Tulpa (Wylie: sprul-pa; Sanskrit: निर्मित nirmita[1] and निर्माण nirmāṇa;[2] "to build" or "to construct") is a Vajrayana, Bonpo and Tibetan Buddhist upaya concept, discipline and teaching tool. The term was first rendered into English as 'Thoughtform' by Evans-Wentz (1954: p. 29):

In as much as the mind creates the world of appearances, it can create any particular object desired. The process consists of giving palpable being to a visualization, in very much the same manner as an architect gives concrete expression in three dimensions to his abstract concepts after first having given them expression in the two-dimensions of his blue-print. The Tibetans call the One Mind's concretized visualization the Khorva (Hkhorva), equivalent to the Sanskrit Sangsara; that of an incarnate deity, like the Dalai or Tashi Lama, they call a Tul-ku (Sprul-sku), and that of a magician a Tul-pa (Sprul-pa), meaning a magically produced illusion or creation. A master of yoga can dissolve a Tul-pa as readily as he can create it; and his own illusory human body, or Tul-ku, he can likewise dissolve, and thus outwit Death. Sometimes, by means of this magic, one human form can be amalgamated with another, as in the instance of the wife of Marpa, guru of Milarepa, who ended her life by incorporating herself in the body of Marpa."[3]

The mindstream communion affected by the wife of Marpa in the abovementioned quotation, is an ancient mode of 'mind transmission' (Tibetan: dgongs brgyud) or 'empowerment' (Tibetan: dbang bskur) in the Himalayan traditions, documented in the folklore and anthropological studies of Himalayan and Siberian Shamanism. The Russian Psychiatrist Olga Kharitidi published her direct experience of this phenomenon in the Altay Mountains, where a shaman merged a stream of his consciousness continuum or 'spirit' with hers.[4] This phenomenon is a variation of the spiritual discipline of 'Phowa' (Tibetetan: 'pho ba) and is often rendered as 'spirit possession' within English anthropological discourse.[5]

In mysticism a tulpa is the concept of a being or object which is created through sheer willpower alone. It is a materialized thought that has taken physical form and is usually regarded as synonymous to a thoughtform.[6]

The term comes from the works of Alexandra David-Neel, who claimed to have created 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.[7]

The tulpa phenomenon is vindicated through the Consciousness-only Doctrine first propounded within the Yogacara School and is part of the Mahayoga discipline of the 'Generation Stage' (Wylie:kye rim; Sanskrit:utpatti-krama) , Anuyoga discipline of the 'Completion Stage' (Wylie:dzog rim; Sanskrit:saṃpanna-krama) and the Atiyoga perfection of effortless 'unification of the Generation and Completion stages' (Wylie: bskyed rdzogs zung 'jug).[8]

Nomenclature, etymology and orthographyEdit

  • A similar orthographic and phonemic construction in Tibetan is 'phrul which has the various meanings: magic, miracle, black art, emanation, jugglery, trick, magical illusion, conjuring, manifestation.
  • Another term that may be rendered "thoughtform" is 'yilu' (Tibetan: yid lus). 'Yidam' (Tibetan: yi dam) are tulpa.


Vajranatha (1996: p. 350) in a note to his English translation of the life story of Garab Dorje defines a Nirmita thus:

A Nirmita (sprul-pa) is an emanation or a manifestation. A Buddha or other realized being is able to project many such Nirmitas simultaneously in an infinite variety of forms.[1]

Thoughtform may be understood as a 'psychospiritual' complex of mind, energy or consciousness manifested either consciously or unconsciously, by a sentient being or in concert. In the Dzogchen view, accomplished thoughtform of the kye-rim (Tibetan) mode are sentient beings as they have a consciousness field or mindstream confluence in a dynamic of entrainment-secession and organization-entropy of emergent factors or from the mindstream intentionality of progenitor(s). Thoughtform may be benevolent, malevolent or of complex alignment and may be understood as a 'spontaneous or intentional manifestation' or 'emergence'[9] (Tibetan: rang byung) of the 'Five Pure Lights' (Tibetan: 'od lnga). The Five Pure Lights may be understood as the 'radiance' (Tibetan: 'od) or Clear Light (Tibetan: 'od gsal) substrate[10] of 'mindstream' (Tibetan: sems rgyud) and the base or root 'dimensionality of all dharmas' (Sanskrit: dharmadhatu) of Nirvana and Samsara. The mindstream is an entwining or confluence of the 'Eight Consciousnesses' (Tibetan: rnam shes tshogs brgyad). Therefore, the Five Pure Lights are the 'root' (Tibetan: gzhi) of the Western scientific conceptions of matter and energy. From the Dzogchen perspective energy is nondual to 'spiritual energy' or 'vital force' (Tibetan: rlung). For the human species, defined in Traditional Tibetan medicine as the class of entities which holds a human 'la'[11] (Tibetan: bla), the Five Lung are direct homologues of the Five Pure Lights.

Professor H. H. Price, an Oxford philosopher and parapsychologist, held that once an idea has been formed, it "is no longer wholly under the control of the consciousness which gave it birth" but may operate independently on the minds of other people or on physical objects.[citation needed] It is contended that a meme is not a thoughtform, unless it is sentient. Though, memetic theory may be deemed an informative correlation to thoughtform phenomena.



