Buddha nature is continuously present in ourselves as well as in everyone else, without any exception whatsoever. It is in essence forever unobscured. It doesn’t increase or decrease. It is not sometimes covered or uncovered. It is totally beyond mental constructs. It does not change in size. It is not that someone has a big buddha nature and somebody else a small one. There is no difference in quality either. It is continuously present to the same extent in everyone.
To recognize the buddha nature present in oneself is called the view. To sustain the continuity of that correctly is called meditation or training. To mingle that with daily activities and act in accordance with the Dharma is called action or conduct. And to realize it as totally unobscured, like the sun shining with unchanging brilliance in the sky, is called fruition. We need to recognize the view; we need to recognize our buddha nature. Although it is something we already have, we need to acknowledge what we possess. The preliminary practices, the development stage, and so forth are all meant to enable us to recognize the buddha nature. They are like helpers, assistants.
To say “recognize your own nature, the buddha nature!” does not mean that we have to produce something which does not exist, like trying to squeeze gold out of a piece of wood, which is impossible. We must simply recognize what we already possess. But humans, who are the most clever and capable of all the different types of sentient beings, seem to be bent on totally throwing away this most precious wish-fulfilling jewel. The normal state of a human being is like someone who has found a precious wish-fulfilling jewel but ignores it, thinking that a fake piece of jewelry is more valuable. There is nothing sadder or of greater waste than this.
--Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche, in Repeating the Words of the Buddha