Info & Guidelines

Please see below for more information on our community guidelines and policies.  

A note about Covid: If you have any upper respiratory system illness symptoms within 14 days before your arrival date or if you have been exposed to others who may have a cold, the flu or Covid-19, please communicate directly with our volunteer coordinator to alter travel plans and delay your arrival to Ratna Ling.  Please do not come if you have a fever, sneezing, coughing or other symptoms that overlap with Covid-19.  Although this may create complications with travel plans such as having to re-book your flight, we are committed to safeguarding you and our community from the spread of Covid, flu or other contagious diseases.

Commitment: Ratna Ling takes your volunteer commitment seriously and expects that if you choose to continue after the trial period that you will stay for the full length of your commitment, barring unforeseen family or other emergencies.  In turn, we are also committed to your well-being and encourage you to address with us any problems that may arise.

Work Assignment: Four related Nyingma Mandala non-profits are on site at Ratna Ling – the Ratna Ling Retreat Center, the Yeshe De Text Preservation Project, Dharma Publishing and a satellite office for the Sarnath International Nyingma Institute  — each with its own focus. 

Though we refer to our entire property as “Ratna Ling”, the Ratna Ling Retreat Center refers specifically to the lodge, conference center and cottages where we host programs for retreatants.  The programs hosted by Ratna Ling Retreat Center support our text preservation work and other non-profit activities. We encourage all residential volunteers to be open and willing to volunteer wherever the need is greatest, though we work to accommodate each person’s skills and interests.

Expenses: Volunteers must cover their own travel expenses to Ratna Ling as well as be prepared to cover their travel expenses when departing our center.  Personal medical expenses, personal supplies or unusual dietary needs are also the responsibility of the volunteer.

Mail: We have UPS and FedEx delivery almost every day. You can mail and receive packages via US mail from Ratna Ling.

Phone: Please note that the only cell phone provider whose service works at Ratna Ling is Verizon. We also have an onsite phone network that can be used for free domestic calling.

Internet/Computer: There are computer stations available to volunteers for checking email and other online needs. You are welcome to bring your own computer. Wireless is available in most areas of the site. Be aware that we do have problems with site-wide power outages even in good weather.  Bring your own surge-protector to protect your electronic equipment.

Community Life: Volunteers need not have any particular relationship with Buddhism to participate at Ratna Ling, just an open-minded respect for oneself, members of the community and the place itself. However we actively seek volunteers who feel connected to our mission and who wish to focus on their inner development.  Volunteers are expected to work and live harmoniously with others, contributing to a healthy and pleasant living environment. We uphold Buddhist principles such as ethical behavior toward others, cleanliness, and not harming animals or insects. Residents are asked to respect certain simple practices such as not wearing outdoor shoes indoors, awareness of how our non-essential speech affects others ability to concentrate in a work environment and keeping rooms and common areas clean.

The community setting and country living coupled with challenging goals encourage the development of valuable qualities which can enrich one’s life such as self-reliance, inner discipline, willingness to offer one’s energy fully and work cooperatively with others. The Ratna Ling environment provides opportunities for personal reflection and the latitude to make positive changes in one’s life.

During their free time, our residents often enjoy the beauty of the land, drives down to the Pacific ocean, opportunities for meditation practice and side projects in an area of interest.

In preparation we suggest you read two small books which are good introductions to our community. “Skillful Means” is a small book about using work as practice and “Gesture of Balance,” is a guide to awareness, self-healing and meditation . These books can be ordered from Dharma Publishing or they are sometimes available in libraries.

Relationships: The Ratna Ling community is composed of both single people and couples.  We ask that volunteers not engage in intimate or romantic relationships within the first three months of residency so they may focus on their own inner development.  Because our residential community is small and close-knit, we encourage volunteers to take their time and be thoughtful before becoming romantically involved with another community member.

Daily and Weekly schedule

The residential volunteer program at Ratna Ling consists of work practice, community work and optional classes and practice.  The class schedule varies depending on the interests of the current community, the availability of in-person instructors and online classes offered by Ratna Ling Retreat Center and our sister organizations.  

