Dalai Lama Quote of the Week
Our fundamental nature--what we term 'the buddha nature', the very nature of our mind, is inherently present within us as a natural attribute. This mind of ours, the subject at hand, has been going on throughout beginningless time, and so has the more subtle nature of that mind. On the basis of the continuity of that subtle nature of our mind rests the capacity we have to attain enlightenment. This potential is what we call 'the seed of buddhahood', 'buddha nature', 'the fundamental nature', or 'tathagatagarbha'.
We all have this buddha nature, each and every one of us. For example, this beautiful statue of Lord Buddha here, in the presence of which we are now sitting, is a representation that honours someone who attained buddhahood. He awakened into that state of enlightenment because his nature was the buddha nature. Ours is as well, and just as the Buddha attained enlightenment in the past, so in the future we can become buddhas too.
...In any case, there dwells within us all this potential which allows us to awaken into buddhahood and attain omniscience. The empowerment process draws that potential out, and allows it to express itself more fully. When an empowerment is conferred on you, it is the nature of your mind--the buddha nature--that provides a basis upon which the empowerment can ripen you. Through the empowerment, you are empowered into the essence of the buddhas of the five families. In particular, you are 'ripened' within that particular family through which it is your personal predisposition to attain buddhahood. (p.29)
--from Dzogchen: The Heart Essence of the Great Perfection by His Holiness the Dalai Lama, translated by Thupten Jinpa and Richard Barron, Foreword by Sogyal Rinpoche, edited by Patrick Gaffney, published by Snow Lion Publications