Tulpas are seemingly sentient, autonomous mental companions subjectively experienced by the psychonaut as a separate being with their own agency, emotions, preferences, thoughts, and character. They can be likened to a separate mental consciousness, existing alongside the psychonaut. Tulpas can be considered as a type of autonomous entity distinguished by their persistence and continuity over time. This is opposed to hallucinogen induced autonomous entities which only persist throughout the substances duration of action or dream characters that cease to exist upon waking. Also unlike autonomous entities tulpas are often the product of intentional creation, starting with an idea of their characteristics, and developed into a robust mental companion capable of meaningful interaction and communication through sustained meditative attention.
Tulpas are usually created through repetitive conscious effort and sustained attention by the psychonaut, but the term can apply to any recurring autonomous entity possessing the characteristics which define a tulpa. Rarely, a tulpa can result from heavy psychedelic usage or via lucid dreaming, suggesting that hallucinated entities, dream characters and tulpas are closely related as sub-types of autonomous entities. The practice of interacting with tulpas originates from Buddhist meditation techniques where practitioners would report encountering and communicating with incorporeal entities in deep meditative states. In modern times, tulpas are regarded more as personal mental companions made possible through the innate properties of consciousness in the brain.
Tulpas can be likened to "imaginary friends" seemingly capable of independent thought. However, the distinguishing factor that separates a tulpa from a typical childhood "imaginary friend" is the way in which the host experiences no sense of control or ownership over the thoughts and actions of the tulpa. Due to their persistence during sober states of consciousness, tulpas can develop a robust and consistent personality over time. In comparison to the otherworldly qualities often found in psychedelic induced autonomous entities, tulpas have relatively normal personalities, likely due to their existence in a sober state. A tulpa can develop to become close or equal in intelligence to the psychonaut experiencing it. An established tulpa is capable of complex and coherent communication and is significantly more intelligent than dream characters, which are constrained by the limited conscious processing power of the sleep state. A newly formed tulpa, not unlike dream characters, may be initially limited to simplistic or disjointed communication which may include garbled thoughts, word salad, or conceptual thinking. More developed tulpas can manifest as voices in the mind of the host or as vivid hallucinations that can affect one or more of the host's senses. Tulpas are commonly reported to be capable of temporarily accessing and controlling the physical body through practice and consent with the host.
In recent years, a subculture has formed online revolving around the creation of and interaction with tulpas. The general consensus amongst the online subculture is there is nothing supernatural about tulpas, instead, they are believed to be explainable by human psychology. Many websites have user written instructions on how to create a tulpa, modern guides usually lack a Buddhist conceptual framework and consider tulpas as sentient.
It is worth noting that the communities which describe these anecdotal techniques and results surrounding the creation and experience of this phenomena are consistent across themselves with their information and terminologies. The extent to which user experience reports share commonalities suggests tulpas operate through a common underlying mechanism across different brains. The exact nature of what a tulpa is and the mechanisms on which it acts remain subjects of speculation within the tulpa community. Currently, there exists one unpublished, an ongoing academic study of the modern tulpa phenomenon researched by Samuel Veissière, Ph.D. of McGill University. There is no information available regarding any actual publication of tulpa-related scientific literature.
Tulpas are a form of psychonautics offering a unique way to explore consciousness with its own mental health benefits. They are anecdotally reported to help with a variety of mental health disorders such as depression and social anxiety through added interpersonal interaction and a detached second mental perspective. While creating a tulpa is a separate phenomenon to meditation, it nonetheless uses meditative techniques to achieve progress. For example, tulpa creators may learn to dissociate from their body through learning to focus on their breathing and ignore physical stimuli when trying to induce switching or internal hallucinations.
This article will attempt to break down the field of tulpas into specific subcategories and provide comprehensive sets of information about all facets of this new and emerging field of psychonautics.
- 1 Creating a tulpa
- 2 Developing a tulpa
- 3 Imposition
- 3.1 Auditory
- 3.2 Visual
- 3.3 Tactile
- 4 Possession
- 5 Switching
- 6 Applications for tulpas
- 7 Hypotheses for the mechanics of tulpas
- 8 See also
- 9 External links
- 10 References
Creating a tulpa
The process of creating a tulpa is one of the most common subjects of discussion and debate within the tulpa community. Due to their highly subjective nature, no method has been credited as a universally applicable method to everyone creating a tulpa, but several overarching trends are observed within existing creation guides. These guides inevitably incorporate techniques and theories specific to the individual creating them. This article attempts to identify the fundamental elements of the creation process which apply to any psychonaut trying to create a tulpa.
