Re: Shu Ha Ri
David, nicely written. There's also something that Draeger Sensei talked about and Pascal Krieger (one of his students and now menkyo kaiden of Shinto Muso Ryu as well as highly graded shodoka) wrote about in his book, "Jodo - the way of the stick" that goes hand-in-hand with shu, ha, ri.
The study and practice of kata as a tool and discipline for transmission of the Way. This can only truly be understood subjectively from within the process. First stage is "Gyo" or practice, practice... giving yourself to the training and the teacher with faith (shu); Second stage is "Shugyo" or austere training. Often thought of as a form of "forging" the student within the heat of the practice; Third stage is "Jutsu" or finally giving in to the practice with determination to master the principles and technique and finding some success (ha); and the final stage is "Do" or realizing the transmission that has occurred... technique mastered and now forgotten... just the doing... (ri).
I've just pulled this out of my head, not quoting Krieger Sensei, so this is just my few words trying to express the process. I think I remember this also contained in one of Draeger's works, but can't remember which one. I haven't read any of them in quite some time.
In my opinion, there are very few individuals that can make this journey on their own without a guide, teacher, etc. that has already made the journey.
Thanks again for your long post. It's a keeper.