Torn between two worlds

Exploring Theravāda's connections to other paths - what can we learn from other traditions, religions and philosophies?
greeneggsandsam
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Torn between two worlds

Post by greeneggsandsam » Thu Aug 14, 2014 2:12 pm

Hi Dhamma friends,

I have been feeling an imbalance between two worlds, which two? The world of dhamma and the world of samsara. The problem is I feel this constant tug of war between the two. I live in a western country, which entails western society and friends of a 22 year old, most westerners perhaps know what socialising at this age entails.

Its almost makes me grief how I get sucked into worldly pleasures, but thats all I know besides the dhamma. I feel the dhamma inside of me like an inner voice, but the more I follow the dhamma path the harder it becomes to tolerate socialising etc.

Also, I have feelings for this girl but I don't feel like most of my fellow comrades can understand the dhamma side of me. Do I open up about this? Apart of me is worried about rejection?

Any tips/ advice muchly appreciated

With Metta :smile:
If you think nibbana is better than samsara, then you've missed the point - Ajahn Sumedho

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martinfrank
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Re: Torn between two worlds

Post by martinfrank » Thu Aug 14, 2014 3:48 pm

Hi Greenegg etc.

If you decide "I'll go for girl-job-house-kids-van-and-mobile-home" you'll probably think "I made a mistake" and dream of the care-free monk's life once the credit card bills are higher than your salary.

If you decide for Dhamma-Wat Pah Nanachat-Tudong, you'll try to keep warm at night in your kuti by thinking of girls...

What about the Middle Way? Finish your degree, then stay two years in an ordinary Buddhist monastery with ordinary monks who know thinking of girls from their own experience. Learn to be a reasonably good monk. After two years, you'll know whether your Disillusion with the world and your Confidence are strong enough to be a monk for life. If not, disrobe, marry, apply for credit cards...

Talking of Dhamma... Why don't you start with talking about that you like to meditate. With those of your friends who are interested you can continue about Buddhism. With those who are not interested in meditation, talking about Dhamma will probably be wasted time.

May you and all beings be happy!
The Noble Eightfold Path: Proposed to all, imposed on none.

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Weakfocus
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Re: Torn between two worlds

Post by Weakfocus » Thu Aug 14, 2014 5:54 pm

I feel the same stress, being pulled in two entirely opposite directions. It tears you up, a part of your mind craves all the material things and then another part tells you there is no lasting joy in these worldly pleasures, and I feel guilty for pursuing them.

I have underperformed in life (in terms of worldy achievements) because I cannot dedicate myself to material pursuits with energy like other people, and at the same time I have not yet reached that dhammic maturity where I can renounce material objects and desires. This caused me so much anguish it pushed me into a decade long depression, and I am only now beginning to reach a level of normality thanks to a year of daily meditation practice.

My way of coping has been to accept my imperfection, my present imperfect state, and try to not worry too much about these things as that only increases the stress and drains energy. It is a daily struggle. What I am learning is that it is important to be kind to myself and not judge too harshly. For as long as I make a diligent effort to maintain five precepts and do the daily meditation I am walking in the right general direction. Yes, there will be bad decisions and failures in life. We must remind ourselves that full liberation is a task that takes lifetimes and not be harsh on ourselves.

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altar
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Re: Torn between two worlds

Post by altar » Fri Aug 15, 2014 1:11 am

hi,
this is the exact phrasing my teacher warned me of when i first met him. he recommended that for someone who could be torn between worlds, it is good to experience a relaxed life (or even a successful lay life) before obsessing about dhamma, otherwise one could become a monk and still have curiosities about lay life.

but its got to be different for different people, depends where your mind is at i think...

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Mkoll
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Re: Torn between two worlds

