In Tibetan Buddhism a Tulpa is a concept in mysticism and the paranormal of a ‘being’ or ’entity’ which is created, or ‘summoned’, in the mind through spiritual or mental powers or through ‘sheer force of will’.
BACKGROUND, HISTORY AND LORE
The word ‘Tulpa’ was adapted by ‘20th-century theosophists’ from the Tibetan ‘sprul-pa’ meaning ‘emanation’ or ‘manifestation’, though some sources state that Tulpa means ‘thought-form’ in Tibetan Buddhism, and others that the word Tulpa comes from the Tibetan phrase or words ‘to construct’ or ‘to build or create’.
“Emanation bodies—nirmanakaya, sprulsku, sprul-pa and so on—are connected to trikaya, the Buddhist doctrine of the three bodies of the Buddha. They are usually emanation bodies of celestial beings, though ‘unrealized beings’ such as humans may have their own emanation bodies or even be emanation bodies.”https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tulpa (Wikipedia, 2020)
In the 20th century ‘theosophists’ are believed to have adapted the concepts of ‘emanation body’ and ‘Tulpa’ from Tibetan Buddhism into the concepts of ‘thoughtform’.
The term ‘thoughtform’ has reportedly been used as early as 1927, in Evans-Wentz’ translation of ‘The Tibetan Book of the Dead’, and John Myrdhin Reynolds in a note on his English translation of the life story of ‘Garab Dorje’ defines a Tulpa as ‘an emanation or a manifestation.
Occultist William Walker Atkinson, in his book ‘The Human Aura’, described thought-forms as ‘simple ethereal objects emanating from the auras surrounding people, generating from their thoughts and feelings’. In ‘Clairvoyance and Occult Powers’ Atkinson claimed that ‘experienced practitioners of the occult can produce thoughtforms from their auras that serve as astral projections which may or may not look like the person who is projecting them, or as illusions that can only be seen by those with awakened astral senses’.
Theosophist Annie Besant, in her book Thought-forms, divides Tulpa’s into the classes of ‘forms in the shape of the person who creates them’, ‘forms that resemble objects or people and may become ensouled by nature spirits or by the dead’, and forms that ‘represent inherent qualities from the astral or mental planes, such as emotions’.
Since the 1970’s, the term has been used in Western culture to refer to a ‘sentient, sapient being coinhabiting with [a] host consciousness’ and while some reportedly consider a Tulpa ‘little more than a hallucinatory imaginary friend’, others believe that Tulpa are ‘sentient, self-aware entities sharing a brain with their host’, and are a ‘real or somewhat-real person.
Some practitioners and believers call the act of ‘hosting’ a Tulpa ‘Tulpamancy’ and some people reportedly attempt to use meditation and ‘lucid dreaming techniques’ to create Tulpa
It’s believed by some that a Tulpa can ‘act independently of, and parallel to your own consciousness’, are able to ‘think, and have their own free will, emotions, and memories’ and are like ‘a sentient person living in your head, separate from you’ that you can interact with. However, not everyone believes that Tulpas are ‘truly sentient’.
“A tulpa is an entity created in the mind, acting independently of, and parallel to your own consciousness. They are able to think, and have their own free will, emotions, and memories. In short, a tulpa is like a sentient person living in your head, separate from you. It’s currently unproven whether or not tulpas are truly sentient, but in this community, we treat them as such. It takes time for a tulpa to develop a convincing and complex personality; as they grow older, your attention and their life experiences will shape them into a person with their own hopes, dreams and beliefs.”https://www.tulpa.info/what-is-a-tulpa/ (Tulpa.info, 2020)
Some claim that ‘the more energy and focus you put into creating a tulpa in your mind the more independent and powerful it will become’ and that you can ‘manifest’ a Tulpa that can ‘think, advise you on things and seemingly help you get through life, all whilst living inside your head’.
It’s also believed that it ‘takes some time’ for a Tulpa to ‘develop a convincing and complex personality’ and, as they grow older, your ‘attention’ and ‘life experiences will shape them into a person with their own hopes, dreams and beliefs’. Some also say that you ‘can never really finish making a tulpa because just like people, they’re always evolving and can always learn, change, adapt and grow’.
Tulpa can reportedly come in various different forms and don’t always have to be human but should have a home’ for them to ‘live inside your head’ and will ‘follow you around in your waking life, but they can also disappear to go to their home in your mind’. This supposedly means you ‘don’t have to put energy into interacting with it all the time’.
