Today the smoke from the Western U.S. fires reached Ohio. The smoke is too high to permeate the air, but the sky has a smoky haze, as you can see in this comparison photo.
It got me thinking about how a smoky haze is a metaphor for how so many of us view the world. We don’t quite see things accurately, our vision clouded by our thoughts, opinions and beliefs–no matter how unfounded they may be. We all contain some amount of ignorant blindness to reality. It could be as obvious to spot as denying the consensus climate change science, as Trump did yesterday. Or it could be as subtle and ubiquitous as assigning a permanence and solidity to our concept of self.
Buddhism teaches that ignorance is the root of remaining stuck in samsara (the world of arising and ceasing causing suffering). Nirvana is wisdom realized, or realization realizing realization. Ignorance falls away and the Absolute Truth is seen clearly with no smoky haze.
Our ignorance can make us blind to the smoke. If I hadn’t seen weather reports or satellite imagery, I wouldn’t have thought the haze was from smoke. More likely I would attribute it to high-level clouds. Most likely, I might not have even noted there was a haze making the sky less brilliant blue than it would otherwise appear on a bright, low-humidity day in Ohio.
There’s an obvious pun in here about how smoke gets in your eyes. The Platters song is a decent lesson about being stuck in samsara.