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Be a Light unto Yourself and Cultivate Good Friends

November 6 - November 8

R1800 – R2100

  Be a Light unto Yourself and Cultivate Good Friend

Exploring Attachment and Non-Attachment

 Louise Stack (Chandasara)


 The Buddha offered us two, seemingly contradictory teachings on friendship. In the first teaching, at the end of his life when asked for some direction about how the Sangha should proceed without him, this was the advice he gave:

           ”you should live as a light* unto yourselves, being your own refuge, with no one else as your     
            refuge, with the Dhamma as your light, with the Dhamma as your refuge, with no other 
            refuge”.  (Digha Nikaya 16: 2.26)

This seems to suggest living independently of others. In the second teaching, the Buddha responded to a statement that good friendship is half of the holy life, by saying:

          …no, not so!  It is the entire holy life: when one has a good friend, good companion, good 
           associate, it is to be expected that one will develop and cultivate the Path.  (Samyutta Nikaya V.IX: 45, 2(2))

This seems to suggest dependence on others.  So, how do we reconcile these two teachings? Sometimes this question is raised in the context of attachment and non-attachment.  How do we reconcile the Buddha’s encouragement of non-attachment with the human need for secure attachment for healthy psychological development and the forming of healthy relationships to take place?

What does it mean to be a light unto ourselves, whilst at the same time cultivating good friendship? These are the questions we will begin to explore together in this retreat.   What did the Buddha mean by ‘non-attachment’ and what do we mean by the human need for ‘attachment’ in relationship? Are these notions reconcilable?  How do we live with our need for both attachment or dependence on others and non-attachment or independence from others?

This will be a silent meditative weekend retreat with some talks, walks, body relaxation, and periods of reflection and contemplation both on our own and together in a group.

*The word ‘dipa’ in Sanskrit means ‘lamp’; ‘dvipa’ means ‘island’. It is not clear which word the Buddha actually used.



November 6
November 8
R1800 – R2100