Re: sceptic on the spiritual side of aikido
"Spirituality" is a very loaded term. And that's not surprising, as it deals with things we can't be utterly sure about, the way we (think we) can about physical matters. Spirituality might be seen as the means by which we try to come to terms with the glaring evidence that we don't understand everything. But it also might be the way we reach completion, assuming that whatever spriritual system we adopt does in fact help us to relate accurately to things beyond our immediate senses.
Aikido's founder had something going on that other people found hard/impossible to match, and he consistently, emphatically, endlessly told his followers that the key to what he had resided in the spiritual side of things. If this is so, if his spiritual practices did help him to bring power and peace out of the ether, and into the mundane, then it would seem like a good bet to explore that side of things further. Clearly, one does not have to be an Enligtened Being to land a good nikkyo, but that is not the same thing as saying that the best nikkyo's are available without significant spiritual practices. I am not advocating the embrace of O Sensei's particular brand of Shintoism and eclectic approaches, primarily because they are probably unavailable, to any meaningful extent, to Westerners otherwise conditioned. But I do believe that every important part of my life cannot be fully appreciated, truly realized, without stepping beyond the empirically obvious. It might be that this approach is just a trick I play on myself, to push the empirical envelope, and that one day O Sensei's work will be expressed as a simple mathematical formula. But I suspect not.