Thursday, August 10, 2017

In Search of the Warrior Spirit

In Search of the Warrior Spirit by Richard Strozzi-Heckler 
Berkeley, CA:  North Atlantic Books, 1990, 1992, 2003

(16-17)  The sentry at the gate today is a woman.  First, the obvious question, "Does 'warrior' include both men and women?"  Jack and I both agree yes.  For the warrior power arises from a source that does not rely on a sexual hierarchy or, for that matter, any hierarchy.  It's a power of self-knowing, self-educating, and self-accepting free from trends or tyrannies, including gender.  The warrior is connected with him- or herself.  And only from that connection does he or she connect to others and the environment.

(19)  During conversations with both active duty and retired career officers, I often hear their concern about the loss of warrior virtues in an increasingly technology-oriented military.  While millions of dollars are spent developing robots to fight wars, the role of the soldier is quickly being reduced to that of technocrat and computer operator.  It gradually became clear that the officers and men who supported our program with the Special Forces were the ones hoping to reconnect the military with the traditional warrior virtues of service, courage, selflessness, loyalty, and commitment.

(28)  This sounds like my message:  Relax, breathe properly, work with one's energy.  They know this, yet how can I deepen it?  I need to discover their point of weakness, bring it to awareness, and then let it become their strength.

(90)  "Joel makes the grade in our book because he's genuine.  He doesn't try to be something he's not.  He is who he is."

(151)  I also realize that I'm envious of the closeness and bonding these men have with one another.  They have a genuineness in their closeness which shows a deep love and care.  It's also true - terribly true - that even though they are in a peacetime Army - their degree of intimacy and self-mastery could mean the difference between life and death, for them, their teammates, or even a good-sized part of an entire population.  This perspective of life and death, of having everything count, is the view of the warrior, and, as narrow-minded as these men may be, it adds an element of responsibility and impeccability to their lives that seems sadly missing for most people.

(183)  William Faulkner:  "You don't love because:  you love despite;  not for the virtues, but despite the faults."

(202)  Nietzsche, _The Wanderer and His Shadow_:  "Rather perish than hate and fear, and twice rather perish than make oneself hated and feared."

Tuchman, _The March of Folly_:  "Why do we invest all our skills and resources in a contest for armed superiority, which can never be attained for long enough to make it worth having, rather than in an effort  to find a modus vivendi with our antagonist - that is to say, a way of living, not dying?"

(216)  ...Thomas White's tale about entering his first dojo in Okinawa while serving in the Army in 1963:

"For what reason do you come?" the Master asked him.
"I have come to learn the art of self-defense," he replied.
"And which self do you wish to defend?" he responded.

(245)  Brainwave training, getting to alpha:

Others, significantly, Vietnam veterans, have a much more difficult time.  Combat veterans seem not only to have anesthetized their capacity for Alpha in order to cope with the stress of battle, but to continue to defend against openness and relaxation as unmanageable, and perhaps too vulnerable a state.  It occurs to me that this training would be an excellent way to work with post-traumatic stress syndrome so common among veterans.  They would be able to relearn their Alpha capabilities in a safe, supportive environment.

(337)  An alumni writes about his experiences in the First Gulf War:

"About Trojan Warrior [Strozzi-Heckler's training program]... during the last several months I have encountered, time and again, the unwillingness of the majority of my co-workers, and about all of my superiors, to know themselves and to live in reality.  'Pretending not to know,' I think, may well be a crucial factor in military sociology.  [During the Trojan Warrior Project we had a sign in the classroom that said, "What are you pretending not to know?" which we pointed to when we felt there was denial or irresponsibility present.]  The greatest vulnerability is to deny one's own shortcomings to the degree that one is entirely blind to them.  This denial is almost universal in Special Forces.  At this stage in my life, especially having experienced four and half years of real growth in recovery, I am nearly exasperated by the immaturity and dysfunction that hits me in the face like a bucket of gravel, every day."

(371)  ....courage is a morally neutral virtue.  We are called upon, individually and as a people, to re-examine our lives and priorities.  We must close ranks, watch each other's backs, and in doing so not back down from building a mature democracy.

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