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Abu Sa’id Ibn Abi’l Khayr Quote – “You are freed from your own desires only when God frees you…”

You are freed from your own desires only when God frees you. This is not effected by your own exertion, but by the grace of God. First he brings forth in you the desire to attain this goal. Then he opens to you the gate of repentance. Then… you continue to strive and… pride yourself upon your efforts, thinking that you are advancing or achieving something; but afterward you fall into despair and feel no joy. Then you know your work is not pure but tainted. You repent of acts of devotion which you had thought were your own, and perceive that they were done by God’s grace and that you were guilty of polytheism in attributing them to your own exertion. When this becomes manifest, a feeling of joy enters your heart… God opens to you the gate of love…

But still you think “I love” and find no rest until you perceive that it is God who loves you and keeps you in the state of loving, and that this is the result of divine love and grace, not of your own endeavor. Then God opens to you the gate of unity, and causes you to know that all action depends on God Almighty. Hereupon you perceive that all is God, and all is by him, and all is his (even) this self-conceit… Then you entirely recognize that you do not have the right to say ‘I’ or “mine.” At this stage you behold your helplessness; desires fall away from you and you become free and calm. You desire what God desires; your own desires are gone, you are emancipated from your wants, and have gained peace and joy in both worlds.

First, action is necessary, then knowledge, in order that you may know that you know nothing and are no one. This is not easy to know. It is a thing that cannot be rightly learned by instruction, nor sewed on with needle nor tied on with thread. It is the gift of God.

Abu Sa’id Ibn Abi’l Khayr (967 – 1049)