Vita for Timothy Conway
This Timothy Conway fellow is a story within a dream… A mere, mortal figment pointing you back to the immortal Divine Dreamer, Your Real Self, the One Who Alone IS.
A sudden, vivid, and completely life-changing spiritual awakening occurred in my 16th year in February 1971, not by efforts or drugs (never took any drugs), but entirely by Divine Grace. The heart-mind exploded open in nondual realization of the great formless Reality that is doing everything and being everybody. It was entirely clear that “God alone is Real, HERE and NOW, and we—the personified manifestations of the Supra-personal God— are all truly made of Divine Spirit, Love, Joy, and Peace.” Ever since then, this life has been gratefully devoted to freely sharing, with anyone sincerely interested, the profoundly healing and empowering truth of Infinite Open Awareness, the “real Reality” right HERE (closer than the mind), and right NOW (always the true Reality before you can even think about this Self).
Raised by loving parents within the Roman Catholic tradition and taught by progressive Catholic sisters and priests in Los Angeles, after that life-changing (and ongoing) opening to Spirit i came out of my absorption in athletics and nearly became a priest. Then, in Fall 1972, while attending the University of California at Santa Cruz, i was introduced by a highly-psychic western sage to the path of “Who Am I?” supra-personal Self-inquiry, and urged to make a deep study of the Advaita Vedanta sage Ramana Maharshi and other sages of Advaita, Zen Buddhism, and similar genuine paths of awakening East and West.
With years of further immersion in this Great Way of nondual or mystical spirituality, in Fall 1980 there occurred the first of several long trips to Asia and Europe (and various parts of the USA) to meet and learn from many of the leading sages, saints and adepts of our era. After spending a brief time as an ordained Buddhist monk in upper Burma under the renowned arhat (perfect master) Taungpulu Sayadaw, India and her greatest living sages beckoned... and through their influence (Divine Grace), any last questions or confusions dropped. Very soon during that winter of 1980-1, i was encouraged to begin sharing the nondual or advaita spiritual perspective by sage Annamalai Swami (a spiritual son of Ramana Maharshi) and by the great liberated guru Nisargadatta Maharaj of Bombay, and by several other sages, including Yogi Ramsuratkumar of Tiruvannamalai and Mother Krishnabai of Anandashram.
I gave talks and wrote papers on nondual wisdom, nondual devotion, and other topics in spirituality and transpersonal psychology from 1980 onward in the San Francisco Bay Area. It felt appropriate to deepen and wait until the late 1980s (by then living in Santa Barbara, CA) before more openly adopting the role of a “spiritual friend-counselor.” Like my truly sagely mentors, i have never wished to turn this spiritual way into an organization or an expensive commodity (e.g., pricey public workshops, institutional membership, etc.). In the egalitarian spirit, i see no one as “disciples” or “designated teachers”—i'm exceedingly grateful to see and honor the Divine One appearing as each and every one.
Some have asked me over the years if i have a “spiritual name.” Timothy is already a spiritual name, meaning “one in awe of God,” and so there's never been a felt need to change it. (i've also been asked about a natal astrology chart; here is the relevant info for all you astrology aficionados: born June 5, 1954, 1:20 pm, daylight savings time, in Manhattan, NYC.)
Actually, there was a temporary period in Fall 1980 wherein i did have a different spiritual name... Upon ordaining, like many male citizens of Southeast Asia, for a deliberately limited time-period as a Buddhist monk—in the boonies of upper Burma under that country’s most acclaimed arhat/adept, Taungpulu Sayadaw—this beautiful sage gave me the name “Dhammapiya” (Sanskrit: Dharma-priya), which means “Lover of the Spiritual Teaching.” It was quite prescient for the Sayadaw (well-known for his clairvoyance) to bestow this name, for it sums up much of the earthly focus of my adult life: hearing and gathering together the greatest spiritual teachings from this planet’s most eminent spiritual Avatars, Buddhas, sages and saints; sharing these inspiring and liberating teachings on nondual devotion and wisdom to all interested parties; clarifying confusions and correcting misleading distortions of the Perennial Wisdom traditions (e.g., crazed cultic aberrations of egoic-self-inflation, stunted states of God-Self-denial, and delusionally dangerous, nihilist forms of neo-nonduality).
The perspective here is informed by a deep study of nonduality and other key themes of the Perennial Wisdom lineages within our Sacred Traditions, with a special love for the actual human beings—the great mystics of Christianity, Hinduism, Buddhism, Muslim Sufism, Judaism, Taoism, Jainism and Shamanism. These "fine, free beings" are humanity’s exemplary heroes and heroines, our elder brothers and sisters in Spirit.
Much ado about nothing: a Bachelor of Arts double-major in Psychology and Religious Studies was completed at UC Santa Cruz from 1972-6, along with M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in East-West Psychology at the California Institute of Integral Studies (CIIS) in San Francisco from 1979-1988, including a master’s thesis on the phenomenon of “energetic empowerment” within our religious traditions, and a doctoral dissertation on optimal well-being and spiritual realization within the different psychological and mystical traditions.
Along the way, i've participated in different sacred traditions and delved deeply into the extant sacred literature, including many hundreds of rarely-read works on the most subtle and advanced levels of spiritual enlightenment and liberation.
