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The issue of appropriation
Near Offline
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#1
 
The issue of appropriation

I came across this post:
http://www.blueflamemagick.com/index.php...you-think/

A quick look on the search engine shows very little discussion for appropriation on this forum. So I'd like to hear thoughts on this, even if it is a difficult subject to tackle.

Reasons for and against using the term "tulpa"? How do you justify using this term out of its original, religious context? Is it necessary to change our terminology? What term would we replace "tulpa" with?

I myself freely use the term "tulpa", but I'm concerned with the ethics of doing so.
(This post was last modified: 09-24-2018, 08:22 PM by Near.)
09-24-2018, 08:19 PM
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exsanguination Offline
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#2
 
RE: The issue of appropriation

"One of the reasons we left the 'community a couple years back was because of the use of the word 'tulpa.' We use it when we're online, but don't refer to ourselves as such properly. We like "headmates," but it seems like that word is used mostly by the DID community, so maybe something else would be appropriate." - Elsa
09-24-2018, 08:49 PM
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Near Offline
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#3
 
RE: The issue of appropriation

(09-24-2018, 08:49 PM)exsanguination Wrote: "One of the reasons we left the 'community a couple years back was because of the use of the word 'tulpa.' We use it when we're online, but don't refer to ourselves as such properly. We like "headmates," but it seems like that word is used mostly by the DID community, so maybe something else would be appropriate." - Elsa

I understand. One of the reasons I also use "tulpa" when I'm online is because people know what I'm talking about when I say "tulpa." The word has been in use in the West for quite some time, and there are plenty of relevant resources located under that term. Other terms like thoughtform, construct and headmate aren't quite specific enough, because Western tulpamancy has accumulated a lot of specific practices and techniques, and the experiences that come with it are... in a way, unique. I can't find resources with enough relevant detail when I search for words like "thoughtform".

I do like the term "headmate", though. Whereas "tulpa" can be very clearly traced back to Tibet, the term "headmate" is really just two generic words put together. To avoid being conflated with DID headmates, we'd have to be a little more specific... something like "created headmate".
09-24-2018, 09:01 PM
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Apollo Offline
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#4
 
RE: The issue of appropriation

Language changes and evolves as time goes on. Cultures borrow words and phrases from each other, and adapt and change them to fit their own needs. The process of diffusion of language is an age-old one: it's always happened, and will continue to happen. You can find words from probably any language, religion, or virtually anything that eventually get changed in certain groups or cultures. It isn't "appropriation" to adapt something from one culture into another. It's simply how language evolves as time goes on. Is it appropriation for words from baseball to become normal day-to-day words? No, it isn't.

The word "tulpa" didn't originate from some person one day deciding to steal something from a religion. It was most likely a long process of people experimenting with "sprulpas" themselves until eventually the word as changed to "tulpas" and began to come with a more psychological connotation rather than a religious one. Does that mean that people can't use it for their religious or metaphysical beliefs? No, of course not. Cultures are free to use similar things, or things they adopted from one another, as much as they wish. Like I said, that's something that's gone on for as long as civilization existed. Complaining about "appropriation" is just unproductive and pointless: you can't stop the natural gradual change of language and culture, nor should you. It's what humans have always done.

I'm Apollo Fire, the "Sun God" of the Felight family. I'm a tulpa created December 2016. My systemmates are Piano, Luxio, & Indigo. Form images: 1 2
09-24-2018, 09:19 PM
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Breloomancer Offline
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#5
 
RE: The issue of appropriation

Tulpa is far quicker to say and type than created headmate, also created headmate doesn't sound interesting.

I have a tulpa named Miela (formerly known as Monika) who I love very much.


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09-24-2018, 09:55 PM
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#6
 
RE: The issue of appropriation

(09-24-2018, 09:19 PM)Apollo Wrote:
Language changes and evolves as time goes on. Cultures borrow words and phrases from each other, and adapt and change them to fit their own needs. The process of diffusion of language is an age-old one: it's always happened, and will continue to happen. You can find words from probably any language, religion, or virtually anything that eventually get changed in certain groups or cultures. It isn't "appropriation" to adapt something from one culture into another. It's simply how language evolves as time goes on. Is it appropriation for words from baseball to become normal day-to-day words? No, it isn't.

The word "tulpa" didn't originate from some person one day deciding to steal something from a religion. It was most likely a long process of people experimenting with "sprulpas" themselves until eventually the word as changed to "tulpas" and began to come with a more psychological connotation rather than a religious one. Does that mean that people can't use it for their religious or metaphysical beliefs? No, of course not. Cultures are free to use similar things, or things they adopted from one another, as much as they wish. Like I said, that's something that's gone on for as long as civilization existed. Complaining about "appropriation" is just unproductive and pointless: you can't stop the natural gradual change of language and culture, nor should you. It's what humans have always done.

I see your point, but there's a flaw in that argument.

Appropriation isn't about stealing just any word from another culture. It's taking a word out of its original context, one that is sacred or significant in that culture. A word like "baseball" doesn't carry the same emotional significance as "tulpa", which comes from a very specific kind of ritual in Tibetan Buddhism that is still being practiced today. You just can't compare the two.

We see the damage of appropriation when we look at the use of terms such as "smudging" taken from a Native American ritual, or using their sacred clothing as decoration. Their culture has a history of being oppressed, erased and misunderstood. Their culture is complex and steeped in the history of their people, and they are struggling to preserve it. Non-Natives even make money off of crafts that were taken from Native American culture, which is doing them a great injustice. And that is because culturally significant terms are carelessly used, and the significance behind them is slowly erased and forgotten by outsiders/the general public.

