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I read somewhere that Dhamma should only be taught to people who are interested and attentive to the knowledge, but why aren't more people interested in the first place? Dhamma could lead to the end of suffering, which is something most people would be interested in right?

Is this because of indifference and thus ill-will and aversion? Is it because of delusion? Laziness and lethargy, or other parts of the five hindrances?

And why do people react so hostile when discussing achievements such as having better concentration, more equanimity etc.? Why don't they see it as an opportunity to learn something new? Why is there such a lack of enthusiasm and a drive to search for wisdom?

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I will answer from the pragmatic perspective targeting mainly a western person.

There aren't more people interested in Dhamma because the path of Buddha is difficult and requires non-trivial amount of knowledge, therefore plenty of time is spent on reading treaties, sutras and texts to get even basic intellectual understanding of principles.

Furthermore, Eightfold path is not an easy, nor quick path to follow, and it is marked with plenty of difficulties and hardships on the way; there are hindrances and stagnations, questions, all sorts of issues that one experiences. For this very reason, many people even remotely interested in Buddhism get either quite frightened or put off - for they have to abandon so much, much more than the typical western person is comfortable with, and secondly, Buddhism requires much practise practise every day. Given that there are many more alternatives to do in the evening, in the stimuli times, people prefer to keep themselves relatively content and ignorant while binging on Netflix.

The experience of practising Christianity or Islam is much simpler and convenient; they incorporate basic, more straightforward rules to follow and neither of them require anything more than blind faith.

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In the Ayacana Sutta (SN 6.1), the Buddha explained that for the masses who are strongly clinging to sensual pleasures and other things like name, fame, wealth, health, relationships etc., it is hard to understand the full depth and breadth of the Dhamma.

Then, while he was alone and in seclusion, this line of thinking arose in his awareness: "This Dhamma that I have attained is deep, hard to see, hard to realize, peaceful, refined, beyond the scope of conjecture, subtle, to-be-experienced by the wise. But this generation delights in attachment, is excited by attachment, enjoys attachment. For a generation delighting in attachment, excited by attachment, enjoying attachment, this/that conditionality and dependent co-arising are hard to see. This state, too, is hard to see: the resolution of all fabrications, the relinquishment of all acquisitions, the ending of craving; dispassion; cessation; Unbinding. And if I were to teach the Dhamma and if others would not understand me, that would be tiresome for me, troublesome for me."

And then, most terrifyingly to us:

As the Blessed One reflected thus, his mind inclined to dwelling at ease, not to teaching the Dhamma.

Fortunately the Buddha was persuaded otherwise:

There are beings with little dust in their eyes who are falling away because they do not hear the Dhamma. There will be those who will understand the Dhamma.

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Dhamma could lead to the end of suffering, which is something most people would be interested in right?

For people who grasp to Self, Dhamma and emptiness is a step down, it's just a bad trade.

For people who discover Dhamma, who accept emptiness but still remember the ideal of Self, it's a small step up, it's a good trade.

For those who follow Dhamma, it's best not to compete.

Personally imo, whether with God or nihilism, with respect to the All as defined in SN 35.23, people are indifferent. The former because it's the next world - not this one, the latter just because really.

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Because Dhamma is difficult to understand. The path shown by Buddha is difficult to follow. For example most people will like to keep their wealth and relatives intact and would not follow the footsteps of Buddha and renounce wealth and relatives. People don't understand their belief in Self is an illusion, based on false belief. For pain and suffering most people would go to a modern doctor rather than seek refuge in Dhamma. People are craving for ignorance, craving for feeling , craving for existence , craving for non-existence. But they don't know that they are ensnared in the endless cycle of birth and death. People are unable to give up personal love or enmity. They wish bad for the person or society leading to personal or social struggle. For example Hindu Muslims fight over Ram Mandir in India or Palestines and Israel struggle over Jerusalem. These fights involve the person so deeply in the Maya( Delusion or moha) that fail to see the Truth that these people and societies are devoid of any Self. People are jumping like monkeys one tree to another tree to find happiness which lasts (which they don't find it). Laziness and lethargy is due to ignorance. If people are told that they are going definitely going to suffer very badly if they do not amend their ways then all the laziness will vanish. But this doesn't happen because people believe in the Self , they believe that there is eternal being who will save them if they follow the right morals. But unfortunately there is no such being. Good morality gives them better destinations but all those destinations ultimately fail to hold and collapse causing immeasurable suffering. Also I think happiness is being advertised so strongly in the media that no one believes that Life is suffering. At best people want to believe (as Deepak Chopra said) in the existence of both Dukkha and Sukkha.

I gave so many reasons above , the most important reason is that it is very difficult to escape the temptations of Mara. Mara bothered Buddha and Bhikkus and Bhikkhunis. Mara offers temptations(including wealth , sex, children,status etc) to all which most people can not ignore. This is why people are not interested in following Dhamma.

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Is this because of indifference and thus ill-will and aversion? Is it because of delusion? Laziness and lethargy, or other parts of the five hindrances?

In short it's the Three Poisons of greed, ill-will, and ignorance within each and everyone of us. See how difficult it is for an addict to drugs or alcohol to abandone those things and return to a simple healthy lifestyle, let alone living a lifestyle under the Dhamma's light. Sensual pleasure is an addiction and in this respect, we're all still addicts to that powerful "drug".

