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31 May 2021
37 min 31 sec
Video Overview
Michael Lifshitz, Maria Kozhevnikov


Tulpamancy is the practice of rigorously training the imagination to cultivate friendly dialogues with invisible companions called “tulpas”, or thought-forms. Tulpas are understood to share the mind and body of the person who created them, but to have their own autonomous free will and agency. They are typically experienced by those who create them (i.e., the tulpamancers) as close friends and confidants with distinctive personalities and strong opinions. Originally inspired by European interpretations of Tibetan vajrayana practices, contemporary tulpamancy practice has recently gained popularity among secular practitioners through online message boards and chat servers. In this talk, I will describe preliminary findings from an ongoing multi-methods project that brings together phenomenological interviews and functional neuroimaging to investigate the cognitive mechanisms of tulpamancy. I will also propose that similar mechanisms may play a role in religious practices such as evangelical Christian prayer, in which practitioners train their minds to develop relationships with invisible spiritual beings. This research illustrates how imagination-based contemplative practices can open new modes of subjectivity and pattern fundamental aspects of human experience, right down to the basic feeling of agency over one’s innermost private thoughts.

Speaker Bio: Michael Lifshitz

I study practices that aim to transform subjective experience—from meditation and hypnosis to placebos, prayer, and psychedelics. I'm particularly interested in how these practices can modulate feelings of agency and ownership, so that inner thoughts and sensations can come to feel as if they are emerging from a source beyond the self. My work combines phenomenology, neuroscience and ethnography to shed light on the plasticity of consciousness. I recently started my own research group affiliated with the Division of Social and Transcultural Psychiatry at McGill University/Jewish General Hospital in Montreal. Previously I did my PhD in Neuroscience at McGill and then worked as a postdoc in the Stanford Department of Anthropology. Before my doctorate, I completed a master's in neuroscience and an undergraduate in psychology, philosophy, and world religions, all at McGill.

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  • So thank you very much for having me. I’m excited to have this chance to talk to everyone and be part of this exciting conference, this meeting. And so today, I’m going to be talking about practices that involve cultivating relationships with personified beings. So using the imagination, to actually have this kind of vivid sense that there’s another agent or another entity sharing your mind. So you can actually have a dialogue with, and in particularly talking about Tulpamancy, which is a practice that is really about these kinds of relationships.
  • But then I’ll also compare it to Christian certain forms of Christian prayer, which our research suggests, might draw on similar mechanisms and similar kinds of practices, but in a different cultural context. So just as a little bit of context. So I really came into this work, I did my PhD studying meditation and hypnosis and kind of comparing these two literature’s and I think very relevant to the theme of this conference, is to think of the state of hypnosis, different histories, and different kind of scientific people who study one or the other don’t necessarily study both.
  • And they’re kind of relatively siloed off as scientific studies. And the focus is are quite different as well. So in the field of meditation, people tend to emphasize at least scientifically, much more, this kind of sense of releasing thoughts kind of coming back to like mindfulness, the present moment, the body, and not a lot about kind of constructing or elaborating concepts or the imagination. Whereas with hypnosis, there’s much more of an emphasis on visualization, cultivating states of mind, using your imagination as a kind of productive tool to shape your subjectivity in ways that you’d like it to be moving towards.
  • So this was an interesting book, because we kind of had the opportunity to bring together people who study meditation and people who study hypnosis, having more of a dialogue between these fields, and also interdisciplinary, so have cognitive scientists, speaking to clinicians, and also speaking to anthropologists and so on. And so for instance, in this book there was, we were really fortunate to have a chapter from Tipton Jinpa.
  • So with the interpreter of the Dalai Lama, who wrote a chapter precisely on visualization techniques in Vajrayana, Buddhism and kind of how that part of meditation has been missing in many ways from this scientific discourse around these practices. So I just wanted to show one example of the kind of way that we study processes like visualization and mental imagery using hypnosis. So this is just an example from basically, that I did with Amir Raz, who was my PhD supervisor, it was recently published in Psychological Science. And so here, it’s a video. Basically, the idea is we want to find a way of actually studying kind of more quantitatively more empirically how mental imagery works, and what’s possible with the power of suggestion.
