True speech is the fruit of not speaking

by Yunus Emre

English version by Kabir Helminski & Refik Algan
Original Language Turkish

True speech is the fruit of not speaking.
Too much talking clouds the heart.

If you want to clear the heart,
say this much, the essence of all talking:

Speak truly. God speaks through words truly spoken.
Falsity ends in pain.

Unless you witness all of creation in a single glance,
you're in sin even with all your religion.

The explanation of the Law is this:
The Law is a ship. Truth is her ocean.

No matter how strong the wood,
the sea can smash the ship.

The secret is this:
A "saint" of religion may in reality be an unbeliever.

We will master this science and read this book of love.
God instructs. Love is His school.

Since the glance of the saints fell on poor Yunus
nothing has been a misfortune.

-- from The Drop That Became the Sea: Lyric Poems of Yunus Emre, Translated by Kabir Helminski / Translated by Refik Algan

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/ Photo by Professor Zeeshan Shah /


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Commentary by Ivan M. Granger

Yunus Emre is always such a delight to me! This poem, for example, isn't it wonderful? It's difficult not to break into a smile reading it... even when some words sting.

With this song, Yunus Emre gives us a sharply teasing reminder that even if we follow all of the rules of our religious tradition, that's not the same thing as achieving saintliness or holiness.

The secret is this:
A "saint" of religion may in reality be an unbeliever.


This is something fundamentalists of every religion keep stumbling over: Following your religion's ritual, rules, and way of life can be a profound pathway, an enriching and challenging spiritual practice; but it is not the goal in itself. The living ocean of truth is the goal.

The explanation of the Law is this:
The Law is a ship. Truth is her ocean.

No matter how strong the wood,
the sea can smash the ship.


The goal must never be lost in the minutia of the rules. A true believer is someone who merges fully with that divine ocean, however that soul manages to reach the water. Even someone who perfectly lives the life of a "saint", if that person isn't drenched and blissfully drowning, that person is still an unbeliever...

Mystics have the irritating habit of cutting through religious pretense while restoring its heart:

Unless you witness all of creation in a single glance,
you're in sin even with all your religion.



Recommended Books: Yunus Emre

Poetry for the Spirit: Poems of Universal Wisdom and Beauty Music of a Distant Drum: Classical Arabic, Persian, Turkish & Hebrew Poems Quarreling with God: Mystic Rebel Poems of the Dervishes of Turkey The Drop That Became the Sea: Lyric Poems of Yunus Emre The Poetry of Yunus Emre: A Turkish Sufi Poet





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