Man is fascinated with death. It may be horrible and dreadful, or quiet and peaceful, but it continues to intrigue us because we don’t know what lies beyond.
Myths and religions are focused on the after-life, the hereafter. But what does it feel like to die? To be in that moment between being and nothingness?
Talking about death is a taboo among Chinese. But knowing man’s eternal fascination with death, two rather unusual entrepreneurs thought of providing the public with the means to experience physical death without really dying.
The result is a new attraction called Samadhi-4D Experience of Death, which will have its grand opening in Shanghai next month.
Needless to say, only brave hearts are invited. In an experience previously reserved for Stephen King characters, guests will be interred in a casket and “cremated”. A machine that simulates an incinerator will blow hot air and, along with the imaginative use of lights and sounds, will give them the “authentic experience of burning”.
After “dying”, the guests will be transported to soft, womb-like capsule and, again with the help of lights and sounds, will experience “rebirth”.
For the two-hour journey from life to death to rebirth, the operators charge 249 yuan (US$40.50) per visitor.
Samadhi-4D co-founders Ding Rui and Huang Weiping insist that their brainchild is not meant to be an ordinary thrill ride. They hope the experience will prompt visitors to ask themselves about the meaning of life, or how they can make it meaningful not only for themselves but for others.
Ding and Huang admit that their concept was not too attractive to venture capitalists. All the people they approached, including fund managers, corporate executives and government officials, had one reaction to their business proposal: “You’re crazy!”
Getting desperate, Huang even joined a business startup contest on television, hoping to bring home some prize money. He stayed up all night before the show to prepare his presentation, but after only three minutes in front of the judges, he was turned down and asked to leave. The judges said no living soul would want to avail themselves of such a service.
Finally, the duo turned to jue.so, a Chinese crowdfunding site where entrepreneurs can sell their ideas to the public and raise funds. To their surprise, the proposal got a comparatively favorable reception from the public; many said the idea was unique and meaningful.
Within three months, Ding and Huang were able to raise 410,000 yuan, surpassing their target.
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