i.e. a home from home?
Gautama Siddartha left home because he wanted to ‘live the pure life’. He experienced ‘household life’ as impure, i.e. ignoble because unpleasant (Pali: dukkha), indeed disgusting, and because transient and ending in death. His goal, proclaimed over and over again, was to attain the non-transient, non-changing, unborn, unconditioned, in a word, the deathless (Pali: amata), i.e. nibbana.
The deathless (i.e. = the unconditioned, unborn = nibbana) was Gautama’s refuge (i.e. his personal sanctuary, i.e. home). Having woken up briefly to the deathless, he called himself Tathagata. The appellation ‘The Buddha’ was invention of a later age.
The deathless could be attained and made permanent only by dropping out of life and staying out, i.e. by preventing life (i.e. birth) from restarting. Each and every contact with, or response to a conditioned ‘thing’ (Pali: sankhara = dhamma) restarted life (i.e. produced birth, therefore death), and therefore had to be prevented. Prevention happened by means of absolute indifference to life (i.e. to conditioned phenomena). Becoming absolutely indifferent (i.e. non-responsive) was what the Tathagata called ‘blindfolding death’, death (Pali: mata) being, in his opinion, equivalent to life.
Note: After the extinction of Gautama, as his dhamma (i.e. law) and biography were gradually turned into a home-user (read: lay supporter) friendly myth, mata (death) became personified as mara = the Evil One.
For the bhikkhu, that is to say, for the professional ‘gone forth into homelessness’, i.e. the absolute drop-out from life = death, to go for refuge (i.e. to seek sanctuary = a home) in the Buddha, the Dhamma and the Sangha, thereby entering (or attaching to) a different home (also, because arising from conditions, transient, without own nature = atta and unpleasant), defeated the purpose of the exercise.
The notion that one ‘gone forth from home’, indeed, from home as such, and seeking never to return home (i.e. never to be forced into a new birth), abide (i.e. make his home) in the person of the Tathagata (and who had no persona, or so he claimed), in his law (or means), or even take ordination and make a home in his sect, therefore in the home of an ‘other’ (hence anatta twice over), is a major contradiction.
There seems little doubt that the three refuges were not part of the Tathagata’s original agenda for ending life = death (and rebirth). After all, he had stated that the elimination of the asavas (i.e. the intoxicants) was all that was required to become an arahant.