A thought is a form of energy. Each thought causes a brainwave, which has its own energy wave. A physical body and material things are also energy. They are energy forms; energy cannot be separated. I try to make this idea clear to people, because it is very useful. When you have a thought, you will have an action that produces a result, or a reaction. A thought is first, followed by an action and then the result. The concept that everything happens simultaneously can be difficult for people–beginners, especially–to understand..
The mind has no form, but the mind is the creator. The concept of a creator must have some conditions. In other words, the creator exists everywhere and can manifest everything simultaneously; the creator generates everything but has no form. No matter if this creator is the God of Islam, Christianity or another religious faith, the concept of God presents certain conditions. Without those conditions, it cannot be.
Buddhism states that every single person possesses a Buddha nature. This means that in the future, no matter how far forward it might be, you will become a Buddha. It is because this nature of yours is completely like the nature of the Buddha. The Buddha nature is intrinsic to every person. Thus the Buddha nature is the creator. You can say the concept of Buddha nature equates to the concept of God in Buddhism. In Zen Buddhism, however, we avoid the terminology “Buddha” or “Buddha nature” but instead use the idea of the Mind. The function or ability of the Mind is equal to the idea of Buddha nature, or to the idea of God.
So, this is the difference between Christianity, Islam and Buddhism. For example, in Catholic society or Muslim society, God is the only one. In Buddhism or Zen practice, the mind of every single person is God. This means that every single person needs to take responsibility for what he or she has already done. Each person needs to take responsibility for what he or she faces. It is because you are the creator and you create your own reality. This is completely different from other religions. Therefore, in Buddhism it is called Buddha nature. In Zen, we call it the Mind.
Let me help you to clear up an idea. In the book, Just Use This Mind, I use the pure “Mind” with a capital “M” and the mundane human mind with a small “m.” You have your mind, and a Buddha has his. What distinguishes the two? What makes your mind different from Buddha’s? The function and ability of your mind are completely the same as the Buddha’s. They are equal. However, in Buddha’s Mind it is pure. There is no attachment or ego, so it is like a spotless, dust-free mirror. An everyday person’s mind is like a clear mirror as well, but there is dust on it. However, even with dust on the mirror, the mirror’s function remains. When the mirror has dust, it manifests a distorted reality. So, in the book, Just Use This Mind, the functions of the Mind and mind are the same. The mind, however, belongs to an everyday person, and consequently there is dust and self-attachment. The eyes of the Buddha’s Mind do not see through colored lenses, but the eyes of the ordinary person do. When your eyes are shaded with colored lenses, the reality is distorted. The eyes are clear, but their vision is hindered by colorful glasses. This is what we refer to as the mundane mind.
What is the difference between the mundane mind and Buddha’s Mind? Buddha’s Mind is a mind without illusions and attachments, and a mundane mind is burdened by illusions. There is a saying: “The Buddha is an everyday person without worries and attachments. The everyday person is a Buddha with a lot of worries.” This is an important idea. Besides the mundane mind, can you find a pure mind? You cannot. However, within the mundane mind exists a pure Mind. So the practice of Zen has only one goal: to get rid of the pollutants that cloud one’s perception like the dust on a mirror. Our practice does not try to create a pure mind but instead to get rid of illusions and attachments. It is like removing all the dust that covers the mirror. This is the only purpose. In Zen, we emphasize enlightenment. If you try to achieve enlightenment, this is a good purpose and a wonderful goal in your practice. The key is to let go of your attachments. You cannot carry your ego and self-attachments with you and achieve enlightenment. It cannot be done.