The Via Christa: Via Christa Laws: Christ Laws for Today: Formal Initiations: The Burning Sands of the Desert, an Initiation

The Burning Sands of the Desert

Navigating the dry, hot and barren burning sands of the desert is your task as you begin walking the Via Christa to reach your full Path of Destiny. Coming after the excitement of awakening (Neophyte Rebirth) and following the new Light on your path (Disciple), you must face and overcome the sheer drudgery of the same old hard, boring, ugly conquering of self.
  The formal intiation of the burning sands is a series of often grueling initiations of loneliness and alienation you experience as you fight to hold onto self-will. Passage through the burning sands of the desert may take weeks, months, years, decades or lifetimes to complete. Most candidates for ascension quit right there, well before finishing the journey to glory.

Edna Lister on the Burning Sands of the Desert

You must eventually synthesize all the lower senses into the one great faculty of apperception. Yet before you can do this, you reach a drab place in consciousness, which we call the desert, and the time you spend there we call the burning sands of the desert. Most people appear grim while they traverse the desert, but you can and must choose to relax and smile.–Edna Lister, Paradise, January 11, 1935

The way to Wisdom’s Well is a path through the burning sands of the desert. Dip into the living water, the storehouse of Mind, Power, and Substance, of Love, Wisdom and Selflessness.–Edna Lister, Devotion: What Is It, May 24, 1935

Each must walk the burning sands of the desert step by step, alone. Until now you have had aid and help and hands to hold. Now you must gain entirely alone. Use this lovely time to gain in hearing, vision, strength in which is no weakness of the self, and love, which is pure and undefiled. You shall not be alone forever. Yet, you can extend the time it takes by lagging. The greater your ability to hold yourself to the white point of heat, the sooner you will move on up into the Light. All is well. Each pays part of the price, each in his own place and way, but all aid in paying. The greater the sacrifice, the greater the rewards.–Edna Lister, April 24, 1942

Many turn back at the burning sands of the desert. The way is lonely, but finally you gird your loins and cross, as all must. You receive credit in every initiation, minus the debits for your grumbling and crying to others.–Edna Lister, Be-Attitudes, June 12, 1951

The key through the initiation of the burning sands of the desert is the ability to surrender. Keep surrendering self every hour in all that you do, in all your ways to be possessed by the Master’s Power completely. You deserve praise only for giving up, for surrendering self.–Edna Lister, April 9, 1952

I will go before thee, and make the crooked places straight: I will break in pieces the gates of brass, and cut in sunder the bars of iron: And I will give thee the treasures of darkness, and hidden riches of secret places, that thou mayest know that I, the Lord, which call thee by thy name, am the God of Israel.–Isaiah 45:2-3. To conquer, you must make everything pay you dividends. You have been investing your life in old subconscious patterns for years, yet you must collect interest on your investments by commanding the subconscious as your servant.
  Conscious mind governs mental reasoning, comparison, deduction, induction, and synthesis to lift the subconscious. When these faculties fade, you reach a place called the burning sands of the desert. To cross its barren loneliness, you must lift, lift, lift your selfish treasures of darkness and make the crooked places straight. The way to cross the desert lies just above waking consciousness in the super-conscious mind’s intuition. The Light breaks the gates of brass, and cuts asunder the bars of iron that formerly held you from the full Light of illumination, which is God’s Power.–Edna Lister, Three Phases of Creative Mind, June 29, 1952

The path of the burning sands, fire initiations, temptations and shafts of fire are all methods of purifying the soul of self, and of cleansing your soul records. Obedience to law sublimates and ascends the creative fire. You will not burn on the desert sands once you clean house of your mental, emotional and physical appetites.–Edna Lister, October 20, 1953

The 15th Yetsirah Path of Darkness that heralds the dawn is the path of endurance through burning sands of the desert.–Edna Lister, Conquering, November 2, 1954

To grow, to express the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22), you first cross the burning sands of the desert, which you must cross alone, parched and starved until you reach an oasis of truth.–Edna Lister, Prove Thy Works, September 16, 1956

The selfishness of ages comes out as you walk the burning sands of buried arrogance and pride.–Edna Lister, August 12, 1957

Apperception is the soul faculty that inducts Light as divine Mind from above, knowing as God knows. You earn apperception by walking the burning sands of the desert, opening and developing the mental faculties of logic, reason, discrimination, discernment, and discretion and by drawing in, lifting and synthesizing the five outer senses.–Edna Lister, What Is Symbolism? October 6, 1959

You tie your earth to heaven as you synthesize the five physical senses into the one great soul faculty of apperception. You reach this by stepping onto the Path of Destiny, an initiation called crossing the burning sands of the desert. It may take years to complete, since many frequently quit when only halfway through. They turn back to the easier initiations on the line of fate, the Wheel of Fate, the Zodiacal belt of astrology.–Edna Lister, The 33 Degrees of Soul Conquering, October 6, 1959

