If you're looking at it through pure spirituality, I have only theories and opinions. But, looking at it through pure spirituality is, IMO, not the correct thing to do. For a wild example, if I wanted to study black bears and wanted to understand them better, would I just limit myself to studying them during the daytime hours only? I am missing half of their daily activities.
And most people underestimate what aiki is, does, and can do in *all* areas. I think to view Ueshiba's spirituality, you have to understand how aiki influenced it. The opposite is also true. How did his spirituality influence his aiki? We know he talked in spiritual terms to describe classic martial theories. We know he chanted/prayed quite often. Of the two, aiki is by far the easier (in comparison) piece to research, learn, and train. The spiritual can only be found in transcribed lectures, articles, interviews, etc, so that area is always going to be extremely difficult to research.
IMO, yes, it is exactly the point of letting go of the physical muscle strength in order to achieve aiki, which is budo strength. But, people look at the power and strength aspect and do not realize the completely spiritual aspect of aiki. As someone noted, aiki training was changing how they viewed the world. They felt like they were walking freer in the world because of the aiki training. I can attest to that. And I feel that it's the tip of the iceberg. You transform one strength into another, but it is a good transformation.
Why did Ueshiba talk over and over again about classic martial theories? Why did Ueshiba state vehemently that he was not religious, but a man of budo? That Kisshomaru strongly denied his father was a pacifist. Why did Ueshiba say that aiki would make any religion better?
I think she was right, too. In fact, I think very highly of her and agree with what she says, does, and trains. But, there are many different meanings to that phrase and many different ways to live it. I noted two different ways of looking at it, but that doesn't mean that's all there is. Or that I'm right.
I was not really talking about spirituality or religion, but rather about a philosophical point. But I will try to go into some of the points that you made on this subject.
I do not follow the analogy of the black bear? It seems contradictory to Buddhist, Taoist, Shinto teaching where spirituality completes one's understanding of reality, But you are saying that it is in fact the opposite?
Personally I do not underestimate O Sensei's Aiki - to me it is an ongoing source of inspiration and has been for almost four decades. Over the years I have experienced Aiki in several martial arts, but just as much in nature and in the teachings of Shinto,Taoism and Buddhism.
It is common knowledge that O Sensei did not separate Kan nagara no michi from Aiki no michi. To him it was one michi, not two. In fact, the expression masakatsu akatsu katsu hayabi is not a Budo term, but is derived from his experience in kan nagare no michi.
So why is it so important to you to emphasize that, as you say, he was not religious?
I am sure that everyone at some point in his life has a spiritual or religious experience. And I would include as such the love for a person, being in awe for the beauty of art or the experience of a succesfull technique and so on.
By definition a spiritual experience is a personal one. But if someone has a spiritual experience, then it is easier to relate to the spiritual experience of someone else. In that sense it is possible to relate directly to O Sensei's spiritual experiences. Magazines, interviews, lectures may not even bring you any closer to that same experience. You need to experience it yourself.
Although I do not vision Aikido as a religion it is a spiritual path that has much in common with several of the Japanese religions and with these spiritual or religious experiences. With that I also consider Aikido an authentic art created by O Sensei. And then of course we also need to understand Aikido as a Budo.
But the function of Budo has changed; where before it was important for a warrior to create a strong ara mitama in order to survive a fight or war, O Sensei pointed out that we no longer should concentrate on the ara mitama,
If I am reading you right you seem to be pointing in the direction that that is a function of Aiki itself? In which case I think I would agree with you.