Lucylu wrote: I prefer the term 'special', thank you! Hehe!
I think its fair to say that some of the population find it perhaps more difficult to cope with modern day living than others. These people may be more easily drawn in to cults (and dare I say religion), addiction or crime and be seen as a drain on society as a whole. Labelling these people as 'lazy' or 'crazy' and telling them to snap out of it clearly doesn't work though. Also, its fair to say, that at some point in all (even the most well adjusted) lives we may find it difficult to cope, due to depression of some kind brought on by grief, divorce, old age, stress, social anxiety, physical illness etc.
I just feel that there isn't a lot of secular language in the area of thoughts and emotions and the complexities of how these interact. How do we describe how it feels to be us and whether we are happy? How do we describe the difference between our thoughts, feelings, senses, our intuition and the sense of self that all of these create together? I agree the term 'enlightenment' has spiritual connotations, but I don't think mindfulness does. I've been reading the work of Daniel Siegel lately, a psychiatrist who coined the term 'mindsight', for the above reason. He wrote the book 'The whole-brained child' and as it says on the tin, it describes ways in which parents can help children develop all parts of their brains and not become led or caught up by their emotions or thoughts. I just think it makes good sense to teach children these things early on, so that they can cope with problems more easily later on and enjoy more healthy relationships and lives. Its about emotional education really, without having to call on the more external, top-down, moral guidance of the Bible etc.!
I think it's important not to be a dogmatic personality, referring to the "top down" approach you mention. Dogmatic people are often very bright, even too bright, for once they have internalized something, it sticks and stays. The American surgeon turned politician Ben Carson comes to mind (and conservatism in general): absolutely brilliant, but fixated on a set of religious beliefs that simply will not quit---he's a Seventh Day Adventist!
Dogmatic personalities are plenty "mindful" but unmovable, and I would hazard parsecs away from spiritual.
Sensitive people are the most gifted, for their experiences can be so powerful, if cutting and unbearable; but also sublime, if they learn how to interpret, which has a lot to do with learning how not to interpret. But what is it to live life fully if not to live it with emotional intensity and nuance?
As to children, teaching them that they actually are emotional beings up front, now that is something I would like to see. To be mindful that life is joyful and aesthetically rapturous rather than just viscerally victorious: I think this is what we want to evolve into. Not a popular notion.
-- Updated October 16th, 2015, 9:00 am to add the following --
The peace you find at the top of a mountain, is the peace you take there with you. There is no escaping the present moment. Wherever you go, there you are.
Always gratifying to see that there are people who can think like this. I am not against progress and I am as part the collective consumer community, but I never tool these to be the be all and end all. Wittgenstein told us to shut up about things that cannot be said, and invited, for me, into a world of the real. We spend, in our living and breathing, little time with the real since language filling social space is such a priority. But the real! Emerson wrote this a century and a half ago:
To go into solitude, a man needs to retire as much from his chamber as from society. I am not solitary whilst I read and write, though nobody is with me. But if a man would be alone, let him look at the stars. The rays that come from those heavenly worlds, will separate between him and what he touches. One might think the atmosphere was made transparent with this design, to give man, in the heavenly bodies, the perpetual presence of the sublime. Seen in the streets of cities, how great they are! If the stars should appear one night in a thousand years, how would men believe and adore; and preserve for many generations the remembrance of the city of God which had been shown! But every night come out these envoys of beauty, and light the universe with their admonishing smile.
See his "Nature": http://www.emersoncentral.com/nature1.htm