Solastalgia and Dzogchen


Written by Mila Khyentse

Mila Khyentse is a French teacher of Tibetan Buddhism and Dzogchen and the Dzogchen Today! project initiator.

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In this article, Solastalgia and Dzogchen, Mila Khyentse discusses the impact of global change on our lives and the perspective of Dzogchen.

Solastalgia and Dzogchen

“It’s strange, for some time now I’ve never really felt well. I feel a kind of carefree spirit that has gone and will never come back. And a kind of permanent malaise has taken its place. At least that’s what I feel. This is how a young adult I was talking to recently described his condition. He is not the only one, far from it…

Many people of all ages, and especially in the 16-25 age group [1] , say they are constantly worried about their future and the future of those around them and their environment. Some have entered into a cycle of permanent anxiety and a minority experience a very significant impact on their lifestyle, preventing them from going to work, school or even out on the streets.


“It is said that clear action is the antidote to confused anxiety.

Shall we begin?”


This psychological distress, which is growing in the world’s population – still very little documented [2] – is the expression of our present and future situation. More and more people are realizing that they can no longer run away, deny or fight [3] against the obvious: we are gradually losing our “usual” and “acceptable” living conditions to enter a reality that is much more difficult to live in on a daily basis [4].

And this simple observation is fundamentally frightening, because it means that the future ahead of us all seems rather bleak.

But if we look closely, it is a reminder of our human condition: caught between a past that will never happen again, and an uncertain future that we always think we can control, through a fundamental delusion.

For those on a path of transformation and realization such as Dzogchen, this is far from news… All the teachings speak of our transitory condition as sentient beings: it is in fact this ephemeral temporality that defines us and from which we cannot escape.

Thus, the permanent state of grief that many of us experience today is actually a reminder of our ephemeral nature, conditioned by our birth and death.

So what? Are we condemned to remain in a perpetual state of deep anxiety as we await our own demise and/or that of our planet?

No, because this awareness, the teachings of the Great Perfection tell us, is precisely what we need to come out of our apathy, our perpetual flight, our endless struggle against our own fear of finitude. It is precisely through this realization that we can then discover that we are much more than that, that our true nature is beyond anything we can think or construct about it, and that it actually transcends birth and death.

It is through our fleeting and illusory nature that we can meet, recognize and realize our true nature.


But before we can recognize it, we have to ‘sober up’, stop deluding ourselves about our state and that of the world, and consider waking up. This usually (but not always) leads to a state of depression, anxiety or breakdown, because reality is always less rosy than the one we dream of. It is, in a way, a passage that allows us to return to reality without denying its true aspect.

Waking up, coming out of the dream or nightmare we think we are in, is the first step we have to take on the path of self-discovery and the reality of the world.

The Great Perfection tells us that this always happens in the instant, beyond an illusory past and future: here and now! It is also here and now that we can find the path of clarity that allows us to act for ourselves, for all beings and for this planet, which is only one whole.

The teachings of the Great Perfection are also very clear on one point: if we don’t set out on the path, we can’t help others to do so. The state of depression does not last in the end because acceptance comes at some point. Acceptance is the easing of one’s own pain and the pain of others, which brings us out of the confusion. The pain of grief always gives way to rebuilding, and rebuilding is what we need most at this time.

It is said that clear action is the antidote to confused anxiety.

Shall we begin?

[1] According to the baseline study conducted in 2021 on 10,000 people aged 16 to 25 interviewed in 10 different countries, 84% are concerned about the state of the global environment and 59% are very concerned. back

[2] The concept and term of solastalgia only appeared in 2003 and most studies on the subject did not begin until after 2010. The major studies are those cited in the article. back

[3] The usual reactions to change: the “fight or flight effect”. For the Great Perfection, it is the expression of our three major habitual tendencies: ignorance, anger-aversion, desire-attachment. back

[4] The 6th IPCC report speaks volumes on this subject: back

This topic is widely developed in the public events of Dzogchen Today! this year. For more information:

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