Ratna Ling, a non-profit retreat and conference center in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition, is a community dedicated to serving the welfare of others and cultivating work as a means to self-knowledge through a wide variety of projects both local and global. Our faculty and staff consists entirely of full-time resident volunteers from all walks of life from California and New York to Brazil and Hungary. We live and work in the redwood coastal hills of Sonoma County, CA. This year-round residential work-study opportunity combines meaningful work with opportunities for self-growth. No religious affiliation is required to volunteer although we are seeking those with a sincere interest in Buddhism and a strong work ethic. The initial commitment for this program is 6 months to 1 year with a 6-week trial period. For those who find our community and lifestyle a good fit longer term commitments are possible.
Your time here will include delicious vegetarian, mostly organic meals (we are known for our great food!) and housing shared by twos in cozy cabins with private bathroom and outdoor deck.
Other Perks Include
- Living allowance stipend
- Job training in marketable skills, or contribute your own
- Evening classes on the philosophy and practice of Buddhism
- Skillful Means training – self-development to activate your best knowledge & potential
- Work for the benefit to others
Current volunteers share their experience of Ratna Ling Work-Study Program:
“Today is the two year anniversary of my arrival to Ratna Ling. Previously I was working full time as a professional photographer in New Jersey. Beyond stressed and close to burn out at only 24, I began to wonder how I could get more out of work, rather than just an endless cycle of putting in time to pay my bills. I was delving deeper into the practice of yoga but longed for an environment that would support my heart’s desire for a more meaningful life.
I now help to manage the retreat center and the hours spent on my yoga mat have turned into a lifestyle of service. Each day is extremely challenging yet extremely rewarding. Moment by moment I am pushed until I reach my edge, exposed, and then asked to look honestly at my own self-imposed limitations. Then we are given tools to learn how to relax and to stay open when old habits tell us to shut down. And it is here, in the ‘staying open’, that I have learned a new way to be that is brimming with limitless potential. This program has changed my life.”
Chelsea, Ratna Ling Volunteer
“I originally came for 6 months in search of a more balanced and fulfilling life than what I had been living in NYC for the previous 5 years. If I thought the ”spiritual path” was going to be something happy and light and that coming to Ratna Ling would mean “getting away from it all,” letting go of that misconception was my first big challenge here.
Ratna Ling is not an escape from the real world, but very much grounded in everyday experience. The Ratna Ling work-study program provides access to a body of knowledge that is relevant, practical, and effective in everyday life, in an environment that is supportive of spiritual practice. When I apply what I learn in class and through my practice, I find everyday challenges can be phenomenal opportunities for growth and learning.
It is possible to come here and miss most of this, to rebuild the life we were just living over again and repeat the same old ways of doing things. However, I can confidently say that if someone comes and really dives in, gets involved in classes and practice, and is willing to do the sometimes messy, unpleasant work that comes with the spiritual path, the results can not only be rewarding but deeply transformative.”
Matthew, Dharma Publishing Volunteer
What past volunteers have to say…
“Everyday people are putting every bit of themselves into what they are doing…you’ve always got someone else to pull you in the right direction…this place is beautiful – it’s pretty ideal all around. I can’t imagine a better situation for myself.”
Julie, 26, Yeshe De
“I’ve been in community settings before where people don’t get along. Here, they find a way to make it work -everyone has a good, positive energy…I don’t worry about time. It’s all life, without separation between ‘my time’ and ‘work time’. I enjoy that I don’t feel the need to watch the clock…it feels as though things flow naturally here.”
John, 30, Yeshe De
“I kept seeing parts of myself I didn’t want to see. I saw all these patterns and old habits. I wanted to find a way to look more gently at myself…once you accomplish things here, you bring with you the confidence to achieve things anywhere you go.”
Amanda, 23, Ratna Ling