Friday, 28 November 2014

The Journey to the East by Herman Hesse

The novel, written by Herman Hesse in 1932 is  certainly about a spiritual journey.The protagonist is invited on an expedition with the League.The League is a secret society whose members include Paul Klee , Mozart, Pythagoras,Don Quixote,Plato , Baudelaire and other famous characters.The East was the Home of Light,where they hoped to find  the spiritual renewal.The League is a mystical structure,representing the spiritual community through which one gains happiness.
                    One day , the protagonist loses vision as also faith in the League and in his fellow brothers.This happens when a  servant called Leo disappears .Leo is the central character in the book.Leo is a servant who later turns out to be the President of the League.Leo  describes the Law of Service:"He who wishes to live long  must serve, but he who wishes to rule does not live long" After a conversation with Leo about "the law of service" ,the protagonist says his words"left me with a feeling  that this Leo knew all kinds of things ,that he perhaps knew more than us ,who were ostensibly his employers".
                           Time passes and the protagonist  finds out about Leo:"We already have a Leo.Andreas Leo,69a,Seilergraben."This is the "proper Leo but Leo apparently does not remember the protagonist..The latter becomes so frustrated by this that he writes a long letter to Leo.The upshot of this is that  he is taken to the League and finds out that Leo is in fact  the President.
                         The East is a metaphor, not Asia:"We not only wandered through space, but also through Time.We moved towards the East , but we also travelled into the Middle Ages and the Golden Age.
               Leo , the servant is the real leader , and he binds the League with his  service , humility and devotion .The moment he disappears, the  group disintegrates.Hesse  introduced the concept of servant leadership through the character of Leo, which Greenleaf  later developed and enlarged , and wrote many books on  servant leadership. Willingness and ability to serve others   and to  remain humble , define  the essence of true leadership. Just to  understand this single important  truth, you must read this multi-layered book of  93 pages.I will read this book  at least once more.