Re: Does Modern Aikido Teach Enlightenment?
And just to add to the point... We all look at things through the lenses of our experiences. Some activities can give some of us a structure, lay out a path, and give us metaphors that resonate with us in the larger realms of our experiences. I think some of the philosophical aspects introduced in Aikido by various people in various ways resonate with many who practice. That "resonance" adds significance for those people. It adds "weight" to the practice and becomes a manifestation of their perceived evolution. I think it's great when someone finds something like that which resonates in them, giving them another tool for guiding their lives with more control and intent. But as Kevin said, if not here, somewhere else.
I think Aikido evolved over time and various personalities added their own ideas to the mix. We see examples of how what they learned resonated with them and then manifested in their teachings and students who then altered them as well with their own way of taking the teachings. Given enough time branches form, groups form, and we see what we see today.
Some of this certainly carries a spiritual component for some people. No question about it. I wouldn't argue with someone who says they became "enlightened" through that process as well since that is, at least in the sense most actually use that word, a rather personal thing. If we're talking Buddhist enlightenment, well, that's quite a specific thing and not really what's going on with these people (at least IMO). So in a more commonly used sense of the word, sure, it can be a path to enlightenment. And I would disagree with those who say it's no different from anything else because Aikido does have a philosophy attached to it in many of the branches and that philosophy often has quite a bit about ethical decisions and how to "be". If those things resonate right for an individual then Aikido can become a good path *for them* in a spiritual sense. Will they achieve enlightenment? Well, depends on the person and how you define enlightenment. I think most use the word in a sense that I'd call "enlightenment lite", but that is the more common western usage I think.
To use an overused phrase, Aikido is a big tent today. We can debate until we're blue in the face what's "real" aikido. Frankly I think it is a waste of time as the question makes no sense any longer since there are so many branches now. It evolved. So the question is where in that evolution are you looking? And the answers become different depending on where you look.
But to take this full circle, wouldn't most say that Ueshiba himself felt he was enlightened in some sense of the word? Same with Tohei? Same with many of the others Ellis mentioned?