On the outer, you see grief, intolerance, disease, weakness, illness, gossip, doubt, fear and blame. Some see outer darkness, stay on the horizontal level, become lukewarm, depressed and go ’round in circles. They know they must travel this wilderness, but see no Light. Having closed the door to Light, they ignore their Guardian Angels and miss the broad highway before the Gates of Light.
  To those who see the Light beyond the darkness, who want to progress and ascend, Guardian Angels point the way to a desert of burning sand. You cannot cross this desert carrying the weight of criticism, blame, opinions or prejudices. Forgiving self and others is the only way to cross the desert on this path of choice and separation. Knowing that you must cross the desert, you consciously open forty days and nights of illumination and trial. Your Guardian Angels always urge you onward.–Edna Lister, Tomorrow Is Yours, December 13, 1959

Bearing trials and temptations means being steadfast and having the fortitude and courage to stand and hold. This includes the Adept’s initiation: Baptism by Fire and the burning sands of the desert that each crosses alone. Here you experience real trials by fire for the soul’s purification. Quick, give it to the Father and it ascends to become Light.–Edna Lister, How Do I Wait Upon the Lord? June 28, 1960

You unconsciously induct intelligence from the outside, using the five senses. Did you see how she acted? Did you hear what he said? Thus, you collaborate with both light and dark and become confused. When you draw the five senses in and point them upward, you’ll have no more fears, chips on your shoulder, idle words, such as, I can’t read anymore; my eyes are shot. You become a zombie when you say, I am bored. I don’t feel love. It proves you are stuck in the burning sands of the desert, the barrens and drought. When you move up in consciousness and declare, God made my eyes as the windows of my soul, to use, you leave the nothingness to rejoin old friends, like God, and leave boredom behind. You than can suffer fools gladly in joy. Light breaches the clouds and you walk in the sun.–Edna Lister, Whither Thou Goest, October 22, 1961

Mastery over self requires enduring a "barren time of waiting," a series of tests of endurance, a degree of the burning sands of the desert when you offer God a "no" instead of "yes." You can leave the burning sands behind at any time by arising and entering your Father’s house to work out your salvation as you wait upon the Lord.–Edna Lister, Heaven: A Place to Fill, April 10, 1962

The first burning sands of the desert is the initiation in which you lift desire to become one with will, which fully awakens the pineal body and pituitary gland into the “I AM” Christed consciousness. Until you pass the 33 Degrees of Initiation, which is the expression of full responsibility, the pineal and pituitary are adequate, and you can see and hear to a certain extent. Yet to ascend beyond the second burning sands of the desert, to ascend the seeing and hearing to the gland-like parathalamus structures, we must praise and rejoice.–Edna Lister, April 29, 1964

You must walk the last half of the burning sands of the desert alone. You achieve nothing unless your complete desire is to be trained in all ways of responsibility.–Edna Lister, December 17, 1964

The heavy burning sands of the desert come with the first initiation for the Christos Degree to consume darkness. You may dream of being questioned when you take an initiation on the inner; an initiator asks searching questions. As long as the desire of your heart is true, you will always pass your initiations.–Edna Lister, October 27, 1966

The mystical Path of Illumination includes the steps of initiation that go from one state of consciousness to another, always higher. The mystical initiation contains six states of consciousness: A vision, a resolve, tests and trials, three temptations, the burning sands of the desert, and finally, the release of Power.–Edna Lister, May 8, 1969

The wilderness of unforgiveness is an experience, not a place. While you are crossing it, you undergo “the burning sands of the desert” initiation, which may take days, weeks, months, years or lifetimes.–Edna Lister, November 24, 1969

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The Way of Initiation

Edna Lister wrote this essay for Five Keys of the Kingdom, in 1964.

