Learning Lessons

Learning is defined as "the action of receiving instruction or acquiring knowledge; a process which leads to the modification of behavior or the acquisition of new abilities or responses, and which is additional to natural development by growth or maturation."

A lesson is defined as "an occurrence from which instruction may be gained, an instructive example, a rebuke or punishment calculated to prevent a repetition of the offence."

Learning lessons is a major reason why you are on earth. You are here to learn how to live as the Christ lived while he dwelt on earth. Learning a lesson is always an initiation.

Edna Lister on Learning Lessons

All your lessons continue returning until you finally learn them. – Edna Lister, Patience and Forgiveness, April 15, 1934.

A man's gift makes room for him, and brings him before great men. – Proverbs 18:16. A man's gift may also become his cross, and bring all his lessons. – Edna Lister, God Is Spirit, November 16, 1934.

"Whoever hears these sayings of mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock: and the rain descended, the floods came; and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock. But everyone who hears these sayings of mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell. And great was its fall." – Matthew 7:24-29.

It takes time to dig to the bedrock below, and your house may not go up so fast as your neighbor's. You may experience the same lesson many times while others play, but your building will be solid. – Edna Lister, The Foundation of Life, September 29, 1935.

You always get your wishes, though sometimes you do not like the way in which God grants them. It is all a lesson for your unfolding and development. You set vast laws in action, whose effects you must work out for yourself, fast and furiously at times. – Edna Lister, August 17, 1937.

When you have learned well the lessons of experience that you came to gain, your tears will be wiped away and sorrow erased from your heart. – Edna Lister, August 15, 1938.

You achieve according to all the law you know. If you live by law, no man may fool you, yet to teach you needed lessons, he may try. – Edna Lister, December 26, 1938.

The most important law to learn is how to be obedient. If you obey divine law fully, everything else will be added to you. – Edna Lister, January 9, 1939.

God gives you all command when you have gained all experience, but not until then. – Edna Lister, March 9, 1939.

Those in high positions in one life may serve as servants or peasants in another. All must learn that they can rise from servant to prince in one life. – Edna Lister, June 18, 1939.

God uses every unpleasant or humiliating experience to move you in the right direction to fulfill your destiny. – Edna Lister, November 1, 1939.

No soul may judge another, since no soul may know where another's lessons lie. – Edna Lister, January 28, 1941.

We are all traveling to the Source. To follow the same path is not necessary, though we must all learn the same lessons in one earth life or another. – Edna Lister, October 21, 1941.

God sends each of us our lessons, whether others think so or not. – Edna Lister, October 21, 1941.

Each is in exactly the right place now for learning his next lesson. If you do not like it here, then this is not the place waiting for you in the divine plan. It is the place you have made for yourself. You can leave anytime you like by cleaning your present spot and learning to like the lesson, not the place. – Edna Lister, Life in a Nutshell, "Mastery: The Bottom Line," 1942.

Pay no attention to those who are small minded. We must hold them, until they learn how to do it, which they will in another life, maybe a dozen later. – Edna Lister, February 10, 1942.

Once you truly learn a lesson, it comes no more. Until you learn it, it comes repeatedly. – Edna Lister, November 5, 1942.

Learn not only to choose law, but to form law from circumstances, as they arise. – Edna Lister, January 5, 1944.

When a soul must have experience on earth or feels cheated while here, then no matter the heights attained, God sends that soul all the way back here to get it. – Edna Lister, January 30, 1944.

In learning life lessons, your business is to review each, extracting all the good, stringing every tiny joy into a strand of pearls while deliberately casting the chaff, the hurt and grief, into Mother Love's consuming fire so nothing remains in the subconscious to pull you down later. – Edna Lister, June 5, 1944.

Strength comes from misusing law and learning how not to do it. – Edna Lister, October 27, 1944.

Only needed lessons can ever touch you. – Edna Lister, December 21, 1944.

You must learn the difference between truth and illusion. Selfish desires may blind you, but illusion is always founded on a fact that someone distorts to a perversion of truth. – Edna Lister, February 22, 1945.

