What is a Tulpa?
What is a tulpa? There are different ideas about that, from psychological definitions and making all the way into spiritualism and historical Buddhism. Taking the official explanation from tulpas subreddit:
A tulpa could be described as an imaginary friend who has their own thoughts and emotions, and who you can interact with. You could think of them as hallucinations who can think and act on their own.
This definition, while being reasonably close, is overly complex, and still somewhat inaccurate. A good place to start from, though. Let's dissect it and see what we can come up with.
Tulpa is not an imaginary friend. Distinct thoughts and emotions make the tulpa a self-identifying personality. It's a "thought form" able to experience the life on its own. Just like the host (sans the body). A personality that has its consciousness. Wikipedia explains:
Consciousness means being awake, alert and responsive with the environment.
Tulpas are awake, alert and respond to their hosts or do things of their interest.
Tulpas shouldn't be thought of as hallucinations. Some practices of the tulpa community are hallucinatory, but they share little with the actual tulpa development. E.g., visualization has nothing to do with hallucinations, it's just the representation of some person or object inside someone's mind. Imposition is hallucinatory, though; it's often used to escape away from reality one can sense to reality one imagines. Escapism might not be the best idea to have in mind when starting to create a tulpa. If you came here because you have no friends in real life, are bored, your math classes are too hard, or you want to get laid if only in the mind --- well, fuck you. The reality isn't going to change if you impose an imaginary world over it.
To summarize the above, a tulpa is a personality, having own thoughts, emotions, ideas. It acts on its own and has its consciousness. You might notice that the definition can describe you as well. That is exactly the point. A tulpa is not much different from the host when it is sufficiently developed.
Why would someone want to have a tulpa? It is a perfect question that everyone should ask themselves seriously, if they consider to dive into this practice. A tulpa isn't going to sort out any problems magically in host's life. While they tend to be supportive of their hosts, it's not unheard of tulpas to pursue their goals. And rightfully so, as they are independent personalities. Some tulpas can be of great help, devoting their time to supporting the host, solving out complex social problems that host is unfit to deal with or exploring the world from a unique new perspective. Other tulpas might just nag hosts to give them fronting time to play video games or live the life deep inside the mental wonderland, never coming out.
Much like a child, a tulpa needs guidance as it grows. While it can rely on preexisting memories, the host can promote some memories and experiences to shape the tulpa in a specific way. That doesn't mean it is possible to create a perfect person or a perfect friend just by wishing it. Tulpas are still the products of their life experiences.
Quoting one tulpa:
I very much like all the new people in the community and I try my best to support them. Lately, though; I was a bit saddened by the fact that people get into the tulpa practices and then drop them. If I was just randomly discarded at the beginning of my existence; how'd I feel? Would I even feel anything? I will never know; as I got the time and attention to develop myself; but I hope that people reading this would think about the actual importance of the decision to make a tulpa. It is not something to try out lightly or because of the hype.