We knew we wanted to do another Buddhist retreat and this felt like exactly the right time. We had learned from our silent retreat in February that Japanese Zen Buddhism is not the path for us, however, that doesn’t mean Buddhism isn’t. There are different types, lineages, and teachers of Buddhism. We decided to try Tibetan Buddhism because, after all, the Dalai Lama is a Tibetan Buddhist. (Then we found out there are many different types of Tibetan Buddhists.)
Our search led us to Odiyan, a cloistered Buddhist monastery in the hills of Sonoma County where the venerable Tarthang Tulku Rinpoche is in permanent retreat. This sacred place has the western world’s largest collection of Buddhist Temples. Few get into Odiyan Retreat Center, however, we were told we could go to it’s sister retreat center across the valley ~ Ratna Ling. (And so can you.)
“There is a genuine air of serenity at Ratna Ling, and a clear desire by those who live there to create a place for reflection, healing, and growth…They accomplish this better than almost anyone else I know.” ~ Guest comment
Ratna Ling (translated as Jewel Place) is a beautiful and luxurious Buddhist retreat center built on sacred land atop the Pacific Coastal Ridge. You don’t often hear the words luxurious and Buddhist retreat center together. However, because of some devoted benefactors (and a business model based on Tarthang Tulku’s Skillful Means teachings and the selfless service of many, many volunteers), Ratna Ling is a gorgeous, thriving spiritual community and retreat center . The minute you walk onto the grounds, it feeds every part of your soul. From the cottages, to the food, the practice spaces, and the retreats, instantly you know ~ this is a much loved place and that everything is designed to allow you to just be.
Ratna Ling offers peace, stillness, and guidance to all who enter ~ whether you enter as a retreat guest or a Work-Study volunteer. Listen to Chelsea Rappel, the retreat manager, tell us about her experiences in her beloved community.
This is a real working spiritual community ~ a sacred sangha ~ devoted to what Rinpoche Tarthung Tulka taught ~ wisdom through action. People from all walks of life commit six months or more of their lives to selfless service. The volunteers participate in the teachings and the practices of Buddhism. In the morning, they meditate and do Tibetan yoga (Kum Nye), and they come together in the evenings to study. During the day, they work hard…but they do it quietly and peacefully with love and compassion.
While the grounds of Ratna Ling are still and tranquil, this is actually a very, very busy place. Aside from the training of the 25 volunteers, and the maintenance and service of the retreat center and guests, there’s phenomenal work going on here. And it’s big and important work. The Yeshe De Text Preservation Project, one of the largest text restoration, distribution, and preservation projects on Earth, is fulfilled on these sacred grounds.
Watch the video (you really want to, it’s beautiful) to learn about the significance of this massive book project. Know that all of the sacred texts that are being given away for free to the Tibetan people are made by the volunteers of Ratna Ling’s Work-Study Program.
There is too much to tell you about all that goes on in this beautiful working spiritual community. We strongly encourage that you take the time to click through all the links provided so you can visit virtually. It’s a worthwhile place to stop for awhile.
This famous peace quote hung on the wall in our bathroom in our old home. Now it’s packed up somewhere, but we’ll bring it back out when we really do stop. Our week-long stay at Ratna Ling has simply reminded us to find peace in the midst of everything and everywhere~ not only sitting on the meditation cushion or walking through nature (though this helps). We seek to the find stillness and quiet in the midst of all our waking hours and all of our experiences. Herein lies the real work of our lives. Knowing now that we don’t have to stop (the journey never really does stop, does it?)…we just have to remember…stop and remember how to be ~ joyous, happy, peaceful, and loving ~ even in the midst of our busy, crazy lives.