Sincere thanks to all who have made sincere comments and shared interesting viewpoints.
I would like to respond to certain questions posed by Mr. Neveu, as they appear to be general enough to apply to the question of ethical behavior as introduced by the OP.
I believe that the nature of the student-teacher relationship is personal, and only the business of the individuals involved. To infer otherwise would indeed be unethical. Furthermore, this notion has apparently taken on mythical proportions, being given credit where absolutely little or no credit is due.
Is it reasonable and fair to align one student with one mentor for life? What of the other myriad stimuli, teachers, significant relationships, books read, adventures endured etc. that surely have much more than a passing influence on anyone’s growth of character, knowledge and wisdom? Even the Founder of Aikido had multiple key mentors he learned from, not counting those he privately cultivated over 86 years, and to which we are not privy. Again, this notion fails the smell test dismally.
There have never been, to my experience, true equality in peer relationships, that lasted much more than an incident or two. As we learn from our encounters, so do we automatically adjust with new energy, alternative choices and renewed stamina.
What indeed is to be gained by focusing on an ongoing comparison of the merits and demerits of two individuals and their alleged progress over an extended period of time Who can comfortably or profitably function in such an arbitrary vacuum? Why bother?
I would never declare known giants such as Einstein, Newton, Salk, and Morihei Ueshiba to be “unsurpassed” in anything. There is no criteria I can imagine to adequately do so, or any compelling logic to even try. We know next to nothing of the context of their daily lives, have no clue as to their innermost thoughts and items of faith, or their decisions to benefit from their private experiences. Who is so prescient?
Superiority is an word applied by others, rarely by the individual in question. It is a term of relativity, quite like a professional appraisal on a piece of property, which is only good for that one day. It has a very short half life indeed.
So too, words like “excellence”, “progression” and “shared experience” mean less than nothing without context, and again, unethical to use without it.
Let us rededicate ourselves to training our own selves in the Aikido method of choice.
There would be no profit for me in trying to manage or interpret the value of another person’s private journey. I would feel like some kind of slimy voyeur or inappropriate “busy body”, who no one really cares to associate with. I am busy as it is.