  • So this is a situation where if you have these occluding blocks, you can see very clearly a general pattern of motion. But if you take them away, it becomes very chaotic. And it’s hard to make sense of kind of this coherent motion that’s that you can see. So again, if you take away the occluders, it becomes really hard for your brain to make sense of what’s going on. You kind of see these two oscillating things, but you don’t get this clear sense of the holistic motion. And actually, for most people, it’s very difficult to accurately say which direction the whole shape is moving unless you have the occluders.
  • So then what we do is we use a hypnotic suggestion. And we tell we give highly hypnotically suggestible people a suggestion to actually be able to hallucinate the occluder so that they’re able to see the shapes in the corners, even when they’re not there. And this gives us a way of then testing whether they’re more accurate at telling us which direction the whole shape is moving.
  • So basically, what we get is a kind of objective, quantitative, unfavorable performance measure of whether their mental imagery is actually improving in some way that allows them to do something that normally people wouldn’t be able to do. So, these are the results. So what we find is precisely that highly suggestible people, if you give them this suggestion to hallucinate these occluders can actually discern the direction of the whole shape accurately.
  • So highs are highly suggestible people at baseline, their basic, they’re really not performing very well. In fact, they’re kind of biased to getting it wrong, which is kind of interesting. But then, after the suggestion, they have a very accurate ability to detect what’s going on in the shape. Whereas for people who are not suggestible, you see that they’re basically performing at chance, even when they have the suggestion. So I just kind of wanted to show this as an example of the way that in hypnosis and hypnosis science, we’re able to kind of use processes of suggestion and kind of ways of shaping subjective subjective experience.
  • And using the imagination to actually be able to improve cognitive functions. I mean, this is kind of like a toy task. Like, it doesn’t have specific real world therapeutic implications. But it shows very kind of an unambiguously that there’s a capacity here that is being activated through hypnotic suggestion. Rather than just relying on for instance, like subjective reports about these kinds of experiences. So that’s just to give some context.
  • And now I’m going to I’m going to move more specifically to talk about Tulpa, which is really kind of the centerpiece of what I’d like to present today. So Tulpa, it’s a kind of a strange practice. And I’ll go into the genealogy or the lineage of it a little bit more, very shortly, but just to give you a general sense of what Tulpa is understood to be an entity, like a being who is actually created in the mind. So it’s this process of using your imagination to create a being, who then acts independently and parallel to your own consciousness. So they have their own thoughts, their own freewill, their own emotions and memories, but they share your mind.
  • So you basically create a being in your mind, like not out there in the world, but in your own body and brain. Who then shares your mind with you like a sentient friend, who is separate from you. But again, like occupying the same space of the mind, the brain and the body. So this is a practice that it’s kind of actually quite difficult to trace, really where this came from. So the first mention that I can find in the kind of Western or European or American literature around this is in this book, very famous book from the 20s by a French explorer, Alexandria, David nail, who travelled to Tibet and kind of documented a lot of practices and wrote about this practice of tulpa Creation.
  • But what’s interesting is that I, whenever I’ve asked scholars of Tibetan Buddhism, or Vajrayana practices, no one is actually familiar with this concept. So you know, the closest I’ve seen is like, of course, there are these deity yoga practices, all kinds of like visualizations and cultivations involving entities or gurus or different kinds of spiritual beings.
  • But this concept of like a Tulpa, and a relationship that really becomes like a friend, who you actually experience as like fully conscious alongside you in your life who shares your mind, I haven’t actually been able to find in the vajrayana literature, but I would, so if anyone has any leads, I’d be really interested. And it could be also that these are like esoteric practices, you know, in a way that is kind of less available to someone like me.
  • But anyways, so what’s interesting is that this practice then comes to us through online message boards. So actually, it was about 10 years ago in 2011, when people on the internet and actually it really got big in this community of people who are very interested in this television show called My Little Pony.
  • So it sounds kind of absurd, but there’s like actually a serious community of people who just find this show to be very appealing for all kinds of reasons to kind of like orient their life around this television show, and who wanted a way of making the ponies who they care about in this show who were like really strong personalities. They wanted to find a way of making the ponies more real for them. And if basically they’ve been able to like develop a relationship with these characters who they loved.
  • And then what happened is that some people on these message boards came across Alexandra David nails book, and came across this idea of Tulpamancy. And just tried it. And they basically developed practices like this, there was this idea of Hypno ponies where you hypnotize yourself. And you kind of start to feel like you are becoming a pony. And you’ll start to feel like you have ears and a tail. Or I mean, you have ears, but I mean, like pony ears.