They are also believed to be able to communicate with you in many ways such as verbally saying things, seemingly ‘physically touch your body’ and ‘apply apparent pressure to your body and parts of it’ and ‘install certain feelings in you which’ can reportedly be experienced as ‘gut feelings’.
In an early Indian Buddhist text the ‘Pali Samaññaphala Sutta’ lists the ability to create a ‘mind-made body’ (manomāyakāya) as one of the ‘fruits of the contemplative life’. ‘Commentarial texts’ such as the ‘Patisambhidamagga’ and the ‘Visuddhimagga’ also reportedly state that this ‘mind-made body’ is how ‘Gautama Buddha’ and ‘arhats’ are able to ‘travel into heavenly realms using the continuum of the mindstream’ (cittasaṃtāna).
Spiritualist Alexandra David-Néel claimed to have ‘observed these mystical practices in 20th century Tibet’ and described Tulpas as ‘magic formations generated by a powerful concentration of thought’. David-Néel also reportedly believed that Tulpas could ‘develop a mind of its own’.
“Once the tulpa is endowed with enough vitality to be capable of playing the part of a real being, it tends to free itself from its maker’s control. This, say Tibetan occultists, happens nearly mechanically, just as the child, when his body is completed and able to live apart, leaves its mother’s womb.”https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tulpa (Wikipedia, 2020)
She also claimed to have created such a Tulpa ‘in the image of a jolly Friar Tuck-like monk, which later developed a life of its own and had to be destroyed’, and also ‘raised the possibility that her experience was illusory’ saying that she may have created her own ‘hallucination’.
CREATING A TULPA
To create a Tulpa you need to start by imagining someone or something in your head and, it is believed that as you give a Tulpa attention and ‘believe it can be a sentient person, it will grow into one, and act independently of you’.
It’s thought that getting to know your own Tulpa will ‘teach you lessons in empathy and give you insight into your own personality and thoughts’ and that a Tulpa can ‘give you an alternative opinion on problems you have, support you emotionally, and tell you off when you’re being stupid’.
“Creating a tulpa means committing to raising and living with another person, and this is a lifelong commitment—not one that ends when your tulpa starts speaking.”https://www.tulpa.info/what-is-a-tulpa/ (Tulpa.info, 2020)
Tulpas are not thought to be dangerous to people other than the one who created them. They are believed to be dangerous in the sense that you could potentially get to the point where ‘you can’t tell the difference between talking to yourself and talking to another person’. Some say that if you do this for long enough ‘the lines will become very blurred and you might start to go insane’ and it is, therefore, crucial to remember that a Tulpa is only real in your own head.
“Tulpas aren’t demons; they aren’t a manifestation of your subconsciousness, and aren’t the devil trying to entice you to do evil. Tulpas are not malicious unless you really mess up during the creation process and treat your tulpa in a way that makes them utterly hate you—and even then, a tulpa can’t really do you much harm.”https://www.tulpa.info/what-is-a-tulpa/ (Tulpa.info, 2020)
You should think ‘very hard about interacting with a third person or a person other than your own mind’ and ‘imagine what this person or thing would say, and then reply to it’. You should also consider why you want a Tulpa and what you are creating them for. Do you want a friend, someone to laugh with, a companion, advisor or guide etc? This is believed to affect the personality of the Tulpa entity you manifest.
Additionally ‘young Tulpas’ are thought to be ‘impressionable and heavily influenced by their host’ so you should not make the mistake of thinking it is ‘entirely self-sufficient, responsible and ready to make their own life decisions as soon as they are able to speak’.
Another thing to note is that, while some people reportedly come into the Tulpamancy community to ‘roleplay’ with Tulpas, a Tulpa ‘isn’t a role-playing character, and you probably shouldn’t make one just to entertain you with their online interactions’.
Additionally, you should think about what form you will want the Tulpa to take such as a person, animal or even a cartoon, as ‘most Tulpa’s prefer to have a form of some sort’. According to some sources, however, a Tulpa will have a ‘human mind’ whatever form you give it.
Also important to consider is where you will be interacting with your Tulpa, most people reportedly do this in an ‘imaginary setting’ called a ‘wonderland’. This is supposed to be a ‘persistent place’ where you imagine yourself and your Tulpa.
“Many tulpas tend to spend their alone time in such a place, but it’s not required at all to have a wonderland (or to give your tulpa a form for that matter). Note that the form doesn’t have to just be a visual image; the word is often used as umbrella term for a tulpa’s looks, voice, their smell, the feeling of their skin—everything that you can sense of their imaginary form.”https://www.tulpa.info/what-is-a-tulpa/ (Tulpa.info, 2020)
These things are thought important to consider before actually manifesting a Tulpa. It reportedly doesn’t take too long too long to create a Tulpa if you ‘practice often’, about one hour a day, you should then ‘create yourself a tulpa in about a week or two’. As time goes on and you put more energy and practice into it, you’ll find it takes almost no effort to hear and interact with your tulpa’.