Living in Santa Barbara from 1988 to 2016, since 1994 with my wife Laura and our cats, during these years i facilitated nondual satsang gatherings, taught classes at various educational institutions (e.g., ongoing free classes since 1990 through the acclaimed SBCC Adult Education department), gave keynote addresses at conferences and numerous media interviews, and also coached persons in private sessions wanting to live their spirituality in a more authentic and profound way. Since August 2016 we resided in the northwest desert-fringe of the Peoria/Phoenix AZ area to be close to Laura's family, where i continued to work on some long-awaited writing projects and share teachings in various venues.
In summer 2022, Laura and I moved to the little town of Clarkdale, AZ, at 3,600 ft elevation in the west Verde Valley, close to lovely nature spots including the Verde River, Sedona's red rock formations, and 7,800 ft high mountains just 25-30 minutes up the road.
Several months later, after a protracted illness that turned into pneumonia, my beloved Laura passed to the realm of Light on January 11, 2023. I miss her terribly, but she occasionally visits in the Heart in amazingly vivid, inspirational ways.
For over 30 years i've been fortunate to lead spirited assemblies of ecstatic sacred music, with a special emphasis on Hindu bhajan or kirtan singing and Sufi zikr and qawwal singing. A fondness for promoting other sacred arts in the 1980s-90s built a rare collection of over 1,500 photographic images of saints and sages, Deity-aspects, sacred architecture and symbols, nature and portrait photography, which were used for various highly-regarded slide-shows freely offered in different venues over the many years.
Author of the widely treasured book, Women of Power & Grace: Nine Astonishing, Inspiring Luminaries of Our Time (including the rich mystical teachings and amazing lives of Amma or Mata Amritanandamayi, Anandamayi Ma, Anasuya Devi, Shyama Ma, Hazrat Babajan, Pelagia, Francesca Cabrini, Therese Neumann and Maria Skobtsova), and the massive online book Women of Spirit: Saints, Teachers, Healers, Sisterhoods and Goddesses of East & West, i've spent the last 20 years compiling three more vast projects: a definitive guidebook to spirituality in films (documentaries and fictional feature films); a lengthy encyclopedia on Chan/Zen/Seon traditions of East Asia (the Liberating Zen Sourcebook); and a comprehensive 2-volume work, India’s Sages and India’s Sages Source Book, together featuring over 150 esteemed adepts and texts of nondual wisdom/devotion in Hindu, Buddhist, Tantric, Jaina, Nirguni Sant, Sikh and Sufi traditions. (Serious constraints on time have led to a big delay on these works being published by our Wake Up Press; please stay tuned.)
These books, articles, talks and sharings all balance nondual mystical spirituality centering on this ONE God-Self with an engaged spirituality promoting loving-compassion and justice for the commonweal (the public good in its social-economic-political-environmental applications). In short, the mystical way is realizing “the true ‘I’ beyond ego” while the engaged way of spirituality reveres “the I that is we.” Paradoxically, both ways of spirituality are true. The Divine One is the Many; the Many is just the Divine One.
for The Sun magazine’s April 2003 issue spells out more of this balanced way of authentic spirituality. Another, more in-depth interview on complete spiritual awakening and spiritual liberation can be read here, in which i was also asked by interviewer John LeKay for his NondualityMagazine.org to reveal much more fully what happened in that initial awakening back in early 1971. More of the same can be found in Rick Archer's July 2010 and September 2016 interviews of the timothy fellow for Rick's BATGAP (Buddha at the Gas Pump) series, beginning with this link here.
A free Satsang-Gathering in Truth met every Tuesday night when i resided in Santa Barbara. Occasional satsangs (see Satsang page at this website) are being offered in Arizona since moving here, though the primary focus is finishing the aforementioned major writing projects and other works. When satsang is offered, all sincere aspirants are welcome to join this informal, egalitarian spiritual community that celebrates our Real Nature as Divine Awareness-Love, the One who is right here as formless Vastness, and the One whom we see shining in the eyes and hearts of every being we meet within this spectacular dream of life…
Are you enjoying the dream, O Divine One?
P.S.—An accurate vita should realistically end with the announcement that any day/month/year/decade from now, the personality in question will drop the mortal form, exit this stage-play, physically disappear, energetically transition, soulfully re-locate, resume life on the other side, change channels on the cosmic TV.
The great shining Truth of Transcendence is that Who We Absolutely Are never gets born and doesn't die! As for the physical-plane body within this Dream, "man thou art dust and to dust shalt thou return..."
By way of illustrating the process of change, decay, impermanence and death of this physical body, a few photos follow. Beyond the issues of more-or-less hair, and the presence or absence of ties (neckties as well as karmic ties), please notice that the mortal form has some peak years and then starts going "downhill"...
--Timothy as a happy little fellow, circa 1962
--in high school, circa 1969 (about a year and a half before the first conscious touch of Divine Grace)
--as a Buddhist monk in northern Burma, 1980
--with the beautiful advaita vedanta sage Annamalai Swami, Tiruvannamalai, India, 1980-1
--with my beloved wife, Laura, c1997 (now deceased)
--and one day the physical body will be ashes in an urn like this one containing a portion of my discarnate father's earthly remains.
The message? We need not identify with that which is passing. We can abide as birthless, deathless Awareness, the only Truth.