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sometimes inspiring, sometimes personal meanderings of the Heart's opening in the every-day-ness of Life...

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Bleeding Enso

I was inspired today by Genju’s post over at 108zenbooks on the Enso. So I thought I’d give it a try. (Please see her post for a more complete explanation of the meaning and significance of the Enso.) From my own brief research the Enso is a Zen symbol of completeness, wholeness, infinity, the universe, the absolute, the cyclical nature of existence, and the true nature of existence. It is considered to be a form of meditation showing the expressive movement of the spirit of the person painting at that moment.

I have never done an Enso before, although I have been strangely soothed by viewing them. I saw Genju’s post as an opportunity to play, to be creative, as well as a way to possibly peek into the reflection of where my spirit is at the moment…

The first few I tried, I knew I was “trying” - trying to make the circle complete – trying to get the circle “right” – because I knew how it was “supposed” to look. Mind was trying to control, and they looked “contrived.” It wasn’t until I got to this one – the 5th “try” – that the mind at least partially let go of trying, and the stroke became more expressive of the “spirit” within. I was using a clean make-up brush, watered down acrylic paint, and different kinds of scrap paper that I had. When I got to this one I had switched to a pad of wax coated paper that I used to practice folk art painting on a long time ago – to get the strokes just right before messing up a piece of wood. Always trying to get it “right.” :)

In the Enso pictured here, the original circle was not complete. It started out as a big blob of paint at the top left and ended with hardly a wisp of paint at the end. Then something unexpected happened. I picked up the piece of paper to look at it. The paint literally began to bleed – to run. At first I was a bit panicked: a - this isn’t supposed to be happening - kind of feeling. But I relaxed, became curious and just let it run, turning the paper with the flow. Ah - still trying to control! :) Or – looked at another way - maybe just spontaneously letting life turn the way it does – adjusting and adapting… As the paint flowed a “bridge” appeared between the beginning and the end of the original stroke, and tendrils dripped into the center. I watched mesmerized as redness oozed its way around the circle, and the tendrils just kept going till they ran out of paint. Something inside deeply resonated with it, and I *felt* the reflection of what was expressed in the moment: not quite complete, not finished, not fully "enlightened" – in fact, rather raw and bleeding – life energy running everywhere; even though I keep *trying* to bridge that gap – to keep turning life around so “I” will finally feel complete. Yep – the Enso pretty much sums it up…

I don’t know if this is a” true” Enso, as I get the sense one is not supposed to play with them, or alter them in any way. They are just supposed to be a single brush stroke. But here it is – my “first” (5th) Enso… Something about it fascinates me – being able to peek into the nature of how “spirit” speaks to me, without self-analysis… I like the expressiveness of the movement, watching it unfold, seeing where it all goes – on paper that is. Every day life, not so much… :) The Enso reminds me, however, that even in the midst of the messiness and woundings of life, we are already whole and complete in our true nature. We are embraced just the way we are, even if things are not precise and clean… Wonderfully soothing isn’t it? :)

Thank you Genju for the inspiration and call to creativity!



  1. Yes! It's there, in the gesture, in the bleeding, in the suchness of the expression, all there - that's as powerful an Enso as I've seen in a long while.
    ~ miriam louisa

  2. I love it! There is a strangeness to it, the bleeding almost like branches. And I love your description of your process, this is it. watching the mind, what it gets up to, watching how the materials behave and always in the moment deciding what to do next, what feels right, that movement toward wholeness. Nice

  3. Thank you miriam louisa :)Unexpectedly powerful for me too.

  4. Thank you ZDS :) Yes, I felt that strangeness too - and mesmerized by it...

  5. Dearest Christine...A beautiful Enso. Exquisite. And I love that you did this on gloss paper...a paper without 'tooth' where one has no choice but to glide and be the spontaneous. The true Artist emerges resplendent. Thank You! ♥

  6. Leslie ~ You always make my heart smile. I hadn't even thought about the paper, but yes! I love it - gliding and spontaneity ~ ~ ~ ~ Even the light shining off the paper gives it a "fluid" look - as if peering into the infinite...
    With Gratitude and Love ~ C

  7. Look at you go! I LOVE this enso! Of course, it's red. And the way you just folded into the "what is" of the moment, letting it flow where it was going, not getting caught in the right/wrong of it all. And the enso itself is very powerful in the way it connects with itself and reaches out into the space within it. Fantastic, Christine!

  8. Thank you for your enthusiastic comment Genju! :) Glad you like it :) Yes, it definitely "connected" me with something... :) With deep bows for your own expressive Ensos as well... Am enjoying them too... Christine


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