Tulpa (Tibetan: sprul ba; Tibetan: sprul pa where "sprul" holds the semantic field: "emanate", "manifest" and "pa" is a functional postposition employed to build nouns from verbs) is Tibetan for what has been rendered as "thoughtform" in English. Another similar orthographic and phonemic construction in Tibetan is 'phrul which holds the semantic field: magic, miracle, black art, emanation, jugglery, trick, magical illusion, conjuring, manifestation.

Another term that may be rendered "thoughtform" is 'yilu' (Tibetan: yid lus). 'Yidam' (Tibetan: yi dam) are tulpa. The concept of "tulpa" is vindicated in the Consciousness-only Doctrine first propounded within the Yogacara School. The doctrine is entwined with the doctrine and lineage of the Mindstream and may even have ancient roots and antecedents in Bonpo traditions, Himalayan and Asian shamanism evident in Tibet, Bhutan, India, Nepal, Tuva, Mongolia, Russia and China.

A tulpa is, in Tibetan mysticism, a being or object which is created through willpower, visualisation, attention and focus, concerted intentionality and ritual. In other words, it is a materialized thought that has taken physical form.[12]

There are... apparitions that make public appearances. Some of these are said to be the perceptible double—the etheric counterpart—of a living person who is undergoing an out-of-body experience. Even more mysterious are the externalized perceptible manifestations of something whose existence originated in the mind of its creator by virtue of that person's incredible powers of concentration, visualization, and other, more occult, efforts of the mind. In Tibet, where such things are practiced, a ghost of this kind is called a tulpa. A tulpa is usually produced by a skilled magician or yogi, although in some cases it is said to arise from the collective imagination of superstitious villagers, say, or of travelers passing through some sinister tract of country.
Mysteries of the Unexplained, 1990, Reader's Digest Association Inc. page 176

The tulpa concept was brought to the West in the 19th century by Alexandra David-Néel, who claimed to have created 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.[13] There is a teaching story inherent in Néel's experience as it is evocative of the English rendering of the famous instruction of Zen Master Lin Chi: "If you meet the Buddha on the road, kill him." Just as the 'mandala' (Tibetan: dkyil 'khor) is created and also destroyed. The 'destroying' or "blowing out" of the kye-rim stage is the completion of the dzog-rim; yielding an integration, an iteration of the mindstream, a communion.

Freeman (c2007: unpaginated) in his musings on dragons and Fortean [disambiguation needed] phenomena, tentatively explores tulpas and thoughtforms in relation to worship and fear; energetic reciprocity and lifecycle; and 'spirits of place' (Latin: genius loci):

Areas of intense Fortean phenomena are called window areas. Many of them were places of former religious importance that have now waned or fallen from use. Could the worship or occult use of an area over hundreds of years create a sort of artificial life form? Something that fed on the worship. When the worship is taken away the "thing" still needs to feed. It now feeds by creating fear with paranormal manifestations. Another idea is that they are a massive, collective, sub-conscious, thought form. The thought form or tulpa is said to be a 3-D semi solid image created by the power of the mind. Buddhist llamas [sic] in Tibet are said to be able to summon up tulpas during intense meditation. Western explorer Dame Alexandra [David-Néel] was said to have created a tulpa of a monk whilst studying in Tibet. Polish medium Franek Kluski (Teofil Modrzejewski) was said to have summoned up huge cats, birds, and even ape-men during séances. Perhaps, considering the types of beast he called up, he was creating tulpas. If individuals can create tulpas imagine what the collective, gestalt mind of humanity as a species could do. Perhaps dragons are a giant worldwide thought form emanating from our innermost fears.[14]

Three aspects of energyEdit

In the Dzogchen tradition, there are three indivisible modes of energy that govern manifestation, and therefore thoughtform phenomena and the energy of sentient beings:

  1. 'dang' (Wylie: gDangs)
  2. 'rolpa' (Wylie: Rol-pa)
  3. 'tsal' (Wylie: rTsal)

According to the Dzogchen tradition, there is nothing which is non-sentient, or stated differently, everything is sentient technically Panpsychism and this is the view of Dzogchen Semde or "mind series" the principal text of which is the Kulayarāja Tantra. Moreover, two of the English scholars that opened the discourse of the Bardo literature of the Nyingma Dzogchen tradition, Evans-Wentz & Jung (1954, 2000: p. 10) specifically with their partial translation and commentary of the Bardo Thodol into the English language write of the "One Mind" (Tibetan: sems nyid gcig; Sanskrit: *ekacittatva; *ekacittata; where * denotes a possible Sanskrit back-formation) thus:

"The One Mind, as Reality, is the Heart which pulsates for ever, sending forth purified the blood-streams of existence, and taking them back again; the Great Breath, the Inscrutable Brahman, the Eternally Unveiled Mystery of the Mysteries of Antiquity, the Goal of all Pilgrimages, the End of all Existence."[15]

This "One Mind" is none other than the "sphere of the great circle" (Tibetan: thig le chen po'i klong) of "self-awareness" (Tibetan: rang rig) of the Samten Migdron a text like the Kulayaraja Tantra that is also of the Semde class of Dzogchen literature and an important historical source of Dzogchen as it was recovered from the Dunhuang manuscripts.[16][17]</blockquote>

