I have always been uncomfortable with God running Hell; a torture chamber is unbecoming of God. Recently there was this video of this young woman in the swat area of Pakistan controlled by the Taliban, being held down and mercilessly whipped, as she cried out in pain. Do we really think God would be so merciless and cruel? God uses such crude and blunt methods to teach us a lesson? Let’s take an example: A mother abandons her new-born baby in a trash-bin. The child grows up in the streets, abused, beaten, mocked, hungry and lonely, never knowing love and affection. As a grown-up he commits several crimes. Once he dies, some religions tell us that he will go to hell, where he is abused, beaten & mocked! Does this seem right? We can all agree that no one is born evil – babies come into this world full of innocence, seeking love with blind trust. Give them a loving nurturing environment and they turn into Gandhis’ and Mother Teresa’s. Bring them up in a brutal, unloving, hateful environment and they most likely will turn into murderers and killers. It is a known fact that most abusers themselves were abused in their childhood. This is not to excuse their actions, but do we really want a God who uses the same brutal, abusive and hateful environment to impart a lesson? If a brutal, hateful environment gave rise to an evil person, why do we expect a similar environment to produce better results? Karma & Rebirth is the Non-Violent way. One is not simply forgiven or given a beating, but is asked to take responsibility for the acts of a prior life, and is being a second chance to make things right. Come back in a second life and try to lessen the suffering of those whom you might have wronged. Remember Karma means that you are being given another chance to put things right, not being punished. Besides the laws of Karma & Rebirth seem to clash with the concept of Hell. If we are punished in hell, then how can we suffer the consequences of karma from a previous birth? Doesn’t that mean we suffer twice for the same offense? If hell is the violent way of imparting a lesson then Karma is the non-violent way. Let’s take another example: A kid continues to misbehave in a store in spite of the admonishments of his father. While running around the store the kid breaks a product. What is the father to do? Simply forgiving the kid will achieve nothing but then is beating him the right answer? It did used to happen a lot in the olden days – parents used to use a leather belt or a cane to discipline their children. Such cruel & abusive methods must have left serious emotional scars on the child. Either way the child does not learn to take responsibility for his actions. Thankfully nowadays use of such physical violence against innocent children has declined. Today’s parents are encouraged to talk to their kids and use softer methods to teach the right values to their children. The right way is to either withhold the kid’s allowance towards the cost of the product or make him do chores around the house to pay for the cost of the product. The child learns to take responsibility for his actions, learns the cost of his misbehavior and the right lessons are imparted. Another example: You are driving a car at night in a dense fog and you can barely see anything. Suddenly you hear a bump as if you had hit something. Do you continue to go forward, ignoring that you might have hit someone, and leave the forgiveness or punishment to God? Or do you stop the car, attend to the person whom you might have injured, take him to a hospital & pay the cost of his hospital care? The latter is about taking responsibility for our actions and doing the right thing. This is what Karma & Rebirth forces one to do. Guess what, you simply have to go back and help, because if you don’t do it now, as a Hindu, you will be back in the next life doing almost the same thing! You are not going to get away with an evil act. There are countries presently using brutal methods of justice like cutting of hands and public whip-lashing, while others follow a more civilized justice system – giving the accused an opportunity to defend himself and using a more humane, nay Hindu, method of justice if convicted. Which method do we think God should be using? Are some religions stuck with primitive ideas, forcing upon God their own primitive ideas? Truly mind-boggling is that the much older Hinduism is asking us to treat even evil-doers humanely. Is it better to do something because it is the right thing to do or because you are afraid of the punishment that would be meted out? Some countries use the honor system for train travel – passengers are not checked for tickets before boarding, instead they ask the traveler to police themselves – do the right thing and we all benefit. In some villages people do not even bother to lock their doors when they go out, again trusting their fellow man to do the right thing. It is no coincidence that such countries are a pleasure to live in – these countries are following the path of Karma – introspection and self-policing, not depending on some brutal heavy-handed justice by X power. Karma teaches us that we cannot run away from our mistakes, whether knowingly or unknowingly committed, asks us to take responsibility, and makes us realize that justice is in our hands. Follow the path of Karma and one realizes that we create the world that we live in. Besides with Rebirth, one is given the greatest Gift of all – the Gift of Life, over and over again! Why be limited to just one life when one can receive the greatest Gift over and over again? As I get older I reflect on my past and wish that in some cases I could get a do-over - The lost love, the missed opportunities, the thoughtless words and actions…But with Rebirth I get a second chance! What a great Gift! So, once and for all, let’s put away the concept of Hell, a brutal, violent, abusive place unworthy of God. What is mind-boggling to me is that a faith thousands of years old is teaching today’s values, I mean it was not that long ago when giving the belt to a misbehaving child was not uncommon. I sometimes feel sad for christians and muslims, according to their scripture they are limited to but one life.