To be selfish is to be “caring unduly for oneself; regarding one’s own comfort, advantage, etc., in disregard, or at the expense, of that of others.”–Oxford English Dictionary
  Selfishness is defined as “regarding one’s own interest chiefly or soley; influenced in actions by a view to private advantage.”Webster’s American Dictionary
  Selfishness is egoism, and puts the cares, thoughts, concerns and welfare of the self first, places self at the center of the universe and is utterly untrustworthy. Selfishness is at first a soul taint and finally a sin.

Edna Lister on Selfishness

When you breathe deeply and say, “As oil mingles with oil, as water mingles with water, as air mingles with air, so does my life expand and mingle with the Life of God,” you lift every selfish and willful desire up to be purified and they return, at one with God.–Edna Lister, January 31, 1933

You cannot buy love. When parents do for their children in deep love because they want to do, not because they must or because the world demands it, the children are not made selfish, only deeply appreciative. However, when parents give grudgingly and talk about the giving, children grow hateful, cold and selfish, thinking they might as well get all they can and enjoy it because their parents don’t really care anyhow.–Edna Lister, 1934

You remain selfish in your application of the principles of Love and Wisdom until you fuse them with the principle of Selflessness, which balances Love and Wisdom.–Edna Lister, Imagination, March 1, 1934

Oil well drillers use diamond drill bits to cut down into the earth. You, the ascending soul, drill upward to tap the well of divine principle. Faith is the self-sharpening diamond drill bit that penetrates the crust of your intellectual selfishness.–Edna Lister, Recognizing Our Good, April 22, 1934

Selfishness pushes against Power, exhausting you.–Edna Lister, Willingness, January 22, 1936

Watch in humility lest you entrench a track of selfishness in your consciousness, which could break out in ages to come.–Edna Lister, November 6, 1938

God’s Power has not stopped working; only men’s selfishness, greed, and ideas of that power stopping have held the world back. God’s Love is still lifting, still healing. When your heart is clear on the subject, when your mind is fully cleansed of all silly opinions—and worse, prejudices—all will move forward under the Light.–Edna Lister, November 29, 1940

No sin against God is as great as pure selfish indifference to the cry of your fellow man. As long as one child of God suffers in pain, starvation, cold and dies alone—while another has enough and shares it not with his brother—the selfish soul shall be indicted before the Throne of God as being in sin. He shall suffer also for indifference to the suffering of a brother, and the greatest sin of all, lukewarmness to God in prayer and faith.–Edna Lister, January 20, 1942

Anything you desire of the Lord, and believe you can have, deeply, truly and with no thought of fear, anything that is not a selfish demand and will be for the good of all, is possible for you to give—it is possible.–Edna Lister, April 30, 1942

Self-interest is always focused inward, and is selfish.–Edna Lister, The Still Waters of Intuition, May 24, 1942

Pray for hidden soul taints to be uncovered now. Let Power move through you to open all gates of self’s darkness so that no selfishness or greed may disturb your plans for new Light. When the test comes, lift your reaction to it!–Edna Lister, October 28, 1942

Selfishness causes neglect of others and prevents true helpful interest in them and in their affairs. Be yourself with a companionable dignity. Be a friend to all. Think not of self or what others may or may not think of you. Think of them and their needs, ignoring all else. This is how to heal the self and train it to serve your soul.–Edna Lister, August 28, 1944

Indifference, lukewarmness and selfishness are reasons for not completing a task or leaving it for another to finish. This may cause another to waste time in irritation,blame, or condemnation. The one who left it undone must pay the debt.–Edna Lister, June 23, 1945

No selfishness, supplied by the subconscious through specious reasoning, is ever allowed.–Edna Lister, July 10, 1945