The creation of a tulpa is initially indistinguishable from imagining and attempting to interact with them. Most psychonauts begin the process by designing their tulpa. This includes envisioning their personality, appearance, voice, and other defining characteristics. This can be done through thinking about their traits, drawing their appearance, writing about them, or any method the psychonaut finds most effective. While not absolutely necessary, most find that designing their tulpa helps them develop a stronger conception of what they'd be like, making it easier for the brain to imagine them. The psychonaut should begin trying to interact with their tulpa through internal conversation, or low level internal hallucination such as daydreaming once they have an adequate conception of how their tulpa would respond.
The first major milestone in the creation process is the subjective experience of communication (spoken, conceptual thought, or nonverbal) by the tulpa. Much as thought is accompanied by the sensation of coming from you, any mental content they produce is accompanied by the sensation of coming from them. This milestone marks a turning point in development as the psychonaut now has the ability to interact and converse with their tulpa.
Developing a tulpa
The fundamental driving forces of tulpa development are interaction and conscious attention. Tulpas begin as weak autonomous entities capable of limited communication, but given time and repeated interaction, they can develop to be experienced as a strong presence with a distinct internal voice of their own and comparable language skills to their host. Once the host can communicate with their tulpa, it develops in much the same way a human personality would, by responding to new experiences. All the various skill sets involved with tulpas such as communication, imposition, and switching are improved with repeated practice. Interaction allows for new experiences to integrate into the personality of the tulpa, gradually making their character more robust and nuanced as they grow from the initial conception.
It is worth noting that once sentience has been gained, deviation from its original design is very common. This can be defined as the act of a tulpa altering its own form in one's mind or some other feature of its 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. When this occurs, one should view their original design as merely a basis for which the tulpa is now building upon to improve upon itself through an act of positive self-alteration.
Whether or not deviations occurs depends on the host and tulpa in question. Deviations are normal, but it is also common for tulpas to develop and never deviate from the host's initial predefined idea of them.
Imposition is the act of adding to or replacing normal sensory information (visual, auditory, tactile, etc.) with other perceived information in the form of an hallucination or self-imposed tulpa. This is practiced through various techniques to see, smell, feel, taste or hear something that isn't there such as the mind's form, the voice of a tulpa, or some other mental construct.
Auditory imposition can be defined as the experience of hearing one's tulpa communicating with them through a perceived voice which can be broken down into five distinct levels of increasing intensity. These levels are described and listed below.
The auditory imposition gradient
- A sensed presence of the other - This level can be defined as the distinctive feeling that another form of consciousness is internally present alongside that of one's usual sense of self.
- Conceptual thoughts, emotional feelings and head pressures - Early non-linguistic communication may include emotional responses, physical sensations, head pressures or "felt" conceptual ideas.
- Mutually generated internal responses - This level can be defined as internal linguistic responses to one's thoughts and feelings which feel as if they are partially generated by one's own thought stream and in equal measure by that of a separate thought stream.
- Separately generated internal responses - This level can be defined as internal linguistic responses to one's thoughts and feelings which feel as if they are generated by an entirely separate thought stream from one's own.
- Separately generated audible internal responses - This level can be defined as internal linguistic responses to one's thoughts and feelings which are perceived as a clearly defined and audible voice within one's head. These usually sound identical to one's spoken voice at first but can take on a variety of voices, accents, and dialects with time if they are relevant to the tulpas design.
- Separately generated audible external responses - This level can be defined as internal linguistic responses to one's thoughts and feelings which are perceived as a clearly defined and audible voice which sounds as if it is coming from outside one's head. These can take on a variety of voices, accents, and dialects, but usually sound identical to one's own spoken voice.
The ability of a tulpa to communicate with their host develops through various stages which are dependent upon auditory imposition. This ability should be encouraged by communicating with one's tulpa so that it may learn increasingly complex and well practiced conversational abilities.