Post by Mkoll » Fri Aug 15, 2014 1:27 am

If you're hanging out with people who could care less about the Dhamma, then I can see why you'd feel torn between two worlds, greeneggsandsam. Maybe find some new friends? If you don't want to do this, then don't beat yourself up too much. If you're following the five precepts, you're a virtuous layman (I don't remember the sutta reference but there definitely is one to back that up). I think faith in the Triple Gem helps too.

~~~
martinfrank wrote:Hi Greenegg etc.

If you decide "I'll go for girl-job-house-kids-van-and-mobile-home" you'll probably think "I made a mistake" and dream of the care-free monk's life once the credit card bills are higher than your salary.

If you decide for Dhamma-Wat Pah Nanachat-Tudong, you'll try to keep warm at night in your kuti by thinking of girls...

What about the Middle Way? Finish your degree, then stay two years in an ordinary Buddhist monastery with ordinary monks who know thinking of girls from their own experience. Learn to be a reasonably good monk. After two years, you'll know whether your Disillusion with the world and your Confidence are strong enough to be a monk for life. If not, disrobe, marry, apply for credit cards...

Talking of Dhamma... Why don't you start with talking about that you like to meditate. With those of your friends who are interested you can continue about Buddhism. With those who are not interested in meditation, talking about Dhamma will probably be wasted time.

May you and all beings be happy!
Where does he say he wants to ordain? You seem to be really focused on this because you said something similar in another thread. I don't think advising people you know next-to-nothing about to ordain is usually a good idea.

:soap:
Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa
Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa
Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa

culaavuso
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Re: Torn between two worlds

Post by culaavuso » Fri Aug 15, 2014 1:45 am

Mkoll wrote:If you're following the five precepts, you're a virtuous layman (I don't remember the sutta reference but there definitely is one to back that up). I think faith in the Triple Gem helps too.
AN 8.25: Mahānāma Sutta wrote: "Venerable sir, in what way is one a lay follower?"

"Mahanama, inasmuch as one has gone to the Buddha for refuge, has gone to the Dhamma for refuge, has gone to the Sangha for refuge; in that way, Mahanama, one is a lay follower."

"Then, venerable sir, in what way is a lay follower virtuous?"

"Mahanama, inasmuch as a lay follower abstains from destroying living beings; abstains from taking what is not given; abstains from sexual misconduct; abstains from lying; and abstains from wine, liquor and intoxicants that are causes for heedlessness; in that way, Mahanama, a lay follower is virtuous."

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Mkoll
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Re: Torn between two worlds

Post by Mkoll » Fri Aug 15, 2014 1:48 am

Thanks culaavuso. So along with following the five precepts, faith in the Triple Gem is also part of being a virtuous lay follower.
Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa
Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa
Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa

greeneggsandsam
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Re: Torn between two worlds

Post by greeneggsandsam » Fri Aug 15, 2014 9:17 am

Thanks for all the replies :smile:
Mkoll wrote:If you're hanging out with people who could care less about the Dhamma, then I can see why you'd feel torn between two worlds, greeneggsandsam. Maybe find some new friends? If you don't want to do this, then don't beat yourself up too much. If you're following the five precepts, you're a virtuous layman (I don't remember the sutta reference but there definitely is one to back that up). I think faith in the Triple Gem helps too.

~~~
martinfrank wrote:Hi Greenegg etc.

If you decide "I'll go for girl-job-house-kids-van-and-mobile-home" you'll probably think "I made a mistake" and dream of the care-free monk's life once the credit card bills are higher than your salary.

If you decide for Dhamma-Wat Pah Nanachat-Tudong, you'll try to keep warm at night in your kuti by thinking of girls...

What about the Middle Way? Finish your degree, then stay two years in an ordinary Buddhist monastery with ordinary monks who know thinking of girls from their own experience. Learn to be a reasonably good monk. After two years, you'll know whether your Disillusion with the world and your Confidence are strong enough to be a monk for life. If not, disrobe, marry, apply for credit cards...

Talking of Dhamma... Why don't you start with talking about that you like to meditate. With those of your friends who are interested you can continue about Buddhism. With those who are not interested in meditation, talking about Dhamma will probably be wasted time.

May you and all beings be happy!
Where does he say he wants to ordain? You seem to be really focused on this because you said something similar in another thread. I don't think advising people you know next-to-nothing about to ordain is usually a good idea.

:soap:
Thanks martinfrank, at this stage I'm clearly not ready to consider any type of ordination, but at the same time, to think that ordination is completely out of the picture for this lifetime feels repulsive.

Mkoll, I have trouble keeping the 5 precepts.

Why is this?

Because socialising, at dare I say my age, involves at the very least the consumption of alcohol. Where I live is not very Buddhist, in fact, I don't know of anyone who follows the dhamma in the same manner as do I. The closest thing to that is an International student from the east who tells me they are buddhist, in which I reply which school? And they say I'm just a buddhist :thinking: . While I don't intend to write this sort of person off, they, perhaps, are more involved in the auspicious practices more so than the rest.

And for me, at least it feels this way, If I can't keep the 5th precept, then the others are harder to keep with any real security.