What is that to thee? Follow thou me.–John 21:22

This period in your life along the Way of Ascension of the soul has been called many names, the most meaningful being an initiation known as crossing the burning sands of the desert—probably because you must walk it alone and it has so many oft-repeated trials by fire. These trials are tests of your knowledge and application of law, which repeat regularly until you learn the lesson each contains. You play the same old record as often as necessary to learn the law of acceptance. Refusal to accept a lesson as belonging to you drops the old record into place.
  The burning sands of the desert initiation is truly a time of crucifixion of the little self. You are betwixt and between everything. Your old ways are ended and your old friends do not find you compatible anymore, yet you have not yet met new friends who understand what you are seeking. The whole world looks gray, and you live in a drab consciousness where you decide nothing will ever happen to make you feel anything again. Nothing looks worthwhile. Nothing interests you. You are lost. You still cling to your desire for understanding and continue looking although you have just made vows of sacrifice about giving it up. Every day brings greater disappointments. No one understands you!
  One good point, though, you have fully given up all enemies. Imagine your surprise when you discover that all you have left is an aching void. You are empty. It is a shock to find that the enemy idea took up so much room in your heart. Then you suddenly make another discovery: You have become an empty chalice waiting to be filled by the Love of God. You have made no mistake in your choice of the Way of Truth. You are not on the wrong path. This has been part of your grief and loneliness — that you might have made a wrong turn somewhere along the way and are really lost in some outer darkness.
  You find that your resolve to stand still and wait upon the Lord in the golden silence has not been wrong. All these doubts and fears are part of the burning sands initiation, the last vital struggle of the little self to hold on to your subconscious for its own selfish purpose. You also discover that you want to withdraw from everyone and life because no one understands you, others find more faults in you than ever before, others blame you for everything, until you feel it is an offense just to be alive. You know now that this desire to withdraw is not the right answer either. It is just part of that old, old martyr complex, crying out in self-pity in a last gasping death struggle before giving up and allowing soul to take over for a good scrubbing.

“Sacrifice of self creates a crown of glory for the soul.”

  How glorious to realize that this lack of feeling about or interest in people and life is your sign that full illumination is just around the corner. This is where your struggle to become more perfect is paid off in dividends of comprehension of law. Your sacrifice of self is made into a crown of glory for the soul, a reward for your steadfastness in climbing upward in ascension and your obedience to law. This is no time to stop. This is the time to dig in and practice what you have learned.
  Everyone must go through this initiation, these silver-gray fields of rippling light, to reach the heights of glory. From the instant you decide to move up in consciousness, you begin to lift the five outer senses—sight, hearing, touch, taste and smell—up with you. Gradually, they begin to fuse and synthesize themselves into the one great sense of apperception, which is a tool, the high sense of the I AM consciousness.
  It is just before you reach the final lifting of these five senses that you stand alone, without feeling anything, your heart filled with such a great sense of loss. The old is gone forever, but the new is not quite fully established or blossoming for you. At this point push up! You are about to realize who you really are; you are becoming law itself. The long process of reaching the golden silence is about to become an act of knowing, an act of joy.
  During this initiation, among the many trials by fire, one point causes much loss of time. You begin to see that your teachers have feet of clay, caused by their inability always to live up to the high laws taught. Remember that to know law does not always mean an inner desire to become law or success in your efforts. Vows are only registered as high as the students’ or teachers’ ability to practice. Each time you make a vow it is registered and you must practice it.
  Teachers may be perfectly honest in their desire to hold on to a student. They may reach out and clutch, or may even feel that the student is mistaken and being led from the truth. Some are unable to understand that truth is forever unfolding, and many must reach higher for greater knowledge of law. An ascending one cannot loiter or stop the search for more law. Such a one, who sees the feet of clay, cannot linger in any class once they understand the law as given in that class.
  You must understand grief over a teacher’s failure to live by law. Students must realize that, whether the class is an inner or outer one, a time comes for promotion, for an advance in ascension or in outer knowledge. You must not expect to take either classrooms or teachers with you on the outer, nor should you expect to drag any teacher of truth along with you.
  Failure to understand this change in relationship can hold back any student. No one should hold it against a teacher, inner or outer, if they elect to continue in that same grade, the one they know best, continuing to give their best. They may want to continue preparing the lessons needed for those who keep coming up from the rear, for whom they will again be the high point of consciousness.

“Love is the fount of youth.”

  Move on, minding your own business, loving the teachers you are leaving behind for what they are, blessing them for what they shall one day become and for what they have meant to you. Above all, never demand that they ascend with you on your well-defined pathway. We apply the law that Jesus taught: What is that to thee? Follow thou me.
  Now, every hour’s investment in the Love of God increases your share in eternal youth. Love is now the fount of youth within and you become the filled Chalice of Love, overflowing out into the world. You meet new friends who are traveling in the same up direction, and suddenly you are in love again: In love with God, in love with your family, in love with the whole world. You renew your vows of dedication and consecration to be used by the Power of God. You rejoice and are glad.
  Ascend and all people you meet draw from you that Love of God needed for their happiness, their renewed strength, their understanding of life. Love responds and flows forth in quantity and quality to meet the needs of all who are seeking love. It seems that your exaltation cannot expand further, nor can your joy be confined within, it is so great. You are caught up in the Spirit and see beauties almost unutterable, too beautiful not to share.

