Not seeing fine or coarse,
How can there be any bias?

“Fine or coarse” refers to the deepness or shallowness of practice. I have often cautioned you against comparing your practice with that of others or your own self at different times. Such comparisons are only subjective. Today someone burst out crying in the meditation hall. One person may have thought, “Oh, she’s not doing so well.” Another, “I think she’s becoming enlightened!” Or else, “Maybe she’s going crazy.” None of these thoughts may represent the true situation. Whether she felt pain or sorrow, became enlightened, or went crazy, it’s her business. It has nothing to do with anyone else. Making comparisons inevitably means judging others.

Ch’an Master Sheng Yen

When you are sitting, refrain from looking around and sizing people up. A common type of comparison people make on retreat is to see someone sitting through three periods and think, “How can he do that? Don’t his legs hurt? Boy! My legs hurt all the time. I can barely get through one period.” Sometime later, the person does move a little, and they say to themselves, “Ha! Probably his legs are hurting now. So he’s not so special after all.”

These are examples of comparing yourself with others, but you can also compare yourself with yourself. Perhaps you are having a miserable time from day one. Your legs hurt, you are generally uncomfortable and cannot get into the spirit of practice. You feel plagued with problems, but there comes a day when suddenly you feel great. Your body is comfortable and your mind is calm. You are pleased by this change of affairs and say to yourself, “I finally got it.” You have become so excited you can no longer meditate. Later, when your meditation is not as pleasurable, you may try to analyze how you sat so well that one time and why you are so uncomfortable now.

Comparing good and bad is just deluded thinking. As long as you are immersed in these wandering thoughts, you will not enter the proper conditions for practice. Do not concern yourself with anything going on around you. Nor should you be concerned with anything going on inside yourself. Focus fully on the method and do not make external or internal comparisons. If you can do that, your practice will be effective.