Samsara doesn’t love you back

I recently found a song running through my head, an old standard called, “Since I Fell for You.” There are several versions available on YouTube; my favorite is probably this one by Nina Simone, The link also gives the lyrics. This post will probably make more sense if you go listen to a version now, then come back.

The song is a blues ballad about unrequited love. What I’ve noticed over the years is that often you can easily translate a love song like this to the spiritual level. I may have gotten to thinking about this through a novel I read years ago by Chaim Potok, who writes of a devout Jew who “sang Gypsy love songs to the Torah.”

Listening to this song, I found myself thinking about how the Buddha taught that samsara offers no lasting satisfaction, but only misery. Try hearing this excerpt from the lyrics as a description of what happens when we commit ourselves to samsara and its illusory promise of lasting happiness:

You made me leave my happy home
You took my love and now you’re gone
Since I fell for you

Love brings such misery and pain
I guess I’ll never be the same
Since I fell for you

Well, it’s too bad
And it’s too sad
But I’m in love with you

You love me,
then you snub me
But what can I do?
I’m so in love with you

I guess I’ll never see the light
I get the blues most every night
Since I fell for you