26. Don’t ponder others.

This slogan is very similar to the last, in that it points to how easy, entertaining, and totally distracting it can be to muse about what is wrong with everybody else. The habit of faultfinding is part of a larger pattern of insecurity in which we always feel the need to compare ourselves to other people. It is as though we need to convince ourselves that we are okay, which we can only do indirectly, in comparison to people who are less okay.
 
There is an old blues song with the line, “Before you ’cuse me, take a look at yourself.” In mind training that is the focus: taking a good look at yourself. However, the point is not to dwell on your own faults—or your own virtues, for that matter. It is to see yourself and others in a clear and unbiased way. It is to see, but not to dwell on the seeing, as though you were a cow chewing its cud.
 
The point of this slogan is that you should trust your own experience, and not always have to compare it to that of other people. It is to loosen the tendency to be so fascinated with what is wrong with everybody else that you are unable to see what is right and good about them. Instead of covering up your own faults and highlighting the faults of others, you should do the exact opposite.
 
Strangely, when you are not afraid to uncover your own flaws, and you are not constantly comparing yourself to others, it is a great relief. When you look at yourself, you no longer have to convince yourself of anything and you have nothing to hide. And when you look at other people, you are not doing so with the ulterior motive of using what you see to prop up your own feeling of superiority and virtue.

Today’s practice

As you go about your day, with the people you encounter, pay attention to what comes up in your mind. Pay particular attention to the qualities of comparison mind and faultfinding mind. What is the difference between simply seeing a flaw and dwelling on it or using it to prop yourself up?

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