Intellect is the ability to learn and reason, the capacity for knowledge and understanding, the ability to think abstractly or profoundly; the ability to think in a logical way and understand things, especially at an advanced level.Oxford English Dictionary
  The mind's power of reasoning and acquiring knowledge, contrasted with feeing and instinct; the ability to use this power.Oxford American Dictionary
  That faculty of the human soul or mind, which receives or comprehends the ideas communicated to it by the senses or by perception, or by other means; the faculty of thinking; otherwise called the understanding. A clear intellect receives and entertains the same ideas which another communicates with perspicuity.Webster’s American Dictionary

“What a travesty it is to let mere intellect imprison your mind.”—Edna Lister

Intellect stems from intelligence, which is the individuation of Mind as unlimited potential consciousness. Intellect is a mental faculty, limitless in quantity, but restrained in quality by the degree of self you permit to govern its use.
  Self cannot think for it is not the conscious mind, merely the aggregate selfishness of the impulsive appetitive soul. As the subconscious expression of what the rational mind has already learned and knows, self can only repeat old, stale patterns by rote. Thus, self holds intellect in an uncreative pattern, ranging from lack of critical thinking skills to the inability to think imaginatively. Intellect, under the Oversoul’s command, has no upper limit to its creativity.

Edna Lister on Intellect

Living in the intellect drags the consciousness down and holds you at the horizontal level.—Edna Lister, The Nervous System, February 8, 1936.

The depth of honest desire in your heart and mind opens the Gates of Heaven, not vain intellectual knowledge or reading.—Edna Lister, September 28, 1938.

If you seek truth just to be wise, eventually a gate of intellect will bar your progress to wisdom, put there not by the Father but by the seeker who does not give enough love for wisdom. The desire to parade his knowing, wisely or unwisely, intolerance for others’ knowledge, and a coldness of intellect grows within the heart and mind to bar the way.—Edna Lister, July 29, 1942.

Intellect is a hard gate through which to enter the kingdom.—Edna Lister, July 31, 1944.

Pride of intellect, pride of place, pride of position cause all "devils" of self persecuting soul—Edna Lister, January 4, 1945.

When you live in intellect, it has no Light. Move up in consciousness and draw it after you. Think up, vertically.—Edna Lister, June 8, 1947.

Just to read laws or commit them to memory is not study. You just derive self-satisfaction in reading them, which satisfies the intellect but starves the soul.—Edna Lister, June 24, 1947.

Spiritual speculation goes up in consciousness with the facts to find truth, but intellectual thought arouses ancient fears.—Edna Lister, The Seven Churches, December 13, 1949.

Give up your pride of intellect and opinions. Accept what wounds your vanity about being right.—Edna Lister, What I Do Have, I Give, October 1, 1950.

Wisdom and love are the fire of soul that breaks the intellectual crust on brain cells.—Edna Lister, November 21, 1950.

You can’t get spiritual revelation by intellectual discussions. Intellectualism is born almost entirely of personal opinions.—Edna Lister, December 4, 1950.

Nonresistance is absolute immovability from principle, which is not intellectuality.—Edna Lister, July 19, 1951.

Subconscious mind reasons from a basis of plausible association, but does not think anything or originate thoughts. Self still wants to dominate, even when you lift it, and memory impressions can fill the vacancy you create when you ascend. Self waits until you pass from the intellectual viewpoint to soul illumination to spew its bitterness, criticism, etc.—Edna Lister, November 19, 1951.

You cannot open your full intellectual capacity unless you first open the crown center at the top of your head.—Edna Lister, Seven Vital Centers, November 20, 1951.

When you worship intellect, you are worshiping your own mental faculties.—Edna Lister, Atomic Energy and Creative Mind, September 30, 1952.

Every agnostic has enough intellect to talk about it, but lacks the capacity to know truth.—Edna Lister, July 16, 1953.

You will die to the false god of intellect unless you die daily to the little self and lift it.—Edna Lister, Your Life’s Plan, May 16, 1954.

When you live in intellect, you bar the Light.—Edna Lister, The Greater You, February 5, 1956.

You cannot prove God intellectually.—Edna Lister, Numbers and Names: Twelve Cosmic Magnitudes, July 10, 1956.

Wisdom never argues about principle, but intellect may.—Edna Lister, Lights and Colors, July 17, 1956.

Man’s intellectual thinking will not fathom God, for you must ascend and become the Light.—Edna Lister, July 23, 1956.

