Tibetan term for a phantom form generated by mental concentration.
In her book With Mystics and Magicians in Tibet
(1931), Alexandra David-Neel describes how she created a
tulpa of a monk, who supposedly became a recognizable member
of her party during a journey. Reportedly in the course of
time this phantom took on an independent life of its own.
David-Neel claimed it took six months of intense concentration
to dissolve this phantom.
A tulpa may also double as the magician who created it, employed
for protective purposes by appearing instead of its creator.
A tulpa should be distinguished from a tulku, which is either
the reincarnation of a saintly individual or the incarnation
of a non-human entity, such as a god, demon, or fairy.
David-Neel, Alexandra. Initiations and Initiates in Tibet. London,
1932. Reprint, New Hyde Park, N.Y. University Books,
———. The Secret Oral Tradition in Tibetan Buddhist Sects. San
Francisco City Lights, 1964. Reprint, Calcutta Maha Bodhi
Society of India, 1971.
———. With Mystics and Magicians in Tibet. 1931. Rev. ed. as
Magic and Mystery in Tibet. New Hyde Park, N.Y. University
Books, 1956. Reprint, New York Dover Publications, 1971.