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The Other Side
Original Broadcast Date
Larry Block, Jack Kornfield, Debi Mae West, Joe Frank
Karma Style, 59 minutes
Preceded by: Four Part Dissonance
Followed by: Summer Hill

"Malcolm's about to come home, and my friends just called and asked if we wanted to meet them at the Sky Bar."

Emptiness is a program Joe Frank produced as part of the series The Other Side). It was originally broadcast on May 27, 2001.


Debi tells Joe Malcolm is about to come home; a friend called and wants them to meet at the SkyBar,[1] but she feels out-of-sorts, doesn't know the meaning of life, worries that her life is meaningless.

1:20: Jack Kornfield says that emptiness is one of the great teachings of the Buddha, expatiates.

2:50: Larry tells Joe he wants to get a drive-away car, drive across country, end up at Joe's, quotes Robert Frost on home. Joe's less certain of his hospitality.

4:30: Debi tells Joe she feels uncreative, tells Joe what she wants to do.

6:00: Debi tells Joe she doesn't know where Malcolm is, is worried. She talks about what she's worried about. She mentions Dan and Suzanne's wedding.[2] She describes her money worries; Malcolm doesn't worry about money - also is behind on child support. (He has a 14 and a 16-year-old.) Malcolm's kids are going to visit.

12:10: Larry tells Joe about his visit to the Actors' credit union, the 3 guys, dancers, full of joy, how he enjoyed watching them. He bought turkey and vodka on the way home.

16:30: Debi tells Joe that she was judgmental of Malcolm's relationship with his kids but she heard them on the phone with him, how much they liked each other. Joe points out how little they see each other.

19:50: Jack Kornfield reads a poem from Kabir about living in the moment. Kornfield says that people come to spiritual practice to escape from life - he did - but no one escapes his/her life. He recounts returning from 5 years in monastery, living with his parents, continuing to live as a monk, begged for food, was mostly fed by his mother. He wouldn't handle money. He tells of visiting his twin brother in New York. He first went to Elizabeth Arden to meet his brother's wife. Later, he disrobes, gets a job, gets into graduate school, into a relationship, and all his old emotional problems return. He calls himself 'emotionally retarded'.

30:00: Larry tells Joe he has become inured to not getting any work. Joe tells Larry he deserves to feel as big a failure as he wants, supports Larry in his self-loathing. Larry's going to see a new therapist, Doctor Dan.

36:00: Debi tells Joe Malcolm hasn't called; she'll go to the SkyBar without him. She likes his upbeat spirit. She worries about his ex-wife. Her friends at the SkyBar call. She's confident she and Malcolm will marry. She tells Joe someone stole all his band's equipment, which he interprets as a sign that maybe he should leave music.

42:00: Malcolm had a deal with Interscope records but they dropped him. He's trying to figure out what he wants to do.

43:00: Debi's unhappy that Malcolm's over an hour late.

43:40: Joe and Debi talk about Malcolm's wife, Lena, whom the kids are going to stay with 1 week of their visit. She worries about Lena and Malcolm. Malcolm arrives.

48:10: Kornfield says he exerted a lot of effort when he began to teach. He figured out that effort makes meditation more difficult, that effort is a symptom of fear, that dealing with the fear makes the effort unnecessary.

50:20: Larry tells Joe about his generalized rage.

50:50: Kornfield talks about overcoming bitterness, quotes Emily Dickinson's 'There is a pain - so utter'[3] as an example of avoiding dealing with pain.

52:10: Larry tells Joe he's doing badly, drinking a lot, has run out of drugs.

52:30: Kornfield tells that we have to accept our suffering.

54:00: Larry tells some rude ethnic jokes. Because it's rude to tell them on Poles, he chooses Talibans as the butt of his jokes. Joe doesn't get the jokes.

Legacy Synopsis
  • Debi Mae West: meaning of life, need for purpose.
  • Jack Kornfield on emptiness.
  • Larry Block: fantasizing about a cross country trip ending at Joe's house and how Joe might react to the unexpected visit.
  • Debi in creative despair.
  • Larry on the guys in line at the bank, wishing he felt their joy and contentment.
  • Debi anticipating a three-week visit from her boyfriend's kids. Joe's not impressed with what he hears about Malcolm, seeing his kids just a few weeks out of the year and needing to have his wages garnished to support them.
  • Jack: it's now or never. Why he was drawn to Buddhism. Funny personal story about meeting his sister in law in New York, then driving a taxi in Boston; graduate school, trying to maintain serenity. The point: discovering that fleeing a painful family life and moving to Asia to become a monk is not the same as banishing anger and pain and emotion forever.
  • Larry: feeling like an utter failure. Joe is completely behind him on this.
  • Debi: where is Malcolm? He's late. She feels threatened by his ex wife. Yet she's considering marriage. She sand Joe discuss Malcolm's future. Malcolm finally arrives.
  • Jack: fear underlying all dukkha.
  • Larry: feeling generalized rage.
  • Jack: more on pain. Emily Dickinson quote.
  • Larry: doing badly, switched to vodka, ran out of Valium.
  • Jack: concluding thoughts.
  • Larry tells a few jokes and has to explain them for Joe.



  1. a fancy expensive bar in the Hotel Mondrian
  2. which she recounts in The Future
  3. 'There is a pain - so utter -
    It swallows substance up -
    Then covers the Abyss with Trance -
    So Memory can step
    Around - across - upon it -
    As one within a Swoon -
    Goes safely - where an open eye -
    Would drop Him - Bone by Bone.'