I regretfully say that the future looks bleak for a virtuous layman in my position, in terms of keeping friends and social life in tact.
If you think nibbana is better than samsara, then you've missed the point - Ajahn Sumedho

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Sokehi
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Re: Torn between two worlds

Post by Sokehi » Fri Aug 15, 2014 10:33 am

greeneggsandsam wrote:Thanks for all the replies :smile:
Mkoll wrote:If you're hanging out with people who could care less about the Dhamma, then I can see why you'd feel torn between two worlds, greeneggsandsam. Maybe find some new friends? If you don't want to do this, then don't beat yourself up too much. If you're following the five precepts, you're a virtuous layman (I don't remember the sutta reference but there definitely is one to back that up). I think faith in the Triple Gem helps too.

~~~
martinfrank wrote:Hi Greenegg etc.

If you decide "I'll go for girl-job-house-kids-van-and-mobile-home" you'll probably think "I made a mistake" and dream of the care-free monk's life once the credit card bills are higher than your salary.

If you decide for Dhamma-Wat Pah Nanachat-Tudong, you'll try to keep warm at night in your kuti by thinking of girls...

What about the Middle Way? Finish your degree, then stay two years in an ordinary Buddhist monastery with ordinary monks who know thinking of girls from their own experience. Learn to be a reasonably good monk. After two years, you'll know whether your Disillusion with the world and your Confidence are strong enough to be a monk for life. If not, disrobe, marry, apply for credit cards...

Talking of Dhamma... Why don't you start with talking about that you like to meditate. With those of your friends who are interested you can continue about Buddhism. With those who are not interested in meditation, talking about Dhamma will probably be wasted time.

May you and all beings be happy!
Where does he say he wants to ordain? You seem to be really focused on this because you said something similar in another thread. I don't think advising people you know next-to-nothing about to ordain is usually a good idea.

:soap:
Thanks martinfrank, at this stage I'm clearly not ready to consider any type of ordination, but at the same time, to think that ordination is completely out of the picture for this lifetime feels repulsive.

Mkoll, I have trouble keeping the 5 precepts.

Why is this?

Because socialising, at dare I say my age, involves at the very least the consumption of alcohol. Where I live is not very Buddhist, in fact, I don't know of anyone who follows the dhamma in the same manner as do I. The closest thing to that is an International student from the east who tells me they are buddhist, in which I reply which school? And they say I'm just a buddhist :thinking: . While I don't intend to write this sort of person off, they, perhaps, are more involved in the auspicious practices more so than the rest.

And for me, at least it feels this way, If I can't keep the 5th precept, then the others are harder to keep with any real security.

I regretfully say that the future looks bleak for a virtuous layman in my position, in terms of keeping friends and social life in tact.
I know what you are talking about from my own experience.

As I understand it the Five Precepts are not meant to be dogmatic. It's for you to see, practice and learn from unskillfull tendencies, actions and from the results. These are training guidelines, practices that you can't "take" and then you are done with. For example: there are dilemmas about "speeking truthfully". What is a lie? Do I lie when I say something and later I realise I was making it a bit up, dramatising it too much? Or was ist right because I felt that way when I said it? And what is sexual misconduct exactly? There are many views and some straight explanations by the Buddha what's good and what's not good ... but still: you have to learn in almost every moment again and again what it means to follow those training guidelines. At the end of the day when you can say: I observed dilligently, I might have failed out several reasons but what is expected from a yet not enlightent being?

I recall a talk by Ajahn Munindo where he said something about "some people get neurotic" and "some Anagarika here was worried if he had broken the precept of not eating at the forbidden time because he found a bit of food between his teeth and did swallow it." (not straight quotes but from my memory)

I'm not saying you should drink, in fact I would encourage you really not to do it. Drinking is a really stupid thing to do and if you have "friends" that don't want to spend time with you anymore because you became a "no fun" guy then I guess this is good. Seek companionship of people that are examples in good conduct or at least seek people who don't push you away because you have other priorities in the consumption of liquids. Why should they have a problem if you drink this instead of this? It is about being tolerant. You shouldn't try to moralise around drinking alcohol and how bad it is, but in return they should be kind to you if you just drink a coke at a party. Or you could start to drink less Alcohol. For example usually you had four beers, now let's limit yourself to two beers and see what it feels like. Don't push yourself too far or you will maybe throw the whole practice out of your life.

These are just my thoughts. Practice metta! That you are struggling is a sign to me that you are indeed "on the path". This is suffering leading to the end of suffering if you contemplate it, learn from it and even if it hurts sometimes give it another good try. Failing is not a problem - what's problematic is not getting back up again, not wishing yourself loving kindness and not trying it again and again.

