Bernard Frank

Gods and Buddhas in Japan (Work of the Collège de France) Publication date : April 1, 2000

Japanese Buddhism descends directly from the Chinese Buddhist tradition which flourished from the sixth to the eighth centuries. Although they jealously guarded the teachings they had received from the mainland, Japanese Buddhists were also innovative, reorganising and combining the original Indian teachings with Chinese Buddhism, and blending in local beliefs to create a vigorous new syncretist philosophy. One of its most extraordinary aspects is the development of esoteric beliefs (mikkyô), which can be compared to Tibetan tantric doctrines, in that they present another image of this deep form of Buddhism. This volume is a collection of Bernard Frank’s annual lectures, including his inaugural lesson at the Collège de France in which he defined his goals. The overview provided by these lectures gives a coherent, in-depth study of one of the least known facets of Japanese Buddhism.

Bernard Frank (1927-1996) held the first professorship of Japanese Civilisation at the Collège de France. His knowledge of classical Japanese literary and religious traditions was unsurpassed. He devoted fifteen years of his career to the study of Japanese Buddhist iconography in relation to its fundamental teachings as well as to its literary and historical context.