Both the obituary of Buffy Mooney (a.k.a. Frank James Mooney III) and the guestbook condolences from speak to the gentle greatness of Buffy Mooney.
His obituary states: Buffy had a strong love of teaching. He was an artist in many fields. His love of color, nature, and people show throughout his artwork and collages. His poetry showed his spiritual side. He was a free spirit in many ways. He loved music, especially the blues. He often played his saxophone and flute with some of the local bands. In 1993 Buffy wrote a letter to the editor of the local newspaper, striving the need for a soup kitchen in Eau Claire. As a result of that letter, we now have The Community Table in Eau Claire.
I never met Buffy Mooney, but as a new Transcendental Meditation (TM) teacher in Illinois in the early 1970’s, I heard of him. Buffy was a well-respected TM teacher in Wisconsin. He was given the honor of being a “TM regional lecturer”, and he initiated many hundreds of people into TM. It could be said that he was the cream of the crop of TM teachers. He was very likable, intelligent, and organized.
Buffy attended the TM teacher training course held at Estes Park, Colorado in 1970. He was known as a funny guy and one who tended to get up to the microphone a lot to ask questions.
Below is an advertisement for one of his TM lectures that appeared in the Eau Claire newspaper in 1974.
Unfortunately, Buffy was one of the TM teachers who flipped out while doing long meditations on a course for TM teachers in Switzerland in the winter of 1974-1975. He thought he had become enlightened, and he did things that could be described as crazy. Maharishi referred to him as “Puffy Mooney” at that point because of Buffy’s much-inflated ego.
Returning to Wisconsin, Buffy’s actions created some trouble for the TM organization. My shocked reaction to the news that Buffy had flipped out was the same as others I knew: How could this happen to an outstanding TM teacher like Buffy?!
His “flipping out” out is mentioned in the following excerpt from one of the obituary condolence messages: I met Buffy in about summer of 1970. Along with some buddies from Chicago. We met him in Eau Claire where he lived in a quaint old house on Otter Creek with a crystal clear swimming hole. He was bright and had knowledge unknown to us. People were drawn to his presence. Maybe ten years later something happened. He came back from a meditation course not the same. He drifted and he talked of things that were not of what is normal.
When I was a young TM teacher hanging around other TM teachers, there was hearsay that touched on the rough times newly enlightened people might have and also that some people confined to mental hospitals might be close to being enlightened. Now in present time, I suppose that hearsay referred to kundalini crises and mania.
Maharishi Mahesh Yogi and the TM organization did not offer much help to Buffy and other TM meditators who flipped out. Instead the TM organization tried to keep “flipped out” meditators away from the TM movement so that the movement’s reputation would not be hurt.
As Gopi Krishna wrote, so-called spiritual masters aren’t much help to one who is in the throes of a kundalini crisis. From Buffy’s story, the long Joe Kellett story, and other stories, Maharishi didn’t seem to be of any help. (The TM organization has a rebuttal to Kellett’s story.)
I was fortunate during my own kundalini crisis in 1990 to have the guidance over the phone with Gabriel Cousens, M.D. Dr. Cousens had previous experience in Muktananda’s ashram with helping people who were in the midst of a kundalini crisis. Although I don’t currently agree with the spiritual teachings of Dr. Cousens, I am grateful that with his help, I only made a “small fool of myself” around a few people and no one tried to put me in a mental hospital.
Over many years, I recovered slowly from the delusions of my kundalini crisis. It takes time to adjust one’s self-image from the high point of being enlightened to the low point of being a survivor of manic illness. The intensity of thought during a kundalini crisis has a long-lasting effect that is difficult to overcome.
Buffy recovered without having the fortunate circumstances which I had to recover. His gentle greatness powered through a very difficult situation.
I have a soft spot for all former and current TM teachers for their enthusiasm, idealism, and vitality. I also have a super soft spot for Buffy who had an enlightenment delusion similar to mine.