For example, early communication is often limited to non-linguistic and/or mutually generated responses; consequently, a psychonaut should be perceptive to these forms of communication. A psychonaut should initiate conversation with their tulpa even if the tulpa is not yet capable of replying. Conversation carries an inherent opportunity for response. Additionally, the tulpa can mutually generate responses from the ideas one talks to them about.
This conversational engagement can involve any topic, the events of the day, abstract ideas, and beliefs, reading aloud, storytelling, and so forth. There are several conditions and practices which can facilitate communication that is useful while initially developing this ability. A quiet environment free from distractions is ideal; one should stay receptive to their tulpa, but avoid over-expectation which can hinder the young tulpa's ability to communicate.
Early non-linguistic communication may also include emotional responses, physical sensations, or felt ideas. A tulpa's ability to audibly talk is developed through interaction with its host or other people.
One can best encourage communication development through dialogue with their tulpa. For example, asking questions which require the tulpa to express its thoughts and perspective are especially useful. If a mutually generated idea is confusing or if it gets garbled, the psychonaut can ask their tulpa to clarify or repeat themselves. At first, a tulpa's thought stream or mind voice will usually sound very similar or identical to their host's thought stream. With time and development, the tulpa's communication becomes more prominent as an innate response, more defined as their own unique voice, and more capable of extended discussion as well as abstract or complicated ideas. This is expedited if the host or tulpa chooses a distinct voice through a different accent, dialect, pitch, or speech pattern during its initial design.
For most psychonauts, separately generated innate responses which sound as if they are another thought stream present alongside one's own can be achieved relatively quickly compared to heard audible responses which seem as if they are externally generated. The ability for the tulpa to communicate audibly may naturally develop over time for some while others may require extensive practice. Listening to white noise while focusing on their voice or talking with them will often encourage partially defined auditory hallucinations that may be embedded within the auditory noise. In conjunction with presence/visual imposition, assigning a position to their voice helps to hear them audibly and to do so gradually allows it to emerge with persistent practice.
Visualization is the aspect of tulpas which refers to the host's ability to see their tulpa's visual form and an inner mindscape which is commonly referred to as a wonderland. The progression of the level of visual imposition a tulpa and their host can achieve are tied to practice, maturity, and natural ability. A young tulpa may rely more on its host to actively focus on their form to be seen; however, a more developed tulpa can impose themselves without any conscious thought or attention from the host.
As such, development of their appearance brings a more stable and detailed form that requires less attention by the psychonaut to be seen. It is not unusual for a tulpa to deviate from or change their appearance as they develop individuality and independence. It is worth noting that a tulpa's form can be perceived as an internal or external hallucination.
As a whole, the internal and external visual imposition itself can be broken down into distinct levels of increasing intensity which are listed below.
The internal visual imposition gradient
Internal visual imposition can be defined as the ability to perceive the visual details present within one's internal mindscape or wonderland. This occurs in a manner which can partially to completely block out one's normal vision of things within the external environment. Its individual levels of intensity are defined and listed below:
- Imaginative visualization - The lowest level of visualization is extremely common and frequently occurs during waking consciousness on a daily basis. It can be defined as the heightened state of mental visualization that one drifts into when simply daydreaming or using the imagination. This state results in a level of visualization that is mostly felt internally within the mind's eye instead of visually perceived. It can be described as a short-term detachment from one's immediate surroundings, during which a person's contact with reality is blurred and partially substituted by a visionary fantasy. The generation of the details of this internal visualization are partially autonomous in nature but mostly controlled by the content of one's current thought stream.
- Partially defined imagery - This level of visualization consists of ill-defined faded imagery on the back of one's eyelids.
- Fully defined imagery - As the vividness and intensity increases, the imagery eventually becomes fully established in its appearance and displays itself within one's direct line of sight on the back of their eyelids.
- Partially defined breakthroughs - These begin with random flashes of spontaneous scenarios similar to dreams. These are capable of becoming fully grounded and long-lasting but are not completely defined in their appearance. They often display themselves as partially to completely blurred and transparent with the tripper's physical body still feeling at least somewhat connected to the real world.
- Fully defined breakthroughs - Once the visualization becomes sufficiently defined, they eventually become all-encompassing hallucinations which appear entirely realistic, incredibly detailed, and highly vivid in the way they look. This is sometimes accompanied by the sensation of being disconnected from the physical body.