The current daily schedule Monday to Saturday is as follows:

8:15 to 12:30 PM – Work practice (with a scheduled break)

12:30- 1:30 PM– Lunch

1:30 to 5:00 PM –  Work practice (with a scheduled break)

Evening consists of dinner, classes and free time.

* Evening and weekend classes are offered on a variable schedule

* Saturday mornings are dedicated to community work such as landscaping or other group projects

Taking Time Away: Work-study participants are expected to participate at Ratna Ling for the entire length of their commitment with the exception of family emergencies, essential errands or medical appointments or time away arranged during the application process. Sundays are completely free.

Meals: Vegetarian lunches are provided Monday through Saturday. For breakfast, dinner, and on Sundays, residents make their own meals or eat leftovers. Snacks are provided during the work day. We are not always able to accommodate special dietary needs, but work to create healthy vegetarian meals and sometimes are able to accommodate vegan diets and work with food allergies.

Residential Rooms:  Volunteers are provided with a shared room supplied with beds, bed linens and blankets. Please bring your own towels.  Rooms have some storage shelves or a dresser and a desk. Most accommodations have adjacent bathrooms or bathrooms within a short walking distance. All Ratna Ling residents are asked to keep their living accommodations neat and clean.

Climate: Ratna Ling can have a fast-changing weather throughout the year including fog, wind, heavy rain, hot sun, and occasionally frost. Layers are the best strategy to remain comfortable outdoors in northern California. Please bring clothes that are sturdy and comfortable. Winter weather (Nov.– May) can be rainy with temperatures in the 40’s and 50”s F. Summers and early fall are dry and can be hot during the days (85-100 F), but usually cool at night.

Clothing: Ratna Ling residents dress practically and comfortably according to their type of work and the weather.  Jeans and t-shirts are fine for most situations. Layers are helpful in our climate.  We ask volunteers to dress with modesty and awareness, avoiding overly revealing clothing.  Shirts are always required.  Residents and visitors must wear appropriate shoes when working outdoors and in indoor work spaces with machinery (such as the book bindery).  People working in the Retreat Center should have business casual clothing to wear when we have guests or host retreats.

Laundry: Washers and dryers are available in a common area. You may want to bring a laundry bag/bin. We provide biodegradable laundry detergent.

Workplace: The practice of mindfulness is emphasized in the Ratna Ling community. We ask that work-study participants refrain from non-essential chatter during work time practice.  The practice of “essential speech” provides the opportunity to cultivate awareness of body, speech and mind.  We do not generally play music during work situations (including in the kitchen) in order to foster an environment of concentration and contemplation.  Cell phones are permitted, but residents use them in moderation, just as one would in any work environment.

Smoking: Smoking and the use of nicotine in any form is prohibited on the property.  Residents who violate this policy may be asked to leave immediately. Leaving the property regularly to accommodate a nicotine habit is not a workable solution.

Drugs: The use or possession of drugs (including but not limited to recreational or medical marijuana, hallucinogens or stimulants), related paraphernalia and the inappropriate use of prescription drugs and over-the-counter medications is prohibited at Ratna Ling.

Work-study participants, short-term volunteers, their guests and visitors and long-term residents are required to pledge not to use drugs on or off-property during the time of their stay at Ratna Ling.  Anyone who fails to adhere to this policy may be asked to leave Ratna Ling immediately.

Alcohol: Alcohol is permitted in moderation with a suggested limit of 2 drinks.  Indulgent use of alcohol to the point of drunkenness or disruptive behavior can result in being asked to leave Ratna Ling.

Health:It is imperative that all volunteers arrive at Ratna Ling healthy and ready for full participation. Please delay your arrival if you are sick, have any type of cold or flu that could be contagious to others, or any physical condition or injury that would interfere with your work.

* Accepted applicants will receive a copy of our community covid-safety policy.