Story identification request. The title says most of it. It's a short story I believe I read in a science fiction anthology. People have some Eastern-ish or mystic belief system or something, and the protagonist won't buy it. I think he's a reductionist. In the end he's in some sort of hell that's somehow related to his skepticism. Any ideas?
I wonder if you're thinking of Kuttner and Moore's "Rite of Passage", a 1958 short story about a man who lives in a world where everyone believes in magic (good and bad); the protagonist is a person whose job is to curse people working for other corporations (it's a quasi-feudal society with corporations taking the place of feudal lords), but he has learned enough of the real history of his society to know that what he's doing has a purely psychological effect (enhanced perhaps with a few physical dirty tricks) - you announce that someone is "cursed" (and maybe slip him a drug to make him feel sick) and let his mind do the work of making him miserable.
Since he knows magic is all psychological, he believes that he should be immune to it all, but he's grown up in that society, and subconsciously all the symbolism of magic still works on him.
This article has further details:
Lloyd Cole is the Black President for the Communications Corporation. Kuttner and Moore have imagined a future where people believe in magic, and Cole is the president of black magic. Corporations also have white presidents.
Here’s the kicker, magic isn’t real, but everyone believes in it. Cole’s job is to cast evil spells under contract for his clients. “Rite of Passage” is about how Cole wants to get revenge on a man who stole his wife by appearing to kill him for a client, thus providing a cover-up for his own intentions.
The story has been anthologised a few times, notably in Detour to Otherness (1985)