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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, 1959.

. 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.