“If you’re invested in security and certainty,
you are on the wrong planet.” 
– Pema Chödrön


Finding Sacred in the Ordinary – Tom Baker

Sep 24, 2023

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Can we see the extraordinary in the ordinary? How can we discover the sacred in the mundane?

In this talk, Tetsugan Tom Baker examines how we can come to realize that we already have everything we need to experience the sacred in our lives. He looks at the common desire for transcendence that underlies most spiritual pursuits, whether Bhakti yoga or Zen practice.

Both are deeply rooted in sangha and employ a chanting practice. Bhakti is an exuberant expression of devotion, reciting the names of God;  whereas Zen is to settle the mind, focusing on emptiness and our interconnectedness.

He examines the three conditions for following Zen:

  1. Great Faith – not an unquestioning belief, but rather the confidence that arises from practice.
  2. Great Doubt – not the paralyzing kind, but an understanding that there is no one “right way.”
  3. Great Determination – Zen meditation involves no agenda or goal or belief that something extraordinary should happen, which may require years to fully embrace.


Tetsugen Tom Baker is a Soto Zen priest in the lineage of Shunryu Suzuki-Roshi. He was ordained by Shinki Mark Lancaster at Dragon’s Leap Temple in 2017. He practices in the “Marketplace Priest” tradition. Long active in the Meditation in Recovery group, he was a founder of the off-shoot monthly Zen Men in 2015.

Tom works in the Geriatrics Division at UCSF and specializes in Palliative Care and end-of-life issues. He married his husband Gary Dexter in November 2021.