V Life and Death


        The inner man knows no worries on this path.
        The inner heart does not know death.

        Bodies perish, but not the soul.
        Those who are gone don't return.
        Bodies are for dying.
        That's not what a soul is for.

        The heart will never find the pearl it seeks
        even in a thousand years, unless it is given.

        Be careful
        your Beloved's heart is easily broken.
        Such fine crystal once shattered
        is never restored.

        And unless you put your cup to the fountain
        even in a thousand years it won't be filled.

        Both Khidr* and Elias drank the water of life.
        These days they are not dead.

        The world was made for the sake
        of the Prophet and his friendship.
        Those who come to this world do not remain.

        Yunus, today
        while you have eyes to see
        do what you must.
        Those who attain do not come back.

* Khidr in Islamic tradition is an immortal who may appear in human form to give help and guidance to those in need.


        One day I had taken a walk
        and came upon a tree of great height.
        I said to this slim beauty
        "Tell me a few of your secrets.
        What's the meaning of stretching so tall
        in such a temporary world?
        Come back among the humble again.
        You embellish your beauty endlessly
        but why not take some pains for Truth instead?
        Find your heart's real need."

        The tree will age, its time will pass.
        A bird will perch on a branch
        and one day it will seem
        there was no bird at all.

        One day your end will come
        your great length will fall to earth.
        Your branches will be thrown in the fire
        and the pots will boil on red hot iron.

        Yunus, you are only one
        and yet you have a hundred thousand faults.
        Having reflected on a stiff tree's fate
        think of your own.


        The Truth fills the world
        but to whom is Truth known?
        You ask so much of It
        but It isn't separate from yourself.

        You believe in the world
        you claim your daily bread as your own.
        How long will you keep up your lie?
        You know it's not like that.

        It's a long way to the other world.
        Be honest with yourself
        through all the separation and painful yearning
        Those who attain do not return.

        Those who come to the world
        will one by one drink the juice of death.
        This world is just a bridge
        although the young wouldn't guess it.

        Come, let's get to know each other
        and make our work easier.
        Let's love, let's be loved.
        No one inherits this world.

        Yunus, if you can understand
        if you can hear the meaning
        find a little happiness.
        No one's here forever.


        Oh disciple of love, open your eyes
        look to the face of the land.
        See these subtle plants
        how their flowering passes.

        With such care they grow toward the Friend—
        ask them what goal they have in mind.

        Each flower has a thousand ways
        it flirts with Truth.
        Every bird with its song
        is remembering the Ruler.

        They praise His Ability
        His Presence in every detail
        yes, and as they see the shortness of life
        they pale.

        Each day their color changes
        until they fall to the ground.
        This is a teaching for the wise to understand.

        Your coming doesn't lead anywhere.
        Your laughter isn't funny.
        Your only destination is death
        if you haven't learned to love.

        Yunus, forget about talking
        take your hand off your self. What can you do?
        Not a single thing, good or bad
        is apart from God.


        If you need to be warned, come
        look at these graves.
        Even a stone would soften after seeing them.

        And those with great riches
        see to what end they came
        wrapped in simple cloth
        a shirt without sleeves.

        Where are those who used to say
        "These riches are mine"
        who weren't satisfied merely with a fine house.
        Now they're covered with stone.

        They never were at home in God's house.
        They neglected the rules, the worship.
        They never learned to serve.
        Now their time is passed.

        Here are those who talked so well
        those with sun-tanned faces.
        They have died and disappeared.

        Once these were the bosses many worked for.
        Come and tell me now — which is which?

        There's neither a door to enter
        nor food to eat.
        There's no light to see.
        Daylight is now darkness.

        Yunus, all you call your own
        you'll leave behind.
        Your possessions will abandon you.


        Put the world and its adornments aside
        the world which weighs less
        than a dream or a breeze.

        Do you expect it to be faithful?
        It's just waiting to run away.

        Don't wish for things as brief as these
        things even the Sultan can't hold on to.

        We took our worries with us
        those imaginary companions
        when we could have been with the Friend.

        Balance the books yourself
        before someone does it for you.

        Kill your compulsive self
        lay it on the stone slab for washing
        so that before death surprises you
        you'll be in the right hands.

        Whoever asks you what you believe in
        kiss their hands and feet
        show them the answer.

        Yunus, a straight way seems right for you.
        Join with Truth now, resurrect with Truth.


