May 17 2013

Abu-Said Abil-Kheir – Love came and emptied me of self

Published by at 9:29 am under Ivan's Story,Poetry

Love came and emptied me of self
by Abu-Said Abil-Kheir

English version by Vraje Abramian

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

/ Photo by Christine Muraton /

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!

Abu-Said Abil-Kheir

Turkmenistan (967 – 1049) Timeline
Muslim / Sufi

Shaikh Abu-Said Abil-Kheir was one of the earlier Sufi poets. He lived more than two centuries before Mevlana Jelaluddin Rumi yet, like Rumi, much of his mysticism follows a similar path of annihilation in divine Love.

Abu-Said’s poetry ranges from the ecstatic and celestial, to struggles with abandonment. His poetry has an immediacy and even a sort of devoutly wry petulance that can draw comparisons with the great Bengali poet, Ramprasad.

Abu Said referred to himself as “Nobody, Son of Nobody,” to convey the mystic’s sense of having completely merged or disappeared into the Divine, leaving no trace of the ego behind.

He lived in Mayhana in what is modern day Turkmenistan, just north of Iran and Afghanistan in Central Asia.

More poetry by Abu-Said Abil-Kheir

8 responses so far

8 Responses to “Abu-Said Abil-Kheir – Love came and emptied me of self”

  1. Shaila Muljion 17 May 2013 at 2:03 pm

    Dear Ivan,

    This is such a beautiful choice of poetry! It is surprising how many people have had similar experiences in their lives although from the outside their lives may not “appear” as desolate and alone as the picture shows.

    Faith and introspection are what always serve to uphold humanity in times when it seems there is nothing and no one to hang onto!

    Our challenges, obstacles and obstructions in life are truly the greatest teachers as they have us “experience” through forced introspection the wisdom that these so-called challenges, obstacles and obstructions that are actually blessings in disguise!

    May you continue to discover the essence of humanity through your myriad life experiences and optimally realize the essence of your “real” self in your spiritual

    In gratitude, peace & friendship,


  2. Joyceon 17 May 2013 at 4:32 pm

    Thanks, Ivan, for the window into your experience. I also deal with CFS, and am transformed (and humbled) by it.

  3. Therese Monaghan O.P.on 18 May 2013 at 6:55 am

    Thank you, Ivan, for sharing your personal experience
    with us. I love your phrase: “yielding into fullness.”
    When I see the sign–yield– while driving– I am reminded that God is in everything, especially the obstacles, for God is present in all things– doing the work of transforming love.
    Abu Said is new to me. Thanks for offering the gift of him and of yourself.

  4. Pegon 18 May 2013 at 9:17 am

    Hi Ivan, Not sure if my experience is what you experience. I, also, was diagnosed with chronic fatigue. My body would vibrate. Once I realized that it was my merkaba spinning, I could relax with it. Finally this strong vibration eased. I still feel influx of energy though especially when we have X flares from Sun like we had this week.

    Beautiful poem, too.

  5. fuzzy tomon 18 May 2013 at 2:50 pm

    I cannot help but make a comment here, expecially when I sometimes experience your buzz and tremor as well – ‘I sometimes have an intense sensation of tremors, even though my body is still’.’
    Reading your comment and this poem by Abu-Said Abil-Kheir, it now soothes it all for me, that Love has come and emptied me of self.

  6. ebrahimon 20 May 2013 at 2:19 am

    Wonderful take on stories. To add to it, when one is completed with ones own story, one begins to find the time to genuinely listen to the stories of others, and somehow with their stories to resonate. This is finding oneself amongst everything else and part and parcel of it all. One can do so with out putting oneself first, last, or in-between anything at all.

    Wish you ease in your affliction and so for others too in theirs.

  7. helenon 20 May 2013 at 7:51 am

    Thanks so much for sharing this and your own experience!

  8. Janetteon 21 May 2013 at 11:51 am

    Thankyou so much – your words touched me. I too am in the middle of a journey of illness too.. I have MCTD/Lupus. I have not slept for days because of pain. I was so comforted by your words when I finally came to my computer, they have filled me with Grace.
    May God continue to bless you and much love.

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