Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve admonished nearly 200 BYU-Hawaii graduates June 22 to nourish their spirits.
"We commemorate a milestone in the gaining of knowledge," he said. "But the mere gaining of knowledge is an incomplete view of the significance of education. Of equal or greater importance is the question of how that knowledge will be used."Just as physical bodies require nourishment, he explained, so do spiritual bodies. "Symptoms of spiritual malnutrition include reduced ability to digest spiritual food, reduced spiritual strength and impairment of spiritual vision."
Elder Oaks listed the principal sources of spiritual food as praying, studying the scriptures, attending inspirational meetings, singing the hymns of Zion, serving in Church callings, fasting, partaking of the sacrament and making temple covenants.
He cautioned that anything that drives away the Spirit of the Lord - such as pornography, profanity or anger - will prevent people from obtaining the spiritual nourishment they need. He also said some physical substances, such as those forbidden by the Word of Wisdom, are harmful to both body and spirit.
"As I have pondered how to prevent spiritual malnutrition and how to transfer faith and spirituality from one generation to the next, I have concluded that the most important thing we can understand in this matter is the fact that spiritual truths - what the scriptures sometime call the "mysteries of God" - must be taught and transmitted in the Lord's way, not in the world's way . . . .
"God reveals Himself and His eternal truths - the spiritual food that the scriptures call the bread of life and the living water - to those who seek, who serve, who keep His commandments, and who wait and listen in humility for His teaching," Elder Oaks continued. "We cannot come to know the things of God while rejecting or failing to use the indispensable methods God has prescribed to learn these things. The things of God must be learned in His own way, through faith in God and revelation from the Holy Ghost."
Elder Oaks emphasized that few methods are more effective than the power of parental examples in transmitting faith and spiritual nourishment to children. Powerful transmitters, he explained, are family prayer, parental teachings and testimonies, Sabbath observances, tithe-paying, missionary service and opportunities for personal religious experiences.
"Intellectual methods - study and reason - prepare the way and get the mind ready to receive the Spirit. But what the scriptures call conversion - the change of mind and heart that gives one the direction and strength to move resolutely toward eternal life - comes only by the witness and power of the Holy Spirit."
The graduation exercises, held at the George Q. Cannon Activities Center, also include the bestowal of a Distinguished Service Award to Hawaii Temple President David Hannemann and his wife, Carolyn.
Eric B. Shumway, BYU-Hawaii president, said that during 17 years as the unofficial "ambassador at large" for the Polynesian Cultural Center, Pres. Hannemann became the pre-eminent host, the epitome of the Aloha spirit, graciously representing Polynesia's love and sociality in personally welcoming millions of visitors from many nations around the world.