We welcome all from the San Francisco Bay Area who wish to visit the Nyingma Institute and help with the Prayer Wheels. There are no skill sets required; other than having an open heart and an intention to further the spread of Dharma and World Peace.
Daily schedule: Monday - Saturday; 8:15am - 5:00 pm (and some evenings)
Volunteers who contribute approx 8 hrs/week are invited to take a free Nyingma Institute class. Vegetarian food for lunch is also provided if you are here over the lunch hour.
The Prayer Wheel Resident Volunteer Program
The purpose of the program is to provide an opportunity to live, work, and study in a spiritually uplifting environment.
Our founder, Tarthang Tulku, is an accomplished Tibetan Lama who came to the United States in 1969 and since that time has devoted himself to establishing a firm foundation for Buddhism in the West. For more than thirty-five years, Western students have worked under his direction to preserve the Buddhist traditions of Asia and to bring the benefits of these teachings into our society.
A unique way of living and working has emerged from these efforts. This approach views work as a special opportunity to unite practical accomplishment with spiritual development. The experience of the Nyingma community has shown that when work toward meaningful goals is supported by study of the mind and emotions, work itself becomes a path to realization and fulfillment.
The work of the Nyingma organizations lies in preserving the written and artistic legacy of Tibetan Buddhist culture, in bringing the Dharma to the West, and in encouraging the self-discovery of the Buddhist path. This work has been accomplished by a relatively small group of dedicated, full-time volunteers. Some have been working since Tarthang Tulku's arrival in 1969, others have come for 6 months, a year or longer.
Over the years, a very special way of life has evolved that blends study of meditation and Buddhist teachings with vigorous work to preserve and transmit the Dharma. Special emphasis is given to Tarthang Tulku's approach to work, called 'Skillful Means', which shows how to use work itself as self-training in our deepest human capacities. This way of work and study has produced significant results: the creation of Odiyan Monastery; the publication of the Nyingma Canon, with over one million pages of Tibetan texts, believed to be the largest single publication in world history; the making of thousands of Prayer Wheels; the printing and preservation of 500 Tibetan paintings; the establishment of the Nyingma Institute, where over 100,000 people have learned about the Nyingma tradition; and the creation of Dharma Publishing, which has published over 100 books about Buddhism, reaching a worldwide readership of over one million people.
How does the Prayer Wheel Program function?
Volunteers live at the Nyingma Institute in Berkeley, in shared rooms. Work takes place at either the Nyingma Institute or at Dharma House, which we share with Dharma Publishing, the Yeshe De Text Preservation project and the Tibetan Aid Project. Work-Study students have a unique opportunity to develop themselves, discover a more fulfilling way of living, and offer something positive through their work.
Evening classes at the Institute are a major part of the program. Participants generally take 3-4 classes per week, selecting from Meditation classes, Kum Nye (Tibetan relaxation techniques), Buddhist philosophy and Dharma Studies, Skillful Means, and Tibetan language as found in Buddhist texts.
In addition, two weekend workshops per quarter are available to the participants. Classes are chosen with an advisor.
The "Skillful Means" class is a requirement for this program
Please browse the Nyingma Institute web site for more information on courses and workshops.
Volunteers receive room and board at the Nyingma Institute, and classes at no cost as well as a monthly stipend of $150.00. Applicants accepted for the Program begin with a two-week trial period; thereafter, a six month commitment is recommended (shorter periods can be arranged).
The Work-Study program is demanding - the typical daily schedule begins with morning meditation from 6:30 to 7:30 AM. Work begins at 8:15 AM and continues until dinner at 5:15 PM. Work is 6 days per week with Sundays free. Classes are in the evening.
What Are The Benefits?
The benefits of participation are many. You will receive training in Buddhist thought and practice, in how to use work as a spiritual training, and in specific job skills. While you are here you can be confident that your work is being directed to projects of lasting value for the world. You are encouraged to develop the inner tools and self discipline that foster real and continued spiritual growth. Working selflessly and communal cooperation skills are also developed.
After the first two quarters of study you will also be eligible to take part in the traditional Buddhist Ngondro (preliminary) practices which include prostrations, mantra, and visualization.
How Can I Tell If It Is For Me?
Applicants should have:
- a sincere interest in personal development
- a willingness to work hard and to view work as a source of learning;
- a wish to devote their energy to projects of long-term value and meaning
- an interest in Buddhism as a path
One need not consider oneself a Buddhist or have background in Buddhist teachings to apply. We strongly recommend that you read Gesture of Balance and Skillful Means by Tarthang Tulku as a way of determining if our approach to spiritual development speaks to you.
Who Should Participate?
- Those interested in a systematic, in-depth study of the fundamental teachings of Mahayana Buddhism in a setting that encourages their application in daily life.
- Those interested in doing work that brings lasting benefit to the world
- Those concerned about the direction society is taking and interested in exploring alternatives, especially the value of work as a training ground for spiritual development.
- Those wishing to work as part of a community based on shared ideals and values.
How Do I Apply?
The Prayer Wheel Project is based at:
1815 Highland Place,
Berkeley, CA 94709
For an application and further information on the Prayer Wheel Project please contact:
(707) 847-3777 ext. 609