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Thoughtform

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Thoughtform

For the 2012 Italian film, see Tulpa (film).

Tulpa (Tibetan: སྤྲུལ་པWylie: sprul-pa; Sanskrit: निर्मित nirmita[1] and निर्माण nirmāṇa;[2] "to build" or "to construct") also translated as "magical emanation",[3] "conjured thing" [4] and "phantom" [5] is a concept in mysticism of a being or object which is created through sheer spiritual or mental discipline alone. It is defined in Indian Buddhist texts as any unreal, illusory or mind created apparition. According to Alexandra David-Néel, tulpas are "magic formations generated by a powerful concentration of thought." It is a materialized thought that has taken physical form and is usually regarded as synonymous to a thoughtform.[6]

Indian Buddhism

One early Buddhist text, the Samaññaphala Sutta lists the ability to create a “mind-made body” (mano-maya-kaya) as one of the 'fruits of the contemplative life'. Commentarial texts such as the Patisambhidamagga and the Visuddhimagga state that this mind-made body is how the Buddha and other Buddhists are able to travel into heavenly realms and it is also used to explain the multiplication miracle of the Buddha as illustrated in the Divyavadana, in which the Buddha multiplied his body into countless other bodies which filled the sky.[7] The Indian Buddhist philosopher Vasubandhu defined nirmita (tulpa) as a superhuman or psychic power (Pali: iddhi, Skt: ṛddhi) developed through Buddhist meditation (samadhi) in his seminal work on Buddhist philosophy, the Abhidharmakośa. Asanga's Bodhisattvabhūmi, defines nirmāṇa as a magical illusion and “basically, something without a material basis”.[8] The Buddhist Madhyamaka school of philosophy sees all reality as empty of essence, all reality is seen as a form of nirmita or magical illusion.

Tibetan Buddhism

Tulpa is a spiritual discipline and teachings concept in Tibetan Buddhism and Bon. The term "thoughtform" is used as early as 1927 in Evans-Wentz' translation of the Tibetan Book of the Dead. John Myrdhin Reynolds in a note to his English translation of the life story of Garab Dorje defines a tulpa as "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]

Alexandra David-Néel

The term is used in the works of Alexandra David-Néel, a Belgian-French explorer, spiritualist and Buddhist, who observed these practices in 20th century Tibet. Alexandra wrote that "an accomplished Bodhisatva is capable of effecting ten kinds of magic creations. The power of producing magic formations, tulkus or less lasting and materialized tulpas, does not, however, belong exclusively to such mystic exalted beings. Any human, divine or demoniac being may be possessed of it. The only difference comes from the degree of power, and this depends on the strength of the concentration and the quality of the mind itself."[9] Alexandra also wrote of the tulpa's ability to develop a mind of its own: "Once the tulpa is endowed with enough vitality to be capable of playing the part of a real being, it tends to free itself from its maker's control. This, say Tibetan occultists, happens nearly mechanically, just as the child, when his body is completed and able to live apart, leaves its mother's womb."[10] Alexandra 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.[11] Alexandra raised the possibility that her experience was illusory: "I may have created my own hallucination."

Thoughtform


A thoughtform is the equivalent concept to a tulpa but within the Western occult tradition. The Western understanding is believed by some to have originated as an interpretation of the Tibetan concept.[6] Its concept is related to the Western philosophy and practice of magic.[12]

Modern perspective

As the Tibetan use of the tulpa concept is described in the book Magical Use of Thoughtforms, the student was expected to come to the understanding that the tulpa was just a hallucination. While they were told that the tulpa was a genuine deity, "The pupil who accepted this was deemed a failure – and set off to spend the rest of his life in an uncomfortable hallucination." [13]

Today, there are people who attempt to create "tulpas", or thoughtforms, of their own for company; the process involves imagining a being so vividly that its presence can be felt, and it seems to speak and act on its own. A number of web sites explain how to create tulpas of this sort.[14]

See also

References

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