In Zen, ensō (円相 , “circle”) is a circle that is hand-drawn in one or two uninhibited brushstrokes to symbolise a moment in time in when the mind is free to simply let the spirit create through the physical body.
At first glance the ancient ensō symbol appears to be nothing more than a miss-shaped circle but its symbolism refers to the beginning and end of all things, the circle of life and the connectedness of existence. It can symbolize emptiness or fullness, presence or absence. All things might be contained within, or, conversely, excluded by its boundaries. It can symbolize infinity, the “no-thing”, the perfect meditative state, and enlightenment.
Ensō symbolizes many more things including: strength, elegance, the universe, single mindedness, the state of mind of the artist at the moment of creation and the acceptance of imperfection as perfect. It also represents the oneness of life and all things contained within it, the spirit of harmonious cooperation, personal development and refinement of character, the visible and the invisible, absolute fullness in emptiness, simplicity, completeness, endlessness, perfect harmony, the circle of infinity and the cyclical nature of existence. The ensō is a manifestation of the moment, an expression of absolute enlightenment, a visual manifestation of the Heart Sutra and a representation of our true and innermost self. The ensō is a universal symbol of wholeness and completion; “form is void and void is form.” When viewing ensō, one can see that that form and void are interdependent and, in fact, define each other.
The ensō is the enlightened mind.
The mind that is beyond duality.
Limitless and formless.
The opening of the circle has many interpretations. The open circle is a concept that reflects closely the teaching of the Japanese Zen Buddhism – ensō is an emblem of Zen Buddhism – and it represents and suggests cutting the desire for perfection and allowing the universe to be as it is. This symbol is also used to indicate an instance in which “the mind is free to let the body create”.