Last Sunday, thousands of Latter-day Saints went to chapels to watch the dedication of the Oquirrh Mountain Temple.

They'd been told to arrive a half-hour early, so there was plenty of time for reflection. And with images of the temple scrolling on the screen, I'm sure most of us reflected on the temple itself.

I found myself thinking of the verse from Corinthians: "Your body is a temple of the Holy Ghost." And I thought how that meant we were all small temples now inside a larger temple. The unborn babies there, in fact, were regular Russian "nested dolls" — temples within temples within temples.

Imagine such spiritual security.

I also found myself wondering if the reason temples were never mentioned as part of the afterlife was because we were expected to become living temples. We'd hold inside the same peace, light and warmth found in the earthly buildings.

And I wondered if the temple wasn't really a schoolhouse — a place where God's children learned to be temples.

That sounds like pretty heady stuff, I know.

But it's really quite simple. It comes back to the old saying, "Don't just be in the temple, let the temple be in you."

When we enter a temple, what do we notice?

We notice the serenity.

We need to learn to take that serenity, store it inside and make it part of our lives.

We notice friendliness, trust and helpfulness.

We should internalize those things, as well.

We notice light, beauty, cleanliness, cheerfulness, sweetness, silence and warmth — all of it meant to be more than just where we are, but eventually a part of who we are.

But most of all, I thought, the temple is a schoolhouse for teaching us to look beyond the surface to find our hidden selves — our "more real" selves.

Temples aren't just places.

They are pathways.

We move through them, in and out of doorways, beyond barriers and into wonderful spaces, always going deeper.

And that is what must happen inside of us.

We must learn to go beyond our everyday selves — the selves that worry about tee-times, taxes, movie tickets and a million other superficial things. At some point, we must travel inward to find our deeper self, our true self, a self that is more "us" than any other — a self carefully hidden away from view.

And when we find that "true self," it will make our surface selves seem like so much tinkling brass.

That deeper self inside us is like a secret lake in the mountains.

It is like a glorious room within us, veiled away and protected.

Going into a temple is a metaphor for the journey we must make into our heart of hearts.

We enter, we wait, we proceed.

And what we see in each temple teaches us how to recognize our deeper self — the glimmer of light, the gentle touch, the feeling of peace that make up what is our true nature.

Jerry Johnston is a Deseret News staff writer. "New Harmony" appears weekly in Mormon Times.