`Cultivate BYU experience in your lives'

President Gordon B. Hinckley told 23,000 BYU students that he hoped the "BYU experience" - scarely perceptible most of the time, but nonetheless real - "will cause you to take on those qualities which will make of you a true disciple of Jesus."

Speaking Nov. 4 in the Marriott Center on the BYU campus, President Hinckley said, "I am not surprised that students from far and wide are trying to get in here."Students filled the building almost to capacity to hear the devotional address. Hundreds more viewed the meeting from eight overflow rooms on campus. Sister Marjorie P. Hinckley, Elder Henry B. Eyring of the Quorum of the Twelve and his wife, Kathleen, and Elder Merrill J. Bateman of the Seventy and BYU president, and his wife, Marilyn, were also in attendance.

President Hinckley said that during a recent meeting of the university's Board of Trustees that members of the BYU administration spoke of ways to give a larger number of young people a taste of the "BYU experience."

He said that he recently spoke to students on another college campus in Utah. Most of the huge crowd "were institute students. They looked just the way you look. They were clean, well-groomed, and neatly dressed. As high a percentage of them will be married in the temple as there will be of you," President Hinckley told the BYU students.

Returning from his experience on this other college campus, the prophet said he reflected much on the unique features of BYU.

"What do you have here that for the most part is not found elsewhere?" he questioned. "Is there any substance to this so-called BYU experience? I think so."

For instance, BYU students attend student wards and stakes. "I do not know how many of you really appreciate the meaning of this," he said.

"There is no competition to get into social fraternities, and yet there is every opportunity for sociality. Here every student stands on an equal footing in belonging to a student ward."

President Hinckley said that each student ward is presided over by a bishop. "Your bishop, I submit, is your friend. He prays about you. He worries about you. He stands ready to help you at all times and in all circumstances."

He noted that young men also have elders quorums to assist them in any way, and young women have Relief Society.

BYU students, he continued, belong to the greatest brotherhood and sisterhood in the world. "You are bound together by an endowment of one faith, one Lord, one baptism. You work together with appreciation and respect one for another. This is all part of the BYU experience."

Near the BYU campus stands a House of the Lord, the Provo Temple, explained President Hinckley. "Many of you go there on a frequent basis. . . . You have this great and remarkable opportunity to work unselfishly in the interest of others while growing spiritually yourselves. This is another aspect of the singular BYU experience."

BYU students also have proscriptions and prescriptions of the Word of Wisdom. "Hence," President Hinckley said, "drinking is not one of your problems. What a wonderful thing it is to have pleasant and happy associations without any inclination whatever to indulge in drinking or any related practice.

"And beyond this is the wondrous promise that you will receive treasures of knowledge, even hidden treasures. This does not mean that you will necessarily be smarter in your normal studies. It does mean that the power of the Holy Ghost may distill upon you and bring to you an increased knowledge and understanding of the sweet and marvelous things of the Lord. Another phase of the BYU experience."

President Hinckley also told the students that they have unique and dedicated faculty to teach them.

"They are, for the most part, dedicated Latter-day Saints, men and women who feel as much at home in the House of the Lord as they feel in the classrooms of this university. When all is said and done, it is not this elaborate campus that really counts," he said.

"It is the faculty who teach you, who lead you, who encourage you, who help you find your way as you go forward with your studies. This again, is an element of the unique and singular BYU experience."

President Hinckley told the students that their studies will qualify them for their vocations. "I hope that you will distinguish yourselves as leaders, as workers, with a great sense of loyalty and dedication," he said.

"I hope your training at this university will endow you with an interesting and powerful sense of responsibility toward the world of which you will be a part. Your performance will reflect honor on your Alma Mater."

The prophet said he hopes the students "are receiving a great desire to walk in the footsteps of the Master, to reach out to those in distress, to serve the Church with great faithfulness, and to serve your fellowmen in a spirit of love and consecration."

He told the students that he hopes they learn tolerance and respect for those of other faiths while attending BYU. "The true gospel of Jesus Christ never led to bigotry. It never led to self-righteousness. It never led to arrogance. The true gospel of Jesus Christ leads to brotherhood, to friendship, to appreciation of others, to respect and kindness and love."

Finally, President Hinckley told the students that he hopes they will take from BYU the habit of seeking knowledge.

"A truly educated man never ceases to learn. He never ceases to grow. I hope you young women, as you take upon yourselves the burden of rearing families, will never set aside your desire to acquire knowledge. I hope that you will read to your children. . . . I hope that you will read to your husbands. I hope that you will read to yourselves."

Then President Hinckley spoke of his father - who was retired when he was the prophet's age. He "was a great reader with a wonderful library. He was an excellent speaker and writer" who spent many days sitting on the wall near his house.

"As he sat on the wall he thought deeply of what he had read the night before," said President Hinckley, explaining that his father acquired the habit of deep thinking as part of his BYU experience.

"We must never cease to learn. We believe in eternal progression, and that this life is a part of eternity to be profitably lived until the very end.

"I have talked with you about the BYU experience as I sense it. I have spoken of a few of many things which are a part of it. It has or will become a part of you. You are involved in it. You are going through it. . . . It should become an inseparable part of your very nature, something almost intangible but of great substance."

". . . You came here because you wanted the BYU experience, although perhaps you could not define it. Having gained it, never lose it. Cultivate it in your lives, and hold its very essence until you grow old and gray."

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