There is always something rotten in the state of Denmark — there is always something rotten everywhere. It’s not a conspiracy of a small group of satanic little people in some secret cabal somewhere: it’s built into each ego, and every society on earth. Rottenness comes from not paying attention, from letting things slide.
Of course, there is the natural rottenness of existence — every fruit starts to rot and falls from the tree. The laws of entropy states that everything begin to rot from within and eventually falls apart. This may be heartbreaking but it isn’t tragic, for the rotting mass becomes compost for more fruits and flowers. Death may be tragic but it isn’t a problem particularly. It’s a process that begins at birth, and everything living thing has an expiry date built in to it. At some point, we cave in completely.
Of course, if you are spiritually inclined you may believe that the soul doesn’t die — but that belief won’t save you from the death of the body and the world and everyone in it. But again, extinction is not a problem, in the grand scheme of things. The more terrible kind rottenness is existential. How do we let our souls rot? How do we fall into meaningless resentment on one end, and gleeful murder on the another? By lack of attention, that is.
The Unemployed Samurai pays attention. Why? Firstly, because there are snakes everywhere. In every moment, there is the possibility of being bitten by something, of being swallowed up by a predator of some kind. Even in our affluent societies, the predatory is never very far. The predatory might not be a cobra or a lion, but a drunk driver or somebody waving his gun around in a movie theatre. The predator could be the desire for another line of cocaine or to shout at a child — the inner predators of violence and addiction eat at our soul. One has to pay attention to these things, because they all live inside us somewhere, even if our behaviour is entirely saintly.
However, mere survival, doesn’t yet make one an Unemployed Samurai. A Unemployed Samurai must also have a noble ambition, a transcendental goal. And by transcendental, I mean something that goes beyond mere survival, some positive sense of existence, a sense of something beyond the immediate horizon.
The next question might be: in the midst of so much that tragedy and horror, how does the Samurai find that meaning. Well, certainly not by pretending it doesn’t exist. The Samurai finds meaning by going into those dark places and facing down those darker creatures within and without. The Samurai goes into the shadows — he doesn’t remain aloof.
One might not always be happy in the midst of the tragedy of existence, in fact happiness in itself is a shallow goal. Happiness will descend as a blessing, if one is willing to face the dark one: within oneself firstly, and then out there in the world. But nothing is guaranteed. The monster still sleeps under your bed. He could awaken at any time.