Love came and emptied me of self

by Abu-Said Abil-Kheir

English version by Vraje Abramian
Original Language Persian/Farsi

Love came and emptied me of self,
every vein and every pore,
made into a container to be filled by the Beloved.
Of me, only a name is left,
the rest is You my Friend, my Beloved.

-- from Nobody, Son of Nobody: Poems of Shaikh Abu-Saeed Abil-Kheir, Translated by Vraje Abramian

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/ Photo by Christine Muraton /

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Commentary by Ivan M. Granger

As part of my chronic fatigue/ME patterns, I sometimes have an intense sensation of tremors, even though my body is still. Sitting on the couch with my wife, I turn to see if she is shaking her foot, causing the whole couch to vibrate, but she is just quietly sitting there. Each time it happens I'm surprised to find that it is simply my own body buzzing with some unknown charge.

At such times I don't quite have the energy to do a full day's work, yet my body isn't at rest enough to enter deeply into meditation either. What is a person to do who strives to be a meditator engaged with the world when he can neither meditate nor take action? Interesting things happen at such moments, if we let them.

When the stories we tell ourselves about ourselves can no long be sustained, one option is to tenaciously cling to the crumbling edifice and be injured by the collapse. Another option is to construct a new story. Or we can let all stories fall away. We can stop struggling to be either this or that, we can step beyond our stories. That is when we rediscover what we actually are. That is when hidden doorways open.

The little self is simply the sum total of all the stories we tell ourselves. When those stories fall away, the self becomes empty of itself. We then become a cup, empty and ready to be filled by something outside our stories -- let's call it wine.

Of me, only a name is left,
the rest is You my Friend, my Beloved.

This is the hard wisdom that chronic illness teaches -- yielding into fulness. Any life struggle -- really any experience, pleasant or unpleasant -- can be transformed into a teacher of wisdom when we stop taking it personally, when we keep our hearts engaged and our eyes open in the midst of our crumbling and changing self-stories.

What can one do but stand in silent awe of the vision that emerges, showing us how much bigger we are than even our best stories?

Sending love!

Recommended Books: Abu-Said Abil-Kheir

Nobody, Son of Nobody: Poems of Shaikh Abu-Saeed Abil-Kheir The Drunken Universe: An Anthology of Persian Sufi Poetry Love's Alchemy: Poems from the Sufi Tradition The Mystics of Islam Under the Sufi's Cloak: Stories of Abu Said and His Mystical Teaching

Love came and