Van Schaik (2004: p. 33) explains the Dzogchen doctrine of the triunic complex of the manifesation of energy further:

In terms of energy – there are three characteristic ways in which the energy manifests – Dang, Rolpa, and rTsal (gDang, rol pa, and rTsal). Dang is the energy in which ‘internal’ and ‘external’ are not divided from that which manifests. It is symbolised by the crystal sphere which becomes the colour of whatever it is placed upon. Rolpa is the energy which manifests internally as vision. It is symbolised by the mirror. The image of the reflection always appears as if it is inside the mirror. rTsal is externally manifested energy which radiates. It is symbolised by the refractive capacity of the faceted crystal. For a realised being, this energy is inseparable in its manifestation from the dimension of manifest reality. Dang, Rolpa, and rTsal are not divided.

Dang, Rolpa and rTsal are not divided and neither are the ku-sum (sKu gSum – the trikaya) the three spheres of being. Chö-ku (chos sKu – Dharmakaya), the sphere of unconditioned potentiality, is the creative space from which the essence of the elements arises as long-ku (longs sKu - Sambhogakaya) the sphere of intangible appearances – light and rays, non material forms only perceivable by those with visionary clarity. Trülku (sPrul sKu – Nirmanakaya), the sphere of realised manifestation, is the level of matter in apparently solid material forms. The primordial base manifests these three distinct yet indivisible modes.[18]

The triunic modality of the energy of manifestation and the Trikaya are indivisible, though particular aspects, qualities or properties of these may be foregrounded and backgrounded according to time, place, circumstance and intention. The dang energy of a sentient being is essentially a mystery, infinite, spacious and formless, it relates to the Dharmakaya. Rolpa energy is that of an interior vision, or the 'eye of the mind' of visualization; it relates to the Sambhogakaya. Tsal is the energetic manifestation of what is generally considered 'corporeal' phenomena and it relates to the Nirmanakaya. The interplay of these energies and the profundity and elegance of this doctrine provides a hypothesis of thoughtform phenomenon, emergence, poltergeist activity, Will-o'-the-wisp, psychokinesis, levitation and other siddhi' (Sanskrit; Tibetan: bsgrub), spiritual healing, intercessory prayer, and the logistics of the doctrine of Pratītyasamutpāda amongst innumerable other 'mysteries'.

Spiritual lineageEdit

Jansen (1990: p. 7–8) in her treatise on singing bowls relates the experience that David-Néel narrated in her book Tibet, Bandits, Priests and Demons:

When she entered the temple of the Bön monastery of Tesmon, the service that was being conducted was rudely interrupted. While a lama was busy with a kyilkhor, a magic diagram, and sacred cakes, called tormas, one of her bearers entered the temple, clearly indicating that he was not very impressed by the sacred rituals. He was ordered away by the monks. Objecting and cursing violently he insulted the lamas by shouting out that the tormas were only made of momo dough (bread dough).

'(...)Then, as the man came forward, the bonpo[19] grasped a chang,[20] which was standing next to him, and swung it around. Strange, savage sounds filled the room with a tidal wave of vibrations that pierced my ears. The disrespectful peasant screamed and staggered back with his arms held up as though he was warding off something threatening. 'Get out', the lama repeated again. The other bearers grabbed their friend and rushed out of the temple, greatly disturbed. Bong! Bong! continued the drum. The accompanying bonpo returned unpurturbed, sat in front of the kyilkhor, and continued the muffled singing and chanting. What had happened? I hadn't noticed anything, except for that extraordinary sound. I went outside and asked my bearers. The troublemaker who had disturbed the sacred ritual had lost his bravado. 'It was a snake. I tell you', he said, nodding to the others who sat around him. 'A snake of fire came out of the chang.' 'What? Did you really see a snake of fire?' I asked. 'Is that why you recoiled?' 'Didn't you see it?' they replied. 'It came out of the chang when the lama beat upon it.' 'You must have dreamt it,' I said. 'I didn't see anything.' 'We didn't see the snake, but we did see flashes of light shoot out of the chang,' the other bearers interjected. In fact, they had all been witnesses to a miracle. (...)[21]

Later David-Néel questions the bonpo that emanated the thoughtform, and the bonpo affirmed:

'That it was the power of the zoung[22] that I cast,' declared the lama emphatically. Speaking more softly he said: 'The sound creates shapes and beings..[.]the sound inspires them.[23]

Thoughtform are evident in Vajrayana Buddhism, Bönpo traditions, indigenous cultural traditions throughout the world such as Cherokee of North America and Indigenous Australians (who understand the waking, created world to be a thoughtform subset of The Dreaming[24]), shamanic traditions, echoes are evident in ghosts or supernatural agency, folk religion, esoteric philosophies such as Theosophy and what is construed as the New Age.

