What is Nyingma?

The Nyingma school of Buddhism is the oldest school of Buddhism in Tibet, tracing back to the seventh century. It has always placed a special emphasis on lay practice, and its lamas have traditionally been independent, with no hierarchy. You can pronounce it “Ningma.”

What is a Mandala? Why do you call yourselves a Mandala of Organizations?

Mandalas are structures or forms that reflect the underlying harmony and energy that flow through the cosmos.


Emerging from a central point, the mandala manifests in the four directions: East, South, West, and North. Each direction is associated with specific energies and qualities.

The Nyingma Mandala of Organizations expresses these same energies. When you learn to see their activities as elements in the mandala, you will gain insight into how they support one another and give form to the unifying mandala vision.

Who is the MTP for? Is it right for me?

We are looking for people interested in exploring a way of life centered on community, personal growth, and service to others. The first step is to make a six-month commitment, though of course you are free to leave if things don’t work out. If you are not open to the possibility of continuing within the community after the program ends, we discourage you from applying. The program is not intended for individuals who see it as a temporary way-station in the unfolding path of their lives.

When does the program start? How long is it?

The MTP is designed as a six-month program. The next program cohort will begin in March 2018. Apply now for early consideration. Spaces are filling, quickly!

Do I have to be a Buddhist to apply?

Absolutely not! But you will be entering a Buddhist community and joining in its activities. You will be surrounded by Buddhist symbols, do Buddhist practices, learn Buddhist teachings, and work for Dharma-related goals. If that makes you uncomfortable, you should not apply.

Where Will I Work?

Within a few years after his arrival in America, Rinpoche established the basic structure of the Nyingma Mandala.

The vision for the mandala has expanded over the years. In 2008-2009, the Nyingma community acquired three buildings in downtown Berkeley that now house 9 organizations and projects, as well as the Dharma Publishing Bookstore.

You will work for one or more of the centers, known collectively as the Berkeley Centers. You will be assigned a position based on the needs of the organization, your skills, and your own preferences.

Who runs the program?

The MTP has been developed by the Nyingma Association of Mandala Organizations (NAMO). It is being run by the Directors of Nyingma’s Berkeley Dharma Centers, assisted by other members the community.

Can I attend school or hold down a part-time job while I am in the program?

No. This is a full-time program and we expect your full-time participation. If you are interested in participating in our community but cannot do so full-time, we actively encourage part-time volunteers. However, part-time volunteers are not eligible for housing.

I live in a foreign country. Can I join the program?

Since this program does not lead to a degree or certificate and does not train you for a job, you can apply for a 6-month tourist visa to attend. If you want to continue in the 18-month program, you may be able to obtain a B-1 voluntary service visa. However, whether your visa applications are accepted is up to the U.S. government.

What does the MTP cost?

There is no cost for participation. In addition we provide a small reimbursement for living expenses.

Is there a charge for room and board? What are the living arrangements like?

There is no charge for room and board, because living in community is an essential part of the MTP. You will most likely live in a shared suite or room, and you will assist with meal preparation, cleaning, and other house jobs.

How do I apply?

Application and submission instructions are available on the application form.

Application Page

Can I work at other Nyingma organizations not located in Berkeley?

The Nyingma Mandala of Organizations is active on four continents. You will be living and working in downtown Berkeley, but you will have opportunities to visit nearby centers and participate in their activities. Work-study students who have been active in the community for a year or more may have the opportunity to spend extended periods of time at other centers, including Odiyan Country Center, Ratna Ling Retreat Center, and the Sarnath Institute in India.

Odiyan and Ratna Ling have their own work-study programs that you can apply to directly.

Odiyan Work-Study Program | Ratna Ling Work-Study Program

Criteria for acceptance and the nature of the programs vary from center to center.

What if I want to go deeper after the program is finished?

There is an 18-month MTP 2 program designed as a follow-on to the MTP.

What if I decide to leave?

We ask for a strong commitment to complete the 6-months once you have finished your 1-month trial period and decide to sign on for the full program.

We do reserve the right to ask you to leave if you are not participating fully or if things just aren’t working out.

We don’t expect this program to be for everyone, so we want to make sure that anyone who joins us has a clearly defined exit strategy. We will ask for details as part of the application process.

Where will the program be located?

The Mandala Training program is located in the heart of Downtown Berkeley, California.


Map Us

Mandala Training Program
2018 Allston Way
Berkeley, CA 94704


If you’d like more information about the Nyingma Community‘s new Mandala Training Program, please feel free to contact us.


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