A selfish soul is an unhealthy soul.–Edna Lister, September 19, 1945

To be impersonal in love means to love until you reach a place of ecstasy, then to continue loving without ever asking anything for self, without expecting or demanding love from anyone in the outer. Spread your love lavishly, just because the love of God possesses you so that it must press forth as you, forever pouring forth more upon everyone, even those who despitefully use you. You cannot love enough
  Love cannot be static. Any love that is static, unmoving is not love, but is a seeming love, born of selfishness. Love is active; it burns, it flames, it moves out and up! The world has thought that to be impersonal is to be cold. Selfishness is cold, ruthlessly personal. To love impersonally, you must be prepared to do all the loving without regard about whether it falls on stony or fertile ground, or how anyone receives it.–Edna Lister, September 27, 1945

When one is still letting self rule instead of soul, they cry, “Lord, look into my heart and judge its purity,” instead of seeking the selfish cause of their self-pity.–Edna Lister, September 28, 1945

Whenever emotion plays a part in decision-making, self has entered, that foul little devil, just waiting to rear its head at the slightest indication. You can recognize selfishness whenever you offer an excuse, ask why, or hold any emotion about what you do. Watch, and you will be able to see what you are doing or saying, before you do or say it. Ascend, dig it out, and lift it immediately. Work at sacrificing selfishness. Feeling the slightest hint of resentment shows that the self is in control.
  Analyze your choices and actions to determine whether emotional or mental selfishness is dictating them.–Edna Lister, October 14, 1945

Give, yet make no one selfish.–Edna Lister, April 17, 1947

Selfishness shows in small things.–Edna Lister, July 2, 1947

No amount of hard work makes up for selfishness. You must surrender and sacrifice all remnants of self.–Edna Lister, August 20, 1947

Never use the mystic eye selfishly or you will destroy yourself.–Edna Lister, The Twelve Tribes, June 22, 1948

The creator, who is becoming law under the final three Christos degrees, knows that the first misstep softens morale and the moral stance, making the second mistake easier. Weakened moral fiber inevitably leads to the point where only selfish desires remain.–Edna Lister, The First Days, June 17, 1951

The one unforgivable sin is to lose, or give up through selfishness, the stand-point of Power-release you have attained through sacrifice of the self. Hold the point you have gained, for it is one way the Elect can save the world. Never lose your point or leave it by repudiation, saying, “I can’t accept that!”–Edna Lister, November 19, 1951

It is selfish to be unwilling to share with another.–Edna Lister, September 14, 1952

War is how nations misuse free will in selfishness and negativity.–Edna Lister, October 19, 1953

The little self, using God’s Power selfishly, creates destructive force.–Edna Lister, I Surrender, July 4, 1954

Growing a soul desire that conquers self’s love of the world’s glitter is a process of convincing selfishness to give itself up for soulishness.–Edna Lister, The Light, Your Expression, November 4, 1956

You are being selfish when another needs wise speech and you do not speak.–Edna Lister, March 7, 1957

When grief becomes excessive, it turns into a form of selfishness and makes possessive demands of others.–Edna Lister, March 17, 1958

It is a fallacy that if you give of love, the other fellow will become more selfish. What the other fellow expresses shows the degree of love he has grown to expect to receive. He will reflect it in his reaction to your love, or to every remaining negative—selfishness, resentment, irritation and self‑pity or pride—in your subconscious. The reaction you get depends upon the degree and kind of your love. You can love enough to change his expectation to a higher degree of refinement.–Edna Lister, October 13, 1958

Rationalization is usually the puerile and sentimental application of completely selfish reasoning.–Edna Lister, November 11, 1958

Selfishness is a sedative to the soul and hates any vibration that disturbs it.–Edna Lister, November 13, 1958

Sentimentality is usually just flowery words to cover up your selfishness.–Edna Lister, December 15, 1958

You eventually get your miracles, minus the deductions of your taints of selfishness.–Edna Lister, How Great Is Your All? January 1959

Emotional insecurities are rooted in selfishness and possessiveness.–Edna Lister, The Pioneering Mystic, May 5, 1959

Seek your relationship to the original pattern of the Via Christa and leave the ignorance and selfishness behind. Selfishness is the result of the sin of believing that you are separate from God. Science and religion both teach that the first rule of life is self-preservation, which is selfishness. The result of this is “me first" and the creed of materialism. As you walk the Via Christa, love enters your soul and heals this.–Edna Lister, The 33 Degrees of Soul Conquering, October 27, 1959

