Glossary of Spiritual Wisdom
Excerpts about Practicing Period
Child's Delusion in the Practicing Period
When the Essential Identity arises in the practicing period, the child feels these grand qualities. However, as we have discussed, she is not consciously aware that she is being the Essential Identity, so her realization is different from the mature self-realization of an adult. She is the Essential Identity completely and nondualistically, but at the same time she is dualistically aware of her bodymind. So she believes that these characteristics of her true self are the properties of her mind and body. On the Being level, the Essential Identity has no limitations, since the
identity is directly in touch with the timeless, vast, ontological ground of being; but because she is experiencing these qualities intuitively while aware of the body-mind objectively, the child comes to believe that her body and mind have no limitations, which is obviously a delusion. The delusion is not the feelings and attitudes of grandeur and omnipotence, for these are the actual feelings of the Self of Being. The delusion is in attributing them to the body-mind. The limitless qualities become grandiose when attributed to the body and the mind. The child’s imperviousness to hurt is an expression of her identity with the Essential Identity of Being. It takes her a long time to become aware that these feelings of grandeur and omnipotence are false, in the sense that they are not true about her body and mind. When this happens, she is thoroughly disappointed and deflated. This usually occurs at the beginning of rapprochement, the third subphase of the separation-individuation process.
The Point of Existence, pg. 208
The Normal Grandiose Self of the Practicing Period is Not the Grandiose Self of the Narcissistic Adult
What Kohut and others call the grandiose self is actually the Essential Identity, or more accurately, the condition of the soul as it is patterned by the Essential Identity in the practicing period. We hasten to clarify that this normal grandiose self of the practicing period is not the same as the grandiose self of the narcissistic adult. The latter is a psychic structure, not an essential presence. So where does the narcissistic grandiose self come from? It is an imitation of the Essential Identity, a fake “shell” which develops around the end of the practicing period and the beginning of the rapprochement sub-phase. In the development of narcissism, the child does not let go of the sense of omnipotence at the end of the practicing sub-phase and the beginning of the rapprochement phase, but holds on to it as her primary identification. More accurately, her self-representations include the sense of omnipotence and specialness of the Essential Identity. For the normal person, the self-representations regarding the capacity of the body-mind become more realistic as the child’s increasing awareness of limitation and identification with the body and mind develop. However, when the sense of vulnerability that arises from the perception of separateness and limitation is too difficult to tolerate, the child resorts to various defensive maneuvers such as retaining the sense of omnipotence as part of the central self-representation. She denies its falsehood with respect to her mind and body and ends up believing that the omnipotence is truly characteristic of her bodily-mental self.