The answer to the first question is that one's true Buddha nature is, not surprisingly, not an aggressive nature. As we go through our early years and we develop layers of learned experience that are contrary to our true Buddha nature and what it would teach us, the seeds of our ego-mind are watered and strengthened. It is like an invasive species that overruns naturally occurring plants. And so when our true Buddha nature tells us, “no, don’t go there,” it’s advice is overwhelmed by the more powerful and crafty voice of our ego.
After a time, we don’t even hear our true Buddha nature’s voice anymore except for those rare occasions when, as it’s usually put, our conscience tells us to do something other than our ego mind is telling us to do. You know those cartoons that show the angel telling a person one thing and the devil advising the opposite? Well, our conscience and that angel are our true Buddha nature. But it doesn’t stand a chance against the onslaught of our ego mind and the peer pressures of our culture.
Another proof that we have our true Buddha nature intact within us is this: if you think about all the negative experiences we have at the hands of others and our culture, you would think that we would be filled with hate. That any speck of kindness and love and compassion that was within us at one point would be wiped out ... not just against those who have caused our suffering but against society in general.
And yet that is usually not the case. For most of us, regardless how much we have suffered, we remain essentially kind, warm-hearted, loving people. Cynical, yes ... but still loving. Even towards those who have caused our suffering, while we may feel anger, we do not feel hatred. Even if we may sometimes when provoked scream, “I hate you!” we don’t really hate. Our soul has not been poisoned to that extent.
What keeps us from becoming totally filled with hate? Our true Buddha nature.
“But,” you may ask, “why is it then that there are people who are consumed with hate? And not just towards individuals but whole groups of people?” The answer to that question is that such people have been taught to hate; those seeds were watered. As the song from Rodgers and Hammerstein’s South Pacific goes, “You’ve got to be taught before it’s too late, before you are six or seven or eight, to hate all the people your relatives hate, you’ve got to be carefully taught.”
And just as one’s true Buddha nature gets buried under the layers of learned experience and being non-aggressive in nature is no match for the ego, so too does one's true Buddha nature get buried under the lessons of hate from those whom one respects or are important in ones life. But it will still show up on occasion as a “pang of conscience.”
As to why we aren’t able to see or feel our true Buddha nature even if we’re looking for it, the answer is again that our ego mind is so crafty and powerful that it obstructs our efforts. But as you walk the path, obtain more clarity through meditation, learn that all perceptions are illusory, and begin to observe without the intervention of thought, there will be ever more occasions when you get a glimpse of your true Buddha nature. And you will become aware more frequently of the difference between what your true Buddha nature is telling you and what the voice of your ego mind is telling you.
You may not choose to go against your ego, but you will be aware that there is another way. And as your commitment to the path and to freeing yourself increases, you will find that you begin to listen more to the voice of your true Buddha nature. And hopefully at some point in the future, you and your true Buddha nature will be one again.
Another lesson in practical Buddhism.