Waiting For Karma

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Waiting for Karma[1]
The Other Side
Original Broadcast Date
Larry Block, Kristine McKenna, Jack Kornfield, Zak Block, Debi Mae West, Joe Frank
Karma Style, 59 minutes
Preceded by: Small World Karma
Followed by: Karma Memories

"I feel very uncomfortable eating when I'm sober."

Waiting for Karma is a program Joe Frank produced as part of the series The Other Side. It was originally broadcast on October 5, 2000.


Larry explains that he feels uncomfortable if he eats when he's sober because the food he likes is so bad for him, he'd feel guilty eating it if he were sober. Joe points out that alcohol is bad for him too. He'd only ride his motorcycle when he was drunk because it seemed so dangerous. He woke up in the hospital at UCLA after a ride

5:50: Jack Kornfield reads a poem from Kabir about how he keeps grasping one thing after another, then tells us about Evagrius, a desert monk of the fourth century, the demons he battled.

8:00: Larry tells Joe that Zach told him he was going to smoke grass.[1]

10:30: Kornfield talks about the problems with desire, that we always want more, that we have to learn to deal with it in order not to succumb to it.

16:30: Zach mixes music from 20 sources; Joe thinks it's cacophonous; Larry disagrees.

19:00: Kornfield tells Nasrudin's story of the old man who went looking for something new. Nasrudin stole his bag, took a shortcut, put his bag on the road - the man was happy when he found his bag, illustrating Kornfield's lesson that what matters is not what we have but how we relate to it.

21:40: Kristine McKenna tells about a friend who was stressed out from the work being done on her kitchen floor; Kristine thinks this is a small matter, but that each person's troubles are big to them. She says her natural state is troubled and melancholy. She and Joe speculate that distressing external events can distract people from their personal problems. She tells us what Leonard Cohen has to say about it.

28:00: Kornfield talks about the 'great doubt': how can we live our lives from the deepest place of our heart.

29:50: Larry recalls the summer camp he attended as a boy. He wanted to belong to the camp's Sanhedrin (apparently it was Jewish) but was never remarkable enough. He describes the ritual of induction to the Sanhedrin in detail.

41:40: Kornfield tells a Nasrudin story about looking for his key outside even though he lost it inside because the light's better outside as an illustration of people who look for happiness by looking on the outside rather than the inside.

44:20: Kornfield tells another Nasrudin story. He tries to cash a check at the bank. The teller wants him to identify himself, so Nasrudin pulls out a mirror and looks at himself, confirms his identity.

45:30: Larry tells a joke about 2 guys at Spago, they scope a beautiful woman.

46:10: Larry tells a joke about the actor who comes home to find out that his agent killed his wife, the guy is happy that his agent came to visit him.

48:40: Kornfield tells us that Buddha means awake, that we can cultivate being awake, that we have to deal with the world the way that it is. He tells the Zen joke about the 2 monks, one of whom helps a woman across a river. He expatiates on avoiding distraction.

57:20: Debi calls. She started to cry while she was on hold, has been crying all day. She grew up with lies, wonders what lies she's still living with.

Legacy Synopsis
  • Larry - getting drunk and eating bad things. Aborted motorcycle rides to Mexico. Drunken and stoned motorcycle escapades and waking up in the hospital.
  • Kornfield - the mind holds on to its link with the world.
  • Larry - Zak's drug habit, the new drug "progeny."
  • Kornfield - the problem with desire. If only mind.
  • Zak - He's mixing sound. We hear a sample of his work.
  • Kornfield - An old man travels with his bag of possessions looking for happiness. A trickster steals it, then returns it.
  • Kristine McKenna - Comparing material and existential despair. The natural state of her mind is troubled. Feeling relief in natural disasters. Being haunted by childhood. Leonard Cohen and despair among the successful.
  • Kristine and Joe - The food chain and the cruel hierarchy of nature - what can be the nature of god?
  • Kornfield - Great doubt. Sufi story about a man who questions heaven's gate-keeper.
  • Larry and Joe - Summer camp rituals. A group of self-selecting camp "elders," the Sanhedrin, and a tapping-in ceremony. Insiders and the faithful outcasts. Joe finds the idea cruel.
  • Kornfield - Mullah Nasrudin looks for his keys where the light is, identifies himself at the bank with a mirror. Conditioned ideas about oneself.
  • Larry - A joke about a man who calls his friend's attention to the anatomy of a woman in a restaurant. A joke about an actor who is told there's been a murder in his apartment.
  • Kornfield - what is listening, meditation?
  • Debi - Tears after a discussion of lying.


Additional credits

From the broadcast, 'You've been listening to Joe Frank "The other side". This program was called "Waiting for Karma" with Larry Block, Kristine McKenna, Debi Mae West, Buddhist teacher Jack Kornfield, and Joe Frank; production: J. C. Swiatek; music consultant: Thomas Golubić; production assistance: Esmé Gregson'


  1. Larry tells a similar story in At Last