The Essence of Infinite Meanings

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The Sutra of Infinite Meanings is a very important Buddhist sutra.  It can be seen as a turning point in the Buddha teachings, coming after He had already expounded the Dharma for over forty years. It is also an introduction to the Lotus Sutra. Therefore, Master Cheng Yen often stress that the Sutra of Infinite Meanings contains the essence of the Lotus Sutra.  


The Sutra of Infinite Meanings is divided into three chapters – Virtues, Expounding the Dharma, and The Ten Merits. These Infinite Meanings arise from One Dharma; this One Dharma is of non-appearance. As living beings have infinitely varying capacities, the Buddha used an infinite number of teachings. Since there are infinite teachings, their meanings are also infinite.

The world is fundamentally this simple and pure – without appearance – yet humans stubbornly remain attached to appearances. The Buddha taught the Sutra of Infinite Meanings and the Lotus Sutra to eliminate the habitual tendencies humans have accumulated and to teach the multitudes of living beings with severe habitual tendencies and desires how to return to the Great Bodhi Path.

A commentary Master Cheng Yen gave on the Sutra of Infinite Meanings was published several years ago. 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. It thus enables people to carry the Buddha in our hearts and live out the Dharma. 

In this book, Master Cheng Yen expounds the verses from the musical adaptation of the Sutra of Infinite Meanings in the hopes of getting straight to the core of the sutra’s teachings. Through this explanation of the main principles of the sutra, the Master hopes readers can understand the underlying spirit of the Jing Si Dharma-lineage and the Tzu Chi School of Buddhism.