Plato described ecstasies as an altered state where our normal waking consciousness vanishes completely, replaced by intense euphoria and a powerful connection to greater intelligence. Contemporary scientists have slightly different terms and descriptions. They call the experience “group flow.” “[It’s] a peak state,” explains psychologist Keith Sawyer in his book Group Genius,4 “a group performing at its top level of ability. . . . In situations of rapid change, it’s more important than ever for a group to be able to merge action and awareness, to adjust immediately by improvising.”
It was late September 2004, at a forward operating base in the northeastern corner of Afghanistan. A couple of dozen members of the elite SEAL Team Six, or, in their preferred parlance, DEVGRU, were stationed there, gathering intelligence and staging missions. Some six months prior, a radio operator had noticed a spike in Wazu chatter. Perhaps he was hiding in the woods to the south of them. Possibly he was in the mountains to the north. Then the rumors turned into facts. Wazu actually was in the woods and the mountains, holed up in an alpine forest some seventy miles west of their current position.