Temple Prep

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Karate Kid Perspective on Ordinances

For those who have seen the original Karate Kid movie you’re probably familiar with the famous “wax on, wax off” lesson that Mr. Miyagi taught Daniel. I like the updated version of this lesson presented in the new Karate Kid movie starring Jackie Chan. You might be wondering what this has to do with ordinances – bear with me.

In the first scene, Dre (updated Daniel) enthusiastically approaches Mr. Han (updated Miyagi) and begins by trying to show Mr. Han how “good” he is and what “skills” he already possesses. Go ahead and watch this first clip:

Do we approach God thinking that we have it all figured out? Are we overly-impressed with our own wisdom and skill like Dre who felt like he had to validate himself somehow to Mr. Han? There is a verse in the Book of Mormon that I think is related to this idea:

“And whoso knocketh, to him will he open; and the wise, and the learned, and they that are rich, who are puffed up because of their learning, and their wisdom, and their riches—yea, they are they whom he despiseth; and save they shall cast these things away, and consider themselves fools before God, and come down in the depths of humility, he will not open unto them.” (2 Nephi 9:42)

It is easier to fill an empty vessel than a full one. Are we willing to make ourselves that vulnerable? Are we willing to sell all that we have acquired for the pearl of great price?

Dre thinks that Mr. Han is going to show him all these incredible kung fu moves, but Mr. Han has him do a seemly mundane task over and over again. Dre responds almost immediately with frustration, Read Full Post

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Thoughts on the Five Core Sacramental Symbols

There are at least five core elements that are used in the ordinance of the sacrament. Back on June 16th of this year I took down some ideas in my notebook concerning them so here they are. I will also be placing any number that I think is numerically significant next to the title.

1. Altar or Table (4, 1, 2)

  • Used for sacrifices and offerings and for sacred ordinances of the gospel (LDS BD). A place where heaven and earth are bridged via covenants.
  • Altar: Zabach (Hebrew) – “to slaughter an animal”.
  • The life of the animal is represented by its blood. (Leviticus 17:11)
  • Altars are temples in their most simple form, and the covenants made at them can vary.
  • We place things on the altar to be completely consumed, we do not expect to see them again. It is expected that all ungodliness is treated this way. Read Full Post
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Symbols, Images, Types, Metaphors, Similes, Parables, Motifs, Archetypes and more!

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Perhaps most of us throw around the word “symbolism” without understanding the various nuances of the subject.

I created ldsSymbols.com with reference to the word “symbols’ because that is what most people understand. Alonzo Gaskill’s book “The Lost Language of Symbolism” defines symbols, images, types, metaphors, similes, parables, motifs and archetypes. He also mentions other categories such as analogies, comparisons, emblems, figures, hallmarks, insignias, models, seals, signs and tokens.

Here is a list of definitions from the book along with the page number for reference:

  1. Symbol: Something that represents another thing (p. 11).
  2. Image: A word or action that names a concrete thing (p. 11).
  3. Type: A symbol that looks forward to an antitype for future fulfillment (p. 11).
  4. Metaphor: An implied comparison (p. 13).
  5. Similes: Compare one thing to another by using the formula like or as (p. 13).
  6. Parable: Brief stories that employ familiar situations, events, characteristics, or elements in order to teach important spiritual truths (p. 14).
  7. Motif: A recurring theme or a “structurally unified verbal whole” (p. 14).
  8. Archetype: An image or pattern that recurs…the universal elements of human experience (p. 15).

The next set of definitions are from various sources online:

  1. Analogy: A comparison between two things, typically on the basis of their structure and for the purpose of explanation or clarification. Google Definition
  2. Comparison: an examination of two or more items to establish similarities and dissimilarities. Merriam Webster
  3. Emblem: A heraldic device or symbolic object as a distinctive badge of a nation, organization, or family. Google Definition
  4. Figure: A person, animal, or object that symbolizes something. A pictorial or sculptural representation, especially of the human body. The Free Dictionary
  5. Hallmark: Any mark or symbol of genuineness or high quality. Your Dictionary
  6. Insignia: A symbol or token of personal power, status or office, or of an official body of government or jurisdiction. Wikipedia
  7. Model: A three-dimensional representation of a person or thing or of a proposed structure, typically on a smaller scale than the original. Google Definition
  8. Seal: An embossed emblem, figure, symbol, word, letter, etc., used as attestation or evidence of authenticity. Dictionary.com
  9. Sign: A token; something by which another thing is shown or represented; any visible thing, any motion, appearance or event which indicates the existence or approach of something else. Webster’s 1828 Dictionary
  10. Token: A sign; something intended to represent or indicate another thing or an event. Webster’s 1828 Dictionary
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On Mysticism, Transcendence, Meditation, Seers & Stones

meditation

Originally posted at TempleStudy.com

What is mysticism? That is the million dollar question.

