The notion of eternal damnation always baffled me. One shot to decide your destiny forever? What if you make a mistake? What if you get influenced by bad company? What if you die early trying to have a good time at university? I guess you could say in each of those situations you did have a choice, but the punishment still seems extremely disproportionate. In this world of unlimited distractions, temptations and allurements, every spiritual practitioner knows it’s a minefield – wouldn’t God be a bit more understanding?
It’s difficult to picture the Perfect Being, subjecting His own dear creation to extreme torture and suffering for eternity. The most incredible thing about this persecution is that it has nothing positive or progressive coming from it – He just tortures you again and again and again. Forever… it doesn’t stop. You can understand why people would be put off. Furthermore, there are so many unanswered questions and loose ends. What happens to a baby who is born and then dies without making any conscious decisions or actions: heaven or hell? What about someone who is mentally ill and cannot make rational choices: heaven or hell? If it’s a one life game, it definitely looks as though God has stacked the deck in favor of some.
The Bhagavad-gita explains that through the process of reincarnation, the spiritual being is given repeated chances to evolve his consciousness to perfection over time. Whatever good or bad the soul experiences in this world is ultimately an educational program aimed at refining his understanding about the self and the real purpose in life. In this way, the concepts of Karma & Reincarnation help one understand the unlimited compassion of the Perfect Being, in the midst of whatever life situations one may be currently experiencing.