With the first ever photo of a black hole, I can’t help but think of this as a new kind of revelation, a literal halo of light in our path of emerging cosmic consciousness.
Let me pause. I’m aware that any time I use a phrase like “cosmic consciousness” there might be a kind of new agey feel to it. We might want to dismiss it too quickly, dress it with crystals and tie dye. Thus is the limitation of language and cultural applications of it. I also wonder if it makes us uneasy because it is true, it is happening, and we are in the very midst of new reaches in quantum theory and space-time relativity. We are wrestling, in a sense, with the hugeness of a discovery and the smallness of our beings. I bet Jesus made people uneasy too. And Einstein chewed on expansion for a decade. But casting new age concerns aside, I invite you to step into the etymology:
cos·mos (n): from the Greek kosmos (1) the universe seen as a well ordered whole
con·scious (n): from the Latin conscius (1) knowing with others or in oneself
We are in the process of knowing the universe together as a well ordered whole. What an invitation. This is a universe that contains US, every single one of us. As we deepen our understanding of it, we deepen our understanding of ourselves. The image produced was a collective endeavor with over 200 scientists working on it world wide. This community of brilliant folks has elevated us into a new way of seeing. Before them, black holes were conceived of in the early 1900’s, so this image is a continuation of a thought exercise that began a century ago. I want to celebrate for a moment that so many women were part of this team. In a field dominated by the lone male genius archetype, the notable contribution of women is not insignificant!
Scientists are very careful about what they put out there for public consumption. Although their inquiry starts with a question, a sense of wonder, they chase the wonder until it solidifies into something beyond speculation. If you believe what you see, the historical picture we’ve been privy to, leaves no room for doubt in the existence of black holes. Because of the internet, more than half of the global population has access to the image captured by powerful telescopes. And because word of mouth still travels to the far reaches of the earth, even more of us will know by year end. Someone please be sure to tell the shaman in the outer reaches of Mongolia, though I wouldn’t be surprised if he nods sagely and says, “I already know.”
Based on the movement of matter near perceived black holes, scientists postulate that while they consume stars that drift too near, they also eject material that creates new stars, possibly flinging them out of their home galaxy. It’s like some giant watermelon seed spitting contest conspiring to create new galaxies and star clusters. Let’s look at the black hole in metaphor. One person said to me, “It looks like the eye of God staring back at us.” In some sense it is. Remember, “The eye with which I see God, is the same eye with which God sees me.” I thought it looked like an evil eye, the very same amulet of which wards off its shadowy powers. The antidote is in the poison, the healing contained in the depths. It is of course silly to apply emotions or evil intent to a cosmic phenomenon, but in this way the metaphor of language adds beauty. It is also a lightless maw surrounded by a luminous ring of light. We don’t know what happens when we get too close to the event horizon of that blackness. I’m not suggesting we volunteer ourselves to see if it’s true if matter gets stretched and spewed into oblivion, but I am suggesting that the black hole represents the unknown, the shadowy edges of our unconscious. But here’s the good news. There is a fiery light around it. Light cannot exist in the depths of the hole, but it has the capacity to create new stars, new light, new insights and understandings. This very same process happens within. Our shadow is part of who we are, and if we accept the invitation to look inside, to investigate how it operates in our lives, it might well teach us how to transform and illuminate the fiery edges. We might get stretched in new and painful ways, yes, but we might also discover that from the centers of our beings we have the capacity to generate clusters of the brightest light. After all, the same eye with which I see the see the dark, is the same eye with which I perceive the light.