The article below has been selected from the extensive archives of the Online Aikido Journal. We believe that an informed readership with knowledge of the history, techniques and philosophy of aikido is essential to the growth of the art and its adherence to the principles espoused by Aikido Founder Morihei Ueshiba.
The title of this essay has been chosen mainly for aesthetic reasons and does not really give an accurate indication of the contents. I propose to consider aikido in opposition to religion and philosophy only in a very broad sense and do not imply that they are mutually exclusive. However, there are some issues here. Many claims have been made for the efficacy of aikido and not just as a system of self-defence. Practice is supposed to have a dimension that can be called spiritual. But some questions have to be posed. Can the practice of aikido help one to be a good Christian, or Muslim, or agnostic, or even atheist, and if so, how? In what sense can aikido practice be said to ‘complete’ the spiritual and moral life of a practising Christian, for example. Are there any relationships between aikido as a spiritual pursuit and mysticism? In what sense could aikido be called ‘sacramental’? In other words, does aikido practice automatically lead to desirable spiritual results? Does it make sense to talk of aikido as a philosophy, or philosophical system? If not, what is the difference?