When a soul has repudiated certain lessons in past lives, he closes the brain cells related to those lessons in this lifetime. – Edna Lister, June 28, 1945.

Seek to learn what truly giving up self means. – Edna Lister, July 5, 1945.

To learn, one must do and practice. – Edna Lister, August 18, 1945.

When you need a lesson, rub it in as salt into a wound. – Edna Lister, June 3, 1947.

Your tests will come like a thief in the night to give you "long ears" [like a jackass] until you learn your lessons. – Edna Lister, June 20, 1947.

No one retrogresses unless, regardless what he says he thinks, he has a deeply rooted desire for what he will find in the self. Until you learn this and conquer the subconscious desires that bind you with steel chains, you will never be free. – Edna Lister, July 3, 1947.

Be independent of self in learning. Stop trying to get "something" for the self for "nothing" in soul conquering. Give as you go in life. – Edna Lister, August 17, 1947.

You must learn to bend without breaking under pressure, to accept your lessons in life, and to hold your place on the path. – Edna Lister, Pentecost, the Way of Ascension, May 7, 1950.

You can discover what lessons you came to earth to learn only by understanding the reason for your less-good creations. To accept full responsibility for creating a less-good, to change from indifferent and lukewarm ways of creating, allows aspiration to soar high above old ways, for you have well-learned one of earth's many lessons. When a less-good visits you repeatedly, until you grow tired of being at its mercy, it is the soul crying, "move up!"

Every lesson you learn opens a new law, which you must then apply to your whole life. You have to accept each new law as part of your plan for conquering, though you may not understand immediately how to apply it to your conquering. With every new law, you continue to search the self for flaws that allow soul-enemies to enter and delude you into forgetting that you have begun to conquer the self. – Edna Lister, Faith, the Challenger, 1953.

When you understand your responsibility for your life, you understand what Jesus meant when he said, "Turn the other cheek also." You recognize and accept your own responsibility in all matters. If you are stupid enough to allow yourself to get in a position where someone wants to slap you, turn the other cheek gladly just to impress upon your consciousness the lesson involved. You gladly accept that cheek-slapping comes because you are in either the wrong place, not minding your own business, or you have said or done the wrong thing. You may have said the right thing at the wrong time or in the wrong tone of voice or used the wrong words.

Nowhere is it written that you must return to the same person or the same situation to be slapped again just to prove that you live by the law of nonresistance. Common sense dictates that you should know enough to stay out of such a mess, learning the lesson involved by conquering the lower self that caused it, realizing that by the faith of God you can learn anything in one lesson, if your desire to conquer self really is burning. – Edna Lister, Faith, the Challenger, 1953.

By standing immovable upon your chosen, acknowledged goal, each day's debt turns into a well-learned experience-lesson and added law. – Edna Lister, Your Life's Goal, May 30, 1954.

According to the laws you are learning to obey, you transpose each experience into a lesson, then into the law you obey. – Edna Lister, I Accept, June 27, 1954.

The subconscious makes you work to learn peace, patience, humility and tolerance. When you ascend into comprehension, compassion descends, and you express these qualities. – Edna Lister, July 12, 1954.

Self-will is just another way of saying, "I'm determined to learn all my earth lessons the hard way." – Edna Lister, Free Will, September 11, 1955.

"As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten." – Revelation 3:19. This chastening is a privilege. How can you learn your lessons without being told what you do wrong? Once you have signed the vows and covenants you make with your soul, a divine principle of justice shows you your faults and brings you back in line. – Edna Lister, The Open Door, November 20, 1955.

When the same lesson comes repeatedly, you have never fully learned it. On the other hand, you can bury it so deeply that it becomes a subconscious record, played nightly, leaving a sense of dread covering it from the conscious mind in the morning, thus recreating the same episode. Yet you can also recreate the old episode by repeating it to another, thus setting the stage for it to happen again. – Edna Lister, Nor Shadow of Turning, July 15, 1956.

