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This is a write-up of some of my personal views about tulpamancy, which seem to be quite far from what can be considered common views in the tulpa commuity (around which, I spend little time). By FF_CCSa1F
Sentience is a word that I consider to be far overused in tulpa creation guides. It's a relevant word within tulpamancy, but it's quite useless to the starting tulpamancer. In this essay, I will try to explain a more productive way to view sentience and agency, and a mindset that allowed me to become a much more confident and productive tulpamancer.
Sentience and agency
If a being is sentient, it means that it is able to experience subjectivity. In other words, it is able to perform some cognitive function; it is able to process information, it is able to, to any limited extent applicable, think. This is in general the goal that guides present to new tulpamancers, without explaining much further what it implies, and more importantly, how to gauge it. Some guides claim that blind faith in your tulpa is the best way to go, and others suggest various dubious methods for testing it. I've dawdled among these mindsets and methods for a long time, and I've come to realise that the entire concept of tulpa sentience is entirely irrelevant to the 'mancer.
A more relevant concept to consider is that of agency. A being that has agency - an agent - is capable of taking responsibility for actions. Whereas the defining factor for a sentient being is its ability to experience, the defining factor for an agent is its ability to be experienced. This is a much more concrete goal for a tulpamancer to work toward, since it actually implies action on the tulpa's part.
Agency and the self
Humans are selfish, and we're built to see ourselves, from tip to toe, as a single agent. We're built to reason that we are our bodies, and that we take responsibility for what our bodies do. This makes sense, because we wouldn't be very good survivors if we experienced our body parts as having minds of their own, our feelings and thoughts as free-standing individuals, and so forth - despite that being closer to what is actually going on.
What we experience as the "self", is nothing more than an aggregate of the many sub-agents that make up our body; an emergent super-agent, a layer of abstraction. The "self" is the agent that is attached to our personalities, the agent that experiences, reads our memories and makes decisions based upon experience. It is the agent that chooses how to respond to emotion (which is an agent of its own!), and so forth. It is a decision making machine, and it is the actual us.
Humans are also very good at seeing agency everywhere, even when there might be none. We swear at devices that "decide" not to work when we need them, and we swear by divine power when we're in luck. This also has some evolutionary advantages, since it makes it much easier for us to accept and utilise systems that we do not understand. And to make tulpas.
Dissociation from agency
Dissociation is another word that is frequently used in the tulpa community, and often without satisfactory explanation. You normally hear about it on matters of the body; tulpas possessing, switching, et cetera. Rarely is it mentioned on topics of the mind, where it is just as applicable. Our self-agents are designed to take responsibility for everything that our bodies do, and voluntary dissociation simply means that you, the self-agent, gives up its agency over something. This is, contrary to popular belief, not the same as sitting down in meditation and not moving a muscle, it is far easier than that. You can dissociate from anything from a single thought to your entire body and mind, and it is as simple as deciding that you were not the agent of that thought or movement!
This mindset is what I consider to be the key to tulpamancy; you need to tell yourself that you are not doing things, because things are merely happening to you. You are not thinking thoughts, because thoughts are simply being generated by your brain. You are not scratching that itch, your arm is merely acting upon instinct. You're not walking - you're being walked somewhere. Achieving this state of mind can be tricky, because by trying to achieve it, we, as self-agents, are downright doing the opposite of what we were designed to do.
Despite that, learning to dissociate from agency in this manner is probably the single best tip I can give to any starting tulpamancer. It took me a very long time to figure out, and I wish I'd done it sooner. It's something that should be learned before even starting with the rest of the tulpa, because by learning how to give up agency over thoughts and actions that are performed by your body, and to see your body as a plethora of separate agents, you're also learning how to create agency to your tulpa. After all, what is a tulpa, if not another agent?
Learning to dissociate from agency is fairly straight-forward in practise, my preferred method is to simply sit down and allow things to happen while being aware of them, but not taking responsibility for them. I allow my body to respond to urges to scratch itches; I allow that sub-agent to act freely, without interference. I allow thoughts to happen, whatever they may be, I allow my body to change seating position if it feels like it, and so on and so forth. If something were to happen during this practise, say, one of my arms knocking over a vase, I would not consider it to be my fault directly, because I never told that arm to go there - it did so by itself!
The important thing to realise in order to achieve this mindset, is that you are able to choose whether or not to be the agent responsible for the actions of your body. Your body is fully capable of functioning without the presence of the self-agent; it will feed itself, make itself comfortable, keep itself from dying - the only thing it needs you for is to make difficult decisions. As a self-agent, realising that you're not as important as you thought, is probably not going to be easy, but my experience tells me that it's something that can be accepted if you simply reiterate it enough. The more you dissociate, the less prone you'll be to assigning agency to yourself by default, and the easier your time will be trying to make a tulpa.