  • And this then kind of like developed into Tulpamancy. And people actually started to create guide manuals, so that now there’s this, there’s this very intricate culture of very detailed practice guidelines. And even here, you can see this, this is one of the main info websites on Tuplmancy,
  • And we were lucky, we got the chance to interview and scan the brain of the person who actually created this website. But what you can see here is like even here, their catchphrase is for science, and like, you know, they have this Ursula Gwynn quote, as great scientists have said, and all children know, it is above all, by the imagination that we achieve perception, compassion, and hope.
  • So what’s interesting is, these are actually like, it’s really a secular community for the most part. And it’s people who are, you know, they grew like they’re, they’re generally young, like a lot, a lot of young men, some women as well. But kind of like very internet savvy, very intelligent, very good at like researching information. So they know a lot about meditation, they know a lot about hypnosis, they’re very interested in the science, they were very interested in joining our study.
  • And they developed this whole kind of way of teaching each other how to cultivate a Tulpa. Like, it’s really about the technique and the practice. And it’s a very intricate phenomenological kind of science, actually, of how this works. So just to give a bit of a sense of like, what the practice comes down to.
  • And so again, like, I’m really, it’s actually a really cool opportunity, I think, to be part of this group, like this, this meeting, because I’d really be curious to hear how much this kind of practice actually finds parallels in vajrayana practice. But so basically, one of the main concepts is the concept of forcing, which is basically like, a catch all term for techniques where you’re basically like forcing the tulpa into existence.
  • And a really important dichotomy is between active forcing and passive force. And so active forcing, is like, taking time out of your day, sitting down, meditating, like calming your mind, and then really visualizing the form of your tulpa. You kind of there’s, there’s, you know, some people really, like they write down or they draw the characteristics that they want, they’re tough, but to be, they even like write down lists of personality traits they want, they’re tough, but I have, and they kind of like, actively focus on those qualities and try to imagine them, try to imagine the tulpa and then basically, start like, talking to it.
  • And this could be like, for hours and hours, like a lot of these people would spend, you know, several hours a day for weeks on end until they felt that their Tulpa was really becoming real. And that was like, so that kind of approach where you are very diligent, you take a lot of time, you’re very methodical, that was very, that was a popular style, at the beginning of the Tulpamancy Community, which is like, you know, maybe seven years ago, but over time, what’s happened is that there’s been a shift towards more passive approaches, where rather than kind of this like really rigorous, disciplined approach, the idea is that you basically just assume that the tulpa already is there.
  • And you kind of just go about your day. So it’s kind of like you’re just playing pretend. And that kind of playing pretend is a really important part of Tulpamancy practice in general. But so basically, you just like go about your day. And you just kind of develop this feeling that there’s someone there with you. And you might not have a really strong sense of who that is or what they’re like, or like, it might be very vague. And I’ve actually practiced this a bit myself.
  • So I have some sense of this. But it’s really not that difficult to just get the sense that there’s another person there like just this general vague kind of feeling. And then what you do is you start narrating. So you just start talking to this being, you kind of feel as they’re as if they were really there. And you kind of just, you know, you’re going about your day you just kind of like, as if your friend was next to you, you just kind of like comment on things you’re seeing, maybe ask questions, but you might not get a response.
  • And then eventually what happens, you know, whether you’re doing like the really rigorous like, visualization approach, or this more kind of open ended narrative approach, what people report is that after a certain amount of time, they actually get the sense that the Tulpa is starts responding. And there’s this very distinct quality that everyone we interviewed spoke about where there was, all of a sudden, they just knew that it was not them anymore, producing the response.
  • But there was another being who had its own mind, who was doing surprising things and like saying things that the tulpamancer, the person creating the tulpa, like, didn’t intend didn’t predict didn’t will. So there’s this sense of like in voluntariness, that goes beyond just like having a thought that you didn’t kind of like try to have, but And so people have a hard time describing what this is. But everyone says like, there’s this moment where you just feel that the Tulpa is real, and that it’s, it has its own freewill and its own mind. And then, you know, so then to top has kind of become like close friends with the tulpa manor.
  • And then it just becomes really like a part of their everyday life that they talk to this being in their mind who becomes like, their confidant and someone they can ask for advice, someone who kind of complements their personality, usually in important ways to like a lot of the tulpamancers are kind of shy, and then they’re Tulpa's are more outgoing and more sociable. So that helps the tulpamancer feel more confident in themselves socially. And, and what’s so so the Tulpamancer, these kinds of relationships end up being a lot of verbal dialogues, like in the mind, but also like feeling the top, you know, like hugging, seeing in the mind’s eye, hanging out in like imaginal worlds that people create, which they call mindscapes.
