The ENSŌ or the Zen Circle is a common shape brushed by many Zen masters. According to Omori Sogen Roshi, the ENSŌ represents the complexities of Buddhism; empty yet full, infinite and complete. The circle is the simplest of all images, but also it is one of the hardest to draw. When brushing the ENSŌ one must realize that the circle is composed of many points. These points are all linked together, therefore for the circle to be perfect, every point has to be perfect. Every single hair in the brush needs to be filled with KI.
The circle is brushed from left to right. It must be done in one take and with one breath. Brushing the circle this way allows it to fully capture our state of mind.
In many calligraphies the ENSŌ is accompanied by the words KORE NANZO or What is this?
Zen teaches us that the goal is to achieve self-realization— the moment when we fully comprehend our mind. But, in order to realize our minds we need to understand the source from which thoughts arise. This quest leads us to ask the questions: What is this? and Who am I?
When brushing the ENSŌ, the questions of What is this? and Who am I? should be in our minds as the circle take shape. Hopefully one day you will find the answer.