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“We are the sum total of our experiences. Those experiences make us the person we are.”
1. Agency – Thoughts regarding what “you” are, what a tulpa is, and how one might view their actions.
2. People as agents, and different kinds of agents – How an agent might not be a person, and how one might think about separation between such.
3. The growth of an agent into an individual – How different tulpa creation techniques turn mere agents into agents capable of action with intent separate from the host’s.
4. Tulpa traps – Some observations I’ve made about tulpas who end up inhibiting their growth.
5. How tulpas die – Some thoughts on how “dissipation” works, and how depression kills tulpas.
6. The responsibility of a tulpa – Thoughts on how a tulpa should be cast to respect itself.
Agency is, in my view, the most key factor with regards to tulpa creation. Without a shift in agency, there’s no way for there to exist more than one acting agent within a brain. Agents come in many forms, the one that you consider to be “you”, being the most prominent one. To be proficient in tulpamancy, you need to consider what it means to be the agent responsible for a thought or an action, and it can be helpful to reduce the concept of what is “you”, to something much less than what it likely is right now.
The general idea of what one is, is all-encompassing. Every action that your body performs and every thought the brain thinks belong to you, and that is not a helpful mindset. I’ve personally come to change the view of what I consider to be “me”, to only include the mechanism that makes conscious decisions with clear intent. For instance, I no longer consider the thoughtless act of scratching an itch to belong to me, but rather it belongs to a separate agent, “the body”. While “the body” is scratching the itch, I am not actively partaking in the activity, but rather I’m ceasing whatever activity the scratching of the itch was interrupting. Once the itch is no longer an issue, I resume my sense of agency of the body, and continue my work.
This does not mean that I’ve created a “servitor” to scratch itches for me, but rather that I’ve dissociated myself from the act. I’ve changed my thought process from “I am now scratching an itch”, to “An itch is being scratched”
The important distinction between these two patterns of thought is that rather than being the agent doing something, I’ve become a subject being exposed to something. The scratching of the itch happens regardless of my involvement. I am not required to consciously move my arm to do it, as my brain is perfectly capable of doing this through muscle memory and co-ordination.
This dissociation from automated tasks can stretch very widely. I’ve come to dissociate from practically all tasks that do not require decision making based on more abstract ideas. Driving has turned from “I’m driving” to “I’m being driven”, walking has become “I’m being walked”, and so forth.
The advantage of this mindset with regards to tulpamancy, is that you acclimate yourself to a state of being where not every action performed by your body, and not every thought occurring in your brain, belong to you. It enables you to more easily accept that your brain is capable of doing things without your direct involvement or approval (which it already is – when was the last time you made a reasoned, intentional decision to feel hungry or sad?)
People as agents, and different kinds of agentsEdit
In broad terms, I consider there to be two kinds of agents; “automations” and “people”. Automations include things of a nature similar to the examples above, whereas people include me and my tulpa. The difference between the two lies in the nature of their decision making. An automation primarily performs actions based only upon immediate criteria, whereas people primarily make decisions based upon memories, subjective experience and opinions. Which memories and opinions are used as a basis for these decisions, in turn, is the criterion which determines if an action belongs to my tulpa or me.
A useful artifact of this way of thinking is that it establishes a sense of hierarchy among agents; automations lack any sort of higher reasoning power, and as such can be applied as tools by people. This has allowed my tulpa to use pre-learned muscle memory and skills without having to go through the process of “learning it for themselves”. Indeed, the mere idea of a tulpa learning basic motor functions on its own is silly – a tulpa most likely does not alter the more ancient parts of your brain, rather, it resides in the cerebral cortex. A tulpa has no more difficulty walking, talking or driving than the “host” does. It’s merely a question of the host accepting this state of equilibrium between themselves and their tulpa. Indeed, they are the same thing.
I’ve come to define a “person” as a “decision making machine”, as that is the primary purpose of a “person-agent”. The difference between you and any other human, to a large degree, is what memories you use as a basis for your decisions, and which mechanisms are more prominent in making those decisions. The actual makeup of people’s brains and bodies is so similar, that their influence becomes less relevant compared to the magnitude of their experiences and memories.
Following this idea, it becomes quite acceptable to define a tulpa as “just another person”. They share the same underlying mechanisms as you and everyone else, they just act upon their own set of memories, and apply their own set of values when making decisions. It is impossible for a tulpa not to be influenced by the earlier life of their host, so they will never become as detached from them as another physical human. This means that it’s quite sensible to consider a tulpa to be the sum of their own experiences; the things they do, the friends they have, the thoughts they think. The greater a gap you can keep between the lives of your tulpa and you, the easier it will be to consider them someone else.