The external visual imposition gradient
- Presence imposition - At this level, the host can pinpoint the presence of their tulpa. Although the tulpa is not visible, the host still detects them as an external presence in their physical environment.
- Erratic imposition - The lowest level of external visual imposition consists of movement in the peripheral vision and/or ill-defined fleeting hallucinations of one's tulpa which disappear once a person double takes.
- Partially defined imposition - At this level, the imposition is visible within one's direct line of sight despite the fact that they are not fully defined in their appearance. This means that, although visible, they do not look completely detailed and are often extremely blurry or semi-translucent.
- Fully defined imposition - As the vividness and intensity increases, the imposition eventually becomes entirely realistic and static in its appearance. This means that the tulpa now looks opaque and just as it would be it to exist as a genuine physical system which is not dependent upon the stimulatory faculties of one's mind.
The ability of a host to perceive their tulpa in a visual form develops through various stages which are dependent upon visual imposition. This ability should be encouraged by actively imagining one's tulpa within their mind's eye so that they may learn to visualize it in greater and greater detail.
Perceiving the tulpa visually is initially done internally. At the early stages, it may be hard for one to visualize a stable form mentally and it may lack detail or flicker and fragment. Visualization is a skill that is developed through persistent use which is commonly referred to as "forcing." As time goes on, the tulpa's form will manifest as a stronger internal or external hallucination, gaining stability, a perceived increase in detail or substance, and an increased autonomy from the host's attention.
Imposition commonly refers to the ability of the host to see their tulpa externally, or in the physical environment around them. At the lower stages of this, the tulpa's presence is sensed rather than seen and often accompanied by an internal image of them. Advancing beyond this level of external visual imposition takes considerable time or a natural ability for it. Progressing past the point between perceiving the tulpa mentally versus visibly can take significant amounts of time.
The lower level of external visual imposition, that initial stage, is the transitory period before their visible form starts resembling their internal form. During this short time, the host may see a glimpse of their tulpa out of the corner of their eye. At first, a tulpa's visible form may start as simple as a darkened shade imposed on your vision, a localized visual distortion, or a translucent and blurry silhouette. A glimpse of the tulpa at this stage may vanish immediately upon double taking or after a momentary distraction. With time, the tulpa's visible form can gradually become more life-like and realistic. Their form becomes more substantial, less translucent, increasingly stable and persistent, and more detailed.
At first, it may require the concentration of the host or tulpa to maintain the visible hallucination; however, it seems to become second nature or automatic with time. A tulpa's form can develop enough substance to appear opaque and block one's ability see what is behind it. However, this data may still be consciously sensed if it is not directly seen. Once the brain starts perceiving the tulpa externally, it starts applying external visual conditions onto their forms such as lighting, shadows, or hue. An established tulpa may need to devote little effort to impose their form, even if photorealism has not yet been obtained.
The psychonaut should seek to have a detailed mental image of their tulpa to develop this ability.
Mindscapes and wonderlands
One application of visualization often associated with tulpas is the capacity to perceive an internal world, referred to within the tulpa subculture as a "mindscape" or "wonderland." A psychonaut may use this wonderland as a place to interact with their tulpa or otherwise explore their mind's ability to simulate mental environments. The host can choose to render, and design places and environments within their mind's eye which they can experience and perceive with increasing realism, or they can allow their brain's simulation framework to generate a climate subconsciously.
At first, the practitioner may experience this inner world or wonderland as something akin to daydreaming. At this stage, their attention will drift from reality to the mental imagery which is perceived by the mind's eye. With experience and persistent repetition of this exercise, this form of visualization becomes more defined.
At the next level, the psychonaut may perceive their wonderland similar to a form of controllable hypnagogia. With time, this will progress to partially defined breakthroughs instead of appearing on closed eyelids. Here it is no longer perceptible that the practitioner's eyes are closed.
As an internally generated simulation, this inner-world or wonderland has similar characteristics to dreams. This breakthrough visual hallucination can vary in vividness and realism, approaching lucid dream realism at their highest level.
The brain is capable of manifesting tactile input that the practitioner perceives from a tulpa or the mindscape as a tactile hallucination. This is a hallucination that accompanies the perception of the tulpa or mindscape and may develop intrinsically alongside the auditory and visual elements of imposition. Tactile sensation is often the result of sufficient immersion and is often generated subconsciously when other sensory data from the tulpa is accepted as "real." While the tulpa is being imposed on the environment, this refers to the psychonaut's ability to feel tactile sensation accompanied with touching or otherwise interacting with them.
