Justin Smith wrote:
Would anyone happen to have found a website that goes into depth on Ueshiba's spiritual beliefs?
This one -- if you look hard enough.
Truly though, his beliefs are both too simple -- and their development too deeply esoteric -- for adequate treatment without a great deal of background OR experience. He summed it up in the phrase "Takemusu Aiki," which as you may expect is difficult to fully translate. "Take" is the same character as "bu" in budo, and musu is the same root as musubi which signifies connection and creativity.
The most direct sources are found on Aikido Journal, and for full access you need a subscription: e.g. -- http://www.aikidojournal.com/article... ang=en&page=4
O-Sensei in "Takemusu Aiki wrote:
* Aikido is the principle of eternal continuation throughout all ages of the one and same system of the Universe.
* Aikido is Heaven-sent truth and the marvelous work of Takemusu Aiki.
* Aikido is the Way of union and harmony of Heaven, Earth and humanity.
* Aikido is, moreover, the Way to take care of the entire creation.
* Aikido is the supreme work of kotodama and the Great Way of Universal Purification (misogi).
You will need much background to digest what is said there, however. Many of the Aikido Journal articels, particulalrly those translated or preapred by Stanley Pranin or Peter Goldsbury are well footnoted.
Some relevant background sources:
He had early training in Shingon ("True Word") Buddhism.
This will give you some overview there: http://www.shingon.org/teachings/Shi...o/Shingon.html
He studied with Deguchi who founded Omoto (a New Religion in Japan, comparable in its time to "New Age" in our recent history). At its root, Omoto teaches "practice not theory," as the road to spiritual development. The highly eclectic nature of its references to various belief systems reinforces its lack of dependence on any particular theoretical constructs. It was viewed by the establishment in Japan at one time (unfairly) as being antinomian (advocating freedom of legal constraints), and therefore was severely suppressed.
Omoto is still around, and some of their teachings are published here: http://www.oomoto.or.jp/English/enDokt/dokt-en.html
O-Sensei learned enough to undertake his own idiosyncratic reading and exposition of kotodama, an esoteric system of knowledge of Japanese word sounds. A facile understanding of this would appear to be a belief in "magic words" -- but that does not give due credit to the system of knowledge encompassed by kotodama, nor its siginifcance in a philsophical sense. It is more comparable to the I-ching, "Classic of Changes" in its approach to knowledge as representational and evocative of an underlying evolutionary dynamic that is expressed in language.
Ther is no good web source I am aware of on kotodama. William Gleason has written a book, "The Spiritual Foundations of Aikido" which is very good in working through kotodama and related concepts as O-Sensei transmitted them (ichirei - shikon; sangen - hachiriki, roughly -- "one spirit - four souls; three origins - eight powers." He did not routinely attempt to transmit them in any depth to his chief uchideshi, however, which is some explanation of the lack of broad knowledge in this area. One possibly notable exception is Saotome who went into these concepts in some depth in Aikido and the Harmnoy of Nature, but he maintains the esoteric air that Gleason approaches more matter-of-factly.
O-Sensei also explored and adapted his own views of knowledge found in the myths of the Shinto Kojiki text and other native traditions such as various misogi (ritual purification). He had a keen appreciation for non-native religion as well, and particularly Christianity, certain beliefs of which he related to central eleemtns of the kotodama system, most notably the kotodama "SU."
You are very much on your own here. Very little has been wirtten about O-Sensei's teaching in this area (Gleason touches upon it), What has been written is found primarily inn Aikido Journal. The Kojiki is found here: http://www.sacred-texts.com/shi/kojiki.htm
The most significant image to take awayf rom what is known lies in the the anticipated "Second Opening of the Great Stone Door" the reason ofr itsa closing and the process by which it was opened the first time. What that may be, you may research at your leisure. It admits of many, many interpretations.
But ultimately it appears he did not intend his students to replicate his journey -- but to go further on the path he had found. He formed aikido training for that purpose.
What it actually
is you can only answer by entering and seeing where it actually
That statement also happens to be a more than adequate description of what aikido training teaches one to do. Aikido is actuality, a direct experience, and therefore not really the subject of anything as abstract as "belief" at all. As a definitional statement of "belief," it is somewhat circular, but it is also open-ended, and therefore spiralling outward to encompass many, many things.
Some things appear opposed to one another -- as in the highly significant figure of "juji" 十 -- the cross-shape. "Ju" 十 means "ten," "cross" and also means "perfect, complete"
Jūzen jū bi
[perfect whole, perfect beauty (perfectly complete)]
If you travel the path, you may come to know this opposition its true nature -- wholeness joined both by the center and the turning -- the stillness and the changes.