dzogchungpa wrote: the Buddha said that all beings are pervaded by the Tathagatagarbha.
Yes, this is true. But you have to examine what that actually means.
One could also say that all beings are pervaded by atoms.
It describes the pervasive nature of beings.
But, just as atoms are not a self, Tathagatagarbha is not a self.
Please let me share what I posted on another thread regarding my understanding of Buddha Nature:
My understanding is that when it is said all beings possess Buddha-nature,
it means that all beings have the possibility of realization
(even if, in this lifetime, they lack the practical means of attaining it)
that this possibility is inherent within all beings,
not that there is a "buddha essence" as such, inherent in beings.
You can liken this to a lottery
where all the participants have the potential, or chance of guessing the winning numbers
but that "potential' or "chance" is not an inherent thing
(Whether they have the means of acquiring a lottery ticket in this lifetime is another matter).
That chance doesn't exist
anywhere, and it isn't part of a big cosmic chance holding the universe together.
This is what Brahmanism suggests,
that each individual possesses an existent thing (self, atman, soul) which is part of a greater thing.
If realization was not inherent in all beings
then practicing dharma for oneself or for the sake of all beings would be pointless.
As an indicator that all beings possess this potential for becoming Buddhas,
the essential characteristic of samsara is the constant striving
for a perfect cessation to suffering (dukkha), which is essentially discontent to one degree or another.
That perfect cessation of discontent, the attainment of perfect peace of mind,
is the goal of Dharma practice.
If beings were not constantly striving for this end of discontentment
they would not engage in actions which they believe to bring happiness.
The things which we now regard as causing unhappiness wouldn't cause unhappiness at all
and beings would be perfectly content regardless of the changing or deteriorating conditions of things.
Thus, it can be determined that because beings strive for the cessation of suffering
that therefore the perfect cessation of suffering (Buddhahood) is the mind's original state.
Tathagatagarbha is an inherent quality, but it is not an inherent thing
or an inherent self.