We all have the toughest lessons to face because we come here to learn how to agree with God and adjust to man. – Edna Lister, Go Preach the Gospel, July 22, 1956.

The law is inevitable: If you need a lesson, only one door is open through which to go to learn that lesson. – Edna Lister, The Way, Your Path, October 14, 1956.

A child must learn his lesson, even if it means hurting himself. Declare it good when he must learn the hard way. God can heal him only by letting him do it, and finding it cannot work. – Edna Lister, October 15, 1956.

You may not ask that another learns his life lessons, which isn't your business — you would pay his debts, and that's not good for him. Put him on a cloud and declare him healed. – Edna Lister, June 6, 1957.

Solomon's sacrifice gave him wisdom and understanding, but he had to learn by applying this gift of wisdom and understanding through long years on earth. Understanding is love; he had to learn that this is so, and had to earn it to use it. Many receive a new understanding, but never learn to use it. Success is the application of what you know to what you do, how much you comprehend and apply what you know. – Edna Lister, January 20, 1958.

Be dignified under all experience, and never allow anyone to think he has cracked your love barrier. – Edna Lister, November 3, 1958.

The lessons you have learned are your treasures, your gifts to God. You lift all your treasures of darkness into Light when you have learned all your lessons. – Edna Lister, Realization, May 3, 1959.

You may be tempted to rest on your laurels after a promotion, when you think you've learned a lesson and are tired of being challenged and tested. But the next lesson promptly comes and you find you are not so "hot." – Edna Lister, Tomorrow Is Yours, December 13, 1959.

The most important lesson is that the first dubious desire means the bottom. Forgetting to praise God hourly paves the way. – Edna Lister, February 23, 1960.

"I've learned that lesson" opens another temptation. – Edna Lister, March 3, 1960.

Overlook the world's darkness, for the glory of heaven is ours right now. No one can give it to us from the outside, but we certainly don't need to let them take it from us. – Edna Lister, May 11, 1960.

Letting events or people take one moment of joy and vision, or our beloved Master's love from us is just about the stupidest thing we can do. – Edna Lister, May 11, 1960.

The source of practical understanding is all the knowledge you gain through many experiences and earth's often bitter life-lessons. – Edna Lister, Is Faith Enough? June 21, 1960.

Your consciousness crystallizes only when you repudiate lessons, which cuts your vibration until you become a nothing. – Edna Lister, Is Praise Necessary, July 5, 1960.

Everything new you learn will aid you. – Edna Lister, July 7, 1960.

When you say, "I have learned my lesson on this. It will never happen again," you challenge God. – Edna Lister, Miracles Through Comprehension, July 10, 1960.

To ascend, you must learn every earth lesson and accept your responsibility to live by law. – Edna Lister, Miracles Through Comprehension, July 10, 1960.

Each is in the hardest place the Father can put him to learn his lessons. – Edna Lister, January 25, 1961.

The difficulty in attaining your destiny is that you succumb to appearances and fear, and let the deadly sins, discouragement and disappointment, take charge. – Edna Lister, March 27, 1962.

Leave each person alone to learn his own lesson. – Edna Lister, Honor Above All, April 8, 1962.

Earth is a school, and we come here to learn our lessons. When you accept life as a school, you can adjust to life, to the outer appearance of things. You can tell the difference between one who repudiates his lessons and one who accepts life as a school by the way they adjust to life. Acceptance is the first law of life. What comes to you today is part of today's lesson. When you get up in the morning, say, "I accept today's lessons." – Edna Lister, Heaven, a Place to Fill, April 10, 1962.

Comprehension is full knowing. This brings all your past lessons up to use and apply on all new situations. With every lesson you learn, a new law or set of laws is being presented. You become these laws; you are them. You have become the law and are functioning it. – Edna Lister, Heaven, a Place to Fill, April 10, 1962.

Charge your brain cells to learn. – Edna Lister, April 4, 1963.