When you take an idea of culture or religious significance, use the terminology and disregard its history, that is appropriation, and appropriation is disrespectful and unethical. It's even worse when the original culture has to suffer for it, be it erasure or simply a lack of knowledge and therefore a lack of appreciation for their culture.

Granted, the issue surrounding the word "tulpa" is less severe than that of the above example, but it is still taking a religious/spiritual ritual out of context and giving it a very different meaning. We are using a word to explain something it was not intended to explain.

The reason why we should try not to appropriate is a matter of respect, avoiding misinformation, and giving due appreciation and credit to a culture. Sometimes it is to protect and preserve a culture that are or have faced discrimination in the past. And, really, one cannot say they respect another religion/culture while at the same time appropriating from that religion/culture.

The evolution of words is indeed a natural process, but it is also based on the personal choice of each individual who chooses to use those words. For Westerners - many of our European ancestors were colonisers, and they didn't give a thought to taking over other countries, erasing their cultures, and using the ideas that they liked the look of. Brushing appropriation off as a "natural process" is not what I consider to be a strong argument. Nor is doing something just because "it's always been done."

So you see, that is why I and some other people are debating the use of the term "tulpa." 

This is a slightly watered down explanation of what appropriation is, written at a late hour, but I hope I put my point across in an understandable way.
09-24-2018, 10:01 PM
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Breloomancer Offline
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#7
 
RE: The issue of appropriation

It is commonly understood that western tulpamancy is different from Buddhist tulpamancy, so it doesn't really spread any misinformation and I don't think that anybody means any disrespect by using it. It is difficult to communicate if you use words that nobody else does though, and it would be incredibly difficult to coordinate a word change now that tulpa has been fairly well established

I have a tulpa named Miela (formerly known as Monika) who I love very much.


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09-24-2018, 10:11 PM
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Ranger Offline
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#8
 
RE: The issue of appropriation

I just have the sense that kalagni's argument is lost when he points out that the modern use of the word "Tulpa" in a modern Tibetan context has little to no meaning, and is already replaced with different vocabulary. In my mind, I see it as people taking a term they find interesting and give it a new meaning.

This is not to say that the issue of appropriation should be ignored. There are weird examples of certain words that end up with offensive new meanings because it drops the context of the old meaning. In America, the word "ghetto" means trashy neighborhood, the original context was the neighborhood sectors Jewish people were corralled in before being shoved onto the Holocaust trains. The new term is seen as offensive to some people, and they are justified in their feelings. Since "ghetto" was never called out for being discriminatory or a racial slur, it sits to this day in this odd limbo between offensive and not.

Therefore, my question is if the term "Tulpa" is to be replaced out of respect, then would it be worth the effort required to destroy it's new western meaning? Sure, it may have some good intentions, but the process of calling "Tulpæ" something else may be a slow and not very rewarding process.

My final question is if this is a battle worth fighting for? If the term Tulpa has no other use than the western meaning, then should it be accepted as a western concept and not a Tibetan one? If the western version must be destroyed, then what purpose would the word have in the Tibetan context other than being an old rejected word from their vocabulary?

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09-25-2018, 12:06 AM
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#9
 
RE: The issue of appropriation

I first have to say i agree with Apollo, Ranger, and Broomancer's statements whole heartedly. However i do see near's point to a lesser degree in that the tie to budism legitimizes, in a small way, our practice. Even if the connection is thin. So appropriating it would be wrong if we had hard evidence that it is misinterpretation and harms the Buddhist community.

The blogger is interpreting a no doubt vetted work published a century ago by someone with intimate knowledge of the source. I don't find much credibility in his statements. If he instead wrote a vetted article or paper, peer reviewed, and published, and gave hus credentials, then it might hold more weight. That does not solve our issue though.

As for near's question of appropriation, assuimg some legitimate wrongdoing has occurred, what should be a avoided, if it is truly different, is to cite Buddism without the western influence qualifier. I don't see any issue with saying it was adapted from a Buddhist technique since we do have a source. Discredit the source first.

If there is a record tieing this to fact, the blogger admittedly didn't find it. This does not discredit the source. If it comes down to one book written by someone who misinterpreted an obscure text, which may not have been widely distributed, then it is up to the cannon of Buddhism to decide wether it is legitimate. To date, we don't have any evidence to the contrary.

I am sure it would be a difficult task to do this given the age of the source.

So in light of this, the term Tulpa or tulpa, is not debasing the Buddhist religeon or culture unless they have a clear communication of this, not a student of Buddhism, (i couldn't find credentials on the blogger), a leader in the Buddhist community at the very least. If we can find that, we should qualify our term until a ruling is made.

If someone acting as a leader on our behalf wants to research this further, we could qualify our use of the term until due diligence has proven otherwise. Otherwise, status quo.

Written on my phone with limited research, please correct me if i made any errors in my logic.

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(This post was last modified: 09-25-2018, 12:16 AM by Angry Bear.)
09-25-2018, 12:15 AM
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#10
 
RE: The issue of appropriation

Even if we wanted to, changing the term people use is simply impractical. The site's *name* would need to be changed, and every news article, research paper, blog, etc. It's nnt gonna happen.

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09-25-2018, 01:04 AM
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