A very dramatic image of a quashed circle by Edo p. Zen Priest Daienbutsu underscored with the phrase Enso, Kore Nanzo! He seems to make a double play here. Not only is he asking the question (detailed below) of “What am I”, but also inquiring of us when viewing this flattened and distorted image “What is this circle”, and we must not be too quick to interpret. It is depicted with ink on paper fully restored in gray momigami paper extended with blue silk mimicking the original. The scroll is 19-1/2 x 39 inches (50 x 99 cm).
Daienbutsu was an important Edo p. Soto-shu Zen priest known for his extreme attitude toward training. Details of his early life are unknown but he studied under Tomon Keisai. He came to Kyoto (Yamashiro) and studied at Eishoji. During the Bunsei era he travelled and established Komeiji Temple in Arima. There, due to his strict teaching style, he earned the epithet Torabutsu (Tiger Priest). He died in 1825
The Enso or Zen Circle can represent the moon, a rice cake or the endless enigma. It represents the complex nature of the universe and our way through it; empty yet full, infinite and complete. The circle is the simplest of all images, but also it is one of the hardest to draw. On a basic level it is up to the viewer what he or she sees. KORE NANZO or What is this? Is the Zen way of saying “Who or what am I”. Zen teaches us that the goal is to achieve self-realization; to move beyond desire— the moment when we fully comprehend our mind and become one with the universe. But, in order to realize our minds we need to understand the source from which thoughts arise. This quest leads us to ask the questions: What is this? and Who am I?