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comicalmayhem's avatar

Is the feeling of death unimaginable AND what exactly is 'the afterlife'?

Asked by comicalmayhem (804 points ) May 22nd, 2011

The afterlife. Does it exist? Is it for eternity? What are heaven and hell exactly? All questions up for debate.
Being agnostic, I’d argue that the afterlife is a possibility, but we don’t have enough evidence to say that it’s a true or a false belief.
When you dream, a chemical (DMT) is given off in the brain (or something like that) and that chemical causes you to dream. The same would happen when you die. So the afterlife, in theory, would all be just a dream.
Before I knew what DMT was, I thought in definitely death would be this unimaginable feeling of darkness. Kind of like a coma, but still unimaginable.
If the afterlife is all a dream, wouldn’t that mean that heaven is a good dream and hell is a bad dream? If someone is the nicest person on Earth yet dies slowly and painfully in a tragic fire, could they go to what is theoretically, ‘hell’. And have a nightmare? And if the meanest person on Earth dies in their sleep, but was happy with their day, couldn’t they go to ‘heaven’ and have a good dream?
We dream in 5 minute intervals. Could the afterlife be just 5 minutes that seem like an hour? Is there an endless supply of DMT in our brains? If our brains are dead, they wouldn’t be able to produce DMT forever. I mean our brains shrivel up and decompose and whatnot after a while. DMT shouldn’t be functional forever.
This is all something to think about, up for discussion.

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38 Answers

comicalmayhem's avatar

Note: I don’t have much of an understanding of what DMT actually is. I just know it causes
dreams and it’s a chemical released from the brain when you are sleeping.

Edit: I’m probably thinking of a different chemical.

TexasDude's avatar

Remember what it was like before you were born?

Exactly. That’s what being dead feels like. Most likely, at least.

comicalmayhem's avatar

@Fiddle_Playing_Creole_Bastard Exactly, but can you imagine what you felt like before you were born?

Mariah's avatar

There are people who believe that your consciousness is not a direct result of your biology; that it is a separate thing altogether called a soul, and that it can live on after the physical form, your body, has died. As a non-physical thing, it exists in a form we are not familiar with and cannot interact with. I guess this is why heaven is often described as being on another “plane” and similar terms.

I don’t believe this, personally.

mazingerz88's avatar

It is unimaginable since no one who came back from the dead gave thorough interviews from people like Oprah or her version from ancient past. No living person knows what the afterlife is so you could beat this horse all you want but it ain’t never gonna kick. I always thought how dumb those who wrote the ancient scrolls could be that they did not stick with Lazarus paparazzi style after Jesus brought him back to life. Dumb or smart? Knowing they would not be able to write about it and sound believable down the line? Jesus should have done all of us a big favor if he showed himself to Pilate or the whole of Rome and Judea after he rose from the dead. Why leave, leaving so much potential for doubt? Very suspicious. And of course the bible is rich with seemingly believable reason on why like blessed are those who believe yet did not see? Nice huh?

Luiveton's avatar

You should ask a dead person that, they’ll give a suitable answer. So smart, duh.

Luiveton's avatar

But wait when you die doesn’t your brain rot or something? I doubt it’ll be able to make it then.. So yeah. :\

It all depends on what your beliefs and religion are to be honest. You can choose whether to believe it or not. No science would ever be able to prove that.

comicalmayhem's avatar

@mazingerz88 the afterlife in theory. not what it is proven to be

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

I can’t imagine it. I don’t believe in the afterlife but I suppose none of us know whether there is one or there isn’t.

mazingerz88's avatar

@Luiveton Ok sorry. If this is not yet an established theory that DMT induced after death “consciousness” could very well be the closest thing we could have to an afterlife experience, then I would say it is quite a good theory. Just saw this movie Source Code and thought it was going to be a boring sci-fi film but turned out it’s got something interesting to offer regarding afterlife scenarios.

Just this morning I happened to think about in what physical form human thoughts exist. Surely as we think them, real life matter/particles in super sub-atomic levels move and interact. I’m assuming personally that even electric signals is made up of something. But how to increase the frequency of these signals enough to control others’ thoughts or manipulate your own reality is a question I find exciting.

comicalmayhem's avatar

@mazingerz88 That was a great movie. I wonder if it’s actually possible, though.

