Alexandra David-Neel was born Louise Eugenie Alexandrine Marie David in France in October 1868, and was the first woman to gain the title of a Tibetan lama. A committed Buddhist who lived to the highly impressive age of one hundred years, she was a noted traveler, and someone who had a deep passion and love for Asia, and particularly so the Himalayas. David-Neel was also someone who helped bring to the Western world the phenomenon of the Tulpa.
Essentially, a Tulpa is an enigmatic form of life that has its origins within the mysterious depths of the human mind; but which, when carefully focused upon by the creator, and dutifully nurtured, can break free of its brain-based moorings and take on a degree of independent reality in the world at large. In simple terms, what we imagine internally – when we, quite literally, put our minds to it – can mutate into full-blown reality of an external nature.
Walter Yeeling Evans-Wentz, a writer, anthropologist, and pioneer in the study of Tibetan Buddhism, said of the Tulpa concept: “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.”
He elaborated further: “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.”
Alexandra David-Neel, who was never one to turn her nose up at a new experience, chose to attempt to create her very own Tulpa after learning of, and becoming fascinated and slightly awed by, the concept from Buddhist monks. She duly focused her attentions on the image of a kindly Friar Tuck-type character from the days and legends of Robin Hood of Sherwood Forest, England.
After months of deep meditation, in which she visualized her creation gaining form, David-Neel provided it with a character, history and background, and the day finally came when the mind-monk cast away its chains of the brain and strode forth into the heart of the real world. At first, David-Neel could only see the figure in her peripheral vision, somewhat shadowy and ethereal. That, however, soon changed, and not in a positive fashion either.
At first, all was good. In David-Neel’s own words: “He became a kind of guest, living in my apartment. I then broke my seclusion and started for a tour, with my servants and tents. The monk included himself in the party. Though I lived in the open riding on horseback for miles each day, the illusion persisted. It was not necessary for me to think of him to make him appear. The phantom performed various actions of the kind that are natural to travelers and that I had not commanded. For instance, he walked, stopped, looked around him. The illusion was mostly visual, but sometimes I felt as if a robe was lightly rubbing against me, and once a hand seemed to touch my shoulder.”
But, the friendly monk was not all that he appeared to be. Subtly, over time, he began to change, as David-Neel noted with regret later on. She reflected on the affair some years later, in the following fashion: “The fat, chubby-cheeked fellow grew leaner, his face assumed a vaguely mocking, sly, malignant look. He became more troublesome and bold. In brief, he escaped my control.”
There was no choice: If David-Neel allowed her creation to continue “living,” it had the potential to pose a very real threat to each and every one of those with whom it crossed paths. So, there was only one option available to her: The Monk had to be reabsorbed into David-Neel’s mind, and then banished into the depths of her subconscious, where it would ultimately, and eventually, fragment into nothingness, and its “life” would be forever over.
According to David-Neel, it took more than half a year for the Monk to finally lose form, return to her control, and ultimately vanish from our 3-D existence, and back into her dreams and imagination. And, eventually, and to David-Neel’s great and lasting relief, it was gone from those realms, too, utterly and finally obliterated.
But, the battle between David-Neel, who wished the creature dead and buried, and her creation, that was determined to cling on to its new-found existence no matter what, had proved to be a long and emotionally torturous one – thus demonstrating that creating a Tulpa is a matter that should never, under any circumstances whatsoever, be entered into lightly or without the benefit of a high degree of careful forethought.