Copper Mountain Mandala — Odiyan Retreat Center: Meaningful work to preserve enlightened knowledge.

Odiyan is an all volunteer non-profit Retreat Center dedicated to meaningful work, wholesome living and the inner development of mind and spirit.

Odiyan Retreat Center's mission is establishing a home for the Dharma in the West and to support Buddhist centers and practitioners in Asia. The way of life that supports this purpose integrates creative and challenging work with a path of self-exploration that opens up your inner potential. Living at Odiyan is an opportunity to work for preserving enlightened knowledge in our world, and fostering harmony for oneself, our planet and all beings.

Odiyan was founded in 1975 by Tibetan Buddhist Lama Tarthang Tulku. For over 40 years, volunteers from all over the world have been coming to Odiyan for six months or more to develop their own potential and contribute to the unique and holistic vision of enlightened knowledge for the benefit of all.

What You'll Be Doing

Odiyan is seeking individuals interested in work with a meaningful purpose and lots of variety.

Join an historic project creating Prayer Wheels for World Peace!

The major project of 2018 is to create 2,000 prayer wheels around the main Temple of Odiyan. Learn construction skills and work with all types of tools. Work outdoors on the construction site and in the Odiyan shop fabricating the detailed parts of the prayer wheels. Help build the solar panel installation to be incorporated into the mile-long prayer wheel structure.

Tarthang Rinpoche, the founder of Odiyan, has commissioned this prayer wheel project to reverse the negative momentum of our world, restore balance in nature and heal the pain of so many beings who are victims of war, hatred and natural disasters. By participating in the building of these prayer wheels, we align ourselves with positive action, transforming negative energy into positive thoughts and intentions, and encouraging virtue and goodness in ourselves and others.

Your time at Odiyan will also include maintenance and repair, work in the extensive vegetable and Temple gardens, landscaping, caring for animals and working in the kitchen. At Odiyan everyone does everything!

Odiyan is also seeking two people (a couple or individuals) with experience in growing food to maintain and develop 2-acres of mixed vegetables. Applicants with a strong background in gardening and farming will spend more of their work time in the vegetable gardens, depending on the season.

I learned skills past the scope of my education, but rewarding and enriching all the same. Most important was how much I learned about me. I had some experience testing my physical limits with college athletics, but Odiyan pushed my body, mind and soul in ways I never had to before. From this I gained deeper understanding about my motivations, inspirations and development leading up to my time here. –Ben, 24


Your new home sits high on a ridge overlooking the Pacific Ocean in Northern California.

Odiyan sits on 1,000 acres overlooking the Pacific Ocean in northern California (about 100 miles north of San Francisco). There are five large Temples forming an empowered three-dimensional mandala surrounded by gardens, sacred art forms and hundreds of prayer wheels and prayer flags. About 150 acres are managed landscape including seven orchards, four vegetable gardens, ornamental gardens surrounding the Temples, plus ponds, forests and open land. The land is a sanctuary for native animals as well as managed areas for rescued horses and birds.

I spent most of my life prior to Odiyan listening to music, playing drums, playing tennis, staring into space and not paying attention in school. At Odiyan my mind stream shifted from mostly thinking about myself and my life to thinking: “How can I help the earth and the people and life that coexist on it.” –Tim, 25

The Perks

Sundays are dedicated to personal time for classes, reading, study, meditation, exploring the land or a side project of personal interest.

At Odiyan you will follow the Path of Action and enjoy:

Home-cooked vegetarian meals and beverages
Housing in large room with balcony
WI-FI and domestic phone calls
Skill training in a wide range of trades and traditional arts
Access to healthy setting of nature, hiking trails, swimming, wide-open spaces, sacred beauty, fresh air, clean water, and nutritious food
Classes on the development of mind and spirit: Tibetan yoga, Skillful Means, meditation and more
Opportunity to engage in a wholesome lifestyle of self-sufficiency, meaningful work, inner development and taking responsibility
A living allowance of $75/month stipend for the first 6 months; $150/month thereafter

Mostly organic vegetarian meals are served every day for all residents. Everyone takes turns in meal preparation and clean-up. Residential rooms are designed for two people per room although you may also have a room to yourself for some part of your time, depending on the number of volunteers in residence. Longer term residents (9 months to one year or more) usually have their own room.

I learned of a Buddhist perspective on the mind, how one “practices” daily while mixing concrete or preparing a meal. My year at Odiyan has uncovered for me a great potential I not only see in myself, but in all with whom I have worked. Odiyan is a way to learn and a way to live, applicable to all means of life. –Matthew, 24

The Essentials

Volunteers will enjoy a ealthy setting of nature, wide-open spaces, sacred beauty, fresh air, clean water, and nutritious food.

