“The Supreme Lord Krishna can be known by persons who are in a relationship with Him through the discharge of devotional service, like Arjuna and his successors. Persons of demonic or atheistic mentality cannot know Krishna. Mental speculation that leads one away from the Supreme Lord is a serious sin, and one who does not know Krishna should not try to comment on Bhagavad-gita.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Bhagavad-gita, 10.15 Purport)
Friend1: A person shouldn’t mentally speculate.
Friend2: About what?
Friend1: I’m not sure.
Friend2: Umm, you’re the one who said it.
Friend1: I was waiting for you to explain.
Friend2: Where is this coming from?
Friend1: I’ve heard it many times. You shouldn’t mentally speculate. It is sinful.
Friend2: Oh. That’s in relation to understanding the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
Friend1: [smiling] I knew that. I was just messing with you.
Friend2: Do you not understand the point?
Friend1: Hmm. I think I do.
Friend2: Take a crack at it.
Friend1: I always hear it in relation to learning from authority. You’re supposed to understand God as He is from someone who knows Him, like Arjuna in the Bhagavad-gita.
Friend2: Okay, but why is that?
Friend1: Because the definition of God is too broad. There is too much to know. The better route is to accept the information from someone who knows Him already.
Friend2: Yeah. That’s pretty much it.
Friend1: Okay, but why is mental speculation sinful? I equate speculating with contemplating. Basically, it’s saying that thinking about God is sinful. That doesn’t make so much sense to me.
Friend2: No, speculating is a different thing. First, you have to understand what sin is.
Friend1: Doing something bad.
Friend2: Yeah, but it’s more specific than that.
Friend1: Going against what God wants.
Friend2: Right, but why does He want certain things?
Friend1: I’m not sure.
Friend2: The foundation of sin is turning away from the Supreme Lord. Sin is essentially doing something the wrong way. It’s like eating soup with a fork, driving on the wrong side of the road, or hanging up a painting upside down. Take the objective first, and then any activity or behavior that brings you further away from reaching the objective is sinful.
Friend1: I see. So why is thinking about God taking you away from Him? I thought consciousness was the key to everything.
Friend2: Contemplating and speculating are two different things. Think of it like being in a dark room, where the lights are off. If you and I are in the room, we can only speculate as to what is on the walls. We have no idea really.
Friend1: It’s like we’re guessing.
Friend2: Exactly. Now imagine if the same room is lit. We can start to describe what is on the walls. In both instances there is talking. The mind is in use both times. The difference is that in darkness there is speculation, while in the light there is contemplation.
Friend1: Oh, that’s good. By mentally speculating, we’re not really getting an accurate understanding of the Supreme Lord, as He is.
Friend2: That is sinful because the foundation is going away from the Supreme Lord. The behavior is not bringing us any closer to Him in consciousness. You don’t have to take my word for it. Just see the result of mental speculation. There are so many commentaries on the Bhagavad-gita that don’t rely on credible authority. They come up with all sorts of erroneous conclusions on who Krishna is and is not. Then those conclusions get passed on to others. Innocent people get hurt through something that looks harmless; mental speculation.
Friend1: That makes sense. Here’s another question. I sometimes see mental speculation paired with gambling in the list of sinful behaviors. Unnecessary sporting sometimes follows gambling. Is there something related in these behaviors?
Friend2: You mean in the four regulative principles?
Friend2: Do you understand why gambling is bad?
Friend1: It takes away honesty.
Friend2: Correct. Nice job. Based on what we were just talking about, you can see how mental speculation is also dishonest, especially when it comes to the Supreme Lord. It is dishonest to say that Krishna is not a person. It is wrong to conclude that God is impersonal in His ultimate feature. Without honesty, you can’t advance.
Friend1: I see.
Friend2: Gambling is also a misuse of time. It’s popular if you are bored and have nothing else to do. That’s why mental speculation gets coupled with unnecessary sporting as well. There’s no need for it. Better to hear about God the person from authority. There is plenty of information available from both the original source and those who know Him. Thus the mind should contemplate those features instead of speculating on them. That is better for the individual and anyone who associates with them.
In dark room about walls talking,
On speculation’s road walking.
Since not certain, not always right,
Only when darkness removed by light.
Speculation sinful since away to go,
Parampara right way for Krishna to know.
Hear from someone already in the light,
Then contemplate with understanding right.