Not all religions that believe in Hell believe the punishment is eternal. Some believe that it is an intermediate period between incarnations – for example, Chinese Diyu.
Christianity used to have a concept called purgatory, or Limbo, where those who were too good for Hell and not good enought to go directly to heaven would stay until they atoned for their sins. The great Italian poet Dante wrote about Purgatory in his work Purgatorio. In Medieval times, people would pray for the dead in Purgatory in the hope that their time there would be reduced.
In the 16 Buddhist hells, one stays for many thousands of years in a given hell, but then may be reborn on earth as a human or animal, or even as a god. That’s the traditional belief anyway. Not all religious practitioners see hell as a place external to our physical reality.
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