This sensation could be actively developed by generating or concentrating on imagining in as much detail as possible, the tactile feedback that would typically accompany an action if it actually occurred physically. For example, if the psychonaut is trying to be able to feel their tulpa's imposed form, they could practice focusing on what their tulpa's skin, clothes, or otherwise would feel like if touched.
As time goes on and with repeated practice, the tulpa's tactile components can manifest as a stronger sensation, gaining stability, a perceived increase in detail or substance, and an increased autonomy from the host's attention.
The external tactile imposition gradient
External tactile imposition can be defined as the ability to perceive tactile sensations from acts such as touching a visualized tulpa which is currently being perceived as present within one's external environment. Its individual levels of intensity are defined and listed below:
- Fleeting tactile sensation as the result of perceived tactile stimuli - When a tulpa is imposed on the external environment, interacting with their form may result in tactile feedback. Initially, the sensations may be brief and faint. If the tulpa were to touch the host, it might feel similar to something brushing lightly against the skin, or a tingling or numbness in the location being touched. This tactile imposition, like auditory and visual imposition at their lower levels, is initially disjointed and fleeting
- Accurate tactile sensation lacking form density/substance - "At this level, the host will perceive accurate and detailed tactile input by coming into physical contact with the imposed form of their tulpa. Tactile sensations such as texture, temperature, material, and weight are perceptible as diminished exact copies which are seemingly drawn from one's memory to become the actual physical, tactile sensations they represent. Physical contact with the tulpa will be felt as true tactile hallucinations which lack true substance. For example, the tulpa's form would not feel solid to the touch.
- Accurate physical sensation with perceived substance/density - The tulpa's form begins to feel stable at this stage. Complete realism has not been reported; however, as the psychonaut's brain becomes acclimated with interacting with the tulpa physically, it will assign increasing physical realism and substance towards the tactile sensations.
The internal tactile imposition gradient
Internal tactile imposition can be defined as the ability to perceive tactile sensations from acts such as touching an object which is currently being perceived as present within one's internal mindscape or wonderland. This occurs in a manner which can partially to completely block out normal tactile sensations that are occurring due to events within the external environment. Its individual levels of intensity are defined and listed below:
- Fleeting/uncontrolled sensation from stimuli - Disconnection from normal physical senses is slight or not present. The psychonaut will not "feel" their mental form in wonderland.
- Fleeting sensation as the result of certain perceived tactile stimuli / Dissociation from physical senses. - The psychonaut begins to identify and perceive their mental form or "dream body" as being within an internal mindscape and also start to feel its accompanying tactile sensations.
- Stable, consistent tactile sensation lacking form density/substance - This is accompanied with moderate dissociation from external physical senses. At this point, tactile awareness shifts predominantly to the mental form of the psychonaut within their internal mindscape.
- Accurate tactile sensation with perceived substance/density - This may occur with a partial or complete disconnection from the external physical senses as it becomes replaced with the highly detailed imagined physical senses of one's internal mindscape.
Possession is the experience of a tulpa taking control of part or all of the psychonaut's body. During possession, the host loses their sense of agency over the possessed area, and may also lose their sense of ownership. Possession is a mutually initiated process that can only occur if both the host and the tulpa agree to it. It differs from switching in that the host doesn't necessarily lose the sense of ownership and remains attached to the senses of their physical body.
To perfect possession, both the tulpa and the creator will have to practice and improve upon their specific roles in order to progress. Possession is not a clear cut concept and can be considered to occur at various levels within a definable gradient of intensity. In the early stages, the tulpas control of the hosts body is not absolute, the creator may accidentally take over, or the tulpa might struggle with an action. However, with continuous practice, this should reduce with time. This is important to consider when learning possession. The host must learn to dissociate from the senses and actions of the physical body, and the tulpa must learn to associate and take agency over physical motions. The tulpa should utilise muscle memory to ease the difficulty of physical control. The host should learn to ignore the action of the physical body rather than relying on consciously suppressing their actions.
It is worth noting that the levelling system which is listed below below can also greatly assist in tracking one's own progress.
