Different from the Founder’s spirituality, which fully participated in pre-modern religiosity and the “perennial philosophy,” contemporary Aikido’s pseudo-spirituality can be firmly placed within Modernity’s New Age movement. One of the contrasting elements between pre-modern religiosity and the New Age is the role pain and suffering plays in the overall technology of self. In the New Age, which does not at all aim at a disintegration of self but instead knowingly and unknowingly seeks and constitutes a reification of self, virtues such as truth, beauty, goodness, holy, etc., are intimately connected to the absence of or the avoidance of pain and suffering. This is because pain and suffering, whether emotional or physical, mark and make-up what is liminal to the self. Meaning, structurally speaking, what is painful and what causes us to suffer is what is outside of everything that constitutes the status quo of our current persona. Pain and suffering mark the edges of the non-self – a fact well-known prior to the modern era. In a technology aimed at a reification of self, such as contemporary Aikido, it is pleasure, peace, happiness, etc., that mark the above-mentioned virtues. Meaning, the practitioner knows what is true because it aligns with his/her truth, knows what is beautiful because it is beautiful to him/her, knows what is good because it is good for him/her, and knows what is holy because it does not disrupt him/her and allows him/her to remain the same, etc.
In pre-modern religiosity, contrarily, pain and suffering were evidentiary of a self that had yet to be fully disintegrated, and so in that sense pain and suffering were orientating in one’s practice. They were therefore sought out, not avoided. Pain and suffering worked as a doorway of sorts to the disintegration of self, and thus to the ultimate truth of no-self. The truth of no-self, not self, was what was considered to rest at the possibility of all truth, of beauty, of goodness, of the holy, etc. Moreover, through a concentric episteme, pain and suffering became truth, beauty, goodness, and the holy, and the practices of pain and suffering became sacred.
In an entirely opposite way, as Aikido’s New Age pseudo-spirituality came to establish its stranglehold on the art, contemporary Aikido supports a kind of practice that would not deconstruct the status quo of a given personality. Structurally, having an aim to reify the self, training has become additive or refining in its aim when it came to the self. Different from the Founder’s spirituality, it no longer seeks the negation of self necessary for a communion with God. Via this New Age pseudo-spirituality, training is thus provided with a philosophical support for not being subversive to one’s culture, one’s society, one’s history, one’s discourse, one’s worldview, and nor to one’s lifestyle. Likewise, the instructors of such an art, those deemed “true,” “beautiful,” “good,” “holy,” etc., must also be as equally unchallenging to the practitioner’s status quo. The archetype for such an instructor is best identified by “Hippie Jesus.” That is to say, the ideal contemporary Aikido instructor is a soft spoken, polite speaking, always smiling, never angry, effeminate, asexual, emasculated version of the mother-figure modern practitioners believe they well-deserved but unfortunately did not have as a child. How does the contemporary practioner know whether or not their Aikido instructor is the ideal Aikido instructor, know whether or not he/she is Hippie Jesus? Because the instructor's truth aligns with their truth, because the instructor's sense of beauty is in alignment with their own, because what is good for them is good for the instructor, and because what the instructor holds as holy does not disrupt him/her and allows him/her to remain the same, etc.