  • And it’s very rare that Tulpamancers report like really having a strong sensory, like hallucination quality of like actually seeing the tulpa as if it were an object in the world. It’s almost always like those kinds of experiences happen, but they’re quite rare. It’s almost always more like an internal, like seeing the tulpa with the mind’s eye or hearing it with the mind’s ear. And what’s interesting, too, about this practice in this community is that the Tulpas become like they really take on the status of a person.
  • So it’s not like that the Tulpa is just like this imaginary thing. So the Tulpamancer, has come to understand that they’ve actually created a self like a separate, subjective stream, in their mind. So that self that the tulpa deserves as much respect and kind of care and compassion as any other person he might encounter. So that’s kind of like this really interesting, like, ethical situation where people then become very concerned about things like consent, like, you shouldn’t force your Tulpa to do things for you.
  • Or, you know, like, for instance, like romantic relationships and sexual relationships become really complicated and controversial. And there’s just generally this sense that you should respect the tulpa as an autonomous person who actually exists and deserves full person status. So they don’t exist in the sense of like, existing outside of the body. But they exist, I would say, in the same sense as like, the eye exists or like, you know, me, Michael, I exist as a kind of stream or a pattern of selfhood that exists within this body. So the idea is that, like a single body can actually support multiple self patterns, which each deserve, like the same degree of respect.
  • And so like, you know, I just want to flag that this often brings up questions about like pathology, psychosis, dissociative identity disorder. And so when we bring in Tulpa answers, we actually fly them in when I was at Stanford, we were doing the study. Right now it’s on pause because of COVID. But we were flying an expert help answer and interviewing them at length. And we would do like a psychiatric evaluation.
  • And most of them are really, they don’t show signs of psychosis or anything like dissociative identity disorder, you know, although like there are kind of phenomenological similarities. In terms of like switching between identities, you don’t often see amnesia between identities. And the symptoms, certainly are very rarely caused distress or dysfunction. So actually, most of the tulpa managers find this practice to be very life affirming, and kind of helping them to feel a sense of connection, a sense of support, help them develop pro social qualities. And, you know, also like, of course, this is a culturally sanctioned practice, it’s deliberately cultivated.
  • And so I think it’s really important to distinguish this from like, pathological things like dissociative identity disorder, or psychosis. A lot of the Tulpamancers are a little bit anxious or, or suffer from, like clinical depression. And it seems like actually, this practice is very therapeutic for people. So it gives them a a way of feeling a kind of close social connection, that gives them really important support in difficult moments. So for instance, like we’ve spoken to tulpamancers, who, who told us that they were on the verge of suicide. And it was actually their Tulpa, who convinced them that they were worthy of living should not commit suicide.
  • And actually, that specific person told us that it was that moment where they were, they had such deep despair and such certainty in themselves, that they didn’t deserve to live. But then the tulpa was so adamantly opposed to that. It was that disagreement, that convinced the person that the tulpa was actually real, was really a different person, because it was such a divergence of this kind of deep affective belief about life. So there’s something really kind of profound here about basically having the ability to hold multiple perspectives at once, through these different self patterns, that can be very therapeutic for people.
  • And so we also compare this practice to other spiritual or kind of, you know, just like different technologies of the self that you see in other cultural contexts. So, I mean, I’ve actually, obviously, it kind of lends itself automatically to thoughts about Vajrayana practice. But we were also very interested in prayer and evangelical Christian prayer in particular.
  • So this is a book that was written by my postdoc supervisor at Stanford, Tanya Lerman, where she basically studied evangelical practitioners of evangelical prayer who cultivate relationships with Jesus, or with God, where they basically develop a very personal, intimate relationship to the point where they then sometimes even have experiences where they hear God talking back to them, they kind of like, ask God for advice in their daily life, what should I do?
  • Should I, you know, should I say yes to this job or no? And so actually, it was the Tulpamancer authors who came to us because they read Tanya’s book on prayer. And they, they told Tanya, this is a perfect description of what we do as Tulpamancers, but just in a different cultural context. So part of our project is actually comparative in terms of interviewing, and actually scanning an fMRI, both evangelical prayer practitioners and tulpamancers.
