Frederick Spiegelberg

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Biographical Information

"Frederic Spiegelberg, professor emeritus of Indian civilization and a pioneer in comparative religious studies at Stanford from 1941 to 1962, died Thursday, Nov. 10 [1994], in San Francisco from complications after abdominal surgery. He was 97....

"Spiegelberg came to public attention in 1949, when he returned from a six-month trip to India and Tibet, financed by a Rockefeller Foundation grant. He brought with him predictions about the coming ³black ages² by Nagarjuna, a Buddhist philosopher, contained in a 200-year-old reproduction of a previously unknown first-century manuscript.

"Also on the trip, he discovered Tibetan ghost-traps, spindle-like contraptions wound with colored yarns and mounted on roofs of Tibetan villages to trap ghosts. In 1955, he compiled the first complete collection of ghost-traps known to have been taken out of Asia and displayed the collection in the Stanford Art Gallery...

"Spiegelberg also taught a survey of Indian civilizations, Buddhism, the Bhagavad Gita (the most popular of Indian scriptures), Indian philosophy and masterpieces of Indian literature...

"Born in Hamburg, Germany, in 1897, Spiegelberg went on to earn his doctorate at the University of Tübingen in 1922 followed by a theological degree from the Lutheran Church in Germany. He taught at the University of Dresden, Columbia University, University of Rochester, University of California, Union Theological Seminary and the Pacific School of Religion.

"He joined Stanford as a lecturer in religion in 1941 and retired in 1962 as professor of Indian civilization in the Department of Asiatic and Slavic Studies.

"During his years in Europe he studied with theologians Rudolf Otto and Paul Tillich, philosopher Martin Heidegger and psychologist Carl Jung. Spiegelberg took over Tillich¹s position at Dresden in 1933. Four years later Tillich helped Spiegelberg and his late wife, Rosalie, escape Hitler's Germany...

"In 1951, he helped found in San Francisco the American Academy of Asian Studies, the first accredited graduate school in the United States devoted exclusively to the study of Asiatic lands and people. The academy was devoted to studies of the confluence of modern Western psychology and the ancient disciplines of the East, and played a key role in San Francisco¹s ³artistic renaissance² of the 1950s. Its successor organization is the California Institute of Integral Studies...

"Spiegelberg is survived by a daughter, Corinne Wilkinson, of San Francisco. Also surviving from an earlier marriage are a son, Valentin, and daughter, Dorothea Florian, both of Germany. " [1] wiki Papers

With Robert O. Ballow, he compiled the "Bible of the World" (Viking, 1939), and he wrote "Living Religions of the World" (Prentice-Hall, 1956) and "The Spiritual Practices of India" (Citadel Press, 1962).

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  1. Comparative religions expert Frederic Spiegelberg dies at 97,, accessed November 2, 2011.