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Love versus Attachment

Attachment is rooted in self-centeredness, selfishness. Whereas love is based on selflessness and sacrifice. Ironically, attachment is passed off as love. Love is measured essentially by one’s identification with others. When you become one with another. Other’s joy is your joy. Other’s sorrow is your sorrow. When you contact the world with no personal motives. Such an example of true love was seen in an episode in a factory in Mumbai, India. A worker operating a machine got a splinter in his eye by accident. The human resources officer and the resident doctor were taking him for treatment to the hospital. The moment the managing director of the plant heard about it he pulled out his private Mercedes car and rushed him to his personal ophthalmologist for treatment. He related to the worker as his own family member. That is an expression of true love.

Attachment is opposed to love. Where one looks into one’s personal interest rather than that of another. A typical example of attachment was also noticed in Mumbai. It was a middle class parents’ attachment to their only son. The son was a prodigy in his subject, mathematics. He obtained a doctorate in Mumbai University. In recognition of his outstanding brilliance a foreign university offered him a prestigious scholarship for advanced study and research in his subject. His friends and well-wishers were delighted at the recognition and offer. Every detail was worked out for his departure. But his parents were too attached to him and refused to let him go. The boy and his well-wishers desperately tried to convince his parents to avail themselves of the unique opportunity for their son’s success and progress in life. And that would not be just for him but for the advancement of the subject and the community at large. No amount of persuasion and advice could alter their personal stand. The parents stuck to their selfish interest, “We want our son to remain with us!” That is attachment. The reverse of love.

Undoubtedly parents are fond of their children and do care for them. But their selfishness permeates their love and turns it sour. The beautiful emotion of love transforms into the ugly form of attachment. The children resist it, desist it. All ending up in confrontation, even separation. Study this equation carefully.


Love                +  Selfishness  = Attachment

Attachment   –   Selfishness  = Love


The world is infested with the deadly trait of attachment. The great English writer-poet Oliver Goldsmith in his novel The Vicar of Wakefield loudly proclaims there is no love left in the world:


And what is friendship but a name,

A charm that lulls to sleep;

A shade that follows wealth or fame,

But leaves the wretch to weep?


And love is still an emptier sound,

The modern fair one’s jest,

On earth unseen,

Or only found to warm the turtle’s nest.


What follows attachment is possessiveness. When you are attached to something you become possessive towards it. Attachment and possessiveness is the true cause for separation and divorce between spouses, between any two persons.

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