What Does the Zen Circle Mean?

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The Zen Circle is known as ‘enso’ and looks like a painted black circle. Its origins are from Japan, where it is also known as the ‘circle of enlightenment’. You might have seen this symbol before but may not know much about it. So, what does the zen circle mean? Keep reading to find out more.

What is the Zen Circle?

If we look into the literal translation of the word ‘enso’, it means circle in Japanese. The circle itself is created with only one brushstroke and is a hand-brushed circle that is traditionally painted in a single breath. It has also been coined as the imperfect circle as in many of the zen circles, the start and end of the brushstroke do not meet. The enso is usually drawn with black ink on white paper.

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The meaning of the Zen Circle is interlinked with the practice of Zen, with Buddhist monk’s drawing the shape as a part of their spiritual process. The Zen circle is painted as part of the calligraphy process and is used to express the complexities of the Buddhist religion. Painting the Zen Circle occurs in a moment when the mind is at peace and free to allow the body to create. The symbol can only be drawn correctly by someone who is complete both mentally and spiritually.

What does the Zen Circle Symbolize?

‘A circle is a vast space, which does not lack anything, not does it have too much’ – Shin Jin Mei

The Enso circle can be either open or closed and has a different meaning depending on the version. The open or incomplete circle represents the beauty of imperfection, while when the circle is whole, it represents the idea of perfection. The symbol in Buddhism can also be interpreted as the desire for perfection, but the recognition that the universe is the way that it is.

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The Zen Circle can also be seen as a depiction of life – having a brushstroke that begins, continues and ends. The shape is a circle, however, symbolising the cycle of birth, death and then rebirth.

How does the Zen Circle Symbol Link to Meditation?

Meditation and the drawing of the Zen Circle both occur when the mind is at peace and free – or of ‘no mind’. In Buddhism, if you are in a state of ‘no mind, your head is clear of all thoughts and feelings, and you are simply in the present. This no mind principle is a central component of meditation. Many Zen Buddhists practice the art of Meditation to allow them to fall into the ‘no mind’ state, before painting the Zen Circle. 

Counting beads using a Mala or repeating a mantra are also helpful tools for meditation.  

Conclusion

The Zen Circle is a symbol of life, and of wellbeing. Its creation is underpinned by the theories of meditation and mindfulness. Here at Uneedum.com, we strive to practice and promote Zen living through practices such as Yoga and Meditation. Check out our website to find out more, and to shop for thoughtful Zen Gifts for your loved ones.

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