A tulpa, in the sense used by modern practitioners of the art, is a mental construct designed to appear as an autonomous, sentient entity to the practitioner. Well-developed tulpas are often reported to be able to appear to their hosts as separate conscious entities living within their brains, capable of independent thoughts, actions, memories, and feelings. It is speculated that tulpas act on the same mechanisms that allow hosts to experience subjective consciousness, but the exact nature of what a tulpa is, and the mechanisms on which it acts, remain subjects of speculation within the tulpa community.
- 1 Tulpas in practice
- 2 Tulpa development
- 3 Historic and modern usage
- 4 Hypotheses for the mechanics of tulpas
- 5 References
Tulpas in practice
Tulpas can be likened to imaginary friends that are capable of independent thought. The distinguishing factor that separates a tulpa from an imaginary friend, is the way in which the host experiences no sense of agency or sense of ownership over the thoughts and actions of the tulpa. More advanced tulpas can manifest as mind-voices in the head of the host, or even vivid hallucinations that can affect one or more of the host's senses.
How a tulpa is able to manifest itself is in large the decision of the host; various forms of mental training, not directly related tulpas (such as mental visualisation training and auto-hallucinatory training), are required in order for the tulpa to manifest itself in different ways. Reports from within the tulpa community suggest that these skills, once learned by the host, can be taught to tulpas, allowing them to manifest autonomously and initiate communication with the host whenever they please.
Common manifestations of tulpas
The core of a tulpa, and what differentiates it from a traditional imaginary friend, is the sense of disassociation between its and the host's conscious experiences. While it is possible to create a tulpa that exists as nothing but a disassociated, conscious entity, it is common practise within the tulpa community to combine tulpas with other mental training. Arguably, most tulpas in the tulpa community are given at least a visualised mind-form early in the creation process, that the host will use as a symbolic token for their tulpa, while forcing. Once a tulpa reaches the point of sentience, it is common to begin vocality training in order to give the tulpa a mind-voice, allowing for clear communication between tulpa and host. A wonderland might also be used as a meeting point for tulpa and host.
Applications for tulpas
The mental construct of a tulpa can be applied to help the host with a variety of different tasks, some applications commonly found within the tulpa community include:
- Introspection and subconscious exploration
- Treatment of phobias, social anxiety and depression
- Mental automation of tasks
- Altering one's personality
- Reaching various kinds of enlightenment
- Unlocking brain potential
- This section is intended to outline common terminology and practices involved in tulpa development. It is not intended to explain how tulpas are created in practise, provide any reference for how tulpas commonly develop, or provide any instructions for creating tulpas.
Tulpa development, and practises involved in making tulpas, is a common topic of discussion and speculation within the tulpa community. Due to the subjective nature of tulpamancy, all aspects of developing tulpas vary greatly between different tulpamancers and tulpas. No single method of developing tulpas has yet been accepted as superior to any other, although several common and generally accepted practices exist.
There exists wide variety in the techniques used for creating tulpas. For instance, some tulpamancers choose specific mind-forms and personalities for their tulpas before even beginning the creation process, while others may choose not to pre-define either, instead allowing their tulpas to develop their own personalities through experience, and choose their own mind-forms (if any). With such variance in technique and application, the development of some processes are sought after by some practitioners while ignored completely by others. Some common terms used for describing various stages of tulpa development include:
Independence is the perception that a tulpa is acting on its own; acting without the host having any sense of agency or sense of ownership over it, and displaying signs of sentience to the host. Perceived independence is an important aspect of tulpamancy, as it is the defining factor that sets a tulpa aside from other mental constructs.
Deviation is the act of a tulpa altering its mind-form, or some other feature, of its own volition, causing it to look or act differently from the host's predefined idea of the tulpa. Within the tulpa community, deviations are commonly treated as a positive sign of independence, and a natural part of a tulpa's development.
Whether or not deviations occur, depends entirely on the tulpamancer and tulpa in question. Deviations are considered normal, but it is also common for tulpas to develop and never deviate from the tulpamancer's predefined idea of them.
Vocality is the ability for a tulpa to speak using a mind-voice; to express itself through words, without any conscious effort by the host. In addition to that, vocality also refers to the ability for a host to hear the tulpa clearly and vividly. Some argue that vocality depends as much on the host's ability to hear the tulpa, as it does on the tulpa's ability to speak, and that both parties need to master their respective skills in order to reach vocality. Tulpas with advanced independence and vocality skills will be able to speak in a distinct mind-voice of its own, at any time, with no conscious effort required by the host.
- Main article: Imposition
Imposition degree to which a tulpa can be perceived by the host's physical senses, usually a specific sense. For example, how well a tulpa is visually imposed refers to how well a tulpa can be seen within the host's field of view, how well the tulpa can be seen by the host as if the tulpa was a physically visible being.
- Main article: Possession
Possession refers to how well a tulpa can take possession of and control part of the host's body.
- Main article: Switching
Switching is how well the tulpa's consciousness can switch places with the host's consciousness, for total control of the body.
Historic and modern usage
The concept of tulpas stems from Tibetan Buddhism, where the word "tulpa" originates (and is actually a verb); a practice through which monks would primarily create tulpas to overcome attachments, such as phobias and desires. The monks would create entities (possibly formless, or in the shape of a common animal) which would express something from the monk's mind. For example, if a monk had a fear of spiders, the tulpa created might have approached a spider fearlessly, showing there is nothing to fear, or otherwise demonstrated how pointless such fear was. Alternatively, the tulpa might have spoken or expressed more abstract ideas. In either case, the monks would meditate on the experience, and the tulpas would disappear once their purpose has been served.
Literature on the subject often sees the tulpa phenomena as a paranormal or occult practice, and includes extraneous historic accounts and religious significance, obfuscating the actual psychological processes involved.
The modern iteration of the phenomenon generally approaches the concept differently, treating tulpas as permanent every-day companions, created to accompany hosts in their daily life. The modern approach allows tulpas to be treated in a manner similar to people, rather than as meditative tools. The usage of tulpas for self-improvement remains common despite this, and the longer lifespan and more social nature of modern tulpas allow them to be used as tools for fighting problems such as social phobia and chronic depression.
Hypotheses for the mechanics of tulpas
While the exact mechanics on which tulpas work remain unknown, and the tulpa phenomenon remains scientifically unproven, the tulpa community has given rise to several popular speculative hypotheses that try to explain the mechanics that would allow people to experience the phenomenon.
Mirror neurons hypothesis
The mirror neurons hypothesis suggests that mirror neurons may be responsible for allowing the brain to perceive a part of itself as operating as if it was a separate person. According to this hypothesis, a tulpa works on the same mechanism that allows humans to empathise with each other, and respond to feelings and actions we observe, as if they were our own. According to this hypothesis, a tulpa is created by constantly stimulating mirror neurons, until they form advanced networks of their own, capable of acting on their own volition.