The Ensō Project

Being that I am always learning, failing, refining and trying to improve, I have had many discussions on habit, discipline and ritual. I think that ritual and repeated practice is a thing of beauty. There is no “perfection” when a human being is involved. Is there?

In the beginning there is pure potential. Potential for anything to happen within the laws that govern our existence. Then there is the idea, the spark that is the very first impetus of creation. Then comes the external motions needed to create that idea in the physical world. We move away from the infinite, the directionless void that holds all potential, and towards a more focused action.

Once you master that action and you create, over and over and over again, there are subtle variations. This IS perfection! The perfection is in the subtle variations. It can be argued that you can make a machine or a computer drift into imperfection, even more perfectly than a human being could, but is that something else? A question to ponder I suppose.

I have a tattoo on my back that is the same shape of a pendant that I gave my wife years ago. I was drawn to the pendant because of its small shape and that it was hammered by hand and had a beautiful weathered look to it. It was an Ensō. My Ensō symbolizes the eternal bond, the lean times and the times of plenty, together with my family. The fact that the fuller part of the Ensō is on the bottom represents the laws of the universe and gravity pulling the aspect of fullness and fulfillment into its natural position.

The Japanese have circular crests called Kamon which are used to identify individuals or families. There is a list of thousands of these crests here. My Japanese lineage goes back to the Tanaka (田中) and the Wakabayashi (若林) families and is another search and story altogether. I could also consider the Kamon a sort of Ensō in that within the circle or boundary there is a family and the symbol representing that family is carefully chosen.

Suffice to say the simple circle holds meaning  and symbolism that is fathoms deep.

The creation of an Ensō symbolizes when the mind is free to let the body create. Each one contains within it the expression of what is in the artist when he or she created it. And by extension what surrounds the artist. And by extension of that, what the world wants to be created. And by extension of THAT, what the universe wants to exist. We do not create, the universe creates. The void creates. God creates. We just practice and do our best to let it be created without hindrance. Some creations come out better than others and there is a direct relationship to the mindset of the body that manifests that creation and the creation itself.

I am happy when I am in the “flow“. My mind is not concerned with anything else other than the present moment and what I am doing or just purely being in that moment with nothing to do. I tend to gravitate towards activities that let me get into the flow so that I can practice getting into and coming out of it gracefully. Adapting to change has been something that I have always wanted to be more accepting of.

To turn something so simple as a drawing a circle into an act of meditation is beautiful. My goal, if you can call it that, is to turn everything that I do into a sort of meditation, an act of worship and devotion even. To be in the moment, the eternal present.

Today I created an Ensō project of my own. Using clay.

  • 21 Eight ounce balls of clay
  • 21 Days
  • 21 Meditations
  • 21 Pinched Vessels

Each vessel created will be a meditation. It extends the amount of time that I have practiced my craft and helps me to practice effortlessly getting into the flow. It allows me to free myself from the technique and get into a deeper level of creation. A simple pinched vessel. A simple circle. A simple life.


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