The possession gradient
- Shared presence - at this level, one can feel the tulpas presence throughout their body. As if both the host and the tulpa were in the same exact place. The tulpa will also share one's senses.
- Verge of control - at this level, one may feel as if their tulpa is close to movement. Progressing past this can involve a change of mindset which relinquishes the expectation that the movement has to feel completely foreign. Similar to how a tulpa can communicate better when one is paying attention to them, it is important to support them when they are learning. Do not set expectations too high and keep practising.
- Limited control - at this level, the tulpa may control only basic movements which are usually only for short periods of time. It is not uncommon at this stage for control to rapidly switch between host and tulpa. It is also normal at this stage for occasional confusion about who was in control for a certain action or situation to occur.
- Increased control - at this level, it becomes obvious that the tulpa is controlling one's body. The tulpa will be able to maintain control for longer periods of time with greater dexterity and fine motor skills. At this point, they can use one's muscle memory for more advanced actions. Talking out loud can still, however, be a challenging skill for a tulpa to learn at this level.
- Advanced/ complete control - as both the host and the tulpas abilities continue to improve, possession will last longer, the tulpa will have better control, and one will notice that they feel partially or even completely detached from their body and actions (if one chooses to be). At this level, both the host and the tulpa may feel euphoric rushes of sensation. This results in feelings of physical and cognitive euphoria, particularly if it was the tulpa who initially engaged the possession and not the host.
The most common application for possession is allowing the tulpa to control the body physically to engage and interact with the external world. This experience is often viewed positively by tulpas as a means to develop themselves further. Another supposed application is parallel processing, which is said to allow the host to remain focused on one task while the tulpa uses a part of the body to handle another task. Possession may also be used to complete critical tasks which the host may currently be too stressed, mentally fatigued, or otherwise incapable of carrying out themselves.
Switching is the subjective experience of the psychonaut and tulpa exchanging the sense of agency and sense of ownership over the body and thoughts. Switching typically refers to the psychonaut temporarily exchanging places/roles with their tulpa. During this state, the tulpa is elevated to being the stronger internal presence within the mind while the psychonauts subjective experiences themselves as a weaker secondary presence.
Switching is uncommonly reported with the tulpa community; this is perhaps due to its advanced nature, as it incorporates aspects of visualization, dissociation, and possession. However, switching is reported in people with natural multiplicity or DID, as such, it may be contingent on sufficient development by tulpa or a natural affinity for it. While in the switched state, seemingly the result of being the weaker entity, the psychonaut may experience a range of effects including thought deceleration, depersonalization, derealization, ego death, internal hallucinations, and/or tactile disconnection. It is possible for this state to cause the psychonaut to experience blackouts or amnesia, as a result of losing awareness during the experience. The tulpa will experience thought acceleration, ego inflation and a range of cognitive enhancements as it becomes the stronger entity.
From the psychonaut perspective, switching is capable of causing out-of-body experiences comparable to dreaming once the host is disconnected from their physical senses. This state is comparable to lucid dreaming, it is a hallucinatory state which ranges in vividness from partially to fully defined dream state. Entering this state is sudden, one may experience a disconnection from their physical senses accompanied by a breakthrough into an alternate, immersive reality of hallucination. One may lose lucidity or awareness in this state when maintained for an extended period. This state may vary in vividness from partially defined and blurry to nearly indistinguishable from reality.
Switching relies on one's ability to disconnect from their physical awareness while the tulpa assumes agency over conscious action and thought. Previous experience in meditation or lucid dreaming may prove beneficial for those seeking to experience this state. Switching appears to come naturally at a higher rate in people with natural multiplicity. However, it can be trained in those who do not. It can be considered an advanced state of possession which includes aspects of dissociation and visualization. Compelling visualization ability will increase feelings of immersion while dissociation will help one drift away from physical perception.
The technique for reaching this state can be practiced by undergoing extended states of possession in combination with meditation techniques to quieten the ego and mental activity of the host.
When a psychonaut and tulpa switch regularly, they will notice an affinity for re-entering the state. Furthermore, this state can be triggered unconsciously or accidentally when the mind is familiar with it. This is especially common when one is sleep deprived or under the influence of hallucinogenic drugs.