Though Alice Bailey may have been inspired (and comparable to a tertön), her collaborative work with Djwal Khul, A Treatise on Cosmic Fire, that evocatively described the process for working with thoughtforms, is not formally recognised by the Himalayan dharmic traditions. Thoughtform are not only the energetic phantasmagoria of our consciousness and mindstream, either intentional or unconscious, but may also constitute an emotional filter (refer trance, NLP) or lens that shapes the play of our phenomenal experience; as per the incisive quotation of Bailey et al.(1951: p. 489) in A Treatise on White Magic:

"A thought-form can also act as a poisoning agent, and poison all the springs of life....A violent dislike, a gnawing worry, a jealousy, a constant anxiety, and a longing for something or someone, may act so potently as an irritant or poison that the entire life is spoilt, and service is rendered futile. The entire life is embittered and devitalized by the embodied worry, hatred and desire....and is held back by the poison in his [sic.[25]] mental system. His vision becomes distorted, his nature corroded, and all his relationships impeded by the wearing, nagging thoughts which he himself embodies in form and which have a life so powerful that they can poison him."
It may be valuable to extend the water metaphor of "the springs of life" aforementioned to include the mindstream. We[who?] now know from emergent disciplines that thoughts and emotions are chemical as well as electrical processes, refer neuropeptides, and may be potentially toxic. So we may indeed be driven, railroaded and possessed by our thought forms and emotions: called in popular currency 'our demons'. These 'demons' or 'poisons' in Hindu and Buddhist traditions are known as kleśa (Sanskrit). Moreover, kleśa is often rendered into English as "poison", "obscuration" and "demon". This understanding is not to diminish the reality of adverse as well as benevolent possession and trance-forms but to establish a complex of views.

In the Vajrayana Buddhist view promulgated by Padmasambhava and Jamgön Kongtrül (1999: p. 84), the thought form of the six lokas or "six classes of beings" of 'dependent co-arising' and the obscurations forded by the samsaric view is held to be a dream:

Due to the great demon [26] of coemergent and conceptual ignorance,
From the solidified habitual patterns of grasping and fixation,
And the different perceptions of worlds and inhabitants,
The six classes of beings appeared as a dream.[27] (NB: original text not meta-enhanced.)

...evocative of Edgar Allan Poe's: “All that we see or seem, is but a dream within a dream”.

Scientific lineageEdit

Thoughtforms, in the sense of being homunculi of awareness with the attribute of self-will and self-determination – also figure in various cognitive and psychological theories. Marvin Minsky's "agents" are amongst the best known of these. Lester (1995: p. 123) in framing Minsky's "agents" and the logistics of their contingency states:

Minsky (1986), cofounder of the artificial intelligence laboratory at MIT, proposes that there are agencies of the mind, by which he means any and all psychological processes. Although he grants that a view of the mind as made up of many selves may be valid, he suggests that this may be a myth that we construct.

    However, when introducing the concept of agencies (a broad term that includes selves as one type of agency), Minsky (1986) does suggest several important questions to ask about agencies: How do agents work? What are they made of? How do they communicate? Where do the first agents come from? Are we born with the same agents? How to make new agents and change old ones? What are the most important kinds of agents? What happens when agents disagree? How could networks of agents want or wish? How can groups of agents do what separate agents cannot do? What gives them unity or responsibility? How could they understand anything? How could they have feelings and emotions? How could they be conscious or self-aware? Not all of these questions, of course, apply to subselves. But the questions of origins, heredity, learning, character, authority, and competence are pertinent to subselves.[28]

Andras Angyal's work and the Dzogchen triunic modality of the manifestation of energy deserve a dialogic analysis. Carl Jung's technique of Active imagination involves interacting with thoughtforms of the subconscious mind. Jung identified certain universal thoughtform archetypes such as Anima and Animus and which are characteristic of all humans. Psychological Archetypes are thoughtforms.

The chief difference between these scientific formulations and magickal / spiritual definitions of thoughtforms is that the former are created unconsciously whereas the latter are created deliberately.

Thoughtform phenomena, by any other name, are worked with variously in Imaginal Psychology and Process Oriented Psychology and is evident in the work of Gregory Bateson. Jean Houston, a disciple of Campbell and Mead (and in the direct lineage of Jung), was a modern pioneer of engaging thoughtform in what she termed the 'imaginal realm', and in the associated discipline of aspecting or 'carrying' deity, dæmon or other somesuch (Houston, 1996).

Phenomenal world as thoughtformEdit

Tenzin Namdak (2002: p. 37) translates the 'fruit' (Tibetan: 'bras) of the 'Khorde Rushen' (Tibetan: 'khor-'das ru-shan) 'preparatory practice' (Tibetan: ngondro) of the Bön Dzogchen lineage thus:

All things are created by your thought and mind - and if you look back to the source of your thought and mind you find that it disappears. It dissolves and goes back to its nature. That is the limit; every individual thing is dependent on the mind. All worldly life, all the beings in the six realms are in the same situation. The purpose of this practice is to stop all desire for worldly life - to see that it is all created by our mind. The world is like a common mind.[29]

Towards the end of his life, the visionary biologist Gregory Bateson intuited the manifested realm to be a thoughtform of the unmanifested. Lawlor (1991: p. 43) cites Bateson from Lovelock (1995: p. 218):

The individual mind is imminent but not only in the body. It is imminent also in pathways and messages outside the body, and there is a larger mind of which the individual mind is only a sub-system. This larger mind is comparable to God and is perhaps what some people mean by God, but it is still imminent in the total interconnected social systems and planetary ecology.

