What is It?
I’m keeping this short, as my knowledge of religions is focused on Europe/Mid-East, so there’s not much I can talk about Buddhism short of copying Wikipedia. Which is exactly what I am about to do.
“In mysticism a tulpa is the concept of a being or object which is created through sheer willpower alone. It is a materialized thought that has taken physical form and is usually regarded as synonymous to a thoughtform.”
Basically, the Tulpa Theory makes the claim that Slender Man came into existence through belief in him. The stories we tell about him are what are defining him and giving him abilities; if everyone believes Slender Man to be associated with trees, he is. If we believe he starts fires, he does. And so on.
Now I will try to use hard science on a setting which would cause any dedicated researcher to burst into tears. Wish me luck.
From a purely realistic outlook, the Tulpa Theory isn’t possible. Human belief on its own cannot create objective beings; if it could, then we’d be up to our necks in gods, faeries, and spirits. Human belief has never been capable of creating a being independent of the believer on its own, and I highly doubt that the first thing would be a minor internet meme. Longcat will probably be given form before Slender Man is.
Also, the idea of human belief creating form runs into a problem of different individual beliefs. Say we have someone who fervently believes in Slender Man, with all their heart and mind. But then say we have someone who, with equal strength of belief, believes that Slender Man doesn’t exist. Which belief is the one which creates the reality? And we can’t say that they cancel each other out, because that’s the equivalent of the nonbeliever winning. So do we say that only believing in something has an effect, not disbelieving? But what about a circumstance where a belief in one thing necessitates the nonexistence of all other things? Say we have an eldritch abomination, let’s call him Bob. The thing about Bob is, within his mythos, he is the only eldritch abomination. This isn’t just a feature, it is a defining aspect of Bob; he only works in a setting where there are no other eldritch abominations. Whose belief would win out here? If Bob and Slendy had an equal amount of belief (because belief is totally something you can quantify), which would exist? Does Bob’s belief cancel out Slendy, or do they both coexist? But if both exist, then the Bob who was created wasn’t the Bob which was believed in, as he could only exist as a singular abomination.
So there, I’ve disproved Tulpa Theory in the real world.
While I’m here, the Easter Bunny isn’t real and Santa is your parents.
Less Realistic Perspectives
I don’t want you to misinterpret me based on my previous statements; I don’t dislike the Tulpa Theory. It’s my favorite origin theory for Slender Man. It’s just not a very realistic theory. But in this Mythos, when has realism ever mattered?
Tulpa Theory’s major advantage is how it handles Slender Man’s obviously faked origins. It doesn’t take long for anyone new to the Mythos to learn about his origin (unless they are very, very bad at internets). The problem is, it’s harder to be scared of a monster which you know isn’t real than it is to be scared of one which could be real. Tulpa Theory solves this: Yes, Slender Man was just some clever little photomanipulation done by Victor Surge on SomethingAwful. But that was then; now, because of that thread, he’s become real.
The Theory also explains why Slender Man never stays consistent between stories. As the abilities we give him change, he changes to match our new beliefs.
Preexisting Belief Feeder
A related hypothesis to the Tulpa Theory is that Slender Man existed before the Victor Surge post, but was given strength and from it. This tends to be found in stories which want to include Slender Man in past events, while still retaining the basics of Tulpa Theory. This idea still has the same consequences as Tulpa Theory (Slendy’s abilities and appearance being defined by us, the SomethingAwful thread being the catalyst of his existence, etc.) but changes his actual origin.
This hypothesis is much less popular than straight Tulpa, but it does crop up every now and again.
This idea is from A (I seem to take a lot of my material from people with letters for names….), but also had some inclusion in Core Theory. According to A, Slender Man could pick and choose which beliefs he wanted to apply to him. In other words, if you believed Slender Man was impervious to gunfire, he would become impervious to gunfire as that would be an advantageous ability. However, if you believed that he was vulnerable to the color yellow, that wouldn’t happen, as Slendy would choose not to let that belief affect him. So yeah, under this idea, he’s practically immortal.
Core Theory had a similar idea, though not as hopeless. In it, Slender Man has the ability to shift between which rules affect him. All beliefs affect him, but not all at once. If there’s a belief that he’s vulnerable to electricity (which I’ve noticed has started to spread around a bit), then he’s vulnerable to electricity while following the rules of those stories. According to Core Theory, at any time he could switch to a different set of rules, ones where he doesn’t have that weakness. Here he still has a vulnerability: if every set of rules gives him a weakness, he’ll have no option but to have that weakness.
Tulpa Wikipedia Entry: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tulpa
Defining? Symbols/Faith II: http://nildesperandumnilfortuna.blogspot.com/2010/09/symbolsfaith-ii.html (Second time I’ve linked to this post)