Peter A Goldsbury wrote:
Yes, According to current aikido 'theory' (peace & harmony, but with a pronounced non-religious 'spiritual' dimension, the spirituality being what you make of it) prevalent outside Japan, and in Japan also, you are right. However, my own view is that there is a danger that we are throwing the baby out with the bathwater and that a deeper study of Ueshiba's overtly religious practices is necessary.
I know what he said (I can read O Sensei in Japanese), but I am not sure how much he believed that aikido was simply a morally neutral vehicle for allowing people to practise their own religious/philosophical beliefs. If this were right, then AUM Shinrikyou could also enlist O Sensei in their avowed mission to promote world peace and harmony.
This is pretty much my own viewpoint. It is not as well founded as your own since I do not read Japanese. I have "grown up" with quite a bit of information about O-sensei as imparted by Saotome Sensei but, frankly, much of what I belive is just an intuition based on my own practice. As I have made some jumps and seen a bit of what is at the heart of the art, it has only served to open up new areas of exploration.
It's almost like trying to find a "black hole" in space, you look at a portion of sky and observe what you DON"T see. Everything I know about my own Aikido, makes me realize that there is "something", as yet undefined, which needs to be added to the practice to take it to whatever higher level I am aspiring to.
I think that, quite a bit of the discussions amongst the more experienced forum participants seems to revolve around our various attempts to discover and define what that missing "something" is that seems to separate our level of attainment from those that preceded us (Takeda Sensei, O-Sensei etc). I think this is taking place in lieu of having much ability to understand and duplicate precisely what the Founder did to create this amazing art.