Buddha Shakyamuni employed ten traditional similes in explanation of 'phenomena' (Sanskrit: dharmas) these are known as the "Ten Similes of Illusory Phenomena" (Wylie: shes-bya sgyu-ma'i dpe-bcu):

The ten similes which illustrate the illusory nature of all things are: illusion (sgyu-ma), mirage (smig-rgyu), dream (rmi-lam), reflected image (gzugz-brnyan), a celestial city (dzi-za'i grong-khyer), echo (brag-ca), reflection of the moon in water (chu-zla), bubble of water (chu-bur), optical illusion (mig-yor), and an intangible emanation (sprul-pa).[30]

Varṇamālā (Garland of Phonemes)Edit

Varṇa (Sanskrit) holds the semantic field "colour", "class", "phoneme", "syllable", "letter"; mālā (Sanskrit) holds the semantic field "garland", "ley", "wreath", "prayer beads", "rosary". Varṇamālā denotes the alphabet of Devanagari, that has come to be common for Sanskrit post-medieval India. Indeed, Varṇamālā not only denotes the set of phonemes of Sanskrit and languages evolved from it, but denotes the glyphs in the abugida scripts for such languages. Rongzompa realised the 'thirteenth bhumi of Mantrayana' which may also be rendered in English as "Chakra of Letters" (Sanskrit: Varṇamālā; Wylie: yi ge 'khor lo tshogs chen gyi sa). The term Deva+Naga+ri is constructed from a conjunction of deva "divinity" and nāga "serpent",[citation needed] and that snakes often form a "circular" garland-like shape, refer Ourorboros, and are evident throughout Dharmic iconography as girdles, malas, garlands, torques, armbands, etc., as investiture of adornment are 'symbolic attributes' (Tibetan: phyag mtshan). Devanagari seceded from Brāhmī script which is even more visually serpentine.

Conze (1980: p. 12) states:

For the last two thousand years Buddhism has mainly flourished in rice-growing countries and little elsewhere. In addition, and that is much harder to explain, it has spread only in those countries which had previously had a cult of Serpents or Dragons, and never made headway in those parts of the world which view the killing of dragons as a meritorious deed or blame serpents for mankind's ills.[31]

In addition to the circular formation of snakes (and dragons), their boon as holders and givers of wisdom as well as their bane as bringers of deception and illusion, is evident throughout folklore of the human condition and reveals the fundamental qualitative dichotomy of language and code as both conduits of information and noise. The inherent flexibility and elongation of the snake-form, lends itself to making rudimentrary shapes and forms, and for the ancient Vedic tradition and its cultural tributaries of the Indo-european language family, is the font of archetypal signification. It should also be stated that nāga as concealers and revealers of 'treasures' (Tibetan: Terma) are endemic in Terma literature, as are Dakini. Nagarjuna received the Prajnaparamita from the Nāga. In discussing the thoughtform Varṇamālā, it should be noted that particular 'energetic signatory glyphs' (Tibetan: gter ston gter btags) are inseparable from the tradition of Tertöns.[32]

Khanna (2003: p. 21) links mantras and yantras to thoughtforms:

Mantras, the Sanskrit syllables inscribed on yantras, are essentially 'thought forms' representing divinities or cosmic powers, which exert their influence by means of sound-vibrations.[33]

In the Dharmic traditions, all phenomena are essentially the 'formation of vibration and resonance' (Sanskrit: namarupa). Mookerjee and Khanna (1977: p. 33) state how all form arises from the Aum:

The Primal Sound as the monosyllabic mantra Oṃ is the basis of cosmic evolution. All the elemental sound-forms of mantras emanate from this eternal sound. Sound and form are interdependent, and every form is a vibration of a certain density; conversely, every sound has a visual equivalent. Sound is the reflex of form and form is the product of sound. All that is animate and inanimate are vibrations of a particular frequency. All the mantras have their colour forms, and when a mantra is pronounced properly its visual correlates begin to manifest. The dynamic power-pattern rooted in sound by which it is revealed is called a yantra.[34]

Hence, all phenomena are constituted by Bīja, known in Tibetan as sprul pa cho 'phrul gyi yi ge, "spontaneously emergent magical phonemes/letters/symbols", which is another way of perceiving the all-pervasive buddha-nature, the 'Thirteenth Bhumi' or the 'Third Bhumi of Enlightenment' (Tibetan: yi ge 'khor lo tshogs chen; "the bhumi where the Universe is present as a rotating procession of spell-letters").[35]

In popular cultureEdit

Many authors and artists have since used tulpas in their works, both in the context of fiction and in writing about mysticism. Horror author Clive Barker, for example, envisioned his famous "Candy Man" killer to be nothing more than a myth gone terribly awry in his original story.

"Tulpa" is a series of atmospheric tunes by Swedish dark ambient composer Peter Andersson. "My Tulpa"is a song title by the Manchester post-punk band Magazine on their album titled, "Real Life". It was written by Howard Devoto, the lead singer/songwriter. "The Tulpa" is a series of black metal tunes by Swedish multi-style composer Chaan. •Tulpa is a psychedelic rock band from Toronto, Canada that started performing together in 1981. Eventually releasing a single "Apologize to your Mother", an LP "Mosaic Fish" and "Live From CBGB". John Bottomley, Chris Bottomley, Sev Micron, Tom Walsh and Nic Gotham.

