Work-Study Program

 Ratna Ling Work-Study Volunteer Program

The Ratna Ling Work-Study Volunteer Program is evolving. Now a minimally structured program, it is ideal for independent learners, ready to explore their potential.


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.


 Participants make a 6-month minimum commitment to this evolving work-study program, with an option to renew. 

Classes in Buddhist studies, meditation, Kum Nye (a mind/body practice) , human development, and more are available onsite at Ratna Ling or online from our sister organizations. Subjects and schedules vary, but for classes during the work day the supervisor’s prior explicit approval is required. 

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 Ratna Ling Work-Study Volunteer 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  visit the Apply Now page to download the application.

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:  

  • 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
  • Living in the midst of natural beauty, close to hiking trails and the Pacific Ocean
  • Meditation and movement practices (optional)
  • Onsite and online classes 


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 must be approved by one’s supervisor.  

One afternoon a week, residential volunteers join in to beautify, clean, maintain , or otherwise care for Ratna Ling in Community Work Days. Typical activities include landscaping, gardening, deep cleaning the kitchen, vegetation management, and clearing ponds of overgrowth. 

Evenings may consist of:  

  • optional onsite or 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 offered.  

Work as Practice

What does that mean? This video from Dharma Publishing gives practical examples using Mastering Successful Work by Tarthang Tulku to illustrate this unique perspective of work. It’s worthwhile to watch until the end for a specific example of using this approach in the midst of difficulty for a positive outcome. This book is from the Skillful Means collection, a field of study that explores and expands the possibility of cultivating our potential, while making a meaningful contribution through our daily actions. 

There are occasionally classes in Skillful Means available onsite at Ratna Ling or online from our sister organizations, but even independent study using any of the books in the collection can help turn work into a method of self-discovery. 

Ratna Ling Retreat Center and two sister organizations, Dharma Publishing and the Yeshe De Text Preservation Project, are located onsite.  All three organizations offer Ratna Ling Work-Study Volunteer 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  organic vegetable and fruit garden
  • Construction & maintenance
  • Landscaping, grounds keeping and fire safety
  • Marketing and administrative work
  • Retreat coordination and 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. 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.