Buddhists offered a home: Mansfield Zen Center's founder 'here to support'

By ANGEL N. ROSS, Mansfield News Journal, Jan 26, 2008

MANSFIELD, OH (USA) -- Michael Minock, founder of the Mansfield Zen Center, is reaching out to other Zen Buddhists who would like to practice with him.

"I'm here to support Buddhist practice," Minock said.

The Mansfield Zen Center is in the living room of Minock's Lexington Avenue apartment -- until he can get a building or bigger apartment. He started reaching out to other area Buddhists in 1996 because he was lonely, and didn't have anyone to practice with.

"I was raised Catholic and I decided a long time ago that I wasn't happy with the faith I was brought up in," he said. "For years, I looked around and investigated New Age and Native American religions. Zen is probably the most down to earth form of religion, and I identified with that."

Minock, 57, said the main practice of Zen Buddhism -- a particular brand of Buddhism-- is zazen, which is sitting meditation.

"When meditating, you are to observe and quiet the mind," he said. "If you get distracted while meditating, you just keep going back to the present moment.

"Some people follow their breath, but when you quiet your mind, you wake up to your inner Buddha. It's observing your mind, not shutting it off completely."

"You experience things for yourself," he said. "There's no belief in a higher deity or something you can't see."

In 2006, Minock took the Buddhist precepts in Chicago, Ill. He took vows not to kill, lie or steal.

He was presented with a rakusu, a garment for a lay Buddhist, that he wears to peace meetings or at meditation. Minock was given a Dharma or Buddhist name: Way of the Dragon.

Minock said if he can get more members, he would like to do community service involving a soup kitchen or feeding the hungry.

"I would also like to work with area churches," he said.

There are Buddhist temples and decent-sized Buddhist populations in Cleveland and Columbus. However, there are minimal practitioners in this area.

The benefits of being a Zen Buddhist, Minock said, are becoming more mindful in general, being more compassionate, seeing into things more deeply and improved health.