Discretion is defined as the action of "discerning or judging, a judgment, decision, discrimination, the ability to discern or distinguish what is right, befitting, or advisable, especially as regards our own conduct or action." Discretion is "the quality of being discreet, exercising discernment, prudence, sagacity, circumspection, and sound judgment."

“Discretion tells you when to speak and when to remain silent.”

To properly study and understand Edna Lister's laws on discretion, you must also study all laws she taught pertaining to idle words, blessings and curses, the spoken Word, and speech in general.

To be discreet means "showing discernment or judgment in the guidance of our speech and action, being judicious, prudent, circumspect, cautious"; discretion often refers to being silent when speech would be harmful or inconvenient.

Edna Lister on Discretion

The Master of responsibility learns discretion and silence. – Edna Lister, The Sunlit Way, January 5, 1935.

"I vow to keep my silence shining and golden" is the Mystic's vow. – Edna Lister, The Seven Degrees, August 24, 1935.

Maintain full golden silence when you can't use golden speech, and it isn't golden when anyone argues about it. – Edna Lister, September 3, 1941.

You may not just bluntly tell people the truth about what they must work out. Love them along; if they ask, lovingly give the answer. – Edna Lister, March 16, 1942.

You can destroy yourself for ignorance of discretion and true discrimination. – Edna Lister, October 20, 1944.

Spiritual seeing is utterly dangerous if you cannot use enough discretion to tell the difference between an inner reality and your imagination, self-delusion, self-illusion, or illusions created by bodiless entities still seeking a resting place for their false work. – Edna Lister, October 25, 1944.

The keys to wisdom are discernment, discrimination and discretion. – Edna Lister, July 8, 1945.

To learn discrimination and discretion, you must learn when to tough it out and when to slow up. Ask the degree in which law applies to self. – Edna Lister, July 9, 1945.

God has given you the full power of all discretion; so use it. – Edna Lister, September 24, 1945.

Remember to be wise, not foolish. Be alert, discerning, discriminating and discreet. Law permits no dalliances, no point of modification, or 99 percent either. You either are 100 percent, or on the bottom. – Edna Lister, October 12, 1945.

You duplicate your outer lack of using logic, reason, discernment, discrimination and discretion on the inner. – Edna Lister, July 29, 1947.

When something new comes, apply all law to it, using logic, reason, discernment, discrimination and discretion. – Edna Lister, October 20, 1947.

Do not permit emotions to rule when you are making decisions. Apply logic, reason, discernment, discrimination, and discretion to all the facts in the case. – Edna Lister, November 13, 1947.

Instant obedience demands application of all law upon every new situation — use your faculties of logic, reason, discernment discrimination, and discretion. – Edna Lister, January 8, 1948.

Wisdom from above, in the true sense, waters the brain cells through the glands, causing logic, reason, discernment, discrimination, and discretion to flourish. – Edna Lister, November 21, 1950.

The higher you move up in consciousness in the Light, the more quickly your slightest indiscretion returns. This answers "Why does this happen to me?" When you are of Light and you send out Light, that Light returns with interest. – Edna Lister, June 21, 1951.

Discernment, discrimination, and discretion move into action as evil approaches. If you have consecrated yourself to service and desire to do something about a situation, you may find yourself saying something suddenly, which is how Light puts in a wedge. Ascend on it and declare it good instantly. – Edna Lister, October 6, 1952.

Always be consciously positive of truth and declare it as you work silently. Do this wisely with discrimination, never knocking another. The greatest use of logic, reasoning, discernment discrimination, and discretion in love is God working and winning as you. – Edna Lister, June 2, 1955.

You cannot put trust in another, whose discretion is a leaky sieve, nor can you burden others with confidences past their ability to hold them private. – Edna Lister, Rose Colored Glasses, April 22, 1956.

Discretion is speaking at the right time, in the right place, under the right condition. – Edna Lister, June 26, 1956.

It is your utter lack of discretion that gets you in difficulty with anyone. Report the facts in the matter, not opinions or hearsay. Do not involve the innocent, or enlist an army of support for your self-pity. Practice discretion. Do not recreate a story unnecessarily. Silence is golden, and the less talk, the better. – Edna Lister, October 22, 1956.

