Re: Aikido minus mysticism: a step forward
The Problem with mysticism, is that it's mysterious. If you lose the mystery (not knowing what's going on) then it's no longer mysterious, however if you don't lose the mystery, then you can never learn what you are doing. Mystery is for the ignorant. If you know what "ki" is (or rather what others refer to as being "ki"), it's not mystical anymore. Most people in Aikido are trying to become masters of something that they want to stay in the dark about.
It's very hard to pin Aikidoka (I'm generalizing here) down when it comes to asking them what they want. I think the main reason for this is because they want to keep everything a mystery. They don't want to come to the conclusion that Aikido's syllabus isn't good for everything. They don't want to conclude that Aiki is basically rhythm, and reading of intention. They don't want to discover that "ki" is just alignment and energy exchange that any high school physicist could explain to you. If they came to a conclusion on any of these things they would loose their mystical system. Unfortunately by doing this they limit themselves to mediocrity. By never admitting to yourself that a something is normal, dependable, and useful, you can never master it.
This isn't a sickness limited only to Aikidoka, it's an infection you see in the whole traditional martial arts community. They would rather not understand the reason for something, so they can live in the hope that it will never be just "normal". People want fantasy, and mystery. Thetas all fine and well Intel you attempt to learn, master, and teach something. I've often said that most traditional martial artists should join a reenactment group, or theater company and not a dojo.
The only problem with this non-mystical thinking is that it tends to close down openness to new things. Which is what I'm always looking for. If there is some new way to do something (even if I have to dance around in a funny dress, and yell vowels to find it) I want to learn it, this however doesn't mean I should turn a blind eye to what I already know, and be afraid to admit what I have learned.