Monday, June 15, 2020

Srul Pa

Tulpamancy feels redundant to me,
Given most of our minds are already
Approaching maximum occupancy.

True, not every inhabitant of thought
Takes the form of a sentient being,
An emanation with a proper name

Invited to co-pilot the body
By its hosting, social identity.
Not all ghosts are named, voiced, shaped, and conjured

Via active meditative forcing.
But we’re more than sufficiently possessed,
Even the most barren minds of the sane,

And I suspect that the tulpamancers,
If anything, are conjuring allies
To keep their minds’ other demons at bay.

Take the abrupt, memetic emergence
Of the invented term, tulpa, itself,
A point mutation found in the writings

Of a mystically inclined westerner
Of the previous century, who seems
To have bastardized Tibetan srul-pa,

Which in turn was one term among many
Related terms in the bestiary
Of lush Tibetan demonology,

Brightly painted syncretic legacy
Of Buddhism and the shamans’ Black Faith
That hegemonic lamas drove away.

It’s a typical history, rarely
Correct in all the details that differ,
But no matter. A word for a concept,

A device of human language, a thought,
Drifted along from mind to mind, changing
But fragrant at all times, to fit the times—

What a shaman needed to think clearly
In interactions with the villagers
Became a thought within a Buddhist world,

Was picked up by a westerner, seeking
Ancient wisdom as a colonial
Naturalist would seek medicinal drugs

Among the indigenous traditions,
Changed again to fit the new role, floated
Along in print to the present and then

Invaded raw ecosystems of minds
When blown into the air by fresh currents
Borne on new devices—tulpamancy.

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