Z is fo Zen

| April 29, 2014

The ensō is a Japanese term that refers to a hand-drawn circle, produced by a single, continuous brushstroke. This symbol is used by Zen Buddhists to indicate an instance in which “the mind is free to let the body create”. I think it’s a good way to close this “primer cycle”, so to speak. I originally chose this topic because the minimalism of Japanese aesthetics fascinates me. However, as I read more about the philosophy and meaning behind this symbol, I realized it offered a good parallelism for this assignment. According to Buddhist tradition, one should draw the ensō in a single, swift stroke. This is similar to the manner with which I approached each primer. I found that if I stopped writing before the post reached a conclusion, the meaning of the issue I was attempting to tackle would slip away. Therefore, each primer was created in a short and contiguous period of time, as if it were a short flux of consciousness. Another similarity between the ensō and the primers is that, once executed, one does not go back and change them. The Japanese practice of drawing the ensō requires that you allow your body to create freely and then observe the result without feeling the urge to modify your actions. Again, once the primer is written, I seldom go back to edit it (or even re-read it, as a matter of fact). Although I am looking forward to going back to read my old primers in preparation of the collective one and see if I can spot any recurring patterns or themes. Finally, as a spiritual practice, drawing the ensō is an activity one should practice regularly. Similarly, I dedicated every sunday since the beginning of the term to the creation of one/two primers. It became a sort of routine. Ensō represents multiple aspects of Japanese aesthetics, many of which are congruous with aspects of this assignment. In particular, the following dimensions exemplified by “the circle” seem particularly appropriate; Fukinsei (asymmetry, irregularity), kanso (simplicity),shizen (without pretense; natural) and datsuzoku (freedom).