The switching gradient
Partially defined switching
Upon entering the switched state (or sometime after), the host may enter a dormant state while not completely dissociating from their physical senses. The host can remain in this limited state which can gradually progress to almost the complete loss of all awareness of the body. While in this state, the host may experience a variety of cognitive suppressions (including ego death) and be rendered mostly inactive mentally. One may be unable to communicate without the attention of the tulpa or may resort to non-linguistic conceptual thinking to communicate. One may experience hypnagogia in this state, which is flashes of disorganized and weak internal hallucinations separate from physical awareness. Once reached, this level of switching can be compared to "waking sleep" from the perspective of the host. If this state is maintained for some period, one's tulpa may have to initiate or help end it.
Fully defined switching
This level is achieved when the host is completely dissociated from the physical body. If there is any awareness of the body, it is comparable to the perception of one's physical body when dreaming. The host may lose awareness in this state, resulting in a blackout until something triggers them back into awareness. This may initially be disconcerting for the host as one may not realize a blackout occurred until emerging from one. The memory of the time the tulpa was in control may be blurry or non-existent. The use of meditation techniques may assist this process.
This level can occur nearly instantaneously. Accidental or triggered switches are often much faster in onset, accompanied by a quick disconnection from the physical senses. Internal hallucinations at this level are all-encompassing, detailed and dream-like. The disconnection from physical stimuli greatly increases immersion in wonderland. One may experience lucidity or dream-like plot acceptance and may get distracted by the content of the hallucinations. These hallucinations may be well-defined yet lack the vividness of reality or lucid dreaming. One's sense of time in this state is distorted as one may drift out of lucidity or remain disconnected for several hours. Switching is experienced as comforting and serene. The duration and stability of this state are dependent on practice or natural skill.
Applications for tulpas
The mental construct of a tulpa can be applied to help the host with a variety of different tasks. Some applications found within the tulpa community include:
- Exploration of consciousness
- Treatment of phobias, social anxiety and depression
- Mental automation of tasks
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 empathize 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 +volition.
Simulatory mind hypothesis
The simulatory mind hypothesis suggests that basic thought, imagination and hallucinating or dreaming are all essentially a result of the same mechanism rendering data at different levels of detail within a neurological simulation framework system which exists to mirror the external environment by categorizing the sensory input it receives into a database of "separate" concepts and subconcepts in order to later use these for the processing of ideas and thoughts.
Assuming this is true, one's inner mind's eye could be thought of as a computer simulation framework which uses its internally stored memories to render concepts and ideas at varying levels of detail. Although the detail at which this renders concepts during everyday living is usually low, during dreams and hallucinations this system is capable of generating data that is detailed enough to be hyper-realistic and indistinguishable from waking life. This includes the ability to generate autonomous entities which are fully capable of coherent conversations and not unlike that of tulpas. It could perhaps, therefore, be extrapolated that those who are experiencing tulpas, have deliberately strengthened their control over this framework through a combination of persistent practice and perhaps even neuroplasticity to perform the specific task of simulating an ever present autonomous entity without the need for dreaming or hallucinogens.
It's worth noting this hypothesis provides tulpas as a concept with the option of another linguistic title which is similar in meaning and has the potential completely to replace it. The aforementioned word is "simulant" or "simulants" instead of "tulpa" or "tulpas". It could perhaps be considered as a viable alternative by the tulpa community at large as a legitimate term which is more precise in both its meaning, respectfulness and relevance.
- Tulpa.io - The History of Tulpamancy | https://tulpa.io/history-of-tulpas
- http://www.nytimes.com/2013/10/15/opinion/luhrmann-conjuring-up-our-own-gods.html?_r=0 | Conjuring Up Our Own Gods (New York Times)
- http://www.vice.com/en_uk/read/tulpamancy-internet-subculture-892 | Meet the 'Tulpamancers': The Internet's Newest Subculture Is Incredibly Weird (Vice)
- http://somatosphere.net/2015/04/varieties-of-tulpa-experiences-sentient-imaginary-friends-embodied-joint-attention-and-hypnotic-sociality-in-a-wired-world.html | Varieties of Tulpa Experiences: Sentient Imaginary Friends, Embodied Joint Attention, and Hypnotic Sociality in a Wired World (somatosphere)
- James, W. (1890; 1950). Principles of Psychology, Volume II. New York, Dover Publications, pp. 322-3.
- Green and McCreery, Apparitions, op.cit., p.118.
- Slade and Bentall, op.cit., p.23.