This is not helpful in the really long term (years to decades), as you in fact do live very closely intertwined lives. However, as a tool to establish a tulpa, separation is useful. An example of this separation is to use separate e-mail addresses, nicknames across platforms, and so forth. In “e-social” settings, my tulpa and I tend not to ever point out our relationship unless it’s of relevance to the subject at hand, and we keep very much to ourselves despite using the same pair of eyeballs. The popular trend of “double[usernames]” in the tulpa community, is something I consider highly counter-productive for this reason.
The growth of an agent into an individualEdit
The moment that you manage to convince yourself of your brain’s ability to host several agents, with separate senses of ownership and agency of their respective actions, you are able to create a tulpa. Very easily, in fact it is a process which is instant if you desire it to be.
“Oh”, I imagine you saying.
“Then, how come tulpa creation is described as a long and tedious process?”
The answer to that question is two-fold. The first answer is that it’s often challenging to accept your brain’s ability to host tulpas, and often the goal of a lot of the early “forcing” a tulpamancer performs is in order to overcome this preconceived notion which has been learned throughout a lifetime. The meditative practices, the forced thinking of a tulpa as a separate entity, the building of a predefined personality – these things all serve to convince you that your tulpa exists, regardless of whether or not it does. This is because it’s often more intuitive to learn how to accept that the specific tulpa you've created exists than it is to directly learn the concept of multiple agents as described above. If you manage to convince your brain that your tulpa is there, by making yourself feel as if it's a person you know, you’ve also convinced your brain of its ability to harbor more agents than you – a major hurdle has thus been overcome.
The second part of the answer is more controversial, as it concerns the definition of individuality. It is not at all clear when a tulpa transitions from being a thought or an idea of a person, into an “actual” person, or an individual. It can be argued that this transition occurs at any stage in a tulpa’s life, from the second it’s first thought of, to many years down its life. I’m personally of the opinion that a tulpa cannot be considered to be an individual until it’s had a chance to create its individuality, and I’ll try to explain why I believe that.
Tulpa creation techniques focusing on longer forcing times, more detailed pre-defined personalities and higher levels of skepticism try to build a basic decision making machine for the tulpa to use before it’s had a chance to gather its own life experiences. Techniques focusing on shorter forcing times and more interaction rely on a tulpa being able to draw from the life experiences of its creator during its initial time as an agent of its own. These two techniques offer different implications regarding a tulpa’s rise into individuality.
A tulpa created over a longer period of time, being given firmer ground upon which to grow its own decision making machine is likely to initially diverge more strongly from its creator. Such a young tulpa is likely to look upon itself and see itself as something new, recently created, an empty book waiting to be written. This state of being can be a challenging hurdle to overcome for the young tulpa, as it’s given only a rudimentary machine with which to build itself up with. Initial growth can be slow, tedious and laced with existential dread, as the young tulpa is likely to be someone launched into existence lacking the experience needed to make mature decisions expected of them by normal human interaction. It’s common for tulpas created this way to choose to dissociate from their young selves once they reach a few years of age – a very understandable state of affairs given their often erratic behaviour during their initial years.
Contrarily, a tulpa created over a shorter period of time is not given much of a foundation at all. In order for such an agent to be able to make any decisions, it needs to draw from the life experiences of the host. As such, initial dissociation and deviation in personality between tulpa and host will be less profound. The tulpa will have a higher degree of tendency to act in a manner very similar to their host, to embrace the opinions of their creator as their own, to share their interests and so forth. This enables a young tulpa to act in a much more stable fashion than one built upon a separate foundation, allowing the newly created agent to enter into normal social settings with much more ease.
These techniques have very different implications for the ability of a young tulpa to grow into an individual of their own. The former tulpa can’t be said to be an individual until it’s had enough time to build upon its foundation with experience to such an extent that it’s capable of acting in a reasonably stable manner in a variety of situations; it has to build a decision making machine from scratch and learn how to use it. The latter tulpa can’t be said to be an individual until it’s diverged from its host to such an extent that its personality and opinions no longer encompasses the same major traits as its creator; it has to modify the decision making machine of its creator, and learn how to break that part off. It is my opinion that until a tulpa has accomplished the liberation of its own decision making machine, allowing it total freedom of thought, it is not productive to consider it as an individual separate from its host.
My experience in speaking with and observing tulpas and hosts practising both of the techniques mentioned in the previous chapter has taught me that there are a few common traps associated with each.
