The enso represents the cycles of the Universe. Our lives are an enso. The cycle of learning new things is an enso. The food we eat, digest, then shit is an enso. Our friendships are an enso.
It is the phenomenon of cycles that upholds just enough order for the Universe to Be. Too much order and it’s just a rock. Too little order and it’s merely horribly boring chaos. With just the right amount and kind of order, the interacting patterns of Life emerge.
The end of each enso cycle must be a return to the beginning, so the cycle plays out again. The gap of an enso illustrates that the cycle may be over but the journey is not.
However, although the beginning and the return to the beginning look pretty much the same, they are always at least little bit different. As Heraclitus observed, we never step in the same river twice. That little difference means the beginning of the new cycle will be familiar but different. It will be familiar enough so can make use of things we learned before. We can also notice what things we no longer need and put them aside. Sometimes someone else on the journey may find it useful.
The Universe evolves, it’s in constant change. It evolves through endless links of cycles. Does an unchanging Universe even make sense?
Cycles are processes of phenomena coalescing from nothing then disintegrating into a soup of no thing. This soup of no thing is the seed from which the next cycle coalesces into phenomena. Our Life on Earth exists as we experience it because it evolves in such linked cycles.
The most wonderful enso is the pink donut above. It is an abundant enso. It’s really the enso for all our lives. But we kind of see the enso as just the superficial sprinkles, disregarding the bulk of the donut that is the blessing of this dynamic Universe we find ourselves in.
The course of each of our lives is an enso, but it’s in turn composed of little ensos and interactions with other ensos. For each of those ensos, qualities change over its course. For all sentient creatures of Earth, some parts of the course we deem pleasurable by our animal brains. But the bigger part of its course would be deemed unpleasurable by our animal brains, ranging from uncomfortable to seemingly unbearable.
The entire point of Zen is to transcend how the human animal brain sees only problems to be solved, down in the weeds here on Earth. That’s as opposed to the frame of what is really “out there” that our human minds don’t see. Think of the bacteria in our guts dying and beginning life by the billions every day. They quickly evolve in short, interacting, chains of birth and death as an intricate part of the bigger picture of a human life.
I sign off each post with “Faith and Patience to you”. But there’s a little bit more after that. It’s the mantra I say to myself when the green clover sprinkles of my pink donut enso are too sparse: “Faith and Patience keeps me calm so I can focus on the moment … then the next moment … then the next moment.”
Each of us, and every other living creature for that matter, is an amazing assemblage of atoms where every one of those atoms plays a specific part. All of life is precious beyond the ability of our human brains to adequately express. Meditate on that because that’s hard to remember when we see things from the perspective of normal human life.
The Eternal Fishnu has witnessed humanity heading in the right direction, the direction towards Oneness with the Universe, for hundreds of thousands of years. Especially the last couple hundred. And we still are!
Faith and Patience to you,
Reverend Dukkha Hanamoku