Continuing from my earlier post...
The meaning of Shu Ha Ri can easily be confused when one examines it's 3 different character on it's own instead of in context to each other. The most common misinterpretation is that Shu Ha Ri divides keiko into three distinct parts or periods.
This way of thinking advocates a student to experiment and think up of 'different' or his own interpretation of techniques and principles and even training methods. It is construed that after a certain time in shu, he now has the ability to foster Ha in his training and finally end up with a new Ri...
What Sensei explained is a bit different.
Shu Ha Ri is to completely train in the path of your teacher. To train in a way that everything is the first and the last. If you continue training the path of Shu this way, you automatically enter the state of Ha. And down the road of mastery, Ri is realized whether you try or not. You might be convinced that what you are doing is exactly what your teacher has taught you, but others will see that your Aikido is different while retaining the similar foundations.
In a way it may jive with Osensei's comment that all techniques come spontaneously and cannot be repeated. That is the way of Aiki. But in Shu Ha Ri, it is not the pursuit of 'unlimited techniques' that concerns us. In Shu Ha Ri lies the foundation that becomes the base for the essence of Aikido to latch on to.
Needless to say, if your final intent is to grow apples, then the seed being planted must be an apple seed.