Thursday, October 16, 2008

Dr. Michael Nobel's commendation of inner peace at Wat Phra Dhammakaya

Last Friday, 10th October 2008, I travelled down to the temple in Woking to join a special ceremony to commemorate the founder of the Dhammakaya tradition, the late Chao Khun Phra Mongkol Thepmuni, or Luang Pu Sodh, Abbot of Wat Paknam. The main ceremony was actually taking place at Wat Phra Dhammakaya in Thailand and marked by a ceremony to cast a statue in solid gold. This statue will be placed in his Memorial Hall, which I've had the good fortune to visit - it's designed in a way that can really help focus the mind on meditation. Nowadays technology makes live broadcasts/webcasts quite normal, so we could join in ... starting at 3.30am. :-)

In the afternoon (Thai time) I was delighted to see an appearance made by Dr. Michael Nobel, a great grand nephew of Alfred Nobel, who inaugurated the Nobel Foundation. He didn't just smile to the cameras, but proceeded to deliver a considerable speech strongly commending the universal value of meditation, praising especially the work of Ven. Dhammajayo Bhikkhu in promoting world peace through inner peace. It really was a wonderful speech and it gives me cause for great optimism. Please see the endorsement from his Peace for Africa site.

[13 July 2009]

Since writing the post, the following video of Dr. Nobel's speech has been released a Google video (The Endorsement of "World Peace through Inner Peace"):


Anonymous said...

Michel Nobel, or Michael Oleinikoff as his birth certificate says, is not connected to the Nobel foundation, nor does he represent the Nobel family. Although his actions may be honorable, there is nothing honorable about his false attributions to the Nobel heritage.

Paul Trafford said...

Dear Anonymous,

Thank you for your comment. I am making some enquiries to find out more info.

For the moment, looking at Dr. Nobel's speech, I find that he only expresses a personal connection with and inspiration from Alfred Nobel and his work; he is certainly part of the Nobel family line, even if it hasn't always come down through the male line:

"My great grandfather’s brother Alfred Nobel created the Nobel Peace Price, and I spent 12 years of my recent past as head of a non-violence project which succeeded to reach out to over 2 million young people around the globe to teach them non-violent behavior ..."

Yours sincerely,


Paul Trafford said...


I'm now in a position to relay the outcome of my enquiries.

First, Dr. Michael Nobel is genuinely related to the Swedish Nobel family whose trust supports the Nobel prizes awarded by H.M. the King of Norway each year. His paternal grandmother's maiden name was Nobel.

However, Dr. Michael Nobel is not connected with the Nobel Foundation, but has been involved with alternative energy. He did think of making his own "Dr. Michael Nobel" Prize for alternative energy, but his family didn't allow him to do this, to save confusion. (And I think he's very careful in maintaining the distinction between his work in the alternative energy field and the Nobel Peace Prize).

On the 10th October he had prepared a souvenir - a book about the Nobel family and its work - which he wanted to give to the abbot of Wat Phra Dhammakaya. As he had previously meditated at the temple and wanted to publicly appreciate the abbot for having taught him, it was arranged for the souvenir to be presented in public, in front of the congregation who had come to Dhammakaya Temple, Thailand for the 10th October casting ceremony.

For the temple, it was important that such a learned person should be sincere and speak truthfully, especially when expressing appreciation of the work of the abbot. I understand that he wrote the speech himself and that in conversation afterwards he reiterated that he meant every word he had said.

- Paul

Philip Nobel said...

Dear Paul,

Thank you very much for setting the record straight in regards to Dr. Nobel!

You may or may not like his aims concerning alternative energy, but there's no reason whatsoever to try to drag his name in the mud like "Anonymous" does.

Best regards

Philip Nobel

Invigilator said...

Dr. Michael Nobel believed in, visited and endorsed Sathya Sai Babas, who proclaimed himself to me the Creator of the Universe, the Deity of all deities, God Incarnate, the father who sent Jesus and much, much more and many times. There is adequate proof of my statements on the www.
Since he believes in the power of meditation etc., - and presumably you also do (?), what do you say of the learned Dr. Kushwant Singh of India who has lived his life within the culture where meditation and related practices have exceeded anything in the West. See the Times of India, search for 'Kushwant Singh' and 'Prayer is useless'.
I am wondering if you are actually willing to post anything which questions your faith and hope you have the courage to do so and reply.

FYI, The Times articles is at

Paul Trafford said...

Hello 'Invigilator',

Thank you for visiting this blog and for posting your comment.

To the question of "What does peace of mind achieve?" one may answer: knowing the difference between needs and wants, and acting accordingly with clear intention. This reduces huge wastage in actions of body, speech and mind as well as in the materials that humanity needs.

India has indeed been a cradle to great spiritual teachers and religious traditions. It's wonderful. I think that has arisen in no small measure because the peoples have been open-minded, shown tolerance and have been willing to explore by their own efforts what these practices mean personally.

Certainly, Thailand honours India as the birthplace of Siddharta Gotama, who became the Buddha. As with Indians, Thais have for many centuries followed devotional religious practices and, in particular, meditation. I'm sure it has had a positive impact.

In the 17th century, Simon de la Loubère, the French envoy of King Louis XIV to Siam, remarked on the material simplicity of the Siamese he encountered. He considered the society very primitive (for instance, the printing press had yet to arrive), yet he found that they generally had a greater sense of well-being than Europeans. In his account, Du Royaume de Siam (vol 1 at: ), he opens Chapter II: On the Homes of the Siamese, and the Architecture of Public Buildings with:

"If the Siamese are simple in their habits, they are no less so in their accommodation, their furniture, and in their food: rich in a general poverty, because they know how to content themselves with few things."

Why is that? They followed the Buddha's teachings which say that external trappings are not what really matters, but what happens inside, the cultivation of the mind/heart.

It is within that context that time spent in devotions, pilgrimages, prayer, meditation, and other religious practices may be evaluated and for very many people these externals help with that inner journey. Of course, there are some people who do these kinds of activities insincerely and for outward show. They may show great insensitivity and are behaving irresponsibly. However, that does not negate the efforts of the many who practise sincerely and with due consideration.

The practice of meditation can have very many benefits. I recommend learning about an exemplary meditator called Robert Mawson, who has been trained in Thailand. He was interviewed a few years ago Hallmark Channel's "New Morning Show"

Yes, I meditate. :-)