Temple as a University

By: Guy Templeton
February 7, 2013

There is a saying that the LDS Temple is the University of the Lord.  Unlike a traditional university, there is no opportunity to ask questions, do homework, or take tests to evaluate if we are learning.  The learning in the temple is supposed to be personal.  What would you say are the biggest things you have learned from your participation in the temple?

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20 Responses to Temple as a University

  1. Jenn on February 7, 2013 at 7:11 AM

    I’ll be honest, I think I must not be the target audience for the temple, as I frequently left it feeling darker/sadder than when I went in, or at the bare minimum, bored-er. And believe me, I TRIED. I think that was the problem: I was trying TOO HARD to learn more from it or get enlightened from it.
    So I guess what I learned was that something could be amazing and divine and great for most people but that doesn’t mean it’s for me. That we all speak different spiritual languages.

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  2. Dog lover on February 7, 2013 at 10:09 AM

    I struggle with the temple. Some of the language used in the temple bothers me so much that I don’t feel uplifted. Although I try to attend monthly hoping that someone on the other side is benefiting.

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  3. Frank Pellett on February 7, 2013 at 12:05 PM

    That the fruit of good/evil had been given on other worlds, but not by Lucifer.

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  4. whizzbang on February 7, 2013 at 12:12 PM

    personal revelation and a leaving the world behind and ascend into something higher like the prescence of God. Next time you go look at the angle of the floors in the endowment room, which way are they going? up and into, meaning leaving something behind like Babylon. I can’t say everytime I have ever been to the Temple has been a rich experience but I go anyways as often as I can

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  5. anita on February 7, 2013 at 12:13 PM

    Unlike secular universities which rely heavily on reading as part of the curriculum, the audio/kinetic nature of temple learning is an interesting concept to consider. For me it makes it much harder to learn, because I’m a visual processor and need to see things written out. For some, however, it may be more beneficial. And of course, the idea of being tutored directly by the Spirit and our own heart is the ideal, but sometimes the mortal tendency to fall asleep in a dark room takes over…

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  6. Jenn on February 7, 2013 at 12:43 PM

    I’ve never been a “learn by rote” or “learn by repetition” learner, hence the temple not being “my kind of learning”. And the symbolism in the temple varies between too transparent and too opaque for me- my mind is the type to exhaust itself thinking about historical significance of symbols, or significance of God’s grammar, or significance of the lack of Heavenly Mother’s presence… I end up thinking about all the wrong things rather than being enlightened.

    I will say though, one of the best things I did in my last days of activity in the church was to attend the sealing ceremony for my sister-in-law and her adopted daughter. I got so much more out of it since I had given up on the mental gymnastics and accepted that it may not all be significant/eternal/necessary; I didn’t believe the officiator had some eternal power I didn’t, or that my sister-in-law and her daughter’s only chance at an eternity together was in that ceremony; instead I saw it as a ceremony that accomplishes it’s purposes in a beautiful way: to have a family put each other as their highest priority, to strive to be worthy of each other, to have eternal perspective for mortal relationships, to make promises to each other and be held accountable for them. Now THAT is a beautiful, wonderful thing I can get behind, if I can just shut up the analyst in my brain pointing out that Brigham Young’s endowment ceremony was so different from ours and blah blah blah.

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  7. Hom on February 7, 2013 at 12:48 PM

    One point missing here is that the temple used to be (or, ideally, will be) quite literally a university of learning. It’s been reduced to its current form of repetition, but the temple is supposed to be an actual university.

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  8. Mike S on February 7, 2013 at 3:00 PM

    I first went through the temple over 2 decades ago. It is certainly a beautiful place with sincere people volunteering their time to help others commune with God. The ideal of eternal families, which is the essence of temple work, is also an amazingly wonderful and powerful concept.

    I suppose my biggest complaint with the temple has to do with the status with which we treat it in the LDS Church. It truly is designed as the pinnacle of a Mormon’s spiritual life. Given that, each time I have gone to the temple, I have expected that “this time” will finally be the time I have some wonderful experience, some awakening, some profound insight, or even some sense of peace. And each time I have left, I feel just a bit more let-down that it wasn’t to be, a bit more meh. The cumulative weight of over 20+ years of this has left me with more of a “take-it-or-leave-it” attitude. Wrong, of course, but I suppose its how it is. I know many people have these types of experiences, or at least talk about them, so the problem is likely my own perception or personality or whatever, but it is what it is.

