A short definition of Attachment, by Roberto Assagioli:
“Now we shall discuss the many forms of attachment – to people, things and ways of living – which are like heavy balls of lead tied to the feet of those trying to advance, or snares along the path, things that can sometimes even cause them to turn back.
When we ‘let life take its natural course’, allow ourselves to be carried along with the current, and fail to stop for self-examination, we will not realize – unless there is a crisis – to what extent we actually are enslaved and in bondage. But when we attempt to turn our back on the normal lifestyle of those around us, leaving behind the well-worn paths across the plain and begin to climb to higher levels, we soon realize how many and how tenacious are the attachments that hold us prisoner.
These attachments are of two types:
- Active attachments: instincts, passions, desires and affections connected with people and possessions that absorb our energies and require time, attention and nurture, sidetracking us from the high goal to which we aspire.
2 Passive attachments: these are less obvious but no less real obstacles. They are inertia, physical and moral lethargy, the ‘heaviness’ that immobilizes us, and all those forms of routine behaviour, tradition and habit creating the ruts from which people are loath to escape.
From the spiritual point of view, that is to say from the point of view of true value, every strong, exclusive attachment and every instance of moral lethargy is based on false understanding and a distorted vision. They reveal a lack of perspective, an incomplete, distorted view of reality, and a violation of the law of harmony and of the great hierarchical principle which requires the Deity, the Reality, the Source of Good and the Being of Supreme Worth, to have the first place in our minds and hearts, to be the highest goal to which our will is addressed.
To look at it another way, we might say that every attachment is an error, at odds with the law of life, because it is a vain, desperate attempt to get hold of part of that life and make it fixed or rigid, isolated from the rest of life; whereas in fact life is a unified whole, an immense current in a continual state of flow, a dynamic phenomenon which is being continually transformed. In light of this we can say that something that at one moment is a help, stimulus or condition favouring expansion of the consciousness may later become an obstacle, tie or hindrance.
This, for instance, is at the heart of parental love when parents lack the wisdom to allow a transformation of the quality and expression of their love in step with the development of their children’s personalities.
An important fact emerges from this: attachments are obstacles to spiritual realization not only when they are unworthy or ‘bad’ so to speak, but even when they are thought of as ‘good’. Indeed the latter are often the most insidious and tenacious, precisely because they are apparently justified.” (Transpersonal Development, p. 172-172, 2007)