Didn't table-tennis thaw relations with China? You could probably use a multitude of activities to push for peace. The problem for me is that it just creates a horde of aiki-bunnies who latch on and can't let go. All the more bizarre is that Aikido is a martial art. Of course, I know where he is coming from, but personally, I find it quite daft.
The pertinent part of the phrasing is "...a
discipline...," (emphasis mine) though. I get what you're saying about it getting turned into foo foo, but from my perspective it fits neatly with an idea O Sensei seemed to have for Aikido: to whatever capacity your situation allows, you can study how to integrate with and intuit the workings/way of the kami through Aikido. Through my exposure to Shinto I've also heard a bit about trying to feel/sense and integrate with the heartbeat and breath of kami (as reflected in the manifest world) and from what I can tell, paying attention to the breath and other rhythms of the body is an important aspect of this, along with the cultivating and securing of ones tama (which can be dislodged) into the center of its seat. So the spirituality behind phrases like this, as I understand it, is rooted somewhat in the idea of physical integration/application.
By harmonizing/connecting with the rhythms (e.g. heartbeat) of Great Nature, everything else sorts itself out through virtue of that connection/harmonization: "You wouldn't want to mess with me, man. I'm the Universe."
...Not that I have any real functional physical understanding of this, assuming my intellectual understanding is even up to snuff...which it probably isn't.