And I’m not sure if this is someone’s theory, it’s just a bunch of thoughts I put together after minimum research.

comicalmayhem's avatar

So yeah, another question: Do any scientists hold this exact theory?

Blueroses's avatar

This is an excellent Q, @comicalmayhem! I’m inspired to look up and read more about brain chemicals released to promote dreaming (if I remember correctly, the chemical is acetylcholine).
Philosophically, the notion that an afterlife dream is dependent on your state at the moment of death is very intriguing and perhaps a motivation to live as happily as possible at all times just in case death comes suddenly.

comicalmayhem's avatar

Maybe one dose of DMT can be functional forever. Is science sure of its limits?

Mariah's avatar

@comicalmayhem The only way that could be possible that I can see, is if there really is a soul that is separate from the body. The brain decomposes and ceases to exist in a form that could process information anymore. If somebody were to continue to perceive anything indefinitely after death, they would have to exist in a form that is independent of what’s happening to the body.

Blueroses's avatar

@comicalmayhem If that were the case, “one dose of DMT can be functional forever” wouldn’t you think more people would remember their dreams upon waking? Or that dream time would have a bigger impact on the waking life?

mazingerz88's avatar

So that’s why movies like Source Code and Vanilla Sky go for the “manipulating the brain” theme since it’s easier to believe in being able to preserve thoughts indefinitely. I don’t know how a brain could be sustained artifically outside the body or how long before its cells disintegrate by itself but I have no doubt it could be done in the future if it isn’t happening already. Source Code took it one step further for it to become an exciting movie, involving connecting two brains to rectify a past event, yet by itself, that part where Jake G. is able to communicate his thoughts via words on the screen, despite his actual condition, is to me very viable.

comicalmayhem's avatar

@Blueroses That’s a good point. But DMT’s limits upon waking could be different than DMT’s limits if you were to die. Coma patients can dream for weeks.

Blueroses's avatar

I’ve often wondered about coma patients. Is it true that they are in a dream state? Maybe some, but perhaps they are in a state of awareness of the outside world but the body is being blocked from cooperating with the brain so they are unable to acknowledge their awareness. That, to me, would be the ultimate in frustration.

toyhyena's avatar

Why not try asking one of the many, many people that have been resuscitated from death and have experienced a near death experience? If you don’t know any personally, there are gobs of anecdotal stories all over the internet. Many of them love being heard about what happened to them during that brief time they weren’t alive (can you blame them?) Compare what they say with what people that have had heavy DMT experiences say. It’s great stuff, actually.

And don’t stop there. After having listened to a large enough sampling of those, check out similar cases (out of body experiences, deep meditations, psychic phenomenon, hallucinogenic mushrooms, strokes, etc), I think you’ll find they have a lot of things in common with each other. The elements they share are surprising, and easily dismissed when taken individually.

I think it gets even better, but that’s enough homework for you right there, if you’re serious enough.

DMT’s still very understudied, but have you checked out information dealing with the Pineal gland (where it might come from?) Google the piss out of it and have a field day.

(I’ll be around to compare notes if you want :P)

Axemusica's avatar

I’ve been mentioning DMT to people and over Fluther for quite some time. There’s been quite a bit of studies on DMT in the past and it’s very interesting to read about. One theory is that, what we perceive isn’t exactly all that’s there. Much like, what we consider reality is only a small fraction of what actually is reality. Many people who’ve taken DMT in this study always mention things of similar characteristics. I first discovered DMT in a book by Clifford A. Pickover entitled Sex, Drugs, Einstein, & Elves. If you’d like a very in depth read about DMT I’d suggest taking a gander at this link taken directly from his website.

toyhyena's avatar

Adding onto Axe’s post, I’d also like to throw in the book DMT: The Spirit Molecule (by Dr.Rick Strassman) and Tryptamine Palace (James Oroc) as other in-depth reads for DMT. One’s more clinical, the other’s more personal, but they both offer interesting insight/different perspectives on it.

Axemusica's avatar

Yes, @toyhyena Dr. Strassman was his name. Pickover mentions him quite a bit. I would’ve linked his website (since he’s got one), but I couldn’t remember his name. Also, I can back up @toyhyena‘s mentions that, out of body experiences, hallucinations, alien abductions, and ect… all seem to have very similar experiences. It’s quite exciting I think, lol.

comicalmayhem's avatar

@Axemusica I first found out about DMT when I asked a YouTuber, AmanJohnK, on a live show, “If your brain is dead, does that mean you can’t think about heaven, which means heaven doesn’t exist?” He then told me about DMT.

