going to send it that way.
[00:06:08] KM: So today’s interview is a merit what?
[00:06:11] SS: Merit reduction interview.
[00:06:15] KM: Merit reduction interview.
[00:06:16] SS: Merit reduction, yeah. I don’t need to build merit. That’s supposed to be bad juju in Buddhism, although I’m Christian. So I don’t need to build up any merit. Whatever merit I have, I need to give away and send it out to people that need it.
[00:06:27] KM: Is Buddhism a religion or is it a practice?
[00:06:29] SS: It’s both. It’s definitely a religion and their particular practices in the different types of Buddhism that are committed to by the practitioners. I want to say one other thing is we’re going to be talking about success. How people become successful. That’s one of the things we’re going to talk about, I think.
[00:06:49] KM: Yes.
[00:06:50] SS: So I have a really close friend who’s the executive director of the Interfaith, and her name is Sophia Said, and she’s Muslim, and she’s a sufi Muslim and she’s very, very involved in meditation and prayer and interesting spiritual practices. She teaches me that in Islam, if you have succeeded at something, you thank God for three things. First, you thank God that God asked you to do that service, because God could have asked anybody.
[00:07:26] KM: And for the opportunity.
[00:07:26] SS: Right. So the fact that I had the opportunity to help start the House of Prayer and the opportunity to help start the Interfaith Center, the first thing is to thank God for giving me that opportunity. Then the second thing is you thank God that God created you in such a way that had the capacity to say yes to the opportunity.
[00:07:47] KM: The talent.
[00:07:48] SS: And that’s the third thing is the talent. The second thing is God put inside you the willingness to say yes. Then the third thing is the talent and the ability to do it. So when Sophia is talking about a service project that she and I are working on, which we do a lot, we always sit and do those three things. We will just get so excited that we had the opportunity to do this project that we had the willingness to say yes to it. Then we had the capacity to pull it off. Then all of that gets converted back to the divine.
So it means we’re small. I think of myself and Sophia and others that are in the service business as you are at this moment with show, I think of us as temporary service delivery units on the planet.
[00:08:40] KM: Good quote.
[00:08:41] SS: We are temporary and we are service delivery units. One day this last week I was doing my meditation and I saw an outside water hydrant had like a round thing that you turn to get it to go on. This was a big one, and in the silence I was told to turn that thing. In my meditation I turned this huge faucet, outdoor faucet and I heard, “You are to be a gush of goodness to this earth.” I think that’s what we’re all supposed to do to turn on the faucet and open up and let the water of love flow through us to be goodness for this planet, and it’s a really fun job. It’s ridiculously fun. My husband says, “Just don’t pay these people to let you do this.”
[00:09:32] KM: Like you are. So how do you hear when you’re in meditation and you hear that? How does it come to you?
[00:09:41] SS: Well, it doesn’t always come. Like this morning I got up early and my little six-month-old grandson has been visiting me, and I heard him while I was doing my quiet and I didn’t hear any little messages form the other side, because I had a little earthly angle to go hold. So it’s not a guarantee that I’m going to hear anything every day, but I’ve been involved in – I’m 68. I’ve been very involved in meditation since I was 29. So I’ve been at this a long time. I usually get up really, really early in the morning and have quiet time then, 30 minutes or an hour or longer of meditation, and I have a spiritual teacher in India, a Hindu man, and he asked that before we meditate, that we take two showers, that we wear a white cotton outfit that we wrap ourselves in a white cotton prayer robe that we crack a window even if it’s 17 degrees below so that the outside air is a tiny bit in the room.
Then I do a prayer process before I start meditating. I go back through everything that happened to me the day before and I pray through the day. If I had like a mean thought towards somebody or a negative reaction or any reactions of the day before, I kind of clean up the day before before I start the meditation. Then I put a tablet and a paper – I put a paper and a pen beside where I’m praying and then I just go into silence, and sometimes the silence is with no words and it’s just enough piece and enough fullness to help you navigate the day. But sometimes it’s actually a message, ideas that come and thoughts that come.
I can tell you more about that later, because that is how I ended up meeting the Oracle of Tibet and how the Interfaith Center also got started through a whole bunch of meditation stuff, and I’m happy to give specific examples. I can do that now. I can do it later. But that’s my personal meditation practice. Sometimes I do it later in the day too, but definitely early in the morning.
[00:11:49] KM: Do you take two showers every morning?
[00:11:50] SS: I do.
[00:11:52] KM: That’s why she looks so good.
[00:11:54] SS: I look so good because my husband that I’ve been with since we’re 16 and 17 adore each other. That’s why I look this way. There’s a lot of love going between these two people.
[00:12:05] KM: You both were practicing psychiatrist?
[00:12:09] SS: My husband is a psychiatrist. Yeah, he’s the chairman of the Department of Psychiatry at the medical school and the institute director. He’s leading the psychiatric program at UAMS, but we’ve been together since we were kids.
[00:12:22] KM: You are a psychologist.
[00:12:24] SS: I was a psychiatric social worker in private practice for 25 years, and happy I didn’t have a boss. When you become a priest, you have a boss.
[00:12:34] KM: Is that God or is that somebody, or is that –
[00:12:36] SS: That is a bishop.
[00:12:36] KM: Bishop. Okay. Is that a real boss?
[00:12:40] SS: I had this beautiful psychotherapy office. I made a really good living. I had complete autonomy and total independence, but through a series of about two years’ worth of dreams, I was called into the priesthood. I was not sitting around thinking about becoming a priest. But that happened through about two years’ worth of dreams. Finally the dreams got so specific and so clear I would have had to have an IQ of 27 to not understand that God was like, “We’re redeploying you, lady. You’re going to be moving.”