The critic usually has been the thing he is criticizing. He has learned the lesson, but uncharitably criticizes those who have not yet learned it. – Edna Lister, Love, Your Radar, November 17, 1963.

You may have often forfeited hard-earned goals through foolishness and failure to apply the wisdom gained through accepted experiences. Sometimes stubbornness causes you to repudiate an experience. You then find someone or something to blame instead of accepting it as your own, an incident bringing you a needed lesson. Prompt acceptance of whatever comes, whether you feel it deserved or not, will pay the largest of all dividends. Acceptance saves the necessity of having to meet the same situation often, until you learn the lesson.

Sometimes experiences seem repetitious, and you ask, "Why does this always happen to me?" Rest assured that it is because you have refused to seek the hidden lesson sent for the good of your soul and its strengthening. Life will present any repudiated lesson again, until you accept it as having some kind of message for you. Life is a school with many grades, each with new lessons to be learned, new understanding of laws to be obeyed on each new level of consciousness. – Edna Lister, Five Keys of the Kingdom, 1964.

Your tests are always about your "worst favorites." They tell you that you have more polishing to do. Therefore, you must stand and complete the lesson, no matter how it is being presented. Do not allow self the pleasure and convenience of waiting for another or a better time to face the same issue. – Edna Lister, Five Keys of the Kingdom, 1964.

You can interpret Jesus' teachings at many different levels. Each interprets a lesson according to his personality type and level of comprehension. – Edna Lister, The Sword, Your Flaming Scepter of Power, April 19, 1964.

You can offer no excuse. All your difficulties arise from seeking excuses for disobedience, which you cannot cover up from God's higher law. – Edna Lister, June 10, 1965.

Strengthen the next generation. Lift them on a cloud and recognize that it's good for them to live and learn what love is, for it is love that suffers. – Edna Lister, July 31, 1965.

You are refusing God's desire for you if you meet the same lesson repeatedly. God is saying, "Come up! You have been too low." The lesson stops coming when you learn it, because you have stopped refusing God. – Edna Lister, October 20, 1966.

Some of us learn our lessons very rapidly, some very slowly; we simply do not all grow at the same rate. – Edna Lister, Seven Life Ages of Man, November 22, 1966.

Weakness is wonderful, for otherwise, we would not learn our lessons. – Edna Lister, May 11, 1967.

The young are revolutionary, the elderly are conservative, but both are extremes. Balance is between the two. Hold fast your idealism, but act only from the experience of long years. – Edna Lister, The Supremacy of Religion, October 15, 1967.

Agree with thine adversary quickly, whilst thou art in the way with him. – Matthew 5:25. You dare not forget, when agreeing with an adversary, that to declare Light is one thing the Power needs to make the lesson mean ascension for him. Each is in his own place, learning his lessons, and disagreeing with anyone is sure to disturb the very plan of a life lesson from above being presented to him. – Edna Lister, Five Important Steps in Ascension transcript, 1968.

All your earth lessons are named and numbered with your own rate of vibration under law, and only your own rate of vibration can touch you. Hence comes the statement, "only mine own can come to me." Therefore, whatever you draw to you is for your own lesson, to be learned for soul conquering. It may be a leftover you have been seeking to avoid. Declare, "Let there be Light upon this lesson. Let it be worked together for good, now!" – Edna Lister, Five Important Steps in Ascension transcript, 1968.

If you don't conquer, you meet the same lesson to learn repeatedly. – Edna Lister, The Holy Ghost on this Day of Pentecost, June 2, 1968.

Every miracle includes a law and a lesson you must learn. – Edna Lister, Faith Complete Now, November 15, 1970.

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New Testament on Learning Lessons

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.

Go ye and learn what that meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice: for I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance. – Matthew 9:13. [Do not do wrong then plea bargain for forgiveness.]

Take [the Christos] yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. – Matthew 11:29.

Every scribe which is instructed unto the kingdom of heaven is like unto a man that is an householder, which bringeth forth out of his treasure things new and old. – Matthew 13:52. [Hand write the laws you are learning (scribe) this brings new insight into old laws.]

