greggorious wrote:In Therevada, is there an innate goodness within each of us, is there an original nature, is there original mind, Buddha nature? What is there? Are we just completely empty beings with nothing going for us and enlightenment is some far off dream that most of us will never attain?
From the way you word your question, it seems this issue is bothering you quite a bit. You're not the first one though. In the suttas there are many instances of disciples approaching the Buddha and questioning him directly on various self-views, asking about the existence or non-existence of the soul in the past, present, future, about it's permanence or impermanence. But whenever this happened, the Buddha would remain silent. The reason for this was that, even if he told the answer, it would not lead to a better comprehension of suffering and its end. In fact, the opposite would be achieved: clinging to any self-view is itself a cause for further becoming, a cause of suffering, and therefore not at all conductive towards liberation.
MN2 wrote:"This is how he attends inappropriately: 'Was I in the past? Was I not in the past? What was I in the past? How was I in the past? Having been what, what was I in the past? Shall I be in the future? Shall I not be in the future? What shall I be in the future? How shall I be in the future? Having been what, what shall I be in the future?' Or else he is inwardly perplexed about the immediate present: 'Am I? Am I not? What am I? How am I? Where has this being come from? Where is it bound?'
"As he attends inappropriately in this way, one of six kinds of view arises in him: The view I have a self arises in him as true & established, or the view I have no self... or the view It is precisely by means of self that I perceive self... or the view It is precisely by means of self that I perceive not-self... or the view It is precisely by means of not-self that I perceive self arises in him as true & established, or else he has a view like this: This very self of mine — the knower that is sensitive here & there to the ripening of good & bad actions — is the self of mine that is constant, everlasting, eternal, not subject to change, and will stay just as it is for eternity. This is called a thicket of views, a wilderness of views, a contortion of views, a writhing of views, a fetter of views. Bound by a fetter of views, the uninstructed run-of-the-mill person is not freed from birth, aging, & death, from sorrow, lamentation, pain, distress, & despair. He is not freed, I tell you, from suffering & stress.
(http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
It can be very tempting to philosophize about the nature of the human condition, but it is important to remember that no satisfactory answer can be found merely by thinking about the question a lot. Trying to solve this question in this way can only lead to further suffering. To know the truth, you'll have to follow the Noble Eightfold Path.
As for 'nothing going for us', consider this: We are born in a time where the Buddhadhamma has not yet been lost, where in fact many of the Buddha's teachings are but a few clicks away to those with internet access. Not only that, but apparently you have an interest in these matters, are naturally inclined towards finding the truth. So you actually have a lot going for you. Having access to these teachings and being in contact with others here who practice this path, I'd say the conditions for your enlightenment are quite favorable. However, it will ultimately depend on your practice.