February 24, 2016
‘How to Enter the Monastery’, a poem by Jisan Tova Green

“The monastery needs/ the road”, writes Zen teacher and poet Jisan Tova Green, who spent many years at Tassajara, where the fourteen-mile entry road discourages all but the most determined of visitors.


Photo: Shundo David Haye

The monastery needs
the road –the fourteen
rutted miles
rising to a crest
descending to the valley
the hairpin curves
sharp rocks
steep cliffs.
Nothing to catch you
if you fall.

This road dictates
slow driving
sturdy vehicles
care and attention.
Yes, get carried away
by the ancient oaks
the occasional bobcat
the limestone bones
of the hills
bared to the vast sky.
Get carried away
but keep your eyes
on the road
and take your time.

The monastery
needs the road.