Are We Punished for Wrong Actions?
Reward and punishment are concepts of an undeveloped mind. The Divine Being is not some great
parent or judge in Heaven dealing out rewards and punishments. There is a natural law (dharma) and its consequences according to the law of cause and effect (karma).
If you put your hand into a
fire you get burned. God is not punishing you for the sin of putting
your hand in a fire by burning you. It is not a sin but a matter of
ignorance of natural law and consequent experience of pain or
limitation. Just as there are physical laws, like fire's capacity to
burn, so there are mental and spiritual laws. Violence, for example,
brings eventual destruction upon its perpetrator. But one is not
punished for violence, violence as a negative state of mind with
negative consequences creates its own punishment.
The problem is that the long
term effects of our actions are not as obvious as their immediate
results. For example, if we eat food, like too much sugar, which
tastes good but is bad for us its negative effect will not manifest
immediately, like fire burning us, but will take time, causing
eventual disease through poor digestion which may manifest as
arthritis, heart disease or any number of problems. Because of the
time lap involved between the cause and effect of our actions we may
not recognize the connection between the wrong food and the disease.
On the level of behavior,
anger is destructive to our finer sensitivities and prevents us from
developing higher consciousness. However, if our minds are not
properly evolved we may not recognize this pain, we may indulge in
anger and find pleasure in it. But eventually we must experience the
consequences of the forces we set in motion, both on a short term
and a long term level. Our anger, fear and attachment must lead us
into situations that make us suffer. Wrong action itself is its own
punishment because it causes the constriction of our consciousness
into the outer realm of life, which always results in unhappiness.