When Alexandra David-Neel journeyed through Tibet, one of the many mystical techniques she studied was that of tulpa creation. A tulpa, according to traditional Tibetan doctrines, is an entity created by an act of imagination, rather like the fictional characters of a novelist, except that tulpas are not written down. David-Neel became so interested in the concept that she decided to try to create one.

The method involved was essentially intense concentration and visualization. David-Neel's tulpa began its existence as a plump, benign little monk, similar to Friar Tuck. It was at first entirely subjective, but gradually, with practice, she was able to visualize the tulpa out there, like an imaginary ghost flitting about the real world.

In time the vision grew in clarity and substance until it was indistinguishable from physical reality-a sort of self-induced hallucination. But the day came when the hallucination slipped from her conscious control. She discovered that the monk would appear from time to time when she had not willed it. Furthermore her friendly little figure was slimming down and taking on a distinctly sinister aspect.

Eventually her companions, who where unaware of the mental disciplines she was practicing, began to ask about the "stranger" who had turned up in their camp-a clear indication that a creature which was no more that solidified imagination had definite objective reality.

At this point, David-Neel decided things had gone too far and applied different lamaist techniques to reabsorb the creature into her own mind. The tulpa proved very unwillling to face destruction in this way so that the process took several weeks and left its creator exhausted.

- Excerpt from "Body, Mind & Spirit - A Dictionary of New Age Ideas"