[00:13:12] KM: Tell us – Actually, we’re going to take a break. It’s time to take a break. When we come back, I want you to tell our listeners how those dreams came out. We’re going to talk about dream study. Then on the second group we’re going to talk about this Interfaith’s work that you’re doing. So we’re going to continue our conversation with the Reverent Susan Sims Smith, founder of the Arkansas House of Prayer and the Interfaith Center at St. Margaret’s Church in Little Rock, Arkansas. I thought she had an event coming up for the Interfaith House of Prayer, but actually you have an event coming. I mean, for the Interfaith Center. But actually you have an event coming up for the House of Prayer. So we’ll give you information about that when we get back. We’ll be right back after the break.
[00:13:55] KM: Boost morale and patriotism with a new flag or flagpole from Arkansas’ flagandbanner.com. We have poles, hardware, accessories, maintenance support, installation and custom flags. We have flags of all kind; for the sports enthusiast, the world traveler, or history buff, we have them all. Bring in your old flag and get $5 off a new one. Consult the experts at Arkansas’ flagandbanner.com. Come shop at our historic location at 800 West 9th Street in Little Rock, or visit us online at flagandbanner.com.
[00:14:29] JM: You’re listening to Up In Your Business with Kerry McCoy, a production of flagandbanner.com. Over 40 years ago with only $400, Kerry McCoy founded Arkansas Flag and Banner. During the last four decades, the business has grown and changed, starting with door-to-door sales, then telemarketing, to mail order and catalog sales, and now a third of their sales come through the internet. This past year, Flag and Banner added another internet feature, live chatting.
Over time, Kerry’s business and leadership knowledge grew. As early as 2004, she began sharing this knowledge in her weekly blog. In 2009, she founded the nonprofit Friends of Dreamland Ballroom, and in 2014, Brave Magazine. Today, she has branched out unto the radio with this very production, podcast and live stream on Facebook.
Each week on this show, you'll hear candid conversations between her and her guests about real-world experiences on a variety of businesses and topics that we hope you'll find interesting and inspiring. If you like to ask Kerry a question, or share your story, send her an e-mail to email@example.com. That's firstname.lastname@example.org, or send her a message on flagandbanner.com’s Facebook page.
Back to you, Kerry.
[00:15:53] KM: You’re listening to Up In Your Business with me, Kerry McCoy, and I’m speaking today with the Reverent Susan Sims Smith. Cofounder of the Arkansas House of Prayer and the Interfaith Center at St. Margaret’s Episcopal Church in Little Rock, Arkansas. Before the break, we talked about how you pray thanking God when you’ve had a great day. We talked about merit reduction, what the show actually is about today. It’s all about the good news that we’re paying forward for. All of those other people that don’t have anybody praying for them. This show is really about the merits that we’re sending forward to them for –
[00:16:35] SS: Their benefit.
[00:16:35] KM: For their benefit. Thank you, Susan. I went on your website. We’re going to talk about reams. Before we start talking about the Interfaith Center and the different types of religions, because what you’re doing around the world is fascinating, and I’m just going to tell our listeners if they missed it in the beginning. You are currently working on a project in Mongolia with the Dalai Lama’s Oracle.
[00:17:00] SS: That’s right.
[00:17:01] KM: That’s just bizarre. I don’t think that’s a sentence I say all the time. So we’re going to talk about that before in a while too. First, I went to your website. If you want to go online and learn about Susan Sims Smith, there’s a lot of stuff online. She’s got her very own website, just susansimssmith.com, and one of the tabs across the top is dreams. I clicked on it and it said, “Dreams are God’s forgotten language. Dreams communicate the needs of the soul as participants prayerfully seek God’s guidance to live their lives. The rich spiritual discipline of understanding dreams and seeking to live in harmony with the messages they bring can enrich lives with comfort, challenge,” that’s what you had, “and practical solutions to problems of their daily life.”
Talk to us about dreams. Why they are important and how that dream got you to be a priest.
[00:17:58] SS: Well, dreams are really, really exciting, and there are different types of dreams. So one type of dream is giving us information about things that we’re going on that day, and sometimes dreams confront us. Let’s say I’ve been to a dinner party and I talked to much and did not share the conversation and didn’t really express interest in other people. I might go to bed that night and have a dream about a vampire.
So that would be that every part of the dream is part of us. Do I usually act like a vampire? No. That’s not normal for me. But I could have been off center one day and I could have been sort of selfish in the conversation. If so, I’m going to get confronted about it that night. So every part of the dream can be looked at as a symbolic point of the self. About 80 to 90% of the dreams are that.
[00:18:54] KM: So you’re talking about archetypes within our self.
[00:18:56] SS: Right, parts of the self. So if I’m being too hard on myself, in that dream I wouldn’t being tough enough on myself, because I would be unconscious that I was stealing to much the conversation. So I have a dream about a vampire. Let’s say I’m being too hard on myself. I might have a dream about this wonderful beach bum that’s doing nothing but having a delicious mimosa by the edge of the ocean if I need to lighten up on myself.
So the dreams are seeking to rebalance our energies. Sometimes we have dreams that are very, very spiritual dreams and sometimes we have dreams that are direct guidance and direct information. So I spent 7 years studying dreams with a world-famous analyst in Toronto, Marion Woodman, and I commuted to Canada for seven years and did a twice a week dream thing with her by phone.
