Think of an orange ball…

Assume a thought can be an image, for this exercise. Think of an orange ball. Work with an image of an orange ball or sphere. Bring to mind this image, at different times during the day. Approach the orange ball and enter into it, and then move back and forth, both within and without. Do things with it.

From memory I used the ING Insurance company orange ball, remembering how I saw it in TV commercials, “Touch the ball” they said, and the assumption was stop worrying, your financial problems had a solution with ING Insurance. Then I thought of song lyrics, on old videos, “Follow the bouncing ball,” except I imagined the ball was orange. I continued playing with the image seeing the ball as the Sun, a bright, hot orange star. I remembered photos of a comparison of Stars or Suns as to their relative size and mass. Pumpkins popped up, fields of them, smiling and frowning, toothless orange balls. Cue balls, Christmas tree balls, and marbles, the color of baby carrots.

But there seems to be another way or level to see the orange ball, that differentiates the image of the orange ball from the thoughts about types of orange balls. The image is not clear, its grainy, spacey, hard to hold or to grasp. It’s as though I can’t seem to get a handle on it, it slips away into darkness, or spaceness. While I can remember all kinds of orange balls, however, visualizing an orange ball that isn’t already a ‘memory thing’ is something else… I’m left with the essence of orange-color and sphere shape to conjure up. It seemed hard to do. It’s mostly space.

Later, I returned to this exercise imagining Mandelbrot fractals, consisting of nothing but orange balls, repeating and repeating, in massive numbers as if foaming up out of an orange ball container. But again, the image wasn’t clear, there was lots of space, blank areas of darkness, it seemed unfinished and incomplete. What I could see might arise and fade like orange fireworks in the night.

And, there is other stuff, other firings going on in space, distracting, sounds, touch-feeling, visual stimuli, smells and tastes, even attitudes like grumpiness, or feeling good. It’s hard to hold the orange ball. It’s easier to work with as an idea rather than an image in an ever changing current moment. I think that’s because the idea seems to move and keep referring to related categories and types, while with the orange image I was attempting to freeze it as an idea or thought.

Orange Ball in Mental Space

About David Filippone

I have been a student of Tarthang Tulku’s Time, Space, Knowledge (TSK) vision for over twenty-five years. For the past twelve years, I’ve studied TSK and Full Presence Mindfulness with Jack Petranker, director of the Center for Creative Inquiry (CCI). I have also participated in programs offered by Carolyn Pasternak of the Odiyan Center. For the past several years, I have curated the CCI Facebook page, which is often TSK-focused, and I serve on the CCI Board of Directors. The CCI Facebook page can be found at the following link...
This entry was posted in uncatagorized, 2010/2011 TSK Online Course, arising, memory, space, visualization. Bookmark the permalink.

13 Responses to Think of an orange ball…

  1. tinac says:

    This book sounds great David. Library doesn’t have it, so I will just have to wait a while. Appreciate so much your sharing of it, along with your thoughts on it. Thnx!*

  2. David says:

    I’ve been grateful for the two week break for the chance to read Donnel Stern’s book “Unformulated Experience“. Reminding me of Rinpoché’s term ‘focal setting‘, Stern talks about selective attention often used for defensive purposes saying:

    Focal attention which helps separate the wheat from the chaff in everyday experiencing, can also be used to keep something out of awareness. If one’s focal attention is never trained on this ‘something’, one is never aware of it; and if one is never aware of it, it remains…unformulated… One simply does not notice what one does not wish to know.

    Selectively inattended experience, along with all the implications this experience might have had, were it articulated, are never elaborated, never transformed into an experience in syntaxic mode. In turn, this fact means one can never reflect on the material. Anxiety is prevented, of course, but the strategy is equally effective in the prevention of learning.

    In a sense this is obvious, what we don’t focus upon we cannot experience, in the way we usually reflect upon and articulate to ourselves in thought and language. So I’ve been looking for ways to demonstrate this to myself, which can be difficult unless you know what it is you don’t want to know. While it can be obvious when you don’t want to think about something painful, for example, the death of a loved one, or the anxiety over having to do something you want to avoid, it’s not so obvious when undeveloped experience passes by unexamined. Therefore, the need for inquiry into experience, and the practice of widening focal settings becomes clear.

    I think this relates to the practice of ‘Think of an Orange Ball‘, in which we focus on the creation of new experience. Widening the focal setting on visualization keeps returning me to the present moment, but the space of the NOT orange ball seems to be significant in my experience. While placeholder space is there for more detail for context to hold, the focus is also at the edge of the future. Stern says, “the ambiguity we always face in the next moment” (p.30), what he calls “unformulated experience“, perhaps what Rinpoché might describe as the “edge of the future infinitive“, where at least some of the present is ‘given‘ by past structure, and ‘made‘ out of the on-rushing future. In this ever arising Now, “language and experience actually shape experience“.

  3. David says:

    Hi Bruce,
    Yes! It is something like trying to stabilize a visualization, also like at a certain level of bare experience of time.

    On your post about thoughts you mentioned Rinpoché’s “Gesture of Balance“. I’d forgotten how much of an affect that book had on me more than a decade ago. Reading his section on visualization was right on point with what I’ve been experiencing working with the orange ball exercise. Thanks so much for reminding us!

  4. Bruce says:

    A friend of mine posted this video on Facebook, commenting that it was something like the experience of trying to stabilize the awareness of a bare sensation in meditation. I think it might be something like trying to hold an image steady in mind as well!

