Odiyan Retreat Center

Cazadero, CA |
Joined in June 2012

About Us


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

100 miles north of San Francisco.



Founded in 1975 by Venerable Tarthang Tulku Rinpoche, Odiyan is located on a 1000-acre spiritual and ecological preserve overlooking the Pacific Ocean in rural Northern California. Odiyan is open to applicants who want to live and work with us for at least six months, but we prefer nine months. For those who find the Odiyan way of life a good match, long term residency is a future option.

Odiyan'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 for our world, and fostering harmony for oneself, our planet and all beings.


The Work

New volunteers often wonder at how the community can possibly accomplish the challenging goals, immense projects, and multiple maintenance and development demands. Using work as a means for self-development, the practice and study of Skillful Means encourages the ability to overcome obstacles, gives flexibility to roll with whatever happens and the skill to change limiting personal patterns.

The Place

Photographs and words cannot convey the vast and expansive sacred beauty of Odiyan: the infinite sight lines in every direction, 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 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.

"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 ornamental 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, 28


We are 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 in living and working with the same small 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. 

Unlike a job that quits 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.

Attributes for success at Odiyan include:

  • mental and emotional stability
  • physical ability to engage manual labor on a daily basis
  • being able to adhere to a schedule that starts with breakfast at 6:20 am
  • ability to communicate in group settings such as work or community meetings
  • flexibility to change jobs or tasks at short notice
  • interest in Buddhism and inner development which includes reading books by founder Tarthang Tulku, attending classes and discussion groups
  • being able to take responsibility independently for work tasks or community needs

To maintain a balance of age groups with our small community, we are seeking people within a preferred age range of 23-45 years old.

Residential rooms are designed for 2 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.

FOR FUN: With 1000 acres of land to roam, we encourage our volunteers to stay close to home to enjoy the beauty and majesty of the Odiyan land. There is hiking the eight mile Pilgrimage Road in the Spring, swimming in the reservoir in the Summer, foraging in the forests in the Fall and enjoying the evenings at the huge fireplace in the dining room during the rains of winter. We have a herd of rescued semi-tame horses to visit on the land, two yaks, two aviaries and lots of wild life to observe and photograph. Fun at Odiyan means having your own side-project at the shop in metal, wood or fabric, working on your own art project, going down to the garden on Sunday to harvest just because you want to, and helping with all the drying, canning, freezing and preserving of fruits and veggies during harvest season. You can join in some of the Buddhist ceremonies and practices and the longer you stay the more you can participate. Being away from the city and on a high ridge, the stars at night are incredible!

Although Odiyan has its foundations in Tibetan Buddhism, no religious affiliation is required to join the team. The ideal volunteer is open-minded, self-reflective and ready to engage deeply on both internally and with the work.


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

100 miles north of San Francisco.


Issue Areas Include

  • Agriculture
  • Arts & Music
  • International Relations
  • Religion & Spirituality
  • Volunteering

Location & Contact

Photos for Odiyan Retreat Center

  • Aerial view of Odiyan Retreat Center

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