So the great majority of dreams have to do with your interior world, but occasionally the divine will come through and give you a specific message in a dream that is not about your personality or your psyche. An example of that would be before I went to India the first time, I was dreaming at night the word Pondicherry, and usually my training is that all he dreams are symbolic. So I kept thinking, “What is Pondicherry?” Eventually I Googled it and it’s a town in India.
Then the next night I dreamt go or forever hold back your choir of angels and your job, and I thought, “Oh my gosh! The universe is sending me to India. Why would I go to Pondicherry, India?” I started Googling that and I found that there’s a very famous ashram there and two spiritual teachers, Sri Aurobindo and the mother, and although they have passed away, their followers are there.
So I got on it. I made a reservation in this ashram. I got in the airplane. I went to India. I spent two weeks in this ashram. I studied all these incredible material that changed my life as a Christian priest. Then I’d been home about three months. I’d fallen in love with Pondicherry. I had made friends. About three months later, I begin to dream Mysore India ashram. I had heard Mysore and I Googled it and what came up was a photo of a 76-year old man who’s a spiritual teacher in Mysore. I said to my husband, I have no idea who this dude is, but look at his picture.” He is full of the truth and of love. That night I started dreaming, run to the big guy as fast as you can get there. So I got another plane ticket. I went to that ashram and I have a relationship, now a lifelong relationship. In my opinion, even past this life, in my next life relationship.
This is a Hindu spiritual teacher who believes that if you’re born into Christianity, you stay as a Christian. If you’re born as a Buddhist, you stay as a Buddhist. You don’t convert. But he’s teaching me spiritual practices that deepen my ability to find the love of Christ in my own life. So I work with him. He’s come to Arkansas before. I go to visit him. So all that material came in dreams.
The first really big life changing dream that I had was about 27 years ago I started dreaming that I was living by a river big clay bluffs and all of my psychotherapy training is to interpret that metaphorically. The river is like the water the unconscious. The bluffs are like close to nature. I continued to dream the same thing and then I dreamt the downstairs floor plan of a house and I showed it to this realtor. We were trying to buy another house and she said, “You’re not going to live in that house unless you build it.”
I wanted to live near Hillcrest so I thought, “Well, I can’t build a house in Hillcrest.” Anyway, eventually, I dreamt that there was a subdivision off Riverfront Drive and I said to my husband, “Is there a subdivision off Riverfront Drive?” and he said, “Yes.” So we went down there and I stood on an empty lot looking at the exact view that I’ve been dreaming for two months and we ended up building a house that has really changed our lives and been a huge blessing. We did it with the floor plan that came in my dreams. Then I was told, “Your experience in building this house is going to be a permanent reference point between you and God, because you didn’t believe you could build that house. You didn’t understand it in the beginning,” and now every time God starts to give you some really far out bizarre idea that you need to go do X or Y, you’re going to remember what happened with you in that house.
So that is what started to happen with me with the priesthood, is I was doing more and more dream work with people in my private practice. When you listen to people’s dreams all day, it’s like having your finger on the pulse of their soul. It’s like cheating as a psychotherapist. It’s like having an MRI. It makes therapy so easy because you can see exactly how the divine is guiding that person.
So I was deeply involved in kind of spiritual and psychotherapy stuff and I started dreaming at night again and again that a dog sometimes is a symbol for the priesthood, because a dog, a sheep dog, guides the flock near the shepherd. So Christ for me is the shepherd, and the sheep dog is the one that tries to keep the sheep near Christ.
I kept dreaming a million times about the sheep dog, and then I would dream about a chalice, and then finally a client showed up in a dream and said, “You’re leaving your psychotherapy office,” and I said, “No, I’m not,” and she said, “Yes, you are. You just don’t know it yet.” I would dream about seminary. Eventually a bunch of junior high guys with M16 showed up in my dreams saying, “We’re going to take these M16 and chase you out of your office. You got to get out of here.”
Eventually, the last dream that I had when I finally called my husband, I said, “You know what? I think I’m going to have to go to seminary.” My husband’s grandmother that
[inaudible 00:24:58] showed up in my dream, she said, “You have three choices. You can stay home and be a doctor’s wife. You can take this truck and travel the world, or you can take this little silver plate,” in Christianity, it’s called a paten,” and you can serve the bread of Christ to people.” I say in the dream, “I want that paten.” I want to serve God’s love to people and I woke up thinking, “Gosh! I guess I’m going to have a new job here.”
[00:25:26] KM: You thought it though, didn’t you?
[00:25:28] SS: No! I mean, I didn’t want a boss and I didn’t want to cut and paycheck and I didn’t want to leave my gorgeous office, and I was happy and doing a good job.
[00:25:35] KM: How old were you when that happened?
[00:25:36] SS: That was 20 years ago, so I was 48.
[00:25:38] KM: That’s a weird time to be changing careers.
[00:25:40] SS: That’s a weird time to be changing careers, but its turned out to be a wonderful thing. After I’ve been in the priesthood for maybe six or seven years, I saw a photograph on the cover of a magazine of a round meditation room. I said to my husband, “Little Rock needs something like that,” and then I couldn’t sleep for two nights and I was just like, “We got to have this.”
Rick said, “If you had the money to build it, where would you put it?” I said, “Well, there’s five acres of land next to St. Margaret’s.” He said, “You can’t just do something at St. Margaret’s. You have to get the bishop’s permission. You have to get St. Margaret’s permission,” blah-blah.
Anyway, a group of people came together and helped me raise $1.3 million to build and endow an Interfaith meditation center, and it took years for us to raise the money and a lot of people working on it, but we now have had – We have about 160 or 180 people a month that go out there for silence, and this is our 11th year of operation, and next Saturday there’s going to be a workshop that Sis. Deborah Troillett will teach on learning how to meditate. If you go to the Arkansas House of Prayer website, you can find out about it. It’s free. So we do programs all year about teaching people about silence. We teach children about meditation. We teach teenagers. We teach atheist, agnostics, people of every religion. So it’s a place for everybody.