    So, here’s to “next time”. Siempre hay esperanza.

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  9. hawkgrrrl on February 7, 2013 at 3:32 PM

    I have often felt that there is some tribal knowledge that hasn’t been passed down properly with regards to the temple. Nobody seems to know much about it. There’s no realy guidebook. I find meaning there, but it’s almost always whatever meaning I bring with me.

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  10. Joseph McKnight on February 7, 2013 at 4:47 PM

    I prophesied to myself that the much smaller temples would be a hindrance to my being able to receive any contemplative revelations, and, voila, perhaps in a confirmation bias sort of way, I find myself rushing through the “drive-in” temple as quickly as I can, trying hard not to fall asleep, and then getting out as fast as I can. As a builder myself, I’d always marvelled at the early temples, their grandeur and workmanship, and somehow that put me in a contemplative mood. Now living so far away from Utah and near a McTemple, it is pretty depressing, to say the least. Coupled with the fact that I memorized by rote the endowment ceremony, I can’t help but doze off to the point of getting dizzy. Sorry, but no revelations of any kind in the past 10 years of attending fairly regularly.

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  11. MH on February 7, 2013 at 5:31 PM

    I generally feel peaceful in the temple, but I get lost in the symbolism. My mind doesn’t work that way, and I’ve found no resources to help me.

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  12. Howard on February 7, 2013 at 7:28 PM

    My pre 1990 experience alternated between boredom and feelings of shock, coercion and manipulation. I understand most of what bothered me then has since been changed except the boredom of course but I haven’t been back since. Meditation might be a way to mitigate the boredom, seems like a good place to do it.

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  13. jcc on February 7, 2013 at 8:35 PM

    A temple president who was our former stake president once invited members of his ward to stay in the ordinance room to teach us specifically about the endowment and its symbolism. I learned a lot and confirmed some things in mind that I had felt in the past. I hear that now members are discouraged from asking temple workers, presidency questions about the ordinances. If true, it’s a major step backwards.

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  14. Mike S on February 7, 2013 at 9:07 PM

    Also, I actually do feel peace in the temple. But I also feel as much peace meditating on a zafu and zabuton- and as connected to God and my fellowman. I don’t know what that means.

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  15. Geoff - A on February 7, 2013 at 9:13 PM

    When I was HP Group Leader I asked for a teaching from Temple Pres in temple, for group and wives. It was cancelled at last minute.

    Things you learn in the Temple. Satan is much more accessable than others. Access to God seems to be at his behest. Satan tells them the fruit of the tree will enlighten them v kill them, he seems to be right. Satan says “now is day of my power… none would dare to molest or make afraid. Not being able to molest or make afraid seems good.

    I am ordained to be a King and Priest, my wife a Queen and a Priestess.. to her husband. What does the “to her husband” mean? If it didn’t have that she would be my equal. Why does she not harken to the lord but to me?

    Eve seems the leader before the fall, makes the decision(does she consult A?) Adam comes over as pretty weak “The woman thou gavest me made me do it”

    The punishment of Satan is strange eat dust and be able to be bruised by human heels.

    Where is Mother in Heaven? My wife and I have just built a house together, both on the job every day, if my wife and I create a world she would be equal.

    I would like to see the head gear done away with, I would like the wording completely changed so some of the strange things are removed. I would like to sit with my wife. I would like her to be treated as my equal.

    The temple confirms to me that The Gospel is restored but the sucession method of the Church has to change so we are being lead by progressive LEADERS, rather than old men who are holding back the work of the Lord by being stuck in a culture 50 years behind the times. I am willing to use all my worldly wealth for the building of the kingdom, not so comfortable with the Church.

    I am a physical person, if there is uplifting and enlightening symbolism there I would like it explained because I don’t get it.

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  16. Troth Everyman on February 7, 2013 at 9:48 PM

    About 10 years ago asked a worker about some potential symbolism in the temple. She basically told me that if I had to ask I wasn’t spiritually prepared that I should probably leave. I did.