Practice golden silence and love. Speak only when you see something slipping. – Edna Lister, December 2, 1956.

Discretion means to be foresighted, not hind-sighted, and requires great caution, for unwise speech, or self entering, leads to self-righteousness indignation. – Edna Lister, December 20, 1956.

Speak gently, hold golden silence and use wise speech to maintain an unconquerable defense. – Edna Lister, March 7, 1957.

“All tact and diplomacy stem from discretion.”

Discretion is the art of reaching the highest point of diplomacy; without it, there is no tact. All tact and diplomacy stem from discretion. With discretion, you speak the right word at the right time. – Edna Lister, Your Capacity for Freedom, November 17, 1957.

Discretion gives you the right words, leads you out of the pit of others' accusation, and avoids the appearance of evil. – Edna Lister, Your Capacity for Freedom, November 17, 1957.

Without a fine sense of discretion, which is based in the timing of love, you have no diplomacy or tact. – Edna Lister, Triumphant You! November 25, 1957.

Use discretion in all your words; otherwise, weak puerile emotional rationalization will result. – Edna Lister, November 10, 1958.

Let your communications be as "yea, yea" or "nay, nay" or hold your silence until you can observe. – Edna Lister, December 15, 1958.

The language of love is giving, but you must balance it with wisdom; it takes balance in discretion, knowing when to speak and when to stay silent. – Edna Lister, Idealization, May 10, 1959.

You can rightly direct all outer expression under the faculty of discretion, which is the power of deciding or judging. Discretion is the faculty that governs knowing when to speak and when to remain silent. You use discretion to consider all factors before making a choice. – Edna Lister, Eight Great Powers of Being, June 23, 1959.

A law of discretion: "Do not put a law upon the back of a Neophyte that shall impose a burden too great for him to bear, causing him to make vows that he inevitably must break for lack of experience, imperfection of desire, a vibration not yet raised high enough or tempered to fit high vow demands." – Edna Lister, October 30, 1959.

Discretion is knowing when to speak and when to remain silent. – Edna Lister, September 14, 1961.

Cease all self examination that fluctuates between self-approval and self-condemnation, the high and the low, for this just pampers the little self into further indiscretions. Move up in consciousness, stay up, and stop wavering. The Light is balanced and is not conscious of being the Light, therefore it can't congratulate itself on perfection; Light is. – Edna Lister, October 5, 1961.

Discretion is "the liberty of deciding as one thinks fit, absolutely or within limits; at the discretion of one's pleasure; surrender at the discretion of; under discernment, prudence and judgment"; all these you take into consideration, step by step. – Edna Lister, Heaven Is a State of Consciousness, November 19, 1963.

You have been given the power of discretion, which is wisdom in applying what is right. – Edna Lister, July 14, 1966.

Silence is the true creator, and you must do much of your work in absolute silence. The instant you speak high truth, it bears risk because bringing it into words lowers the vibration to the point where it can be felt, can hurt or harm. – Edna Lister, October 21, 1966.

A lesson on discretion in Power release: Jesus destroyed the fig tree to illustrate that Power can destroy as well create. The Power you release goes forth like a pump primer to the one whom you lift. It may return as joy and expansion, but it can also return as a shot of Power that can upset your balance. – Edna Lister, The Source Above the Supreme, November 21, 1967.

Discretion includes asking the following: Do I do this now? Does this give someone a club to knock me down with later? I keep my big mouth shut. Don't publish a sin. Don't be proud of it. Don't talk about it as a bid to fame or to be like the crowd. – Edna Lister, August 1968.

Discretion tells you what to say under a given circumstance. Thinking, desire and your use of imagination affects the sharpness of your faculty of discretion — this is why pepople say such things as "consider the source" and "keep it to yourself." – Edna Lister, November 7, 1968.

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Stories That Illustrate Discretion

The Discreet Scribe: One of the scribes came, and having heard them reasoning together, and perceiving that he had answered them well, asked him, Which is the first commandment of all? And Jesus answered him, "The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord: And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these."

And the scribe said unto him, Well, Master, thou hast said the truth: for there is one God; and there is none other but he: And to love him with all the heart, and with all the understanding, and with all the soul, and with all the strength, and to love his neighbor as himself, is more than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices."

