Faith’s cloud rode the wind faster than Jay could clamber after her. She zipped up cliffs and over divots. He had to search for shallower paths and leap over trenches in the steepening terrain. Soon Jay lost sight of her, but he continued to trudge up the slopes. Occasionally he glimpsed a pinprick of white against the mountainside, but always lost it when the wind whipped it left and right.
In Tibetan Buddhism, Tulpas are theoretical beings or objects created with the mind or spirit. In modern internet parlance, a Tulpa is a theoretical autonomous sentient being coexisting with the consciousness of its creator, a Tulpamancer. Various internet communities share guides, tips, and advice for creating and managing Tulpas.
At first glance, it’s easy to look down on this sort of thing. What kind of grown adult has an imaginary friend? It doesn’t help that many Tulpamancers choose to make Tulpas based on anime characters or My Little Ponies. Even if it’s true that a Tulpa is autonomous, and not just an imaginary friend whose actions are consciously directed, isn’t that just self-induced schizophrenia?
But think about it this way: you can predict how your closest friend will react to events. You can even finish their sentences, or make them laugh with a knowing glance. In this sense, even if your predictions aren’t always correct, you mentally simulate your friend as a natural aspect of social interaction.
As a writer, I’m used to setting aside part of my consciousness and claiming it’s someone else. In that regard, writing a book is like playing with sock-puppets. Fictional characters tread the line between narrative tools and autonomous actors; spend long enough on any writing forum and you’ll hear about people whose characters have spontaneously diverged from the plot they’ve planned.
There’s no way around it: the fundamental structure of our consciousness is built to house autonomous sentient beings. The most obvious example is the self. After all, if you’re not an autonomous sentient being, what are you?