… dear old, dear new, how do we marry you …

I watched some of the pageant ceremonies, processions of dignitaries, colourful guards and regiments under hundreds of flags, and I watched the new King’s formal appointments in the wake of his mother’s death. I watched in wonder at the order and precision with which the various events were executed, with drums and trumpets, every footstep synchronized, left, right, left, right … all in the presence of thousands of people lining the streets, or witnessed through the BBC coverage by innumerable viewers around the world. The deep gratitude people express for Queen Elizabeth the second is not surprising considering the innumerable people and organisations she engaged with and visibly supported from her anointed position, but as the display continues, day by day, the commemorations edge on the surreal.
 
Any momentous public outpouring of grief tends to compound our experiences of personal bereavements, and, of course, reminds us of our mortality. This event, however, is about more than the loss of a beloved Queen who used her privilege and symbolic power through seven decades to serve as best as she could. Her loss rocks the solid traditional constitution she represented. While the centuries’ old tradition of this monarchy sits uncomfortable within modern society, it is nostalgically clung to and treasured.
 
The queues of people eager to pay tribute to the Queen’s lying in state in Westminster Hall have been, and continue to be many miles long, presently with a wait of 24 hour during a chilly night. All recorded: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/live/uk-629217 And there’s a queue tracker on You Tube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cJxDwDzAwEs
 
Within the crazy weaving of my mind I was searching for a thread to make sense of the unfolding pattern of unavoidable changes that loom to endanger the old order, which always calls for transitional objects that sooth the loss and helps to honour both the familiar old and the unknown new potential of the future. What can serve here as a transitional object, something to hug for comfort, equivalent to a Linus blanket?
 
I was reminded of a theme my former Sufi friend and teacher, Fazal Inayat- Khan, often explored. In the prologue to a book, Old Thinking, New Thinking, containing a handful of his lectures he reluctantly agreed to have published during the 1970’s, long out of print, Fazal gave credit to both, the old ways (formal and reliable) and the new ways that seek essence.
 
                         ‘Old thinking is a claim and new thinking is an aim.’
 
Could there be an equal validation of form and essence for the UK monarchy?
 
When my mind floats in a vague space, I tend to express my ambivalent thoughts through Haiku:
 
a pendulum swings
left right ahead back
circling by the gravity
of hidden forces
 
dryness is conservative
until it overheats
moisture conducts the traffic
of novel ideas
until rain floods the bedrock
 
Kings or Queens were historically regarded as divinities. The afterglow of such divine aura still glimmers around the mantle of monarchies in our world, and a yearning for the divine remains, with the need for an ideal, something whole to give meaning to our lives. But can a monarchy still serve as such an ideal?
 
Ultimately, the Kingdom to come is of course the Kingdom within, where archetypal qualities can spark a force that steers and rules our destiny.
 
As familiar faces of relatives and friends leave an imprint in our psyche, so do faces of people in public life. The media showers us with faces of celebrities, providing icons and avatars that embody qualities we aspire to, or despise.

Dissidents against England’s monarchy highlight the extravagant financial privileges of royalty, and the historic trail of devastating exploitation during its colonial past. Apologies and reparations must surely be ongoing. And then there is the Commonwealth, which some proclaim to be a post-colonial club: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-43715079

I’m a dreamer, without allegiance to a crown or state. I’m wary of crowds and any hive mind, totally unsuited to get embroiled in arguments about the monarchy. My gripes are with the unpleasant character assassinations of individuals, found on popular internet platforms.

Character assassination resembles kleptomania, an irresistible urge to steal someone’s glamour.

What further is there to be said right now? Do my readers here envisage a Kingdom within?

8 Comments

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8 responses to “… dear old, dear new, how do we marry you …

  1. Alice Temple- Bruce Nil

    Thank You Ashen for your words and your thinking. Shall read it again tomorrow and ponder some more x
    with Love

    Alice

    Liked by 1 person

  2. So close to my own viw(s)… I KNEW we would be digital friends when first i became aware of you. Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Rob Leech

    Many thanks Ashen for your thoughtful piece, including the intriguing haiku, exploring the various aspects of monarchy…..an institution which, in the UK case at least, excites powerful passions both for and against.
    For myself, having studied quite a lot of its history and its role as the symbolic apex of the British class and imperial systems….which are by no means dead and buried and have been a powerful founding factor of the current world order…..it is fundamentally “the string which ties the robber’s bundle”.
    But we frail humans seem to need to believe in and glorify something in the face of the terrifying void of possibility and the unknown, even if it is our own subservience and exploitation. After all it is what we know.
    As was, perhaps rather the case after the death of our respected teacher Fazal. Oh my god….we need a leader to.lead us…..to believe in!
    Thankfully I now work with a group of volunteers which, though it has its problems like any group of humans, on the whole does very well and is very effective without hierarchy.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Good to hear from you, Rob. Been missing your voice, though I’m aware your work is engaging and more, timely and meaningful.

    An ideal is always needed, of course, as long as we can use it as a means towards transformation and aliveness. In that sens I like Hazrat Inayat Khan’s quote …
    ‘The ideal is the means, its breaking is the goal.’
    When ideals become stagnant and devoid of meaning, revolutions will ensue. We live in interesting times.

    Like

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