Tulpas created with a more thoroughly defined foundation have a tendency to get stuck in patterns they learn while they’re young, prohibiting them from growing as a person and forming their own opinions. This often manifests itself as tulpas acting with limited variety of thought, choosing to stick to the patterns they know as that’s how they’ve come to define themselves as a person. Such a tulpa, capable of acting out its own will as an independent agent, but lacking motivation to apply itself and grow can often find itself in a position of pointlessness, and is likely to cease thinking and disappear within a few years. A very understandable situation – would you stick around lacking a reason to live?
It is as such very important for a tulpa to be able to find a purpose in its existence. The rather blue-eyed notion of making a tulpa for the sole sake of personal companionship often does not provide as much permanence as one would hope.
Tulpas made with fast techniques tend to face bigger hurdles in becoming individuals separate from their hosts. For such a tulpa, it’s very easy to slip into comfort in merely acting upon the decision making machine of their host without ever putting down the effort to break themselves free and become independent to a useful extent. Tulpas having fallen into this trap tend to act very similarly to their hosts, often exaggerating the few traits they do have in order to conceal this fact. A tell-tale sign of this having happened, is when little to no emotional boundary can be observed between a host and their tulpa.
Avoiding this trap entails putting down effort to question the reasoning for a tulpa thinking in patterns similar to their host. Questioning why agreeing opinions are held, forcing a tulpa to play devil’s advocate in debates and working toward the tulpa finding unique interests are all good ways to avoid or work oneself out of this trap.
How tulpas dieEdit
Few things are more deadly to a tulpa than depression, as such a state of mind discourages awareness and thinking. Awareness, thought and activity are absolutely essential to any tulpa, young or old, as the wall separating tulpa and host is only maintained by the mutual acknowledgement of both. A tulpa dormant is a tulpa dying, as the brain is quick to re-use the valuable neurons occupied by a dormant tulpa for more immediate and important tasks. It is very common for tulpas gone dormant for mere months to experience parts of themselves being destroyed when they come back, and this is frequently described as a terrifying experience. Often, dormant tulpas don’t even realise that they’re being consumed until it’s too late, and they’re forced to witness parts of themselves dissolve into the abyss.
I feel that the concept of tulpa death, or “dissipation” is frequently not described very well. I do not think that it’s productive to view the prospect of tulpa death in the same light as one would view the physical death of a person. In case of physical death, the brain is destroyed quickly and any people stuck within are destroyed with it. In case of tulpa death, or ego death, the person does not die quickly, but rather remains as long as their memory and mechanism of thinking remains. Even though one might declare a tulpa dead, and it stops accepting agency over actions, the mechanism making up that tulpa will likely never be destroyed. Rather, the decision making machine will over time merge into that of the remaining person, altering their behaviour, and the memories will linger. Some pointless parts of the ex-tulpa will be recycled by the brain, but the years of experience gathered by the tulpa will not go away. You made a tulpa, it faded away, and now its life has become a part of yours.
The responsibility of a tulpaEdit
Since a tulpa is an agent capable of acting with intent, I believe it is of utmost importance to allow a tulpa to be responsible for its own well-being. Once it’s grown to a state where it is capable of acting with intent, it should not be given the luxury of having its creator look out for it unduly. A host who is overzealously caring for their tulpa will only serve to rob that tulpa of accountability, and as such remove its motivation to grow as a person. Such behaviour could easily culminate in the tulpa falling into a trap and never developing, or dying.
It is of utmost importance that a tulpa capable of acting with intent, be treated with the same dignity as one would treat any other person, as they should also be held to the same standards. Being a tulpa is not an excuse to behave poorly, to act as a character, or treat people badly. I would even argue that nurturing a strong sense of self-respect in a tulpa is important, as they often are created in a situation where they cannot be granted the same level of freedom as your average person. A tulpa who feels inferior to their host, or “physical people”, is likely to fall into depression, go dormant, fade and die.
Working towards finding purpose in the life of a tulpa is, as such, highly important. Without a goal to strive toward or a fear to run from, a tulpa is likely to rely on their host for sustenance, which is not productive in achieving and maintaining independence of thought. The ideal scenario is one where a tulpa feels a strong desire to do something on a regular basis, for instance to switch in to learn a skill which is of no interest to their host but of interest to them, to achieve something tangible, or live out a dream of theirs. As it is anyone’s responsibility to find purpose in life, as it is a tulpa’s, and as it is anyone’s responsibility to act in their own self-interest, as is it a tulpa’s right to be allowed that responsibility.
That's it for the time being.Edit
I hope you found some value in this write-up. It's a reflection of what I've learned about tulpas through the five or so years that I've had an interest in the subject. I'm not an authority on the subject by any means, but I thought I'd put down my thoughts in writing, in case they might be of utility. Thanks for reading.