. This is an interesting series of questions and ones that do not necessarily weigh on many minds since most don’t really believe that they will live again and many of those that do believe in life after death, have some vision of an “afterlife” being a pretty sterile existence in an environment, devoid of many of life’s pleasures and challenges. You have become so attached to the idea that you are exclusively what your physical body is, so enamored with your ego consciousness that you cannot imagine yourself living any kind of meaningful life without being encased within the confines of atoms, molecules and cells. You must remember that these particles are simply an overlay of the real psychic reality that underlies physical existence and they are an important part of your entire being while your attention if focused in this system.
The point I am trying to make here is that death is not what you may think it is and it certainly is not a punishment of any sort. I do not intend to get into a discussion here of the properties of death per say, but to touch on it only to point out that evolution and reincarnation always indicates progress although there may be some bumps in the evolutionary road in order for the personality to address some problem with full intent of solving it, not succumbing to it. In an overall perspective, things always get better, not worse. I must keep repeating myself here because it is VERY important that you understand that there IS purpose behind your life. Your life is not some accidental happening even if it may seem so to you. What to you may seem like an accidental pregnancy that was initiated in the back seat of a car after a raucous party, was no more accident than the sun rising in the morning. Death is a temporary rest period between lives while you collect your energies, revisit family and old acquaintances and contemplate new adventures. In fact, once you have died, it will be such a pleasant experience that you will wonder why you didn’t think of doing it before, actually, you have.
Death is never used as a medium to punish you for anything. Energy is neutral and knows not good or bad. Energy does not judge and cannot be judged, but energy does exhibit the propensity to lean in the direction of good intent. There is NO judgment after death, only an evaluation of your last life, and not with the intent of criticism, but with the intent of planning another life incorporating areas of growth that were either ignored or were unsuccessful in the last life. You will have help in making these selections wisely. Remember, at this stage of awareness, your goals, desires and intents are different than they would be were you in a physical body at the time. It is similar to your saying:”What would Jesus do”? While ensconced in a physical body, you would hardly choose a life of poverty if you had a choice, but from your perspective between lives, this choice may be a wise one especially if your last existence was one of privilege and wealth. You experience lives to learn lessons, so you will choose future life circumstances that will help to fill in gaps in your overall growth. In that respect, there is a carry over from one life to another.
If you were a scam artist, a thief or an addict in a past life and have experienced the repercussions of such experience, you would probably have learned how not to be a scam artist, thief or addict, so there would be no need to revisit the same circumstances again. Keep in mind that if you experienced being a thief, scam artist or addict, the reality itself would be the punishment. You should always try to remember that to the soul, entity and All That Is, there simply is no bad or good, there is only experience that benefits you and your fellow travelers or it doesn’t and if it doesn’t, you can do it again and get it right.. In a larger sense, you can not destroy anything with your actions, so bad and good are just words and the line drawn between what is bad and what is good is arbitrary at best. What is good to me may seem bad to you and visa versa. What you think you kill is still alive and what you think you drive into extinction, still roams the wide open plains somewhere. John F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King are still alive and doing quite well. Dinosaurs and dodo birds still live and flourish. Your depth of attention cannot follow these transitions, but that does not mean that they do not exist. You cannot follow a dream either, but it still exists.
Dreams and aspirations left unfulfilled in this lifetime will be experienced and satisfied in future lives. As a well rounded entity/personality, you must experience the depths of ALL meaningful emotions, intimacies, loves and disappointments. That is the meaning behind evolution and reincarnation. What you leave undone in this life will be completed in another. There can be no real failure because here again we get into arbitrary words which require judgment. One mans success could be another mans failure and who can stand in judgment? Success is simply the other side of failure and failing surely does give you a new deeper understanding of success that you can utilize in the future. I know that this will sound trite, but successes are built on the corpses of many failures. A miserable life from your viewpoint could have opened up opportunities that will later become apparent to you. It also presents you with data about what not to do in the future. If all experiences and all lives were perfect, you would learn nothing and most importantly, you would never discover the connection between your thoughts, desires and expectations and the realities that manifest in your life. You are meant to learn that you create your own reality and the responsibility for both successes and failures lie directly with you and if you did it wrong before, you can change the outcome by changing how you think about it.
Finally, after death, you do not HAVE to do anything in the next life. You are allowed to make your own choices for future lives. You will have the benefit of counseling, advice and suggestions, but the final decision will always be yours and you are allowed full freedom to make as many mistakes as you would like to leave yourself open to make. There are requirements that must eventually be met in order for you to progress to bigger and better things, but there is no rush, you have all the time you will need. This answer is so simple that I fear you will not take it seriously, but if you have not found your passion or purpose in life, the only way you can change that is to change how you think and what you think about. Given enough time, purpose, intensity and expectation, given emotional impetus, thought coagulates into reality and the few limitations are negligible. You can get what you seek by thinking about what you want.
I know your questions hint at Karma. Karma is not punishment and never was. Karma is a method that simply provides guidelines and requirements for learning through what you experience and it can carry over into future lives. Let me give you an example; if you kill someone in this life, you will not be punished in a traditional sense, but you will have to through a reciprocal practical application, experience being killed yourself, or someone who is so close to you will have to be killed so the remorse you feel would be worse than being killed yourself. Another of your sayings is quite appropriate and says it all. What goes around comes around. There are others I am sure, but if you kill, you must experience being killed either in reality or symbolically. It’s all the same and nothing killed is ever destroyed, it is just removed from your presence and sometimes that can be devastating. Conversely speaking, what better way to learn not to kill than to be killed? Regarding Karma, of course this applies to all experience, but the ramifications are amplified in the example of death.