Ensō

enso

To the mind that is still, the whole universe surrenders.

–Lao Tzu

I admire the sagely writings of the Eastern prophets and thinkers – Lao Tzu, Confucius, Rumi; I believe that their ancient wisdom can help us navigate the complexity and clamour of our technologically driven world today.

Whilst not a part of the aforementioned writers’ canon, there is a Zen concept that emerges from the meditative act of Japanese calligraphy: the beautiful, minimalist circles that are in themselves symbols of lucidity. It is called Ensō.

Ensō is symbolic of staying in the present, detaching the mind from the body, where the body or spirit is free to create. It is, in a way, a record of the moment of pure creation.

It is cyclic, it is honest, it is at once incredibly intricate and surprisingly simple, capturing the Moment in a single movement.

This idea of the “moment” has always compelled me. Creative work is a difficult beast to tame, especially in this Age of Distraction. Being mindful, calming the mind, focussing on the pure act of just creating, is essential to being content, is essential in taming that seemingly unwieldy monster.

I think Ensō is such a beautiful idea, it’s result so lucid, so pure and honest. It is a reminder to us busy souls of what it means to create and to centre oneself in this chaotic universe through the simple yet powerful act of conscious creation.

Staying in the present, living in the moment and fading the world out so that it’s just you and the work to be created before yourself: this is Ensō.

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The Case for Simplicity

To the mind that is still, the whole universe surrenders.

 – Lao Tzu

As our world becomes increasingly technological and fast-paced, we find ourselves drowning in a sea of complexity. What could be described in simple terms becomes overly complicated.

Clarity, I think, will be one of our greatest assets as we move into the future. Being able to communicate ideas lucidly will allow us to get things done quickly, get our point across, and move our intentions forward in building better things for a better world.

Too often, we find ourselves caught up in jargon, describing simple things with the most baffling words in the English language. Our ideas become compromised; they become lost in a sea of words. Words themselves become meaningless, useless. It’s time to take back our sanity, time to regain hold on our language. We must hone our communication skills so that we may be understood.

I argue for simplicity not just in our language, but in our lives: more technology is great; I am a known aficionado of the latest tech. But it can also be too much. Sometimes we need to unplug, to whittle down the number of devices switched on. Consolidation of our tech will undoubtedly free our minds to think, to see, to contemplate. I have experienced this sense of “technological overload” – I struggle, sometimes, to just let my thoughts wander. Instead, I find myself constantly drifting over to statuses, tweets, RSS feeds. That’s partly what inspired me to write this post, and in so doing, allow for some rumination.

So how can we do this? There are many ways. Simple meditation, just clearing your mind and letting go of all thoughts is a great beginning. Starting from a blank state, your mind an empty canvas, you can begin to build a minimalist version of your thoughts. You can begin to focus, to see things with clarity, and to add meaning to all that you see. Building a vision on meaning, understanding, relevance – this will allow you to think and communicate with intention, and with simplicity.

Focussing your entire being on just a single task at a time, simplifying your communication… just getting to the point: that’s what our future will value the most.