Core Tenet #7 and the Threat of Hell


This sermon is about what it means to be a truly good person, and how ethics and morality should be based around what is right rather than the threat of damnation and eternal torment. To illustrate this idea, here are three quotations from three different sources, all of which pretty much say the same thing:

“A man's ethical behavior should be based effectually on sympathy, education, and social ties; no religious basis is necessary. Man would indeed be in a poor way if he had to be restrained by fear of punishment and hope of reward after death.”

-Albert Einstein

The question I get asked by religious people all the time is, without God, what’s to stop me from raping all I want? And my answer is: I do rape all I want. And the amount I want is zero. And I do murder all I want, and the amount I want is zero. The fact that these people think that if they didn’t have this person watching over them that they would go on killing, raping rampages is the most self-damning thing I can imagine. I don't want to do that. Right now, without any god, I don't want to jump across this table and strangle you. I have no desire to strangle you. I have no desire to flip you over and rape you.

-Penn Jillette

“If you need the threat of Hell to be a good person, then you are just a bad person on a leash.”


Core Tenet #7 teaches us that Ka is a wheel, and where it goes is up to you. Christian ideology offers divine retribution, good or bad, that is inflicted upon you when you die. But a truly good person is kind and benevolent because that is the right thing to do, not because they think they will go to heaven for it, or because they are afraid they will go to hell if they do not. The Core Tenets and other teachings of the Path offer no punishment for misdeeds, aside from that inflicted by your Ka, and no reward beyond the positive energy you get back when you make the world a better place. The consequences of your behavior, according to the Path, are naturally and socially rather than divinely bestowed. There is nobody keeping tabs on you, recording your every move for the purposes of retribution after you die. If you are an asshole, your only punishment is having to be a miserable asshole. If you are a nice person, other people are more likely to be nice back, and you end up with friends and a nice comfortable life. I have observed this out in the Universe, as well: If you choose kindness, every time, you are making the world better and improving your Ka.

Humans have long believed that those who chose to do evil will face some sort of divine punishment for it when they die. Mostly this is because we want this to be a just Universe, where bad people pay for being bad, forever. When we see somebody who is going around doing harm but seeming to face no consequences, it makes us feel better to imagine that person burning in Hell for all eternity for being such a jerk. The thing I find funny is that you can tell that they are miserable, no matter how disgustingly wealthy and powerful they are; some of them cannot even smile properly. There are a couple very prominent assholes who just smirk all the time. There is no real joy there, no happiness or serenity. Just the desire for more money and more and more power, never being happy with what they have, and looking down on everyone else because they believe being powerful is the same thing as being important. They love no one, trust no one, and never get any kind of reality check because everyone around them is afraid to disagree with anything they say. Personally, I find that to be a much more satisfying punishment, because they have to actually live in it.

However, we must also remember that “Everything that does evil is in pain.” They are truly suffering, which is why they do the harm that they do. Which means they are also, in most cases, not beyond redemption. Their souls, you might say, can still be saved, if they acknowledge the harm they have caused and actively seek to repair the damage. It will probably never happen, but we live in a Universe of infinite probabilities, so we can hope.

How you live your life defines what kind of life you live. Choose kindness, always.


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