There’s a powerful scene near the beginning of Episode thirty-eight of the odd but curiously moving Turkish TV series “Yunus Emre”.

The series is a fictionalized account  in forty-five episodes over two seasons of the life of the thirteenth and fourteenth century Sufi mystic and poet, Yunus Emre. (WARNING: if you try to watch it, it is s-l-o-w; the depiction of women is mostly medieval; the subtitles are frequently incomprehensible; the melodrama is at times comical… what’s not to love?)

Yunus studied for forty years under the direction of the sheikh Tapduk Emre at the local dergah (dervish lodge) on the outskirts of the city of Nalihan and is probably Turkey’s best-loved poet.

In Season Two Yunus is running into increasing conflict with Kasim the young dervish leader who appears to be struggling with his own demons and projecting much of his pain onto Yunus. Near the beginning of episode thirty-eight Kasim confronts Yunus and, in the strange rendering of the consistently baffling English subtitles, complains:

We have not opened our eyes to the lodge yesterday, Effendi!
Whatever the truth is our tongue tells it relentlessly!
Maybe you do not do so but…. we fight for the truth.

Kasim goes on for a full two minutes fuming at Yunus. He raises his voice in a manner never heard in the dervish lodge as portrayed throughout the film. His words are clearly a projection of his own pain. The attack is based on Kasim’s misinterpretation of overheard words passed on second hand. The accusations are unfair and groundless. The viewer knows Yunus is innocent.

In the face of Kasim’s assault, Yunus stands motionless and silent. He does not shout back. He does not defend himself, or justify himself, or point out the obvious misinformation upon which Kasim has based his attack. Yunus refuses to answer with a single word. He does not walk away. He does not rally the troops and look for support from the other dervishes who are listening in on the assault and whose sympathies clearly lie with Yunus.

Yunus simply stands his ground. Pain is etched on his face but he does not waver. He is like a mountain. And the more Yunus refuses to respond, the more Kasim fumes, until finally, the storm withers and Kasim turns and abandons the conflict.

Providing no resistance, Yunus gives Kasim nothing to push against. He has refused to fan the flames of fire raging inside Kasim. Without an adversary willing to retaliate, Kasim is left alone to face his own demons.

It is a stunning illustration of the power of non-resistance. All the power lies with Yunus. He has nothing to protect, nothing to prove, nothing to justify. He is a portrait of the truly free man.

Yunus is strongly and deeply enough grounded within himself and his faith, that he has no need to come to his own defense. As will become clear throughout the rest of the episode, the only desire of this Sufi mystic poet is to search his own heart to see if there is any truth in the words unjustly launched against him and to repent of anything he may have done that has in anyway inflamed his adversary.

Yunus has done his inner work and the fruit of that work, even transmitted through the tortured English subtitles, is abundantly evident in episode thirty-eight.


(nb: in a Christian context, watching this scene with Yunus, it is hard not to think of Jesus standing before Pilate. With wild accusations swirling around him, Matthew reports, Jesus “gave him no answer, not even to a single charge, so that the governor was greatly amazed.” Matthew 27:14)