I feel that the The Great Aspirations of Samanthabadra is important – it is a demonstration of the actualization of aspirations to enlightenment by Bodhisattva Samanthabadra. One must actualize his aspirations to enlightenment. Sakyamuni Buddha said that one can only attain Buddhahood after he actualizes The Great Aspirations of Samanthabadra; there is no other method for attaining Buddhahood. So, please read it and, more importantly, actualize it. The wisdom of the Buddha is inherent in The Great Aspirations of Samanthabadra. Lord Buddha already told you the way to enlightenment is rooted in the The Great Aspirations of Samanthabadra.
Zen Buddhism stresses on the notion of emptiness. However, Zen Buddhism does not delve on the aspirations to enlightenment (bodhicitta), the lack of which could easily lead one plunging into void. None of the Zen masters talked about Bodhisattva Samanthabadra or His aspirations. They only discussed the elimination of attachments. Actually, after you have eliminated all your attachments, you still must actualize The Great Aspirations of Samanthabadra, without which you will never attain Buddhahood. This is the importance of The Great Aspirations of Samanthabadra.
If you still can’t eliminate all your attachments, at least you still have The Great Aspirations of Samanthabadra to count on. As long as you apply the The Great Aspirations of Samanthabadra in your daily lives, you will be able to break free even though you have not attained full enlightenment yet, for the strengths of enlightenment of a Buddha has already been fully incorporated into it.
Patrul Rinpoche was an enlightened master. He wrote a treatise entitled “The Preliminary Teachings of Dzogchen: The Teachings of Master Samanthabadra”. This treatise is based upon The Great Aspirations of Samanthabadra, telling you its importance. The book touches on the Kusari Practice (古萨里法) which has in fact incorporated some of the teachings of The Great Aspirations of Samanthabadra. The Kusari Practice primarily stresses on the elimination of the Four Evils. The poor yogis who are practicing deep in the forests have nothing to offer. So, they could only offer their bodies. The offering of one’s body will yield the greatest merits. Assuming the offering of horses and elephants, liken to the offerings of cars, money and worldly possessions today, would yield 100% of merits, the offering of your wife and children would yield 1000% fold of merits. However, you would yield 100,000% fold of merits when you offer your body, for we cherish our life and body most. The Kusari Practice is about offering your body. Our patriarchs taught us that it is not about subduing the evils without but our evil mind within. When you are able to subdue your evil mind within, you have accomplished the practice.
You must have heard the story of Milarepa fighting the evils. He exhausted all the tantras and mantras he had learnt to subdue the evils in vain. Finally, he realized that he should subdue his own mind instead. When you realize the equanimity between you and the evil, the latter will vanish. Instead, it will become your protector. According to the Kusari Practice, we are not to kill, fight, chase away, suppress or eliminate the external evil, but to eliminate the internal evil mind in us. You will attain enlightenment after eliminating the evil in you.
Majila (玛吉拉尊者) said, “A sick man is handed over to the devil. The giver is sent into the custody of the foe. A hundred recitations for protection are inferior to a single recitation of offering oneself as a meal. Such is my teaching.” There is a very crucial point made here –you will achieve very little if you are afraid of being harmed by the evil and turn to the dharma protector for protection. You will achieve little if you pray to 100 deities for protecting you from being eaten by the devils. However, you would accumulate enormous merits if you would offer your body as meal to 100 devils.