I am young, today I turn 23, and my life is fast. I am a research student where my work is enjoyable, changing constantly and so invoking that I lose myself in it. My friends are family are fairly supportive, money is not a huge issue and I am in good health.

Even though things appear good, a life-situation that I would think is ideal, does not feel ideal, in fact it feels as empty and unforgiving as a bad life-situation.

Commonly I feel as though I am not living. When I am consumed by my research projects I am defiantly not self aware. When I am not doing research, I feel a dread that I am currently not awake, and that I am almost never awake. The only times I feel truly awake is in deep sadness; sometimes the sadness has no cause it is just weltschmerz.

Do other people feel this? Is this what being young feels like; if so, does it go away?

Would Buddhism or meditation make me feel wholesome rather than empty in moments of reflection?

Is this okay to feel?

4 Answers 4


Feeling weltschmerz, which I guess is feeling that the world and its material pleasures are ultimately not going to satisfy you, is a good thing. It hints towards the first noble truth that there is suffering.

However, focusing too much on it will make you sad and depressed, which is a negative emotion and not wholesome.

In Buddhism, there are various techniques to counter different types of unwholesome states of mind. When a car veers too much to the left, you nudge the steering wheel to the right. When a car is moving too slowly, you step on the accelerator pedal. But also the reverse is true with turning left or stepping on the brakes. Similarly, there are techniques in Buddhism to ensure that the mind stays wholesome and does not go into unwholesome states of mind.

Dhammadhatu's anapanasati (mindfulness of breathing) is one method.

However, being a young person, who should appreciate that both young and old people would not ultimately become and remain satisfied forever, from what the physical and material world offers, I suggest you to practise the Brahmavihara of metta, the meditation on loving kindness, whenever you feel the sadness of weltschmerz. It has many benefits.

Why do I suggest this? You should wish that all beings in this world, including yourself, should be happy at heart and and at ease. Yes, they may not be ultimately satisfied with what the world has to offer, but let them all be happy for this very moment and for as long as they can be. And this applies to you too.

From the Karaniya Metta Sutta:

Think: Happy, at rest,
may all beings be happy at heart.
Whatever beings there may be,
weak or strong, without exception,
long, large, middling, short,
subtle, blatant, seen & unseen,
near & far, born & seeking birth:
May all beings be happy at heart.

Let no one deceive another
or despise anyone anywhere,
or through anger or irritation
wish for another to suffer.

As a mother would risk her life
to protect her child, her only child,
even so should one cultivate a limitless heart
with regard to all beings.

With good will for the entire cosmos,
cultivate a limitless heart:
Above, below, & all around, unobstructed,
without enmity or hate.
Whether standing, walking,
sitting, or lying down,
as long as one is alert,
one should be resolved on this mindfulness.
This is called a sublime abiding
here & now.


Buddhist meditation (Anapanasati) can make the mind feel peaceful & calm and overcome weltschmerz.

Some (but not most) people feel weltschmerz but far less of these few people choose Buddhism (rather than drugs or alcohol) as a solution.

When I was 23 years old, I knew nothing about Buddhism but left my society in search of something. A few months later, in my travels, I walked into a Buddhist monastery , found mediation and started meditation.

After 3 months of full-time practise, any or all doubts (vicikicchā) about the Buddhist Path as a way of life ended.


Such overt and mad pursuit borne out of ambition is always like this. It causes common symptoms of this busy generation; you are lost in the process, you are unconscious in the process, you don't live at all - you sleepwalk. You are not aware of your life this way. Like a plant, being devoid of the chance of salvation.

Please don't believe the bandwagon of people that say that life is not about happiness or any end-goal but about the process itself - this is truly a lost generation of career people whose lives slip through their fingers. They wake up anxious in sweat once they realise they haven't lived at all. They never stop and look around when there's still time. I know as I was one of these people, craving for wealth and success; I had two business, slept 4-5 hours a day and in the end experienced a total burnout, followed anxiety and severe depression.

Being mindful of the process is a better first step of being more awake. Then letting go of some of it, especially unrealistic ambitious and goals, is the second step towards good direction. You need to realise which of these are harmful to you and have potential to destroy you - and believe me, they most definitely will, because Self is never satisfied.

That isn't even the case for meditation, but a healthy self reflection and a simpler practise. Yes, of course, meditation helps, but not in the short term. I am going to keep posting this video of Ajahn Sumedho every time the person has the very same problem. It is a great immediate practise with instant results.


Yes, this a known condition in the live/practical Buddhism.

This happens when your intellectual side suppresses your emotional side. As a result you feel your life to be empty, as if you were not living at all.

The path to recovery is complex and involves a number of changes to how you relate to your life and the world.

I can't go in too many details here, but basically,

  • psychosomatic exercises to recover rapport with your other side.
  • behavioral changes to learn to hear and trust your intuition.
  • spending more time in the nature.
  • engaging in all types of activities that involve spontaneous improvisation.
  • soft physical exercises like Qigong and dancing.
  • zen-style meditation (NOT Theravada-style for this condition).

Hope this helps.

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