Near death experiences & Enter the Void

Enter The Void (2009) was a movie that made a serious impact on my thoughts on death. My brother and friends first introduced this movie to me during my last year in high school, in which I was experiencing a sort of personal paradigm shift. The movie takes its pride (and does so rightfully) in the mastermind behind it: Gaspar Noé.

The story follows the short life (well... death) of Oscar, and his relationship with his sister Linda. Being a drug dealer, his fatal fate is met during a hook-up in Tokyo, in the toilet of a sketchy bar. At the beginning of the movie one is instantly drawn into the philosophical aspect of Oscar’s interest in the Tibetan Book of the Dead. About 20 minutes into the movie, the Japanese police shoot Oscar. This is where the movie really begins, as does his death “journey”. Oscar’s journey to death encompasses the dream-like visions and experiences that have been countlessly felt amongst those who have experienced what it is like to die.

“They say when you die you fly”

The reason the Tibetan Book of the Dead is highly emphasized throughout the film is for the viewer to understand what exactly happens to Oscar after he dies. Many say that this is a spiritual journey to reincarnation, however, Noé claims that it is something even simpler: “the whole movie is a dream of someone who read The Tibetan Book of the Dead, and heard about it before being (shot by a gun). Its not the story of someone who dies, flies and is reincarnated, it’s the story of someone who is stoned when he gets shot and who has an intonation of his own dream.” Those who watched the film may recall that Oscar smokes DMT earlier on in the film, and with this his “dream”, as Noé puts it, is highly influenced. However, it is almost impossible to ignore the idea of near-death experiences or the after-life. What actually happens when we die? Is the fact that DMT could be released through the pineal gland a reason for near-death experiences to resemble this potent psychedelic’s effects? And lastly, is the fact that near-death experiences bear uncanny similarities in various experiences actually true? Is there something else out there?

There are a few “basics,” so to say, that are shared throughout the community that have experienced such life altering moments. Basically, when somebody’s heart stops beating, there is supposed to 10 seconds of brain activity after the blood stops reaching the heart/brain. The time experienced during these 10 seconds of brain activity are extended similar to the lengthening of time in one’s dreams. In your dreams, naturally, time seems much slower than in real life. This means that within those 10 seconds of brain activity before one’s death, something significant occurs that determines and shapes one’s path to the “other side”. In addition, 10 to 20 percent of people that have been brought back to life during this period have claimed to have out of body experiences. Thus the question begs - can consciousness persist even after death? And if yes, is our elapsed dream/unconscious (being longer than “real time”) enough to provide us with insight?

One thing is for certain, and that is the commonalities seen amongst those who have had such life-altering experiences. A sense of peace, great light, or wonderment, have overwhelmed them. This is followed by, at times, telepathic conversations with nature and often “travelling” through tunnels and a breaking point of complete bliss. The tunneling vision and so-called breaking point are similar effects to taking DMT. However this bliss/beauty can differ amongst all people, flashing images of their lives (past or present) could arise, etc. The latter would lead everyone to believe that there is a distinct separation between the mind and the brain, and that the brain is the receiver and not the producer of consciousness.

Nonetheless this subject is widely argued and has never exactly been tested with for obvious reasons. We can only rely on the stories of those who have had such experiences. What do you think?