As long as evil has not borne fruit,
The fool thinks it is like honey.
But when evil does bear fruit,
Then the fool suffers.
Like fresh milk,
Evil deeds do not immediately curdle;
Rather, like fire covered with ash,
They follow the fool, smoldering.
Dhammapada v. 69 and 71, translated by Gil Fronsdal
These are the last two verses I’ll be using from the “The Fool” section of the Dhammapada. You may be pleased (or relieved) to hear that the next verses will be from a section called “The Sage”.
Verses 69 and 71 tell us that what goes around comes around, but perhaps not immediately.
The example that leaps to mind is how happy a drunk person is – feels like a million bucks! Feels witty and funny and the life of the party. Perhaps only the next day does he feel the hangover and discover that he said and did a number of things that would have been better left unsaid and not done.
It could be the same when engrossed in a video game (or pornography). The thrill is irresistible when one is in its thrall, and can leave a bad taste afterwards when we realize how much time we’ve lost and that we don’t feel like doing anything constructive as result.
On the other side, if we do something difficult that doesn’t feel great at the time, like holding our temper for example, then the reward may come later, but it is no less real.
The underlying principle is that all of our actions have consequences, even if we can’t see them right away.