Teachers and Teaching, Initiations

Preface by Linda Mihalic

To teach is "to impart knowledge or skill to, to provide knowledge of, to instruct in, to condition to a certain action or frame of mind, to cause to learn by example or experience, to advocate or preach."

My brethren, let not many of you become teachers, knowing that
we shall receive a stricter judgment. James 3:1, NKJV

Edna Lister said, "A true teacher blazes a path toward the supernal truth, toward the heart of all Light, and never steps from that path to please any man. The true teacher never teaches what he or she only thinks or believes, but teaches only what he or she knows is truth."

A great law says that "God speaks as personality through personality to personality," and this is true. Yet a wise teacher always bears in mind that self usually holds personality in a firm grip, using it as a soapbox for spewing its selfishness.

Remember always that your parents were your first teachers. Their impression upon you was the strongest and most long-lasting. The effect of their teaching will indelibly color your approach to life, positively or negatively. Consciously or unconsciously, you will mimic the way in which you were taught.

Becoming a teacher, being a teacher, and teaching are all forms of initiation involving the spoken Word. You do best by eliminating any personal slant of opinion and prejudice from your teaching. The law does not need your "style" to make it valid or memorable.

Edna Lister on Teachers and Teaching

Maturity means you won't seek teachers, but know your own soul record and touch the memory chord to recall all you have ever known. – Edna Lister, November 24, 1938.

When you are ready, the teaching will come to you with the teachers you need. – Edna Lister, November 28, 1938.

A good student on the Via Christa is in harmony with the Master and attentive to his teachings. – Edna Lister, February 29, 1940.

Always check with your teacher, to make certain that you hear and see spiritually is true, for your delight could delude you. – Edna Lister, July 3, 1941.

When Light cracks self's thick armor, God shows the wise teacher how to widen the breach and free the student from the smug self-satisfaction of countless ages. Students always misunderstand such a teacher, who is, however, well understood by God. – Edna Lister, October 14, 1941.

Each teacher learns by deserved criticism to do the Godlike thing under all conditions. – Edna Lister, February 6, 1942.

Go slowly when teaching a new student. Give her no more than she can fully digest at one time. Stop short of any doubt on her part. See that each talk leaves her balanced. Do not leave one point until you have that inner feeling of "knowing" that she has accepted and digested what you’ve given. This is of truth. When you tell another the truth about the past, make certain that you are scraping the platter of your self, not simply recreating the past ugliness. You are not ready to clean out the past if you still feel sorry for yourself as regards it. – Edna Lister, September 27, 1944.

As a teacher, you must pay the debts associated with any student who has misused what you taught him. If a single phrase is inverted even inadvertently, it can cause untold debt. – Edna Lister, October 26, 1944.

Do not give more law at a time than another can bear and use. Just love him up into the wholeness of Christ consciousness. – Edna Lister, October 27, 1944.

You can stand on one of two rocks: gracious acceptance of a gift, or greedily taking it as your due. – Edna Lister, February 12, 1945.

"Whom the Lord loveth, He chasteneth." – Hebrews 12:6 for advance. The Master sends the chastening from the silence, and only he who loves the Lord will accept (repent) and surrender to the chastening. Yet between acceptance and surrender, the prayer of repentance must also come. – Edna Lister, April 16, 1945.

The Master's teachers give you nothing new if you do not put into practice what they already gave you. – Edna Lister, June 28, 1945.

Life itself will teach you about not missing a detail. – Edna Lister, July 9, 1945.

Although others may reject you in wrath or contempt, your words will always stand. One day they will face the truth you spoke. Speak in love and hold them. If you reprimand as you point out the truth, you may never let their line of Light go until they see the truth. – Edna Lister, July 13, 1945.

Learn to accept gracefully what others give you. Merely accepting with little or no gratitude is different from gracious accepting, knowing that one day you will have much to give them in return for their giving. Now, you may give appreciation and joy, and show it in many ways. – Edna Lister, July 20, 1945.

Law is not universal unless it applies to the world. Sift the sparks of personality from a law before you give it. Stop the instant personality creeps in. Be sure the laws you teach are all impersonal. You are free to apply law your way, but it is difficult here, for you must not teach from opinion or prejudice. – Edna Lister, July 22, 1945.

There is only so much room at the top. Many sit in self-created mud puddles, which is why so many follow teachers of mental persuasion and will power, who speak of using the power that will make another act the way they want. – Edna Lister, July 31, 1945.

What good is freedom that teaches nothing? Struggling and suffering are better than sitting and stagnating. – Edna Lister, December 2, 1945.

