Interested in joining the residential community as a volunteer? Room and board is provided in exchange for 25 hours work service per week running the center and rental facilities.
The Padmasambhava Peace Institute was established as a dedicated space for the study and practice of meditative traditions and environmental stewardship, accessible to as many as possible. There are between 12 and 18 people on site full-time, including both long-term residents and college students or overseas visitors staying for just a few months, and about five times a year the community grows to 50-70 people for multi-day Buddhist events.
The Padmasambhava Peace Institute is directed and run entirely by volunteers. While everyone arrives at the center from a different background and with different perspectives, there is a shared understanding that here is a community which offers a unique opportunity to learn about oneself and one’s relation to others and the environment, and also the chance to support a wide range of nonprofits who regularly come to PPI.
Also, the huge range of jobs involved in running a large retreat property, along with many opportunities for spiritual and intellectual pursuits, mean that each resident has the chance to explore and grow in whatever direction they wish. While everyone shares in basic tasks like housekeeping and meal-prep, they also end up having other areas they focus on more – be it landscaping, rental group reservations, liturgical studies, kitchen management, fine arts, tractor work, Buddhist ritual dance, the solar power system, forestry work, library care, or whatever.
Living in community can be challenging as well as enormously rewarding. The trick is learning to see even the challenges as an incentive for personal growth and the development of new skills, and we encourage everyone to work to their greatest potential. We welcome volunteers from all walks of life, believing that diversity makes for a richer and more powerful community. Residents come from all over the United States, as well as from South America and Europe, and while the core community is Buddhist and participates daily in the group practices, this is not a requirement. We have had volunteers from a wide range of faith backgrounds — active, atheist, lapsed and none — and encourage each person to pursue whatever path makes sense for them.
In terms of outdoor leisure, there are many beautiful places to hike around the property and we are located 20 minutes from the stunning Sonoma coastline and the Russian River resorts. Just over an hour away are the towns of Santa Rosa and Sebastopol which offer a full range of cultural activities from traditional to alternative, and San Francisco is just over two hours away. Major cycle races pass right by us every year, as the local routes are hugely popular for amateurs and professionals alike.
The center maintains an organic vegetable garden which operates along principles of permaculture as much as possible and where all staff spend some time working regularly. Twice a year PPI hosts Earth Activist Training courses under the direction of Starhawk and other eco/spiritual leaders, and PPI staff can join a number of EAT workshops on request.
Spiritual instruction and support are available from the lama-in-residence Tibetan Buddhist master Jigme Rinpoche, and volunteers are welcome to join in the group daily practice and make use of the center’s shrine-room and library. The library has an extensive collection of books on Buddhism, Hinduism and Asian arts, and multi-media materials. Volunteers can attend the center’s Buddhist events free of charge, and learn various musical instruments or ritual arts including traditional lama dancing, if they wish.
The volunteer’s role and responsibilities
Work may include gardening (landscaping and organic vegetables gardening),, cooking assistance and general kitchen support, cleaning and construction. This assistance is in the context of the Institute’s general operations and also its provision of services to community groups renting the facility. A volunteer’s specialist skills are always welcomed when applicable. The Institute is committed to using low- or no-chemical products throughout the property.
We welcome applicants from all backgrounds, regardless of race, nationality, age, education, religion, gender identity and sexual orientation, and are looking for volunteers with:
- a commitment to community life
- an interest in supporting the center as a place of retreat for themselves and others
- concern for the environment and interest in land stewardship
- the ability to work with clear direction alone or as part of a team
- the ability to communicate clearly with others
- a responsible attitude towards handling their workload
- willingness to carry out tasks to the best of their ability and able to work flexible hours on occasion (eg during big events)
- good physical health and stamina
- no alcohol, drug or tobacco (including vaping) habits
The Institute has in place anti-discrimination and anti-harassment policies and a Code of Conduct, which all prospective volunteers are briefed on, and which are used as the basis for promoting the well-being of every resident and the integrity of the organization’s operations.
How to apply for a volunteer position
To find out if there are currently openings for volunteers, contact the Volunteer Coordinator.
If you have a current Workaway account, you can also apply that way, by going to our Workaway profile.
ALL POTENTIAL VOLUNTEERS NOT ON WORKAWAY ARE REQUIRED TO FILL OUT AN APPLICATION FORM, online or hard copy:
or download APPLICATION FORM to fill by hand and mail to: Volunteer Program, Padmasambhava Peace Institute, 23125 Fort Ross Road, Cazadero, CA 95421.
Please note that all decisions on taking on volunteers are made after group discussion by staff and with the approval of the center’s director Jigme Rinpoche, not by any one individual. We aim to respond to applications within a week.
Once staff has reviewed the form and wants to follow up, the prospective volunteer will be invited to come and visit PPI for at least a day to get a feeling for how the Institute operates. If both parties wish to proceed with the placement, there is then a one-month trial period during which time mutual agreement is reached regarding the match between the volunteer and PPI.
We understand there are many volunteer options out there, and a lot of capable and dynamic people looking for places, so we thank you for your interest in the Padmasambhava Peace Institute as a place for you to stay!