No selfish person is happy.–Edna Lister, Steadfastness Through Vigilance, June 19, 1960

Give up the ballast of self, which is all the selfishness that is not square with God.–Edna Lister, Here and Hereafter, October 9, 1960

When your burning desire is to be faithful, it excels all personal selfishness.–Edna Lister, February 7, 1962

The prayers of missionaries and the countless millions of alcoholics and prostitutes have been more acceptable and done more to keep earth in balance than all the selfish metaphysical statements ever uttered.–Edna Lister, February 17, 1962

Overly intellectual abstract thinking can be as weakening as the selfish emotions or thinking that lead to self‑delusion.–Edna Lister, Fourteen Stations of the Cross, April 17, 1962

Selfishness can dilute and adulterate love.–Edna Lister, June 16, 1963

Investing your soul substance in another is a form of selfish possession. When you seek to possess another, you use your soul substance to establish a sagging inverted earthly umbilical cord that trips you to a fall—you can even lose your body doing this. You must withdraw all possessive lines because they drain the energy and abundance from your body and material affairs.–Edna Lister, June 27, 1963

Selfish prayers usually remain answered.–Edna Lister, August 3, 1963

Your remaining bits of selfishness may not seem like much, but they allow darkness a toehold. Lift the bits!–Edna Lister, September 5, 1963

“If it’s God’s will” is nothing but a trite platitude used to cover complete selfishness.–Edna Lister, November 13, 1963

The Gates of Light are never locked, but they are heavy to move if approached with a pin point’s worth of an earth taint in selfishness.–Edna Lister, June 30, 1964

A selfish soul is forever seeking to make up the sacrifices that he should have made, but didn’t. Instead, he chooses to make sacrifice something that will glorify the self.–Edna Lister, March 4, 1965

As you ascend, recording angels note every hurt, every struggle in the Book of Life. Even when you are selfish or filled with sorrow or self-pity, you are credited with learning your lessons.–Edna Lister, October 20, 1966

Selfishness in love always breeds despair in the selfish one.–Edna Lister, May 12, 1967

When grief becomes excessive, it turns into a form of selfishness and making possessive demands of others.–Edna Lister, All Healing Comes Through Beauty of Soul, May 16, 1967

Where there is no desire to live higher, but only the desire to have one’s own selfish way, the resistance against Power is inevitable; it causes confusion and upsets the individual’s rhythm. Instead of smoothing the way, it throws the one who resists into cross vibrations he cannot control.–Edna Lister, October 21, 1969

To watch for and listen to your own reactions is not selfish, but is soul training the infant of self.–Edna Lister, October 30, 1969

One by one, you batter down the strongholds of entrenched selfishness as you ascend.–Edna Lister, Undated Papers, 1924-1971

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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 selfish: Old English self, sylf, “self, same” + -ish, “concerned or preoccupied with.”

Selfishness is a soul taint.
Selfishness is a sin.


Selfishness is that detestable vice which no one will forgive in others, and no one is without himself.–Henry Ward Beecher

All sympathy not consistent with acknowledged virtue is but disguised selfishness.–Samuel Taylor Coleridge

Those who live to the future must always appear selfish to those who live to the present.–Ralph Waldo Emerson


Beecher, Henry Ward. Life Thoughts: Gathered from the Extemporaneous Discourses of Henry Ward Beecher. Boston: Phillips, Sampson and Co., 1858, p. 140.

Coleridge, Samuel Taylor. Prose Quotations from Socrates to Macaulay, Number 21. S. Austin Allibone, compiler. Philadelphia: J.B. Lippincott and Co., 1880.

Emerson, Ralph Waldo. "Character," Essays: First and Second Series, Second Series. Boston: Houghton, Mifflin and Co., 1883, p, 102.

Harper, Douglas. Online Etymology Dictionary, 2024.

The Holy Bible. King James Version (KJV).

The Oxford English Dictionary: Compact Ed. 2 volumes. Oxford University Press, 1971.

Webster, Noah. Webster’s American Dictionary. New York: S. Converse, 1828.