I was certainly associating intent with soul when I read the passage on "soul and body unified". And "moving the back vigorously" makes a whole bunch of sense given how much of this work is driven by unifying the body through the back. It's one of the first things Sensei introduced to us and I keep coming back to it in my own practice.
O-Sensei referring to people being unbalanced on contact... that came up in recent discussions, didn't it? I think it came from one of his interviews, maybe the one with Kisshomaru. Yeah, that's another reference I understand totally differently now than I would have earlier.
Graham--thanks much, I was nuts trying to figure out Dan's reference
WRT the spiritual aspects... I don't actually disagree with much of what Andy wrote, understood only on a spiritual level. But I see that level as a layer on the Aikido level, which is a layer on the aiki, which is a layer on the jutsu. Without the lower layers of an effective martial art the spiritual layer is but a "beautiful and ineffectual angel, beating in the void his luminous wings in vain."
High Hugh and happy new year to you.
That view of the spiritual side of Aikido is very prevalent and widely agreed upon. Alas. Until you do it.
For then you find out it is inherent in all layers but no one ever told you so to speak. The airy fairy stuff it's 'equated' with is not it, that's not spiritual but as long as people believe it is then they can also believe it's something for later or never at all and yet still look for that 'mystical' key.
Beautifully super effective. Oh and the void? If only you knew.
On the other hand such a spiritual journey, such a spiritual art done without spirit is a very confusing and disparate place.