And when Jesus saw that he answered discreetly, he said unto him, Thou art not far from the kingdom of God. And no man after that durst ask him any question. – Mark 12:28-34.

The Indiscreet Leper: [Jesus] preached in their synagogues throughout all Galilee, and cast out devils. And there came a leper to him, beseeching him, and kneeling down to him, and saying unto him, If thou wilt, thou canst make me clean. And Jesus, moved with compassion, put forth his hand, and touched him, and saith unto him, I will; be thou clean. And as soon as he had spoken, immediately the leprosy departed from him, and he was cleansed. And he straitly charged him, and forthwith sent him away; and saith unto him, See thou say nothing to any man: but go thy way, shew thyself to the priest, and offer for thy cleansing those things which Moses commanded, for a testimony unto them. But he went out, and began to publish it much, and to blaze abroad the matter, insomuch that Jesus could no more openly enter into the city, but was without in desert places: and they came to him from every quarter. – Mark 1:39-45.

The Discreet Centurion: When Jesus was entered into Capernaum, there came unto him a centurion, beseeching him, and saying, Lord, my servant lieth at home sick of the palsy, grievously tormented. And Jesus saith unto him, I will come and heal him. The centurion answered and said, Lord, I am not worthy that thou shouldest come under my roof: but speak the word only, and my servant shall be healed. For I am a man under authority, having soldiers under me: and I say to this man, Go, and he goeth; and to another, Come, and he cometh; and to my servant, Do this, and he doeth it.

When Jesus heard it, he marvelled, and said to them that followed, Verily I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel. And I say unto you, That many shall come from the east and west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven. But the children of the kingdom shall be cast out into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. And Jesus said unto the centurion, Go thy way; and as thou hast believed, so be it done unto thee. And his servant was healed in the selfsame hour. – Matthew 8:5-13.

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New Testament on Discretion

Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you. – Matthew 7:6.

When they deliver you up, take no thought how or what ye shall speak: for it shall be given you in that same hour what ye shall speak. For it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father which speaketh in you. – Matthew 10:19-20.

When they shall lead you, and deliver you up, take no thought beforehand what ye shall speak, neither do ye premeditate: but whatsoever shall be given you in that hour, that speak ye: for it is not ye that speak, but the Holy Ghost. – Mark 13:11.

I have not spoken of myself; but the Father which sent me, he gave me a commandment, what I should say, and what I should speak. And I know that his commandment is life everlasting: whatsoever I speak therefore, even as the Father said unto me, so I speak. – John 12:49-50.

If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man's religion is vain. – James 1:26.

If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man, and able also to bridle the whole body. – James 3:2.

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Old Testament on Discretion

There is that speaks like the piercings of a sword: but the tongue of the wise is health. – Proverbs 12:18.

Speak not in the ears of a fool: for he will despise the wisdom of thy words. – Proverbs 23:9.

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven … a time to keep silence, and a time to speak. – Ecclesiastes 3:1, 3:6.

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Edna Miriam Lister
1884 – 1971
The original Christian Pioneering Mystic,
Platonist philosopher, American Idealist, Founder, Society of the Universal Living Christ, minister, teacher, author, wife, and mother.

Edna Lister

Etymology of discretion: Latin discretus, past participle of discernere, "to separate." [This idea directly relates to the law of choice and separation.]

Discretion is a mental faculty.


Discretion is the perfection of reason, and a guide to us in all the duties of life. – Joseph Addison, Spectator, No. 225

Judgment is not upon all occasions required, but discretion always is. – Philip Stanhope, Earl of Chesterfield


Addison, Joseph. Prose Quotations from Socrates to Macaulay. "Spectator," No. 225, 4. S. Austin Allibone, compiler. Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott and Co., 1880; Bartleby.com, 2011 [accessed February 23, 2017].

Stanhope, Philip, Earl of Chesterfield. "Affectations. Polite Conversation," The Best Letters of Lord Chesterfield; Letters to His Son, and Letters to His Godson, Letters to His Godson, XVI, Chicago: A. C. McClurg and Co., 1890, 274-277.

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).

Related Topics

See Choice and Separation

See Idle Words