Charles Hill wrote:
Thanks to the work of people like Stan Pranin and John Stevens, it is clear that for Morihei Ueshiba's art had a spiritual base right from the beginning. He joined Omoto-kyo as a young man, which encourages its members to explore spirituality through the medium of art. O'Sensei's "art" was martial and his Aikido was an expression of his spirituality right from when he joined in his 30's.
Yes O'Sensei was a spiritual person from when he was a little boy but his start into martial arts was not to express his spirituality but to develope enormous physical strength and martial skill because of his father's trouble with rival political foes hiring thugs to beat his father up. In 1915 he met Sokaku Takeda and was taught Daito Ryu Aikijutsu. In 1920 he met Wanisburo Deguchi and became a follower of Omoto-kyo. It was 1925 when he had his spiritual conversion to all budo is God's love and the 1940's when he took the name of Aikido as the name of his art. So the beginning of his journey was not of spiritual origin it but desire for physical ability. The spiritual came out as he got older and during the developement of his art.
If universally means those outside of Aikido then definately there is no consensus of the meaning.