Other sources also suggest ‘narrating’ your Tulpa, ‘speaking to it, and visualizing it in your mind’ so that in the future you can communicate with your Tulpa through ‘various methods’. You should also focus on ‘nurturing and teaching your tulpa, and allowing them to grow as a person with you’ while also learning ‘about yourself, and grow as a person in turn’. A Tulpa can also reportedly ‘change into what they want to be’.
“Keep in mind that when a tulpa starts talking, it doesn’t mean that they are complete, or finished by any means. Like any person, a tulpa is never ‘done’, and you shouldn’t be going for a finished tulpa, when you make one. – It takes time and effort to make a tulpa into a self-sufficient and balanced individual, and their independence and personality will grow and flourish over time, like any regular human being’s.”https://www.tulpa.info/what-is-a-tulpa/ (Tulpa.info, 2020)
Next, once you’ve got a clear idea of what you think your Tulpa should look like and how it should act, you can practice talking to it. Give your Tulpa a name or ‘open your mind’ and let the Tulpa tell you it’s name.
You should reportedly practice hearing your Tulpa without ‘forcing’ it to speak to you. It is supposedly perfectly normal to find this difficult and will require practise and it’s recommended to begin with practising imagining ‘what you think it should say’ before you can ‘naturally’ hear your Tulpa speak to you.
“This is where you’ll make it more a part of your life. Practice just sort of keeping the thought of your tulpa in the background of your mind and thoughts. Whatever you’re doing, try and keep thinking a little bit about your tulpa, and imagine it’s there with you all the time.”https://howtolucid.com/tulpa-guide/ (HowToLucid.com, 2020)
Reportedly, a ‘clearer way’ of sensing your Tulpa before directly communicating with it is through ‘emotional responses’ such as ‘feeling emotions that aren’t your own. This way’ you may be able to ‘notice easily when your tulpa is very happy or sad, or feels strongly about something in any way’.
You can also practice hearing you Tulpa say things about what you’re doing at the time, practice interacting with it in your head and ‘experiencing the world together as a couple’. This will reportedly ‘help to strengthen the image and make it more likely that you’ll be able to interact with it without trying to imagine it’s responses’.
Your goal is to ‘create an entity with which you can interact without being aware of the fact you’re creating it’s answers’ and it should begin to feel like ‘you’re interacting with something or someone that you have no control over’.
According to some sources, some people experience, before they are able to start hearing their Tulpa’s voice, get ‘head pressures’ when interacting with their tulpa, like a ‘throbbing sensation that usually fades with time’.
When you are able to hear a Tulpa’s ‘mindvoice’ you are now ‘hearing thoughts that aren’t your own’ and you can respond by ‘directing thoughts of your own back to your tulpa’. This can reportedly take anywhere from a couple days of practice to several months, or even longer, to ‘hear your tulpa in this way’.
You should also reportedly not allow your Tulpa to interact with others at this point. While this ‘may speed up development’ you ‘should be wary of who they talk to, and don’t dump them onto the forums and chat rooms as some kind of plaything’. It’s also recommended to ‘screen people yourself’ before letting your Tulpa speak to them.
A ‘quick test’ that can be performed. When you’ve been manifesting your Tulpa for a while, to see if ‘it’s really there and can do things without you’. Reportedly, if up until now you have been ‘putting effort into thinking about what and how it would react to certain situations, now is the time to stop’.
You should lay back and close your eyes, and let your Tulpa ‘show you something’ but don’t ‘ask it to show you something in particular’. The idea is that ‘when done properly’ your Tulpa should ‘be able to take her and show you something strange’.
Reportedly, an ‘advanced technique’ in Tulpamancy is ‘imposition’ which involves ‘hallucinating your tulpa with any of your senses’. Supposedly, when you master this technique your Tulpa will ‘seamlessly fit into reality as you see it with your own eyes, and you’ll be able to hear them speak, smell them, and even feel the texture of their skin and clothes as if they were really there’.
You can also, reportedly, as you become more skilled at Tulpamancy, ‘learn to give them control of your body’. This is called possession and your Tulpa is thought to be able to ‘move by themselves’ and will learn ‘to be able to do whatever they want’.