It is written in the prophets, And they shall be all taught of God. Every man therefore that hath heard, and hath learned of the Father, cometh unto me. – John 6:45.

[When] Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; and to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God. – Ephesians 3:17-19.

[The Logos] gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ. – Ephesians 4:11-13.

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. – Colossians 3:16.

For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth. – 1 Timothy 2:3-4.

Beware those who are always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. – 2 Timothy 3:7.

If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. – James 1:5.

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

Who is a wise man and endued with knowledge among you? let him shew out of a good conversation his works with meekness of wisdom. – James 3:13.

Beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; and to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; and to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity... But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins. – 2 Peter 1:5-7,9.

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Old Testament on Learning Lessons

It is good for me that I have been afflicted; that I might learn thy statutes. – Psalm 119:71.

A wise man will hear, and will increase learning; and a man of understanding shall attain unto wise counsels: To understand a proverb, and the interpretation; the words of the wise, and their dark sayings. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction. My son, hear the instruction of thy father, and forsake not the law of thy mother: For they shall be an ornament of grace unto thy head, and chains about thy neck. – Proverbs 1:5-9.

So that thou incline thine ear unto wisdom, and apply thine heart to understanding; yea, if thou criest after knowledge, and liftest up thy voice for understanding; if thou seekest her as silver, and searchest for her as for hid treasures; then shalt thou understand the fear of the Lord, and find the knowledge of God. – Proverbs 2:2-5.

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

They also that erred in spirit shall come to understanding, and they that murmured shall learn doctrine. – Isaiah 29:24.

The Lord God hath given me the tongue of the learned, that I should know how to speak a word in season to him that is weary: he wakeneth morning by morning, he wakeneth mine ear to hear as the learned. The Lord God hath opened mine ear, and I was not rebellious, neither turned away back. – Isaiah 50:4-5.

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Learning Lessons in Other Sacred Writings

Do not refrain to speak when you can do good, and do not hide your wisdom in her beauty; for by speech, wisdom shall be known, and learning by the word of the tongue. – Wisdom of Ben Sirach 4:23-24.

Learn before you speak. – Wisdom of Ben Sirach 18:19.

The little children also, those to whom the knowledge of the Father belongs learned about the impressions of the Father through Christ; they knew, they were known; they were glorified, they glorified. – The Gospel of Truth, Codex I, 3 and XII, 2.

Truth brought names into existence in the world for our sakes, because it is not possible to learn it (truth) without these names. – Gospel of Philip, Codex II, 3.

Examine yourself, and learn who you are, in what way you exist, and how you will come to be; it is not fitting that you be ignorant of yourself. – Thomas the Contender, Codex II, 7 [As Pythagoras said, "Know Thyself."].

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.

Wickedness remains among (the) many, since learning concerning the [mysteries] does not exist among them. For the knowledge of the [mysteries] is truly the healing of the passions of the matter. Therefore, learning is something derived from knowledge. – Asclepius 21-29, Codex VI, 8.

If there is ignorance, and learning does not exist in the soul of man, (then) the incurable passions persist in it (the soul). And additional evil comes with them (the passions), in the form of an incurable sore. And the sore constantly gnaws at the soul, and through it the soul produces worms from the evil, and stinks. But God is not the cause of these things, since he sent to men knowledge and learning. – Asclepius 21-29, Codex VI, 8.

Concerning these things (learning and knowledge) which we have mentioned from the beginning, he (God) perfected them in order that by means of these things he might restrain passions and evils, according to his will. He brought his (man's) mortal existence into immortality; he (man) became good (and) immortal, just as I have said. For he (God) created (a) two‑fold nature for him: the immortal and the mortal. – Asclepius 21-29, Codex VI, 8.

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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 learning: Old English leornian, "to learn."

Etymology of lesson>: Middle English lessoun, from Old French leson, from Latin lectio, lection-, "a reading," from lectus, past participle of legere, "to read."

Learning a lesson is always an initiation.


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.