Ratna Ling Work Study Volunteer Program

Ratna Ling Meditation Hall on the left, Conference Center on the right.
East view of Ratna Ling Retreat Center - Meditation Hall
A perfect rainbow on a spring day; Dharma Publishing headquarters at Ratna Ling.
Working together on customer orders at Dharma Publishing; shipping all over the world!
Stupa Garden at Ratna Ling.
Editing video course material at Dharma Publishing.
Video program production at Dharma Publishing
Packing books for shipment at Dharma Publishing
Evening light outside the Main dining room Lodge at Ratna Ling.
Tibetan yoga class (Kum Nye) for volunteers
Landscaping work: keeping the grounds beautiful and healthy.
A beautiful day outside the bindery, holding the books we manufactured that will be given away.
Making the books to send to libraries in Asia
Pulling the books off the cutter - fast and fun!
Team work is dream work - boxing and wrapping the Buddhist texts for shipment to Asia.
Our large and beautiful kitchen: what a great place to work!
In the Meditation Hall at Ratna Ling - you can practice here!
Volunteers enjoying the delicious vegetarian meals.

Unique opportunity to live, work and learn at a beautiful Tibetan Buddhist retreat center.

Ratna Ling's all-volunteer community is dedicated to preserving Tibetan Buddhist culture and expanding human potential. Our programs include secular and traditional Buddhist studies such as meditation, work as practice, Tibetan yoga and traditional Dharma teachings. The wide variety of onsite projects have both local and global reach.

Located on a ridge in the beautiful coastal mountains of Sonoma County, CA, Ratna Ling is surrounded by natural beauty. Though we are only about 3 hours north of the Bay Area, this is a very rural location with no shopping for miles. Hiking trails, redwood forests, wildlife and starry skies abound. Salt Point State Park and the Pacific Ocean are less than 15 minutes away.

About Ratna Ling Work Study Volunteer Program

This year-round residential volunteer 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 Buddhist studies and a strong work ethic. We require an initial commitment of 6 months, beginning with a two-week quarantine, per our Covid policy.  For those who find our community and lifestyle a good fit, longer-term volunteer opportunities are possible.

The Venerable Tarthang Tulku Rinpoche, one of the first traditionally trained Tibetan Buddhist teachers to arrive in America, founded Ratna Ling Retreat Center in 2004 to serve as an intentional, spiritual community.  

Our faculty and staff consist entirely of full-time resident volunteers who work for one of four sister organizations, all with operations located onsite:

  •   Ratna Ling Retreat Center
  •   Dharma Publishing
  •   Yeshe De Text Preservation Project 
  •   Sarnath International Nyingma Institute

All of our organizations are non-profits. Funds raised from our retreat center support our sister organizations whose projects and activities work to preserve the Tibetan Buddhist culture, including the Yeshe De project which replicates rare Buddhist texts and distributes them to monasteries around the world.

The Employee Experience

Our faculty and staff consist entirely of full-time resident volunteers from all over the world. Most volunteers stay 6 months to a year, but many stay longer and some become long-term community members.

Ratna Ling's weekly schedule is rigorous with 6 days per week dedicated to work, classes in the evenings and ongoing practice opportunities. Being a part of our work-study program is an immersive and often life-changing experience.  Work-study participants learn valuable job and life skills with opportunities for personal growth, expanding beyond previously held limitations and tapping into inner potential.

Included in our program is the opportunity to take classes in a variety of Buddhist studies: Meditation, Skillful Means (how work can be a path to inner knowledge), Buddhist history and philosophy, Kum Nye (Tibetan yoga) and more. In addition, volunteers are able to participate in Buddhist celebrations, ceremonies, and practices if desired.

Ideal Candidate

All candidates for Ratna Ling's work-study program should be reliable, hardworking, steady, open-minded and interested in living in a community.  Though it is not necessary to be Buddhist to participate, work-study participants should have an interest in related studies such as Buddhist psychology, meditation, Buddhist studies and Kum Nye (Tibetan yoga).  People who like the satisfaction of work and producing tangible results are the best fit for our program.

Application Guidelines

  • We ask for a 6 month minimum commitment 
  • Couples in ongoing, well-established relationships are welcome to apply 

We ask that applicants demonstrate:

  • Sincere interest in the organizational mission and interest in living in a community 
  • A volunteer spirit and a heartfelt dedication to service as a practice
  • Physical, mental, and emotional health and stability with no major ongoing health concerns
  • Flexibility and willingness
  • Financial resources to sustain personal needs (medical, transportation, loans, bills) for your full commitment period

Please do not apply if:

  • You have recently quit smoking or stop using drugs
  • You are coping with major unresolved personal and/or emotional issues, withdrawal, or diagnosed psychological disorders
  • You have recently begun a recovery program
  • You have recently begun a regimen of psychotropic medications

International Applicants

  • We welcome volunteers from around the world; however please be aware that if you do not hold a USA passport or green card we cannot by law assist you in obtaining a visa for entry, visiting or residing in the United States. We cannot issue any letters of invitation or confirmation for volunteering at our work-study program.

Room and Board

As a volunteer in our work-study program, you will receive:

  • Free housing - you may have a roommate(s)
  • Free vegetarian meals 
  • Free laundry facilities, Wi-Fi and domestic phone calls 
  • A modest monthly living allowance 
  • Free classes in a variety of Buddhist studies, Meditation, Skillful Means (how work can be a path to inner knowledge), Buddhist history and philosophy, and Kum Nye (Tibetan yoga)

Employee Perks

  • Opportunity to engage in an environment where meaningful work and self-development are valued
  • Supportive, positive community environment
  • Clean, fresh air, natural beauty, close proximity to hiking trails and the Pacific Ocean

Getting Here and Getting Around

Some volunteers bring a car, which is welcome, but not necessary. The nearest large city is an hour and a half away, so even with transportation volunteers don't choose to leave often.

There is bus transportation available from most major nearby airports to our pick-up point, Fort Ross. Accepted applicants will receive further direction as to transportation recommendations.

For Fun

Enjoy hikes around the property or on the trails of neighboring Salt Point State Park. The ocean is about a 15-20 minute drive from Ratna Ling. There is also a trail that leads to the ocean which volunteers can walk to or coordinate carpooling to the trailhead. Cycling is also popular on the road past our property, but be forewarned roads are small, winding and can be steep!

Wifi is available in the lodge, ethernet and wifi in living quarters. Cell phone service varies - currently Verizon is the only service provider that works at our location.  Ratna Ling has extensive libraries, primarily of Tibetan Buddhist teachings by our own founder, but work-study participants bring and exchange books as well. 

We have a shared building near our work-study housing with a music studio and a media center. There is a limited DVD library.

Ratna Ling is home to a beautiful meditation temple exclusively for our residents and a yoga room that is available in between group visits. 

How to Apply

Please click APPLY NOW to visit our website where you can find further information on our community and download the work-study application. For consideration, email your resume and a completed application as specified to volunteer@ratnaling.org

We receive abundant inquiries and will work to get back to you as quickly as possible. Thank you!


Contact Ratna Ling Work Study Volunteer Program