Re: "Black Belt Rabbi"
I am glad this article was presented Jun. I don't know anything about Sensei Ueshiba, but I am willing to bet that this is the kind of thing he could have had in mind when he said that Aikido helps fulfill religion (unless he was speaking solely of his own faith and religious knowledge). I could be wrong.
One of the religious thinkers I have had an abiding "conversation" with over the years is Martin Buber: the great "I - Thou" Jewish thinker. Much of the way he describes the duality of an encounter (I-It, I-Thou) can be experienced in a similar way in any martial arts hall.
I used to hear it described that an attack in an Aikido dojo should be seen in a "life and death" kind of encounter. By this I understood it to mean that a person should take their association with Aikido i.e., the practice, the discipline, the lessons, the people, in a care-full, serious, safe way. To me, this attitude always maximized the fun too!
My impression, over the years, in practicing Aikido and Tae Kwon Do is that anytime there is an encounter between people that requires the kind of presence and attention an attack does (even simulated in the most benign way) causes some deep things to get moved around in a person's body/mind.
I don't know if Buber's characterization of experience, encounter, or presence is correct in its strict duality, but I do know that understanding it in this way can be a fruitful challenge. It can help one to better discriminate which and when my experiences fall into a reductionist and deterministic mode of being (I-It); which they inevitably always do. But also, what aspects of my awareness may be tuned in to something more; even if only momentarily. This Buber describes as being off the space/time grid.
If the Rabbi ever reads this I tried once to read Zohar, but when it got to the warning about substituting this stuff for scripture, I decided to go back and reread the Hebrew Sciptures a little better.