Ratna Ling Work Study Volunteer Program

East view of Ratna Ling Retreat Center - Meditation Hall
A perfect rainbow on a spring day; Dharma Publishing headquarters at Ratna Ling.
Ratna Ling Meditation Hall on the left, Conference Center on the right.
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 the crest of 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 with a 4-week trial period.  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 of our 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 programs go to 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 almost entirely of full-time resident volunteers from all over the world. Most volunteers stay 6 months to a year, so new faces will come and go year-round. Our staff varies but is typically around 25 volunteers of all ages and lengths of service.

Our weekly schedule is rigorous - 6 days a week and rewarding! Wherever your work placement, our volunteers learn valuable job and life skills. Each work-study program teaches us how to put Buddhist principles and teachings into practice. They also all present great opportunities for obtaining on the job training in a variety of resumé building skills and experiences.

Included in your 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, and Kum Nye (Tibetan Tai Chi), and yoga. In addition, volunteers will be given opportunities to participate in Buddhist celebrations, ceremonies, and practices.

Ideal Candidate

Application Guidelines

  • A commitment of 6-months is preferred but we do make exceptions for shorter periods on a case by case basis.
  • We cannot accept children or pets.
  • Couples in ongoing, well-established relationships may apply but must submit separate applications.

We ask that applicants demonstrate:

  • A volunteer spirit and a heartfelt dedication to service as a practice
  • Willingness to commit to our community’s and work practice daily schedules, guidelines, and policies
  • Physical, mental, and emotional health and stability with no major ongoing health concerns
  • Positive attitude toward taking direction and working as a team
  • Flexibility in work activities and a "get it done" attitude.
  • Financial resources to sustain personal needs (medical, transportation, loans, bills) for your full commitment period
  • Sincere interest in the organizational mission and capacity to live in an intentional community founded and guided by the vision of Head Lama Tarthang Tulku

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 laundry facilities, Wi-Fi and domestic phone calls 
  • Free vegetarian meals, tea, and coffee
  • Monthly living allowance of $150 per month
  • 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
  • Clean, fresh air, natural beauty, close proximity to hiking trails and the Pacific Ocean
  • Tranquil, healing space to connect deeply with yourself

Please visit our website volunteer.ratnaling.org for more information about our program. 

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 area major airports to nearby 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 some cabins and cell service vary. We have extensive libraries, primarily of Tibetan Buddhist teachings by our own Rinpoche, but volunteers bring and exchange books as well. 

We also have a common building near our cabins with a jam studio and a media center. There is a limited DVD library, so we recommend bringing your old favorites.

We have a beautiful meditation temple exclusively for our volunteers and a yoga room that is available in between group visits. 

How to Apply

E-mail your resume or cover letter along with a photo or headshot to volunteer@ratnaling.org. Qualified applicants will be given further instructions for the application process. 

Contact Ratna Ling Work Study Volunteer Program