Everyday when you can say: "Hey I haven't conciously killed anything today!" is a wonderful day and you should be proud of yourself, wholesome pride not selfish pride. And so step by step you can enjoy practice, seeing the benefit of good conduct. The precepts are not available to be used as a weapon against yourself but as a skillfull means to contemplate moment after moment after moment of all of your life.

I wish you well and I hope my word didn't hurt but where a bit helpful.

You will see for yourself, stay strong :heart: :hug:
Get the wanting out of waiting

What does womanhood matter at all, when the mind is concentrated well, when knowledge flows on steadily as one sees correctly into Dhamma. One to whom it might occur, ‘I am a woman’ or ‘I am a man’ or ‘I’m anything at all’ is fit for Mara to address. – SN 5.2

If they take what's yours, tell yourself that you're making it a gift.
Otherwise there will be no end to the animosity. - Ajahn Fuang Jotiko

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PsychedelicSunSet
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Re: Torn between two worlds

Post by PsychedelicSunSet » Fri Aug 15, 2014 9:30 pm

greeneggsandsam wrote: Mkoll, I have trouble keeping the 5 precepts.

Why is this?

Because socialising, at dare I say my age, involves at the very least the consumption of alcohol. Where I live is not very Buddhist, in fact, I don't know of anyone who follows the dhamma in the same manner as do I. The closest thing to that is an International student from the east who tells me they are buddhist, in which I reply which school? And they say I'm just a buddhist :thinking: . While I don't intend to write this sort of person off, they, perhaps, are more involved in the auspicious practices more so than the rest.

And for me, at least it feels this way, If I can't keep the 5th precept, then the others are harder to keep with any real security.

I regretfully say that the future looks bleak for a virtuous layman in my position, in terms of keeping friends and social life in tact.

Hope you don't mind someone tossing another opinion into the discussion. :D I'm 21 (newly as of last month) and almost all of my friends do drugs of one sort or another, and they do them on a daily basis, and I've never met another person my age who even knows anything about Buddhism. I've been completely sober for the past year and maintaining my precepts. Throughout this entire time, no one has had a problem with me being sober. In fact, usually at a party/social event no one will even notice that you're not drinking. Drunk people just assume everyone is drunk at a party. And if anyone offers you a drink, just respectfully decline. Over time my social life has decreased, but by choice. After refraining from drugs, keeping to the precepts, and whole heartedly practicing the Dhamma, that stuff starts to lose appeal anyways. As this happens, anyone who is actually your friend and is worth maintaining a friendship with will stick around. Having a monastery you can go to is nice if you can't find any Dhamma practitioners your age, but I haven't ever really found it too necessary. There are plenty of good hearted people striving for their happiness and the happiness of others who aren't Buddhist, or religious, or spiritual, and those are the people worth surrounding yourself with.

I hope it all goes well for you, and that you find a balance that brings you peace.

:anjali:
Metta

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SDC
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Re: Torn between two worlds

Post by SDC » Fri Aug 15, 2014 9:44 pm

PsychedelicSunSet wrote:Hope you don't mind someone tossing another opinion into the discussion. :D I'm 21 (newly as of last month) and almost all of my friends do drugs of one sort or another, and they do them on a daily basis, and I've never met another person my age who even knows anything about Buddhism. I've been completely sober for the past year and maintaining my precepts. Throughout this entire time, no one has had a problem with me being sober. In fact, usually at a party/social event no one will even notice that you're not drinking. Drunk people just assume everyone is drunk at a party. And if anyone offers you a drink, just respectfully decline. Over time my social life has decreased, but by choice. After refraining from drugs, keeping to the precepts, and whole heartedly practicing the Dhamma, that stuff starts to lose appeal anyways. As this happens, anyone who is actually your friend and is worth maintaining a friendship with will stick around. Having a monastery you can go to is nice if you can't find any Dhamma practitioners your age, but I haven't ever really found it too necessary. There are plenty of good hearted people striving for their happiness and the happiness of others who aren't Buddhist, or religious, or spiritual, and those are the people worth surrounding yourself with.

I hope it all goes well for you, and that you find a balance that brings you peace.

:anjali:
Metta
This is a friggin' fantastic post.

Went through the exact same thing when I started practicing.

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Mkoll
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Re: Torn between two worlds

Post by Mkoll » Fri Aug 15, 2014 10:43 pm

SDC wrote:
PsychedelicSunSet wrote:Hope you don't mind someone tossing another opinion into the discussion. :D I'm 21 (newly as of last month) and almost all of my friends do drugs of one sort or another, and they do them on a daily basis, and I've never met another person my age who even knows anything about Buddhism. I've been completely sober for the past year and maintaining my precepts. Throughout this entire time, no one has had a problem with me being sober. In fact, usually at a party/social event no one will even notice that you're not drinking. Drunk people just assume everyone is drunk at a party. And if anyone offers you a drink, just respectfully decline. Over time my social life has decreased, but by choice. After refraining from drugs, keeping to the precepts, and whole heartedly practicing the Dhamma, that stuff starts to lose appeal anyways. As this happens, anyone who is actually your friend and is worth maintaining a friendship with will stick around. Having a monastery you can go to is nice if you can't find any Dhamma practitioners your age, but I haven't ever really found it too necessary. There are plenty of good hearted people striving for their happiness and the happiness of others who aren't Buddhist, or religious, or spiritual, and those are the people worth surrounding yourself with.

I hope it all goes well for you, and that you find a balance that brings you peace.

:anjali:
Metta
This is a friggin' fantastic post.

Went through the exact same thing when I started practicing.
Agreed, great post.
Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa
Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa
Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa

whynotme
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Re: Torn between two worlds

Post by whynotme » Sun Aug 17, 2014 11:32 am

As far as I know, the alcohol precept is not about drinking alcohol but not enjoy drinking alcohol, as the suttas often state. E.g if for some reasons, one drinks a little not because loving doing it, but for being polite, it is not violating the precept. Of course don't drink at all would be better.

I think the point of this precept is not actively seeking drink that poison your mind. The attitude of you is more important than drinking or not as most limit of Buddhism is about the mind. For example, if a monk/nun is raped, forced to intercourse, even the action happened, if he/she doesn't enjoy/agree with it, then he/she does not violate the precept, otherwise, if he/she enjoys/agrees with it, the he/she violates the precept
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Mkoll
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Re: Torn between two worlds

Post by Mkoll » Sun Aug 17, 2014 11:44 am

whynotme wrote:As far as I know, the alcohol precept is not about drinking alcohol but not enjoy drinking alcohol, as the suttas often state. E.g if for some reasons, one drinks a little not because loving doing it, but for being polite, it is not violating the precept. Of course don't drink at all would be better.

I think the point of this precept is not actively seeking drink that poison your mind. The attitude of you is more important than drinking or not as most limit of Buddhism is about the mind. For example, if a monk/nun is raped, forced to intercourse, even the action happened, if he/she doesn't enjoy/agree with it, then he/she does not violate the precept, otherwise, if he/she enjoys/agrees with it, the he/she violates the precept
So you think someone is not breaking a precept if they kill, steal, engage in sexual misconduct, lie, or use intoxicants...as long as they don't enjoy doing so?
Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa
Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa
Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa

culaavuso
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Re: Torn between two worlds

Post by culaavuso » Sun Aug 17, 2014 4:53 pm

whynotme wrote:As far as I know, the alcohol precept is not about drinking alcohol but not enjoy drinking alcohol, as the suttas often state. E.g if for some reasons, one drinks a little not because loving doing it, but for being polite, it is not violating the precept. Of course don't drink at all would be better.

I think the point of this precept is not actively seeking drink that poison your mind. The attitude of you is more important than drinking or not as most limit of Buddhism is about the mind. For example, if a monk/nun is raped, forced to intercourse, even the action happened, if he/she doesn't enjoy/agree with it, then he/she does not violate the precept, otherwise, if he/she enjoys/agrees with it, the he/she violates the precept
It might be helpful to consider that part of the wording of the fifth precept references serving as a basis for heedlessness (pamāda). The second chapter in the Dhammapada, the Appamāda Vagga, is about the opposite condition: heedfulness. The chapter begins with a mention of the importance of heedfulness in the practice of the path:
Dhp 2 (21) wrote: Heedfulness is the path to the Deathless. Heedlessness is the path to death. The heedful die not. The heedless are as if dead already.
The Buddha's final statement before death is described in DN 16 as including the phrase appamādena sampādetha which may be translated as Bring about completion by being heedful.
[url=http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/thanissaro/inaword.html]The Practice in a Word[/url] by Ven. Ṭhānissaro Bhikkhu wrote: In this way, your sense of appamada helps to ensure that your path goes all the way to the Deathless. To borrow an old analogy: if the practice is like a building, then appamada is not only the foundation. It also acts as the walls and the roof as well.
Enjoyment does not seem to be mentioned in the wording of the precept.

It might also be worth recognizing that regarding the violation of the Pāṭimokkha rules, there is often a factor of intention required for the event to be considered a violation. There seems to be a significant difference between doing something unintentionally and doing something without enjoyment.

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