  5. David says:

    I know the class is about Time, but while I was ‘visualizing‘ , the orange ball I noticed something about Space that dovetails with what Rinpoché said about the structuring of thought. In my visualization there was orange and a spherical shape, but there was also a lot of blank space, at times when the image was not clear. This black space was curious. The more I watched, it seemed to be a place-holder space ‘within‘ the concept of orange ball. This space seemed to allow for more form, more detail regarding the orange ball, because there were times when it appeared there was more orange ball detail, and less space within that image. In other words, there seemed to be a relationship between available space and the visibility of substance. Rinpoché said:

    Like the space that allows for physical objects, thought apart from its content presents itself as wholly lacking in substance—a blank availability. But just as with physical space, this ‘no thing’ is in fact the opposite pole of ‘something’: the indispensable prerequisite for substance to arise.” pp.54-5


  6. David says:

    After working with the Orange Ball exercise, I went back and re-read the two paragraphs we focused on in week one. The exercise really gives me a sense of what Rinpoché was saying in a more visceral way, up close and personal you might say. You witness it happening…you demonstrate to yourself.

    “As each thought arises, its content is located or assigned in terms of past experience and future concerns. Grounded in a well-known history and heading toward a presupposed future, emerging properties are immediately referred to the certainties of identity, disclosing features similar to what has gone before.

    In this world of substance and identity…Each known thing has its appropriate place, and each new experience arrives ready to be situated within this presupposed order.”


  7. tinac says:

    HA! I’ve been seeing all kinds of orange balls! What I have noticed though, is the effect it is having on me in ‘real life’. I am more relaxed, more aware, and able to tap into that knowing that is true to the situation…TSK ROCKS!!!

  8. David says:

    I liked this Michael. I could see how denying an object establishes it. Yes! And I meant to tell you how much I liked the shark and sonar metaphors in your previous post. They both helped flesh out my experience of streaming thought, like downloading a streaming video! :-) The stream has a current, a pull, a momentum.

  9. michaelg says:

    Telling myself “Don’t think of an orange ball,” helped. A little orange ball, like a lacrosse ball, bounced in from the periphery. Like the injunction to not think of the purple elephant in the room, it can help put the mind into the kind of non-intentional mode which is so welcoming of whatever thoughts are bouncing around hoping to distract us. The sentence in last week’s reading about how thinking maintains the world like breathing sustains the body is really interesting. It suggests that we would just suffocate if we could really stop ourselves from thinking. A better approach might be to think-in, think-out, letting the mind be nourished by awareness of the thoughts passing by? –MIchael

  10. David says:

    Well said Sister! :-)
    The orange ball reminds me of a conversation I had with my cousin, a teacher of Art History who recently got her PhD. She’s way smarter than me. She asked me how I like my iPad. I said I did, explaining some of the things I did with it, when I didn’t want to carry my laptop around. She then explained all the reasons she wouldn’t buy one, because it wasn’t as good as a computer. That was her mindset, her orange bubble (ball). She was convinced of her argument against the iPad. That is fine, many people have that opinion. But the point I noticed was the mindset, the context, or read-out she constructed as fact, and therefore, did not go beyond the bubble of that context. You might say she was stuck in it.

    She could have entertained the possibility that maybe the iPad was something different than a computer. Perhaps it could be seen as an appointment book that does hundreds of additional things, including act as a limited computer. But she would not venture past the context she created and held as the way it is. Her orange bubble was fixed. :-)

    Of course, I realized I contextualize all the time, making solid orange balls when they are really mostly space.

  11. tinac says:

    Yes, I sense that as well, the dicotomy that you speak to, but also, what I am noticing is that my mind wonders off into the wild black yonder until I remember to try and focus on trying to imagine again, and perhaps that is another of the things to be aware of: how hard it is for the mind to focus on anyone thing for any amount of time. I mean, when I am in one of my writing zones or present with nature, it is easy to do, or doing something that I really enjoy, it is like entering a timeless zone where space is not restricted. What I am realizing is that this mind of mine and it’s stream of thinking can be like a raging river or a tornado. I have recently begun my meditation practices again and deep breathing, and that helps a lot, but all of this only goes to show me how habitual the patterns are, and if we are not mindful in a consistent way, then the mind will just take us over in a sense and dictate our experiencing. I suppose that is an important part of what we need to see and to ask the question, of why this should be so. I love this idea of questioning our thinking b/c it opens me up to other ways of thinking about things that offer or allow for experiencing to be different. It allows for a ‘seeing’ through thoughts. I like the metaphor of thoughts being like the ripples in the stream. We have just learned to live on the surface, to be more aware of the ripples than of the stream that contains them. Plunging into the depth of the stream is where this ‘knowing’ beyond a ‘self that knows’ is available, but then too, plunging into the ripples or bubbles as TT suggests, opens thoughts, where they can possibly merge with the stream of consciousness or dissipate into the space that they are…gol*

  12. David says:

    Hi Tina,
    I don’t know what Jack’s intention was, perhaps it’s to have us attend to our thoughts by giving us an object, and to see what happens.

    Yes, I found it hard to interact with the object directly, the continuous and unrelenting movement of time, and me as a by-stander trying to observe the object sets up a dichotomy, but the two elements (me and object) keep moving (changing). Hard to get a focus, hard to freeze the image, we fight to try and stop time. Perhaps with practice you can slow things down or calm down enough to get a clearer image, but it’s difficult when we normally never try. Maybe that’s worth seeing, and that there is a difference between the object and thoughts about the object — one happening now and the latter looking back and referring to memories about it.

  13. tinac says:

    Hey David, I have always had a difficult time with conjuring up images. I tried to do several times and was unable to get a clear image of anything with color, but what I was able to do was to imagine that I was interacting with the ball. While the visual never came to fruition, there was a deep sense of relaxation and joy when I imagined or thought about interacting with the large orange ball. I played with a few other thoughts such as eating an orange, but again, I could never get the orange object to visualize in my my imagination. Will keep trying…*

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *