THEOSOPHY, Vol. 43, No. 5, March, 1955
(Pages 218-225; Size: 25K)



[On the Lookout (THEOSOPHY 27: 527) referred to a passage from a book, The Problem of Vocational Guidance, by the late Dean Herman Schneider, "showing once again that the knowledge of the soul will find its natural outlet, whatever the conventional ideas and theories of the time." The present writer has since discovered much in Schneider's life and writings which makes him a natural member of the larger Theosophic fraternity.] [Note: The above reference only took up about one page of the 12-page "On the Lookout" section, so I made it the 2nd footnote here. It might be worthwhile to read it first.--Compiler.](2)
IT is natural that Theosophists, of all the professions, feel special regard for that of the educator. For though time-servers and incompetents appear therein occasionally, many are the men and women who seem to have discovered a deeper meaning in their lives by serving as instructors of the young. If it be true that, in the long course of soul evolution, each must fulfill the role of teacher many times over in discharge of the responsibilities of brotherhood, those who devote their whole life-energy to education, fulfill themselves also. Conversely, just as the Theosophist feels respect for the teacher, often do teachers and professors indicate respect for theosophical principles, even if not identified by name. While politicos and other ambitious wielders of power attempt the control of their fellows, the teacher has taken an unspoken oath -- to help draw forth from each pupil his own innate reasoning powers, start him on the quest for a deeper and more comprehensive understanding. When this noble aim is clearly envisioned, it is as if the perspective of reincarnation had somehow made itself manifest, for the philosophy attaching to the concept of rebirth places the highest of all values upon autonomous mental capacities.

All these things, most theosophic students have long realized. From time to time, though, circumstance -- one's own contact with an exceptional instructor, or perhaps simply the reading of an educator's lifework -- heightens appreciation of how much teachers can do by means of relating what a particular savant has accomplished. In this case, the perusal of several books depicting the life and thought of Herman Schneider, educational innovator, university president, and friend to thousands of students throughout his long career, gave focus to one Theosophist's realization of the above. Dean Schneider was not, we know, entirely unique in the quality of his vision, but precisely because he stands as one of many exemplars, the story seems well worth telling. Perhaps other "appreciations" of exceptional instructors may be induced by this beginning.

Schneider was apparently the founder of the modern cooperative system of education on which Arthur Morgan modelled Antioch College. One day at the turn of the century, while teaching at Lehigh, young Schneider was shown a book, written in Latin, containing the essays of Marcus Vitruvius Pollio, the famous Roman architect for Augustus Caesar. Vitruvius, in one part, endorsed the necessity for acquiring both scholarship and manual skill. This passage appealed to Schneider. In later years he recalled the words of Vitruvius when the cooperative plan was receiving wide attention. An excited caller came to his office, declaring: "I want you to know that I thought of this scheme before you did." However, he had not tried to make the system work.

"I'm afraid we're both a little late," was Schneider's reply. "A fellow named Marcus Vitruvius got ahead of us."

Schneider began to devise a plan on paper which would point to some definite conclusion about the correctness of his idea. Accumulating data with the help of employers and successful graduates, he arrived at the fact that nearly all the Lehigh graduates who had shown marked engineering ability soon after college had worked in one or more ways -- during vacation, while attending school, or, in some instances, stayed out of college for a semester or year in order to earn money to continue their studies. In the first summary of his plan in 1902, Schneider wrote: "A student does not need three months of summer idleness. He needs a mental change, a cessation of study. During the summer he will be regularly employed. ... He will have vacation as the regular employees have...."

The first attempts at selling the cooperative idea to educators and industrial men are reminiscent on a smaller scale of the opposition which H. P. Blavatsky met in launching the Theosophical Movement in 1875. Schneider experienced the reactions of others ranging from shock to nods of approval. Some found merit in his proposal, but remained unmoved because it seemed too extraordinary. Referring to the disappointments encountered, Charles F. Kettering of General Motors recalled, after the death of his long-time friend:

It seems to me that cooperative education is such a logical thing, once we view it from a distance, that we can hardly imagine its being a difficult movement to start. But as true then as now, the most difficult thing in the world is to do something new.
A karmic agent unexpectedly came into Schneider's life at the time when acceptance of his idea of part-time study and part-time work seemed remotely possible among only a hesitant few. A man named Manley, secretary of a local metal trades association, casually turned his newspaper one afternoon and suddenly stopped at an account of a talk given by Professor Schneider. The account, a brief one and printed on an inside page of the newspaper, brought an immediate response from Manley. Thus began a life-time friendship around the efforts of the two men to foster the idea of cooperative education.

