When I first began serving as temple president, I often heard people say, “I wish I didn’t have to leave the temple, with its peace and quiet, and go back into the real world, with its noise and frustration.” I tended to agree with them but for some reason felt uneasy with that thought and prayed to know why.
One day something special happened. I can’t say exactly where or how the words or feelings came, but the concept was clear: “That which lasts forever is real; that which does not last forever is not real. The temple is the real world, not this temporal one.”
From then on whenever I heard someone say they were sorry to have to leave the temple and go back into the real world, I would take them aside and say something like the following:
I understand your feelings, but actually, it is the other way around. You are not leaving the temple and going back into the real world, you are leaving the real world (the temple) and going back into the unreal (temporary) world. Only that which lasts forever is real. That which is done in the temple lasts forever; therefore, the temple is the real world. Most of what we experience “out there,” such as sickness, wealth, poverty, fame, etc., lasts for only a short period of time, so it is not the real world.
Because you have been in the temple, however, you can take the truths of the real world with you as you live in the temporary world. As you do, you will see more clearly that which is important (real, or eternal) and that which is less important (unreal, temporal, or temporary). This view of things will increase your peace, understanding, and joy.
Most would respond, “That is an interesting thought.” Later, they would say, “I’ve been thinking about what you said. I do understand better what is real and what is not real, and I do feel more peace and joy in my life. Thank you.”
I would tell them to thank God, not me, for all truth comes from Him and should be shared with others.
What we do in the temple clearly demonstrates the difference between real (eternal) and unreal (temporary). In the temple we are reminded of other opposites that we experience in life—opposites such as truth and error, light and darkness, life and death, and especially the difference between Jesus and Satan. That which comes from Jesus is light, lasts forever, and therefore is real; that which comes from Satan is darkness, has an end, and in that sense is not real. The fact that Satan’s temptations come to us and must be dealt with is very real. With the light of the Lord in our lives, we can see that these temptations are based on lies and deceptions; if we resist them, they will fade away into the nothingness they really are.
The viewpoints of this world change quickly. For example, medical science tells us today that something is good for us, but tomorrow that same thing is bad for us—depending on what the latest “experts” say. A song is popular today but mostly forgotten tomorrow. An investment is good today but a disaster tomorrow. Something that is acceptable today becomes “politically incorrect” tomorrow. The best computer today becomes outdated tomorrow. And fickle fashion changes so rapidly we never know for sure what’s currently in vogue.
Any worldly praise or position we might attain here is temporary. Eternal joy comes only by keeping the laws of the real world as set forth in the temple. Keeping the covenants made in the temple allows us to experience real peace and joy in this temporary world even while laying the foundation for an increase of those precious commodities in eternity. As President Thomas S. Monson taught, “True joy is found in holy temples of our Heavenly Father.”1 And that is why we should not let the cares of this temporary world keep us from the temple and the assurances of the real world we find there. Regular temple attendance therefore provides an answer to the Savior’s prayer: “I pray not that thou shouldst take them out of the world, but that thou shouldst keep them from the evil” (John 17:15).
The truths taught in the temple give us an eternal perspective and help keep us from the evil that abounds in the world. When we see everything through the lens of eternity, we also see that there is much good and truth in this world that we can understand if we seek it in the right places and in the right way.
1.Thomas S. Monson, Teachings of Thomas S. Monson, comp. Lynne F. Cannegieter (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 2011), 78.