Thursday, January 14, 2010
There is no beginning, there is no end.
A circle is one of the simplest forms imaginable. Enso is a Japanese word meaning "circle" and a concept strongly associated with Zen, a sacred symbol. The Buddhist symbol called an enso and is therefore symbolic of community, non-duality, enlightenment and the circle of shared existence. Similar to their philosophy of “tracing that path with your life, starting and finishing wherever you are, lifting off into boundlessness, open, closed, thick, thin, solid, spacious. Neither defiled nor immaculate, neither increasing nor decreasing. It is not perfect or imperfect. It is always complete.” So too is the shape of the circle.
An enso is drawn in one stroke, starting somewhere on a surface and ending wherever it does. It is a path you trace that starts wherever you want it to and ends where you lift off into the air. According to Buddhist tradition, only a person who is mentally and spiritually complete can draw a true ensō.
Some artists paint ensō with an opening in the circle, while others complete the circle. For the former, the opening may express various ideas, for example that the ensō is not separate, but is part of something greater, or that imperfection is an essential and inherent aspect of existence. Enzos can represent the moon, universe, a mirror, sweet cake or wheel. A frequent Zen saying associated with the enzo paintings: "Don't let others fill your head with theories about Zen; discover the meaning for yourself!"