It is incredibly difficult to define. Wikipedia defines it as the “pursuit of communion with, identity with, or conscious awareness of an ultimate reality, divinity, spiritual truth, or God through direct experience, intuition, instinct or insight.” What? By combining all possible definitions into one, they have created an incomprehensible one.

Let’s turn to some closer associates. Hugh Nibley once defined it, quoting Eduard Lehmann, as “an intuitive and ecstatic union with the deity obtained by means of contemplation and other mental exercises.” Professor William Hamblin turns to oft-repeated definitions such as “a domain of religion that deals with the search for and the attainment of a profound experiential knowledge of God or of ultimate reality,” or, “mysticism is … a type of religious experience which involves a sense of union or merging with either God or an all-pervading spiritual force in the universe,” but finds even these lacking. In Kevin Christensen’s recent Interpreter review of Margarget Barker’s book Temple Mysticism: An Introduction he indicated that his “favorite LDS approach” to the topic has become Mark E. Koltko’s essay “Mysticism and Mormonism: An LDS Perspective on Transcendence and Higher Consciousness,” found in the April 1989 issue of Sunstone. We’ll come back to this shortly. Christensen notes that while Nibley’s view tends to be the more conventional definition, Margaret Barker’s own use of the term in her book is very different still, focusing on the experience of “seeing the Lord,” i.e. a temple theophany. While different, there is clearly overlap between the ideas of “a union with deity,” and “seeing God,” as Matthew Bowen also elucidates in his recent article in Interpreter. Koltko’s essay also perhaps helps bridge the gap.

But let me rewind for a moment. Why am I interested in mysticism? It sounds eerily like one of those occult things that Read Full Post

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Through the Veil: Pondering the Temple Experience Through Scripture

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I’m excited to announce the official publication of a little temple-related project that I’ve been working on. It all began with this idea: “What would it look like if you reconstructed the temple experience purely from scripture alone?”

As I pondered this idea, I realized how valuable something like this could be for people preparing to receive their endowment the first time. It would essentially be a primer to study both before and after an individual’s temple experience. So much of the temple experience is right there in the scriptures anyway but many people don’t seem to realize it. For some, it takes years of study and searching to make certain connections that give context to the purpose of temple blessings.

The culmination of these thoughts has led to the production of a 14-page document that I have titled: “Through the Veil: Pondering the Temple Experience Through Scripture”. I have done my best to preserve the sacredness of the temple while providing a study tool (with wide margins for making notes) that can serve as a fantastic temple prep resource.

This document, which has existed for a year as just a list of scriptures, has apparently been helpful enough to certain individuals that I think making it available here at oneClimbs could bless the lives of many more people, even those that have attended the temple for years.

I offer this document freely to anyone to use or share however they see fit (no permission necessary).

Click here to Download the .pdf version of “Through the Veil”

Deutsch (German) “Durch den Schleier” (Translation by Sebastian B.)

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Kids and the Temple

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I posted this photo on Instagram yesterday and have been thinking about kids and the temple. According to Val Brinkerhoff in an interview with temple architect Keith Stepan, the Las Vegas and Portland Oregon temples were the first for over 100 years to restore the use of celestial symbolism  on the outside of the buildings. Since then, the level of detail and design on the outside of temples has seemed to increase dramatically.

Today, I have noticed that the symbolism is everywhere, from the fence to the gardens and fountains and it is a joy to explore and discover.

I have 3 young daughters between the ages of 2 and 7 who I often take on “Daddy-daughter dates” to the temple. The grounds are peaceful and beautiful and as we walk around, we look at the symbols on the temple and the plants and patterns that are all around us. We talk about what things might mean and study different doctrines and principles according to the child’s understanding.

Kids get symbols. They can learn them just like any language and they are really good at it.

In the picture that was drawn by my 7 year old (without any help), she created a temple that had the celestial bodies in the correct order: the moon at the bottom, the sun and then the stars up top. She also drew a fence that features a squared circle motif and what is interesting is that this is different from the Las Vegas temple. She either observed it elsewhere or realized the importance of weaving symbols into the fence design.

I found the temple flanked by two trees interesting because of the consistent patterns of the number 2 associated with trees that is used on many temples (possibly in connection with the two trees in the garden of Eden, man and woman can be symbolized by two trees as well).

The only thing that’s really off is the Moroni statue; if the temple is facing east in this drawing, then Moroni is facing north. Moroni is usually facing east and sometimes south east like on the Las Vegas and a few other temples.

I wanted to share this to point out the value in bringing anyone to the temple, whether they are children, teens or even people not of our faith. The grounds and building itself are filled with teachings, doctrine and principles that all can benefit from. It is a wonderful place, even on the outside, to meditate and receive revelation.

I’m grateful that such a place exists.

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How Will Governs the Cosmos

I like to understand how things work. I do this by trying to see relationships and patterns between things to see if they make any sense. I’ve been pondering the subject of desire for quite a bit now and in doing so the subject of “will” has entered the scene over the past several weeks.

As I pondered these things and discovered a few interesting little nuggets of wisdom, I think I’ve been able to piece a few things together that have really helped me personally.

In my studies, I have come to some conclusions about the power of will. The first step came by understanding will in a way that was somewhat new to me. It is summed up in this simple definition of faith: “Faith is intelligence exercising will”.  This thought took me along another line of thinking that suggested that “the faith of any intelligence is only as strong as its will”.

So how do this all fit together? I put together a simple graphic that illustrates where I’m going with all of this.

reason-judge-will-action

The function of will

In pondering will, I turned to the good old Webster’s 1828 Dictionary for enlightenment. Concerning will, Noah Webster wrote: Read Full Post

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The Relationship Between The Ancient Israelite Temple And The Endowment via TempleStudy.com

The following article is from TempleStudy.com


Ancient Israelite temple vestiture and ritual. The High Priest wears his special linen garments, sash and turban during his once per year entry into the Holy of Holies on Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. He approaches the Ark of the Covenant beyond the veil with the incense shovel in one hand, the smoke representing the prayers of the Israelites, and small vessel of bull’s blood in the other hand, the sin offering (atonement) on behalf of all the Israelites. Image based on Leviticus 16 and Exodus 25-31 and Exodus 35-40.

Ancient Israelite temple vestiture and ritual. The High Priest wears his special linen garments, sash and turban during his once per year entry into the Holy of Holies on Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. He approaches the Ark of the Covenant beyond the veil with the incense shovel in one hand, the smoke representing the prayers of the Israelites, and small vessel of bull’s blood in the other hand, the sin offering (atonement) on behalf of all the Israelites. Image based on Leviticus 16 and Exodus 25-31 and Exodus 35-40.

Professor William J. Hamblin has offered some good starting points in considering the relationship between the ancient Israelite temple ritual and the modern day LDS temple endowment.  It is from this vantage point that we should approach trying to understand these ancient ritual systems and the connections they might have with the Latter-day Saints temple ritual.

“When considering the possible relationship between ancient Israelite temple system and the LDS Endowment, the first thing to note is the basic purpose of the ancient temple was to reconcile Israel with God and bring all Israel (represented by the twelve stones inscribed with the tribal names) back into the presence of God (that is recapitulating the Sinai theophany), symbolically represented by the Holy Place and Holy of Holies within the veil.