        Whatever separates you from the Truth
        throw it away, it will vanish anyhow.
        Why do you feed this flesh?
        In the grave worms and birds will feast on it
        and it will vanish too.

        Open your eyes and look at someone who died.
        The beard and hair fall off.
        Snakes and centipedes come hungry
        feed themselves and leave contented.

        Those who are greater than us
        those with courtesy and right action
        say "This is the story," and leave.

        "Take your hand away from unfair gains
        and hold your gossiping tongue
        before Azrael* comes and closes the shop."

        The moment of death comes and the head dries
        old age reaches its end very soon.
        Mountains and rocks are flattened
        the sky is rolled up and the earth disappears.**

        The soul will face its Day of Reckoning
        and so work hard.
        The one who worships at dawn
        goes to the House of God matured.

        "Yunus, the poor one" will die,
        his grave will fill with holy light.
        "Faith" will be his comrade
        when he goes like a lion to the next world.

* Azrael. Angel of Death.

** Quran, Surah XXI, 104.


        This King, this King
        He keeps on doing His work
        The world is His orchard.
        He keeps on sending pain
        to the one He loves.

        Don't do wrong
        the moment of death is closer to you than yourself.
        It has made its home in our own roots and origins
        It demolishes us all.

        In a single moment you will reach there
        so work hard here.
        The soul is not here forever
        it wanders around for a few days in the flesh.

        A Questioner comes, tears back the earth
        and asks, "Who is your God?"
        And this soul of mine hears him
        and my bones keep on aching.

        Those who accept God's Unity
        those who sacrifice their souls for God
        these souls are not dead
        they're swimming in the waters of Love.

        I have seen —those who attained flew away.
        They drank from the full cup of Love.
        Their whims are tolerated at the level of Truth
        Their heads are bowed.

        Yunus, if you are the servant of the wise
        don't forget your death.
        So many of the attained have come and gone
        now our turn has come.


        My life came and went like the wind
        between the opening and closing of an eye.

        As Truth is my witness
        the soul is the body's guest.
        A day is about to come when like a bird
        it flies out of the cage.

        The poor sons of Adam
        have sown their seeds across the earth.
        Some grew and some were lost.

        My insides burn in this world
        my essence is afire.
        Some die young
        cut down like wheat still green.

        If you visit the sick or bring someone water
        tomorrow you'll be served the wine of Truth.
        If you give your clothes to the poor
        tomorrow you'll be wearing astral clothes.

        Yunus Emre, they say only two people
        stay in this world forever—
        Khidr and Elias
        who drink the water of life.


        Oh Holy One, if ever You should ask—
        these would be my answers to You:

        I have sinned against myself
        but what, oh King, have I done to You?

        Before I came, You said my soil was bad.
        Before I was born, Adam rebelled.

        In the eternal past I was written down a rebel.
        You filled the universe with my loud voice.

        You did whatever You wanted with me.
        You brought me to whatever I found.

        Have I constructed You? It's You who made me.
        Why, oh Enricher, did You fill me
        with things to be ashamed of?

        I open my eyes and what I see
        is the prison inside.
        It's filled with animal needs
        demons and ambitions.

        So that I would not die in this prison
        I have eaten unclean foods once or twice.

        Has anything that You possess diminished
        or has my judgment ever surpassed Yours?

        Did I eat Your daily bread
        and leave You hungry?
        Did I waste Your wealth
        and leave You in poverty?

        You stretch a bridge thin as a hair and say
        "Come and save yourself from My trap!"

        Your servants build bridges with good in mind—
        the good of crossing safely.
        They build them strong so that
        people who pass over might say
        "This is a good bridge."

        You set up scales to weigh people's intentions
        and You intend to put me in the fire.

        It's grocers who need scales—
        and greedy peddlars and druggists.

        Because sin is the prize of the filthy
        even the useless gain something from Your being.

        All I want from You is Your love.
        Why uncover my faults and put them on a scale?

        Will it please You to watch me burn?
        For God's sake, oh Teacher of Creation
        it's impossible.

        You are All-Seeing. You, Yourself, know my state.
        Why then do You need to weigh my actions?

        Didn't Your need for revenge end
        when You killed me?
        You made me rot
        and stuffed my eyes with dirt.

        Has the hand of Yunus ever hurt You
        You who know the Seen and the Unseen?

        So many empty words from a handful of dirt!
        What do You need
        Oh Generous One, oh Power!