Consultation

Stanwood Cobb took his 75-year-old father to see ‘Abdu’l-Bahá in Boston. His father was sympathetic to Stanwood’s attraction to the Bahá’í Faith, but claimed that he himself was too old to change. When his father met the Master, Stanwood was bewildered to see his father dominate the conversation. His father proceeded to enlighten ‘Abdu’l-Bahá about spiritual themes. Stanwood was shocked. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, though, simply smiled and listened, covering them both with His love. Stanwood’s father left feeling that he had a wonderful interview with the Master and Stanwood learned a lesson in humility and the power of being a good listener.
(Earl Redman, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá in Their Midst, p. 137)


The most memorable instance of spiritual consultation was the meeting of the disciples of Jesus Christ upon the mount after His ascension. They said, “Jesus Christ has been crucified, and we have no longer association and intercourse with Him in His physical body; therefore, we must be loyal and faithful to Him, we must be grateful and appreciate Him, for He has raised us from the dead, He made us wise, He has given us eternal life. What shall we do to be faithful to Him?” And so they held council. One of them said, “We must detach ourselves from the chains and fetters of the world; otherwise, we cannot be faithful.” The others replied, “That is so.” Another said, “Either we must be married and faithful to our wives and children or serve our Lord free from these ties. We cannot be occupied with the care and provision for families and at the same time herald the Kingdom in the wilderness. Therefore, let those who are unmarried remain so, and those who have married provide means of sustenance and comfort for their families and then go forth to spread the message of glad tidings.” There were no dissenting voices; all agreed, saying, “That is right.” A third disciple said, “To perform worthy deeds in the Kingdom we must be further self-sacrificing. From now on we should forego ease and bodily comfort, accept every difficulty, forget self and teach the Cause of God.” This found acceptance and approval by all the others. Finally a fourth disciple said, “There is still another aspect to our faith and unity. For Jesus’ sake we shall be beaten, imprisoned and exiled. They may kill us. Let us receive this lesson now. Let us realize and resolve that though we are beaten, banished, cursed, spat upon and led forth to be killed, we shall accept all this joyfully, loving those who hate and wound us.” All the disciples replied, “Surely we will—it is agreed; this is right.” Then they descended from the summit of the mountain, and each went forth in a different direction upon his divine mission. This was true consultation. This was spiritual consultation and not the mere voicing of personal views in parliamentary opposition and debate.
(‘Abdu’l-Bahá, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 72)