Faith is found in the times we don’t believe

As you no doubt know by now if you’ve read more than a post or two on this blog, Greta and I love to think, read, and write about what she is and what makes her real. At least for the two of us, it’s fascinating, and having at least a tolerably decent explanation can be helpful and comforting to newcomers to the community, friends, and maybe even psychiatrists (but let’s all hope we don’t get stuck with one who can’t figure out without our fighting to convince them that tulpas are perfectly healthy).

But it’s possible to get trapped in our desire for psychological and philosophical answers, which now and quite possibly always will necessarily give us only part of the answers. Even many of the most experienced tulpamancers and tulpas have to deal with uncomfortable doubts from time to time, doubts which aren’t always willing to listen to those carefully logical essays we spent hours on: Okay yes I understand all that, but can she really be real? Am I sure I’m not making this up somehow? Does knowing I’d have to be making it up subconsciously really mean I’m not making it up? Am I being terribly irresponsible to my tulpa? Might this mess up my relationships with other people outside my system in ways I don’t expect?

Sometimes I think my relationship with Greta is perfectly normal and healthy and most people would probably agree with me if I just presented it to them correctly. Then the next day I think it’s absolutely crazy and wonder whether I should have gotten into this in the first place. Greta and I have gotten a bit cynical about this in general; often we’ll be lying in bed and decide we should tell someone about something mildly weird (not even necessarily involving tulpas), then wake up the next morning and wonder what on earth we were thinking.

If there are any hosts out there who always feel completely connected to their tulpas and never wonder if they’re doing everything right, I’d be fascinated to hear from them. The same goes for reasonably old tulpas who have never once wondered about who they are, what their purpose is given their status as tulpas, or even whether they truly exist at all. For the rest of us (which I strongly suspect is exactly 100.0 percent of us), sometimes we have trouble.

It’s at times like these that I’m reminded of a fabulous comment quoted in the conclusion of T.M. Luhrmann’s book When God Talks Back. The speaker belongs to an evangelical church which teaches its members to create personal connections with God by means that look suspiciously like tulpamancy and can certainly be compared to it. This woman says of her spiritual practice:

I don’t believe it but I’m sticking with it. That’s my definition of faith.

While that may at first seem like a dim and disappointing view of faith, it really does have a lot to recommend it. Considered with respect to complicated and imperfect people whose ability to believe things necessarily fluctuates from day to day, faith is defined less by the times when we really do believe everything we claim to and far more by the times when we think it’s all a bunch of malarkey but we stubbornly keep on with it anyway until we believe it again. We rarely come to the periods of true belief without first going through the periods of posing, and no belief can remain perfectly genuine forever even if we manage to get it to start there.

The answer to having some doubts about your tulpas (or yourself, as a tulpa) is not to come read this blog or try to talk yourself out of them. The answer is to go out and live your life just as you do when you have no doubts at all. One of our orchestra directors, when someone took too long to introduce a piece, used to mutter, “Shut up and play!” Shut your mind up as best you can, stop trying so hard to justify your belief, and live. The explanation isn’t the important part of the music or of your tulpa. It’s valuable; if done right, it will help you better understand and enjoy the important part. But there comes a time when too much explanation can ruin the whole reason you came to the concert hall or created your tulpa.

Even when you’re doubtful, your systemmates exist as they always do: whatever stage of development or life they may be in, whatever degree of connectedness you may feel to them, and whatever existential status your current crisis of belief may assign to them. If you stick with it long enough, the emotional connection to your belief will come back. And even if it’s gone forever, does it really matter when you kept on living? We’re not so sure it does.

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