The Island of Self

At the end of his life, the Buddha told his attendant, Ananda, that he should take refuge in the island of self. Later, Buddhists would develop the practice of taking refuge in the Three Jewels: Buddha, Dharma (the teaching), and Sangha (the community). Clearly these are important things. To have a teacher and a teaching, to have a community to practice with and to find support from can be very helpful. So why did the Buddha not recommend these, but instead, recommended we take refuge in the island of self? For those of us in the west, the words of the poet John Donne no doubt echo in our ears, reminding us that none of us is an island, but we are all interconnected. But in this teachin

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