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Stories That Illustrate the Burning Sands of the Desert

Elijah the Obedient Prophet: Elijah personifies the journey through the burning sands initiation. He served God by challenging Ahab, the wicked king and his wife, Jezebel, a priestess of evil. Because Elijah was obedient at every turn, God cared for him, perfectly:
  And Elijah the Tishbite, who was of the inhabitants of Gilead, said unto Ahab, As the Lord God of Israel liveth, before whom I stand, there shall not be dew nor rain these years, but according to my word. And the word of the Lord came unto him, saying, Get thee hence, and turn thee eastward, and hide thyself by the brook Cherith, that is before Jordan. And it shall be, that thou shalt drink of the brook; and I have commanded the ravens to feed thee there. So he went and did according unto the word of the Lord: for he went and dwelt by the brook Cherith, that is before Jordan. And the ravens brought him bread and flesh in the morning, and bread and flesh in the evening; and he drank of the brook. And it came to pass after a while, that the brook dried up, because there had been no rain in the land.
  And the word of the Lord came unto him, saying, Arise, get thee to Zarephath, which belongeth to Zidon, and dwell there: behold, I have commanded a widow woman there to sustain thee. So he arose and went to Zarephath. And when he came to the gate of the city, behold, the widow woman was there gathering of sticks: and he called to her, and said, Fetch me, I pray thee, a little water in a vessel, that I may drink. And as she was going to fetch it, he called to her, and said, Bring me, I pray thee, a morsel of bread in thine hand. And she said, As the Lord thy God liveth, I have not a cake, but an handful of meal in a barrel, and a little oil in a cruse: and, behold, I am gathering two sticks, that I may go in and dress it for me and my son, that we may eat it, and die.
  And Elijah said unto her, Fear not; go and do as thou hast said: but make me thereof a little cake first, and bring it unto me, and after make for thee and for thy son. For thus saith the Lord God of Israel, The barrel of meal shall not waste, neither shall the cruse of oil fail, until the day that the Lord sendeth rain upon the earth. And she went and did according to the saying of Elijah: and she, and he, and her house, did eat many days. And the barrel of meal wasted not, neither did the cruse of oil fail, according to the word of the Lord, which he spake by Elijah.–1 Kings 17:1-16

Elijah Hears the Still Small Voice: Ahab told Jezebel all that Elijah had done, and withal how he had slain all the prophets with the sword. Then Jezebel sent a messenger unto Elijah, saying, So let the gods do to me, and more also, if I make not thy life as the life of one of them by to morrow about this time. And when he saw that, he arose, and went for his life, and came to Beersheba, which belongeth to Judah, and left his servant there. But he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a juniper tree: and he requested for himself that he might die; and said, It is enough; now, O Lord, take away my life; for I AM not better than my fathers.

  And as he lay and slept under a juniper tree, behold, then an angel touched him, and said unto him, Arise and eat. And he looked, and, behold, there was a cake baken on the coals, and a cruse of water at his head. And he did eat and drink, and laid him down again. And the angel of the Lord came again the second time, and touched him, and said, Arise and eat; because the journey is too great for thee. And he arose, and did eat and drink, and went in the strength of that meat forty days and forty nights unto Horeb the mount of God.
  And he came thither unto a cave, and lodged there; and, behold, the word of the Lord came to him, and he said unto him, What doest thou here, Elijah? And he said, I have been very jealous for the Lord God of hosts: for the children of Israel have forsaken thy covenant, thrown down thine altars, and slain thy prophets with the sword; and I, even I only, am left; and they seek my life, to take it away. And he said, Go forth, and stand upon the mount before the Lord. And, behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the Lord; but the Lord was not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake; but the Lord was not in the earthquake: And after the earthquake a fire; but the Lord was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice.
  And it was so, when Elijah heard it, that he wrapped his face in his mantle, and went out, and stood in the entering in of the cave. And, behold, there came a voice unto him, and said, What doest thou here, Elijah? And he said, I have been very jealous for the Lord God of hosts: because the children of Israel have forsaken thy covenant, thrown down thine altars, and slain thy prophets with the sword; and I, even I only, am left; and they seek my life, to take it away. And the Lord said unto him, Go, return on thy way to the wilderness of Damascus: and when thou comest, anoint Hazael to be king over Syria: And Jehu the son of Nimshi shalt thou anoint to be king over Israel: and Elisha the son of Shaphat of Abelmeholah shalt thou anoint to be prophet in thy room.–1 Kings 19:1-16

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Edna Miriam Lister
The original Pioneering Mystic,
Christian Platonist philosopher, American Idealist, Founder, Society of the Universal Living Christ, minister, teacher, author, wife, and mother.

Edna Lister

The "burning sands of the desert" is a series of fire initiations.


The Holy Bible. King James Version (KJV).

The Oxford English Dictionary: Compact Ed., 2 vols. E.S.C. Weiner, editor. Oxford University Press, 1971.

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