Intellectualism and self will overcast the aura’s colors with gray.—Edna Lister, March 7, 1957.

Intellectual intelligence has forty-four faculties under, which we never discard. The five most essential mental faculties (logic, reason, discernment, discrimination, and discretion) lead to spiritualized intelligence and understanding.—Edna Lister, The Brain, Your Servant, October 8, 1957.

When Power electrifies the body of one whose intellectualism has lulled him to sleep, the oil of Spirit pours in lavishly to raise the vibration, and disturb and disrupt his emotional "water."—Edna Lister, December 12, 1957.

An intellectual student stumbles over personality, which takes in devotion, but is not enough to know truth.—Edna Lister, A Charted Heaven, October 21, 1958.

An intellectual type, who thinks he knows, says, I have prayed, but nothing comes. Prayer is answered only when it is at a white point of heat.—Edna Lister, October 21, 1958.

The insignia of intellectualism is I think.—Edna Lister, October 30, 1958.

To fall into intellect is retrogression. I takes over and you can see or hear nothing spiritually.—Edna Lister, February 16, 1959.

Intellectual discussion is different than spiritual pondering or exchanging ideas about law.—Edna Lister, May 7, 1959.

Laggards of sophisticated intellect use persuasive words under the delusion that they are doing good for others, and they may say you are deluded to fill their ranks and justify themselves. [This perfectly describes a sophist or demagogue.]
  One who intellectually thinks that he needs only a great deal of wisdom is what we call a sophisticated type, who knows it all. The treatment for this I know the way you should follow attitude is to add nothing of intellect. Just remember, My Father does the work through me.—Edna Lister, June 15, 1959.

Intellectual pride and arrogance in ages past may make one a know it all today.—Edna Lister, The Mystical 33 Degrees, October 13, 1959.

Sincerity is a perfect balance between intellect and desire.—Edna Lister, The 33 Degrees of Soul Conquering, October 20, 1959.

You must not pride self on intellect.—Edna Lister, February 22, 1960.

Soul correlates the conscious choices of personality and intellectual intelligence exercised through the mental faculties. Self presides as intellectual self-will at the solar plexus.—Edna Lister, What Is Healing? May 17, 1960.

Self presides as Pharaoh, intellectual self-will at the solar plexus.—Edna Lister, How Can I Help Myself? May 31, 1960.

Quality, which operates under the principle of action, determines the intellectual capacity of mind that governs the mental faculties of imagination, reason and judgment, and the quality of mind as used by soul. Soul acts to develop these qualities in mind.—Edna Lister, Is Faith Enough? June 21, 1960.

A spiritually integrated person exercises dynamic power in the world without seeking to control. The coldly objective intellectual one leaves others cold.—Edna Lister, The Key to Integration of Soul and Spirit, June 6, 1961.

Pride and intellect are barriers that can foster a sense of inferiority and inadequacy.—Edna Lister, September 10, 1961.

Each grade of intellect will interpret according to its kind.—Edna Lister, The Seven-Branched Candle Stand, October 10, 1961.

Intellectual intelligence is still part of instinctive intelligence, creature makeup. Truth challenges intellectual beliefs as it begins to break up your opinions and prejudices. You must ascend from tightness of mind. The hidebound intellectuals challenged Jesus because he challenged their intellectual intelligence.—Edna Lister, Fourteen Stations of the Cross, April 17, 1962.

You move from intellectual beliefs into the principles of God that work.—Edna Lister, Stations of the Cross, April 17, 1962.

Do not confuse pride of intellect with wisdom.—Edna Lister, Stations of the Cross, April 24, 1962.

You cannot touch joy ecstasy through intellect. It must come via desire.—Edna Lister, May 28, 1962.

You are forever bumping into or stumbling over intellect.
  We have only the one God, the one creative fire and the one Creative Impulse that we use in all these ways. We may use it intellectually, and drag it to the lowest possible level.—Edna Lister, Your Sacred Light, November 10, 1963.

Everyone has lived on the lower pole of a virtue, sometime. Yet you may not criticize people, governments or events and remain invulnerable to outer evil. Good and evil do not seem to matter to those at the creature level, but the "intelligentsia" can be hypercritical intellectually. We, the ascending creators, can be tolerant of what the world criticizes to death.—Edna Lister, Love, Your Radar, November 17, 1963.

Concentration is an act of will, and thus, is intellectual.—Edna Lister, Seven Stages of Unfolding From Concentration to Comprehension, December 3, 1963.

