It is our birthright because each of us is born with the true Buddha nature intact within us. And since peace and happiness is the hallmark of Buddha nature, that is our birthright.
However, almost from the moment of birth (and indeed, often while still in the womb) we do not receive the spiritual nourishment we need and are instead subjected to life experiences which cause us pain. Parents do the best they can, but a parent’s love and attention rarely meets a baby’s need, so great is it and so occupied with their own issues and lives are parents. Although toddlers are remarkably resilient, around age 3 those hurts start becoming calcified as the ego-mind forms, creates negative labels to describe our experiences, and develops emotional reactions to them.
In this way, our Buddha nature is similar to the body, which is also born intact but is weak and needs nourishment to grow and strengthen. Most babies, except those born into extreme poverty, receive the physical nutrition they need. But our Buddha nature does not receive the spiritual nourishment it needs and is instead overwhelmed by negative life experiences that create the darkness of the ego-mind. And so our life of samsara begins.
But regardless how far our Buddha nature has been buried under the detritus of life, it is important in walking the path to know that our Buddha nature is still there, intact. And in fact to be able to discern moments in our life when that nature has spoken to us. (Whenever you’ve had an internal debate between what is often referred to as the “good” and “bad” you over how to respond to something, the “good” you is your Buddha nature speaking.)
So when we work to discover our true self, we are not looking to create something new, we are trying to reconnect with that self that has always been within us since the moment of our birth. To reconnect with our Buddha nature that is peace and happiness.
And when we have reclaimed our true self and are at peace and happy, we will be filled with joy and wonder. For that is our natural state when we are free of the ego-mind’s thoughts.