At first glance, Odiyan may look like a traditional monastery, but rather than devoting the majority of our time to study and meditation, our daily practice is work.
We seek volunteers who are willing to apply energy, mindfulness, and discipline to their work, no matter the task. We expect a positive attitude, an openness to a perspective and lifestyle of work as spiritual practice, and an understanding that work will be central to your life here.
The Odiyan lifestyle does not draw a clear distinction between “work” and “life.” We try to use our time productively and to engage fully in the projects at hand. We discourage excessive chatting and having ear buds in while working. We forge our friendships through hard work, and we also make an effort to take time for appreciation of our efforts and accomplishments.
As a new volunteer, you’ll be expected to participate in the full range of projects underway at Odiyan, which include:
- foundry work
We also need and appreciate people who can do IT work, web development, marketing, and writing projects. If you have these skills to offer, you must also be the type who can dig in the dirt, prune apple trees for hours or learn to mix and pour concrete. Very few people at Odiyan sit at a computer all day.
You’ll learn to cook for 30-40 people and will typically cook one meal a week. The variety of work demands a sincere flexibility as volunteers work in different areas and find their place within the community.
Over time, most volunteers settle into one or two work areas that they connect with; others continue to divide their time among many projects. Sometimes only a few projects are underway at any given time; you may find yourself polishing statues for many weeks at a time, or planting trees for days in a row.
Physical abilities: Due to the variety of work expected from incoming volunteers, you must be healthy and able to work physically, lift 50lbs or more, and bend and kneel for long periods of time. We work to be mindful with our bodies, to build strength, and prevent injury, but the physical work remains a key part of life here. Familiarity with this kind of work is helpful. Consider prior back or wrist/elbow injuries before applying; they will often be exacerbated here.
Sacred Art: Much of your work will also center on sacred art or structures. Our bronze foundry is always producing sacred art for our temples as well as for shipment to Buddhist communities abroad. We create new sacred monuments and temples, and produce sacred Buddhist texts. While you certainly do not need to be Buddhist to work here, you should be prepared to be surrounded by and engaged in the production of religious art and imagery. Much of the art and texts we create are distributed through our sister organizations worldwide, and much remains at Odiyan, and its purpose can often only be explained in religious terms. You do not need to be religious to be at Odiyan, nor are you required to participate in religious activities, but you do need to have a comfort level with religion and religious people.
You will also work on the more familiar like maintenance and gardening. We work about 80 acres of landscaped grounds, including many orchards and two acres of vegetable gardens. You’ll prune fruit trees, install and maintain drip irrigation, fix broken pipes, repair leaking roofs, assist with vehicle maintenance and repair, feed horses, plant vegetables, can fruit, and clean bathrooms. With initiative and attention, you’ll have the opportunity to learn skills such as basic construction, welding, heavy equipment operation and maintenance, small engine repair and maintenance, and ornamental and vegetable gardening.
The work schedule runs Monday through Saturday. The work day begins at 7:00 am and finishes at 7:00 pm, though as mentioned above, we pay more attention to an integration of life and work than we do to keeping strict hours. We take breaks in the morning and afternoon, and a lunch hour. New volunteers ease into the work schedule for the first month with shorter work hours. Sundays are dedicated to personal time for classes, reading, study, exploring the land, or a side-project of personal interest. Occasionally we will work together on a Sunday afternoon on a particular large project with a short deadline.
We ask for a lot of effort and mindfulness from volunteers. Volunteers who succeed here are able to take initiative, be reliable and responsible, follow directions, and display attentiveness and engagement with work, both by themselves and as part of a team. Come eager to learn and work, to stretch yourself, face challenges, and grow as a human being. In exchange we offer a truly unique experience and an opportunity not only to learn skills and offer your energy to a project, but to learn about yourself, to study your mind more closely, and to connect to other spiritually minded people in an active, engaged environment.