Consultation is about searching out the truth. Without this goal, we quickly devolve into warring opinions.
But truth has gotten a bad rap over the years. So often our experience has been that of one person or group imposing their “truth” on others. This is a distortion.
Truth is one. It’s like light. Light may shine in many different lamps, but it’s still light. We may view it through different colored lenses, but it’s still light.
Consultation bestoweth greater awareness and transmuteth conjecture into certitude. It is a shining light which, in a dark world, leadeth the way and guideth. ~ Bahá'u'lláh
What Does It Mean to Seek Truth?
Seeking truth is like looking at this candle through a faceted, partially opaque glass candle holder. Each of us sees one facet of the lantern. It’s important to share what we see: the shape of the facet we are looking at, the pattern of speckles, the glimpses of light that shine through.
But just sharing our views is not enough. We need to search deeper and find the truth, the light, the flame within the candle holder. That’s what we’re trying to get to; that’s our goal. By expressing our views and seeing beyond them, we can piece together a description of the flame inside.
How Do We Seek Truth?
So how do we get to the truth of a matter? What kinds of questions do we need to ask?
Gather the Views
Perhaps one of the first questions is… Do we have all the views? Is there anyone missing from the table? Depending on the issue, this could mean any number of things:
Who is directly affected?
Who is indirectly affected?
What do our youth have to say?
Have we heard from our elders?
What about our children?
Have we given everyone a chance to speak – women, men, old, young, introverts, extroverts, thinkers, dreamers… ?
Clarify the Issue
Then there are questions about the issue itself:
Do we fully understand what the problem is?
Do we know why this issue is important?
Have we framed it correctly?
What if we look at this issue from a broader perspective?
Do we see a pattern? What does it tell us?
Are we even asking the right questions?
Identify the Spiritual Principles
Once we understand what the issue is, one powerful way to illuminate truth is to think about the issue in terms of spiritual principles or universal values:
What role does justice play in this issue?
How does this issue relate to equality? To equity?
What if we look at this issue through the lens of unity?
How do we incorporate diversity?
What does science tell us about this issue?
What is our moral/ethical responsibility?
What would universal participation look like?
What are the educational implications of this issue?
What Does This Make Possible?
What would happen if all our systems and structures in this world were aimed at seeking truth? What would be the implications for our justice system? Our education system? Our governance system? What could we achieve if we were dedicated to seeking truth?
Here’s one example of what can happen when we set our own agendas aside: Truth-Seeking Under Pressure.
May peace triumph over discord. May generosity triumph over niggardliness. May love triumph over contempt. May the true-spoken word triumph over the false-spoken word. May truth triumph over falsehood. ~ Yasna 60.5
Learn more about consultation
Consultation as a Tool for Building Community
What Does Love Have to Do with Learning Together?
Building Community From the Inside Out
Express Your View and Let It Go
Consultation is a form of collective decision making that gathers diverse viewpoints in order to chart a wise course of action. It allows a group to look at a problem from all sides and build consensus on the best solution for all involved.