[00:26:56] KM: It’s a safe place.
[00:26:57] SS: It’s a safe place. So that program is just going along really, really well, and one of these trips to India, I was up in the Himalayas. I was studying in a Buddhist monastery and I was awakened in the middle of the night, and I heard a little voice that said, “Wake up and your whole life is going to change.” This was seven years ago. My first thought was, “Oh! My poor husband. Oh my lord!” He wakes up and said what did you dream last night?” “Oh, we’re going to move Arizona and raise llamas.” He’s like, “Agh!” I’m thinking, “This is not going to be good.”
So I get up and I hear, “Get up and pray,” and it’s 3:30 in the morning. It’s dark. It’s cold. It’s slating outside. My room is not warm.” Anyway, I get up, I put on all the clothes I have. I do my meditation, and deeply into it, this is not a split second. This is not something that just happens immediately. This is long siege of praying. I hear evil is gone into all the world’s religions and it’s teaching them to hate and fear each other.
[00:27:57] KM: That’s true.
[00:27:58] SS: Evil has gone and it’s teaching the religions to hate each other. We need you to start an Interfaith Center to reduce the hatred and fear among the religions. Go to talk to Chris Keller who’s a priest who’s a buddy of mine. I’m thinking, “What? Another project?” Then I just keep doing the prayers and the same little voices, “What were you planning to do with the rest of your life anyway?” I was thinking, “Well, I may be retire or read a book.” I knew a little bit about interfaith work, but not a lot. But the message was so clear. We are asking. This is work that needs to be done.
I go – I come here to Little Rock and meet with Chris Keller. He says, “I’m running this project for the church. It has four goals,” da-da-da, and the last one is Interfaith, which I did not know. He said, “If you’ll start something for Interfaith,” I said, “Chris, if you’ll help me find enough money for a part-time secretary, I will do it,” and he and Julie said, “Let’s get started.”
So then I got a part-time secretary, Sarah Catherine Gutierrez, and we started researching what’s being done in interfaith work, reading about it, and we started doing projects. The first thing we did is we had a thing called Let’s Pray, and we had a Muslim, Buddhist, Jew and Christian teach about meditation. Then we started having – Sophia Said and I started doing thing called Muslim-Christian dialogue, and we would go to the mosque. We would go to the synagogue. We would go to Christian churches. We would talk about what is Christianity have to say about violence, about women, about different issues. Now this thing has evolved. Sophia Said is the – We now have a fulltime director. This is the second nonprofit that has just taken off, and I’m not in the background. I’m kind of an advisor, a consultant, but Sophia Said is really running this thing.
We have a thing called Friendship Camp. We have 53 children from all the world’s religions that do a week-camp every summer. We already have parents calling us. We can’t take any more kids. We already have parents. One day they study Christianity, and like this last year they did a Christmas pageant and we had Jewish, Buddhist, Hindu kids fighting over who’s going to get to be Mary and Joseph and the Baby Jesus. They do it in costume. In another day they studied Judaism and another day – But they enact some kind of celebration. Every day they do something for poor people. Every day they sing. Every day they do drumming. Every day they do stuff outside. Every day they go study theology on their own faith tradition and come back and teach it to the other kids. It’s an unbelievable thing.
We have a multi-faith youth group. We have a teenage group. They meet twice a month. Once they help poor people a month. Once they talk about their own theology and how they can understand each other’s religions. They eat pizza together. Help poor people and talk theology.
[00:31:02] KM: You’re changing the world.
[00:31:03] SS: Well, Sophia is doing a lot of it. I mean, at this season, I’m in the background.
[00:31:08] KM: Thank goodness you listened to your prayers. All right, let’s take a quick break. When we come back, we’ll continue our conversation with Reverent Susan Sims Smith, cofounder of the Arkansas House of Prayer and the Interfaith Center at St. Margaret’s Episcopal Church in Little Rock, Arkansas. We’ll talk more about how you can go to next week’s – What’s next week’s House of Prayer?
[00:31:27] SS: It’s an introduction to meditation at the Arkansas House of Prayer and it’s taught by –
[00:31:31] KM: Is it full?
[00:31:32] SS: It’s not full.
[00:31:32] KM: It’s free.
[00:31:33] SS: It’s free.
[00:31:34] KM: And it’s a safe place. We’re going to also talk some more about Sis. Susan’s spiritual experiences as she travels the world studying other religions. She is fascinating. If you’re a couple and need of a little guidance, in our last segment, if we get a chance, we’re going to give you tips and resources for helping your marriage or your relationship grow. We’ll be back right after this.
[00:31:56] KM: Boost morale and patriotism with a new flag or flagpole from Arkansas’ flagandbanner.com. We have poles, hardware, accessories, maintenance support, installation and custom flags. We have flags of all kind; for the sports enthusiast, the world traveler, or history buff, we have them all. Bring in your old flag and get $5 off a new one. Consult the experts at Arkansas’ flagandbanner.com. Come shop at our historic location at 800 West 9th Street in Little Rock, or visit us online at flagandbanner.com.
[00:14:29] JM: Flag and Banner is proud to underwrite Up In your Business with Kerry McCoy, where listeners are offered firsthand insight into the humanity and commonalities of successful people shared in a conversational interview with Kerry.