@toyhyena That’s very interesting. I haven’t really gotten into in-depth research. I just developed a theory on the afterlife by tying in the basic function of DMT. I’ll definitely look into that, but right now I have to write an essay for history. So what do you think of my theory about the afterlife?

toyhyena's avatar

@comicalmayhem Of it being a dream? Of the whole having a good day, even though you’re a bad person, and winding up in “heaven” if you suddenly die right then and there?

I obviously can’t say I know for sure, but my understanding is that there’s no hell, and there’s something like a heaven, and we all go to it, unless we’ve gotten lost after death, or uh, I guess if you… (this part’s hard to explain), feel like you’re not worthy?

I think the closest we can come to understanding what the afterlife could be like is comparing it to the dream state (atheists would say when you’re not dreaming, of course <3), but I doubt it’s the same thing.

But state of mind seems to be very important (especially happiness). That higher vibration state seems to be related to “Heaven” (or as some describe it, other, higher dimensions).

Cutting myself off here before I really start to blab, but yeah, that’s what I think in regards to that theory of yours. :)

Cruiser's avatar

Death is actually peaceful…Dieing may hurt at first depending on how it happens, but death itself is the process of letting go of all the pain. I did it twice so far and the doctors these days are getting better and better at keeping you from deathing.

Blueroses's avatar

I’ve had a near drowning experience where I actually “let go” and it was incredible. Also being beaten almost to death where I just wished I could “let go”. That’s why I see the validity in this question. Is your last physical experience your hell or heaven? It’s a wonderful question and I wish I could give it more lurve points.

Blueroses's avatar

So I can @comicalmayhem
Do you want to earn back points lost from one of your previous Qs? That was a misstep and this is a good step. I’m happy to pass this Q on and glad to answer it. That’s Fluther.

This question deserves attention on its own merit.

comicalmayhem's avatar

Posted on Y!Answers. No one reads the description over there, just the title.

comicalmayhem's avatar

@toyhyena Why would atheists say when you’re not dreaming?

ETpro's avatar

We have no credible evidence that there is any afterlife. So long as the brain is alive and functioning, even when the heart may have stopped, thought is possible. You may be correct that near death visions during a coma are similar in ways to dreams. But we cannot draw from anything that is fantasized in the brain that it continues to exist for us after we are brain dead. We can measure the neural activity of dreaming and of near-death experiences. We measure no such activity after brain death.

About brain chemistry and dreaming, we don’t know if N,N-Dimethyltryptamine AKA DMT is involved in dreaming or not. It is a psychedelic naturally occurring in some plants, and also in trace amounts in humans and other animals. But I think you will find that the Internet chatter about its role in dreaming is not based on any sound science. We know little of its role in humans. We do know that it can simulate the natural brain regulating chemical, serotonin. But we do not know if it is directly involved in dreams. The pineal gland does secrete melatonin to regulate sleep cycles. It is similar in chemistry to DMT and other tryptophan like substances. And large doses of melatonin have been reported to produce very vivid dreams in some test subjects

The brain chemical we measure in unique abundance during dreams is acetylcholine which is a vital neurotransmitter.

comicalmayhem's avatar

@ETpro So is acetylcholine the chemical I was thinking of, not DMT?

ETpro's avatar

@comicalmayhem Probably so. It is definitely present in high levels during REM sleep. Of course, take a decent dose of DMT and you’ll be seeing dreamscapes while wide awake. But you might be seeing law enforcement officers as well, and they might not be part of the dream? :-)

comicalmayhem's avatar

@ETpro I read this interesting article on REM sleep about sleep paralysis. It’s when you feel like you’re awake, but you can’t move and there’s a demon on your chest. I don’t if this is relevant to my theory at all, but I think it’s pretty interesting.

comicalmayhem's avatar

How can acetylcholine function without the brain?

ETpro's avatar

@comicalmayhem As far as I know, all the brain chemicals are useless without a living, functioning brain. They don’t disappear instantly upon brain death. THey just are useless without a living, functioning brain to control. Acetyl choline is a chemical used by the brain as a neurotransmitter. Without any neurons transmitting, it’s just another organic chemical doing nothing more than it would do in a laboratory jar.

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