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Pondering God from the dunny

  • 24 January 2020


On the main street where I live are three public toilets. They're set back a couple of metres from the footpath, a large square concrete basin providing the only buffer between the toilets' occupants and the locals going about their business. I was busting this day, so I used them. As I sat I noticed some graffiti on the otherwise clean door of the stall: 'What you are seeking after is seeking after you. — Rumi.'

A beautiful, soulful verse for the frail, alienated children of late capitalism, right? An invitation to live in expectancy, as if you belong in the world. But underneath, someone had struck through the What and written Who, and the Rumi and written God.

I pondered, in the days following, why I was so peeved. It's not because God infuriates me — she doesn't, unless I'm in a too-angry-to-believe phase, or the god is a version unworthy of God status (the sociopath sending almost everyone to hell forever). It peeved me because this graffitiing of someone else's graffiti felt pedantic and slightly violent. That perfectly ripe Rumi quote, wafting a magnolia breeze of expansiveness and freedom through a public toilet stall, had been killed, there on the wall, like a joke deconstructed or a butterfly impaled on a spike.

Rumi had wafted through the quantum field, where we're all included, and then someone with an urge to crap and a texta came along and turned it into dreary obligation, needing to line God up in the correct order as if only then would the light shine in.

Reductionism can make humans violent. It felt like right there in front of me was the reason for wars the world over. It felt like the moon Rumi pointed to with his finger — those experiences of exquisite flow, when the universe speaks, the synchronicity that makes you stop and wonder just how alive it all actually is and you commune — had been, with a few slashes, squashed down into tediousness, someone's dogma.

But really, how would I know what that person's conceptions were? Just because they were slashy with a pen didn't mean they had a reductionist view — though an understandable assumption, with 434 billion pieces of singular human historical behaviour to back it up. 

This person could have as easily been driven by an urge to try (and utterly, irritatingly fail) to point towards their experience as incredibly intimate, a