I suppose for the sake of making things easy to understand, “judgement” has almost always been described as someone else looming over us, checking our deeds and misdeeds in a ledger or book. That works well enough, I guess, to get the point across that our actions will have consequences we’ll have to account for, but it also has the effect of making those effects seem utterly fixed and unchangeable on the one hand, and the whole effect being easily discredited for it’s implausibility on the other hand. In the excerpt that follows, Daehaeng Sunim describes the situation a bit differently.
It is not the Buddha who awakens you and raises your spiritual level. Buddha doesn’t bring you happiness, nor does he take it away from you. Nor is it the case that someone comes to take away your happiness because of the bad karma you’ve made. Nor will making lots of good karma cause someone to bring you happiness. Everything comes to you according to your own thoughts and actions. It comes according to the decisions you have made.
Further, everything is flowing by so quickly that there’s no moment for someone else to step in and try to change or affect something. Everything you see, hear, and do just flies past in that instant. It’s already long gone by the time you could say, “That’s what I’ve done,” or “I couldn’t do that.”
You, yourself, can’t even reach in and grab hold of it, so how could anyone else find a place they could step in and do something for you? Or something to harm you? It’s all flowing and changing every instant in response to what you are doing and thinking.
— Daehaeng Sunim