Hello, I was thinking about making my own post but in context of this discussion I´ll say it here - my understanding of "hell".
I have been ridden with various perceptive distortions due to former drug use. They have been light but sometimes quite serious.
Well, a few years ago I moved into my parents´house. I was interested in Buddhism and read pieces here and there. I can´t see the start of it, but weird things were happening. During daytime, I was often resting on the couch and in nighttime I would walk unrested around the house disturbing my parents. I´ll tell you about my torments. I was lying in the sofa and an invisible force was sticking nails through my legs and trying to break them. I saw and felt weird lights that were "evil" and burnt my body when close. I had waking dreams that I had killed my neighbour by psychic force. Sometimes I felt knives being thrusted through my chest. And so on, I could hardly take a shower because "evil" invisible forces were pulling me out, forcing me to stop showering.
These and similiar things happened over several months, but I got pauses from the torment and when I got a break I thought "what is this punishment?" I cried many times. At the same time, a Buddha-spirit (not Buddha himself but someone associated with Buddhism) sent me unhearable but senseable messages like "Don´t think you´re evil" and "Don´t worry" and "Know that it will pass".
Well, after a while these things began to fade away but I was very scared. Something unexplainable is that even if I was in this terrible pain I had a sense of positiveness that got me through the worst parts.
Anyway, I have told only half of the "hell" I went through but I shall not bore you with details. This is my experience of hell on earth. Was it Mara having fun with me? I have tried to examine my life to find out what I did bad to deserve this experience. I´m not Angulimala the criminal but yes I have done some not good things. Or was it hallucinations, I had stopped drugs some time before this.
I have´nt dared to talk about this with a priest/monk or doctor for fear of judgement. I asked my dad but he said he could´nt answer. Nonetheless, this "punishment" was very real to me.
This is the closest thing I can think of as "hell", because I don´t believe the descriptions of hell from legend - they are exaggerated. As I said, I could maintain some positivity during this experience so there is a way out!
All I´ve learned is that I have to admit that "suffering" exists. I tried to repent my wrongdoings but to whom can I repent? I´m back into "normal" reality now and I´m still not convinced.
A scientist would say that my "hell" was a psycho-somatic illness, but why did I in between get positive "realisations" and I had contact with reality and my mind was not destroyed, only shaken.
Sorry if my story is out of context but I think nobody wants to scare people with hell except hardcore criminals! Legends talk about hell but they are made by humans who nobody knows if they were enlightened or not. My moral conclusion is that "suffering" exists and it can happen to anybody but there is a way out of it, or else I would not be able to maintain my sanity even if my story was scary. And I don´t need any religion to tell me that.
I still don´t know why this happened to me, but I have been a nice boy also since later I have had moments of real peace of mind.
This begs the question that is off-topic: Could another person have inflicted this pain on me by physical or psychic force? Hmm, someone with a little black-magic-pill like Hannibal Lecter. Not everything that happens is due to karma...
"One may have studied a few sutras and tantras, but one still does´nt apply them. Alas, one is just deceiving himself."
-- Gyalwa Longchenpa