by Nita Burg


Ensô means ‘circle’ in Japanese. It is one of the deepest subjects in Zen calligraphy  as well as an path to zen (chan) enlightenment. 

For centuries, the practise of Ensô has been an art form chosen by zen masters to express their realisation. From a zen point of view, to train in Ensô means that our development of Ki (Qi in Chinese) should match with our technical capacity to transfer our mind energy into an art piece. Ensô could therefore become a tool for spiritual refinement.

Before drawing an Ensô, one should be ready to loose everything, be ready for a kind of destitution.

One needs to loose
> the idea that there is something to be accomplished
> the idea that there is something to be reached
> the pretence that something has been acquired, that we own it
> our  tendency to turn it into a personal experience
> any interpretation or the feeling that we understand it
Renouncement (or destitution) leads us towards a deeper vision – that should be immediately renounced as well.



To draw an Ensô we need to see with the mind

Ordinary vision is like an arrow that aims, define, objectify, it evades us endlessly… While drawing an Ensô there is concentration without tension, an intention without visualizing the circle to come.  The point here is to see without memory or attachment towards a result. The sight is panoramic, without will or fixation of any kind : it just welcomes the birth of the Ensô in empty space. It is a sight without direction, free from the conception of an observing subject and an observed object, of inner and outer (i.e. duality). Nothing is predefined, it is a mere observation of lines, forms, shapes and densities that appear without being objects…
This look is without limitations since it carries infinite reality which cannot be grasped. To achieve this, learn to look with an inner vision, concentrating your attention within, as if your eyes were at the level of your stomach (hara), till you reach a swing into non localisation : here body and Ensô are one…

From this sight, the Ensô to come is already here, springing forth from timelessness.  

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