[joe-frank-list] Jack Kornfield

mike hurst mrdubway at hotmail.com
Tue Jun 20 05:40:23 PDT 2006

Thank you Justin for that great summary. I look forward to listening to Alan 

One or more listmembers who recently wrote that they held the Kornfield 
segments in low esteem.   I can understand why when I read these emails.  I 
am reminded of my friend who has earned his PhD studying and writing about 
Buddhism and doesn't like Kornfield recordings which he dismisses as "new 
age self help recordings."

I think that the audience Kornfield speaks to should be kept in mind.  I 
think Kornfield is a great introduction to Buddhism for western people.  
Kind of like the aerobics instructor at a hospital who is assigned to work 
with fatally obese people - the aerobics regimen is weak but you have to 
consider the intended audience.

But Kornfield has studied with some of the most respected Buddhist 
philosophers, and is able to present the philosphy in a way that is really 
welcoming to the uninitiated.

For the past several months I have been working my way through India and 
Indochina learning a lot about Buddhism.  Some of the concepts like the 
absence of self or a soul can be difficult to grapple with depending on your 
upbringing.  It helps to have someone like Jack Kornfield ease you in to it.

Regarding what Joe thinks about Kornfield I have no idea.  Can someone ask 

>From: Justin Kempton <justin at kempton.com>
>Reply-To: Joe Frank Mailing List <joe-frank-list at armory.com>
>To: Joe Frank Mailing List <joe-frank-list at armory.com>
>Subject: Re: [joe-frank-list] Jack Kornfield
>Date: Mon, 19 Jun 2006 09:53:15 -0700
>That's a very interesting point. I listen / listened to all three 
>All three have left a huge body of work to the public. Frank and Watts are 
>available to listen to on many radio stations (online), and also via peer 
>to peer. Thanks to Joe Frank, Kornfield is available via proxy of Joe's 
>work. Personally, Joe Frank was my bridge into preferring spoken word 
>versus music to listen to. That migrated to a brief bit of Kornfield, where 
>I bought two of his series. When I ran through all of the Joe Frank 
>programs, I discovered Alan Watts since they were available online for free 
>at that time.
>Alan Watts let's you know right away that he is an entertainer, discounting 
>himself as a guru. He talent is the gift of gab, as they say, and he is 
>doing it for money. He smoked marijuana fairly regularly (but does not 
>advertise this unless you look for it), had tried Acid, and was probably 
>active in that. It was San Francisco, and during the late 60's after all. 
>There is audio of him with Timothy Leary / Gary Snyder / Allen Ginsberg ). 
>More importantly, Watts was a friend of Aldous Huxley and was heavily 
>influenced by Krishnamurti. ). Jack Kornfield, of the modern west coast 
>neutered drug class, is less open about them. He admits to 'shrooms in 
>Boston, on an unspecified date and time. Joe Frank seems more into alcohol 
>then pot, like his friend Larry and son. Incidentally, You can hear it 
>after awhile, the drug of choice is reflected in their style of speech. 
>Watts tends to ramble, especially in his later series, it drives my 
>girlfriend crazy.
>Jack Kornfield quotes Alan Watts a few times, but not nearly as much as 
>Gandhi. Kornfield seems more focused on the Buddhism of Thailand where he 
>studied, Theravada*, *whereas Watts is more into Zen (Japan). Kornfield 
>tends to splatter his lectures with quotes from all over the place, while 
>Watts does not quote as much. This reflects the difference between 
>Theravada and Zen. Zen is more about acting spontaneous, whereas Theravada 
>is traditional and holds to authority. I think Watts is more original. 
>Watt's may very well be a name that get's quoted a thousand years from now, 
>he has a wonderful way of expressing his point so you understand it 
>immediately. You get the feeling that Watts didn't like or trust Gandhi, as 
>the biggest trouble makers can be the heroic selfless preachers of good 
>habit. He certainly didn't quote him. Kornfield on the other hand quotes 
>Gandhi regularly. This could be historic / and regional preference, Watts 
>is British after all, in the older empire sense.
>As to the initial point, what does Joe Frank think of Jack Kornfield? I 
>always remember Larry accusing Joe of being a form of provocateur, and I 
>think there is some truth in that. It seems more like Joe wants to incite 
>thought on these things, rather then project one belief or another. As to 
>which beliefs he holds, who knows. One gets the feeling, after reading and 
>listening to these westernized buddhists, that a world of saints would be a 
>dull world. Joe plays Coyote, in the Navajo tradition, almost doing the 
>opposite to prove what is good.
>Where would the story be if everyone spoke like Jack Kornfield? If everyone 
>was careful never to step on an ant let's say, or swat a fly, or hurt 
>anyone's feelings. Debi and Larry are real people, with real problems 
>(actually, how much of that is true?).. at least within the context of the 
>show, Larry and Debi have real problems. It makes for very interesting 
>drama, and a story line you can stick to. Kornfield, like the rug in the 
>big Lebowski, really ties the room together, but not any more or less then 
>Larry or Debi or Joe himself.
>As for myself, were it not for the inclusion of Jack Kornfield, I doubt I 
>would have kept listening so long, and to such depth.
>-Justin Kempton
>Jeff Anton wrote:
>>Do a web search and you'll find lots of pages.
>>The wikipedia entry is pretty good.
>>It occurs to me that Alan Watts is like a bridge between
>>Jack Kornfield and Joe Frank.  Alan is like Jack in that they
>>both were westerners who taught eastern philosophy and did that
>>in Marin county California.  Alan is like Joe in that they both
>>struggle with alcohol, were radio broadcasters of stories and
>>philosophy, and avoided wars.
>>This web page is a transcript of a radio broadcast Alan made in the
>>60's or early 70's.  For me, it reads very much like a Joe monolog show.
>>Jeff Anton
>>Sally wrote:
>>>Who is Alan Watts?
>>>On Jun 19, 2006, at 12:48 AM, Jeff Anton wrote:
>>>>It took quite a while for me to stop being annoyed by Jack's voice
>>>>in Joe's work.  For me, Jack seems like a pale, monotone and overly
>>>>simple version of Alan Watts.  Having heard many of the recordings
>>>>of Alan Watts' lectures, Jack puts me to sleep.  Alan's talks and
>>>>stories seem very much more like Joe's work to me.  I've also thought
>>>>that Joe might have run out of his own point of view.  Joe's early
>>>>work was often actors doing some reading with Joe as a kind of
>>>>narrator or chorus pointing something out.  When Jack Kornfield
>>>>showed up, I felt that Joe deligated the narrator/chorus role to
>>>>Jack because so much of those shows are Joe and Frank or Debi on
>>>>the phone.
>>>>Jeff Anton
>>>>Sally wrote:
>>>>>I would absolutely love to hear what everyone's take on Jack   
>>>>>Kornfield is, and what they think Joe's take on him is.
>>>>>I initially regarded them ironically, and assumed Joe was using  them  
>>>>>as counterpoint to Debi (who seems after a sense of  spiritual  
>>>>>fulfillment) and also sometimes Larry (who seems to  misunderstand  
>>>>>Jack completely). But, now I've actually gotten  really into them. I  
>>>>>feel like Joe is using them to condemn Debi  and Larry's world view.  
>>>>>But, then, does Joe subscribe to Jack's  philosophies?
>Joe Frank Mailing List
>joe-frank-list at armory.com

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