November 06, 2006
These are a few of the varying "Circles of Life/Enlightenment" I collected from around the web. Obviously, no matter what limitations or disciplines the ancients intended, anything goes today. The red one is a corporate logo... so much for meditation. Two are shown as sculptures... so much for the pristine brush stroke. Several are by other contemporary artists flaunting that I'm not original with this thought to adapt the symbol for my own purposes. But I knew that.
There is a short story of how the enso came to be on this page. Be sure to scroll down to view some authentic Zen artwork including many ensos. Note some of the titles...
Found this in my notes from Wikipedia: (Seems the word is sometimes capitalized, sometimes not.)
Enso is a Japanese word meaning "circle". Enso is perhaps the most common subject of Japanese calligraphy. Enso symbolizes enlightenment, strength, and the universe, and is an "expression of the moment".
It is believed by many that the character of the artist is fully exposed in how he draws Enso, and that only one who is mentally and spiritually whole can draw a true Enso. Some artists will draw Enso daily, as a kind of spiritual diary.
Some artists draw Enso with an opening in the circle, while others complete the circle. For the former, the opening symbolizes that the Enso is not separate, but is part of something greater.
The Enso is also a sacred symbol in the Zen Buddhist religion, and is often used by Zen masters as a form of signature in their religious artwork. See also Hitsuzendo for information about the Way of the Brush.
The Enso has also been co-opted as an advertising symbol by various companies, notably, Lucent. Lucent's logo is often jokingly referred to as the "coffee cup ring."