Hi Dan, thank you for the reply. I am particularly interested the statement I have quoted above. It seems that you are saying that his pursuits were not spiritual in the sense of mystical enlightenment. That they were solely related to a quest for, as you call it, "practical ways to move the body."
Are you comfortable with the dichotomy I proposed, that he may have pursued both practical body skills and enlightenment using training methods that were similar but in some cases distinguishable?
I think it is clear that he did. I just wouldn't consider it a dichotomy. There is precedent for this training to effect you spiritually/mentally and for the training to be part a spiritual practice. It is unfortunate that some people do not understand that you can separate out physical models that stand on their own.
A simple case in point: You don't have to chant prayers to effect breath resonance in the body. Vowel sounds divorced from a specific language will do the same thing. Both will help to identify connections in the body, but it is easy to see how someone could "use" or even "require" induction into a spiritual practice to get the same result. It isn't true that you needed to chant a prayer, but it is none the less their "requirement."
In the quote I offered -heretofore-not translated into English, we find Ueshiba as a teacher using the Kojiki to explain how someone should manifest in yo ho in the human anatomy. I could teach by using all anatomy or all spiritual metaphor to teach the same principles, or I could teach by kata in a system. It would all be the same to me....but it may leave the audience thinking I was daft...er...wait!!