Re: Theory: "Spiritual" vs "Learning something new we can't explain"
Is spirituality an innate human quality? I think it is. Even materialists have to accept the duality of the mind and brain. The mind cannot exist without the brain but the brain isn't necessarily the same thing as the mind. As human beings we are self-aware and this self-awareness leads us to reflect upon our experiences and find meaning and purpose in them. Our self-awareness leads us to develop an identity and this identity is something visceral as well as cognitive. Our opinions, our worldview, our feelings, who we are. This is where spirituality comes in. If Aikido is practised as a way of self-improvement, a way of harmonizing with the universe and becoming more introspectively self-aware as to effect us positively so that we can make a difference in this world that is spiritual. Whether performing a particular technique or passing a grading can be considered spiritual will depend on the importance you place on such things; but generally speaking Aikidoka and martial artists in general practice and train because it forms part or all of their identity, self-perception and gives their lives meaning, purpose and value.
I don't consider Aikido to be magical in as far as ki is concerned. Nor do I think that one has to focus on ki to make Aikido spiritual. It becomes spiritual when you allow it to change your self-perception, your view of the world and align your views with that of its principles of harmonization. As a student of Aiki-Jujutsu the emphasis on aiki is one of balance, posture, yielding, blending and timing. There is nothing magical about it. It is a principle that implicitly changes the dynamics of a technique so that the foundation of the art is not based on strength, aggression or resistance but on yielding and blending. I suppose the 'do' is the more spiritual part of the art, as in other forms of budo as it teaches a certain mindset and seeks a particular kind of response to violence and aggression. By conforming to these principles one is allowing the art to change them and this is a form of spirituality.