Along with this radio show, flagandbanner.com publishes a free bi-annual magazine called Brave. First published in October 2014, Brave Magazine harnesses the power of storytelling and human empowerment. The Department of Arkansas Heritage recognize Brave magazine’s documentation of American life and micro-fishes all editions for the Arkansas State Archives. Subscribe to this free periodical by going to flagandbanner.com and selecting Magazine.
Back to you, Kerry.
[00:33:15] KM: You’re listening to Up In Your Business with me, Kerry McCoy, and I’m speaking today with the Reverent Susan Sims Smith, cofounder of the Arkansas House of Prayer and the Interfaith Center at St. Margaret’s Episcopal Church in Little Rock, Arkansas. If you’ve got a question, you can make a comment on flagandbanner.com/s Facebook page or you can write this number down and call.
[00:33:32] JM: 501-433-0088.
[00:33:36] KM: Give it again, Jason.
[00:33:36] JM: 501-433-0088.
[00:33:40] KM: If you’re shy, you may simply send me an email at email@example.com or you can make a comment on my weekly blog. I’m easy to get in touch with. Before the break we were talking about prayer work and the different types of prayers and how Susan has followed her prayers and is a serious meditator. Then we also talked about her interfaith work and how they’ve all come and how she left practice as a psychotherapist to become an episcopal priest, and now she’s continuing to do her soul searching and has started the Arkansas House of Prayer and the Interfaith Center, and we’re going to continue talking about that.
So if people want to listen to their dreams, which there is the one where we’re archetype in the dream, and that’s 80% of our dreams are us being archetype in our dream, and you go and you look at it as that person in the dream is you and what is that person trying to say. There’re the ones you get from the divine or from the universe.
[00:34:44] SS: Some direct messages.
[00:34:46] KM: What’s the third one?
[00:34:48] SS: There’s another kind of dream that’s sort of debris of the dream. Let’s say I’m driving an old red Volvo and I’ve got my kid and a dog in it and I’m in a hurry to go the grocery and I hear this kind of little weird noise and I think, “It’s probably nothing,” and I don’t really want to pay attention to it. I might have a dream that night that’s something off about my car.
So I’ve picked up some little piece of data in the daytime about everyday life that I haven’t wanted to pay attention to. Debris of the day, different parts of the self, and others are just more kind of direct straighter messages. Sometimes wondering can be all of it.
[00:35:27] KM: Oh, really? Do you keep a piece of paper by your bed and the minute you wake up you write it down?
[00:35:31] SS: Yeah, that’s the easiest thing. I keep a dream journal.
[00:35:34] KM: Do you ever go back and read your past dreams?
[00:35:36] SS: Oh, every January I read all the dreams of the year. I’ve done that once already this year and I’m going to do it again in a couple of weeks.
[00:35:42] KM: What do you find out about that?
[00:35:44] SS: You kind of see the themes that your soul and the divine are working on over a year. They’re working on certain themes all year.
[00:35:52] KM: The amount of dedication and work you put into knowing yourself is outstanding.
[00:35:57] SS: It’s fun. It’s a recreational activity. My husband used to say when I was in private practice and all my hobbies were tax deductible.
[00:36:06] KM: I don’t understand that. Why?
[00:36:07] SS: Well, I would go to this workshop and that workshop and this class and that class, and whatever I was interested in
[00:36:13] KM: You’re a psychiatrist.
[00:36:14] JM: Keep
[00:36:18] KM: That’s true.
[00:36:18] SS: Do you want to hear something about the Oracle of Tibet?
[00:36:21] KM: Absolutely.
[00:36:21] SS: Okay. I have a good friend who’s a Buddhist monk who runs a really unusual orphanage. He comes to Arkansas once a year. He’s in India. When he comes sometimes, we’ll get him on the show. But anyway, I was with him on one of these trips to India and he said, “How would you like to meet the Oracle of Tibet?” I didn’t know who the Oracle of Tibet was.” I said, “Okay, whatever. Let’s do it.”
So this monk is a friend of the Oracle of Tibet. So the Dalai Lama has had an oracle give him advice since he was 19, and the oracle goes into a trance and dances and prays and meditates, and the Dalai Lama sits there and ask some questions and it gets written down, and in the Dalai Lama’s autobiography he says, “People ask me why do I still use this ancient, unusual divination practice?” His answer is, “Because since I was 19, the oracle has never stirred me wrong, period, ever, about anything.”
So that’s who this man is. He’s the Dalai Lama’s oracle and he has his own monastery in Dharamshala, India. Here’s the Dalai Lama’s monastery at the top of the mountain. At the bottom of the mountain, the oracle has a monastery. 56 monks live there and their only task is that they pray and chant for the protection of the world. Their protection mantra chanters. That’s they’re business. They’re in there protecting the world business.
Okay. So I was in Dharamshala. I was there with this buddy of mine. He says, “Let’s go meet the oracle.” I had two other girlfriends with me. We go meet with this incredible man, and after we talked to him for quite a while I thought, “I have my iPad with me. I bet he would like to see a picture of the House of Prayer.” So I pull it out and he looks at it and he says to his assistant, “Go in the next room and get the drawings.” The assistant goes in the next room and brings out a gigantic roll of the most gorgeous architectural drawings and he says, “Spirit told me,” told him, “I’m supposed to build a round meditation center for all the religions in Mongolia with the exact same mission statement as Arkansas House of Prayer and I’m going, “Ta-na-na-na-na.” For some unknown reason I say to this very high-level man, “When you get ready to do that project, if there’s anything I could do to help you, I’ll be happy to.” I remember thinking, “What in the world can I do to help this man?” Anyway, I didn’t think anything of it.
