This is my outlook in a nutshell:
Philosophy and spirituality were at the core in the founding of Aikido. Ueshiba took a spiritually rich based personal philosophy from a lifetime of study and practice and imbued it into the physical waza.
Some participants chose to extract these philosophical and spiritual lessons from the words and teaching from the founder and make them there own (nothing wrong with that). More importantly (to me) is that they can also be learned and extracted from the physical movements of the waza. Moreover I think this was the intention.
This for me is the key. The techniques can in this way transcend mere physical forms and teach greater lessons of a non physical nature.
I agree. I've come to realize that O'Sensei was in tune with cosmic source energy, which has since been identified by many others, even outside the martial arts community. He understood the concepts of Deep Ecology, before that was even a well-known concept. He taught us that there is inherent energy within the body, within the waza, which can be transcended into the spiritual realm. And there is a connection of energy between all that is which ties the creation together.
I honestly don't think Aikido was intended to be a physical means of defeating an opponent. Even the physical side of the art is really just a means to refine one's mental prowess.