Friday, June 12, 2015

Who's your Tulpa?

Sometimes the nicest surprises come wrapped in small packages. Earlier this week a new friend sent me an email with the word Tulpa in it. He provided a link to Wikipedia's definition:
"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."
Over the years, I've had an on-again, off-again love affair with Buddhism and Zen. I've read some of Alan Watts and lots of Gary Snyder. I don't recall encountering the word Tulpa before that recent email. The part that intrigues me is, in the past four or five years, I've developed an increased interest in shamanism, particularly Native American and Celtic. Some of those stories involve shapeshifting or human consciousness inhabiting an animal. I'm intrigued by what I see as similarity in such existences to a Tulpa. Perhaps I'm in error. If you'd like to read an example of what I'm talking about, find a copy of Yeats The Celtic Twilight, or Matthews' Celtic Totem Animals. The fit isn't perfect and that's what leaves room for the imagination. In the near future, I think I'll see what I might weave from these threads.

Here a photos of two other small packages of delight that arrived in the neighborhood this past week.


red admiral butterfly (Vanessa atalanta)

Photo by
J. Harrington

Yellow Wood Sorrel (Oxalis stricta)
Photo by J. Harrington

Never the Time and the Place

By Robert Browning 

Never the time and the place
         And the loved one all together!
This path—how soft to pace!
         This May—what magic weather!
Where is the loved one's face?
In a dream that loved one's face meets mine,
         But the house is narrow, the place is bleak
Where, outside, rain and wind combine
         With a furtive ear, if I strive to speak,
         With a hostile eye at my flushing cheek,
With a malice that marks each word, each sign!
O enemy sly and serpentine,
Uncoil thee from the waking man!
         Do I hold the Past
         Thus firm and fast
Yet doubt if the Future hold I can?
This path so soft to pace shall lead
Thro' the magic of May to herself indeed!
Or narrow if needs the house must be,
Outside are the storms and strangers: we
Oh, close, safe, warm sleep I and she,—
I and she! 


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