“En” is central to my understanding and tasting of reality — to my “spirituality” (a word I usually dislike using).
Chinese ideographs/character show a concept. The concept of En (the ideograph to the right) is pronounced differently in different East Asian languages:
縁 “En” (Japanese)
缘 “Yuan2” (Mandarin Chinese)
연 “Yeon” (Korean)
“En” is a difficult to explain. The simple definitions in most Japanese-English and Chinese-English dictionaries include:
- a relation, a relationship, a connection, bonds, ties
- karma, fate.
But “En” has a philosophical nuance too. It is used to discuss connectedness. It was borrowed by Buddhists to capture their notions of interrelatedness and interdependence.
But even if everyday, Japanese and Chinese, it has a rich notion of connectedness. The definition I have created to capture theses other nuances missing from the above common definition is:
EN = “vibrant and resonant connectedness”
EN gives me a feeling of awe in this life. EN is richness and wonder. EN is to be sought after, nurtured and honored.
In Chinese philosophy, Yúan (Chinese for “En”) is what gives affinity between friends and lovers. Yuan has the feel of being a mysterious binding force or cause — although I don’t really think it is, but allow that illusion to enrichen my perceptions.
“En” has very concrete origins which later were abstracted into deeper poetic meanings. The original meaning of En relate to fabric – the weave or its hem (edge of the cloth). But I am uncertain of the details. But revealing this material origin is the left-side of the Chinese character which means “thread”.
EN is not a deity. EN is not all knowing. EN has no personality. EN is not a thing !! EN does not even exist except as a description of relationships. EN is only mystical in that it is hard to wrap our heads around because of the natural difficulty humans have in understanding very complex systems.
One common phrase using EN which I enjoy in Japanese is: 縁がある (or for those who you with browsers not set to read the characters: EN ga aru). Which can translate as: There is a special connection; We have a special connection; I feel vibrantly connection to that. Remember, Japanese tries to avoid pronouns! It emphasises the state of being, not the actor.
I will list other En postings here as I write them:
- A Cellist finds his Yuan: En for an undertaker: A film review
- Fly Fishing: a fly fisher tells about his En
- Philosophy’s Substance
- My Atheist Buddhism
- Delusional Myths of Poetry
- On Deep Connections: Yuan: Ramblings on the connectedness of a video and a film.
- The Hour of the Monkey : an example where I don’t share EN with someone
See other “Word!” posts, here.