It is important to quote the full context, or there is too much room for misunderstanding by those who have scant regard for the Buddhist tradition.
This passage is from the Mahāparinibbāna Sutta, where the Buddha instructs Ānanda how the monks should conduct themselves after his death. (However, see also Dhammapada v 160
Tasmātih Ānanda, attadīpā viharatha attasaraṇā anaññasaraṇā, dhammadīpā dhammasaraṇā anaññasaraṇā. Kathañc Ānanda, bhikkhu attadīpo viharati attasaraṇo anaññasaraṇo, dhammadīpo dhammasaraṇo anaññasaraṇo? Idh Ānanda, bhikkhu kāye kāyānupassī viharati atāpī sampajāno satimā, vineyya loke abhijjhādomanassaṃ. Vedanāsu … … Citte.... Dhammesu dhammānupassī viharati ātāpī sampajāno satimā, vineyya loke abhijjhādomanassaṃ. Evaṃ kho, Ānanda, bhikkhu attadīpo viharati attasaraṇo anaññasaraṇo, dhammadīpo dhammasaraṇo anaññasaraṇo.
Therefore, Ānanda, dwell with yourself as your own island (dīpa),
¹ with yourself as your own refuge, take no other refuge. Take the Dhamma as your island, take the Dhamma as your refuge, take no other refuge. And how, Ānanda, does a monk dwell taking himself as his own island, taking himself as his own refuge, taking no other refuge? Here, Ānanda, a bhikkhu dwells contemplating the body in the body, ardent, clearly comprehending, and mindful, having abandoned covetousness and grief concerning the world. He dwells contemplating feelings in feelings ... thoughts in thoughts ... mind-objects in mind-objects...
So, gaining self-reliance entails practising the four foundations of mindfulness, ardently, clearly comprehending, and mindfully until the goal is reached. This is best done by following the guidance of a qualified meditation instructor, but if one cannot find one, it can also be done by careful study in conjunction with practice.
It does not mean clinging to one's own views and opinions,
and failing to practise the Dhamma/Vinaya as laid down by the Buddha.
¹ Dīpa can be translated as “island
” or “lamp
.” I checked the Commentary, which gives the meaning of an island.