The Enso, or Zen circle, is what I have chosen as the focus of this paper. In my Google search for the “perfect” example of the Enso circle I realized this symbol has been reproduced hundreds, if not thousands of times. At first I was asking myself how could I identify with such a “stock” symbol that has been reproduced so many times? Had I really become sort of low in my expectations of what I had hoped to get from this class?
But while I was berating myself in the typical Roman Catholic fashion, I came to a realization about this piece of art. Perhaps the simplicity of the circle serves a utilitarian purpose, in a similar way that might consider a crucifix or a stop sign. Within the many variations I viewed it was typically and imperfect circle with sloppy brush strokes, which popped up. It became clear to me that this circle is not the most important part and what we should really be looking for is what it represents. ...view middle of the document...
The most striking notion I found was how such a simple shape can be so strongly be a symbol to such a complicated, and almost unknowable form of religion.
As a student and novice to Zen, it was not until I really began to understand the Koan I was assigned in class until I understood, the basic underlying point of Zen which is to destroy suffering. Dukkha is a human flaw, not in itself inherent to our nature, and made because we recognize our “self” as individuals which then sends into the 5 aggregates that must be broken in order to defeat our duality.
Within this Enoz circle, depending upon how one may interpret it, we may see a symbol of enlightenment, the end of duality, a representation of form but with “no thing” to influence us. The emptiness seen iinside the circle as well as outside the circle may also be representative of the “emptiness” and the end of our suffering, or dukkha. The impression the circle leaves us with is very profound for we can see how such a simple, yet inspiring and powerful one line drawing can say so much about this battle duality we experience daily and represent so many important aspects of Zen.
It is also important to mention that the circle gives the observer and enduring sense of wonder that can spark many questions. We begin to ask ourselves questions like where does our cycle end? If I am in fact part of this cycle, then at what point will I have finally acquired the ability to apply the understanding that this is a state of being of being, rather than a pursuit. To understand enlightenment, is to say maybe it is not so much a destination but a continuous journey and this something else that this circle can represent, even more so with its seeming imperfections.
Perhaps there is no point or period at which this idea of Zen will suddenly strike us with the “a-ha” moment, because that “a-ha” moment can easily send one back to into the 5 aggregates and in turn allowing the suffering, their suffering and the suffering of others to continue. The circle represents a transcendence of self and as a reminder of duality for the circle has both the ability to include and exclude.