If consultation among the first group of people assembled endeth in disagreement, new people should be added, after which persons to the number of the Greatest Name, or fewer or more, shall be chosen by lot. Whereupon the consultation shall be renewed, and the outcome, whatever it is, shall be obeyed. If, however, there is still disagreement, the same procedure should be repeated once more, and the decision of the majority shall prevail. He, verily, guideth whomsoever He pleaseth to the right way.

Bahá’u’lláh, The Kitab-i-Aqdas, p. 136

In all things it is necessary to consult. This matter should be forcibly stressed by thee, so that consultation may be observed by all. The intent of what hath been revealed from the Pen of the Most High is that consultation may be fully carried out among the friends, inasmuch as it is and will always be a cause of awareness and of awakening and a source of good and well-being.

Bahá’u’lláh, Consultation, p. 93

It is incumbent upon them to take counsel together and to have regard for the interests of the servants of God, for His sake, even as they regard their own interests, and to choose that which is meet and seemly. Thus hath the Lord your God, the Gracious, the Pardoner, commanded you. Beware lest ye put away that which is clearly revealed in His Tablet. Fear God, O ye that perceive.

Bahá’u’lláh, Synopsis and Codification of the Kitab-i-Aqdas, p. 13

Not everything that a man knoweth can be disclosed, nor can everything that he can disclose be regarded as timely, nor can every timely utterance be considered as suited to the capacity of those who hear it.

Bahá’u’lláh, Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh, p. 176

Even a majority opinion or consensus may be incorrect. A thousand people may hold to one view and be mistaken, whereas one sagacious person may be right.

‘Abdu’l-Bahá, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 72

He who expresses an opinion should not voice it as correct and right but set it forth as a contribution to the consensus of opinion, for the light of reality becomes apparent when two opinions coincide. A spark is produced when flint and steel come together.

‘Abdu’l-Bahá, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 72

If five people meet together to seek for truth, they must begin by cutting themselves free from all their own special conditions and renouncing all preconceived ideas. In order to find truth we must give up our prejudices, our own small trivial notions; an open receptive mind is essential. If our chalice is full of self, there is no room in it for the water of life. The fact that we imagine ourselves to be right and everybody else wrong is the greatest of all obstacles in the path towards unity, and unity is necessary if we would reach truth, for truth is one.

‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Paris Talks, p. 136

In accordance with the divine teachings in this glorious dispensation we should not belittle anyone and call him ignorant, saying: 'You know not, but I know'. Rather, we should look upon others with respect, and when attempting to explain and demonstrate, we should speak as if we are investigating the truth, saying: 'Here these things are before us. Let us investigate to determine where and in what form the truth can be found.' The teacher should not consider himself as learned and others ignorant. Such a thought breedeth pride, and pride is not conducive to influence. The teacher should not see in himself any superiority; he should speak with the utmost kindliness, lowliness and humility, for such speech exerteth influence and educateth the souls.

‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, p. 30

In France I was present at a session of the senate, but the experience was not impressive. Parliamentary procedure should have for its object the attainment of the light of truth upon questions presented and not furnish a battleground for opposition and self-opinion. Antagonism and contradiction are unfortunate and always destructive to truth. In the parliamentary meeting mentioned, altercation and useless quibbling were frequent; the result, mostly confusion and turmoil; even in one instance a physical encounter took place between two members. It was not consultation but comedy.

‘Abdu’l-Bahá, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 72

In this Cause consultation is of vital importance, but spiritual conference and not the mere voicing of personal views is intended.

‘Abdu’l-Bahá, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 72

It is again not permitted that any one of the honoured members object to or censure, whether in or out of the meeting, any decision arrived at previously, though that decision be not right, for such criticism would prevent any decision from being enforced.

‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, p. 88-89

It is my hope that the friends and the maid-servants of America become united on all subjects and not disagree at all. If they agree upon a subject, even though it be wrong, it is better than to disagree and be in the right, for this difference will produce the demolition of the divine foundation. Though one of the parties may be in the right and they disagree that will be the cause of a thousand wrongs, but if they agree and both parties are in the wrong, as it is in unity the truth will be revealed and the wrong made right.

‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Bahá’í World Faith, p. 411

Man should weigh his opinions with the utmost serenity, calmness and composure. Before expressing his own views he should carefully consider the views already advanced by others. If he finds that a previously expressed opinion is more true and worthy, he should accept it immediately and not willfully hold to an opinion of his own. By this excellent method he endeavors to arrive at unity and truth.

‘Abdu’l-Bahá, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 72

Opposition and division are deplorable. It is better then to have the opinion of a wise, sagacious man; otherwise, contradiction and altercation, in which varied and divergent views are presented, will make it necessary for a judicial body to render decision upon the question.

‘Abdu’l-Bahá, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 72

Settle all things, both great and small, by consultation. Without prior consultation, take no important step in your own personal affairs. Concern yourselves with one another. Help along one another's projects and plans. Grieve over one another. Let none in the whole country go in need. Befriend one another until ye become as a single body, one and all.

‘Abdu’l-Bahá, from a Tablet - translated from the Persian

Show forth that which ye have: if it be accepted, the object is attained; if not, interference is vain: leave him to himself, [while] advancing toward God, the Protecting, the Self-Subsistent.

‘Abdu’l-Bahá, A Traveller's Narrative, p. 83

The first condition is absolute love and harmony amongst the members of the assembly. They must be wholly free from estrangement and must manifest in themselves the Unity of God, for they are the waves of one sea, the drops of one river, the stars of one heaven, the rays of one sun, the trees of one orchard, the flowers of one garden. Should harmony of thought and absolute unity be nonexistent, that gathering shall be dispersed and that assembly be brought to naught.

‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, p. 88

The honoured members must with all freedom express their own thoughts, and it is in no wise permissible for one to belittle the thought of another, nay, he must with moderation set forth the truth, and should differences of opinion arise a majority of voices must prevail, and all must obey and submit to the majority.

‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, p. 88-89

The honoured members of the Spiritual Assembly should exert their efforts so that no differences may occur, and if such differences do occur, they should not reach the point of causing conflict, hatred and antagonism, which lead to threats: When you notice that a stage has been reached when enmity and threats are about to occur, you should immediately postpone discussion of the subject, until wranglings, disputations, and loud talk vanish, and a propitious time is at hand.

‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Lights of Guidance, p. 178

The prime requisites for them that take counsel together are purity of motive, radiance of spirit, detachment from all else save God, attraction to His Divine Fragrances, humility and lowliness amongst His loved ones, patience and long-suffering in difficulties and servitude to His exalted Threshold. Should they be graciously aided to acquire these attributes, victory from the unseen Kingdom of Bahá shall be vouchsafed to them.

‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, p. 87

The purpose is to emphasize the statement that consultation must have for its object the investigation of truth.

‘Abdu’l-Bahá, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 72

The purpose of consultation is to show that the views of several individuals are assuredly preferable to one man, even as the power of a number of men is of course greater than the power of one man. Thus consultation is acceptable in the presence of the Almighty, and hath been enjoined upon the believers, so that they may confer upon ordinary and personal matters, as well as on affairs which are general in nature and universal. "For instance, when a man hath a project to accomplish, should he consult with some of his brethren, that which is agreeable will of course be investigated and unveiled to his eyes, and the truth will be disclosed. Likewise on a higher level, should the people of a village consult one another about their affairs, the right solution will certainly be revealed. In like manner, the members of each profession, such as in industry, should consult, and those in commerce should similarly consult on business affairs. In short, consultation is desirable and acceptable in all things and on all issues.

‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Lights of Guidance, p. 176

The shining spark of truth cometh forth only after the clash of differing opinions.

‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, p. 87

Therefore, true consultation is spiritual conference in the attitude  and atmosphere of love. Members must love each other in the spirit of fellowship in order that good results may be forthcoming. Love and fellowship are the foundation.

‘Abdu’l-Bahá, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 72

They must then proceed with the utmost devotion, courtesy, dignity, care and moderation to express their views. They must in every matter search out the truth and not insist upon their own opinion, for stubbornness and persistence in one's views will lead ultimately to discord and wrangling and the truth will remain hidden.

‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, p. 88

They must, when coming together, turn their faces to the Kingdom on high and ask aid from the Realm of Glory.

‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, p. 88

It is very bad for the believers to have the feeling that their Assembly will deal too harshly with them, and the net result can only be that a feeling of fear or alienation or resentment may grow up in their hearts towards the body that they should look to as being, not only their elected representatives, but their helper, - one might almost say their father - and the one to whom they can confidently take their problem, and whose wishes and decrees they will respect and obey unhesitatingly.

Shoghi Effendi, The Light of Divine Guidance v I, p. 168

Let us also bear in mind that the keynote of the Cause of god is not dictatorial authority but humble fellowship, not arbitrary power, but the spirit of frank and loving consultation. Nothing short of the spirit of a true Bahá’í can hope to reconcile the principles of mercy and justice, of freedom and submission, of the sanctity of the right of the individual and of self-surrender, of vigilance, discretion, and prudence on the one hand, and fellowship, candor, and courage on the other.

Shoghi Effendi, Lights of Guidance, p. 33

Patience and restraint, however, should at all times characterize the discussions and deliberations of the elected representatives of the local community, and no fruitless and hair-splitting discussions indulged in, under any circumstances.

Shoghi Effendi, Lights of Guidance, p. 81

The Bahá’ís must learn to forget personalities and to overcome the desire -- so natural in people -- to take sides and fight about it. They must also learn to really make use of the great principle of consultation. There is a time set aside at the Nineteen Day Feasts for the Community to express its views and make suggestions to its Assembly; the Assembly and the believers should look forward to this happy period of discussion, and neither fear it nor suppress it. Likewise the Assembly members should fully consult, and in their decisions put the interests of the Cause first and not personalities, the will of the majority prevailing.

Shoghi Effendi, The Compilation of Compilations vol II, p. 50

The friends should therefore not feel discouraged at the differences of opinion that may prevail among the members of an Assembly for these, as experiences has shown, and as the Master's words attest, fulfil a valuable function in all Assembly deliberations.

Shoghi Effendi, Lights of Guidance, p. 81

The more the friends argue back and forth and maintain, each side, that their point of view is the right one, the worse the whole situation becomes.

Shoghi Effendi, Directives of the Guardian, pp. 17-18

There is a time set aside at the Nineteen Day Feasts for the community to express its views and make suggestions to its assembly; the assembly and the believers should look forward to this happy period of discussion, and neither fear it nor suppress it.

Shoghi Effendi, NSA USA - Developing Distinctive Bahá’í Communities

Through the clash of personal opinions, as ‘Abdu’l-Bahá has stated, the spark of truth is often ignited, and Divine guidance revealed. The friends should therefore not feel discouraged at the differences of opinion that may prevail among the members of an Assembly, for these, as experiences has shown, and as the Master's words attest, fulfil a valuable function in all Assembly deliberations.

Shoghi Effendi, Lights of Guidance, p. 48

When criticism and harsh words arise within a Bahá’í community there is no remedy except to put the past behind one and persuade all concerned to turn over a new leaf, and, for the sake of God and His Faith, refrain from mentioning the subjects which have led to misunderstanding and inharmony. The more the friends argue back and forth and maintain, each side, that their point of view is the right one, the worse the whole situation becomes.

Shoghi Effendi, Directives of the Guardian, pp. 17-18

And to the extent that administrative processes of your institutions are governed by the principles of Bahá’í consultation will the great masses of humanity be able to take refuge in the Bahá’í community.

Universal House of Justice, Ridván Message 2008, paragraph 8

Beyond such considerations, a consultative spirit pervades the interactions of those engaged in social action, of whatever size and complexity, and the population they serve. This does not imply that formal mechanisms are necessarily in place for this purpose. It suggests, rather, that the aspirations of the people, their observations and ideas, are ever present and are consciously incorporated into plans and programmes.

Universal House of Justice, Office of Social and Economic Development, Social Action, 26 November 2012, p. 14

Clearly, then, not every person within an organization will participate equally in making

every decision. Responsibility needs to be appropriately structured and defined. For

example, there will be many spaces in which individuals involved in a particular component of the work will have the opportunity to share insights, reach higher levels of understanding, and make certain decisions pertaining to their area of functioning.

Universal House of Justice, Office of Social and Economic Development, Social Action, 26 November 2012, p. 14

Consultation is available for the individual in solving his own problems; he may consult with his Assembly, with his family and with his friends.

