Jonathan Han wrote:
When was the last time you can say a spiritual lesson was included as part of the curriculum? Besides the physical training, do you do something else at your dojo within the context of Aikido training that is explicitly spiritual? How many dojos include spiritual development as a requirement for rank? Is something like that even quantifiable? There may be dojos that practice group meditation and share "lesson" readings after class. But these activities are not standard in Aikido. Also, is self-improvement the same thing as spiritual growth?
As for water skiing, I've never tried it but it should offer plenty of opportunities for spiritual experiences. It requires an awareness of one's balance, timing, surroundings, and trust in others for safety. I don't see how rolling around, applying throws and locks on people makes one more incline to be spiritual. What is it about Aikido that makes it more spiritual than water skiing? Can you give an explicit example? Is it the bowing and clapping that makes it spiritual? I love Aikido and I've found a great deal of personal growth from it. But I just don't see how training in Aikido offers a unique spiritual opportunity that is any different than another passionate pursuit.
If you consider ki development as defined by the Ki Society as a spiritual practice, then that would fit your requirements. Ki development lessons are given with aikido classes or separately. There are separate ranks for ki development and a student is not able to achieve aikido rank until they reach a specific ki development rank.
Ki development would included things like ki development exercises, ki testing, ki meditation, ki breathing and kiatsu-ho, a healing form of acupressure with ki usage. Not only do Ki Society dojos regularly follow this curriculum, but many other aikido organizations that have been influenced by the Ki Society also follow similar teachings. So this would be hundreds of dojos internationally which have a spiritual practice built into the curriculum. Generally Aikikai dojos concentrate only on aikido techniques, but this would also vary from dojo to dojo.
Personally i don't consider what you do as being spiritual, but how you do it. One person can spend their day water skiing and another can water ski while meditating all day.