“The second thing to note is that Israel had exoteric rituals in the outer courtyard of the temple which could be witnessed by all (though only priests officiated). Esoteric rituals performed inside the temple itself could only be performed and witnessed by priests. LDS Endowment broadly corresponds to the esoteric rituals performed inside the temple, not the exoteric rituals performed outside. The ancient exoteric Israelite temple rituals correspond with the LDS weekly sacrament (the bread/wine offering of the Israelite temple).” (William Hamblin, Mormon Scripture Explorations)

Another important point to realize is that Christ was the last great blood sacrifice when He came in the meridian of time and offered the Atonement, which ended sacrifice by the shedding of blood (3 Ne. 9:19; cf.Mosiah 13:27Alma 34:133 Ne. 15:2–10). Since Christ was the last blood sacrifice (all precursors pointing to Him), from that point onward the outward nature of sacrificial ritual changed, but still pointing towards Christ, and still a sacrifice of a broken heart and contrite spirit (3 Ne. 9:20–22Psalms 51:16–17;Psalms 34:18).

See the gallery below for various artists’ depictions of the rituals inside the ancient Israelite temple. Click each image to enlarge.

 

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Symbolism of the Bee: “The Deseret Connection” by Hugh W. Nibley

In response to an email question about the meaning of beehives sent in by Cameron to ldsSymbols.com, I dug up some information that I had read several years ago. I located the article I was looking for here, which contains a really great history of what the beehive meant to the Egyptians. This is pretty significant to Latter-day Saints who also use the beehive as a primary symbol of the faith as well as the culture and people of Utah.

Why should what the Egyptians believed be of any significance to Latter-day Saints today? Perhaps it is because the Egyptians, while practicing beliefs that on the surface seem foreign to modern people, had many core principles tied into truth obtained from an earlier time. Abraham 1:26 states:

Pharaoh, being a righteous man, established his kingdom and judged his people wisely and justly all his days, seeking earnestly to imitate that order established by the fathers in the first generations, in the days of the first patriarchal reign, even in the reign of Adam, and also of Noah, his father, who blessed him with the blessings of the earth, and with the blessings of wisdom, but cursed him as pertaining to the Priesthood.

I find it interesting that some people conclude that that Latter-day Saints hijacked temple ceremonies from the Masons and that Christianity hijacked teachings from the Jews who hijacked their temple rights and beliefs from the Egyptians who hijacked them from…well, maybe the guys who had it right in the first place. I believe that everything goes back to the beginning anyway, and that the “doctrinal debris” left behind can be “restored” or “reconstituted” into a form where truth and light can come to us from it. Read Full Post

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First oneClimbs Documentary: “Reading Temples” Now on YouTube!

Did you know that you can “read” temples? What if all of the temples around the world today constituted a vast library of new scripture just waiting to be read if we had eyes to see? This presentation covers some basic concepts relating to LDS Symbology and a guide to approaching the subject of learning symbolism.

This video presentation incorporates my first attempt at presenting principles related to “reading” temples. The content of the video is suitable for all ages and anyone interested in learning how understanding symbols can play an incredible part of their spiritual lives.

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The Nephite Interpreters

nephite-interpreters

Pictured above is my latest rendering of the Nephite Interpreters that were in the possession of Joseph Smith for a time. I have always wondered what these instruments must have looked like so I began by creating a few simple illustrations. Over time, the illustrations evolved into a more realistically rendered piece of art and this is the latest version. One day, I think it would be interesting to try to construct a physical model.

You can begin to get an idea of what these interpreters must have looked like by examining quotes from witnesses that actually saw them; from there you are left with gaps that can only be filled in with speculation. Here are the aspects of this version that I feel are pretty solid:

  1. Triangular shape of the “stones”
  2. Figure-8 design of the frame
  3. “Glass” setting for the interpreters

Here are the characteristics that are speculations and assumptions Read Full Post

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You Cannot Stay on the Summit Forever…

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In the very quote that inspired the title of this blog, Rene Daumal penned a profound though: “You cannot stay on the summit forever; you have to come down again.”

The purpose of the climb is to reach the summit and to see. Then one must climb again but downward to return and live according to what the climb revealed. The summit is not actually the end or the destination, but the halfway point. Life itself is a climb, but so are individual pursuits for truth.

You were never meant to stay there and you cannot survive there, even though it is beautiful and you can see much better than you can below.

Rene suggested that “There is an art of conducting oneself in the lower regions by the memory of what one saw higher up.” and that “When one can no longer see, one can at least still know.”

You’ll notice that none of the ordinances of the gospel imply that you have permanently “arrived”. After baptism, you come up out of the water and back into life, after the sacrament you go home and start your labors again the next day, and after a temple session you leave the Celestial Room and return to the “Telestial” world.

