Nilima Raichoudhury

Background

 My Journey on a Taoist path initially came through some condensed catalytic health, life and death experiences around 1993/4. It was to radically change every aspect of my life from beliefs, life path, work direction, home circumstances, re
lationships; everything I had known as familiar.

Till then, I had been a successful “jobbing ” actor working all over the UK on stage and in Community Theatre and was at the time deeply involved with educational theatre.

In a critical period of about 3 years duration, time many things dovetailed, loss of a parent through tragic circumstances, my subsequent deteriorating health, illness, surgery and hospitalisations, other deaths, housing difficulties and I was aware of experiencing a heightened time of crisis…

…a time the I Ching  Book of Changes alludes to as a time of Shock ( Chen Hexagram 51) ” This movement is so violent tha it arouses terror. It is symbolized by thunder which bursts forth from the earth and by it’s shock causes fear and trembling”  I Ching book of Changes Richard Wilhelm/ Cary F. Baynes translation.

The most important thing I learnt about shock was ” he does not let the sacrificial spoon and chalice fall. When a man has learned within his heart what fear and trembling mean, he is safeguarded against any terror produced by the outside world”

To learn how to remain “composed and reverent in spirit” was my first true learning that all outer reality is birthed from an inner cauldron, an inner reality. This time was an opportunity  to learn how to take charge of  fate and transform it into destiny instead of being helplessly tossed about.  Once started, I learned I had always yearned for this liberation of the true self.  “the superior man sets his life in order and examines himself .” Simply, I experienced great relief  in surrendering to what was. All that seemed so important to hold on to, just slipped away.


Practice Beginnings

newlotusprimordialI discovered that the extraordinary inner and outer healing quest I embarked on to make sense of my experiences; lay in healing, rebuilding what had been separated, fragmented in my life from a young age, undermining the earth and roots of an ordinary peaceful life.

“Isolated through opposition, One sees one’s companions as a pig covered with dirt, As a wagon full of devils. First one draws a bow against him, Then one lays the bow aside. He is not a robber, he will woo at the right time. As one goes, rain falls, then good fortune comes.” (Kuei.Opposition.Hexagram 38. I Ching).

 

Well what on earth does that mean? For me, a lifetime of resisting myself, my nature, life, employing struggle, striving, shaping, contriving to “get by” till I simply couldn’t any more.  Illness and exhaustion and the subsequent path to recovery, slowly brought me back to realising a path, (not goal) orientated process was the only way. I had given myself no other option really.

Two important books came my way, The Tibetan Book of the Living and Dying and the The I Ching (Yi Jing) and amazingly enough; a Taoist neighbour who had taught himself many of Mantak Chia’s Universal Tao system of simple Nei Gong (inner work meditations) and exercises. He proved to be a natural and talented teacher, friend and mentor for the next few years we spent together in practice, in our small, vibrant, creative, semi squatting housing community in West London. “One meets his lord in a narrow street” (Kuei Hexagram 38 .I Ching ).

We discount help in daily life, often because it is so ordinary, simply given, it slips our attention whilst looking for the “brilliant” solution. Circumstances such as mine at the time, bring us back to the necessary simplicity and gratitude that comes from the smallest kindnesses and I had a whole community behind me.  Luck ? Maybe not…

 

Universal Tao

In practice, I immediately felt a connection to Mantak Chia’s Nei Gong inner meditations. By accessing the energy pathways, my body, health and spirit experienced a direct and unequivocal benefit from the very first meditations and proved extremely beneficial during the hospital process.In hindsight I can say it was crucial to the quality of the full physical and holistic recovery I made.

Later, I formalised my training with the Universal Tao System of Mantak Chia and his instructors and was indeed taught and guided through my teacher training programme by Master Mantak Chia. This was the start of my teaching life.

In a 6 year period of intense self exploration, study retreat, solo cultivation, I cultivated from predominantly Taoist/Buddhist meditations and training and was lucky enough to hear the Dalai Lama a few times and occasionally study with Sogyal Rinpoche (lineage holder Buddhist Dzogchen tradition and current author of the Tibetan Book of Living and Dying) as well as the myriad of dedicated cultivators, friends, teachers and mentors in the Sangha and Taoist community. I thank you all.

 

Meeting your Root Influence

Prof Wang Tin Jun

Around 2000, I finally met my root sifu, the man who was to have the most profound impact on my practice  and life. Prof Wang Tin Jun of the Lung Men school. A Dao Shi ,(adept) master qigong practitioner (Xing Shen Zhuang)  and meditator, he took everything I has picked up and slowly gave coherence to my long term cultivation, what it really is.

I love him for doing the hard, unpopular work with a student to develop a true practice; helping the student clear their ground,  putting up with the ego tantrums as consciousness slowly emerges, laying the foundations of  soft discipline, a motiveless commitment, the difference between true and deluded enthusiasm, the principles and master key approach to life through the experience of practice. I could go on and on, suffice to say his way has become an integral part of me, his legacy, my students’ legacy.

Prof Wang  passed away unexpectedly Dec 18th 2009. My journey in consciousness with him continues and he continues to be a much loved presence in the Lotus Tree.

If one does not count on the harvest while ploughing, nor on the use of the ground while clearing it, it furthers one to undertake something” ” we should do every task for its own sake as time and place demands and not with an eye to the result. Then each task turns out well and anything we undertake succeeds” Wu Wang, Innocent (The Unexpected)

My Approach

All this has to this point, shaped me to essentially become an autonomous and independent practitioner rather than a follower of  any one lineage. My experiences influence my teaching approach, from the recovery of health through Taoist principles to a path of self exploration and expression.

It is important to me that the way is accessible, ordinary and realisable at any stage and that all students are credited with having their own unique understanding of themselves. I prefer practice to be an intimate personal experience developed by the student themselves with my job as a facilitator in the principles of the material .

Of course the integrity of the proper material can only be discovered through opening long term practice as a real and self tested reality. I honestly believe that the journey to discover this “proper material” through pitfalls and all, is an important process in honing one’s discriminatory senses to what’s useful and what isn’t. The I Ching text proves invaluable in this process.

Pay heed to the providing of nourishment, and to what a man seeks, To fill his own mouth with.” (I.Corners of the Mouth/Providing Nourishment. Hexagram 27, I Ching).

This is my way but not the only way . The Lotus Tree root that links and coalesces all parts of the curriculum, text meditation and life practice study is the perseverance to study thoroughly and patiently; enjoying long term cultivation. There is “no getting there”or “achieving that” but a continuous expressive process. My students’ experiences  confirm that progress (Ta Yu. Possession in Great Measure. Hexagram 14. I Ching ) kind of creeps up on you unnoticed!

 

Lotus Tree Students

Long term Lotus Tree students are indeed a joyful and sometimes anarchic bunch who are as much a practice family and friends these days as anything else! They bring a wealth of knowledge, expertise and own wisdom to the school and are invaluable to the heart and ground, the continuing existence of The Lotus Tree. Indeed often they have been my teachers and my pillars of wisdom. They take great joy in returning my words and practice back to me when I really need it and don’t want it!

My love to you.

 

Continued Cultivation and Practice

These days my personal practice is a process of  cultivating, distilling all and sitting with a deeper flow.  I am lucky to have found a wonderful, relaxed, Taoist Meditation Dao Shi (as much a friend as teacher) to guides me through the practice of Clear and Tranquil sitting meditation and Tao Te Ching Study and I’ve gained some kung fu training along the way.

“The town may be changed, But the Well cannot be changed. It neither decreases nor increases. They come and go and draw from the well.” (The Well. Hexagram 48. I-Ching).