is our existence comparable to a black hole?

Vic Shayne
Consciousness: The Potentiality of All Existence: Exploring reality and belief as a subjective experience

Stanford physicist Leonard Suskind proves Stephen Hawking wrong

NASA defines a black hole as a place in space where gravity pulls so much that even light cannot get out. Beyond this, there’s a peculiar aspect of black holes that seem to be analogous to how consciousness — our existence —works.

One day I was listening to an account of how Stanford physicist Leonard Suskind used his mathematical genius to change the mind of Stephen Hawking who claimed that once information is sucked into a black hole, it is lost forever. It’s no small feat to prove Stephen Hawking wrong, but Suskind turned him and the world of physics in a new direction. Through advanced mathematics, Suskind proved that information is never completely lost despite being drawn into a black hole. The information, he showed, is retained on the rim, or horizon line, of the black hole.

Although everything eventually gets sucked into a black hole, its memory or impression (not a scientific concept, per se) is left behind.

What does this mean about our reality? Physicists have not yet determined whether our existence — our lives, phenomena, objects, expressions, experiences, etc. — is only a memory or whether it is real, whatever “real” means. As a memory, all of what seems to exist, including us and our minds, may be a holographic representation of what used to exist. And this is where black holes remind me of consciousness, perhaps as a metaphor or perhaps what we literally are as consciousness.

what is information?
Physics writer, Fraser Cain explained that when physicists are speaking of information, “they’re referring to the specific state of every single particle in the universe: mass, position, spin, temperature, you name it.” In my book Consciousness: the potentiality of all existence, I describe consciousness as the totality of all that is, and this includes all expressions, movement, birth, death, creation, destruction, ideas, thoughts, memories, emotions, experiences, phenomena, and nature.

Consciousness is all-inclusive, with nothing omitted, inclusive of everything that can be described, known, sensed, remembered, ongoing, expressed, created, destroyed, and imagined. In this sense, consciousness is the creator, destroyer, changer, and perpetuator of information. It is also a word that stands for all of its contents, including our feelings, thoughts, ideas, and memories, which are as universal as they are personal.

We may include thought as information, or we can say that information is the stuff of all beings, inanimate objects, the weather, the planet, and so on. No doubt, science recognizes that everything is information when broken down into its fundamental existence.

where has the past gone?
Through intense observation of what we are, it becomes obvious (at least in my experience) that everything in history — personal, interpersonal, and world history — both exists and does not exist. To explain this further I shall resort to an analogy: When you drive down the street you will notice that all of what is in front and on the side of you is sucked into your awareness and then disappears beyond your view, never to exist again. Even if you see the trees, houses, bushes, and birds behind you, they are not the same experience that used to be in front of you. It’s as if everything disappears into the void of a “me,” a witness, never to be seen again in the exact same way. Where did everything go? Is it gone forever? No, it is retained in or on your own black hole’s “horizon,” which we commonly call memory.

all that happened is still alive and happening
The memory that we have following the disappearance of an event, a vision, a perception, thought, comment, color, shape, form, experience, or anything sensorial, is more alive than we may realize at first glance. Psychology, clinical hypnotherapy, somatic therapy, and neuroscience now teach that memory retains and evokes feelings so that the actual event that gave rise to them, despite being long gone, continues to exist as a sort of residue — and a powerful one at that. The reality is ever-present, not only in the mind, but also embedded within the cells of the body. (Candace Pert, Molecules of Emotion)

The stuff of memory creates a hologram in your mind that you can see, hear, smell, taste, and touch. Is it imagination or is it real? The same question is asked by physicists about the information that we call life and all expressions once it has already passed into a black hole.

are you now, or have you already been?
Even the statement, “I am” is a memory, because the now that gives rise to the experience of existing is quickly turned into a memory just before we are aware of it. Paradoxically, as soon as you say that you exist right here and now, that “now” is already in the past. Thus, there can really never be a “you” or a “now” except as a spaceless and timeless reality beyond the ken of the mind, brain, or body. So, are you experiencing reality as something that’s actually real, or is it already a memory when you process the information of the now?

the original event is gone by the time the mind is aware of it.
When we become aware of the now, it is no longer now. All that is happening right now is only known after it has occurred, so what we are experiencing is a memory of what we ignorantly call “now.” Similarly, or perhaps the same, physicists argue what we are experiencing now, including every aspect of our lives and all phenomena, has already been sucked into a black hole.

nisargadatta maharaj and the black hole phenomenon
Nisargadatta was an enlightened mystic who entertained guests from all over the world in his cramped and hot little flat above the din of Bombay. He lived until the 1980s and is perhaps more popular today than he was in his own lifetime. On April 1981, one of Nisargadatta’s visitors said, “Scientists have been talking of the ‘black hole’ into which everything in the universe finally goes.“ Nisargadatta answered, ”You are that Absolute, you swallow the entire universe.”

