The Misilat Yeshorim writes:

There are many who deal with Halachic discussions, others with Midrash and others with legal decisions. There are few, however, who devote thought to true Chassidut.

What does Chassidut mean? Why is it so important? and Why isn't it popular?

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    not related judaism.stackexchange.com/q/47827/759 – Double AA Apr 27 '16 at 23:56
  • I don't have a MY at hand, but seem to recall that he devotes an entire chapter to explaining "chasidus". Am I mistaken? If not, there's your answer, I guess, to "What does Chassidut mean?". – msh210 Apr 28 '16 at 2:15
  • @msh210 So what does he mean in the introduction? – MosheRabbi Apr 28 '16 at 3:24

The Messilat Yesharim gives a definition in chapter 18, "Definition of Midat Chasidut (CONCERNING THE TRAIT OF SAINTLINESS)" here is an extract:

הנה שורש החסידות הוא מה שאמרו זכרונם לברכה (ברכות יז, א) אשרי אדם שעמלו בתורה ועושה נחת רוח ליוצרו. והענין הוא כי הנה המצות המוטלות על כל ישראל כבר ידועות הן וחובתן ידועה עד היכן היא מגעת, אמנם מי שאוהב את הבורא יתברך שמו אהבה אמתית לא ישתדל ויכוין לפטור עצמו במה שכבר מפורסם מן החובה אשר על כל ישראל בכלל, אלא יקרה לו כמו שיקרה אל בן אוהב אביו שאילו יגלה אביו את דעתו גילוי מעט שהוא חפץ בדבר מן הדברים, כבר ירבה הבן בדבר ההוא ובמעשה ההוא כל מה שיוכל. ואף על פי שלא אמרו אביו אלא פעם אחת ובחצי דיבור, הנה די לאותו הבן להבין היכן דעתו של אביו נוטה לעשות לו, גם את אשר לא אמר לו בפירוש, כיון שיוכל לדון בעצמו שיהיה הדבר ההוא נחת רוח לפניו ולא ימתין שיצוהו יותר בפירוש או שיאמר לו פעם אחרת. ‏
The underlying idea is this: It is known which mitzvoth are binding on all of Israel and to what extent one is bound by them. However, one who truly loves the Creator may His Name be blessed, will not endeavor and intend to fulfill his obligations by means of the duty which is acknowledged by all of Israel in general, but will react in very much the same manner as a son who loves his father, who, even if his father gives only a slight indication of desiring something, undertakes to fulfill this desire as completely as he can.
Here is a link for an English online translation (I pasted my quotes from it).
You ask Why is it so important and why isn't it popular. I assume that is exactly what you are referring to about the importance. This statement:

אך מעטים יהיו מן המין הזה אשר יקבעו עיון ולמוד על עניני שלמות העבודה, על האהבה, על היראה, על הדבקות, ועל כל שאר חלקי החסידות. ולא מפני שאין דברים אלה עקרים אצלם, כי אם תשאל להם, כל אחד יאמר שזהו העיקר הגדול. ושלא ידומה חכם, שיהיה חכם באמת, שלא יתבררו אצלו כל הדברים האלה. אך מה שלא ירבו לעיין עליו הוא מפני רוב פרסום הדברים ופשיטותם אצלם שלא יראה להם צורך להוציא בעיונם זמן רב.‏
There are few, owever... etc (see in the PDF here for english translation)

The author says that everybody thinks that perfectionment of Avoda is very important. He explains that it is not popular because people think that a little thinking is needed to understand the ways of Avoda. But their are wrong.

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    So why does he call in the introduction his whole Sefer a path of chassidut? – MosheRabbi Apr 28 '16 at 14:12
  • @ MosheRabbi because everybody knows a little, Mitchassed im kono, lifnim mishurat hadin etc. but after this he begins to explain exactly. – kouty Apr 28 '16 at 14:26
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    I dont understand so why does he call his all Sefer like that? – MosheRabbi Apr 28 '16 at 14:31
  • @MosheRabbi 1) at the end of chapter19 "למען תזכה לשבת את פניו בכלל הישרים והחסידים". 2) in the end of the book "אמר המחבר הפעם אודה את ה' אשירה ואזמרה, אשר עד הנה עזרוני רחמיו להוציא לאור ספרי זה מסלת ישרים אשר להתלמד בו חברתיו, ולהועיל לשכמותי לרבים נתתיו. אולי אזכה שיזכו אחרים על ידי, וייטב להם בעבורי, ואעשה נחת רוח ליוצרי. ותהי זאת נחמתי בארץ תלאובות, ואקרא שמה רחובות. כן יאמר ה' לתת חלקי בתורתו, ללמוד וללמד לשמור ולעשות. וחפצו בידי יצליח אמן כן יהי רצון. " 1n chapter 3 messila: mashal of labyrinth – kouty Apr 28 '16 at 14:39
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    Youre not explaining why the whole Sefer is called like that in the Hakdama. – MosheRabbi Apr 28 '16 at 14:42

it is confusing what he means in the introduction regarding piety. He starts and ends his book talking about piety, although "piety" is merely one of the traits listed in the ladder of ascent.

Here is an excerpt of a commentary from Rabbi Yechezkel Sarna on the Mesilas Yesharim which explains what it is doing in the introduction of the book (I am answering this based on my understanding of your comments):

Rabeinu called his book "the Path of the Just", not "the Path of the Pious" despite that he opens his book with the "foundation of piety" (in ch.1) and in the final section of the book says: "I did not finish in this book all the principles of piety", and then goes on to elaborate on "piety" until the end of the book. Likewise, in the introduction, he speaks at length on piety, and so too in many chapters of the book besides the chapters specifically designated to the trait of piety.

It seems because piety is not the final end asked of man. It is merely a level among the levels counted in the Beraitha of Rabbi Pinchas ben Yair which Rabeinu in his book expounds one by one. The final end asked of man is that he be "Yashar" Just/Upright as G-d made him. As written "G-d has made man upright [but they have sought out many schemes]..." (Eccl. 7:29).

Our sages asked (Avodah Zara 25a): "why is [Genesis] called the 'Book of the Just'? Because it is the book of the Just, namely the holy forefathers (Abraham, Isaac, Jacob) which are called Just." Hence, this is what is asked of man. As written in Tana d'Bei Eliyahu, "a man is obligated to say 'when will my deeds reach those of my forefathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob'". And that which Rabeinu speaks about the trait of piety, opening and sealing his book with it, this is because he wages a massive war campaign against the "Mitchasdim" (false pious) in this book which are "most people" who consider many customs and many ways as "piety" but they are only fallacious piety... and there is no trait of all the traits counted by Rabbi Pinchas ben Yair of whom there is more misunderstanding than piety. But what G-d asks of us is to that we be Yesharim (upright/just). For this includes all the traits. For a person who lacks even one of them is already not considered Yashar. Rather he is among those who "sought out many schemes".

from Mesilas Yesharim with english commentaries here.

original hebrew of Rabbi Sarna is at www.hebrewbooks.org/41769 in the hakdama

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