I’d be pretty embarrassed to call this an advice column. I don’t pretend to be sitting on any kind of high-throne of wisdom. And if any eloquence slips from this tongue, it is as a result from bathing myself in the minds of those who are far beyond me in both intellect and depth. On the other hand, I got my first ‘Dear Unemployed Samurai’ type of comment (not precisely a letter) the other day, and I feel like responding.
The gist of the comment was, ‘Dear Unemployed Samurai, What do I do if a monster finds his way into my intimate space, and indeed into my mind?’ Of course, the only way I can authentically answer this question is to tell my own monster story. How did I deal with a real monster, who came into my world? Warning: this story doesn’t have a happy ending, quite the opposite. I can only provide a cautionary tale and say: do not do as I have done!
So, what mistakes did I make? Well, the first mistake was innocence — which isn’t precisely a mistake but a condition which needs to be grown out of. I hadn’t had any real experience with a sociopathy before, and I didn’t know what a sociopath was capable of. Therefore, in all innocence, I allowed one into my intimate space; which wasn’t necessarily my fault, but it was a mistake, nonetheless. Innocence, can no longer be an excuse, once you have met the dark one. You take a bit of his poison into your system. This can be homeopathic, but afterwards you can no longer play the victim.
My second mistake was to try to ‘help’ or reform that person. With my naïve view of humanity, I believed that such a thing was possible. But some people cannot be reformed, except though the most powerful magic, or a lot of suffering. And there are even those who won’t be reformed by anything but total self-immolation. The tragic thing is that they will bring a lot of people down with them on their suicidal rampage. One should understand: there are indeed quite a number malevolent people in the world, and that such people feed on innocence; they are highly predatory and sometimes wildly intelligent.
I was the perfect victim of such a monster — with my good intentions, my innocence, and my idiot compassion. But in the end, I got off pretty easy. He was a minor monster, in the hierarchy of monsters, and although he abused my hospitality, ran off with a bit money, and caused some grief to my family, he is in faraway place and we are out of harm’s way. One should pray for the soul of such people, but also that they find themselves far away from us.
The truth is the little monster did me a favour. He allowed me to see the dumb caricature of human evil face to face, and I now I know what the devil looks like. I won’t open my intimate space to such a person anymore. And I’m no longer easy bate — at least until a more sophisticated and terrible monster comes along
But the difficult part of the lesson, and the most enlightening part, was something far more bitter to swallow. It was that I saw myself in this person: that I was also capable of such acts, that I had, in the past, been quite a manipulator. Perhaps not in such an overt way, but I could not say that I belonged to an entirely different realm that this petty criminal and con artist. He was a mirror into the potential monster in myself. And this insight scared the shit out of me.
Actually, I don’t believe we can be really fully virtuous unless we can see these monsters in our own hearts. We need to go into the underworld and find the obscure demons of our own sub-consciousness, so that we can we repair ourselves and by extension the world. This means being willing to take the journey to where the monster lives. And who really wants to confront that beast? Not me certainly.
In the meantime, the first job we have is with ourselves. We have to train hard before we are ready to stab the monster in the throat, take his gold, and save the virgin — the gold symbolizing the lesson he will give us, and the virgin symbolizing our own undefiled nature. But we have to know that we can also be pretty evil, while being strong enough to contain that dark power. Then we can make use our own inner monster, and stop being the victim of an external one.
Note: Perhaps this will turn in to an advice column after all. Please address your letters to Dear Unemployed Samurai. But buyer beware. I’m no guru. I’m an ordinary smuck just like you. If you are looking for wisdom there are far better sources.