Schneider realized, in helping young people chart their careers, that he was dealing with the most precious of commodities -- a soul searching for its means of expression. As a teacher and administrator, he counselled hundreds of students.

An abiding faith in man's spiritual nature shines plainly through Schneider's appraisal of modern youth. One would not easily attribute the following comment as coming from a stolid engineer!

Believe it or not, nine out of ten young men coming to college are idealists, not materialists. They don't like to admit it; they fumble and shift about at first when you confront them with it. ... They respond to the idea that the success of one's career on earth is measured at the time one passes on to the next existence, and that the measuring is done in terms of the intangible things taken along, not by the tangible gain left behind; by what is given, not by what is got. They grasp the philosophy that the only durable things are the intangible ones -- not the bridge but what the bridge stands for.
The thirty-odd years' devotion that Dean Schneider gave to the University of Cincinnati brought world-wide fame to that institution. Spreading throughout the Midwest, the cooperative idea was adopted by a score and more colleges and universities. Among these were the University of Akron, University of Pittsburgh, Georgia School of Technology, Harvard, Marquette, and Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

During the first five months of 1920, an exchange of letters occurred between Dean Schneider and Dr. Arthur Morgan, who was planning to introduce the cooperative plan at Antioch College.

As early as 1911, the Dean was asked to conduct a survey for the New York City Board of Education, and outline a comprehensive plan for setting up cooperative and continuation courses in some of the New York City high schools.

Recognition also came from Russia to "Engineer Schneider," who had introduced the going plant at Cincinnati to several representatives of the U.S.S.R. in 1929 and 1930.

Two supreme evidences of a deep theosophical attitude were revealed during Schneider's varied career: his philosophy of life as set forth in numerous writings, and his amazing knowledge about "the ancients." His worn copy of The Bhagavad-Gita opened easily to the pages of Chapter XVI, beginning: "Fearlessness, sincerity...." Here was a man who was so relieved when a successor for him was found after four years as president of the University of Cincinnati that he released his exuberance in an intense study of Oriental art and philosophy. He had most reluctantly held the office of presidency, an inevitable appointment. He had brought rapid growth and renown to the institution as the first school to enroll cooperative students under his guidance in 1906. He had declined inviting bids from wealthier and more popular universities.

His writings consisted of pondered-over sentences in the vein of Lao-tze, a complete novel, essays, and editorials written without a particular purpose except to clarify his thinking. "He wrote for no special public, but always discussed his writings with Mrs. Schneider, who was his constant critic and mentor." During an interview given to an editor of a technical journal, he expressed his philosophy in this manner:

You can't go very far in modern science, groping toward an understanding of its absolutely perfect laws, without being forced -- to your knees, I almost said -- to the conviction that back of the whole scheme of things there is a most amazing Divine Intelligence.

Try to grasp some of the facts of astronomy and of astro-physics: of little patches of our sky containing hundreds of thousands of suns much greater than our own, of our galaxy of stars one hundred million light years across, and, some billions of light years behind, other galaxies and super-galaxies; then consider the solar systems which we call atoms -- and let your mind run through the whole pulsating mystery of what you call "matter" from the whirling electron to the super-galaxies, all held in a bewildering balance and movement by absolutely perfect law. ... Well, if you grasp only a little of that, you just slough off your egocentric trends to personal acquisition of this and that, and try to get into the swing of the great movement of which you are a little part; and you strive to make your work conform. You get the feeling of infinite progress in accordance with a wonderful pattern which you can barely sense but which you can't understand.

On another occasion he advised, in an annual letter to college alumni:
You can clarify issues for yourself more readily by withdrawing from the strife and getting a crystallization of fundamentals through a quiet session now and then with the ancients. For today's problems are age-old in essence; only the setting and the details vary. And while "What most endures is changeless Change," ... to quote Lao-Tse, the change is largely in the pattern. The fundamentals stay put.*
Some of the Dean's happiest moments were spent in writing. He enjoyed exploring humble ideas for new meanings, searching them for the breadth of universal principles. "Cleaning the Attic" is one of many short essays he wrote in the lighter mood with the calm of one who sees Life as a "contest of smiles." He noted in part:
Just now, in the world, we are on an attic-cleaning orgy. The composite family of humankind is in a great stew as to what to throw out and what to bring down to the living room again. ... It all makes a lovely family quarrel about how useful things are -- evolution, prohibition, science, League of Nations, moral standards, preparedness, divorce, discipline, vitamins, art, diets, and what not....

