Ok, I'm not a forum poster, not even really involved in Aiki practice fully, but I did some Aikido years ago. I just read and enjoy and the "spirited" (full pun intended
) debate has been fun and amusing to read. Like George stated I've been assimilated!
I'm recollecting from 20 years ago when I was a student of philosophy and cultural anthro in religion, myth and magic and throwing in my opinion to boot... "Spirit" comes from the latin "spiritus" which means "breath", espiritus meaning "holy breath" - many scholars link the terminology from the gnostic traditions and a close bond with, what were at the time, the religious centers of Northern India and Iran (centers of the Mahayana, Varjayana & Tantric Buddhist traditions). Essentially that what is "spirit" is physical and its simple. The simple act of breathing is what is the divine (zen). Ego makes it a complex "out there" thing. If you stop breathing, your dead, that's it. But our ego takes our minds away with drifting musings and visions of religious grandeur and the mind becomes disconnected from the simple act of breathing, blah blah everyone knows the rest..
Take the practice further and you start getting into the simple act of breathing leading to yogic bodyworks. Yogic bodyworks leading to amazing controls of body functions from heart rate, core temperature, etc. Take those yogic type body works and apply them to muscular/skeletal functioning and application toward movement like martial arts and "spirit" that started as simple breathing becomes a deeper holistic body system. Hence you keep going more and more "internal" in the process.
I'm relatively new to IP/IS but have been working on the path. When I do "get it" occasionally and move someone (who isn't compliant) it is "magical or mystical" in a sense because I'm not at a level to fully understand how it works yet. But I believe if there is "enlightenment" it is a mind/body connection and the body stuff comes down to can you REALLY do it, i.e. perform your aiki on fully resisting non-choreographed opposition?
ok back to the shadows...
Personally, I wonder if much of this disconnect is more about the shift from an indigenous mind to a Post-Cartesian/Post Industrial mind. I recently went to see the movie The Raven. In one scene, Edgar Allen Poe is listening to a woman recite her recently written poem. She was honoring a bee that was bumbling about and called it a "honey-making thing". His retort was superb.
In today's world, herbs are reduced to their biochemical compounds, a person's life is often reduced to what he produces in the work place, Aiki is reduced to internal physical practices.
In a pre-industrial mind, perhaps in the mind of Deguchi Nao (1836–1918) and Deguchi Onisaburō (1871–1948), spirit and flesh were not divided. earth and heaven was one organic whole. And all life was a giant cacaphony of in and yo.