In the X-Files episode Arcadia (6X15), the president of the homeowners' association for an exclusive gated community uses a tulpa to enforce the neighborhood rules. The Supernatural episode Hell House (1.17) features a haunted house in which the resident malevolent spirit turns out to be a tulpa, created when the beliefs of thousands of website visitors are focused through a Tibetan sigil painted on one wall of the house. In the So Weird episode PK (or Tulpa). Fi meets a little boy who has created a tulpa he believes to be an imaginary friend.

Authors Loren Coleman and Jerome Clark, in their writings for Fate Magazine in the early 1970s and their first two books, "The Unidentified" (Warner Books, 1975) and "Creatures of the Outer Edge" (Warner Books, 1978), modernized and popularized tulpas for a new generation of ufologists and cryptozoologists. The surviving "zooform" movement in the United Kingdom can be traced to Clark's and Coleman's reworking of the tulpa concepts. Coleman and Clark have since rejected the tulpa theories as the foundation to unexplained phenomena, and have written a new introduction to the combined republishing of these two works by Anomalist Books in 2006: The Unidentified & Creatures of the Outer Edge: The Early Works of Jerome Clark and Loren Coleman (NY: Anomalist Books, 2006, ISBN 1-933665-11-4).

In Vicki Pettersson's Signs of the Zodiac series, a tulpa is the main antagonist. In Nightingale's Lament by Simon Green, a tulpa in the image of John Taylor's client is sent after him at one point, tracking him by a hair the client left on his jacket; it disappears when the hair is destroyed. In It by Stephen King, the eponymous entity's various manifestations are given form and power by the belief of the townspeople.

In Grant Morrison’s Marvel graphic novel ‘Fantastic Four 1234’ (2002) Reed Richards muses on a fictitious journey to Tibet where, with the help of Bön priest, he creates a Tulpa, a “thoughtform”. After Richards names it ‘Victor’ the Tulpa takes on a life of its own, becoming Richards’ opposite number. This was an alternative, fantastical, origin for Richards’ arch enemy Dr Doom (aka Victor Von Doom).

According to the book The Teachings of Don Juan Matus, a Mexican shaman by the name of Don Juan Matus, who had taught his student Carlos Castaneda, the books author, about the true nature of the physical universe and how intense concentration can summon, apport, and even materialize objects out of thin air. It was said that Carlos Castaneda was able to materialize a living squirrel on the palm of Don Juan's hand based on the latter's instruction. Many of his claims have been disputed by members of the anthropological profession.

In the RPG (Role-Playing Game) Over the Edge, Tulpas are used as background characters (NPC's). They also have natural enemies, sociopathic individuals called Sandmen, who prey on them to create either "Nightmare" (a drug) or "Dreamweb" (gossamer webs that can capture dreams from people). Dreamweb are typically used to capture the nightmares of neurotic individuals, which are also sold as something like a drug. Although the word "Tulpa" is never used in the Changeling: the Dreaming RPG, creatures known as "Chimera" fulfill a role very similar to Tulpa. Chimera may be sentient or non-sentient entities made manifest in the mental alternate reality of "The Dreaming". They typically arise spontaneously due to the force of human thought and emotion, sometimes from the dreams of individuals but potentially as amalgams of all human thought. These beings are typically weakened by exposure to human doubt, but nevertheless some have the necessary strength and abilities to manifest as tangible entities in the mundane world of humans, at least for a time.

