This is mostly a journal about my spiritual search, so, naturally, i have had to write here about Jules (Samuel L Jackson's portrayal of a hit man in Pulp Fiction (1994). Jules understands the difference between fear and existential dread and at the end of the movie seems to be having some kind of an epiphany. A successful hit man, with or without a soul, would have to have many of the characteristics of a spiritual seeker -- He must be calm, detached, patient, disciplined, able to wait for just the right moment to move. Death should not frighten him nor life allure him,
Spiritual literature has more than its share of tough cases. I think of the madman of Garadenes who is seen talking, in his right mind, to Jesus after being relieved of the burden of his "legion" of demons. I think of the serial killer who intends that his next victim will be the Buddha himself, but instead becomes enlightened. And i think of that strange thief in a Hindu parable who follows his greed and cleverness to their logical conclusion to become a sadhu,.
I was thinking of all these characters as i watched part of "The Mexican" (2004) from my hospital bed Saturday night. James Gondolfini plays Winston (aka Leroy), a hit man with a poet's soul, who like all of us is made of darkness and light, but has convinced himself that he is totally evil. His tender stories have sadistic punchlines, but they are tender stories. He dies when he hesitates a moment too long before shooting his intended victim; a hesitation created, i presume, by respect for his victim's fiancee.
Like "the fake Leroy" i am made of dark and light. Part of the dark is Taoist mystery, but part is ego. I want to defend myself and my friends against those who mean us harm; and once i decide that somebody means me harm, i don't try to hard to verify that by facts or logic. I become mean, perhaps sadistic, as i try to puncture what i imagine are their bloated egos and evil intentions. My tender stories have their sadistic twists. The fake Leroy dies without knowing who he really is. I assure you that i am trying to avoid that fate.