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Feb 20
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Sesame Seed in Singapore

A view of China Town, Singapore

Written for the Dot

The Buddhism scene in Singapore is quite crowded and creative with regular programs held for free in many temples, monasteries, and dharma centers around the city. Many well-known visiting teachers give teachings on various traditions and different aspects of Buddhism.

Hosting a home-based Shambhala Meditation Group in Singapore works like planting a sesame seed in a rubber plantation. Instead of feeling discouraged, it’s fascinating to be part of a big rubber plantation. As Richard Reoch, president of Shambhala, mentioned during his recent visit, Shambhala is now part of the Singapore Buddhist landscape.

Singapore is a city-state with almost 4.9 million citizens (half of London or a quarter of New York City). Forty-three percent of us are Buddhist. I would say the situation is similar to the European Union or the United States where everyone knows who Jesus Christ is. Everyone here is very familiar with the idea of Buddha or being Buddhist, and even quite honest with the blurring lines among Taoism, Confucianism, and Buddhism.

We have been quite lucky to have several teachers and Shambhalians visit Singapore such as Richard, Dan Benson from Sonoma, Laura Simms from New York, and Chris Tamdjidi from Cologne. They very generously shared teachings with us, and most importantly, highlighted the main points and works of the Shambhala tradition.

Singapore sangha, from left to right: Lily Toh, Nana Si, Winston Goh and Will Lee

Our group started in April 2006 after Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche visited Singapore as part of his Ruling Your World book tour, which was well-attended by more than a hundred people. Since then, we have gathered regularly on Mondays to sit together. Different people come and go and attendance figures fluctuate between zero and eight.

Last October the Sakyong asked Richard Reoch to come back to check on the “sesame seed,” follow up on the teachings he gave, and provide support to our members who are interested in mediation and the Shambhala teachings.

It’s a small step for us here, but we look forward to receiving more visiting Shambhalians and teachers to Singapore. You might be on your way for a vacation, a business trip, or simply curious to meet all of us.

black sesame seed and rice

Simple Recipe for Sweet Black Sesame Soup
(a familiar healthy Chinese local dessert)

Ingredients:
1 bowl of black sesame seeds (might be found at Asian or Middle East grocery stores)
1 bowl of rice
Plain water
1/2 cup of granulated sugar (or Chinese rock sugar)

Black sesame has a distinctive flavor, and is rich in antioxidants. The Chinese believe black sesame soup can prevent your hair from turning grey. Please don’t substitute black sesame with white sesame. Keep your white sesame to make tahini (sesame peanut butter).

Rice Treatment:
Soak the rice for 60 minutes, and then drain off the water.
Boil rice over medium-low heat in 1 cup of water for 30 minutes.
Mix the rice in a blender until it has the consistency of a smoothie; add more water if necessary.

Sesame Seed treatment:
In a non-stick pan, stir the roasted sesame seeds for a few minutes over medium low heat until the fragrance comes out (but not a burnt smell). Keep it cool.
Grind the black sesame into a powder (use a blender or pounder).
In a bowl, mix ground sesame with 1/2 bowl of water. Stir into a nice paste.

Final Treatment:
In a pot, combine the sesame seed paste and rice smoothie and mix well. Add the granulated sugar.
Cook over medium heat until the soup thickens (10 to 15 minutes).
Serve hot, and enjoy it slowly.

Please don’t be put off by the color. Its appearance is irrelevant with its fabulous taste and health benefits.

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