  • And so just basically, we have this ongoing project where we’re bringing in experts from both traditions. And we, we do a psychiatric screening, we interview them at length, and then we have them do different types of practice in the fMRI scanner. And what we’re particularly interested in is this feeling of agency. So the feeling of kind of surrendering control over your thoughts, or over your body to another being who is sharing your mind or your body in that moment. So for the prayer practitioners, we compare three types of prayer that we think phenomenologically are kind of a stepwise reduction in the sense of self agency over thoughts.
  • So the first the high agency condition is called the Lord’s Prayer, which is very structured, it’s kind of just this repeating of memorized sentence. And then we just have like normal, improvised worship prayer where people are just kind of like praying to God, so it’s kind of more spontaneous. They, they, you know, they feel it’s less like regimented. And then we have speaking in tongues, where people really have this sense that like, they kind of let go, and the Holy Spirit or God comes into their body and starts speaking through them. And that’s when they experience more the sense of like God communicating with them, God moving through them, and less a sense of personal agency over the experience. And then in the tulpamancers, so, again, we kind of bring them in, we interview them.
  • And here we, the Tulpas, allow us to actually have a much more constrained and like precise experimental setup, because we can actually ask the Tulpas to just like, participate as if they were participants in the experiment. So here, what we do is we have a Tulpamancers, like, either answer questions or finish sentences in the scanner, in their mind. And then we ask their Tulpas, to do the same. So we have basically episodes where either we have like, a sense that, that help them answer themselves is voluntarily speaking in their mind, or they have the strong sense that it’s actually their Tulpa speaking in their mind.
  • So we can just like very cleanly contrast episodes of inner speech that feels self directed versus Tulpa directed. And it also allows us to have this nice control condition, where we asked to tell them answers to imagine a friend, like a lot of people choose to imagine their mom.
  • And so they’ll imagine their their mom finishing the sentence or answering the question, which means that they’re using like the same kind of social cognitive processes, the same kind of imagination processes, like imagining someone’s voice imagining what they might say. But the crucial difference is that they don’t actually feel like their mom is there answering, they feel like they’re imagining what their mom would say. Whereas when they’re Tulpa speaking, they feel like it’s not them at all, it’s all tulpa. So there’s a much more radical shift in the sense of agency. And so what we find these are just self report ratings.
  • And what we see is like, kind of the so this is basically how much people report that the other being whether God or the tulpa, is actually in control of the experience. So you can see the pattern we were hoping for, especially in the tulpa, mancer group, you get this really clean report that at least on a subjective or like, you know, what people want to report to us as experimenters.
  • They’re really basically saying, yeah, when I asked when you asked my Tulpa to speak, I didn’t feel any control over the experience. Whereas in the other conditions I did. And in the prayer, you know, it’s a little, I mean, it is the pattern we were hoping for. But it’s less kind of distinct, which makes sense, because God doesn’t kind of talk on command.
  • But we were actually encouraged that people can even do this at all in the scanner. And actually, people were reporting all kinds of really fascinating experiences of like having prophecies in the scanner, and they were like, come out and tell us, like, God has a message for you that I just got during that fMRI run, which was kind of cool.
  • So. So we’re still, you know, we’re actually still collecting data. And we’re still analyzing these data, we were kind of doing like a preliminary analysis of what we have so far. And so I just want to show you just a little bit what we found. So the main area that I have been, I mean, obviously, these are like complicated processes, you know, the sense of self, the sense of agency is not going to come down to like a single brain area. And so this is really just like a first pass. And we’re trying to think now about more kind of intricate ways to model these phenomena in the brain. But So one area that I’ve been really interested in, going into this is the supplementary motor area.
  • So this is an area that seems to be among other things involved in kind of action planning, and the sense of preparing to, to do any to make a motion with your hand, but also seems like even internal kinds of actions, imagined actions involve the supplementary motor area. So there’s a few different string streams of evidence that led me to believe that this would be a relevant area. So for instance, in this kind of famous study, from Soon, you basically ask someone to either push the button with their left hand or their right hand completely arbitrary.
  • And even before they tell you that they have decided which button to press, you can decode which button they’re likely to press based on activity in the SMA or the PRI SMA. And then also if you ask people to pay attention to their intention to move, you see more activity in this area. There’s also studies showing that if you use TMS transcranial magnetic stimulation to basically zap this area and turn it. Like transiently turn it off, or disrupt its function, people report that they have less sense of agency over their action.