See alsoEdit


  1. 1.0 1.1 Reynolds, John Myrdhin (1996). The Golden Letters: The Three Statements of Garab Dorje, the first teacher of Dzogchen, together with a commentary by Dza Patrul Rinpoche entitled "The Special Teaching of the Wise and Glorious King". With Foreword by Namkhai Norbu Rinpoche. New York, USA: Snow Lion Publications. ISBN 1-55939-050-6. p.350
  2. Rinbochay, Lati; Rinbochay, Denma Lochö; Zahler, Leah (translator); & Hopkins, Jeffrey (translator) (1983, 1997). Meditative States in Tibetan Buddhism. Somerville, Massachusetts, USA: Wisdom Publications. ISBN 0-86171-119-X. p.188
  3. The Tibetan book of the great liberation; or, The method of realizing nirvana through knowing the mind, preceded by an epitome of Padma-Sambhava’s biography and followed by Guru Phadampa Sangay’s teachings According to English renderings by Sardar Bahädur S. W. Laden La and by the Lāmas Karma Sumdhon Paul, Lobzang Mingyur Dorje, and Kazi Dawa-Samdup. Introductions, annotations, and editing by W. Y. Evans-Wentz. With psychological commentary by C. G. Jung. London, New York, Oxford University Press, 1954. (In the quotation, Sangsara is an alternate English representation of the termSamsara.)
  4. Kharitidi, Olga (c1996). Entering the circle : the secrets of ancient Siberian wisdom discovered by a Russian psychiatrist . 1st ed. [San Francisco] : HarperSanFrancisco, c1996. 224 p. ; 22 cm. ISBN 0-06-251415-6 (cloth), ISBN 0-06-251417-2 (pbk.)
  5. Müller-Ebeling, Claudia, Christian Rätsch, Surendra Bahadur Shahi (2002). Shamanism and Tantra in the Himalayas. Trans. by Annabel Lee. Rochester, Vermont: Inner Traditions.
  6. Eileen Campbell, J.H. Brennan and Fran Holt-Underwood, Body Mind & Spirit: A Dictionary of New Age Ideas, People, Places, and Terms, Tuttle Pub, ISBN 0-8048-3010-X
  7. Reader's digest ; (1990). Mysteries of the Unexplained. Readers Digest Association. ISBN 0-89577-146-2. Page 176 describes Alexandra David-Néel's experience, as recalled in her 1929 published book Magic and Mystery in Tibet.
  8. Lingpa, Jigme (author); Rinpoche, Patrul (author); Mahapandita, Getse (author); Dharmachakra Translation Committee (translators) (2006). Deity, Mantra, and Wisdom: Development Stage Meditation in Tibetan Buddhist Tantra (Hardcover). Ithaca, NY, USA: Snow Lion Publications. ISBN 978-1-55939-300-3 p.25
  9. For a sound introduction to "emergence" refer: Corning, Peter A. (2002). The Re-emergence of "Emergence": A Venerable Concept in Search of a Theory. Institute For the Study of Complex Systems. NB: initially published in and © by Complexity (2002) 7(6): pp.18-30. Source: [1] (accessed: February 5, 2008)
  10. The aforecited "substrate" of the mindstream in the doctrinal development of the Eight Consciousnesses of Nichiren Daishonin is the "ninth consciousness" (Chinese: Nam Myōhō Renge Kyō). There is no difference between this ninth consciousness (of which all others are tributaries) and the 'absolute' view of the Eighth Consciousness, which is sugata-garbha, the mindstream substrate.
  11. Wangyal (2002: p.36-37) states:
    La is usually translated as "soul" but, more accurately, the la is the depth of who we are. On the deepest level, it is the balance of the five pure lights, the pure elemental energies. On the level of ordinary life, the la is the capacity to experience the five elemental qualities: groundedness, comfort, inspiration, flexibility, and accommodation. The la is associated with the karmic traces that make us human rather than something else, such as a turtle or a god. Our la is a human la. The la of a tiger is a tiger la. The la determines which kind of being we will be as well as much of our individual identity and capacity. The la underlies our vitality, our inner strength as an individual. It can be damaged or enhanced, stolen and retrieved. If we are humiliated, it is weakened. If we succeed in what is important to us, it is strengthened. If we act with integrity it is made stronger. If we betray ourselves, it loses vigor...In Tibetan Astrology it is said that la is the mother of the life-force; if the la is damaged, the life-force is diminished. Damage to the la can occur slowly, over a long period of time, or all at once. After an accident, for example, there can be long-lasting damage; fear that won't subside, a negative change in perspective, and so on. We call this kind of damage or disturbance..."soul loss."
    Cited from: Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche (2002). Healing with Form, Energy, and Light. Ithaca, New York: Snow Lion Publications. ISBN 1559391766
  12. Campbell, Eileen; Brennan, J.H.; Holt-Underwood, Fran (February 1994). Body Mind & Spirit: A Dictionary of New Age Ideas, People, Places, and Terms. Tuttle Pub. ISBN 080483010X 
  13. Reader's digest ; (1990). Mysteries of the Unexplained. Readers Digest Association. ISBN 0-89577-146-2. Page 176 describes Alexandra David-Néel's experience, as recalled in her 1929 published book Magic and Mystery in Tibet.
  14. Freeman, Richard (c2007). In Search of British Dragons. Source: [2] (accessed: February 2, 2008)
  15. Walter Yeeling Evans-Wentz, Carl Gustav Jung (1954, 2000). The Tibetan book of the great liberation, or, The method of realizing nirvāṇa through knowing the mind. Oxford University Press US, 2000. ISBN 0195133153, 9780195133158. Source: [3] (accessed: Sunday March 7, 2010)
