Joyful Living Work-Study Program
The Joyful Living Work Study Program is minimally structured. It is ideal for independent learners.
Please consider applying if you are interested in cultivating new patterns individually and as part of a community interested in benefiting self and others through purposeful work and reflection. We are seeking flexible, energetic, self-motivated individuals who are unafraid of hard work, and passionate about self-discovery.
One of the program’s intentions is to support the cultivation of joy that wells up from within. Work in the Ratna Ling context is itself a means of mind training and fulfillment, whether as community work, routine chores, or one’s primary assigned work. Meditation, movement practice, and classes are available and recommended to aid in the cultivation of understanding and joy.
In the Tibetan Buddhist tradition, joy is considered one of the Four Immeasurables, the boundless qualities that open the doorways to enlightenment. The Four Immeasurables — love, compassion, joy, and equanimity — strengthen and balance one another, offering limitless benefit.
Participants make a 6-month minimum commitment to this evolving work-study program, with an option to renew.
In addition to classes in Buddhist studies, classes at Ratna Ling draw upon foundational texts by Tarthang Tulku including Gesture of Balance, Skillful Means, and Caring. Material from Kum Nye (Tibetan Yoga) texts such as Joy of Being and other relevant material are also utilized. These books arise from Tibetan Buddhist insights designed for a modern Western audience seeking greater understanding, happiness, and fulfillment.
Participants need not identify as Buddhists, though a sincere interest in self-reflection, developing one’s potential, and the spirit of service are essential. The Joyful Living program is intended to provide participants with opportunities for meaningful work, skill-building, and the space for growth, in a supportive community environment. Opportunities for more traditional Buddhist study and practice are offered for those who are interested.
We are seeking motivated, diverse, and talented applicants who are flexible, able to work with minimal supervision, and enjoy contributing through their work. To apply, please complete the application form on the website. Visit the Apply Now page
At Ratna Ling we welcome and treat with respect all people regardless of race, skin color, gender identification, economic background, physical capacity, birth or class. We welcome you as guests, retreatants, volunteers or visitors and provide a place for acceptance, personal growth and self-discovery with offerings from the Tibetan Buddhist tradition as brought by Tarthang Tulku, our founder.
What to expect
All community members live onsite at Ratna Ling, which translates to Land of Treasures, a beautiful, rural 120-acre retreat center. Ratna Ling is nestled among redwoods and open meadows in the coastal mountains in northwestern Sonoma County, CA. While offering time, energy, and skills to benefit the diverse projects onsite, participants benefit from:
- Meditation and movement practices
- Onsite and online classes
- A supportive community
- Free housing in a beautiful location
- Vegetarian meals
- Utilities including wi-fi and laundry facilities
- A monthly living allowance of $200 for incidental expenses
Our community follows a 6 day work week from approximately 8 AM to 5 PM. Opportunities for practice and study during the work day for volunteers vary according to the particular work assignment. Participation in classes or similar opportunities during the work day should be approved by one’s supervisor.
Evenings may consist of:
- optional classes in Buddhist studies, meditation, self discovery, and other subjects
- optional online classes from our sister organizations, the Nyingma Institute and Dharma College
- community dinners are provided some evenings and occasional clean-up duties ensue; participants may cook their own dinners or enjoy leftovers on nights when community dinners are not offe
Work as Practice
Work-practice is an integral part of the Joyful Living program. The Nyingma Mandala of organizations is run and staffed almost entirely by volunteers. Work provides an opportunity to directly serve our mission and the greater good of humanity while developing concentration, awareness, and energy through the practice of Skillful Means. Skillful Means is a field of study that explores and expands the possibility of cultivating our potential, while making a meaningful contribution through our daily actions.
Ratna Ling Retreat Center and two sister organizations, Dharma Publishing and the Yeshe De text preservation project, are located onsite. All three organizations offer Joyful Living participants opportunities to engage in meaningful work including:
- Serving at one of the oldest Buddhist publishers in the United States
- Preserving Tibetan sacred texts in the on-site professional printing and book-binding operation
- Vegetarian cooking in our professionally equipped kitchen
- Growing food in our mostly organic vegetable and fruit garden
- Construction & maintenance
- Landscaping, grounds keeping and fire safety
- Marketing and administrative work
- Retreat support
- Numerous other project-based opportunities
One way we move into a more joyful life is by noticing and moving beyond habitual patterns and perceived limitations. Participation at Ratna Ling is immersive which can help us see what blocks our full participation in life. Together, we strive to see that although resistance and negative patterns arise, they are not fixed aspects of our being and can be transformed.
Please note: We do require incoming residents to be fully vaccinated from Covid before arrival.