I have an on-topic and an off-topic contribution:
1. This business of what Ueshiba meant by "love" is complicated, and many, MANY words have been written about it. See Prof. Goldsbury's T.I.E. series here on aikiweb, and Chris Li's Aikido Sangenkai blog. If "love" can mean anything from normal "love" to right-wing imperialist war, who knows what these kinds of statements from Ueshiba mean.
But here's my favorite interpretation: "In other words, love is the spirit of aiding the universe in its process of positive development, and the spirit extended to the objects of that development." [from Chris' translation of Takashi Sasaki's words
] If my understanding of that is right, this could mean that the behavior of the attacker is encouraged rather than opposed. Thus the skill in aikido is the skill of changing the martial interaction such that the attack fails to harm, rather than the skill of fighting and stopping the attack. (As in "You convert the violent opponent in a gentle way," from the interview you cited, Peter.) Chris' Sasaki article also mentions filling space and time in order to manifest this "converting" skill. "Change" and "filling" are classic internal martial arts concepts.
2. I've recently been studying a bit about Therevada Buddhism. Thanks to your post, I've just reread the interview you quoted, from the point of view of the system of progression of trances (the jhanas) that the founder of Buddhism practiced and taught.
There are 4 trance states (1st to 4th Rupa jhanas) involving both the mind and the body, and beyond that, 4 more states of pure consciousness (the Arupa jhanas, sometimes called the 5th through 8th jhanas). One description of the 4th jhana involves the sensation of bright light. Maybe the Buddhist cannonical references to terms like "bright awareness" are only intended as metaphor, but maybe not (see Leigh Brasington's description of the special light of the 4th jhana
--"my visual field would go all white"). The next state in the progression, sometimes called the "fifth jhana," is usually called the perception (or dimension) of Infinite Space. Next is the perception of Infinite Consciousness. (Commentary and citations)
Talk about discovering something old-- the ancient Buddhist tradition from around 400BC involves a progression of meditative states that go through:
- bright light, then
- the perception of the infinitude of space, then
- the perception of a continuous consciousness filling all of space.
We can all imagine these things, especially if we have a spiritual or metaphysical bend. But beyond all imaginings, the practice of the jhanas is supposed to provide a direct experience of feeling these things for yourself... exactly as O-sensei describes.