The kingdom of heaven is open to all believers. We all advance with equal rights to become whatever we choose to be. No one is excluded, yet each must pay his own soul debts — no exceptions. A teacher of truth learns this the hard way. – Edna Lister, May 26, 1947.

"Forgive us our debts as we have forgiven our debtors” If you hold a debt against another, whether a person, political party, administration, or nation, you are holding yourself in chains of bondage. To blame anyone or anything is as charging a debt to that person or agency, a debt that the one who charges it must pay, not the one blamed. The one blamed may have repented before you charged him with the debt. Stand on God's principles and love with His love. Rid yourself and earth of all debts now. – Edna Lister, June 12, 1947.

Your attitude after making high vows brings judgment on your teacher also. – Edna Lister, June 17, 1947.

Whatever binds you is deeply buried in you. Others have nothing to do with this, but are your teachers and tempters. Dig out and give up whatever in you binds you to another. – Edna Lister, July 3, 1947.

If some of your soul debts still remain to be paid, make the sacrifice and pay them now. Become responsible and pay all debts now, lest your lack of effort may cause you to have to incarnate later to do so. – Edna Lister, July 5, 1947.

Other teachers have been made to look foolish in public. God has reprimanded them, black and blue. Yet the successful teachers have obeyed, asked and sought advice when necessary. – Edna Lister, August 20, 1947.

Others think they are as good as you, and the lower they are on the scale, the more offense they take when you teach law. Couch your teaching in these impersonal terms: "It has been given thus. Law demands this or that, but God gives us free choice. Choosing the right is wise." – Edna Lister, June 5, 1948.

If a teacher gives information for self-aggrandizement, he wears out the body and a veil drops over his spiritual faculties. His body grows heavy, and he may go out with heart failure if he is not careful about the information he gives. – Edna Lister, July 4, 1948.

When you miss the mark, grow weary of soul conquering and let self take over, avoid not the appearance of evil, and become a stumbling block for another, who is to blame for the results? If you refuse to accept your own debts, your teacher must accept the guilt and blame as more sacrificial delay. – Edna Lister, December 5, 1948.

You pay half a student's debts when you teach him law. – Edna Lister, June 14, 1951.

Teachers must renew themselves daily, and keep up with the world to dress up old principles and methods. – Edna Lister, I Surrender, July 4, 1954.

We teach the world to conquer self, and that God is deathless, ageless and abiding. We tie earth to heaven and live among men, not in ivory towers. – Edna Lister, November 21, 1954.

Do not teach a new law to someone without checking. This is a warning, a caution to seek Light and stand in it before speaking. Go to the altar, lift and ask for enough Light to cleanse your transgressions first. – Edna Lister, December 17, 1956.

You take on your share of the mantle of messiahship when you follow a strong teacher in Christ, and the folds of the mantle envelop you. Thus, you become and are responsible for everyone and everything about you, especially your own idle words. – Edna Lister, January 24, 1957.

Pray for instructions for all teaching. – Edna Lister, May 9, 1957.

Teachers may hold back reaction of law for a space, briefly, to give the disobedient time to gain strength and balance to see the justice of pure law. – Edna Lister, May 12, 1958.

Every teacher knows what a great creator a student can be by the magnificent negativity he or she has built. – Edna Lister, September 8, 1958.

When you teach law, you become responsible for lifting the debts of all those whom you teach. – Edna Lister, October 23, 1958.

The laws are rigid for ascending souls. The fact that you know a rigid law gives you no right to use it on others. You are learning to make law acceptable, so you do not kill students off in one blow. – Edna Lister, May 28, 1959.

The slightest idle word or action can cause disappointment in you as a teacher. – Edna Lister, October 5, 1959.

Put not a law upon the back of a neophyte that imposes a burden too great for him to bear. It will cause him to make vows that he inevitably must break for lack of experience, imperfection of desire, or a vibration not yet tempered or raised high enough to suit high vow demands. – Edna Lister, January 3, 1960.

When you give law to another, you must be ready to stand for a billion years to bring him through. – Edna Lister, March 21, 1960.

No one can teach law to or sit in judgment on one who has become law. – Edna Lister, December 5, 1960.

An Antichrist takes your mind off glory and teaches you to fear darkness. – Edna Lister, December 15, 1960.

Before you sleep, put your students on a cloud of glory in a shaft of fire so they may ascend and understand the instruction. – Edna Lister, June 7, 1962.

When a teacher gives law and you accept, she pays no debt for teaching. Yet she pays for your hurt self, the anger, resentment or doubt. – Edna Lister, June 7, 1962.

