combat writing badge C O M B A T
the Literary Expression of Battlefield Touchstones
ISSN 1542-1546 Volume 04 Number 04 Fall ©Oct 2006

Boyd and the Toltecs

To say that I am excited is to vastly understate the case. Before I went to Teotihuacan, I had been reading a book called Boyd by Robert Coram. It's the story of Air Force colonel John Boyd, the most innovative military thinker since Clausewitz.

I put Boyd aside to reread some of Don Miguel Ruiz' material, and some of the Castaneda material on Toltec sorcery. In the midst of that, I took a break and finished Boyd. Then, yesterday, I reread my own edit of the teaching materials in the first four Castaneda books, which I call The Warrior's Way. Then, this morning I started rereading Castaneda's The Wheel of Time.

In his commentary on his teacher, Don Juan Matus', teachings, Castaneda explained that what Don Juan was really teaching was a different cognitive system, a way of seeing energy, as it moves and acts, directly.

And it hit me, this is what Boyd had learned to do on his own. His energy-maneuverability theory, his Observation - Orientation - Decision - Action (OODA) loops, and his amazing ability, in spite of a personality which flew counter to all principles of public relations, to navigate the halls of the Pentagon, and get the entire military bureaucracy, completely arrayed against him, to comply with his insights, were all examples of the fact that this guy, this foul-mouthed, cigar-waving, dressed like the worst sort of squarejohn clown, spitting in the face of generals and secretaries of defense in his zeal to expound his ideas, had somehow learned to SEE in the Toltec sense.

Which offers a fascinating field of cross-fertilization. Boyd's ideas were what led to the tactics which permitted us to win in Gulf War I and II, so easily, so quickly, and with such few casualties. But because they were applied by rote, by people who could not SEE, they were abandoned for the occupation phase. This may also be because Boyd's ideas incorporated those of Clausewitz, and Sun Tzu, but, so far as I can tell, not those of Mao or Giap, which have direct bearing on our current situation in Iraq.

This insight led to some further conclusions:

First, it illustrates the point that there is way too much coincidence to be coincidence. There is no coincidence; there is synchronicity. Boyd was sent to me by Don Gluck, my very first company commander as a second lieutenant. Gluck is a consummate warrior, but more than that, a brilliant and empathetic man. Truthfully, if anyone else had sent this book, I probably wouldn't have read it. I had to shove a lot of stuff out of the way to read Boyd, and I had no objective reason to do so. But the fact that it came in the midst of my submersion in Toltec mysticism was synchronicity in deed.

Second, Boyd was hatching his ideas at the same time Castaneda first brought the concepts of Toltec sorcery, as anthropology, and later as personal experience, to a general public. But there is no indication that Boyd himself was ever aware of that. This seems to me at least a partial demonstration of Teilhard de Chardin's idea of a noosphere, that there is a kind of band or layer of collective thought above in the atmosphere, that certain people, in states of heightened awareness, can plug into.

Boyd was unaware of it, but in his aerial dogfights at the Fighter Weapons School at Nellis AFB, he practiced the Toltec disciplines:

    a) lose self importance,
    b) erase personal history,
    c) use death as an advisor, and
    d) accept responsibility for your own acts.
Nothing else you can do in an aerial dogfight. And that frame of mind, in aerial combat, allowed him to start to perceive the flow of energy directly, and become Forty-second Boyd, the man who could flame anybody in forty seconds.

Third, the Toltec stuff was never sorcery or shamanism, it was science. Twenty-five hundred years ago, it was science, the same science that constructed Teotihuacan. During the long years of the Conquest, passed down as an oral tradition, it was viewed by the Indians among whom it was practiced as sorcery, but it has a firm foundation in modern physics, as it is just beginning to be discovered today.

I don't know where these insights are leading, but, just for openers, they provide a strong link between my old world, the world of special operations – of warriors who actually fight the war at hand, not the last one or the one before – and my new one, the world of Toltec sorcery, which I will henceforth think of as Toltec Science. This leads me to a recommendation: that warriors who are on the cutting edge of this thought put Castaneda's The Wheel of Time and Miguel Ruiz' The Four Agreements on their reading list, and that students of Toltec wisdom put Robert Coram's Boyd on their reading lists.

And fourth, this also reinforces Don Miguel Ruiz' belief that ink-blots of enlightenment are growing, spreading, merging, and leading toward a world in which war is irrelevant and obsolete. Boyd's ideas have already cut casualty figures, at least for the good guys, by ninety percent. Pursued to their logical conclusion, they may eventually cut them to one-hundred percent for both sides.

Sounds damn good to me.

by Jim Morris
... who is a former Special Forces officer who retired of wounds; the author of four novels and three non-fiction books, of which the best known is his Vietnam memoir, War Story.

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C O M B A T, the Literary Expression of Battlefield Touchstones