Bohmian Imax: The Holographic Cinema of Death
A fascinating theory that explains near death experiences using quantum physics, neuroscience and metaphysics.
People who have had near death experiences tend to use similar imagery to describe their altered perceptions and states of consciousness: celestial visions, tunnels of white light, Eden-like spaces, and flashbacks. Furthermore, people’s flashbacks tend to be similar, every past moment simultaneously coming into focus as if the entire movie of their lives could be as short as a blink of an eye. In order to study these near death experiences, neuroscientists have recently delved into what was previously thought of as a religious or metaphysical domain.
Some scientists are inclined to say that when a person is close to death, his brain suffers a temporal dilation which affects the actions and reactions of micro-tubules (miniscule structures that may affect how we process information and feel self-consciousness on a quantum level). This dilation can make us perceive a suspension of time as well as tunnel vision and halos of light.
The neuroscientist Anthony Peake argues that when we die or come close to dying, the neurotransmitter glutamate is activated ––which is also what happens in moments of extreme emotional and physical stress. This neurotransmitter is responsible for slowing our perception and evoking remote memories so that when it is activated it seems we’re reliving our past in one instant.
To elaborate on his theory, Peake references physicist David Bohm’s theory of “Totality and Implied Order,” which claims that the universe is like a hologram in which the information or blue-print of the entire system can be found in each of the system’s parts. Extrapolating on this, we can understand that our memories aren’t stored in certain parts of the brain, but are rather stored everywhere.
I suggest that in what I term the Real-Death Experience (RDE) the dying person experiences all the perceptions reported in the classical NDE but to greater extremes. I propose that their subjective time perception becomes so fast that they literally fall out of “clock time” (time as it is perceived by others such as an external observer watching the subject die) and suddenly find themselves in a mind-forged zone of timelessness. Within this timeless state between life and death (a state that has been long acknowledged by many religions—known as “Bardo” by Tibetan Buddhists and “Limbo” by Christians) the “panoramic life review”, as NDE researchers call it, is experienced. However unlike the NDE reports that a state in which “my life flashed in front of my eyes” I suggest that in an RDE life is experienced in ‘real time’ a literal minute-by-minute reliving of one’s whole life. The inner-universe that this takes place I term “The Bohmian IMAX” (BIMAX).
Peake’s theory brings to mind Bioy Casares’ fictional island in his science fiction novel The Invention of Morel, where people turn into holographic ghosts; Peake suggests that when we die our brain projects a holographic movie of our entire existence, catapulting us into a perfect repetition of our flawed past. He further describes the process:
My Bohmian IMAX is not a linear movie but a super-sophisticated, non-linear ‘first person view’ computer game in which each alternative can be followed through. So there you have it. Cheating The Ferryman suggests that at the moment of death we will all fall out of time, enter my “BIMAX” and in doing so be catapulted back to the moment of our birth, start our lives again, and follow the same path until something knocks us off that path, and sends us along a different route.
Luckily, similar to the Tibetan Book of the Dead or Bardo Thodol, Peake proposes a possible way out of this looping, existential labyrinth. He encourages us to take one of the forking paths towards a parallel universe where another you exists, for this is followed by a new permutation within the infinite interweaved possibilities: the multiverse.
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