The author is a leading Theravada Bhikkhuni (Southern Buddhist ordained nun), an American citizen, born Jewish in WWII Germany. It is evident how much Buddhism means to her. She's been included in a number of anthologies (e.g. by Bhikshuni Lekshe Tsomo). The title is from the Maha Paranibbana Sutta: "abide as an island...loving the Dhamma as an island & refuge." Per Theravada, she uses Pali spellings vs. Sanskrit equivalents. The Library of Congress Cataloging data lists it as Buddhism-Psychological Aspects; it addresses several major psychological issues:
p. 18: "eventually through practice, our intentions change & adapt themselves to the Dhamma."
p. 29: "Motives are like icebergs-1/3 visible & 2/3 hidden."
p. 43: "We confront ourselves in others [Jung calls this projection]
p. 81: "Sometimes people think of the teaching as a sort of therapy, which it undoubtedly is, but that is not its ultimate aim."
p. 93: "It's only an illusion that, through the presence of other people we confront the world around us. In reality, we are constantly meeting our own inner defilements or strengths. What goes on around us serves as a series of triggers for our reactions."
p. 94: "if we feel a serious lack in ourselves, this will color our attitudes & reactions."
p. 96: "cultivating love for ourselves ...makes it easy to be loving toward others."
p. 97: "The holy life means becoming whole, of one piece." [Jung's individuation]
p. 106: "more is not better." [scientifically the world is NOT linear]
She also describes some Buddhist terms unfamiliar to me (as a student of Vajrayana):
p. 117:3 kinds of liberation-signless (impermanence), wishless (suffering), & voidness (coreless)
p. 126: path moment - provides valuable insight into Mahamudra (MM) & Dzogchen (Dz) mindfulness.
She provides some insights into gratitude, contentment, & dependence on other people, but some of her statements seem a bit over the top to me-too much of a monastic worldview & a bit extreme for lay practitioners. For example,
p. 42: "To look for love is a totally unsatisfactory & unfulfilling endeavor."
p. 95: fear arises from hate [seems backwards to me]; we should love our breath, our cushion...
p. 103: scratching & scarring the mind [interesting concepts, but a bit too black & white IMHO]
p. 104: "sorrow, pain, grief, lamentation are all defilements. There is no rationale behind any of them." [what about empathy/compassion?; IMHO attachment is the problem, but then I have a MM/Dz view]. In some chapters she seems rather dogmatic (if not anal-retentive)-especially about precepts (reminds me of the 413 commandments of orthodox Jews). I cannot accept some of her statements: p. 113: happiness & peacefulness are synonymous; happiness & pleasure are opposites. How can one reconcile her guidance to be egoless but also self-loving?
This book increased my understanding of Theravada, monastics, & even MM/Dz. Though I don't agree with some of it, I think this is a valuable book that helps one view oneself & the world a little differently.