  16. Karmay, Samten Gyaltsen (2007). The Great Perfection (rDzogs chen): A Philosophical and Meditative Teaching of Tibetan Buddhism. Second Edition. Volume II. Boston: Brill's Tibetan Studies Library. ISBN 9789004151420, pp.107-108
  17. theg pa'i mchog rnal 'byor gyi phul yang tog/ rgyal ba ril gyi yum a ti yo ga'i don btsan pa ni/ mtshan rdzogs pa (p.291) chen po zhes bya ste/ ci'i phyir zhe na/ bsam gyis mi khyab pa'i chos thams cad ma brtsal lhun rdzogs pa'i don/ gcer grol go bar bya ba'i phyir zhib tu bstan te/ de lta bu'i theg pa thams cad kyi yang mdzod spyi mes chen po 'di'i ngo bo lhun gyis grub pa'i ngang nyid kyi don/ rang rig pas mngon sum khong du chud nas blor bzhag par byar yang med pa'i don chen po rang gi rig pa la gsal bar bya ba yang/ ji ltar shes par bya zhe na/ shin tu rnal 'byor gyi theg pa 'di la/ rgyud lung man ngag gi gzhung ltar/ dang po gzhal bya'i chos gcig la/ rang gi so sor rtogs pa'i shes rab kyis gzhal bar byar yang med pa ste/ de ci'i phyir zhe na/ chos so cog tu grags pa thams cad/ ye gdod ma nyid nas spu ma brjes mdog ma bsgur bar rang byung gi ye shes thig le chen po'i klong du sangs rgyas pa'i rang bzhin la/ dngos po gzhal byar su yis mthong/ gtan tshigs su (p.292) yis bstan/ grub pa'i mtha' ci zhig chol/ 'jal byed gang gis byas te/ de dag gi ngo bo so so ba med pa'i phyir ma dmigs so/
  18. Van Schaik, Sam (2004). Approaching the Great Perfection: Simultaneous and Gradual Methods of Dzogchen Practice in the Longchen Nyingtig. Wisdom Publications. ISBN 0-86171-370-2. Source: [4] (accessed: February 2, 2008)
  19. A follower of the Bön religion.
  20. The chang (written as 'gchang') is a musical instrument that is especially used by bonpos. It is roughly the same shape as a cymbal, with the edges bent inward and it has a clapper. It is played with the clapper pointing upwards like an upturned bell. NB: The chang may also be orthographically rendered into English as Shang.
  21. Jansen, Eva Rudy (1990). Singing bowls: a practical handbook of instruction and use. Holland: Binkey Kok Publications. ISBN 9074597017. p.7-8
  22. Written as 'gzungs': something that grips, holds onto. A magic formula. The Sanskrit equivalent is dharani mantra.
  23. Jansen, Eva Rudy (1990). Singing bowls: a practical handbook of instruction and use. Holland: Binkey Kok Publications. ISBN 9074597017. p.9
  24. As Lawlor (1991: p.36) evocatively codifies:
    The great ancestral beings were vast, unbounded, intangible, vibratory bodies, similar to fields of energy. They created by drawing vibratory energy out of themselves and stabilizing this energy and by specifying or naming - the inner name is the potency of the form or creature. The comparable image is the creation of sounds, words, or songs from the vibration of breath. Aborigines refer to the Dreamtime creation as the world being "sung" into existence. Lawlor, Robert (1991). Voices Of The First Day: Awakening in the Aboriginal dreamtime. Rochester, Vermont: Inner Traditions International, Ltd. ISBN 0-89281-355-5
  25. No endorsement or perpetuation unchecked of gendered language herein.
  26. The ' geat demon' mentioned herein is cognate with Mahamaya. Essentially, Mahamaya (great illusion) both blinds perception to the realm of samsara and liberates the view in the realisation of non-duality.
  27. Padmasambhava & Kongtrül, Jamgön (transl. Erik Pema Kunsang) (1999). The Light of Wisdom (Vol. 1). Boudhanath: Rangjung Yeshe Publications. (A translation of the Lamrim Yeshe Nyingpo)
  28. Lester, David (1995). Theories of Personality: A Systems Approach. Taylor & Francis. ISBN 1560323507. Source: [5] (accessed: February 2, 2008)
  29. Lopön Tenzin Namdak and Dixey, Richard (2002). Heart Drops of Dharmakaya: Dzogchen Practice of the Bön Tradition. Snow Lion Publications. ISBN : 1559391723
  30. Graham Coleman with Thupten Jinpa (editors). The Tibetan Book of the Dead [English Title]. The Great Liberation by Hearing in the Intermediate States [Tibetan Title]. Composed by Padma Sambhava. Revealed by Karma Lingpa. Translated by Gyurme Dorje. Penguin Books. 2005. (The first complete translation). ISBN 978-0-140-45529-8. p.516
  31. Conze, Edward (1980). A Short History of Buddhism. Museum Street, London, U.K.: George Allen & Unwin (Publishers) Ltd. ISBN 0 04 294109 1
  32. Duff, Tony (2000). Tibetan and Bhutanese Marks and Signs for Inclusion into Tibetan Unicode 3.0.. Source: [6] (accessed: February 17, 2008) pp.6-8
  33. Khanna, Madhu (2003). Yantra: The Tantric Symbol of Cosmic Unity. Inner Traditions. ISBN 0892811323 & ISBN 978-0892811328. p.21
  34. Mookerjee, Ajit & Khanna, Madhu (1977; reprinted 2003). The Tantric Way: Art, Science, Ritual. High Holborn, London, U.K.: Thames and Hudson Ltd. ISBN 0 500 27088 0
  35. Guenther, Herbert V. (1972). Buddhist Philosophy in Theory and Practice. Viking Press. ISBN 0140213929 & ISBN 978-0140213928


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  • Thomas, Andy (2001). Scientific Studies “Confirm Crop Circles Are Made By Balls Of Light” - 31/07/2001. Andy Thomas is a principal part of Swirled News
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  • Wolf, Fred Alan (1994). The Dreaming Universe: a mind-expanding journey into the realm where psyche and physics meet. New York, New York: Simon & Schuster. ISBN 0-671-74946-3


Further reading Edit

it:Tulpa pl:Tulpa pt:Tulpa ru:Тульпа sk:Tulpa

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