  • Also, if you compare in psychotic, auditory verbal hallucinations, if you scan people while they’re having those hallucinations, and then you ask them to kind of imagine the same hallucination right after, if you compare those two episodes, you see deactivation in this area when they’re actually having the involuntary hallucination.
  • And then there’s also a study, from the hypnosis literature, showing this final one by Walsh et al, showing that if you give someone a suggestion, to feel that there’s an engineer controlling their actions, or inserting thoughts into their mind, they also show pretty massive reductions, or at least, like very consistent, reliable reductions in this area. So this was an area that I was like, had my eye on. And we were so this is just, we have kind of preliminary results from the prayer data.
  • So this is comparing speaking in tongues, like the most charismatic, kind of where people feel the most, that they don’t have control over the experience that God is directing, comparing that to the more regular prayer where they’re kind of just like, improvising, worshiping God, but not necessarily feeling that there’s like another entity flowing through them.
  • And we saw exactly what I was expecting, which is that so the biggest cluster, the most consistent cluster, was that the SMA was deactivated in this in the charismatic speaking in tongues condition. And then we also saw deactivation in the anterior insula, which, I mean, I guess, it’d be interesting to talk about this is definitely an area related, related to a lot of things, it certainly has to do with kind of connecting the general sense of like, embodied presence to like higher cognitive functions, and just kind of like, embodied salience of the environment.
  • So not, I mean, it seems kind of intuitively interesting, but it’s hard to make sense sometimes of findings when you don’t have like an a priori hypothesis because you know, anything could light up. But and then we also see activation in the temporal parietal junction, which is an area that has come up in other studies or prayer in other studies of meditation, especially like, compassion, or kind of like perspective, taking styles of meditation and this is definitely an area involved in it’s part of like kind of the theory of mind network, so like mentalizing imagining other people and it’s also an area that’s important for kind of distinguishing between the boundaries of the self or the body and what lies outside of the self for the body.
  • So this is just kind of like a preliminary pattern of results as excited about the DS the SMA D activation, but like I said, now we’re kind of trying to develop more intricate models to try and look at our data and kind of see maybe how these regions are connected in interesting ways. And how that allows for these, these modulations in the sense of agency to occur.
  • So just to wrap up, I just think that this raises like some really interesting big questions, that maybe this meeting could be a cool opportunity to start to discuss. So the first one is like, what are the what is the potential of this kind of practice, like just cultivating these kinds of relationships, afford new kinds of creativity, new ways of accessing positive qualities in ourselves? Because that seems to be what the tulpamancers are telling us.
  • And I think this really relates to like, I think, to Vajrayana practices, involving like taking on qualities of the deity that you visualize and kind of somehow using this relational mode to cultivate the self. And so I’d be really interested in talking about that. And then, you know, how does this complicate our assumption that there’s a kind of single unified stream of self or consciousness that that our brains support?
  • And is it possible that actually like, everyday thought, and especially more creative modes of thought, involve some kind of like, unconscious or like a parallel conscious process or parallel patterns of agency? That are kind of outside of the usual like ECO or I mean, that’s very specific word but let’s say like the kind of the what we take to be our usual everyday conscious self. And I think this also ties into you know, very, like basic Buddhist ideas that the self is actually a kind of aggregate of multiple processes that we take to be a kind of unified thing.
  • And so is it possible that actually that kind of aggregating can happen in multiple streams within a single body or a single brain in parallel? And so and then I’d be just very curious to hear like, so are there advisory honor practices that actually involve cultivating these kinds of relationships like when you do, for instance, like if you do this kind of deity yoga practices?
  • Do the deities actually talk back? Do you develop like relationships? Do they reveal things to you that you yourself, can’t access about the world are they if there are practices like that, what exactly is the goal of it and are the kinds of entities that you encounter considered to be real? And what does that mean exactly, especially in a context where the self in the first place is not real to some on some kind of account?
  • So like, what do these practices reveal about the nature of the self and about the nature of the mind? Like I’m very curious also about this idea that and again, I’m really not an expert on this, but that in a lot of Vajrayana kind of cultivation practices, there’s also this kind of moment in the practice, where you dissolve the cultivation into emptiness. And so what is that kind of relation between the empty nature of mind and the creative nature of mind? And so these are just like questions that I’m really excited about, but that are really big, and I just be grateful to have a conversation about it and see what everyone thinks. So yeah, thank you very much, and I look forward to the meeting.