Earlier this month, two students from Plano were personally invited to the residence of the Dalai Lama in McLeodganj, India. Brother and sister Saiesha and Savir Kumar’s invitation was the result of their hard work and initiative.
In the midst Plano Independent School District academic year, the Dalai Lama was selected as one of TIME Magazine’s most influential people. The Dalai Lama’s cover story coincided with one of 12-year-old Saeisha’s school projects.
“Before we knew it, the topic of His Holiness, as one such very powerful influencer, started forming an integral part of some wonderful dinner table conversations,” recalls their mother, Sonali Kumar.
“They had a million questions [about] him as a world and religious leader, the essence of Buddhism and the surprising rigor that the Dalai Lama had to go through starting at a very young age, to become who he is today,” their father, Sam Kumar, recalls. “At some point during these many discussions and conversations on His Holiness’ life and sacrifice … Saiesha and Savir [thought about] if and how they could try and meet with him. We encouraged them strongly to figure out on their own, how to contact him and let him know why it was that they wanted to meet with him.”
After hours of research, Saeisha and Savir were able to find the right contacts to connect them to the Dalai Lama. Initially, Sam and Sonali didn’t expect an invitation, given the Dalai Lama’s sickness at the time.
“Saiesha and Savir had been checking their email account many times a day in their excitement, though [they were] fully aware of the time difference and that the email would likely come early in the morning or late at night, local time here in Plano,” Sam recalls. “Then one day, when I returned home from work, I could tell from the buzz and delighted squeals from the house, that something exciting had transpired. And so it had; that much-awaited email was in their inbox.”
The Dalai Lama had received their email and extended an invitation. After classes were finished for the summer, Saeisha and Savir immediately began to plan for their trip. Although last-minute travel arrangements were rather costly, the Kumars believe that this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity was worth the rush and the money.
Sonali and Sam both believe that it is vital for children to be immersed in all types of cultures at a young age. Both Saeisha and Savir believe that their experience meeting the Dalai Lama was life-changing and made an impact that will last for the rest of their lives.
“When we reached McLeodGanj, I witnessed little boy monks playing with other children, and grown-up monks buying vegetables off the street,” Saeisha recalls. “They were all so peaceful and happy. When the day came to finally meet His Holiness the Dalai Lama, I was too nervous to sit still, even though I knew there was nothing to be nervous about. As I knelt down in front of him, and saw him smile at me, this wave of calm and security washed over me. He spoke of compassion. He said violence did not solve problems. Show kindness, not hatred. All of what he said was true.”
“I learned that your mind, by itself, is not the most powerful thing in your body and you should not learn to take decisions from it only,” Savir says, “but rather, that you should take decisions from your heart and mind together.”
During their encounter with the Dalai Lama, Saeisha asked His Holiness to offer a message to the children of America.
“Cultivate a combination of a sharp brain and warm-heartedness,” the Dalai Lama responded. “Just a sharp brain is no guarantee you’ll be a happy person. Sometimes a very intelligent person, educated people, can become more troublesome, troublemakers. So, combined with warm-heartedness, this intelligence can become more positive, constructive. That’s important.”
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