Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Are You A Ping Pong Ball or a Plate?

I hope you're sitting down because I almost have a new piece of art to post. I guess that means you only have to be half way sitting down because it's a "not quite done piece". But that half way sitting down could be really awkward and uncomfortable so maybe we should just forget that part of the equation. Collage and painted background of one of our favourite guys in some of my habitual colours, but also colours inspired by him!

Looks like Wednesday night posts will stand on the shoulder's of the evening's Dharma talk. I am always inspired by a good Dharma talk and Heather Martin delivers the apres sit wisdom with ease and spontaneity. How do we meet the ever changing experiences of life? How do we work with difficult emotions? Are we easily thrown off centre when things don't go the way we expected or the way we "want" them to go? Do we react to circumstances in habitual ways, in the blink of an eye, ways that may be unhelpful and that we sometimes live to regret? Do we watch the dominoes of karma tumbling down in familiar and painful patterns?

The analogy tossed out was that of a ping pong ball. Do you get easily blown off course when the life gives you a little tap (or a big tap)? When we are constantly at the beck and call of outer circumstance, life can feel exhausting and chaotic. Things are always changing (anicca), so can we meet those changes with a solid inner stance? Can we meet life with some modicum of equanimity?

How do we do this? Heather suggested we might practice being "undisturbable". How does this feel, to be undisturbable? A plate is the image she used to illustrate this state. Unlike the ping pong ball easily bounced about by the winds of change, the plate has a wide open base and is more difficult to throw off balance. It has an openness. For us this means if we are going to make like plates, (no running away like the dish with the spoon, eek I'm quoting nursery rhymes now!) we open up to what is. We accept circumstances and people and work from there. This acceptance helps us enter a state or perhaps is simultaneous with the state of equanimity.

And of course our meditation practice over the years helps us transform ourselves from ping pong balls into plates or perhaps we gradually get to spend more time, making like plates and less time pinging around. Our intention to be "undisturbable" becomes an important aspect of this transformation, and our willingness to chip away at habitual behaviour, our knee jerk reactions to life and all it brings to our doorsteps, is part of the firing process.

It is helpful for us to look at those times when we say "oh, no", to examine them. They are opportunities for us to look at what we are rejecting in this very moment, what we wish were different. "Oh, no" is like a little flashing light telling us, poof, we're about to become a ping pong ball.

So go forth my friends, and make yourselves into the most beautiful plate you can imagine. And something marvelous will happen. You will fill up with the treasures of life because a plate has room to hold it all.


  1. I'm gonna' be a gold plate...inspired by the dharma teaching of Khenpo who is quoted in 'Faith' by Sharon Salzberg...I happened to have included the quote in my post this week and your wonderful transmission here creates a ping to over there.
    Eek...pinging to connect to the plate ;-)

    It's good to receive a sneak peek of the new work.


  2. I like these two images: ping pong ball (I just had a mental PPball reaction to something) and plate. Mine will be handmade porcelain. Yes, those colors a the lower chakra colors, grounding and firm. they wake the eyes up for sure. thanks for sharing and the teeny peek at your studio.

  3. I enjoy seeing your painting. I too like the buddha image, and the Dali Lama . . wonderful. When I look at it I feel relaxed and centered. Even though I thought I didn't care for orange, I have been finding I'm using it in my painting (ones I haven't posted) . . orange and blue. Now I'm into a different palette. But I think something's going on in my 2nd chakra . . creation in the physical realm (as my old meditation teacher termed it).

  4. I think I'd like to embrace my pingpongedness. Or perhaps I will pick up my ping pong after it has been pinged around the room and compassionately place it on the plate. There it can roll around contained by the edge... until it wishes to go pinging or ponging. ;-)


  5. Am glad to see you inspired and painting again!

    I'm definitely a ping-pong person, but I am remembering to bring awareness to the plate, or is that returning to the plate of awareness, to the spaciousness that holds it all, including my ping-pong balls of the mind... allowing it all to be served up on the plate of life - deliciously :)

  6. merci33 - yes, on the same page! I love this quote from your blog. ""The price of gold goes up and down, but the value of gold remains the same. Your experiences will always change, will go up and down, but what is of innate value in you lies in your awareness and love."

    Suki - loving the image of your plate. spoken like a true artist!

    Jann - I love that you tie the inner and outer realms, they move back and forth don't you think. Such an important observation and so easily forgotten or overlooked. This way of seeing creates curiosity and richness for me.

    108 - Of course you would remind me that the ping pong ball is indeed bouncing around inside the plate! out, out, stained duality!

    MeANderi- like Genju your ping pong ball is on the plate, wisdom prevails with yumminess!

  7. i am smiling at the thought of being a plate... : ) yes, i like that a lot. and, my dear carole, i LOVE this new piece!! oh my, i made it as big as it would go, and it's wonderful. i wonder what else you'll do to it because it seems so perfect to me now.


  8. what a wonderful analogy- ping pong ball easily bounced around or plate - flat and open and stable- I want to be a plate of course- but I do think sometimes the wind is so strong the plate can bounce around a bit too...the ups and downs of life.

  9. such easy to visualize (and internalize) images. LOVE this. a plate, with a wide base, open, receptive and giving at the same time...wonderful!

  10. LauraX sent me over here this morning because she knows how much I need to hear this today.

    I'm currently morphing between ping pong ball and plate. When the circumstances involve my animals' health, I find it much less easy to accept what is. So much easier in theory than in practice, these things. Nevertheless, I will receive this as an answer to the prayer of guidance I prayed this morning.