The Bible teaches to let go of humanity's "impossible," and grasp God's possible. You will walk earth as an immortal when you have wiped the last impossibility from your mind. – Edna Lister, August 15, 1963.

A teacher who yearns to make students over in her image and likeness breaks law. – Edna Lister, November 14, 1963.

Give a student as much as he can take, then set him free to learn and assimilate the associated lessons. When he reaches the saturation point, release him, but hold the line of responsibility forever. – Edna Lister, October 1, 1964.

The higher you go, the harder the penalty, the greater the debt and the force of a dropped line. A teacher must let people learn their lessons. – Edna Lister, February 3, 1966.

You create a great debt to pay if you force a truth on one who does not desire to know it. If you pay attention, you can tell when his cup is full. – Edna Lister, May 2, 1966.

God uses all kinds of people to give you laws to guide you, and anyone you meet could be your next teacher. – Edna Lister, Undated Papers, 1924-1971.

Spiritual flowering is the result of all the teachers with whom the student has studied. One teacher breaks up the rocks, another tills the soil, one plants the seeds, one weeds, then the bloom appears. – Edna Lister, Undated Papers, 1924-1971.

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A True Teacher

Unless you make your life an ensample of Light by becoming a Christed one, then you are not nor can ever be a true teacher. Only by living the law, by becoming what Master Jesus termed an ensample, can you become or be called a true teacher of the hidden Wisdom of the Ages.

One may talk the wisdom and sell the wisdom garnered from other teachers and books. Yet such a one — like the sons of Sceva, who used the name of Jesus to cast out evil spirits that then turned upon them to rend them — will find that no actual Power is released until his words are quickened with Spirit from above.

Since the "works" following the "words" is the only way you can tell the false from the true, this is the sign of a true teacher: Is this teacher's personal life like unto the Master in loving compassion and full humility of soul?

In this profession, many are called but few are chosen of God. A true teacher blazes a path toward the supernal truth, toward the heart of all Light and never steps from that path to please any man. "Though a thousand shall fall at thy side and ten thousand at thy right hand" (Psalm 91:7), the teacher will pay no attention to it except to continue lifting and praying.

A teacher knows that all study and class work are intended to awaken the student's capacity to comprehend. She imparts knowledge of such interest as to arouse the student to activity. She always has a plan in mind, unfolds truth from the Source, and enfolds all outer facts back to the Source.

A teacher begins by building upon the foundation of all past findings. Then she structures the lesson according to the five categories of expression — psychology, metaphysics, science, philosophy and mysticism.

A teacher provides the external stimulus that awakens the brain cells, glands and nerve centers that must be opened for the student to register the vibration of the new lessons. The true teacher knows she cannot merely impart information, and most important, never teaches what she only thinks or believes, but teaches only what she knows is truth.

The true teacher keeps her mystic eye single and sees only the Light. A true teacher knows that time, the great healer, will make right all things of earth, for only truth can stand the test of time, the great leveler of life. – Edna Lister, A Design for Ascension, 1941.

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Stories That Illustrate Teachers and Teaching

The Hypocritical Pharisees I: Then came to Jesus scribes and Pharisees, which were of Jerusalem, saying, Why do thy disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? for they wash not their hands when they eat bread. But he answered and said unto them, Why do ye also transgress the commandment of God by your tradition? For God commanded, saying, Honor thy father and mother: and, He that curseth father or mother, let him die the death. But ye say, Whosoever shall say to his father or his mother, It is a gift, by whatsoever thou mightest be profited by me; 1and honor not his father or his mother, he shall be free. Thus have ye made the commandment of God of none effect by your tradition. Ye hypocrites, well did Esaias prophesy of you, saying, This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoreth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me. But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. And he called the multitude, and said unto them, Hear, and understand: Not that which goeth into the mouth defileth a man; but that which cometh out of the mouth, this defileth a man. Then came his disciples, and said unto him, Knowest thou that the Pharisees were offended, after they heard this saying? But he answered and said, Every plant, which my heavenly Father hath not planted, shall be rooted up. Let them alone: they be blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch. – Matthew 15:1-14.

The Hypocritical Pharisees II: Then spake Jesus to the multitude, and to his disciples, saying The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat: All therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do; but do not ye after their works: for they say, and do not. For they bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers. But all their works they do for to be seen of men: they make broad their phylacteries, and enlarge the borders of their garments, and love the uppermost rooms at feasts, and the chief seats in the synagogues, and greetings in the markets, and to be called of men, Rabbi, Rabbi. But be not ye called Rabbi: for one is your Master, even Christ; and all ye are brethren. And call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven. Neither be ye called masters: for one is your Master, even Christ. But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant. And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted. But woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for ye neither go in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in. – Matthew 23:1-13.