Characters, servitors and tulpas: Agency and personality
Once you've learned how to give agency away to other agents within your brain, you've achieved what most people - me included - struggle the hardest with in the beginning: You've gotten your body to kind of do things on its own. Once you've achieved this, you'll find the creation of servitors to be exceptionally easy; you simply will something, for instance, walking, dissociate your agency from that action, and presto! You've got a walking servitor. A servitor, in this sense, can be considered to be an agent without a personality attached to it, and no real cognitive skills. A mental construct capable of action, but with no mechanism in place to consciously decide how it should act.
On the other end of the scale, we have imaginary characters, that most people can create with ease ever since childhood. These are personalities that have been thought out and fabricated somehow. Storybook characters, imaginary friends, role-playing personas, attempted tulpas, waifus, toys that have been given personalities by children - these are all frameworks of personality that have not been given agency. Our brains allocate resources in order to map out personalities of people we interact with, so that we can better understand them, but it doesn't know the difference between a real person and a made-up one. This makes us great at predicting how people that have never existed, would act.
What makes the self-agent unique among the agents in the brain, is that it has a framework of memories and experience - a personality - attached to it, which it uses to make conscious, subjective decisions. So, when we've learned how to allow other agents in the brain to hold agency over actions, and we've created an imaginary personality in our head, we've actually created the basic ingredients for another self-agent - a tulpa.
Role-playing, parroting, puppeting and agency
Anyone who has spent any time researching tulpas, will have come across the expression of role-playing, and probably some strong opinions attached to it. It's generally a derogatory term, meaning to imply that the role-player is "merely faking it", and is pretending to have a tulpa, or tulpas, usually in order to get attention. While there without a doubt are negative consequences to this (such as liars misleading people by false experience), I consider the term to be unnecessarily loaded. In order for someone to "role-play" as having a tulpa, they necessarily need to construct a personality for their faux tulpa, because no-one would fall for it if their supposed tulpa merely acted the same as they. Personality is half of what constitutes a self-agent (tulpa), and constructing a personality is usually the first thing that guides recommend new tulpamancers to do - so where is the supposed difference? In the mindset of the tulpamancer or "role-player"? The fact that they construct the personality by allowing it to interact naturally, rather than by trying to define it in solitude?
Parroting (you speaking according to the personality of your tulpa) and puppeting (you making the mind-form of your tulpa move according to its personality) are other words used to describe the same thing - you taking agency over actions performed according to a constructed personality belonging to a tulpa - but with the implied goal of actually creating a real tulpa capable of agency. Whether you're parroting, puppeting or role-playing, you're doing the same thing: You're creating and attaching a manufactured personality to your own self-agent, in place of your own personality, and acting in accordance to it. Your motivation for doing this is entirely irrelevant, because you cannot escape the fact that you're "forcing a tulpa", whenever you're fleshing out a personality that isn't yours. In fact, any act of manufacturing, or imagining a personality, including for instance creative writing, is a potential act of tulpamancy. An author that's created a character in their mind, only need to allow it to take agency over actions, in order for it to become a tulpa.
This is why I recommend people to start by training themselves to accept agency in agents that aren't themselves. The difference between the aforementioned terms and a real tulpa, is a quality of the tulpamancer, and not the tulpa. Agency (and sentience) is an emergent property of the brain, it's not something that needs to be created specifically for a tulpa. Everything you create in thought has the potential of agency, but you, the self-agent, are a machine designed to assign agency to itself. In order to be successful as a tulpamancer, you need to re-construct yourself, and learn how to control what you take agency of, and what your tulpa can take agency of. Like everything else in your brain, your tulpa - a personality - doesn't need you to function. It'll tick on its own, if you only learn how to stop pulling its strings.
Self-agents: Free-running agency machines
In conclusion, this is why agency is such an important, and oft-overlooked issue. It's very easy to fool yourself into believing that the tulpa creation process means that you're creating something new in your brain, it makes intuitive sense, but it's a counter-productive view. Tulpamancy is more than anything a practise in learning how to manage the power you possess as an entity built to absorb agency (and you frankly start out as grossly incompetent). It's impossible to "create sentience" in your brain, because your brain already is sentient. Trying to make it sentient-er makes little sense. Instead, the focus of a starting tulpamancer should be one of learning how to direct the sentience that is already there into new potential agents. A thought-up personality is capable of agency out-of-the-box, and will indeed begin to do things immediately as long as it's motivated, and there's not another greedy, incompetent self-agent there to take its agency away.
The moment you learn to manage your agency-grabbing powers, you'll become able to turn your imaginary characters, personalities, waifus, into tulpas. And unlike the methods described in most other guides, you'll also know it, because you've spent time teaching yourself how to make tulpas, rather than trying to teach your non-existent tulpas how to exist.