    I still go occasionally, but it just hasn’t been spiritual.

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  17. California SUD on February 7, 2013 at 11:04 PM

    One of the best symbolic insights shared with me regarding the symbolism embedded in the endowment ceremony was shared by a member of a Stake Presidency at a monthly bishopric training session. The stake leader passed around the room a fresh fig leaf plucked for a local tree and a piece of sheep skin. His direction was to handle both and compare and contrast the differences. As they moved around the room, most noted that the fig leaf has an abrasive texture and the sheep skin is very soft. At the end of his presentation, he held both up and said this is what the Lord offers, this is what satan offers. I learned something that day.

    Unfortunately, most other days when I’m on my own, the lessons are few a far between. The obvious was learned and observed long ago.

    I’ve often thought that the addition of semi private areas for prayer and meditation would be a welcome addition to the temple for patrons to go after the session (work) is completed.

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  18. Hedgehog on February 8, 2013 at 2:07 AM

    I don’t find it to be anything like a University. Where I was, we were encouraged to ask questions during lectures, and could also go to see them later if we had difficulty understanding any particular point they were trying to make. We were also able to grade our lecturers every term, on the clarity of presentation, accesibility and so on. The one lecturer who (bizarrely) didn’t allow us take notes was graded very poorly.

    #3 Frank, That’s the point that has interested me most. So what did happen on other worlds – if they’d hung on long enough, would God have been the one handing them the fruit? There seem to be a lot implications wrapped up in that statement.

    #4 whizzbang, I’m pretty sure our floors in our ordinance rooms are flat rather than sloped, though it is always possible I haven’t been paying attention. And whether you go up, or continue staight on to the celestial room depends on which floor you are on. It does make me wonder how experiences differ from temple to temple, and how well it translates to other languages. I was pretty disturbed one time in the Tokyo temple to see that all those with the Chinese audio had got left and right back to front robing, and had to readjust(they were sure they’d got it the right way round), so did that mean a translation error… If so I hope it is fixed now, this was 15 or so years ago.

    I’m with Anita #5 on it really, really not being my learning style at all. I learn best seeing it written out and writing it down, definitely not by listening, or acting out. For my own, I just hadn’t processed quickly enough, by the time the covenants had to be made, what was happening. Repeated attendance does give to time for more processing, but by that time my own covenants are already made, and that does bug me bit, that patrons are not given time to really process what they are doing. What would happen if I tried to take notes, I wonder? And yes, on the falling asleep in a darkened room too (though with our church meetings being afternoons this year the same happens in sacrament meeting – does that qualify me for HP?). If I had the text to follow it would be far easier to stay awake, so it was nice the time they had captions open for a deaf patron – could I request them anyway, or do I have to be deaf to qualify?

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  19. Geoff - A on February 8, 2013 at 5:32 PM

    Hedgehog, ask to have the hearing impaired sub titles put up. It does help.

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  20. Phillip Lambert on February 10, 2013 at 4:44 PM

    My first Temple experience was magnificent! It laid out before me in the most beautiful everything I was looking for but couldn’t in any other way.

    I have heard similar responses to the Temple from friends and family as those expressed from other comments on this blog.

    To me the gospel as I knew it prior to going to the temple makes more sense now in the light of my temple attendance. It truly did feel like I was at pre-school prior to going to the temple.

    My experience isn’t a common one however my preparations for temple worthiness wasn’t common either.

    The spirit was so strong with me leading up to the temple.

    Though no matter what efforts I made to prepare I still felt inadequate and unworthy. God through his ever present parental care gave me a sacred dream the night before I met with my stake president which I will never forget. I awoke from that dream in a manner described by Elder Scott in a special New Zealand video conference.

    I met with my stake president the next evening and as soon as I received my temple recommend I felt an instant shield and protection come over me I can’t explain it in a way that makes sense to those who have and haven’t gone to the temple.

    Their is much more going on about that sacred edifice and its power that can only be taught by the spirit and through experience.

    Their are many pointers to the sacred teachings of the temple in the scriptures it is one harmonious whole.

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