On behalf of the Universal House of Justice quoted in the “Understanding Tests” letter from the Research Department to the Universal House of Justice, July 17, 1989

Consultation is no easy skill to learn, requiring as it does the subjugation of all egotism and unruly passions, the cultivation of frankness and freedom of thought as well as courtesy, openness of mind, and wholehearted acquiescence in a majority decision.

The Universal House of Justice, 1966 Jun 10, Youth in Every Land

In the case of an organization with a board and an executive director, they will often take decisions without the need to consult with every member of the organization. But theirs is also the responsibility to create an atmosphere in which relevant information and knowledge flow openly and in which the results of consultation in all the spaces of the organization are conveyed in ways that promote understanding and consensus among its members.

Universal House of Justice, Office of Social and Economic Development, Social Action, 26 November 2012, p. 14

In the context of social action, the principle of consultation is expressed in a variety of forms, each appropriate to the space within which it occurs. Often, when a small group is engaged in an endeavour, every matter of concern is the subject of consultation. Yet, within an organization, the principle will find expression in different ways. What should be noted in this connection is that, at times, consultation is undertaken between those regarded as equals with the aim of reaching a joint decision, as in the case of the deliberations of a Spiritual Assembly. Under other circumstances, it takes the form of a discussion, as may be necessary, to draw out thoughts and information towards the enrichment of common understanding, but with the decision being made by those with authority. It is this latter form that would distinguish the operations of a Bahá’í-inspired organization, where a degree of individual or group authority is given to those on whom responsibility has been conferred.

Universal House of Justice, Office of Social and Economic Development, Social Action, 26 November 2012, p. 13-14

In this conception of the collective investigation of reality, truth is not a compromise between opposing interest groups. Nor does the desire to exercise power over one another animate participants in the consultative process. What they seek, rather, is the power of unified thought and action.

Universal House of Justice, Office of Social and Economic Development, Social Action, 26 November 2012, p. 13

Noting that you and your husband have consulted about your family problems with your Spiritual Assembly but did not receive any advice, and also discussed your situation with a family counsellor without success, the House of Justice feels it most essential for your husband and you to understand that marriage can be a source of well-being, conveying a sense of security and spiritual happiness. However, it is not something that just happens. For marriage to become a haven of contentment it requires the cooperation of the marriage partners themselves, and the assistance of their families. You mention your concern over your eldest daughter. It is suggested that you include her and perhaps your younger children in family consultations. As Bahá’ís we understand the importance of the consultative process and we should not feel it is to be used only by the Spiritual Assemblies.

Universal House of Justice, The Compilation of Compilations vol II, p. 453

Participants in a consultative process see reality from different points of view, and as these views are examined and understood, clarity is achieved.

Universal House of Justice, Office of Social and Economic Development, Social Action, 26 November 2012, p. 13

The handicapped person, seemingly incapable of taking part in consultation, may in fact be able to function quite adequately, provided his fellow Assembly members are determined to find ways in which they can help him to participate.

Universal House of Justice to a National Spiritual Assembly, 15 January 1965

The members of an Assembly must learn to express their views frankly, calmly, without passion or rancour. They must also learn to listen to the opinions of their fellow members without taking offence or belittling the views of another.

Universal House of Justice, Lights of Guidance, p. 179-180

When a Bahá’í wife finds herself in such a situation [of domestic violence] and feels it cannot be resolved through consultation with her husband, she could well turn to the Local Spiritual Assembly for advice and guidance…

Letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Australia, dated April 12, 1990

When a believer has a problem concerning which he must make a decision, he has several courses open to him. If it is a matter that affects the interests of the Faith he should consult with the appropriate Assembly or committee, but individuals have many problems which are purely personal and there is no obligation upon them to take such problems to the institutions of the Faith; indeed, when the needs of the teaching work are of such urgency it is better if the friends will not burden their assemblies with personal problems that they can solve by themselves. "A Bahá’í who has a problem may wish to make his own decision upon it after prayer and after weighing all the aspects of it in his own mind; he may prefer to seek the council of individual friends or of professional counsellors such as his doctor or lawyer so that he can consider such advice when making his decision; or in a case where several people are involved, such as a family situation, he may want to gather together those who are affected so that they may arrive at a collective decision. There is also no objection whatever to a Bahá’í asking a group of people to consult together on a problem facing him.

Universal House of Justice, Lights of Guidance, p. 179

Whether concerned with analysing a specific problem, attaining higher degrees of understanding on a given issue, or exploring possible courses of action, consultation may be seen as collective search for truth.

Universal House of Justice, Office of Social and Economic Development, Social Action, 26 November 2012, p. 13

You ask in your letter for guidance on the implications of the prohibitions on backbiting and more specifically whether, in moments of anger or depression, the believer is permitted to turn to his friends to unburden his soul and discuss his problem in human relations. Normally, it is possible to describe the situation surrounding a problem and seek help and advice in resolving it, without necessarily mentioning names. The individual believer should seek to do this, whether he is consulting a friend, Bahá’í or non-Bahá’í, or whether the friend is consulting him.

Universal House of Justice, Lights of Guidance, p. 90

Addressing domestic violence has nothing to do with "resolving differences," which implies a relationship in which all opinions are valued equally and where true consultation may occur and produce a beneficial outcome. According to guidance in the preceding passages, both the threat and fear of violence must be removed before effective consultation "animated by awareness of the need for moderation and balance" can take place.

National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of the United States, Guidelines for Spiritual Assemblies on Domestic Violence, p. 101

At a time when conquest and aggression have lost their credibility as means of solving difficult problems, qualities in which women are strong, such as the capacity to link intuition to the other rational processes, and facility with networking and cooperation, are gaining importance. Thus as increasing numbers of women are admitted into centers of decision-making, consultation is being enlightened by fresh perspectives; a new moral and psychological climate is spreading, enabling new dynamics of problem-solving to emerge. The inclusion of women thus directly affects the pace and success of the peace-building process.

Bahá’í International Community, 1993 Mar 15, Women Peace Process

Consultation allows an open examination of fears and misconceptions, the gathering and presentation of facts, the identification of relevant spiritual principles, and a collective exploration of ways to implement those principles so that unity is preserved and enhanced.

Bahá’í International Community, 1991 Nov 16, Report Rural Poverty Alleviation Efforts

Effective efforts to create violence-free families require a partnership between men and women and the active participation of all social sectors. Strategies for redress and remedies must be designed to include the whole family, because the dynamics of family violence directly affect all its members.

Bahá’í International Community, Creating Violence-Free Families, Summary Report of United Nations Symposium, May 1994

In domestic violence situations, where consultation between abuser and victim is often inherently impossible, the principle of consultation is likely to be most useful when applied between each party and the institutions, civil and/or Bahá’í, which provide protection, guidance, necessary assistance, and corrective measures.

National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of the United States, Guidelines for Spiritual Assemblies on Domestic Violence, p. 101

The application of these spiritual standards makes Bahá’í consultation a testing ground for every member of the Assembly. All the virtues of the individual -- his faith, his courage and his steadfastness in the Covenant -- undergo a rigorous test as the members sit around the table to consult. Here the spiritual battle within the soul of the individual begins and will continue as long as the ego is the dictator. Indeed, in many cases this battle lasts a lifetime. In this battlefield the forces of light and darkness are arrayed against each other. On the one side stands the spiritual entity, the soul of the believer; on the other, a great enemy, the self or ego. Whenever the soul hearkens to the lofty standards set by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá and applies them during consultation, the ego, defeated, recedes into the background. The soul emerges victorious in this battle and becomes radiant with the light of faith and detachment. The application of these spiritual principles, however, must be genuine and not merely superficial. The feelings of love, unity, detachment and harmony must come from the heart. Humility and servitude, radiance, devotion, courtesy and patience, along with all the other virtues, are qualities of the spirit. These cannot be manifested by paying lip service to them. If this is the case, then the ego is the victor.

Adib Taherzadeh, The Child of the Covenant, p. 36-37

Unity of understanding and progress at the collective level are achieved by the application of knowledge through consultative processes. In the interactive environment that characterizes current and emerging Internet technologies, exceptional discipline is necessary if Bahá’í standards of moderation, amity, dignity, civility, probity and candor are to be upheld. As with all Bahá’í undertakings, Internet initiatives should reflect a spirit of cooperation, trust, and genuine concern for others.

Bahá’í Internet Agency, Responding to Criticism and Opposition on the Internet, 2009