What is the point of this?

My good friend and old Institute teacher had a saying that he picked up from his grandmother: “The temple is like a great mold; the more your pour yourself into it, the more you become like it.”

Each time we climb, we are supposed to see and take back with us a knowledge of higher things to put into practice down below. Are we are stuck at the top? How many tarried for a while and returned empty handed? The climb itself may not bring knowledge but it always generates strength. The purpose of the climb is to receive and not to demand, we must be content with what the master is willing to give us in his wisdom.

“There is an art of conducting oneself in the lower regions…” we get to try what we learned, we get to make mistakes and keep practicing. Covered by grace, our mistakes are acceptable only as we repent, learn from them and are perpetually willing to allow ourselves to change.

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Why Every Latter-day Saint Needs to Own This Book

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A Beginner’s Guide to Constructing the Universe is probably one of my favorite books in the whole wide world. Is it the be-all, end-all, of all things ever? Nope. So what’s the big deal about it? It is a “switch-flipper” an “ah-HA!” generator and an incredibly fun read!

Latter-day Saints are a people that are swimming in a world of symbolic meaning, especially those that attend the temple, but how many really ‘get it’? The problem is with the way that we think and author Denver Snuffer hit it right on the head:

“Exposure to the culture of ceremony and symbols is a priceless advantage to anyone coming from a secularized and demythologized society. The power in the temple’s rites and symbols, lies in the reorientation of the individual and their minds from what is in society today to a different setting and different world-view…one in which you are prepared for companionship with those who, behind the veil, live in a culture of symbols and ceremony where deep meanings and eternal patterns are seen endlessly.” (Denver Snuffer, The Second Comforter: Conversing with the Lord through the Veil, Millcreek Press, pps. 260-61; 374-75)

I love that quote. In our “secular and demythologized society” we are dense to anything beyond what we see Read Full Post

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“Putting on the Names”: A Jewish-Christian Legacy

by Truman G. Madsen

Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah

Reprinted by permission from By Study and Also By Faith: Essays in Honor of Hugh W. Nibley on the Occasion of His Eightieth Birthday (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book and FARMS, 1990), 1:458–81.

Aristotle observed that “nothing is by nature a name or a noun.” That is, words or word-names have no inherent or necessary meaning. Instead they are arbitrarily assigned to objects or persons. For different reasons, it is a standard view today that names, as well as concrete or abstract terms, are no more than a flatus vocis, a mere sound.

This tendency to reduce language to whimsical convention without concern for more profound origins may be symptomatic of the secularization of men and even the trivialization of life itself. At any rate, it reflects a diminishing of the religious consciousness Read Full Post

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A Few Notes About Temple-related Clothing From the Temple Institute

All of the notes below are taken directly from the Temple Institute which is an organization seeking to rebuild the third temple on Mount Moriah.


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Moses was instructed by G-d that the garments of the priests were to be both dignified and beautiful; as precious as the garments of royalty. Indeed, the Talmud informs us that when the wicked Persian king Ahasuerus made a feast for his advisors and officers and sought to impress them with his greatness (as recorded in the scroll of Esther, which tells the story of Purim) he put off his own royal vestments and donned the uniform of the High Priest… which was more precious than his own. These priestly garments were in his possession since the First Temple had been destroyed by Read Full Post

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Piercing the Veil: Temple Worship in the Lost 116 Pages

Below is a transcript of a presentation by Don Bradley on some temple-related themes that may have been present in the lost 116 pages via fairlds.org. He makes some really interesting points and I was fascinated with the relationship between the items in the ark of the covenant and the Lehite relics (Brass plates, Liahona, Interpreters/Breastplate and Sword of Laban) that may have served a similar purpose in the New World temples.

I’d like to do a little more research and perhaps put together an article on those four relics and the parallels to the decalogue tablets, manna and rod of Arron in the ark. Anyway, on to Don Bradley’s presentation!


Since you’ve all read the title of my presentation today, “Piercing the Veil: Temple Worship in the Lost 116 Pages,” I should begin by answering a few questions.