About two or three years later, I was at home with a broken bone and I couldn’t run around and do all this stuff I usually did. So I used that time for a lot of quiet, and during all that meditation time I kept seeing this man. His name is
[inaudible 00:39:05], and I kept seeing his architecture drawings and I kept feeling like spirit was just hammering on me to go back to him and offer to help him. So I thought, “That is so ridiculous.” But I’ve had other ridiculous things happen.
So I got a buddy and we crafted an invitation. We invited him to come to our Arkansas and visit the House of Prayer and see if there’s anything I could do to help him. Four or five months later he came and he brought 8 Tibetan monks. They did some programs for the Interfaith Center. He spent a lot of time in the House of Prayer and I had meetings with him and he said, “Spirit has told me to build this building, but I’ve got so many projects,” and he said, “You’re standing behind me tapping me on the shoulder reminding me I need to do this.” I said, “How can I help?”
He said, “You can come to Mongolia next summer and meet the Mongolian people and let them meet you and tell them what all of you have done in Arkansas and see if you can help me build interest for what we’re trying to do.” So the following summer my husband and I and a photographer went to Mongolia for
[inaudible 00:40:14] 60th birthday celebration, and I met with the leaders there.
Now the thing that’s interesting about Mongolia is in the early 1900s, Stalin kills all the people – Where of any religion of Mongolia got murdered. Then the Chinese communist kept it up until 1991. So the people that I met all have family members that have been murdered for having any religion. So if you had a cross, you hid it under you and you’re going to get murdered.
So it’s only been a democracy since 1991. It’s one of the world’s fastest growing democracies, and part of the way it can stay a democracy is to have freedom of religion so that the people can worship if they want to worship and don’t have to if they don’t have to. So anything that’s done strengthens their opportunity for faith.
Since it’s so new to be able to practice your religion, there’s almost nothing going on interfaith. Everybody is just barely getting a chance to pray their own prayers, but
[inaudible 00:41:11], the oracle was told that he’s supposed to build an interfaith center for silence. So he said, “This Buddhist women is the leader in Mongolia, and if anything is going to happen here, it has to happen through her.”
So I ended up getting a lot of time with this amazing, amazing woman who is going to help open the doors. So now
[inaudible 00:41:33] has bought the land. The land has been purchased, and in 2019, this year, two of his monks and I have been commissioned to do the development materials to raise the money to build the building. So I will be working on that this year and I will go back to India and meet with him. I will probably go back to Mongolia. Then in 2020, he’s going to come to United States for about a month and I will travel with him part of that time and I will tell what’s happened in Arkansas and we will see if we can find donors that will help build the building in Mongolia.
[00:42:06] KM: So you’ve brought the Oracle to the Dalai Lama to Little Rock, Arkansas.
[00:42:10] SS: Yeah, I did. But spirit did it and merit reduction. I mean, let the good of that go back to people that need blessings. But that came out of a broken bone and a lot of time sitting in quiet and praying. So it’s fun to listen to all these stuff.
[00:42:29] KM: Speaking of different religions, I Googled it up before I came on, and there are – Christianity is 2 billion people, a little over 2 billion Islam. I guess that’s Muslim, right? It’s a little over 1 billion. Hinduism, not sure what that is.
[00:42:43] SS: I don’t know the number.
[00:42:44] KM: But it’s 1 billion. I’m not sure what that religion is. Is that –
[00:42:47] SS: Okay. I can tell about it a little bit.
[00:42:50] KM: Then the others are all millions. There’s the Chinese, the Buddhism, the African, the indigenous.
[00:42:57] SS: Judaism.
[00:42:58] KM: Oh! Yeah, Judaism. So I thought it was interesting that when I read the numbers – The people that are religious and then their sect, and then I thought about how many people were on the earth. There are 7 billion people on the earth, and 5 billion of them identify themselves in a religious –
[00:43:20] SS: It’s interesting, isn’t it?
[00:43:22] KM: Yeah.
[00:43:22] SS: We know so little, like when I first started the Interfaith Center, I did not know very much about Islam, and I was going to be teaching a class an experience that I’d had in meditation with Christ, and my Muslim friend, Sophia Said said, ‘I would really like to come. I said, “Sophia, free to come, because I don’t think I’m going to feel very free to talk about Jesus and I just don’t want to step on your toes and blah-blah,” and she said, “Why do you think that I don’t want Jesus?” I said, “Well, you’re Muslim,” and she said, “We absolutely adore him and we teach our children that he will come someday to save the planet, and that when our children are alive, when he comes back, they are to leave everything they’re doing and go to Jerusalem.” Immediately, I said, “What? Why did nobody tell me this about Islam?”
We have a lot of ignorance between our religions of who believes what and who’s against which person. So the terrorist that we have are not really Muslims. They’re violent renegade people that are coopting words out of Islam to do the bad stuff they want to do. But if you meet a real Muslim, like Sophia, who is filled with love and who has a tender love for Christ and a big heart for humanity. So in the interfaith, a lot of what we do is understand our misconceptions of each other.
[00:44:55] KM: There’s Christians exactly like that too that are renegades that use – I think the KKK was a Christian-based –
[00:45:01] SS: Yes. We have Christians in Uganda that want to kill gay people that believe that that’s the right thing. So the Christians and the Crusades murdered all kinds of people all over Europe. So we have people in every religion that use the language of the religion for purposes of violence, and that’s not the heart of any of those religions.
[00:45:24] KM: I want tell everybody that you’re listening to Up In Your Business with me, Kerry McCoy, and that I’m speaking today with Reverent Susan Sims Smith, cofounder of the Arkansas House of Prayer and the Interfaith Center at St. Margaret’s Episcopal Church in Little Rock, Arkansas. I want to sure before the end of the show that we talk about the Christian principles that helped to strengthen a marriage, such as unconditional love, forgiveness and the sacramental nature of marriage and itself.
