In Sanskrit, the Sutra of Infinite Meanings (also known as the Sutra of Innumerable Meanings) is called the Amitarthasutra. This sutra is one volume comprised of three chapters: the Chapter on Virtues, the Chapter on Expounding the Dharma, and the Chapter on the Ten Merits. Together with the Wondrous Dharma Lotus Flower Sutra and the Sutra of Meditation on Samantabhadra Bodhisattva, they form the Threefold Lotus Sutra. Before expounding the True Dharma of the Wondrous Dharma Lotus Flower Sutra, the Buddha first taught the Sutra of Infinite Meanings in the hopes that everyone in the state of unenlightened beings could develop great compassion and reach the Bodhisattva Path. This message of compassion and the Bodhisattva Path make this sutra especially relevant to Tzu Chi’s missions, and its teachings are infused in the Jing Si Dharma Lineage and the Tzu Chi School of Buddhism.
The Adapted Verses of the Sutra of Infinite Meanings were compiled by Mr. Wang Tuan-cheng, who distilled the central ideas of the sutra and turned them into lyrics that could be set to music. In Teachings and Commentary on the Adapted Verses of the Sutra of Infinite Meanings, these verses from the musical adaptation of this sutra are the focus of Master Cheng Yen’s teaching. By focusing on these concise verses, her hope was to dive straight into the core of the sutra’s teachings. Through this explanation of the main principles of the sutra, Master Cheng Yen hoped to give everyone an opportunity to understand the underlying spirit of the Jing Si Dharma Lineage and the Tzu Chi School of Buddhism. The combination of the sign language gestures and the singable lyrics of this musical adaptation enable everyone to hear, contemplate, practice, and uphold the Dharma. By learning from the teachings based on these adapted verses, Master Cheng Yen hoped that all people will carry the Buddha in their hearts and practice the Dharma in their lives.