circle of zen

Ever Curious

Anyone who has spent any decent amount of time around me is aware of my habit of looking everything up. American society is obsessed with being as anti-social as possible in public thanks to the advent of smart phones. Most of these people are perusing their Facebook newsfeed, checking Pinterest or reading the latest whatever it is they publish on “news sites” like BuzzFeed. Probably some vague list of “uncommon” things people do.

I happen to be the person on a smart phone that probably has Google or wikipedia open. I could be reading about who wrote the script for some movie, or what song writer wrote a particular country song or who did what when and how they did it and probably the name of their dog too.

I look up everything.

This came up today because a few days ago I sent a picture of  tattoo  (taken from Pinterest, of course) to a friend of mine to  illustrate a certain style I liked. Now, I didn’t actually go to Pinterest, it came up in Google when looking for watercolor negative space tattoos. I never looked more into where it came from. I just thought it was neat. End of story.


Now today I pulled up YouTube to listen to the Knife Party remix of Swedish House Mafia’s Save The World. Scrolling down through the comments (not a good idea on YouTube, most days) I noticed that someone’s user photo was a near identical version of that circle in red.

Now I was curious. No way was that a coincidence.

Out comes the Google-fu. I tried searching for “painted circle logo” but that didn’t come up with much. Instead I went back to the source and punched in “painted circle tattoo” and sure enough dozens of photos of the same brushed circle came up. The fourth image was that circle with ENSO written in the middle and the article was titled Circle of Zen – Explaining the Ensō. I didn’t pay much attention to either of these, with “circle of zen” having caught my attention already.


Instead of following the image (I never tend to do that, not sure why that is) next came up Googling “circle of zen” to see what I could find. I was not disappointed as the first entry was Wikipedia’s entry for Ensō. A quick  perusal of the article reveals the ensō originates from Zen Buddhism and it is a hand-drawn circle, in one or two brushstrokes, to

“express a moment when the mind is free to  let the body create”.

And “the ensō symbolizes absolute enlightenment, strength, elegance, the universe, and mu (the void). It is characterised by a minimalism born of Japanese aesthetics”.

That’s something new I didn’t know.

In hindsight had I followed the original tattoo, from Russell Van Schaick Tattoos, I would have seen he marked the tumblr/instagram photo with #zen #zencircle and #ensotattoo. But oh well.

All of this stemmed off of a random picture from YouTube. Ever curious.