Welcome to the Unemployed Samurai, the name for my new new series of writings, and podcast. In this essay I will try to articulate my vision. What do I mean by unemployed Samurai exactly?
The expression ‘Unemployed Samurai’ comes from the word ‘Ronin’ and medieval Japan, and the word Ronin literally means ‘vagrant’ or ‘wave man’. The Unemployed Samurai is the wandering warrior without a home, both a spiritual pilgrim, and a poetic adventurer. (Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rōnin)
I first heard the term ‘Unemployed Samurai’ from Tibetan Buddhist master Chogyam Trungpa, who had a love for Japanese culture. In the Buddhist tradition, you make a vow to be ‘homeless’, and Trungpa felt that this image was appropriate to illustrate the Bodhisattva’s mission: to renounce any kind of final resting place, until all the worlds were emptied of suffering — an impossibly romantic notion.
Let us say here, just for the fun of it, that all romantic bodhisattvas types are Unemployed Samurai. To put it in a western context, if we have killed the metaphysical God, as Nietzsche claimed, we are have lost our sense of security and place in the world. And yet our mission has become, no longer to merely defend our 4 acres and a mule, but to redeem the world, and to perhaps find the fallen archetypal father deep within us.
The Unemployed Samurai’s job — for even if he has no employment he definitely has a job or great mission—is to forge some kind of meaning from all that chaos and destruction. In the brave new fatherless world, or world without parental security, in that state of broken-hearted aloneness, the unique individual is born.
What does it mean that the Samurai unemployed? It means he is working outside the bounds of familial or societal ideology. The Unemployed Samurai is eccentric—he doesn’t fit in. However, he seeks to rewews the lineage, to find the missing father principal and revitialise, rather than blindly destory it.
There are a whole whole legion of Unempoyed Samurai’s that are becoming voices in our online world. These are the amatueur explorers and artists, brights souls with a mission to express the truth, not out of allegiance to any dead structure, but with the goal of liberating the individual soul. They are amateurs in the etymological sense of ‘doing something for out of love before tangible gain’. The French word amateur means “one who loves, or lover.” The Unemployed Samurai is the lover, par excellence.
So, to conclude. The Unemployed Samurai takes a fools freedom and his thinking is wide rather than narrow or provincial. He is the explorer of an open field of reality. He is difficult to market, to contain, or to classify. Truth and play are his mark.
Paul Simon wrote: ‘The words of the prophets are written on the subway walls’—perhaps today the words of the profits are written on the Facebook or Twitter walls. The Unemployed Samurai may also be a graffiti artist, sending his little messages in a bottle out into the cybernetic sea. But he is not some kind of nihilistic defacer or idealistic social justice warrior. Like the chivalrous knights of old, he aspires to all noble qualities, and expression of goodness, truth, and beauty—but expects no applause in return. He may be a bit anachronistic and unpredictable, but at same time The Unemployed Samurai doesn’t look back. He is the ‘Once and Future king’ in the hearts of everyone.