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Lust creates the world; in the same way each of us was born from our mother's womb; who created us due to her lust. The world is interested in lust; even when lust causes suffering. Most burned by lust return to lust or suppress their beloved lust (with drugs, alcohol, medication, etc). That the world is like this is ordinary & normal. Those interested in Dhamma is "rare". "Human birth", which means being interested in & according to Dhamma, is "rare".

Bhikkhus, suppose a man would throw a yoke with a single hole into the great ocean, and there was a blind turtle which would come to the surface once every hundred years. What do you think, bhikkhus, would that blind turtle, coming to the surface once every hundred years, insert its neck into that yoke with a single hole?

If it would ever do so, venerable sir, it would be only after a very long time.

Sooner, I say, would that blind turtle, coming to the surface once every hundred years, insert its neck into that yoke with a single hole than the fool who has gone once to the nether world would regain the human state. For what reason? Because here, bhikkhus, there is no conduct guided by the Dhamma, no righteous conduct, no wholesome activity, no meritorious activity. Here there prevails mutual devouring, the devouring of the weak. For what reason? Because, bhikkhus, they have not seen the Four Noble Truths. What four? The noble truth of suffering … the noble truth of the way leading to the cessation of suffering.

SN 56.47

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Dhamma could lead to the end of suffering, which is something most people would be interested in right?

No, that is not what most people are interested in. Most people are interested in worldly goals like making more money, having a beautiful girl/boyfriend, having a big house, glory, fame etc. It is only for those who have seen it all and have seen the inherent nature of suffering in all these things or for those very intelligent few who can through means of mere intellect know that all these things bring only suffering, only they came to the Dhamma.

Yes most people are interested in the idea of 'end of suffering' that's what all the politicians and priests promise but, they choose the temporary end via fulfilling sensual pleasures.

Is this because of indifference and thus ill-will and aversion? Is it because of delusion? Laziness and lethargy, or other parts of the five hindrances?

No, all these hindrances come after you start practicing the Dhamma. It is basically because of ignorance of the fact that there is another path of wisdom called the Dhamma and also by having wrong views about the Dhamma.

And why do people react so hostile when discussing achievements such as having better concentration, more equanimity etc.? Why don't they see it as an opportunity to learn something new?

Because all these achievements don't give you profit and success in worldly terms. Society wants you to be its slave and not a free individual. Think about it, if everyone attains equanimity then who is going to go on borders and wage war.

Why is there such a lack of enthusiasm and a drive to search for wisdom?

That's a matter of personal intelligence. Lack of enthusiasm for wisdom only denotes the naivety of an individual.

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Why aren't more people interested in Dhamma?

I think that more people are interested -- and that in many cases they already know at least the first thing about it.

I think that if people don't appear to be interested, it's that it's not being taught very well (i.e. that "we don't teach very well", "we are not good teachers").

I think it's famously difficult to teach, by the way -- an activity for which it's better to have some training, and/or an activity which distinguishes a Buddha from an Arahant.

And why do people react so hostile when discussing achievements such as having better concentration, more equanimity etc.?

Perhaps you should ask them why?

I can guess there are many reasons, which could include for example:

  • It sounds like criticism -- "you could have better concentration" is like saying "you have bad concentration now". And it sounds like conceit -- "my concentration is better than yours"
  • They don't have faith (and don't know enough to have reason to be faithful) -- i.e. faith in you as a teacher and/or faith in the dhamma
  • It may seem counter-intuitive (even defeatist) -- e.g. that a sensible remedy for "I'm struggling to obtain something, or to be someone" might be to "stop struggling", and so on.
  • Not everyone shares the same "view" of the world (e.g. here the first noble truth, which I assumed was obvious to me and everyone, isn't obvious to someone else); the dhamma says there's right view (and therefore presumably wrong view too), and in fact at least two different kinds of right view (see also lay versus monastic life)
  • Some practical dhamma builds on (and may require) previous dhamma. How easily can you explain the difference between "effort" and "right effort"? Does (or should) your explanation depend on who you're trying to explain it to, and when?
  • Maybe they have some preconceived objections:
    • "Buddhism: that's the religion which says I might be reborn as a kitten -- am I right?"
    • "Buddhism: what strange hats and clothes they wear!"
    • "Buddhism: maybe I will, in a future life, but in this life I'm unable to understand Tibetan."
  • Maybe they're already practising: not killing or lying or stealing, trying to work for what's "right" (at least "right" in the sense of mundane/lay society, trying to look after family and friends and so on).
  • Maybe people aren't completely "rational" and it's beneficial to appeal to their emotions somehow too.
  • We're not good at memorising (reciting, recounting, narrating) Buddhist text. So whatever text we can produce (e.g. speak) if we're trying to teach isn't as good as the text which we've been privileged to hear or read ourselves.

Why is there such a lack of enthusiasm and a drive to search for wisdom?

I think it would be better to ask the opposite version of this question.

In general, how to teach? What makes a good teacher?

Or more specifically, how could you teach (or how if at all should you act, what could one say or do) in such-and-such a (specific) situation?

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