Are you really interested in what anyone else has to say? Your last sentence reads like the comments of a somewhat bitter fellow. Yeah, Aikido evolved. All sorts of, well, weird crap (imho) was introduced by any number of folks, but a lot of that happened while Ueshiba was still alive, with his knowledge, and apart from one or two documented angry outbursts it didn't seem to phase him much. Honestly I think you're making the distinction between Morihei's aikido and what aikido became vastly too simple. If you believe the changes were bad (and I think many were in fact quite bad myself) I would argue that Morihei shared some of the blame for that. He seemed to like the fact that Aikido was growing, spreading, and gaining worldwide popularity. And quite a bit of the reason for that was that it appealed to a wide spectrum of people, many of whom were attracted to the very stuff you seem to dislike.
Me, I've been dealing with the struggle within myself about leaving Aikido to free up the time to train in another art that was more about the same stuff you're actively studying. Honestly, I get it. But I think you're making this much too black and white and I cannot see anything good to come from it.
Many do go to some styles of aikido because of a perceived spiritual aspect to the practice. To an apparent higher "calling" of parts of the philosophy. To say it's "wrong" because it's not where it started from is really not much different from saying what it started from is wrong because it's not where it went. Yeah, I've met a lot of guys (including a few folk I've "met" here) who I think are frankly deluded. But hey, no amount of discussion is going to change their minds. Anymore than it will change yours.
I mean this all as a friendly comment. After all, frankly I'm hoping to get healthy enough to get out and visit with Gary so I can get my battered body a little more time to practice stuff without kinda hiding what I'm really up to...
Well, last I knew, whenever anything cropped up about Ueshiba's aikido the way quite a few of us see it, it was boxed into the Non-Aikido forum. Uh, if that's changed ... well, no one told me.
If you knew me a bit better, you'd be laughing (with me) about the bitter part. Don't know if I've ever been that.
Back somewhat on track ... I don't think the difference between Ueshiba's aikido and Modern Aikido are simple at all. I think they are profoundly different. World's apart. Martially and spiritually. Hence, my comment about keeping Ueshiba's aikido somewhere else. This thread is Modern Aikido devoted.
I don't know how often I have to say it, but, I haven't attributed anything good, bad, right, or wrong about Modern Aikido. Yes, it's vastly different than Ueshiba's. But, who wants to go around chanting the names of kami all night?
So, back to Modern Aikido and spirituality/enlightenment. You do realize that some from the Voices of Experience (you know, those people with at least 20 years teaching experience) think aikido as a path to enlightenment. Some think it a path to some spiritual goal. Some don't. Hence, the thread. I personally think aikido *has* the capability to be a spiritual path, possibly to enlightenment. I don't think the current Modern Aikido is on the right path for that, though. Hence the thread.
Unfortunately, not much meat but a lot of fat. Nitpicking over terms like "teach enlightenment", define "enlightenment", enlightenment vs spiritual, etc. After 10 + years of training, is everyone saying they have no clue as to the spiritual side of aikido that they can't effectively convey it? There is no such common ground to something done by millions? Has it become everything to everyone?