First, no, my research did not require any trips to the Point of the Mountain to visit Mark Hoffman. While he was also at one point working on a book related to the lost 116 pages, his book differed from mine in that it was supposed to actually be the lost 116 pages. I’m sure it’s a lot easier to say Read Full Post

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VIDEO: Mormonism and the Temple: Examining an Ancient Religious Tradition – UPDATED: Jan 23, 2013

The following is taken straight from TempleStudy.com, thanks Bryce for putting these videos together in one place.

The conference “Mormonism and the Temple: Examining an Ancient Religious Tradition,” which took place on October 29, 2012 in Logan, Utah, was filmed, and some of the videos are now available for free in 1080p HD resolution on the Academy for Temple Studies YouTube channel, the Academy’s TempleStudies.org website, as well as embedded below here. The rest of the presenters’ videos are forthcoming.

***Four new videos added Jan 23, 2013: 

  • Laurence Hemming – “Chapel, Church, Temple, Cathedral: Lost Parallels”
  • John Hall – “Ancient Mediterranean Temple Ceremonies”
  • Le Grande Davies – “Temples—Bridges of Eternity”
  • John L. Fowles – “The Temple, The Book of Revelation, and Joseph Smith”

Introduction – Gary N. Anderson & Philip Barlow

Panel Discussion – “Introduction to Temple Studies”

Read Full Post

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Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh

This Christmas I had some thoughts about the gifts that were given to the young Jesus by the wise men. I haven’t had time to really dig down deep and see what I can unearth concerning gold, frankincense and myrrh but I did have a few unique ideas that I don’t think I’ve ever read about anywhere else so I thought I’d take note of them here.

Gold

Gold can be primarily obtained by mining it from the earth or panning it out of rivers in tiny flakes. It is rare and must be sought for diligently and then purified by immense heat to flush the dross out. Gold does not rust under the same circumstances as other metals, it is extremely stable and attractive.

Frankincense and Myrrh

Myrrh

These two I am going to mention together because there are a host of dynamics that they seem to share. Both frankincense and myrrh are tree sap that is obtained by cutting into the trunk and allowing the sap to bleed out; ponder that for a bit. Read Full Post

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Video: Secrets in Plain Sight

How about taking a nice long trip down the rabbit hole of symbolism? Scott Onstott’s mind-blowing video details some of the world’s most fascinating symbolism hidden in plain sight, from Egyptian lore tied deeply within major cities of the world like Washington D.C, San Francisco, London and Paris, to the ratios of the universe and solar system embedded in to ancient megaliths.

Set aside a good 3 hours and 43 minutes for a mind-bending tour laced with unbelievable parallels that defy coincidence. At first, the video might seem a little conspiracy-theoryish, but give it a chance and wait for the math. You’re in for quite a ride to unlock mysteries more captivating than any fictional thriller. Truth is truly stranger than fiction and it is all right under your nose.

That said, hopefully this film can help to expand your vision and open your mind to a greater capacity to realize the immensity of hidden truths that do, in fact, surround us.

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The Temple is the Peak and Obedience is the Climb

If you are familiar with the articles here at oneClimbs, you’ll probably see a “climbing” analogy from time to time. I’ve been rappelling a few times and played around on some rock walls in the past but other than that, I have no mountain climbing experience. I grew up in South Texas and never really saw a mountain until my mission to Idaho.

I’ve lived around mountains since then and try to spend time in them as often as possible hiking with my family. Even in casual hiking on trails, the journey can be somewhat difficult so I can’t imagine what it must be like to tackle a treacherous rock face!

To meet God at the top of the mountain, you have to climb; there are no spiritual helicopters. You must do it alone, hand over hand, rock by rock all the way up.

Think of the temple as the peak of the mountain and the requirements that must be lived to enter as the climb. Every now and then I’ll see a discussion of the temple online or on a T.V. interview where some individual laments the fact that the temple has such ridged requirements for entry. Some might ask “Why can’t the temple be open to anyone so that all of us can know about these teaching and receive these blessings?”

The irony is that anyone can enter the temple and receive the blessings but only if you have ‘climbed’ God’s mountain. Climbing takes effort and sacrifice, the temple symbolically teaches that there is no shortcut into God’s kingdom; there is but one way and the path is clearly marked. There is only one way up.

But it goes deeper than that…

This is something that anyone can do, the requirements are not secret, they are open to the public and all one needs to do is climb.

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