Simplicity is a theme heavily taught in Japanese culture, and it has leaked over into the rest of the world. Many people are starting to understand just how powerful something like the Enso symbol can be.
The Enso symbol is not a Japanese character but more of a simple piece of artwork that anyone can make.
The almost completed circle shows there is emptiness both within and outside the circle. The symbol also shows the vastness of the universe and its ultimate power.
Buddhism takes this symbol very seriously, too. It is regarded as a sacred symbol in Zen schools. The circle represents the ultimate void or nothingness, which is the most perfect state of meditation as well as Satori. Satori means total enlightenment.
One of the coolest aspects of the Enso is that some of the Zen elders believe that a true Enso circle can only be drawn by someone whose spiritually and mentally whole. Some students practice drawing the Enso every single day.
Zen elders also believe that your character is fully exposed by how you draw the Enso. What will yours say about your character?
1. Embellished ENSO Tattoos
ENSO tattoos represent a great deal about you and how you see the world. For this reason, they’re ideal places to showcase other images which mean a lot to you. You might choose to incorporate a design into the ENSO itself, or simply embellish the background.
However you choose to go about customizing your tattoo, remember that technique matters. Although the ENSO itself is a relatively simple shape, its execution – on paper or skin – are paramount to its meeting. Be sure to find a tattooist skilled in bold lines and, if possible, the recreation of brushwork.
While your tattoo is yours and yours alone, keep in mind that some would find it disrespectful to include a silly, cartoonish image alongside one as revered as the ENSO. Stay true to your own beliefs while respecting others of the same philosophy – it can be tricky, but it can always be done!
2. Color ENSO Tattoos
Although typical Japanese calligraphy brushstrokes were black, there’s no need to shy away from color. You might choose a colorful background design to bring your ancient symbol into the modern world, such as watercolor. You may also choose a color which is important to you.
In Buddhism, the colors blue, white, red, green and yellow all correspond to a specific Buddha – pick the one which resonates with you. You might also choose a color with more modern meanings, such as red for power or blue for serenity, or draw on color element significance, including wood, earth, fire, air, metal and water.
4. Shoulder ENSO Tattoos
NSO tattoo shoulder placement is very bold. It can symbolize the ENSO being close to your heart, or it might just be a great, visible way to show off your new ink. Shoulder ENSOs can be large or small, blackwork or loaded with color. The most important aspect is what it means to you.
If your shoulder tattoo will extend over your collarbone, keep in mind that tattoos on skin close to the bone can be more painful than others in meatier areas. ENSO tattoo chest placements face the same issues.
5. Minimalist ENSO Tattoos
There are many who would say that a minimalist ENSO tattoo is the most historically faithful way to go. It’s true that Zen is all about minimalism, favoring personal, internal growth over “things.” Due to this philosophy, those who want to stick close to the roots of the ENSO will find a minimalist approach to be a very accurate choice.
On the not-so-traditional side, the ENSO also happens to be a symbol which looks exceptionally cool when done in minimalist style! ENSO tattoo placement is critical when minimalist design is involved – if you want to show off, consider a prominent spot. If you want to quietly pay homage to your philosophy, feel free to put your new artwork in a spot that’s easily covered by clothing.
6. Japanese Inspired ENSO Tattoos
Since Zen Buddhism is associated with and primarily practiced today in Japan, it only makes sense to add a few Japanese-inspired elements to your ENSO tattoo. Consider koi fish, traditional artwork and Japanese language characters.
ENSO Tattoo FAQs
What is ENSO?
In order to understand ENSO, it’s first important to understand Zen Buddhism. This practice, now most commonly associated with Japan, was originally brought to China by an Indian monk. It is a lifestyle or philosophy, not a religion. Zen Buddhism in places heavy emphasis on meditation. The ultimate goal is satori, a Japanese word meaning enlightenment. Those truly enlightened are though to be above mortal coils such as culture or morality.
Achieving this state is achieved through, among others, meditation. The ENSO is a meditative tool, as well as a way to gauge one’s own enlightenment from day to day. The circle can be left open, indicating room to grow, or closed, symbolizing a state of pure enlightenment, whether current or something the practitioner aspires to achieve.
ENSO circles are first meditated upon, then drawn – traditionally with ink, brush and washi paper – in a single stroke. The imperfections are to be valued, and the way in which it is drawn is believed to reflect a practitioners’ own current state of enlightenment. For this reason, it’s believed that only a true Zen master who’s achieved satori can draw a perfect (not mathematically perfect) ENSO.
What Does an ENSO Tattoo Symbolize?
An ENSO tattoo, first and foremost, typically identifies the wearer as a practitioner of Zen Buddhism. It can also indicate that you admire, respect or aspire to certain aspects of the philosophy. The way you draw your ENSO is, as you can imagine, hugely personal. Open or closed, near-perfect or irregular – these are all customizations you can use to indicate your current state or future goals. Color, background and embellishments are also ways to personalize your ENSO tattoo to better reflect your journey.
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