Jul 21, 2018 I Nick Redfern

UFOs: Are They Tulpas?

One of the most fascinating and curious aspects of the UFO phenomena is the way in which, over the course of the last century, the appearance of both our alleged extraterrestrial visitors and their craft have changed dramatically. For example, in the latter part of the 19th century and early years of the 20th century, the skies of the United States (and, to a lesser degree, Britain) were filled with strange-looking flying machines known within ufological circles as "phantom airships." As their name suggests, many of the aerial devices in question closely resembled the huge Zeppelin airships of the First World War. Essentially, the 19th century UFO invasion mirrored either what was on the drawing-boards, or what had been envisaged within the minds of both the military war-machine and skilled inventors of the time.

Then, in the 1930s, as aviation technology progressed, reports began to surface of so-called Ghost Planes – aircraft that no-one could seemingly identify. A decade later, at the height of the Second World War, the skies of war-torn Europe and the Pacific theater were home to strange invaders known as Foo Fighters: small, glowing balls of light that furiously pursued both Allied- and Axis-aircraft.

By 1946, when rocketry was seen as likely playing a dominant role in the future of warfare and eventually space-travel too, the Foo Fighters had given way to the Ghost-Rockets: missile-like vehicles that were the opening act for the era of the Flying Saucer that was ushered in during the summer of 1947. The true irony, however, is the fact that the one man who can lay claim to having brought the Flying Saucer into being – American pilot Kenneth Arnold – never saw saucer-shaped craft.

Rather, while flying over Washington State on June 24, 1947, Arnold described seeing a fleet of objects that were of a distinctly wedge- or delta-shape. However, when Arnold specifically likened their movements – rather than their shape – to how a saucer would fly if it were skipped, like a pebble, across a body of water – the term Flying Saucer became commonplace; as did, interestingly enough, countless sightings of specifically saucer-shaped craft. In other words, people were seeing objects of a shape that was based around media-hyped terminology, rather than what Arnold actually witnessed. Today, the Flying Saucers of yesteryear are largely gone and have been firmly replaced by the ominous-looking, so-called Flying Triangles: huge, black, triangular-shaped aircraft that might accurately be described as next-generation Stealth aircraft.

Our reported alien visitors have also changed over the decades – and dramatically so. In the 1950s, numerous people all across the world claimed face-to-face contact with eerily human-like extraterrestrials, who generally sported long blonde hair, and who suggested that we should lay down our nuclear weapons and live in peace and harmony with one another. And thus was born the cult of the Contactee.

The most famous of the Contactees was undoubtedly George Adamski, whose book with Desmond Leslie, Flying Saucers Have Landed, forever made his mark in the world of Ufology. Like nearly all of the Contactees, Adamski maintained that his alien friends came from planets within our own solar system, with Venus being a particular favorite.

As science, space-travel and astronomy progressed, however, two things became apparent: (a) Venus, Mars and the several various other planets in our solar system that the Contactees maintained were inhabited, were in all likelihood – or at least to a highly significant degree – barren and inhospitable wastelands; and (b) if aliens really did exist, the idea that they would resemble us to such a significant degree was highly unlikely. And, as belief systems changed concerning alien life, and as it became more and apparent that the Earth was probably the only inhabited world in our solar system, lo and behold the aliens and their points of origin changed, too.

The long-haired kindly aliens of the 1950s were kicked into large-scale oblivion by the now-ubiquitous black-eyed dwarfs known as the Greys: emotionless creatures whose points of origin are claimed to be light-years away, and who are motivated by nothing less than the large-scale abduction of human-beings as part of an attempt to create a hybrid species that will ensure the survival of the declining Gray race. The dire warnings of the aliens have changed too: at the height of the Cold War, the long-haired blondes spoke of the perils of atomic weaponry. In today’s world, however, it is global-warming and environmental destruction that the Grays seem so concerned about – something that mirrors exactly our own concerns on such matters.

Only the most hardened skeptic, or those whose belief in literal aliens is driven by an X-Files-like "I want to believe" approach that borders upon religious mania, could deny that there is a distinct pattern at work here. And it’s a pattern that suggests much of the genuinely unexplained facets inherent in the UFO puzzle might well be explainable in a very strange fashion.

It is quite clear from all the above that as our technology changes, and as our knowledge of the universe advances and our beliefs are modified or altered, so our aliens and their craft change too. And why is it that from 1947 onward people were seeing Flying Saucers, when the term actually related to their method of movement rather than their apparent design?

In view of the observations and questions above, I have to seriously consider the very real possibility that humankind’s fascination with the idea of extraterrestrial life and UFOs has – whether consciously, unconsciously or subconsciously – led to the creation of belief-systems of such intensity among the masses that they may well have given birth to literal Tulpas of the alien and Flying Saucer kind. And what might Tulpas be? Well, that depends on your perspective.

In my 2018 book, The Slenderman Mysteries, I addressed the possibility that the Slenderman is a Tulpa. I said: "The phenomenon of the Tulpa has its origins in the ancient teachings of Buddhism and is a Tibetan term that roughly translates into English as 'manifestation'. It’s a highly appropriate piece of terminology for the Slenderman. In essence, it is the process by which the human mind can allegedly bring some degree of alternative, physical existence to an entity that is created solely within the depths of the imagination - and from within the dream state, too. In other words, and as incredible as it may sound, each and every one of us may well possess the ability to give 'life' to certain 'things' that don’t exist in the same way that we do."

It's very important, too, to note the words of magician and exorcist, Ian Vincent, who told me: "I ended up writing a scholarly paper on the fact that the Western version of the Tulpa has absolutely nothing to do with the actual meaning of the word in Tibet. In the original, the thought-form is just the thing you picture in your head when you are meditating as an offering to the gods, like an apple, as an example. The Tulpa is the visualization of the apple in your mind when you pray; that’s all it has ever been. But, it’s mutated so much to a point where it’s now just this go-to idea of if enough people believe in it becomes a thing."

Perhaps we really are all alone in the universe. But, maybe our desire to think there is something more out there has inadvertently led us to give various phenomena life. And, now, with belief firmly instilled, it has escaped from the moorings of its creators – that's us - to terrorize and mystify drivers on lonely stretches of road late at night, or to invade people’s bedrooms after darkness has fallen.

Nick Redfern

Nick Redfern works full time as a writer, lecturer, and journalist. He writes about a wide range of unsolved mysteries, including Bigfoot, UFOs, the Loch Ness Monster, alien encounters, and government conspiracies. Nick has written 41 books, writes for Mysterious Universe and has appeared on numerous television shows on the The History Channel, National Geographic Channel and SyFy Channel.

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