It is all interesting -- particularly to observe who wants to retain which and who wants to fling out what. But most amazing and most significant in the whole Babel is the fact that great scientists --  Pupin, Millikan, Lodge, and many more -- insist upon bringing belief in a Divine Intelligence (God, if you prefer) and belief in an Immortal Soul back to the living room -- as proven, and as the most indispensable parts of life! They believe in it as a scientific necessity -- as they believe in the Law of Gravity -- because it must be so. With them it is not a matter of blind (and sometimes doubting) faith, but of scientific surety. In delving deeper and deeper into Nature they have come face to face with the Great Fact -- the great dual interlinked fact of The Divine Intelligence and the Immortal Soul. ... Perhaps you haven't heard them above the din of attic cleaning, but you will. I think their note is going to prevail as the racket dies down. ... And it is a simple, cheerful, direct note -- not a gloomy and complex one.

The Great Fact has gradually been going attic-ward. It is coming back to the living room, and its being in the living room will determine, through the quality of the eternal fitness of things, what other things are going to be there. And so we'll wash up and stop arguing and get down again to an orderly life.


Dean Schneider, feeling the challenge of industrial problems and unrest, could give wise counsel to numerous industrial and labor leaders since he had lived the experiences of both the common worker and the executive. The fruits of his labors, together with the knowledge of the fundamentals that "stay put," enabled him to analyze the problem of work in modern industry and to arrive at a self-evident basis for agreement. Seeing the loss of values due to mechanization, he gave much thought to analyzing work. The following extracts reveal his genius for getting to the heart of a problem:

The causes (of industrial unrest) are real and lie within the realm of Natural Law. Therefore, the logical starting point of a diagnosis must be to ascertain the Natural Laws of Work, non-conformity to which causes our industrial headaches....

It can be shown by history that a people who will not work will fall to swift decay. If you look back along the highway over which civilization has come, you will see that, except where great physical upheavals of nature, or brute strength in overwhelming numbers have been factors, nation after nation has fallen because of nonconformity to the law of labor. ... The cycle of work to wealth, wealth to idleness, idleness to poverty, and poverty to work again, is an evidence of mental inefficiency, following physical decline.

The substance of the law of labor is this: Work, and you will reach a higher mental development; cease work, and you will degenerate. The law applies to individuals, to communities, to nations, and to civilizations....

Mentality is the result of physical activity, and in turn stimulates it. Thinking and working are reciprocal aids. Integrity, honesty, discipline, sound health, fair dealing, respect for others' rights -- these have come through the assumption of one's burden of work, and the opposites of these are the result of the desire to dodge the burden....

Fortunately we are now far enough from the thousand-year swamp so that one may safely propose as a thesis, that only that civilization will prevail whose laws and life conform most to Natural Law. The Spirit of Unrest, whether it be evidenced by the spontaneous and seemingly unaccountable strike of automatic workers, the questioning introspection of university faculties, the open defiance of law, or the cry for the Doctor of Industry, is the headache-giving warning of deeper seated organic trouble.

The worth of our education, our laws, our scientific management, will be determined by the extent to which they will make clear, conform with, and supplement the laws of work....

I like to think we are coming to a time when the great march forward of civilization will not be largely a matter of chance, with the blind often leading the blind, but more an organized orderly movement in conformity to the Laws of Nature. In that day the opportunist will not vault into the saddle of leadership when humanity, having been badly led, cries out for a leader; instead, he will be a part of history with the medicine man of the savage, for at the bottom both of these in their creation and in their haphazard panaceas are the same.