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New Testament on Teachers and Teaching

Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. – Matthew 5:19.

The disciple is not above his master, nor the servant above his lord. It is enough for the disciple that he be as his master, and the servant as his lord. – Matthew 10:24-25.

The Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you. – John 14:26.

The Holy Ghost shall teach you in the same hour what ye ought to say. – Luke 12:12.

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Old Testament on Teachers and Teaching

A wise man will hear, and will increase learning; and a man of understanding shall attain unto wise counsels. – Proverbs 1:5.

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction. – Proverbs 1:7.

My son, hear the instruction of thy father, and forsake not the law of thy mother: 1:9 For they shall be an ornament of grace unto thy head, and chains about thy neck. – Proverbs 1:8-9.

Take fast hold of instruction; let her not go: keep her; for she is thy life. – Proverbs 4:13.

The commandment is a lamp; and the law is light; and reproofs of instruction are the way of life. – Proverbs 6:23.

Hear instruction, and be wise, and refuse it not. – Proverbs 8:33.

Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be still wiser; teach a just man, and he will increase in learning. – Proverbs 9:9.

He who keeps instruction is in the way of life; but he who refuses correction goes astray. – Proverbs 10:17.

Whoso loves instruction loves knowledge: but he that hates reproof is brutish. – Proverbs 12:1.

Poverty and shame shall be to him that refuses instruction: but he that regards reproof shall be honored – Proverbs 13:18.

He that refuses instruction despises his own soul: but he that hears reproof gets understanding. – Proverbs 15:32.

Hear counsel, and receive instruction, that thou mayest be wise in thy latter end. – Proverbs 19:20.

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Teachers and Teaching in Other Sacred Writings

Whoso teaches a fool is as one that glues a potsherd together, and as he that wakes one from a sound sleep. – Wisdom of Ben Sirach 22:7.

None will be saved unless they believe in the Crucifixion, [Resurrection and Ascension]. When you examine death, it will teach you election. None of those who fear death will be saved; for the kingdom belongs to those who put themselves [their self] to death. Make yourself like the son of the Holy Spirit! – The Apocryphon of James, Codex I, 2.

Christ passed through those who were stripped naked by oblivion, being knowledge and perfection, proclaiming the things that are in the heart, to teach those who will receive teaching. – The Gospel of Truth, Codex I, 3 and XII, 2.

Those who are to receive [Christ's] teaching are the living, who are inscribed in the book of the living. – The Gospel of Truth, Codex I, 3 and XII, 2.

It is about themselves that souls receive instruction, receiving it from the Father, turning again to Him. – The Gospel of Truth, Codex I, 3 and XII, 2.

While God's wisdom contemplates the Word, and his teaching utters it, his knowledge has revealed it. – The Gospel of Truth, Codex I, 3 and XII, 2.

If the disciple of God is sensible, he understands what discipleship is all about. The bodily forms will not deceive him, but he will look at the condition of the soul of each one and speak with him. There are many animals in the world which are in a human form. When he identifies them, to the swine he will throw acorns, to the cattle he will throw barley and chaff and grass, to the dogs he will throw bones. To the slaves he will give only the elementary lessons, to the children he will give the complete instruction. – Gospel of Philip, Codex II, 3.

As the soul learns about her Light, as she goes about stripping off this world, while her true garment clothes her within; her bridal clothing is placed upon her in beauty of mind, not in pride of flesh. – Authoritative Teaching, Codex VI, 3.

The ignorant do not teach God, and scorn those who do. – Authoritative Teaching, Codex VI, 3.

The rational soul learns about God. – Authoritative Teaching, Codex VI, 3.

The rational soul labors with inquiring, enduring distress in the body, learning about the Inscrutable One. – Authoritative Teaching, Codex VI, 3.

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Edna Miriam Lister
1884 –1971
The original Pioneering Mystic
minister, teacher, and author

Edna Lister

Etymology of teach: Old English tœcan, "to show, to instruct."

Teaching is always an initiation for both the teacher and the student.


The Compact Edition of The Oxford English Dictionary: 2 volumes. E.S.C. Weiner, editor. Oxford University Press, 1971.

The Holy Bible. King James Version (KJV).

The Nag Hammadi Library. James M. Robinson, editor. San Francisco: Harper and Row, 1981.

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