Reportedly, some people will ‘get possession down before hearing their Tulpa’s mindvoice’ and their Tulpa will be ‘able to communicate through writing or typing things to the host’.
“With time, you can learn to stop paying attention to your body entirely, while your tulpa is in control. You’ll be able to ignore your body’s senses and take on imaginary ones—essentially becoming able to lucidly dream while your tulpa does what they want in your body. This is called switching.”https://www.tulpa.info/what-is-a-tulpa/ (Tulpa.info, 2020)
GETTING RID OF A TULPA
If you want to get rid of a Tulpa that you have created, reportedly, you should ’meditate and think about your tulpa’ and ‘imagine it there in front of you but then practice seeing it inside a white shield of light’ where it cannot ‘make a sound in your mind’. The idea being that when ‘the shield is up, you can’t hear it’ and ‘it can’t interact with you’ and this will ‘help you to remove the bonds between it and you’.
THE PSYCHOLOGY OF TULPAS
Samuel Paul Veissière wrote on Psychology Today that he has found, in his own research, that those who created Tulpa were ‘simply cultivating fundamentally normal dimensions of human cognition and sociality’.
Reportedly Tulpamancers report ‘overwhelming positive experiences, overall increased happiness and more confidence in challenging social situations through the assistance of their Tulpa companions’. According to Veissière ‘many of those who had identified with specific psychopathological labels like depression, anxiety, or ADHD similarly spoke of overall improvement. He also claimed that when ‘queried independently’ the Tulpas often described being ‘immune’ to the ‘specific conditions of their hosts’ with the exception of Autism Spectrum Disorders.
One Tulpa reportedly explained that he had ‘the same brain as his host’ and that ‘both were necessarily bound to similar limitations’, however, others reported ‘greater degrees of freedom from their hosts’ conditions’.
Veissière also wrote that one of the first conclusions of his research was that ‘conjuring Tulpas could make one more empathetic’.
THEORIES AND EXPLANATIONS
According to Psychology Today people have wondered if Tulpamancers have ‘underlying mental illness’ and ‘if it is possible to hear voices without being crazy’. Whereas others have reportedly wondered if Tulpamancers are telling the truth.
“Anthropologists have long documented incidences of trance, dissociation, spirit possessions, and other anomalous experiences that occur in ritual, often spiritual contexts in the absence of trauma and pathology. In such cases, such as Candomblé spirit possession in Brazil or Madagascar, these experiences are understood as normal and desirable.”https://www.psychologytoday.com/gb/blog/culture-mind-and-brain/201604/daring-hear-voices (Veissière, 2016)
Tanya Luhrmann, conducted ‘long-term anthropological and psychological investigations of inner dimensions of prayer among Pentecostal Christians’. Her work reportedly demonstrated that ‘in a process not unlike Tulpamancy, the hard work of prayer could eventually lead to voice-hearing experiences among believers’.
Luhrmann ‘initially hypothesized’ that ‘learning to hear the voice of God may require a proclivity for absorption’ and her studies showed that ‘those among her informants who reported the most vivid mental imagery, greater focus, and more intense spiritual experiences scored higher on the Tellegen Absorption Scale (TAS)’.
Another key finding of her research was reportedly that ‘absorption could be trained and improved in practice’.
“Luhrmann’s work elegantly showed that spiritual and other unusual sensory experiences can become extraordinarily vivid as a result of attentional learning, particularly when they are sought after and rewarded in a community of people with similar beliefs.”https://www.psychologytoday.com/gb/blog/culture-mind-and-brain/201604/daring-hear-voices (Veissière, 2016)
Veissière wrote on Psychology Today that, in his own work, he also found that ‘Tulpamancers scored higher than average on the Tellegen Absorption Scale’ and that his research ‘suggests that absorption-proneness can improve with practice, and that culture is an important factor in shaping the desirability and rewarding quality of unusual sensory experiences’.
However he also reportedly found that a ‘small minority’ of Tulpamancers had ‘already experienced voices before thinking of them as Tulpas, or turning them into friendly companions’ and some ‘simply thought of them as imaginary friends’. Some also had ‘difficult, or scary experiences’ with these voices ‘and the characters that lived in their mind’ and ‘had come to understand them as a sign of illness’.
Others do not consider that there is enough evidence that Tulpa can be ‘legitimate, autonomous, self-aware’ to be convincing and claim that ‘very little psychological research has targeted the phenomenon, most evidence is purely anecdotal, and the research that does exist employs descriptive methods only’.
ALSO KNOWN AS
- Emanation bodies