Karma & Hell Realm!

Alright lets keep this scholarly. I and I can imagine others are not looking for silly answers or “it just is that way”.

Usually I would just read Ajahn Thanissaro as I know he has some great works on Karma, Becoming, Selves/Not Self, etc.

But honestly I can’t do 300-400 pages for each work right now. Brain is sore already lol

So once we die how would Karma take us to a hell realm, why is a hell realm in existence, if we aren’t being forced there why would we be reborn there… Something aint adding up here.

Unwholesome actions (akusala kamma) leads to negative effects (vipaka). AN8.40 shows how habitual breaking of the five precepts can lead to these realms.

With metta

Can you explain what doesn’t add up to you?

For some vedic followers and upanishadists before the Buddha, and certainly for the Buddha and some of his contemporary rivals hell was a given, a strange cosmic constant. So as long as a world exists (except for the intermission at the dissolution of the universe), it seems that heaven and hell are there.

The texts don’t make a big deal out of it, as if nobody really doubted it (except maybe some unorthodox teachers like Pūraṇa Kassapa or Pakudha Kaccayana). Hell is not so important in itself but as an exemplification of the principle of kamma and its fruit: In order for kamma to be effective there needs to be a possibility to ‘fall’ or to ‘rise’.

An interesting aspect to me is that while the texts emphasize utmost impermanence, i.e. the process, there seems to be a pretty stable cosmic structure in place that never changes. It’s strange that there is no randomness at all, that some universes would have no hell but just intermediate and heaven, or some would have no intermediate. The ‘architect’ seems to have had an unchanging idea how the eternal meta-universe is set up.

Just interesting that without a punishment god or something that a realm like the hell realms would exist…

Do you see the subtle aspect that doesn’t seem to make sense?

Also I am not sure on the suttas that talk about how the material planes of existence tie in with the mind and how they come to be.

It can only makes sense once you appreciate the impersonal perpetuation of suffering dependent origination brings about.

I would strongly suggest you check this study guide by Ven. Payutto.


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If God is omnipotent-it doesn’t make sense why there should be good and bad. There would only be Good.

Kamma works more like an impersonal force, assuming good and bad deeds have consequences beyond our ability to generally perceive them. If we consider gravity as an example if we collect no mass (no bad kamma), we have no gravity and we become weightless (heavenly realms). If we collect some mass (good and bad kamma) we have some weight (earthly/human realm). If we collect too much mass, it creates a black hole (hellish realms). The problem arises when thinking there are ‘people’ that do ‘bad and good’.

With metta


Hi - maybe mind is energy, and at the death of the body that energy moves on. Maybe kamma is the charge of the energy, and wholesome actions add a positive charge to the energy of the mind; and since like attracts like, positive energy is drawn to positive realms once freed from the body. Same for unwholesome. Maybe the seeds of kamma are the particles we’ve charged + or - by our actions/speech/thoughts. :slight_smile:


I think some thought I was trying to put God into it, wasn’t trying to do that at all.

The subtle point though is that earth and this realm seems to come about by natural laws that kind of force things into the way they are “Gravity forces planets sphereish, etc.” These are neutral.

Hell realms as described with razor blades and poop everywhere seem weirdly not to of the same order lol

Also having a hard time understanding how these realms come into being in the first place and the dynamic and connection with the mind. These are places of punishment it would seem not neutral places that arise and the mind either ends up with aversion or attachment as “becoming” is usually portrayed in the suttas (the whole field, seed, etc.)

People living in desert areas in this world are living in pretty hostile environments. These places are just harsh- not ‘intentionally’ so- it’s just the way those places are.

Yes, and that’s the terrifying nature of rebirth. It’s not justice or punishment if somehow you make more karma while in those places. It’s just portrayed as a natural law.

With metta

If you’re cruel, angry, fearful and stingy your mind lives in a hell realm already. So on the dissolving of the body after death your metal states are already there.