I told everybody that we would talk a little bit about how to strengthen your marriage and that we would give them resources to do that. You said your marriage is great.
[00:46:02] SS: Well, we put a lot of work in it.
[00:46:04] KM: Tell us how you did it.
[00:46:05] SS: We say how do you stay marriage to the same person forever? Oh, it’s easy. All you have to do is renegotiate everything forever. So whatever agreements you –
[00:46:16] KM: Did you hear that, Jayson?
[00:46:17] SS: Whatever agreements you made, life changes, you change, we mature, we grow, things happen. As long as you’re willing to – We tease and say, “We’ve had three or four divorces. We’ve just remarried the same person.” We haven’t had any legal divorces, but we’ve had several marriages that we needed to totally revamp. So it’s a process, it’s a journey. There’re no guarantees.
So if we needed couples therapy, we have gone to somebody. We’ve gone out of state to study our own marriage with Helen Sidra Stone on the west coast. We brought couples people here.
[00:46:55] KM: Was that the focus of your practice when you’re in practice?
[00:46:58] SS: Probably I did probably half of my time doing couples therapy. So communication is part of it. Being willing to get therapy if you need it. That’s part of it. Listening to each other. Forgiving each other. Confronting yourself, like I don’t really think that I’m a very crabby person, but I bet you, Rick, can see me being crabby at times. I bet that if I’m unaware that I’m being crabby, then I’m probably being self-righteous instead of crabby and I could have a dream about that that would show me you’re actually being pretty
[inaudible 00:47:31] and you don’t even know it.
One of my sub-personalities, this gets overly organized. Rick calls her Tilda Smithwick.
[00:47:39] KM: Oh! He’s named her.
[00:47:40] SS: Yes.
[00:47:40] KM: Thank you, Tilda.
[00:47:41] SS: And she’s kind of a jerk. So if Tilda is out, she’s trying to get everything organized, because she’s busy. So you laugh, you tease, you talk, and Rick and I work on our nighttime dreams together two or three mornings a week. I’ll say, “Did you have a dream?” We try to listen to what’s going on in the unconscious.
So you now that there’s a wonderful woman here named Dr. Chelsea Wakefield who’s the director of the new Couples Center at the Psychiatric Research Institute. She’s written some great books. She’s doing incredible couples therapy and she’s training couples therapist around this day to do better and better work. So we now have like a world-class couples program.
[00:48:24] KM: Let me see what this caller is.
[00:48:26] JM: Caller, as you on here?
[00:48:30] KM: Have we lost him?
[00:48:31] SS: Caller, are you on here?
[00:48:32] C: Yes, I am. Thank you.
[00:48:34] JM: You’re welcome.
[00:48:36] C: I just wanted to thank your guest for this non-secular religious podcast. You know, just any small town
[inaudible 00:48:49]. I’m First Baptist Church, then on down the road you find Second Baptist Church. Many times that’s because there was some sort of a disagreement with the people in the church. They went off and started another church. In a certain particular faith
[inaudible]. I remember at the
[inaudible] College, my office mate he barely went to college both times
[inaudible] and he was a Baptist and he told me if I could bring certain ways I was
[inaudible]. I said, “Well, what about your judgements of Hinduism and Buddhists around the world? Man I’ve never had the opportunity. Are they going to go to hell also?” Now that question was never posed again, but he said, “Well, from what I’ve been — my religion tells me, yes.” So I just think there should be a lot more effort within all the religions to figure out
[inaudible] each other’s religion for what they believe in and within certainties themselves. Like
[inaudible] to grasp the concepts and
[inaudible] similar markers in others
[inaudible] the small little details.
[00:50:19] KM: That is great. Thanks, caller. Thanks for calling in. That’s a great point. Thank you. I’m glad he called. So you were going to say we could also got to for couples therapy. Well, let’s talk about all the different ways that people can learn from the three different things we talked about today. The first part we talked about was Dreamwork, which I think is fascinating, and I wrote down a few books that they could use, and you can get this at flagandbanner.com or you can go to susansimssmith.com’s website. There’s Dream – There’s a book called Dreams: God’s Forgotten Language. I saw that on your website. There’s one called Memory Dreams and Reflections. There’s one called Innerwork, and then all the books by Marion Woodman.
You recommend all of those for learning how do to –
[00:51:05] SS: They’re just wonderful resources. Also, I’m pretty sure this is on my website. There are 56 lectures from a series of Dream Conferences at Kanuga and they’re all on Dreams. I did a bunch of them. They’re free and they should be on my website.
[00:51:21] KM: Oh, good!
[00:51:22] SS: 56 audio lectures about listening to God through your dreams, done by a whole bunch of different people.
[00:51:28] KM: That’s sounds wonderful.
[00:51:28] SS: So they should be on the website and those books.
[00:51:30] KM: That’s wonderful.
[00:51:31] SS: Then go to the House of Prayer and learn how to meditate.
[00:51:33] KM: Which is coming up next Saturday.
[00:51:35] SS: It’s coming up next Saturday, and we do programs often on all year about how to meditate. We have a new labyrinth. We’re going to do a program on meditating by walking in the spring. Then go to the Interfaith Center website. Get on our email list. We do programs all year. The end of the year letter for the Interfaith Center should be on that website, and when you look and see what Sophia and the volunteers have done in the last year, it’s kind of mind-blowing.
[00:52:02] KM: Great. Then you got –
[00:52:04] SS: Couples center.
