enso & mu

We end the week of enso traces in Enso: Zen Circles of Enlightenment with No. 55 Mu by Kojima Kendo who was one of the leading Soto Zen female monastics of the 2oth century.  She was 97 and in the last year of her life when she traced her Mu Enso.  The calligraphy combined the enso and the regular script for mu off-set to create white space for the mind to fall into.   Kojima Kendo dedicated her life to social service and creating equity of practice opportunities among monks and nuns.  In her time as abbess, she fought for moral and financial support of the order of nuns whose ordinations and transmissions were not recognized.  Sadly, not too much different from today.

In preparation for my precepts ceremony, jukai, at Upaya Zen Center, I became engrossed by the matriarch lineage I had to prepare.  The penetrating influence of Dragon Lady teachers like Roshi Joan Halifax and Sensei Beate Stolte intensifies the strength of being Zen Women.  Daily, I practised Kojima Kendo’s Mu Enso, starting first in the tradition of calligraphy students by copying it as faithfully as I could.

But mu and enso don’t lend themselves to being borrowed.  Eventually, Kojima Kendo’s playful and energetic enso gave way and set mine free to be just what it is.

Of course, no enso practice is complete without a bow to the ultimate process enso: the Ox Herding Pictures.  For that I defer to my dear dharma friend & a quietly irreverent teacher, Barry Briggs at Ox Herding who has challenged my no-mind since I entered this virtual realm.

I would also encourage reading John Daido Loori’s teachings in Riding the Ox Home:

Thank you for practising,


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