A thought (Ellis' thought) certainly deserving of consideration for anyone seriously considering! (I know I did!)
From Aiki News #85 (Summer 1990) (Subscribe!)
"O-Sensei On Religion
[One day] I said to Ueshiba Sensei, "You are always praying, Ueshiba Sensei. Then aikido is a religion." "No, that's not true. Aikido is never a religion, but if you are a Christian, you will be a better Christian because of aikido. If you are a Buddhist, you will be a better Buddhist." I thought it was an amazing response. I really liked his answer. Since he was a Japanese I was afraid he would say that Christianity was nothing. Ueshiba Sensei had a great deal of respect for Christ. I was living in a four-mat room in the dojo and he would knock on the door and enter. He would sit down beside me and there was a portrait of Jesus Christ. He would place his hands together in a gesture of respect. I asked him one day if there wasn't a similarity between his prophecies and those of Christ. He answered, "Yes, because Jesus said his technique was love and I, Morihei, also say that my technique is love. Jesus created a religion, but I didn't. Aikido is an art rather than a religion. But if you practice my aikido a great deal you will be a better Christian." Then I asked, "Sensei should I remain a Christian?" He replied, "Yes, absolutely. You were raised as a Christian in France. Remain a Christian." If he had told me to stop being a Christian and become a Buddhist, I would have been lost. My heart was full of Ueshiba Sensei because he had a vision of the entire world and that we were all his children. He called me his son."
and from Kisshomaru Ueshiba's "Aikido" 1974.
"When anybody asks if my Aiki budo principles are taken from religion, I say, "No." My true budo principles enlighten religions and lead them to completion."
So perhaps a big "No!" to religion per-say, but then
of course he goes on to say,
"I do not make a companion of men. Whom, then , do I make a companion of? God."
"You should first make God's heart yours."
"I leave everything as it is to God."
"Its only purpose is to perform the work of God."
"The "Way" means to be one with the Will of God and practice it."
Or conversely . . .
"That is to say, to turn the devil-minded world into the World of Spirit. This is the mission of Aikido.
The devil-mind will go down in defeat and the Spirit rise up in victory. Then Aikido will bear fruit in this world."
So while we do not hear a lot of O-sensei prompting us to develop his seriously cool and impressive shamanic powers (not to detract from Takeda Sokau who too disappeared and re-appeared in front of witnesses, and is said to have "read" people and "dressed them down" based on his readings and also studied Mikkyo with Mountain Ascetics), we do seem to hear him differentiate religion (seemingly in his mind a relative thing) and God (seemingly in his mind an absolute thing) AND promote a communion with God (or Gods - he's got that whole whole Mono Theistic (Omoto) with a Pan Theistic (Multi-ryu) remix thing going on)
But perhaps he, himself, offers a clarification and/or reconciliation . . .
"Those who seek to study Aikido should open their minds, listen to the sincerity of God through Aiki, and practice it"
What was that? Is that properly translated???? Was Ueshiba Morihei, O-sensei, Ame no Murakumo Kuki Samu Hara Ryu O O Kami suggesting that individuals of open mind should, THROUGH AIKI, "listen to the sincerity of God," "and practice it?"
Maybe that is why he wrote so much about Aiki!
Maybe, he saw himself pointing to the Aiki of the ancients and saying, "Look guys, this is cool AND it is more than just useful for fighting, and/or impressing friends . . . I think it is a key to union with God! AND, I think union with God is the solution to a lot of our problems . . . like fighting, and the need to impress each other."
So now I just have to figure out how getting off of the line of attack and twisting my partners wrist brings me closer to god . . . hmmm, so much to do, so much to think about!