The Three Layers of Attachment
“…theologian Mary Reuther and the spiritual director Richard Rohr, echo Pascal’s triple abyss in their analysis of the attachments that undermine our “spirituality.” Both Rohr and Reuther emphasize the psychological and emotional attachments that can devestate our spiritual lives, making their point that “attachment” does not have to be to material things to be spiritually destuctive.
Reuther suggests three layers of attachment that need to be peeled back sequentially, like an onion. First, we need to become detached from material gain, second from self-importance, and third from the urge to dominate others. Only through this process of stripping away these attachments, she writes, can we lay claim to spiritual progress.
Rohr uses a language more familiar to those steeped in twelve Step spirituality. In an article on A.A.’s Third Step he counsels that spirituality involves the “letting go” of three needs, the need to be in control, the need to be effective, and the need to be right. For Alcoholics( as well as the depressed) in early sobriety, the last point may be the most important, for attachment from the need to be right, surrender of the “demand to have the last word.”
“…release flows from the understanding that all absolute attempts to control our own destiny–like all attempts to do anything “absolutely” are ultimately doomed, for inevitably we will come up against something we cannot control. The attempt to control the future and the demand to be in charge of everything in our lives, sentences us to a daily existence obsessed with life numbing worry.”
This article, excerpted from the “Spirituality of Imperfection: Storytelling and the Journey to Wholemess”. Ernest Kurtz and Katherine Ketcham. Bantam Books.1994. NY. Page 172-173.
Published by THE ANTIDEPRESSANT TABLET. Volume 10 Issues 3 & 4 SUMMER/FALL 1999.