[00:52:05] KM: Yeah, and then you got a workshop for the kids for the Interfaith Center too. That’s full, but maybe you wanted to do another one.
[00:52:10] SS: Yeah.
[00:52:11] KM: Then the couples center at UAMS.
[00:52:13] SS: The couples center at UAMS.
[00:52:15] KM: For the couples center, we have some great books that were on your book list. One of them by the Dr. Chelsea Wakefield, who’s been on this show who’s at UAMS and it’s called In Search of Aphrodite. I’ve actually read that. It’s great. There’s one called Embracing Each Other by Dr. Hal and Sidra Stone partnering by them also, and the 7 Principles of Making a Marriage Work. So all of that also is on I think your website where I got this from. We’ll have it at flagandbanner.com. I have a gift for you. Where did I put it? Anybody see it?
[00:52:50] JM: Oh, it’s right behind you.
[00:52:50] SS: It’s been fun to be with you all.
[00:52:52] KM: Thank you, Susan. Oh, there it is. Everybody on Facebook, look.
[00:52:58] SS: I love it.
[00:52:59] KM: It’s a flag for the people that aren’t on Facebook.
[00:53:01] SS: I love it. It’s really wonderful.
[00:53:05] KM: It’s a desk set with all the different countries that you visit and where you go and religion.
[00:53:09] SS: Thank you so much.
[00:53:10] KM: You’re welcome. The base has got a few extra holes so that when you travel, we can put some more flags in there as you go.
[00:53:17] SS: Thank you so much. It’s beautiful.
[00:53:19] KM: Thank you so much for coming on.
[00:53:21] SS: I love the opportunity.
[00:53:22] KM: It really is just like I said, and that you blessed the sin out when she speaks. She’s like
[inaudible 00:53:27]. When she speaks, people listen. They really do.
[00:53:30] SS: Oh, thank you for having me and for all the volunteers that make every project I’m involved in is just infused with love by a lot of hardworking people.
[00:53:41] KM: That’s because of you.
[00:53:42] SS: Well, that’s because of the spirit that’s behind me messing with me.
[00:53:46] KM: Thank you spirit for messing with you.
[00:53:48] SS: That’s it.
[00:53:50] KM: Jayson, who’s my guest next week?
[00:53:53] JM: We’re doing a – What is it a fun call?
[00:53:56] KM: It’s Hoops Green from the Globetrotters.
[00:53:59] SS: All right. Number 6 from the Globetrotters.
[00:54:01] KM: She’s number 6. They’re going to be here on Saturday, a week from tomorrow. But they couldn’t do an interview with me on Friday, so we’re going to have a recorded interview. I’m going to do a recorder interview with them on Tuesday. So we’ll be playing the recording on the next show on Friday’s show.
[00:54:18] JM: Friday at 2 PM.
[00:54:18] KM: She’s the 15th female to be on the –
[00:54:21] SS: Wow!
[00:54:21] KM: I know. Good for her. I didn’t know this, but I’ve been researching the Globetrotters to get ready. It is a fascinating story. Matthew, you’ll love this. The Globetrotters were founded in the 1920s as the Savoy Big Five on the south side of Chicago. They were named because they played half court in the African-American Savoy Ballroom before the dances.
Yeah, just like Dreamland –
[00:54:45] JM: Dreamland Ballroom. Yeah.
[00:54:47] KM: Yeah, the Dreamland Ballroom. We have pictures of the Dreamland Ballroom being half court and having basketball up there. I guess that was a thing.
[00:54:55] JM: Yeah, yeah.
[00:54:56] KM: So I’m learning about the Harlem Globetrotters. They got in a fight, the Savoy – What are they called? The Savoy Big Five. They got an argument. They started in the early 20s. They got an argument by the late 20s, broke up and become the Globetrotters. Ain’t that just what it is? They lived in New York and became the Harlem Globetrotters but have to stop. They got mad at each other over something.
[00:55:18] JM: It’s like starting a new band.
[00:55:21] KM: There you go. All right. Let’s see, I just want to thank you again for being here with us and – Where’s my last page I wrote today? Is there anything else I’m leaving out?
[00:55:38] JM: Your contact information? Want to run through that real quick?
[00:55:41] KM: Yeah. So if you’ve got a great story that you would like to tell me, I think Jayson’s here to tell you how you can send me your entrepreneurial story.
[00:55:51] JM: If you have a great entrepreneurial story you’d like to share with Kerry, you can send a brief bio to firstname.lastname@example.org. That’s questions with an S and upyourbusiness.org. Message in flagandbanner.com Facebook page or make a comment on her blog.
[00:56:09] KM: That’s it. Last, to our listeners, thank you for spending time with us. If you think this program has been about you, you’re right, but it’s also been for us, and it’s also been what kind of a program today did you say at the very beginning?
[00:56:19] SS: Merit reduction.
[00:56:19] KM: It’s also been a merit reduction program today. Thank you for letting us fulfill our destiny. Our hope today is that you’ve heard or learned something that’s been inspiring or enlightening, and that it, whatever it is, will help you up your business, your independence or your life. I’m Kerry McCoy and I’ll see you next time on Up In Your Business. Until then, be brave and keep it up.
[END OF INTERVIEW]
[00:56:42] JM: You've been listening to up in your business with Kerry McCoy, a production of flagandbanner.com. If you miss any part of this show or want to learn more about UIYB, go to flagandbanner.com and click on Radio Show, or subscribe to her weekly podcast wherever you like to listen. All interviews are recorded and posted the following week with links to resources you heard discussed on today's show.
Kerry's goal is to help you live the American dream.