There are two basic approaches to God, intellectual and devotional. Fasting and prayer falls under devotion, but the prayer statements are based on principle, which guides intellect.—Edna Lister, The Greater Mystery, Your Inner Eye, December 8, 1963.

You always need intellectual academic education to open brain cells. Then you must let soul develop them.—Edna Lister, The Word, Your Magic Wand, April 12, 1964.

The universe is illuminated by at lease three types of light, material light, intellectual insight and spiritual luminosity.—Edna Lister, Personality, Energy and Pattern, October 27, 1964.

Mental-intellectual love, which says, "I will. I won’t," is always challenging and too aggressive. It always "knows best" and compels the loved one to accept to avoid an argument.—Edna Lister, Eternity Is Now Mine, May 9, 1965.

Contemplation lifts you up and out of intellect.—Edna Lister, January 5, 1967.

You need intellect in the mundane world, but if you find yourself thinking too much along horizontal lines, take stock, move up in consciousness and stand at the Source, free in the Light, praising God.—Edna Lister, March 16, 1968.

Choose then whom you will serve, God or intellect, the Light or the confusion in the world.—Edna Lister, July 27, 1969.

The serpent symbolizes the intellect. Horizontal intellect is the snake on its belly, but wisdom is the upright serpent, as the Wadjet cobra that represented and protected wisdom in Egypt.—Edna Lister, May 7, 1970.

The atomic body must be filled with Power, as Light, to break the sonic barrier of intellect.—Edna Lister, Undated Papers, 1933-1971.

Intolerance is a hallmark of a frozen intellect.—Edna Lister, Undated Papers, 1933-1971.

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A Story that Illustrates Intellectualism

Hidebound Intellectualism: 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. Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye devour widows’ houses, and for a pretense make long prayer: therefore ye shall receive the greater damnation. Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, ye make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves. Woe unto you, ye blind guides, which say, Whosoever shall swear by the temple, it is nothing; but whosoever shall swear by the gold of the temple, he is a debtor! Ye fools and blind: for whether is greater, the gold, or the temple that sanctifieth the gold? And, Whosoever shall swear by the altar, it is nothing; but whosoever sweareth by the gift that is upon it, he is guilty. Ye fools and blind: for whether is greater, the gift, or the altar that sanctifieth the gift? Whoso therefore shall swear by the altar, sweareth by it, and by all things thereon. And whoso shall swear by the temple, sweareth by it, and by him that dwelleth therein. And he that shall swear by heaven, sweareth by the throne of God, and by him that sitteth thereon. Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone. Ye blind guides, which strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel.

Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye make clean the outside of the cup and of the platter, but within they are full of extortion and excess. Thou blind Pharisee, cleanse first that which is within the cup and platter, that the outside of them may be clean also. Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchers, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness. Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity. Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! because ye build the tombs of the prophets, and garnish the sepulchers of the righteous, and say, If we had been in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partakers with them in the blood of the prophets. Wherefore ye be witnesses unto yourselves, that ye are the children of them which killed the prophets.—Matthew 23:1-31.

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New Testament on Intellect and Intellectualism

Now as touching things offered unto idols, we know that we all have knowledge. Knowledge puffeth up, but charity edifieth. And if any man think that he knoweth any thing, he knoweth nothing yet as he ought to know. But if any man love God, the same is known of him.—1 Corinthians 8:1-3.

If a man think himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceiveth himself.—Galatians 6:3.

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Old Testament on Intellect and Intellectualism

As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he.—See Proverbs 23:7.

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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

Etymology of intellect: Latin intellectus, "perception," from intellegere, "to perceive."

Intellect is a mental faculty.


Although our intellect always longs for clarity and certainty, our nature often finds uncertainty fascinating.—Carl von Clausewitz

Two qualities are indispensable: first, an intellect that, even in the darkest hour, retains some glimmerings of the inner light which leads to truth; and second, the courage to follow this faint light wherever it may lead.—Carl von Clausewitz

The intellect of the wise is like glass; it admits the light of heaven and reflects it.—Augustus Hare


Clausewitz, Carl von. On War, Volume 1 of 3. J.J. Graham, translator. London: Kegan Paul, Trench, Tuebner & Co., Inc. 1908, 20, 30.

Hare, Julius Charles and Augustus William. Guesses at Truth. London: Taylor & Walton, 1847, 14.

Harper, Douglas. Online Etymology Dictionary, 2024.

The Holy Bible. King James Version (KJV).

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

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