Nisargadatta’s message was succinct: We are that which is behind, within, and out of which all things seem to exist. We are not knowable and we cannot say what we are, but only what we are not.

And now we teeter on the razor’s edge of the ineffable. A black hole sucks everything into it, including light. When and if you can realize that you are a void and not really a body in the world, but that the world is actually in you as this void, the whole game changes. This void has been explained as that which contains everything yet is of itself nothingness. Is it possible that we, either individually or collectively, are a black hole?

Within the void is a pinprick of light if you can find it. Coming closer and closer to this light you notice that this light contains all that exists in what we call reality. This leaves us with two questions: First, who is it that comes closer and closer to the light, and, second, what is reality? Well, it’s just a spacial metaphor that the limited mind uses in an attempt to understand and explain what is beyond description. But we try anyway, because we’re just that way.

The eternal mystery is that this light does not actually come from or go anywhere. It is only awareness that perceives it, and this awareness, when unalloyed, is pure consciousness, sometimes referred to as the silent witness. When completely in the void there is no witness, no thought, no phenomena, and no reality of any kind. When awareness is born (another metaphor), it begins as the “I am,” or the one that knows and feels that it exists.

nisargadatta and consciousness
The scientific concept of black holes is consistent with Nisargadatta’s description of consciousness, described in his book I Am That. The title encapsulates the idea that what we truly are is not describable or knowable: We are not this, not this, and not this: We are That — something else and everything else and nothing else.

The ancient Indian mystics taught that when you completely eliminate anything that can be known then you find what you are — not as a thing, an entity, or a person, but rather the essence that is behind the facade of the self and of all movement, including consciousness. We may call this the void, the Absolute, or nothingness.

Physicists have described the holographic residue on a black hole’s horizon line as made of waves. In comparison with the horizon line of the black hole’s surface where information remains despite its passing into the black hole itself, Nisargadatta said, “On the surface of the ocean of consciousness, names and forms are transitory waves…I am like a cinema screen-clear and empty…The pictures pass over it and disappear, leaving it as clear and empty as before…The screen intercepts and reflects the pictures.”

And Nisargadatta said, “There is also the awareness of it all and a sense of immense distance as if the body and the mind and all that happens to them were somewhere far out on the horizon.”

more about the black hole
Here is a bit of information that is a lot to chew on: The more information that falls into a black hole, the bigger it gets. The same is true of consciousness: As the eons go by, more and more information becomes a part of the body of consciousness. Does the void increase according to how much it has the capacity to contain? Paradoxically, the void is emptiness and yet it contains more and more. Using another analogy, we can say that a movie screen can show us more and more information, yet the screen itself remains the same size. When the movie is over, the screen remains as an empty capacity and the movie now exists only as a memory in the minds of the audience that have left the theater.

so what are we really?
As we grow up from the baby stage we learn that we are a body separate from everyone and everything else. By the time we are adults this worldview is cemented and our minds are filled to the brim with thoughts, memories, fears, and conflicts. We do not know who we are and most people do not care to know. The idea of finding out that you are not who you think you are is too much for the egoic self to handle. But for those few who really want to find out what they are beyond this concept of a body-centered world there is a way. It takes persistent and open observation; not judgment, criticism, self-loathing, or positive thinking; just observation out of complete and silent stillness of the mind. When you do this for long enough, whether that means a week or fifty years, the truth shines through and the world is seen to be inside of you instead of the other way around.

is our existence comparable to a black hole?
Although there is a plethora of so-called experts, speakers, and teachers in the world of spirituality who talk a lot about the meaning of life and what we are, very few over the ages have actually had a personal realization of what this means. It’s one thing to describe the beach in great detail, but until you have actually sat on the beach, felt the breeze, listened to the leaves of the palm trees click and clack in the wind, and felt the spray of the ocean on your face, there is no real personal experience. So we have to be careful of who we listen to. Nisargadatta was a wonderful teacher, but alas, he could not bring you a realization on your behalf.

What does it take to realize you are the void and that consciousness arises from you — not the you of the individual ego-self with a body, but the you of unalloyed consciousness? There must be silent stillness to observe what “is,” because if you use thinking, figuring, analysis, memory, secondhand information, or even knowledge, you are identifying with the information instead of the void itself. To know that the void — the absolute, silent stillness — is you is to be the black hole. The question that remains is whether this is a metaphor or a literal reality. To repeat what was written earlier in this article, in comparison to a black hole Nisargadatta said, “You are that Absolute, you swallow the entire universe.”

“When you go deep inside, nothing is all there is. There is no ‘I am’. The ‘I am’ merges in the Absolute.”
— Nisargadatta Maharaj



…writer for 40+ years, mind/body practitioner, self-enquiry meditation, NY Times best selling author (, consultant, researcher.

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Vic Shayne

…writer for 40+ years, mind/body practitioner, self-enquiry meditation, NY Times best selling author (, consultant, researcher.