I was at Moss Glen Falls recently. These stunning little falls are on Route 100 in Warren, Vermont. I stopped and took photographs and video footage of them. When I was leaving and getting ready to get back onto my motorcycle, I saw a couple taking a selfie in front of the falls.

I thought to myself for a moment, “Oh that might have been a good marketing shot.” But then I realized that I was more interested in the natural phenomenon itself than promoting myself. I kept walking back to my motorcycle and departed, enjoying that brief moment of anonymity–there would be no record of “me” at the scene.

Really, why would you want to see me in front of those falls? Why would I? Lest I sound holier than thou, I have certainly taken selfies and will continue to do so at times.

I am more interested in my state of mind when I took this photo–in a strong sense of present moment awareness.

Consider the fabulous popularity of selfie sticks. I think this is a material sign–an emblem if you will–for the the Age of Narcissism.

Even politicians are practicing the art of the selfie and voters.

Does all this attention to ourselves lead to happiness. The answer appears to be no.

What about self-sufficiency that does not require “me” in the picture. Taking pictures of ourselves just tends to reinforce the notion of self as something that can “have” experiences (as in the sense of ownership) rather than emerging out of the moment by moment process of being alive.

The Buddha attested that more happiness could be found from a self-in-process over a self-as-thing.

I don’t know if I will ever own a selfie stick. I first encountered them overseas where they were very popular among Asian tourists. I am sure the phenomenon will take over the States, if it hasn’t already. I hope I can somehow get through my life without one.




More from Beliefnet and our partners
previous posts

An unexpected book arrived in the mail the other day. A gift from my friend’s at Wisdom Publications. Zen Master Raven: The Teachings of a Wise Old Bird. by Zen Master human form, Robert Aitken. Here the koans are told by and to animals of the forest: raven, porcupine, owl, woodpecker, badger, black bear, and […]

Good things come in small packages especially when it is The Poetry of Impermanence, Mindfulness, and Joy edited by the poet John Brehm and published by Wisdom. Wisdom has a habit of producing beautifully crafted books, packed with, well, wisdom! By way of disclosure, two of these books are mine (108 Metaphors for Mindfulness and […]

A surfer and a shrink, sounds like the start of a joke … walk into a bar … . What do they talk about? Turns out the surfer dude is an expert on fear, has even written a book about it and the shrink is a crack snowboarder. They’ve got a lot to talk about. […]

Stephen Batchelor: Secular Buddhism: Imagining the Dharma in an Uncertain World contains twenty-five years of his writing. You may be familiar with some of these articles from his contributions to Tricycle and I recently enjoyed reading his article arguing for a Buddhism 2.0 in a Buddhist academic journal. This book contains three new contributions, making the book […]