Just for the sake of open discussion, and not as a statement of fact. Over the years I have heard the words spiritual and philosophical and ethical all used in relation to Aikido, generally by people meaning "roughly" the same thing. I believe that Ueshiba was quite probably a touch mad, in the way that most highly committed people are, but I also believe that he was technically very gifted. Many of his doka were dismissed, even by how own deshi, as being too "mystical" to understand, too "spiritual" etc. However, and I'm sure Mike will correct me if I am way off the mark, I have read many so-called Tai Chi poems which read like a cross between drunken Taosim and a romantic naturalist guidebook. BUT, on careful perusal they begin to make some sense, speaking about sunny side and shady side and seasonal or diurnal rotations as an allegory for how to utilize the mechanics of spiralling, or how to have part of the body full and another, balancing part, empty.
I begin to suspect that some of Ueshiba's spiritual ramblings were in fact technical allegory in the same way. I don't know whether it was intentionally so, or simply the orchestrated by-product of the imagery and language he was full of.
Even the endlessly misquoted idea that Aikido is all about establishing a "relationship" with an opponent, which contains echoes of a love and peace era that hadn't happened yet, becomes meaningful looked at as a technical indication of absorbing the energy and intention of an opponent to the point that control was established, a use of aiki as I understand it. Is it possible that he taught more than people thought and that his technical and "spiritual" sides were actually successfully joined in his art?
With the Chinese or Japanese writings it is important to realize that the real experts debate and argue over the meaning of them. When you look at the Japanese classics you have just as much debate as the Chinese and this is evident in Kotodama and the Kojiki. It is probably wise to spend the time to research and talk with more knowledgeable people than consulting with and offering false expertise to amateur nobodies, or to get too involved debating with newbies, or arguing physics models with people with little skill as some sort of verification , validation or 'imagining" that it is leading to some sort of immutable and final understanding.
That is as stupid and as ignorant, as not reading them at all.
The people who claim to understand Ueshiba's spirituality have not done so in any methodology that is vetted by a peer review. Nor have those who claim a physical expertise been able to match his examples in an undisputed fashion. Mind/body is inexorably intertwined, but not in the ways many parties would agree to. Therefore, I am disinclined to give too much credence to either group. It's more data, and that is about as far as it will ever go. Some things are more obvious than others;
Young turks using muscle and cranking are clearly missing it,
So are airy fairies spinning around the room afraid to even use their arms lest they power up..
Another interesting look at this loss of understanding- which the founder understood how to fix -is in this translation
"In order to achieve the mysterious workings of ki based upon intent, first realize the appearance of the foundation that is the ki connection (ki musubi) between the left side of the physical body grounded in the martial and the right that receives the universe. If you can achieve this connection between the left and the right then you will be able to move with complete freedom."
There is far too much hubris and self imposed and unrecognized "expertise" of a complicated topic going on here. Moreover the people presenting are not offering an intellectually honest debate where they at least make it known that the tenants of some of their own arguments are debated within a given discipline. Instead they present as if it is all agreed upon. I will leave it up to the individual to determine if this is the result of ignorance, or arrogance, or both.
"In the land of the blind the one-eyed man is king."
I am an advocate for research, but in budo at the end of the day, it is as it always was. The people who claim a deeper understanding needed to demonstrate it with competency up against those who actually do posses it. Everything is up for grabs as total BS, to partial understanding, on to a well played smoke screen.
Where are the holes in Mr A's game?
Most do not posses the competency to know the difference and will not know until later or maybe never at all. It's always been that way...always, even under master class teachers.
Non Aikido and Aikido.
With the current discussion of Ueshiba we have an interesting mix:
People claiming to have trained with him everyday who did not
People claiming they understood him when nothing they have written would support that
People claiming they understand him and nothing they physically can do would support that
People who claim they understand his spiritual leanings and how it produced power, yet no one else who did just that produced the same power
And of late we have some serious translation issues, which demonstrate that ...surprise, surprise...people outside of aikido
more and more are the ones who understand many of the principles he was talking about after all. And more and more, we are seeing it was in fact not code, but actually known principles for budo movement that the aikido translaters didn't have a clue about.
There was no clear model set forth by the founder that all agree to. Only tid bits and hints that remain open for debate. So When is Non aikido....aikido?
Maybe when non aikido people can understand many of the principles the inventor of the art actually meant when he spoke and can explain it and demonstrate power and aiki and teach it to the arts teachers...or maybe not.
Good luck in your training