I once heard a teacher in a dharma talk tell everyone “Our troubles are not the problem. Our problem is that we don’t see our Buddha-nature.”
I always like to remind people that Buddha-nature is not a ‘self’, soul or spirit. It is more like emptiness, or a spaciousness of being. What prevents us from seeing Buddha-nature is precisely the false perception of self.
This echoes something Dogen wrote in his work Bussho (“On Buddha-nature”), which according to one translation reads, “Nagarjuna said, ‘If you want to see the Buddha-nature, first you must eliminate self-egoism.'” Dogen later explains that “Seeing is in itself the elimination of self-egoism.”
It seems to me that one of Dogen’s main points throughout his core writings was to make people recognize their Buddha-nature. Then it becomes a matter of how much you can see Buddha-nature inside of you. When I first began to learn about Buddhism, I was told that meditation is the key that opens the gate to Buddha-nature.
The idea is to break the barrier between Buddha-nature and our life, to go beyond the dimension of “yourself” and see the Buddha-nature in others.
Stop your wandering,
Look penetratingly into your inherent nature,
And, concentrating your spiritual energy,
Sit in meditation
And break through.
– Bassui (1327-1387)