On several occasions Dean Schneider was asked to write statements prophesying the changes he could foresee in the next hundred or so years. He wrote in 1928 how he approached "the matter of prophecy gingerly, principally because of the rapid strides being made in scientific research." Before predicting some developments in three major departments of progress (the scientific, the personal, and the spiritual), Schneider commented: "Despite the general opinion that we are drifting away from 'the old moral standards' (in every age the same thing is said), I think there is today less cant and more searching for real values than there was a generation ago...." Proceeding to the scientific, he observed:

The science of psychology is today about where chemistry was when it was called "alchemy." Naturally, it offers a fertile field for the charlatans, as alchemy did. But it will become one of the two great sciences; the other being the science of matter -- what we now foolishly divide into the separate fields of physics, chemistry, mathematics, biology, geology, astronomy, and so on. However, these two major sciences of the future (the science of mind and the science of matter) will be as closely related as mathematics and physics are today, and they will be the consciously fundamental and governing factors in nearly all human affairs. In the more distant future they will coalesce into one science.

When some Newton has written a Principia of Psychology, the great powers latent in our subconscious minds will gradually be released. Once I saw a man in a panic of fear jump over a board fence about seven feet high without touching it. He summoned in fear a reserve force which we should be able to summon at will. We have reservoirs of mental power which we do not know how to tap and use. Their use will have begun one hundred years hence and will have beneficial significance in your bodily health, your personal relations and your philosophical outlook. In this phase of future development, much will be learned from the East....

Schneider's story, then, is that of a college professor who was a practical "dreamer." The quiet of the ivy-covered campus but aided his listening ear and heart's response to the call of great human problems in distant factories and mines. He worked a lifetime to bear out his conviction that willing cooperation could be made a matter of practical application in economic affairs. He was an idealist not content with armchair musings on his ideal; he had to give substance to his dream, to make it live for others. As Thoreau aptly remarked: "If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost -- that is where they should be. Now put the foundations under them."

COMPILER'S NOTE: The following is a separate item which followed the above article but was on the same page. I felt it was useful to include it here:


The disappearance of man's belief in his own autonomy will signalize a decisive crisis in the course of evolution. ... Gradually he will be conditioned to accept the fact that he is nothing in himself, and even the epiphenomena associated with consciousness and the delusions regarding choice and value will disappear. But if the so-called epiphenomena are actually something more, if the very ability to imagine that we may be something more than "products" corresponds to a reality, then we may be having our last chance to make something of it. 


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(1) NOTE.--Quotations in the first part of this article are from Ambassador to Industry -- The Idea and Life of Herman Schneider, by Clyde W. Park (Bobbs-Merrill, N.Y., 1943); other quotations, including that marked by an asterisk, and those subsequent, are taken from a collection of Schneider's writings published in the Cooperative Engineer during 1939.
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(2) [Note: This is the material from the "On the Lookout" section of THEOSOPHY magazine, September, 1939, that is referred to.--Compiler]:


The age-old "shaving process," by which sages arrive at a perception of the Real, is not without its western expressions. In the Cincinnati alumnus for May, published by the University of Cincinnati Alumni Association, a passage from a book by the late Dean Herman Schneider is printed, showing once again that the knowledge of the soul will find its natural outlet, whatever the conventional ideas and theories of the time. Dean Schneider, founder of the Co-operative System of Education and President Emeritus of the University, began the second chapter of his work, The Problem of Vocational Guidance, with these words:

When I walk by and you say to your friend, "There goes So-and-So," what do you mean? ... What you see are my clothes, my shoes, my hat, my glasses, my face, and my hands. ... Is that all of Me? ... You'll agree there is more inside. ... But what you see I call my NUMBER ONE. ... My shoes serve my feet by keeping them from being bruised; my clothes protect me from the elements; my glasses are tools for my eyes. ... But you do not see ME. ... Then is my physical body, denuded of these things, I? ... No, for I say to my legs, "Walk over there"; I say to my hands, "Lift this Book!" I say to my eyes, "Look at this flower"; I say to my tongue, "Repeat these words." ... My legs and arms are, tools, as my glasses are tools. ... So my physical being is not I. ... I call my physical being my NUMBER TWO. ... And still you do not see ME. ... Then is my mind which directs my body, I? ... No; for when I think evil or do evil, something beyond my mind lashes it; it stands me up and calls me to account. ... It sits in judgment. ... Like Natural Law, it can be flouted, but it is there all the time. ... Often when I read, I go over the same sentence time after time without getting any meaning; I am in a "brown study." ... Something beyond my mind is dominating me. ... When I am "lost in thought," I am not consciously thinking; so back of the thinking mechanism which I operate consciously, there is something else. ... My thinking mechanism I call my NUMBER THREE. ... And the something back of it, I call my NUMBER FOUR. ... The NUMBER FOUR is I.
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