The minimum commitment is six months with preference given for commitments of 9 months to one year. For those who find the Odiyan way of life a good match, long-term residency is a future option. To maintain a balance of age groups within the community, individuals aged 24 to 45 are encouraged to apply. You must be physically competent, able to handle tools and small machinery and able engage manual labor for hours on a daily basis.

Although Odiyan has its foundations in Tibetan Buddhism, no religious affiliation is required to join the team. The ideal volunteer is mature, steady in work, open-minded, self-reflective and ready to engage deeply in what Odiyan has to offer as a community and as a spiritual path. Couples are welcome (although Odiyan cannot accept children or animal companions).

I’m grateful for helping to preserve the Tibetan culture and the teachings of their wise and enlightened masters. I’m able to reflect on so much in this stable environment and it’s wonderful to be in a positive and happy community of diverse people from so many countries and different backgrounds. Truly a life changing experience! –Chris, 30

The Inside Scoop

Photographs and words cannot convey the vast and expansive sacred beauty of Odiyan.

What do volunteers talk about after being at Odiyan for a few weeks?

Sushi anyone? Let creativity be your guide on creating a meal for the Odiyan community.The Place
Photographs and words cannot convey the vast and expansive sacred beauty of Odiyan: the infinite sight lines in every direction, the overarching skies of day and night, the grandeur of the Temples and the varied landscapes of hills, ponds, gardens and forests. Thousands of flowers, flowering bushes and trees have been planted over the past forty years making every day is a feast for the senses.

The Food
Everyone has their time in the kitchen to cook mostly home-grown and organic meals for the community. You can learn how to bake your own bread, make your own miso and tempeh, freeze, can and preserve a wide variety of fruits, vegetables and herbs, both cultivated and wild grown.

Your work at Odiyan will include beautifying and maintaining extensive gardens, huge Temples and multitudinous varieties of sacred art.The Work
New volunteers often wonder at how the community can possibly accomplish the challenging goals, immense projects and multiple maintenance and development demands. Unlike a job that concludes at 5 pm, living and working at Odiyan is a lifestyle which includes everything it takes to live and be successful in the world: taking care of yourself, your home and your natural environment, learning and sharing practical job skills and developing a larger vision of purpose.

Odiyan is seeking people who seriously like to work and are also interested in developing a spiritual path. Living and working at Odiyan is challenging both in the work schedule and living and working with the same group of people day-to-day. The successful Odiyan resident needs to be independent socially and at work, and at the same time able to cooperate and engage in the concerns of the community. 

Being at Odiyan is like going to school and taking a class in “How to do everything.” The variety of projects done here and the breadth of technical experience available make Odiyan incomparable to most other work situations. Where else can you learn every type of construction, from foundation to roofing, electrical to structural steel, all types landscaping from ornamentals to vegetables, drainage to large scale waterworks, all types of machine and engine repair, solar energy, fine woodwork, bronze casting, electroplating, and much, much more, all in one place? The fact that all this knowledge is offered for free, including three meals a day and a room to stay, is astonishing. People have come to Odiyan with no training whatsoever, and after working hard for some years, they gained enough skills to make a living for themselves for the rest of their lives. If this all happened in a downtown warehouse, it would be a good deal, but it is happening on a gorgeous ridge overlooking the Pacific Ocean, surrounded by Buddhist sacred art, with a community of people who are working towards an understanding of mind and human potential. It is far above and beyond a 'good deal'. –James, 25

Your First Move & Connections

For over 40 years, thousands of volunteers from all over the world have been coming to Odiyan to contribute their time and energy to the preservation and protection of the spiritual heritage of Tibet.

Experience the Extraordinary @ Odiyan
Make 2018 the year of transformation—volunteer for world peace. Now seeking Residential Volunteers to work on the Prayer Wheel project, which includes construction, metal work and masonry.
Two experienced Vegetable Gardeners (couple preferred) are also needed for the 2018 growing season. Apply early, space is limited!

To get started on the application process, download and fill out an application or email and all the details and an application can be sent to you. If you have any questions or just want to chat about living and working at Odiyan, don't hesitate to call! Applications are accepted on a rolling basis throughout the year.

Volunteer Office
Odiyan Retreat Center
(510) 981-1987

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Enjoy a picnic on the beautiful grounds!

Beyond the beliefs of any one religion, there is the truth of the human spirit. Beyond the power of nations, there is the power of the human heart. Beyond the ordinary mind, the power of wisdom, love, and healing energy are at work in the universe. When we can find peace within our hearts, we contact these universal powers. This is our only hope.
—Tarthang Tulku, Founder of Odiyan

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